Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday, July 25th 2014

In my late teens/early twenties, I discovered Alistair Cooke's "Letter from America" on Radio 4. A quick Google search reveals that it ran for almost 60 years and over 2800 episodes. The letters were reflections on current events sprinkled with anecdotes and stories. I sometimes wonder how different the media might be if we had a little more time for reflection rather than the soundbite journalism to which we are so often subjected.

Take for example the news item earlier this week about the Mayor of London failing to reach his target for affordable homes. There was the inevitable politicking about the numbers but no reflection on the value of the target, was it meaningful, too ambitious or not ambitious enough. No one seemed ready to point out that had there been no target then it's quite possible that very few, if any, affordable homes would have been built at all.

When you think about it, the process of reflection would be helpful in a whole lot of situations. One only has to look at the intractable state of affairs in Gaza to realise that politicians and leaders need to do some careful reflecting. They need to ask themselves some tough questions. After his presidency was over, Bill Clinton spoke at the Labour Party conference and raised some interesting issues. I remember him saying that it was time we asked ourselves in the West why the militants working under the guise of Islam hated us so much. A question that perhaps George Bush and Tony Blair ought to have asked before diving headlong into Iraq. I'm sure there were some wise people around who could have balanced the analysis. I still wonder if the only reason the Americans were so sure that there were weapons of mass destruction somewhere in Iraq was because they had provided them in the first place.

In the Old Testament David sought out the men of Issachar because they "understood the times and what needed to be to done." When I wrote to then Prime Minister about Iraq I was informed that Mr Blair knew better, and I got the feeling that my questions about democracy and the legitimacy of invading a sovereign state were simply dismissed. Let's hope that somehow the UN can become the vessel of wisdom for places like Gaza and Ukraine, to name but two regions in turmoil at this time.

On a lighter note, the Commonwealth Games have begun. Perhaps not as exciting as the Olympics, but still quite a spectacle. What's more, para-athletics are integrated into the games, something that is logistically difficult with the Olympics because of the scale of things. I found myself caught up in watching the Triathlon and a bit of the cycling. riding a tandem is a scary thug in itself. Doing it at speed around a banked track when you can't see much at all sounds insane! Very impressed. And as to the triathlon. I'm not sure i could any one of the three disciplines in the time they do all three. I really felt for the guy who got lapped on the swim.

It was interesting to watch the two Brownlee brothers running together. Alistair's ankle looked far less stable than his brothers. Could this be why he suffers more injuries? Can't imagine his stiff upper body helps either. Ah, the wonders of biomechanics!

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