This (dis) United Kingdom
Over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed a literal outpouring of hate across social media. While there is no doubt that social media can be used for good, there is also no doubt that it provides the perfect outlet for those who feel the need to spread a vile message.
I think first of a national food charity appealing for funding on Facebook. For some days now there has been a regular appeal for people to donate finance so that the charity can continue to meet the demand of the thousands in dire straits by providing food to give out. This simple appeal has led to a cascade of hateful comments directed against those who are in a financial hole and members of staff of the charity who are accused of having inflated salaries. This is followed by the suggestion that said members of staff should voluntarily reduce their salaries.
We then get the usual diatribe directed against food bank users that they are overweight, wasting cash on tattoos, wide screen televisions, tobacco drugs alcohol and the latest smart phones. What they fail to realise is that some of these items may be subject to a contract and may have been taken out when finances were much better. There is also the requirement from Job Centres that clients are able to keep in touch. All the paperwork relating to a benefits claim is now online and clients have to complete a journal to keep the job centre informed of what they are doing.
As my team and I run a food bank three times per week, we are all well used (unfortunately) to witnessing at first hand the misery that we see each time a client visits us. Very often their predicament is no fault of their own. Circumstances, you could say have conspired to place them in a very precarious situation, where they are in desperate need of support if they are to survive. At times, the situation is rectified fairly quickly so there is no need for further visits At other times the client is faced with an ongoing crisis that needs long term support from us and other support agencies. Whichever way it goes this food bank and many many others across the country are dedicated to providing that emergency support.
Realistically, we would love to close the food bank because the issues have been solved, benefits and wages are at a level to sustain the people and there is therefore no need to run a food bank. However, I realise that there is not much chance of that and that I have yet again slipped into a fantasy land where everything is perfect. Forgive me, just allow me to dream!
Secondly, there was the sad news that Queen Elizabeth had passed away. This naturally had an effect on pretty much the whole of the country. Amongst all the condolences on social media, it did not take long for the trolls to come out from under their bridges and start spewing forth their particular brand of bile. It matters not what you personally think of the Queen and Royal Family. What matters is that a family has lost their mother, grandmother and great grandmother. They should be allowed to grieve in peace and comfort one another in peace. People should keep their deeply offensive comments to themselves.
In an ideal United Kingdom (there, the clue is in the title – United) people would respect one another and not go out of their way to cause offence. The UK has enough problems facing it at present and it will not be helped or the issues solved by an avalanche of hate and bigotry.
Are we to be saddled with a new title for the UK? The Disunited Kingdom is looking sadly, very apt at the moment.
It is about time that we put aside our differences and pledge to work together. I may not be popular for quoting the Bible, but in there we are told to love our neighbour as ourselves. It does not say you can pick and choose who you love. We are required to love and support our fellow men and women.