Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Diamond in the Ordure

I work in a hospital in the most deprived area of Europe (4 out of the six poorest electoral wards in Europe are in my catchment area and they had to come up with a new deprivation category to cover the degree of poverty there - DepCat 7). My colleague, a good Christian woman of Baptist proclivities talks of the spiritual poverty with more alarm than the physical squalor. I think she is right. There is money for bread, shelter and warmth. There is often money too for ciggies, Sky+ and Special Brew. But what really stunts is the lack of any aspiration for any other kind of life. Years of welfare dependency have bred this, from a people who were poor before, but who fed and sheltered their families from the fruit of industries, long since gone elsewhere.

In the midst of the ritual handwringing over the avoidable death of Baby P (May his poor tortured soul now be at peace with Our Lord and all the saints) a gem of an observation by one at the coalface. This doctor comes from the Indian subcontinent and rather than making lame jokes about the constitutional makeup of the country actually, you know, goes and treats poor people in their own homes. She has some uncomfortable truths to pass on:

Dear Ms Featherstone

I think the people who should truly say sorry for such events are the opinion leaders of the Guardian. Please allow me to explain.

Last week I visited (as a doctor) a family in a council estate. The mother was concerned about her 12 year old son. She was very pleased that her older son was now on incapacity and would therefore do well for himself in terms of money. There is nothing wrong with this older boy that makes him incapacitated, but that is another story. She also had a 14 year old daughter, who while I was there, constantly argued with her mother demanding money for cigarettes. The three children had three different fathers, all absent. The kids, while I could see were still children, gleamed with malignant insolence. I can see them turning into damaged adults. I feel sorry for the trap they are in – the trap created directly by the welfare state whereby the family, and all those in the neighbourhood, see welfare as a lifestyle option. They live in squalor but have more wealth than most people I knew in India; they certainly have more material comforts than I ever had growing up in Delhi.

The Guardian describes such families as poor. The Labour party wants to throw money at the family. The Guardian readers blame Margaret Thatcher for this state of affairs, smug in their modern pieties, their intellectual laziness, and their stupidity masquerading as sanctimonious concern. I used to work with slum children in Delhi; they had very little, but even the most physically disabled amongst them made an effort.

There is no hope for Britian. Civilisations dont die, they commit suicide. And before they commit suicide, they read and believe the Guardian.

I truly and deeply feel sorry for all the children who are the victims of the welfare state. Things are much, much worse for the slum children in India, I saw more dignity among them and certainly greater hope.

I am not sure if you will understand this message. I am too tired to explain further. Either you will get or you wont. Either way, it will make no difference to anything.

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Blogger Convenor said...

We’d just like to let you know about two new posts on our blog. The first is a report of a Mass in the Traditional Latin/Gregorian Rite in Co. Laois, Ireland.

The second post is a report of news, just received, of a weekly Mass in Co. Meath, Ireland.

I hope that you’ll be able to feature both reports. Feel free to lift photos.

God bless you!

Saint Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association

11:58 AM  
Blogger Martin said...


The South Asian doctor's letter is partially true. Perhaps I shouldn't, but I now just zone out comparisons between the relative poverty of British and Third World poor; they tend to be specious.

However, what they say about malignant insolence and the collapse of the traditional nuclear family is absolutely correct, as is their assertion that this was not the result of a natural process, but deliberately engineered.

4:53 AM  

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