A touch of cynicism

Ian Hart noted with a little cynicism that it was 28 years since Bob Geldoff topped the chart with the intention to “feed the world” (in his column in December).

Perhaps Ian is right to be a little sceptical about the success of that appeal.

We seem to still see hunger, especially in Africa and there have been so many terrible wars and armed struggles and acts of indiscriminate massacre in that time which has taken so many lives and left so many scars on people and communities.

In some ways, one feels a right to feel pessimistic about the state of the world – but there are many positive aspects that enable us to go into the new year with a degree of optimism.

In the ’60s and ’70s, we all faced the daily fear of sudden annihilation in a nuclear holocaust because of the cold war.

We were told that the world could not sustain the growth in population and the planet would run out of resources and die from pollution before the ’80s were out.

Thankfully, none of that happened.

However, in that same period of time, the world’s population has virtually doubled, from three-and-a-half to seven billion – and most of those people are living at a better standard of living than previous generations have ever enjoyed before.

Countries such as China and India and many South American states have shown that they can pull themselves from third world poverty to become emerging world powers.

We have, with our technology, shown that we can feed, house and provide people with a standard of living better than their parents could ever have expected.

We live in a changing world where the flux and shift of our developing economies and technologies often leave people adrift.

Our systems do not effectively put work where it is needed, or ensure an equable distribution of resources.

But that does not excuse us from doing what we can to help those less fortunate.

We can help such people survive and cross that threshold to a sustainable and self supporting life.

We are very fortunate in this country – even those on benefits apparently live in the wealthiest 20 per cent of the planet’s population – and there is much we can do to help the less well off among us and those in other parts of the world.

Without the efforts of Bob Geldoff and countless others like him over the years, there is no doubt that the situation would be a lot worse.

We may never get rid of poverty, but let’s see if we can make a real dent in it in 2013.

I wish a happy new year to all.

Councillor David Chapman

Wiston Avenue,