Pity to the powerful

It’s not fair. It is also not right. Right now I am stamping my foot, shouting “no, no, no!” and pouting, so you know I’m serious. I’m expressing my intense, yet mature exasperation at the deep injustices facing a few people in last week’s news. And no, I’m not talking about starving Africans, those imprisoned without trial or victims of violence. Those people are the voiceless. They have Bono. But what about the rich, the powerful and the obscenely privileged? Who will speak out for them? They are the ones I want to talk about. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: people you might find it hard to feel sorry for.

The first of the waifs and strays selling matches in the merciless blizzard of international news are Barclays Bank. Barclays (and, to be fair, the other high street banks too) sought our pity last week because more and more people are opting for Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs). IVAs are agreements that enable people with massive debts they cannot repay to have part of their debt written off in exchange for regular repayments. Banks have accused private debt advice firms of encouraging people to go down the IVA road just to secure commissions for themselves. What? Companies profiting off the misery of unsustainable debt? Surely banks have the right to defend their monopoly? I know you may find it hard to side with an industry that is once again boasting of record profits (Barclays alone unveiled £5.2Bn profits last month) and has recently faced criticism from the Office of Fair Trading for overcharging customers. But try.

Try also to feel sorry for that nice David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, baby-kisser, hoodie-hugger and cyclist without portfolio (it’s in the car behind him). Yes, I know he is ahead in the polls. But pity him. Because last week a dastardly Labour MP put a video on the YouTube website that aimed, hard as it is to believe, to mock the Tory leader’s attempts at being “down with the kids”. The rather amusing spoof was removed from the site (though copies are easily found through searching YouTube for “Sion Simon” I hear), but don’t feel sorry for YouTube, fans of political satire or even the unfortunate Labour MP who has caught it in the neck for being funny. Think of David, his thin skin and hurt feelings.

Think also of Walmart (the struggling little company that owns Asda and almost everything else in the world) as it has to pay $78 million to employees who were lazy and greedy enough to expect not to be pressured into giving up lunches and breaks guaranteed by law. Think of Kim Jung Il, too, as crushing sanctions against his nation cut off supplies of essentials like lobster, French wine, jet-skis and caviar to his administration in North Korea. Think also of George W Bush, as he tries to deal with a country that not only has nuclear capabilities but may be willing to go against UN wishes and attack other nations. It must be hard to deal with a concept that foreign.

But most of all, pity Christians in our country who may soon face outrageous discrimination concerning the expression of our faith, as experienced by a British Airways worker who was forbidden from wearing a cross with her uniform last week. Pity especially those Christians who thought Muslim women were making a lot of fuss about nothing concerning a supply teacher forbidden to wear the veil last week. Yes, irony can be harsh.


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