Thought for the Day - Bishop Tom Butler
Good morning. A rather cynical commentator once remarked, news is a story that somebody doesn’t want telling. That might be so yet within the usual menu of bad news stories in recent days there have been several strands of good and positive stories which have heartened me.
For example our prime minister has been adamant that despite the world recession and despite the severe cut backs in most areas of public spending Britain will honour its commitments to the Aid budget and continue to move towards the target agreed by the previous government of contributing 0.7% of its GNP to combatting world poverty. Now not everybody will agree with this and there may be a debate to be had but I’ve been further heartened by the fact that another former prime minister has supported him in this.
Contributing to the needs of the poor is in the Christian Churches trust deeds. When the apostle Paul established the first fragile congregations around the Mediterranean world, he encouraged the new Christians to work hard for themselves and the common good of their own community, but he also took collections from them to support those in Jerusalem going through times of hardship. Charity might begin at home, but it’s no real charity if it ends there. You can’t solve the world’s problems by bi-passing the world
Then yesterday came an associated piece of good news. Multinational drug companies have come under severe criticism in recent years not least for their marketing policies. They seem to have taken note for a major company yesterday announced that it will be marketing its new vaccine combatting severe diarrhoea in children at cost price throughout the developing world. Now of course new drugs cost a fortune to develop and drug companies aren’t charities, but this company seems to have done the calculations that a massive guaranteed market at cost price for their product in the developing world, plus a graduated price range in the West, where the demand for ever new and more effective drugs comes from, is in everybody’s interest. It might not be charity but those around the world receiving the drugs they need won’t be too concerned about that.
The third piece of good news comes from the new charity Help for Heroes. Remarkably in three and a half years it has raised almost 100 million pounds. However has it done it? Well, all the world’s religions demonstrate that whilst a good leader creates followers, a great leader creates leaders, and that seems to have been the pattern here, where the charity with a light touch has channelled the energy of a myriad local leaders, so that the innate generosity of the British people has been tapped.
So when we’re surrounded by bad news all the time, the good news is that the capacity to get people to react and respond to human need is far greater than we might sometimes believe.
Available since: Tue 7 Jun 2011
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