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2004-02-17 My own utopia

Having spoken recently about the little things in my life which get my goat and niggle at me, I began to think of my major miscellaneous dislikes, in no particular order - those issues that have an effect on the world we live in, those issues, should they be controlled or preferably eradicated would make our world a better place in which to live. For my 100th Weekender column, I wanted to try to create in my mind my own Utopia.

 

With the smoking ban hopefully just around the corner, and having attacked smoking in the past, I will take that list-topping dislike as read. Nonetheless, it is still beyond me how in this day and age people continue to purchase a product on which there is a label saying that that product actually kills you. Bleach, also a killer, only claims to be harmful!


 

Alcohol abuse, drug abuse and drunk driving is something which is being tackled more and more but now needs a zero-tolerance approach if it is to have any lasting effect.


 

I can no longer tolerate any of the negative -isms, and if we are to have no racism, extremism, sectarianism, neo-Naziism, sexism and homophobia (not an -ism, but in the same category) in the next generation, it is imperative that schools put these issues high up in the curriculum and stamp them out from an early age. Governments must work all out to simply eradicate any organisations which are in the business of promoting hatred against another segment of society, as this is the fuel which ignites conflict.


 

Even imagism is deceptively damaging and unhealthy, often promoting eating disorders and self-hate. We could quite honestly do without some of the media role-models constantly thrust upon us, not that I spend every waking hour striving to be as slim as Posh Spice.


 

In the last few decades child abuse has become a huge public concern, and thankfully, apart from a small minority, we are all in agreement that the abuse of children, in all its perverted guises, is something which must not and can not be tolerated. I do not use the word paedophilia as I believe it is the wrong word, as it uses the notion lover (phil) in an incorrect and negative way.


 

Still on the subject of abuse, animal cruelty from home to slaughterhouse to the wild is right up near the top of my list. Animals cannot speak for themselves and thus need us to speak on their behalf. How anyone can maltreat a member of the animal kingdom is beyond my comprehension. Abuse and destruction of our environment forever tops the news, and I do believe it has improved during my lifetime, slightly. At least we are all now more aware, but we still have a long way to go. Some countries are way ahead of the field in recycling and environmental protection. Other countries, in particular one of the big Super-powers needs to have a serious look at its record. Speaking of double standards, I have made my feelings on the death penalty known before, and my involvement in Lifelines and Amnesty ought to highlight my stance on the death penalty. In the 21st century, I do not think as a society we can teach someone not to kill by killing them. Life without parole, if it really means that, is a far greater sentence. An eye for an eye is not a good philosophy to live by in my book, whatever about the Good Book.


 

A cure for cancer, and several of the other fatal and cruel diseases which continue to baffle the medical profession would cut down on the worlds pain, both physical and mental.


 

Finally one thing that simply bores me at this stage is hearing the same old news over and over. All my life, and long before, there has been serious unrest between the Israelis and Palestinians, the Unionists and Republicans, and between innumerable other factions across the globe. Human beings all have the potential to be mini-weapons of mass destruction, and so energies must be refocussed, and alternative buzzes need to be sought out.


 

Lets strive to eradicate the negative -isms in those corners of society and only then can we build a road towards peace, and at least my own Utopia would start to become a reality.