I had one of those moments at a friend’s dinner in a gentrified part of East London on winter evening. The blackcurrant cheese cake was being carefully sliced and the conversation had drifted to the topic of the moment, the credit crunch. Suddenly, one of the hosts tried to raise the mood by throwing in a light-hearted joke.
'It's sad that Woolworths is closing. Where will all the chavs buy their Christmas presents?'
Now, he was not someone who would ever consider himself to be a bigot. Neither would anyone else present: for, after all, they were all educated and open-minded professionals. Sitting around the table were people from more than one ethnic group. The gender split was fifty-fifty and not everyone was straight. All would have placed themselves somewhere left-of-centre politically. They would have bristled at being labelled a snob. If a stranger had attended that evening and disgraced him or herself by bandying around a word like ‘Paki’ or ‘poof’, they would have found themselves swiftly ejected from the flat.
But no one flinched at a joke about chavs shopping in Woolies. To the contrary: everyone laughed. I doubt that many would have known that this derogatory term originates from the Romany word for child, ‘chavi’. Neither were they likely to have been among the 100,000 readers of ‘The Little Book of Chavs’, an enlightened tome that describes ‘chavs’ as ‘the burgeoning peasant underclass’. If they had picked it up from a bookshop counter for a quick browse, they would have learned that chavs tend to work as supermarket checkout chashiers, fast-food restaurant workers and cleaners. Yet deep down, everyone must have known that ‘chav’ is an insulting word exclusively directed against people who are working class. The ‘joke’ could easily have been rephrased as: ‘It’s sad that Woolworth’s is closing. Where will the ghastly lower classes buy their Christmas presents?’"
— Chavs, by Owen Jones (via runofthemillsocialist)
— Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (via quoted-books)
After experiencing the beauty of traveling throughout this region, where men and women work and raise their families, where children play and the elderly dream, I now find myself here, in this place, able to say only one thing: War is madness.
Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys. It also runs the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings. War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers. War is irrational; it’s only plan is to bring destruction; it seeks to grow by destroying.
Greed, intolerance, the lust for power — these motives underlie the decision to go to war, and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse. Ideology is presented as a justification and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain: ‘What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?’ War does not look directly at anyone, be they elderly, children, mothers, fathers. ‘What does it matter to me?’
Above the entrance to this cemetery, there hangs in the air those ironic words of war, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Each one of the dead buried here had their owns plans, their own dreams, but their lives were cut short. Humanity said, ‘What does it matter to me?’
Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction. In all honesty, the front page of newspapers ought to carry the headline, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Cain would say, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’…
…Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.
Today, too, the victims are many. How is this possible? It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important!
And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, ‘What does it matter to me?’ It is the task of the wise to recognize errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.
With this ‘What does it matter to me?’ in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money. but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry. That ‘What does it matter to me?’ prevents the tears. Cain did not cry. The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present.
With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart; to move on from ‘What does it matter to me?’, to tears: for each one of the fallen of this ‘senseless massacre’, for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age.
Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep."
Pope Francis, homily at Sacrario Militare di Redipuglia, Redipuglia, Italy, September 13, 2014.
(I just needed to post this again.)
— Albert Camus, Notebooks, 1951-1959 (via starrywavves)