Friday, September 24, 2010

Is Britain in trouble?

Mont Python's The Life Of Brian, crucifixion scene
(Photo courtesy of the BBC)
A Cardinal who has visited the UK a couple of times called the UK a third world country.

The universities of Oxford and Cambridge come joined sixth in a league table that rates the world's universities.

The financial crisis hit the UK hard. There are signs of economic recovery but the same article warns against over confidence. The UK is not out of the woods yet, economically speaking.

Then there is the problem of binge drinking and carousing, turning many of the UK city centres into zombie horror film sets as soon as the clock strikes twelve. Complete with blood spattered zombies, partially clothed, stupified victims and Christian zealots battling it out with the zombies. The latter in a profoundly non-violent way of course.

Is the U.K. in trouble?

Maybe Britain is going through a bad patch. A sort of mid life crisis. Historically speaking Britain has only just laid down the riches of a brilliant career and settled down into relatively quiet retirement. Gone are the days of successfully striving against European competitors for domination of the world's seas. Gone are the days of conquering and colonising. Gone are the days of large scale industry and economic boom. Instead the U.K. has had to settle down to a largely domestic life. And that is a difficult transition for an old sailor.

But Brits are made of stern stuff. They're island folk and island folk tend to shrug off hard times. Their history is full of stories of survival against all odds. Even their literature reflects this. Read Dickens, Stevenson or Defoe (two of these authors were Scottish by the way). They show an island spirit geared towards shrugging off bad weather. An example of this can be found in an initiative launched by a (again Scottish) company: James Donaldson and sons LTD. This company, instead of celebrating its 150 years in business by throwing a flashy party, donated £150,000 to a new charity which was used to launch The Donaldson Leadership Academy. This organisation helps children who have not had an easy start in life to reach their true potential. Initiatives like this help the younger generation of a society to take another look at their future and re-evaluate their prospects.

Britain may be going through a bad patch but historical precedent and current initiatives seem to point to it rising above such matters. The stiff upper lip and British sense of humour will probably safe the day. As Eric Idle sang in the direst of situations: "always look on the bright side of life!"

1 comment:

  1. The comment made by the Cardinal was in reference to the multi-cultural surroundings of Britain, which may be depicted as racist. Considering we are a secular society, the Vatican seems to feel that this is threatening to them and they've made a few blundering comments in this field, comparing atheists to nazis, etc.

    Also, whilst THES has downgraded Cambridge and Oxford to 6th, Cambridge reached first place in the QS University League tables this year, so it isn't that bad...