Do they know it's Christmas time?
Posted on 24th December 2021 at 10:26
In 1983 Ethiopia was surviving on subsistence agriculture, a type of localised farming where producers grow mostly for themselves, their families, and a small part of the community. Excess crops where usually consumed by the aristocracy, and there was no incentive for long term production or crop storage.
A year later, the combination of a draught and a civil war catastrophically combined to create what BBC reporter Michael Buerk called a ‘biblical famine’. Over one million people would die, twenty thousand children became orphans, an aid official described it as “hell on earth” and the Marxist government attempted to deny the extent of the problem.
In response to this, Bob Geldof pulled together the top musical artist of his time to help raise funds for food and aid, few celebrities declined, all rallying to the cause and the final song entitled “do they know it’s Christmas time” featured Phil Collins, Tony Hadley, Boy George, Simon Le Bon, George Michael, Paul Weller and many others.
It took just one day to record, and as soon as it hit the charts it went straight to no.1 and stayed there for five weeks.
After one year, the song raised eight million pounds for charity, way surpassing Geldof’s initial £70,000 target.
Given the liberal good intentions of the artist, and the causes the song helped contribute towards, it seems unusual that it should be branded as a racist song thirty-seven years later in some circles.
(I remember the days when online magazines wrote about awesome personal trainers in Hull instead, but I digress)
I’ll concede that to some extent they have a point, the song features lyrics such as ‘there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas’ (as there rarely ever is in the UK) or ‘No rain nor river flow’ although several major rivers run through Africa, or you could read what you like into the line "at Chrismas time we let in light and banish shade".
It could be said that the whole song is a “white man saving the world” trope that does nothing to promote equality or level the playing field.
But the term Racist seems a little extreme, it might be condescending sure, even patronising, but if we begin to call out racism where it doesn’t exist then we’re in danger of growing tired of wokeness and missing the genuine causes of inequality that society still needs to address. If your reading this thihking what right does a white man have to comment on what is or isn't racism, my response is that at some point an equal society shouldn't judge people by the colour of thier skin, and a free society should allow all opinions to be expressed freely and openly.
But I’ve not wrote this article to go into a long tangent on political correctness, I’ll leave that to the tabloids, its Christmas time, and as I look forward to enjoying the day with my family, I’d like to take some time to reflect on my own life, and on what’s currently happening around the World right now.
There is something absurd about articles like this attempting to make people feel better about their lives by pointing out that others are around the world are faring much worse, if that happens then I have failed in my intentions, I hope that in reading the following I might help bring about a sense of gratitude and compassion, in our life’s of abundance, these two things are rarely in excess, and something I personally need reminding of on a regular basis.
As we settle down on Christmas day to tuck into a large plateful of excessive starchy, sugary, fatty goodness, there are people around the planet in desperate conditions, and if you watch the news each day, you might not have heard much about them, because they don’t make the headlines as much as Boris partying in lockdown.
Whilst I enjoy the comfort of a well-built house with central heating and double-glazed windows, the people of Siargo in the Philippines are currently recovering from Typhoon Rai, which killed hundreds of people in its path.
Whilst the women in my life are free to wear what they please, have whatever opinions they choose and despite the risk to public safety, drive, not all women around the globe are so fortunate.
In Kerela, India, girls taking the brave step of wearing trousers as part of their School Uniform, must make their way through crowds of angry protesters outraged that the school has taken the controversial decision to allow female students to wear the same uniform as the boys.
This is in a country where a housewife commits suicide every twenty-five minutes on average, and a recent lawmaker recently said publicly “when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it”, a comment which drew laughter from his political colleagues.
Some heavy rain might potentially ruin some of my planned Christmas walks, but in Malaysia the worst floods in decades have killed fourteen people and left thousands homeless. The situation may be about to get worse with further heavy rainfall predicted.
I’ll be enjoying my usual cup of Coffee on Christmas morning, then most likely a cup of tea later in the day as it becomes more and more apparent, I’ve drank too much beer. Thinking about where those beverages come from is quite sobering.
Tea workers in Kenya are currently working twelve hours a day, six days a week for a measly pay of £100 a month, currently fifteen hundred representatives of a tea picking farm are attempting to sue the Scottish owners over working conditions which cause frequent accidents with no sick pay or compensation should they lose their jobs.
As many people across the UK receive fine gifts of Jewellery, unfortunate souls In the Hpakant area of Myanmar are attempting to recover after over a hundred people died dead in a landslide at a Jade mine, thought to have been caused by an overflow of rubble to open pit mines. The working conditions are notorious for being unsafe, just ten days before this accident ten workers died at another mine.
In the UK many families will wake up in damp housing provided by penny pinching landlords and, in some cases, the actual council responsible for their welfare. There are also many people living in fear from an abusive family member.
Living on our streets are millions of people affected by drugs or alcohol, many of them veterans.
Whilst immature people laugh at the person walking through town having a loud argument with themselve and twitching, its a visual representation or a mental health service struggling to offer support to all those who need it.
We still have an abundance of wealth in our society, but things could always be improved.
Whilst you read this, sharks swim in waters searching for prey, lions roam, pandas pretend they don’t have kung fu skills, babies are born, people die, and our small planet continues to turn as a miniscule atom compared to the vast universe around us and the billions and billions of other planets surround us right now.
There is nothing exclusive about the events I’ve described here, it’s just another twenty-four hours on this Earth, much has come before us, your body reading this was once part of the big bang, where you sit or stand dinosaurs have roamed, Romans have fought battles, kings and kingdoms have risen and fallen.
Long after we’re gone these things will continue, undoubtedly more wars, more improvements in technology, more ways to enjoy life and more problems to solve.
I have a Dickensian perhaps over idealistic view of what Christmas should be, something that in reality no event could ever live up to, so disappointment is inevitable. The abundance of joy as well-dressed carol singers fill our ears with heavenly tones, the taste of a well-made mince pie, with a shot of baileys or port, opening presents that contain the gift that will make our lives complete and we’ll never have any problems again.
It’s all fleeting, it all passes, Christmas is just another day.
Many of us can get a bit Grinchy, Christmas is expensive, all that food and drink causes bloating and tiredness, and we don’t have to look hard to find things to complain about.
I wonder if Christmas should just be a time to pause, reflect, and appreciate what we have, something which takes effort, as it’s not easy to do, I’m as inclined as anyone to be petty, lazy, willing to waste time and easily provoked to anger, so from that perspective, I think it could it be said that like many of us, I am often the one who doesn’t really know it’s Christmas time at all.
Have a good one, seasons greetings from your favourite Hull Personal Trainer
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