Skip to main content

Deliver Us from Evil

I can not deny that I am much troubled by the appalling news from Georgia. The obvious determination of Russia to destroy the hard-won independence of the country is the writing on the wall for the future. Russia has gone well beyond hard-ball. The bombing of Tblisi, and the news that the Georgians are evacuating Gori- a city well inside Georgia proper suggests, pehaps, that Russia intends to occupy much of the entire country.

The message that the Kremlin is giving is that any state that presumes to challenge Russian power can expect the use of every weapon in the Russian armoury against them. It means to that the probing and challenging at every turn that NATO has had to deal with over the past few years will now be stepped up. Russian money too can be used as a weapon- and it will be. My friend Edward Lucas has written well on the subject of the New Russian Hegemony, but even he is shocked, as am I, by the naked brutality that the Siloviki have displayed.

Troubled at heart I decided to leave London for a drive. I stopped at Waltham Abbey and inspected the purported grave of Harold II Godwineson- the last Saxon King of England, though in fact Godwine himself seem to have been a Dane. It did not seem a particularly happy example, since I see so many serious challenges to Britain, both internally and externally- it would not really be such a "Black Swan" to many of us, if we were living in the last days of the state that began nearly 950 years ago, with the Norman conquest.

My next stop was Greensted-juxta-Ongar where the oldest wooden Church in Britain stands. Although founded by St. Cedd in around 660, it now seems that the church itself was mostly constructed in the ninth century. Inside it is small, but it expresses the kind of ancient society that so inspired JRR Tolkien. The people who built the church were still speaking Old English.

Continuing my journey, I came to the chapel of St. Peter-on-the Wall: the first chapel built by St Cedd, after his journey from Lindisfarne to bring Christianity to the East Saxon Kingdom of Essex in 854. It stands in lonely isolation on the ruins of the Roman fort of Othona. The sun caught the light of the Blackwater and the open sea. The square stone building has been here for 1,400 years and more. It seemed appropriate to sit for a while in the chapel, bathed in the golden light of the westering Sun. As Nassim Taleb says, we don't know what we don't know, so perhaps faith is not as foolish as it appears. In any event faith has come more easily to me. I contemplated the images in my mind: the burning of Gori, the familiar fear in the faces. My mind dwelt on another war zone which I remember all too well.

I did not really know what to think or pray, however sceptically.

Quietly the phrase came: "Deliver us from Evil".

I silently made the whole prayer.

In that hallowed place, and after a day thinking about centuries, I realised that nature and the planet function on a far longer time scale than humans do, and perhaps this comforts me a little. That a brutal government in the Kremlin holds so much power and threatens us should stir us, should remind us that we have grown fat on prosperity and drawn envious eyes. Yet, we can still return to our core values, to build freedom and the open society. Now, more than ever, we must look to our values and to make amends where we have- as in Guantanamo- betrayed those values.

The simple, poor place reminds me of the value of simplicity- a thing I saw much of walking on the Road to Santiago. The battle for the Open Society is a moral battle. As the devices and desires of our many enemies are made plain, as fear walks abroad, I sense that we will need much courage- moral and physical- in the coming years.

As I leave the little church I am comforted a little- enough to return to my desk and face the latest horrors unleashed in the ancient Kingdom of Colchis.

Comments

nagyelme said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie.  The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship.  The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election". OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.   BUT, and it really is the bi

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo