Just as I promise myself to do less ‘serious’ blogging, Yankee Doodle sends me a birthday present of five questions to answer! So here goes……
1) You are turning 80. Congratulations, and Happy Birthday! During the
Churchill’s actual words [as France fell in June 1940] were: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.” Although the British Empire did not last another 50 years, 1940 was indeed
2) When you were a young adult, what was communication like? What are your thoughts on the changes you have seen in your lifetime in this field: the expansion of the telephone system, the improvements in television, and, of course, the advent of computers and the internet? These things have opened up possibilities for people. What, in your opinion, are the most significant, and why? What, if any, dangers do you see resulting from these technological improvements?
When I was young, there were far fewer cars and no motorways. We mostly travelled long distances by steam train – very smoky and dirty, especially when going through tunnels! Civilian air flight was in its infancy. We had no television until after the war, and only limited public service radio. [My grandfather, in the 1920s, had been fascinated by the primitive early crystal-and-‘cat’s whisker’ sets]. People still read a great deal more than they do nowadays, and there were excellent pubic libraries [many endowed by Andrew Carnegie]. There was very poor reception for ‘long wave’ broadcasts from America and the rest of the world, and nothing like the instant global communication we have become used to during the past couple of decades thanks to computers and the internet. The creation of this virtual ‘global village’ opens up exciting possibilities of drawing people closer together and increasing mutual understanding, but it also carries great dangers to personal freedom because of the technical ability to eavesdrop and censor which is bound to be used [and misused] by authoritarian governments. We are already seeing a growing tendency toward this, not only in still partially closed societies such as
3) What changes in the demographics in
4) You have commented on my blog about Islam. Islam has spread significantly into the West in your lifetime, and has become associated with violence. As a reader and a thinker who has seen a share of history, do you feel this is association is a fair portrayal? Please put the current situation with the spread of Islam and the violence that has been associated with it into historical perspective for us.
I bear no personal hostility to Muslims as human beings, and value the friendship of the former chairman of our local mosque, who used to live next door to me. But I am apprehensive that the doctrines of Islam, by which they set so much store, are incompatible with Western notions of a free, tolerant, and open society. It is obvious from the claims being made and the arguments advanced that there is no room for compromise between Islamic values and Western democratic values. You cannot blend chalk with cheese, or mix oil and water. Most people in the West are still in a state of denial about this, and accuse those of us who point out these obvious truths of being ‘Islamophobic’ – a meaningless term, because there is nothing ‘phobic’ about being frightened of intolerance and unreason. Violence is not the main problem at the moment, though it could become so if sensible preventive policies are not quickly put into place. There will always be spasmodic violence perpetrated by hot-headed youths, whatever their belief-systems. The proper way to deal with it is through firm policing – not military adventures in a spurious ‘war on terror’. There should certainly be much tighter curbs upon further immigration into
5) Comments that you have made indicate you feel it is not just Islam that poses a threat to humanity. Please explain your views on religions in general, then on various religions in particular. What are your thoughts on Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and any others that you may have encountered?