Little to say for myself

Saturday, March 15, 2003  

..judged by results, not by intentions

Cicero would have been proud of RND03 last night.

Sure, their intentions are good - a lot of people's are. I suppose even George Bush has a vestige of good intentions tucked away in there somewhere. The difference with Comic Relief is that they achieved a fantastic RESULT. Perhaps their timing was fortunate. Perhaps the whole country is brimming with despair at the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East. Perhaps we have been sensitised to the plight of the powerless. Whatever the reason, the amount of cash raised last night was 50% up on the previous RND, and it was enough to make even the dryest cynic warm to all those shallow showbiz celebs.

Tag-lines like "To change their lives..... just add water" went right through me, and I felt incredibly moved by the hysteria that greeted the running totals. People (millions of us in fact, just by pledging a bit of cash) were DOING GOOD.

Then, around midnight, we had our own humanitarian - or rather, hamsterian - crisis. My younger son, A., went to say goodnight to Jess, only to find her curled up in her bed, virtually comatose. She was cold to the touch and had the resting heart-rate of a marathon runner, instead of the normal humming bird. After a few panicky and anguished moments we warmed her up, and she slowly began to surface. She managed the odd twitch of the whiskers, but little more. I offered her a hazelnut, which she took, but it just sat in her open jaws. She didn't have the strength to gnaw it. It was obvious from her emaciated little body that she hadn't eaten in days. In despair, I warmed some milk and offered some drops in the palm of my hand. She eventually licked a little and seemed to perk up, even opening her eyes slightly. I chopped the hazelnut and she nibbled a bit. We gave her morsels of bread and she even found the strength to hold them in her front paws while she ate them. Then she seemed to slump again. She'd only eaten a scrap and the effort had exhausted her. She couldn't be made to swallow any more. By 2am, the only thing left was to put her back in her bed with a few bits of food, and cross our fingers. We all prepared for the worst.

This morning, A. burst into my bedroom at an ungodly hour, and in his hand was Jess - seemingly back to her normal perky self.

In our own little way we had experienced, in microcosm, what Comic Relief is succeeding in doing. We had taken what seemed to be a hopeless situation and we had gone in there, worked long and hard, hands-on, and solved it. It wasn't just the material resources that saved her, it was the care, concern and energy of the people applying them.

I salute not just the celebs who turn out on RND to publicise, and to raise those astonishing wads of cash, but also the people who spend the money - and more importantly their own time and energy - making the difference which turns people's lives around.

Through one relatively trivial incident, I now know how that feels.

posted by Plig | 17:11 |

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Forget the sentimental notion that foreign policy is a struggle between virtue and vice, with virtue bound to win.
Forget the utopian notion that a brave new world without power politics will follow the unconditional surrender of wicked nations.
Forget the crusading notion that any nation, however virtuous and powerful, can have the mission to make the world in its own image.
Remember that diplomacy without power is feeble, and power without diplomacy is destructive and blind.
Remember that no nation's power is without limits, and hence that its policies must respect the power and interests of others.
Hans Morgenthau

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts
Bertrand Russell

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one
Albert Einstein

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative
Martin Luther King Jr.

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man
Bertrand Russell

I think it would be a good idea
Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun
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Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others
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Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it
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Always make new mistakes
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