torsdag 26 juli 2007

Comment is free

I have been looking at the Guardian's comment pages over the last few days here. A few of my own responses have been copied into this blog.

On the whole the comments to be found on the Guardian's discussion pages are thoughtful but neither the readers nor the authors of the original articles seem to go to the core of the issues they are talking about.

This is strange because often the issues are at root simple and straightforward. Perhaps it is the starkness of the issues that makes people ignore basic principles and get immersed in the complexity of the details.

Staying in a student hostel in Uppsala and the other activities I have been engaged in has given me the opportunity to engage with local people, many of them young. So many of the discussions I have had would just not be possible with British people of the same age and social group. IN my own circles there is a widespread refusal to look beneath the surface of things. People here seem to be more willing able to stand back and take a balanced and critical view of what is happening in their country.

The worrying thing about the Guardian's discussion pages is that it seems as if this ability is scarce in Britain. If the people in a country cannot see what their problems are, they cannot even begin to solve them and things will just go on getting worse.

Still, it is nice to know that the government has just voted £3.9 billion for two new aircraft carriers. We have people living in shop doorways, the streets in our cities are broken and filthy, young people cannot afford homes of their own, large tracts of the country are an economic wasteland, the roads are over-congested and the railways are a basket case, but the British government obviously sees the country as an exemplar for the rest of the world and able to play its part as international policeman.

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