I’ve been pretty out of touch lately. Things are a tad hectic. Looking for a short diversion earlier this week, I decided to check in on the world and see what was going on. What I was missing.
Over in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo is standing by his decision to introduce chemical castration for paedophiles. There are few things worse than child abuse (if any) on the long list of examples of man’s inhumanity to man, but chemical castration? Wowser. I read more. Apparently Poland took this same step back in 2009. I wonder where I was that day. Perhaps if I had more faith in the legal system and knew with 100% certainty that those found guilty were truly guilty, always, then I might be swayed.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte and his police death squads are at war with drugs and crime and are knocking off criminals and drug dealers by the new time. Over 3600 in the last few months since he took office. The Guardian reports a policeman, who has killed over 80 himself, likening himself and his ilk to:
..angels that God gave talent to, you know, to get these bad souls back to heaven and cleanse them.
And not content with the dealers and the criminals, the 3 million drug users in the country are also in Duterte’s sights. This is the same Duterte who recently heard God telling him to give up swearing. He was on a plane and God spoke to him, giving him the choice to stop swearing or go down with the plane. Apparently he’s known for his rather colourful use of language, having had to make a public apology or three for calling President Obama and Pope Francis some rather nasty names.
In eastern Paraguay, the indigenous Ava Guarani people are having a hard time of it. They’ve been forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands with police razing their schools, their houses, and their churches, destroying their crops, and taking their domestic animals. They’d committed no crime that I can see. It seems that some agricultural producer wanted their land and had the connections to make it happen. Unfortunately, this is a story that has been retold throughout history, one that is likely to continue repeating itself.
Things in Venezuela are spiralling out of control with Pope Francis intervening to get President Nicolas Maduro to sit down at the table with his opposition to see what can be done to get the country back on track. But with inflation topping 475%, that’s a difficult one to imagine, given that the poverty rate currently stands at 75%. Startling numbers.
In drought-ridden Malawi, things are worse than worse. Back in 2015, when it was hit by massive floods, 2.8 million people sought aid. This year, with the drought, that number is expected to top 6.5 million of the 17.5 million who live there. How the country is going to cope, even with international aid, is unfathomable.
Back this side of the world, 30 000 people are without homes in the aftermath of the second major earthquake to hit Italy this year. Back in August, 228 people lost their lives in an earlier quake.
In France, the Calais migrant and refugee camp has been cleared and closed. Those taking refuge there have been dispatched to camps around the country to await their fate.
In the UK, Andrew Parker, the director-general of the British Security Service MI5, has warned of the likelihood of terrorists attacks in the country.
The more I read, the more depressed I got. The world is going slowly mad. And no matter how bad things might be in Hungary, or indeed anywhere you call home, it’s really a matter of perspective. Dutch-born Thomas à Kempis, writing in the fifteenth century, had this advice to offer:
Keep yourself a stranger and pilgrim upon earth, to whom the affairs of this world are of no concern.
If only it were that easy…