"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
Standing on the Yorkshire Wolds looking over the Vale of York, the vista is breathtaking. This green and pleasant land, the evocation of Britain beautifully laid out on a splendid shimmering summer's day. In the distance is York Minster. She dominates the landscape, only eclipsed by the smoky intrusion of Drax Power Station. The eyes seek to ignore that.
Scattered across the landscape, each village gives a nod to York Minster. Each village dominated by a church sitting central to the community on the high ground.
When the terrain floods these hallowed places remain well above the water in a testament to our forefather's ingenuity. Each church is geographically central. That geography tells us something; the influence of the church as a fulcrum for a community. Providing guidance, values and a safe mooring for timid souls. For many hundreds of years the Church, in its various forms, was the foundation of community.
It’s inevitable with the 18th-century arrival of the Enlightenment that the standing and influence of religion would wane. That process has gone on since. It continues today and is gathering pace. Those beautiful church’s sit silently these days, their bells only ring for the occasional wedding or festival.
The erosion of religious influence is not something that raises my objection. Organised religion has outlived its usefulness and forfeited any moral authority. It goes without saying that the pleasant pastoral scene of rural life, masked many injustices. Thus, I do not seek a return to that era with its strict adherence to class structures and genuflecting to the landed gentry.
Even the Church of England, with Christianity-lite, has damaged its brand. Cover-ups and awful abuse stain the record. The shocking levels of child rape perpetrated by the Catholic Church expose the corruption at its core. Add to that the denigration of women, then the exclusion of gays and others. The Church in so many ways acts to hold back people. 'The opium of the masses’ to paraphrase Karl Marx, at least he was right about that.
The dual assault of philosophical argument - ‘God is dead’ - allied to disgust at religions excesses was bound to kick in the door. Thus control is waning. Yet you cannot escape the fact that the falling of these institutions has consequences. The Church did anchor society, providing a safe mooring for many people. Now that mooring is gone, some of these people are cast adrift.
Some folks double-down on their religious belief in an attempt to hold back the tide of change. A few seek new forms of guidance or life-models upon which to build their personal narrative. They embrace spiritualism along with Eastern practices that border on religion. These range from the practical such as meditation to the quirky crystals obsession.
In some ways, the strident advocates of human rights adopt a religious zeal. Likewise, Marxism has all the underpinnings of a sect. The sacred text, the constant infighting to prove who is the true believer allied to endless re-interpretation. Each sub-group is striving to outdo the other with strident belief in a revealed truth.
Meanwhile, the mainstream political system is not open to critical ideas. These days the body-politic offers no real choices. Politicians run scared of market forces in an interconnected world. If they don’t do the bidding of multinationals, punishment awaits with the withdrawal of their investment.
Some of the changes in Britain were accelerated by agenda driven forces. Students of history will find glimpses of Tony Blair’s semi-covert initiative to dilute the social fabric of the UK. His weapon of choice with mass immigration. His commanding general was Barbara Roche, the Minister for Asylum and Immigration. She stated that immigration control is racist, then set about dismantling them. By the time this was spotted the damage was done.
That the multicultural experiment failed is clear. It created ghettoes on land and in the mind. That many won’t acknowledge this is typical of the zealots. They rarely surrender with ease as their defence of the indefensible grows shriller until it finally all crashes down. Don't forget the ardent communists were willfully blind to the evils of the Soviet Union. Even as the Berlin Wall fell, they lingered too long seeking to justify themselves. Then they sat discredited and forlorn.
Likewise ignoring genuine grievances in the UK has allowed the emergence of radicals at both ends of the spectrum. Meanwhile, the liberal elite appears motivated by a sense of collective guilt over the colonial era. We, the new generation, must atone for the past although having played no part. This blackmail from history gets visited most on the working-class communities that shoulder the burden of the failing multicultural project.
The influx of alien cultures is acutely felt in the depressed working towns most in the north. The poor white working-class girls of Rotherham and Huddersfield have suffered the consequences. Of course, the mainstream media continues to ignore this truth. It flagellates itself with linguistic gymnastics as it seeks to avoid giving group names to the victims and culprits. In this regard, they're aided by shameless politicians such as Diana Abbott. Any identification of a group will be met with her rebuke because sustaining the lie is crucial.
But consider this. British Pakistanis make up 4 % of the population. When you cut the ladies that drops to 2%. Yet this 2% is responsible for about 74% of class-one sexual assaults on underage girls. That shocking statistics is a sign of a cultural issue. Hiding this fact serves no purpose other than to forestall resolution of the problem.
One shouldn’t be too surprised that this state of affairs festers. Look at that former bastion of the nation's values - the BBC. Once a cornerstone of national life its influence was immense. Then, in recent years, it housed the nations most prolific sex offender. Moreover, it provided him with a platform for his activities while ignoring his crimes. Those that spoke out faced sanction and career ruin.
It’s possible that the cultural dissonance will never be resolved. Too many internal and external forces are at play. Thus no single unifying voice can emerge as Britain lacks a leader of strength prepared to tackle these issues.
So where is the middle ground? From whence does value judgement arise in a postmodern, post-truth world? How do the ordinary people reassert their decency so that the authorities don’t kowtow at a false altar to allow unspeakable crimes? If facts are opinions, as the postmodernists assert, then we can guarantee nothing. Nothing is right, and nothing is wrong.
That a supposedly educated young lady thinks it okay to desecrate the memory of young men who fought in a world war, then what hope is there? That the police turn a blind eye to rape. That politicians play games to bury these truths. From who do we take the lead?
It’s pretty hard to navigate a path through this morass. And yet in our very core, we know right and wrong. Common decency, honesty and a willingness to speak the truth provide a firm moral mooring. The plain-speaking Yorkshire folk that dwell in the Vale of York fit that bill. That’s not a caricature we should laugh at or dismiss. Perhaps then we can change the direction of travel.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.