Letters to the Editor: 'Crises facing our world are the fault of humankind, not God or religion'
Since religion in Ireland and elsewhere has become discredited due to real abuses, it's important not to throw out the morality baby with the religious bathwater. Political systems and democracy are also deteriorating. It is not religion or democracy that causes the problems, but the abuses of religion and democracy.
To avoid chaos, humanity needs a well-structured system of morality, even if we were all atheists.
Democracy is deteriorating across the world, not just in areas like Turkey, the Middle East and Africa, but in western countries including the US, UK, Ireland and the European Union. Self and national interests have replaced altruism and international co-operation that are vital for the survival of human society.
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Humanity now faces multiple crises including environmental damage, the risk of nuclear war, ongoing conflicts and political turmoil that are likely to lead to catastrophic chaos because these crises are not being resolved and are intensifying.
Humanitarianism at international level has been corrupted by rendering the United Nations powerless and by the degradation of international laws. Humanitarian intervention has come to mean overthrowing governments and destroying countries in order to more easily steal their resources.
It is not God or religions that are causing these problems, it is irresponsible humans. If we destroy this beautiful planet we do not have the capacity to move to another planet, and even if we had, we would not deserve such a second chance.
A Christmas poem that fills a void from the past
It was a delight for me to see a poem by Declan Comer included in your paper December 22.
I have noticed that hardly a poem has appeared in the newspapers over the Christmas period and it is one of the main interests in my life. I have no interest in sport, yet page after page fills the newspapers. It would be comforting for many people to read a poem at this time of year.
When I was young I looked forward to seeing a poem in my local 'Leitrim Observer' and 'Leitrim Guardian'. It is OK for me today as I can afford to fill my home with books of poetry, but for those who do not purchase poetry books it is uplifting to get the opportunity to read a poem in any publication.
After driving in the dark
through an arch of tall trees,
we parked in the half moon
shaped by this big house,
and smelled the mulled wine
as it wafted out the door.
On either side of the hallway,
in two large rooms, people admired
the red fires glowing in the old grates,
the walls lined with pieces of Delft,
candlesticks, ornaments, paintings.
Then I remembered
why these artefacts were here,
how tenants were punished
if they did not pay their rent.
A shipload drowned at sea,
after fleeing from the Famine years.
In the Library, I listened
to thirty-two voices from Longford
and Mullingar, singing carols,
bringing the Christmas story to life.
Later in the kitchen we drank
steaming wine and ate mince pies.
Leaving the large rooms behind,
in the winding corridor I noticed
how the stones were placed
to make such grand designs.
How men must have slaved
to create all this.
From 'Perfume of the Soil', Swan Press, 1999.
Address with editor
Baby, it's cold outside - just open door yourself
So now it seems we have to go back in history to find offence in well-loved songs such as 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'.
'Get a grip', I say, it's coming to the stage now where a man will be afraid to hold a door open for a woman!
Newspapers are good for more than crosswords...
Never a cross word at Christmas...
Many years ago (somewhat before his time?) my eldest son decided to use newspaper to wrap presents. Very environmentally friendly of course, but I remember having great difficulty trying to do my Irish Independent crossword crouched under the Christmas tree.
Beaumont, Dublin 9
We must hope for better after a 'colourful' 2018
As the year is coming to a close and we stand on the cusp of history, we can only hope for better in 2019 - 2018 was full of colourful events.
For many the Brexit shock was a surprise. Looking backward at the historical context, the outcome should have surprised no one. Anti-immigration politics and xenophobic sentiments have become normalised in today's Britain, accompanied by an alarming surge of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, creating the right conditions for far-right parties with their deep roots in Nazism and Fascism to flourish and for mainstream parties and media outlets to espouse the scapegoating instead of challenging it.
In the US, Trump has signed executive orders to build a wall with Mexico, to ban Muslims from entering the USA and to discriminate solely on the basis of religion, race or nationality. Needless to mention are tragedies in Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Indonesia among others. Let us dream 2019 will be a year of hope and mutual respect and understanding.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
We still have our 'little fella's' train in the attic
I remember the train set we went to such trouble to get Santa to bring, and how our little fella spent Christmas morning playing with the box as the infernal thing circled the living room, ignored. Oh, to have the little fella back.
The train set is in the attic.