In the spirit of things

From my opinion column written for the Egremont 2Day newspaper.

As I write this the sun is shining, Wimbledon is on and all seems right with the world. Except it isn’t, of course.

Greece is on the verge of complete economic collapse and exit from the EU (or ‘Grexit’ as it is known); and today I’ve heard that a stampede in Bangladesh, where I lived many years, has killed dozens. People literally trampled each other to death for free clothes handed out in charitable giving to the poor in the holy month of Ramadan.

And that’s just what’s on the news headlines right now. There’s hundreds of smaller news items coming out all the time globally. Most of them aren’t happy, good news. It’s enough to make one rather depressed and despairing at the world. Thank heavens for the tennis – at least no one is dying on the grass courts even if they are getting slaughtered by their opponent.

I sometimes wonder how we, the human race, manage to hold such opposing truths in our head. How do we not go mad and give up when there is so much pain and suffering – sometimes down the road, sometimes on the other side of the planet? How do we manage to enjoy sport, Eastenders or Corrie, time in our gardens in the glorious British sunshine (all two days of it, perhaps) and a host of other things which are so trivial compared to loss of life or the fear of starving because you can’t take money out of the banks?

Since last year we’ve been remembering the sacrifices made by so many in the First World War. Out of the many tragedies of that time, and that of the war which followed it, many great things came out too. Perhaps most important was that of communities coming together to support one another and get through the bad times.

It’s what we all do best – supporting one another. It is perhaps the one link between the tennis I’m watching and what’s happening in Greece and Bangladesh. Whether encouraging the underdog on the court, or rallying around to help those crisis, or coming to the aid of those suffering in a disaster, when human beings stop trying to hurt one another and, instead, build each other up that’s when we shine as bright as any Summer sun. If only we showed that spirit more often.


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