I started this blog a week ago, when it was initially to be about the fact that there are some people lucky enough in this world to choose where they live. It was prompted by an increasing groundswell of unease about the direction in which this world travelling. In the views of many - rich and poor - the current direction is not favourable and now folk, at least those with the wherewithal, seem very interested in looking at what might be described as "safe havens". But then I got sidetracked with other things
On Friday night I went to a charity event, an annual one that has had my attention for many years now - in fact since its early days - and I left as I usually do, humbled by the generosity of people in Hong Kong but as importantly by two other factors.
One, the drive of the founder of the charity John Wood, passionate beyond belief, and inspiring in his team of volunteers and those people who do get paid for full time work the same sense of "let's get this done". A spirit I might add that used to envelop Hong Kong business, but which in my view is now much less evident.
Two, the successes enjoyed by the charity as evidenced by a young Sri Lankan girl, Thirumagal Kuvendran who, a beneficiary of Room to Read's work, came to speak at the event. And no, cynical though I am - she was not a single one-off shining star selected to dazzle the audience and persuade them to part with their money, but representative of so many young people that have benefited from the charity. We have had the privilege in the past to visit their work in the field, and have realised that there is an unsatisfied thirst for learning. There are many more just like Thirumugal who would not, because they were perhaps born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, into the wrong society, or just because they happened to be female, have the opportunity that opens up them today.
Those of us born into a different society have been luckier than we might imagine, or recognise. We have had the luxury of choice. Thus the Blog got diverted from thinking about the people who are seeking safety for their futures and who can afford to do so, to the broader issue of actually having the luxury of choice just, even, to live.
In the context of living, the issues facing those wealthy people who think they will move to another country that seems safer and kinder is actually little different from the millions of disadvantaged, impoverished families living in war torn, famine-ridden areas where their leaders have little regard for life and health as long as they themselves are all right. Hence the dilemma of richer nations, and the people in them who by and large have sympathy and respect for human life, but do not see that pumping millions of whatever currency into those countries serves any purpose other than enriching despotic rulers.
So it is, and perhaps just the smallest of starts, that charities like Room to Read can help in bringing education to millions of children. Those same human beings that will inherit what is left of our world after we have comprehensively destroyed it, and reverse the trends that are becoming all too apparent.
I have lived through one of the longest periods of peace in modern history, but the rise of populism, nationalism, intolerance and hatred is causing me and others to look around nervously. Not that it matters to me - I, like others of my age have a limited life span but for the sake of our children and those to follow we need to think very hard about the road down which we are travelling. Two World Wars in the last century were created out of a rise in popularism, and the first one was probably started by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand - now look at the assassination of Kim Jong-nam. I hope there are no parallels.