Gary Dolman was born in the industrial north east of England in the 1960s, but grew up in Harrogate in Yorkshire, where he now lives with his wife, three children and dogs. His writing reflects his fascination by the dark places of the human mind.
It was the liberal peer Lord Acton (1834-1902) who famously
remarked that, ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Great men are almost always bad men.’
What Acton meant by this was not that the powerful would
necessarily become corrupt or fraudulent in the legal sense of the word but
rather that power tends to cause a moral corruption, a corruption of the heart
and conscience.There were very many in
Acton’s own day like that. The immense wealth and military might of Victorian
Britain led to the outrageous exploitation of many of the weakest in society both
at home and abroad despite the efforts of the celebrated philanthropists and
social reformers of the day.
Tragically, little has changed almost a century and a half
later. From Presidential candidates in the United States to some of the popular
press here in the UK there is a deeply-held belief that some people are part of
an underclass of no-hope, ne’er-do-well freeloaders who parasitize society. It
is an attitude held by not a few, both in government and in society.
These individuals have invariably been born into privilege;
either into wealth or self-perceived authority, or at least NOT into financial
and emotional hardship. They see disadvantage as something that must surely
have resulted from laziness or fecklessness and not from circumstance or sheer
bad luck. They make judgements based on stereotypes and assumption and they condemn.
After months of portraying those on disability benefits as
largely workshy and lazy, Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George
Osborn were roundly jeered by the spectators at the recent Paralympic Games in
London.They then attributed this to the
poor presentation of their views rather than the views themselves.
Then we have a now-notorious Chief Whip in the British
Government who (allegedly) called a member of the police service a, ‘pleb,’ and
(again allegedly) suggested he should ‘know his place.’ He may well have been,
as he claims, tired and frustrated when he made the outburst but tiredness and
frustration does not excuse that fundamentally superior attitude of mind; it
merely explains why it was blurted out in the heat of the moment.
Civilisation is all about how we regard and go about caring
for the least advantaged in society, not about how we might encourage or laud
those who already have the most advantage. It is about striving to do what is
best for civilisation – for society – as a whole, not for ourselves or our
‘equals’. This is not politics; this is simple humanity. It sounds self-evident
but tragically relatively few really live it.