Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Paul Foot

I closed my eyes and when I looked. Your name was in the memorial book.

I've never been a great believer in religion. I'm too cynical for it.

I can't bring myself to believe in an after life. I find it hard to grasp anything that can't be proven one way or another, and the apparent hypocrisy of most religions don't make them the most appealing organisations.

However, despite all of that I have wavered at times. When a young cousin of mine died in tragic circumstances I asked myself again - could all that life and energy just disappear altogether?

But in my heart of hearts I know that, whether I am right or wrong, I do not believe. I don't have it in me to believe.

They say you shouldn't talk about politics or religion in polite company. Well I've never been much good at small talk. So it's an in-depth discussion/argument with me or I probably won't say anything at all.

The topic of an afterlife has come up in red wine-fuelled 1am conversations before. Who believes? Who doesn't?

My best interpretation of the afterlife goes something like this...

We have a short time on this earth. In that time we have a duty to live our lives as fully as possible. We don't owe anybody anything in terms of what we do with our life - except for a duty that, whatever we do, it doesn't impact negatively on anybody else.

As for the after life. I believe that the "eternal life" that is spoken of is not literal. Instead it's just about how your life touched on other people's. Have your achievements left a mark? Will who you were, and what you achieved, live on either in the minds or lives of other people?

I don't think you have to change the world or find a cure for cancer. Simply living a life that improves the lives around you is enough. If through your work, friendship or support you better other people's lives, then you can deem your life a success.

I was prompted to get all deep and meaningful for a second after reading this today about the funeral of crusading journalist Paul Foot. While there are plenty of big name celebs whose funeral would cause a stir, Paul Foot, although well respected in his profession, was never a household name.

And yet thousands turned out for his funeral.

According to the news reports there were banners representing anti-racism groups , anti-war groups and trade unions. There were victims too of miscarriages of justice for whom Paul had tirelessly and successfully campaigned to be free.

Whatever their claims to want to "make a difference" there are few politicians who will ever get a send off like Paul Foot. There are even fewer journalists.

As I have said before, during all this talk of freedom and democracy that we now use to justify wars, a democracy is only as good as a country's media. If the people don't get the right information to make their decisions then the democracy is essentially worthless. If the media and the journalists are controlled by the state, or too scared or unambitious not to step out of line, then their words are worthless.

Paul Foot gave people the truth. The real truth - not the truth of a millionaire media barron or whichever Government was in power.

That was why his life touched so many people. That is why he will never be forgotten. In that respect at least - his life is eternal.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.