As a rule I don’t set my alarm on Sunday. I enjoy listening to the radio and generally moving at a slower pace than normal. Last Sunday started well but rapidly went downhill as I listened to the news.
The top story was a report of Scotland’s most senior Catholic cleric objecting to the possible new right of same sex couples to marry. This outburst precedes a government consultation so I fear there is more nonsense to come about the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.
I know many decent people of Catholic faith who don’t shove their beliefs and rituals down the throats of others. Given the continuing disclosures of sexual abuse by clerics, it is infuriating that the hierarchy prattle on about their perception of morality.
On top of this, we've had more bad news for the Third Sector. A leaked document apparently shows a cut in funding by £5 billion. This the day after we learned that women’s refuges are suffering from local authority spending cuts brought about by the coalition's 28 per cent reduction in central government allocation.
To add to the gloom was a report of vandalism at a War Grave Cemetery in Benghazi, Libya. I feel as uneasy by the desecration of graves marked by Christian and Jewish symbols as I would about any other faith hate crime.
If all this wasn’t bad enough the drums of war are beating ever louder as the US and Israel ratchet up the rhetoric against Iran with the awful probable shift toward military action. With chilling irony someone put it thus: “If you liked Iraq and Afghanistan you’ll love Iran”.
The only good news last Sunday was that Education Minister Michael Gove is apparently sweeping aside rules on homework, leaving what and how much to the judgement of head teachers.
Cold comfort to teaching and support staff facing privatisation courtesy of academies and so-called free schools alongside reduced pensions and the prospect of working longer.
Faced with such doom and gloom I am extremely grateful that we have in the UK a vibrant campaigning tradition.
Organisations such as ‘Stop the War Coalition’, ‘End Violence Against Women’, ‘UK Uncut’, ‘Hope not Hate’ and many others are stepping up to the plate with alternatives in support of peace and justice.
It is these values – peace and justice - that women worldwide will celebrate on 8 March, International Women’s Day, and the thought of that combined energy and power as the counterforce to the bigots and warmongers reminds me we have much to celebrate.