The annual public classification of the "Rich List" in Britain and Ireland prompts some doubtful feelings in me.
Doesn't this publication materialistic and commercial society?
Why should we admire David Khalili for his £5 ,800m in "art and property"? Or the Hinduja brothers for their £6,200m for "industry and finance"? Hans Rausing for £5,400m made in "packaging" — of which there is far too much anyway? Or Richard Desmond for his £1,900m made in some less than admirable publishing endeavours?
If I wanted to seem virtuous I might remark, about the billionaires — "in contrast to all the poor people who have so little". But if I am to be honest, my gut reaction is much more about myself.
For the true, subconscious reaction is: why should all these folks have so much dosh while I have to consider whether I can afford a new washing machine? Why should there be so many swells with squillions to spare while my lifestyle is, relatively, rather modest? Have I not made as great a contribution to culture and society as the kingpins of packaging and property, the magnates of retailing and utili . 9 But in my heart I know that this is a wrong way to think. Envy is a negative and souldestroying sentiment. We should be glad for the prosperity that these wealthy persons enjoy, and recognise that in many cases they have earned this prosperity with their industry, inventiveness and application of ideas.
And isn't it good to see that "if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door" proved by Mr Dyson's £1,080m for inventing a new vacuum cleaner?
In contrast to those who say that ethnic minorities are bound to be poorer in Britain, isn't it interesting to note so many Indians, Iraqis, Iranians and others from ethnic minorities on the list?
Sometimes people are rich simply because they are lucky, but that too is part of life's pattern.
A great society certainly encourages rich people to put back some of their good luck and good fortune. This also may have some placatory effect on those of us who may occasionally have to struggle with our darker impulses of envy towards the gilded elite.
whatever Boris Yeltsin's human flaws — and he had them — there is one very great accomplishment he achieved in his life.
He initiated and facilitated the rebuilding of the beautiful Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow: the original had been first destroyed by Stalin and his henchman Kaganovitch in 1931, and completely reduced to rubble by Khruschev in the 1950s (replaced by a swimming pool). Khruschev deliberately destroyed more hes and cathedrals than._ any other Soviet leader, an act not only of sacred desecration, but of aesthetic barbarism. These Orthodox churches were places of immense beauty.
But Boris Nikolayevich Immediately launched the rebuilding of the new cathedral when he came to power. Christ the Saviour was commenced in 1992 and consecrated in 1996 — an extraordinary achievement.
Designed in the old Byzantine style, it is now the main location for great Russian funerals, and over the past couple of weeks both Yeltsin and the courageous Soviet cellist Mstislav Rostropovich have lain in state there. Their funerals were carried out with the full panopoly of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Yes, Mr Yeltsin made mistakes, but he should be forever honoured for making such a wonderful contribution to the restoration to beauty and faith for old Holy Russia. children are to be taught manners in secondary school as part of a programme of "emotional intelligence".
Manners, eh? How Victorian! BuL as in the exercise of reinventing the wheel, it has been re-discovered having polite manners can actually help young people to have a better life.
You don't say!
Not only that, but manners help to reduce crime, as the Victorian Sunday Schools also showed.
The street culture of "respect" is, I often think, a kind of inarticulate attempt among even the uncouth young to re-invent a code of manners. It comes to a pretty pass, to be sure, when the 14-year-old miscreant explains: "I had to shoot him 'cos he wouldn't respect me"; yet in the 18th (and early 19th) century duels were fought for that very reason, and young men died for their honour.
Manners, respect, honour — all these need to be codified in social rules. As Cardinal Newman realised in his portrait of the mannerly Christian gentleman.