Today Chancellor George Osborne in his spending review announced that there is going to be an INCREASE in spending on international aid of £11.5bn.
In a time of great austerity, when the Government is having to make some very tough choices (that I don't all agree with), I think that the news that Britain is going to increase spending on international aid is wonderful!
However what has disturbed me is the way that one newspaper in particular (the Daily Mail) has reported this news. Rather than welcoming it, it has attacked this decision to increase spending on aid.
I posted the following message on the Daily Mail message board:
I think it is very important that Britain continues to meet its obligations in providing aid for developing nations, and welcome the increase in the amount Britain will be giving away in international aid.
Whilst times are difficult in the UK, we must remember that compared to many people in the world we are incredibly well off. I acknowledge times are going to be tough in this country over the next decade, but what we are going through is nothing when compared to the 1.7 billion people around the world who live in absolute poverty - those people who have no access to clean water, or the 25 thousand people who die every day because of hunger. There are 3 billion people in the world who live on less than $2.50 a day.
We live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, we need to recognise how lucky we are, and use our wealth to help the neediest in our world.
I have been surprised to discover that my comment has been rated as one of the worst by the Daily Mail readers. Why? Because I defend the importance of Britain taking a lead and spending money on international aid.
In contrast to my comment, the most popular comment is posted by Linda from South Yorkshire.
For God's sake an increase in overseas aid is totally inappropriate. What about us? If we carry on like this we'll be the recipients of overseas aid from current 3rd world countries. CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME.
As a Christian I find this attitude incredibly sad. The Bible makes it clear that we have a duty to care for the most vulnerable and needy not only in our own society, but across the world. We cannot ignore the suffering of others around the world, we have a duty of care for the poor and destitute where ever they may be.
Whilst we in Britain face some hard times ahead of us, we have to recognise that we do live in one of the most affluent nations in the world, and our current economic woes are not going to change this fact.
At the harvest service at St Martin's in September, I got children in church to cut out of magazines pictures of things we might buy, and to decide which column to put the images in - either things we need or things we would like. It was an interesting exercise, because hair driers and flat screen TVs went into the column of 'things we need'. The truth is that we don't need these things, they are nice to have, but they are not essentials of life. In fact we only need a few essential items, food, water and shelter, everything else you could argue is essentially a luxury.
As a nation I think we forget how fortunate and blessed we are, and it we need to remember that even in these difficult financial times, we have a duty to care for the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.
Whilst I am not a huge fan of George Osborne, I applaud both him and our Government for making the brave decision to increase spending on aid.