A Fairy Tale from
Western Europe the United Kingdom
A few weeks ago it seems that I had run out of sugar. Remembering all the relevant Folk/Fairy tales about asking for sugar from neighbours I made my way out and turned to the house next door.
I am a positive person so I try and ignore this and walk up the path. I knock on the door. Nothing.
I knock again…and again. I know he is there, since I have seen him. Eventually the door opens slightly and he peers through the crack.
“Hello there, neighbour,” I say, cheerily and hopefully, “I am having a bit of a crisis in the sugar department – I wonder if you would be able to help me?”
Even before the words are out of my mouth he replies with a sharp “No!” And closes the door on me.
~Fortunately, unbeknown by my neighbour, as well as being positive, another facet of my character is that I am persistent. I knock again. The door opens – even a little less wide if that were possible.
“Hello there neighbour,” I say, deliberately stressing our hitherto close relationship. “I am still suffering from a distinct lack of sugar at the moment. Would you be good enough to help me out? Please?”
He pauses for the moment and I am beginning to think he may just say ‘yes’ when he shuts the door again. “Wait there!” Comes his call from behind the door.
So I wait. And wait. Eventually the door opens and, to my surprise, my neighbour is now all smiles. “There you go!” He says, cheerily. I take in his still empty hands and his smiling face. Am I missing something?
“There you go!” He repeats. “I’ve taken some of my sugar and given it to the houses over the road for you.” He must see the plain incomprehension writ large across my face. “So you don’t have to worry, you see? I’ve given my sugar to them, so they won’t be knocking on your door later!”
To give him his due, he’s very patient about my lack of understanding. I attempt to clarify. “Sorry neighbour, let me make sure I understand this: I ask you for help. You agree to help me, by helping someone else, just in case they might come and ask me for help later.”
He’s still smiling, though that grin is looking increasingly smug.
“Yup, that’s right. We neighbours must help each other, don’t you agree?”
“Well, that’s what I thought..” I reply, too stunned by his lack of sensitivity to conjure anything more eloquent. Now conscious that I will have to get on with my search for sugar instead of wasting my time with my incomprehensible neighbour I move to go. “Well, thanks for…nothing.” I mutter as I turn on my heels.
“Hey neighbour!” He shouts after me. “Don’t forget our coffee date tomorrow! Can’t wait to catch up with you – there are so many things I need your help with. I’m so glad we are such good neighbours! Bye!”
Amazing! Incredible! But, sadly, a true tale – though a political, rather than a Fairy-tale.
It seems to me that in Fairy-tale-land the moral and ethical issues – and the bad -neighbours manipulation (or contravention) of them – stands out loud and clear. How ridiculous he is to think that he is really helping!
And yet, sadly, David Cameron’s announcement that the U.K. government is going to intervene in the problems facing Western Europe, by acting more directly in Syria is also ridiculous.
Don’t get me wrong. To offer more places to refugees in Syria cannot be a bad thing. The act, in itself is good and I welcome it. But to pretend that this is a response, helpful or otherwise, to the huge numbers of refugees already in Europe is…ridiculous. I am left embarrassed that we have a Prime Minister who thinks that these actions, on the world stage, could be viewed as anything else.
But to add insult to injury, this is the very same Prime Minister who will shortly be engaging in another round of talks with his European counterparts, with a view to sweetening the deal of the U.K’s involvement with the European Union.
I’m sure that you and I can see that the European leaders, in need of help immediately may well – quite rightly – be reluctant to listen sensitively to Mr. Cameron’s discussion if he has been equally reluctant to offer the help they are asking for in a time of crisis.
And quite what European leaders will make of his assertion that helping refugees directly in Syria is a way of coming to their assistance I really don’t know.
If the evidence wasn’t to the contrary, I’d say it was Mr. Cameron who is living in Fairy-tale land.