Ten lessons from a nation as it grieves

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From: Michael Stephen Mycroft, Wilton, North Yorkshire.

INCREDIBLE Japan – here are 10 lessons to learn from a grieving nation.

1. The calm. Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.

2. The dignity. Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.

3. The ability. The incredible architects, for instance. Many buildings swayed but didn’t fall.

4. The grace. People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.

5. The order. No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.

6. The sacrifice. Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the nuclear-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?

7. The tenderness. Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.

8. The training. The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.

9. The media. They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.

10. The conscience. When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly.

Now ask yourself, what would have happened in this country?

Take notice of Europe

From: Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury.

Mr Jefferson’s letter (Yorkshire Post, March 29) about how easy life could be outside the EU is as full of holes as a slab of Gruyère cheese.

He says we buy more from them than they do for us. The reverse is in fact the case. He claims that population trends and demography are in our favour but in truth we are an ageing nation.

How about negotiating a “mutually acceptable trade agreement” outside the EU? No problem he says, but I submit this is a ridiculously optimistic assessment.

In military and diplomatic terms, he correctly says we have a place at the top table and he assumes this would continue on the outside. In my opinion, going it alone would gravely hamper our ability to act successfully where joint action is required, eg Libya.

Our loss of influence and status would have far reaching consequences.

In conclusion, the idea that we know best and have a monopoly of wisdom was blown sky high by the disaster of Iraq.

We could have avoided this if we had taken notice of France and Germany who were strongly opposed.

Make voting compulsory

From: DM Loxley, Hartoft, Pickering, North Yorkshire.

THE imminent referendum about our voting system is a farce which reveals the profound political hypocrisy in itself – a true paradox.

This is a scheme which purports to render “more democracy” to our voting by banishing the first-past-the-post method. Yet this is the precise method which will be used to govern the referendum. The result would not, therefore, be democratic under the proposed AV system. If, as is not unusual, only 60 per cent of the enfranchised electorate cast their ballot and the vote (either way) carries by as much as 80 per cent of votes cast (most unlikely), then only 48 per cent of the electorate will have made the choice.

The AV system is easily defeated by wise and well-funded national organisations who would exhort their supporters to cast only the one vote for their preferred candidate. A better way would be to keep our well understood first-past-the-post method and make casting one’s vote mandatory in law under pain of hefty penalty.

Any fault or blame could then be legitimately be placed on the electorate.

Don’t blame the badgers

From: Liz Groves, chair, Craven Badger Group.

I AM writing in answer to the letter from W Watts, of Thurgoland (Yorkshire Post, April 2).

The Badger Trust has never denied that bTB is in the badger population, and as the disease in cattle spreads further north, then there is the risk that it will, indeed, get into all wildlife, not just badgers. The 1970s saw a big increase in the size of dairy herds and the use of large loose housing for over-wintering, increasing the risk of cattle-to-cattle transmission. Up to this time, badgers found dead as a result of car kills were bTB tested.

This was stopped partly because of the lack of evidence of bTB in the carcasses. Although road accidents are a major cause of badger deaths, they do still have another predator – man.

Badgers are still persecuted, are still dug from their setts or caught by lampers and ravaged by dogs. But bTB is not a problem in wildlife in the north. Yes, there are herd breakdowns in Yorkshire, but this is due to cattle-to-cattle transmission from imported cows.

If bTB does emerge in wildlife this will be the source. W Watts may like to know that it is actually not possible to accurately distinguish between clean and infected cattle: the present bTB test often misses infected cattle and condemns clean ones.

Had the Government over the years spent money improving the skin test for cattle and/or investing in a vaccine for cattle and/or badgers, the situation would be very different today. Badger groups have been campaigning for this for years, so we have been doing something to help combat this dreadful situation.