The world has evolved and many things have changed for the better, but not all.
Much has changed in our lifetimes and most of it for the better. Advances in technology have created a world that was not imaginable at the start of the twentieth century. Those breakthroughs have lead to extraordinary improvements in health, to the development of flight and space exploration.
Instead of the world succumbing to hunger there are in fact fewer people without food than ever before. Our attitudes, too, have changed in many areas – not least on matters of race and the role of women.
They have evolved as well regarding the treatment of animals. People no longer tolerate lions doped to the eyeballs doing what their “brave” trainers demand. Zoos have either adapted or disappeared.
What, then, will be the big changes in the next 100 years? What are we blind to now that will one day become obvious? Good people once owned slaves, remember? And saw no problem with it. Until 50 years ago we had a White Australia policy. Even more recently we killed whales in numbers that made the Japanese look like amateurs.
I was thinking about this as controversy swirled in the aftermath of the Melbourne Cup. The apologists were quick to say the deaths of two horses were just terrible accidents. That’s true – but only to a point. We have horses and I’ve been around horse-racing most of my life and I can tell you it’s not natural for horses to run that fast under such pressure. It’s certainly neither natural nor humane to whip them when they have nothing more to give. Horses don’t love racing but are trained to do it. Horses enjoy running (when they feel like it) but racing is a totally human construct.
I don’t argue that horse racing should be banned but it must address issues concerning the whip, hurdle-racing and the disproportionate (and money motivated) focus on immature two year olds. Interestingly, as racing welcomes more females as jockeys and administrators, in the world of rugby union attitudes toward women are still locked in a time many of us thought (and hoped) had long passed.
The latest in a long line of scandals concerning Kurtley Beale confirmed much about him, his teammates and the administration of the game. That Beale has survived to again wear his country’s colours is an exercise in profound cynicism. It deserves our contempt, as do those who made it possible.
The details of Beale’s latest transgression are well known: he sent an obscene text concerning Di Patston (who had a senior role within the team) to several of his teammates and, inadvertently, to her. Beale’s colleagues did nothing except to ask that their talented colleague not be sent home from Argentina. The vilification of Patston began in an orchestrated and relentless campaign that left her emotionally devastated.
Australian halfback Nick Phipps was one of many who argued that Kurtley deserved a second chance. Of course he did – 12 chances back! He went further by saying Beale had been dragged through the mud the last few months, conveniently forgetting that it had been Beale throwing the mud.
Nick thought it would be “… best for the boys and KB to put it behind us”. Might be best for them but not quite so easy for Di, whose treatment at the hands of “the boys” has been a disgrace.
Yes, much has changed for the better – but not everything.
What do you think about the current state of rugby and racing? Tell us in the comments below and you can email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org