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Let reason be your anchor…

I firmly believe the average person in the British Muslim community is outraged by the sort of atrocity we saw in Manchester last night, in which at least 22 people died and 60 were injured, in the same way any Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist or atheist person with a shred of human decency would be; because none of these philosophies condone the senseless killing of innocent people.

But I expect the headline-hungry media will use this new attack, targeted at kids enjoying a night out, to stoke the fires of hate and suspicion which seem to be smouldering beneath the surface of the world’s psyche at the moment, encouraging division and distrust in communities who do so much to promote multicultural harmony and tolerance.

I fully accept there are a small minority of radical and violent members within any community and I am not naive enough to think for a minute there aren’t also a minority of supposed genuine Muslims who, while not applauding the actions of whoever was responsible for last night’s terrible crime, may not be as progressive in their beliefs as some.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the ones perpetuating the violence are doing so by citing archaic and outdated tenets of a faith which has in recent times, made significant steps in its efforts to more successfully integrate with Western society.
In the same way as there are far right Christian groups who espouse ideas about ethnic and sexual cleansing, take the word of the Bible unbendingly literally, forbid the teaching of evolution, ban abortion and birth control and are generally anything but inclusive and tolerant.
Nobody with any sense would say these “Christians” are living by the general principals of their alleged religion, they’re just cherry-picking outmoded views and debunked superstitious nonsense for their own twisted motives.

I personally don’t hold with the views of any organised religion which go much further than; “Be nice, it doesn’t cost anything. Don’t be a dick and, if you do, expect to get treated like a dick in return”, but we need to recognise when the ones who are doing the killing and spreading the hate are doing so for misguided motives of their own and do not speak for the vast majority of those they CLAIM to represent.

Stop The Hate, it’s up to us.

 

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Reblog: Unapologetically Yours

The second blogger I’d like to introduce you to this week is a young woman with a love for words, a positive outlook on life and a very obvious talent for writing.
This is a post from last week which I thought was especially powerful and shows that wisdom and a social conscience are not reserved for older writers.

Please show your appreciation for miss Nandini Bharadwaj…

Pages That Rustle

monday-musings

I haven’t been able to post since the dawn of March due to an illness and other unforeseen circumstances. All the while I was away, I was brainstorming post ideas. Many of them were interesting and I’m pretty sure I’ll flesh them out soon, but only one made me think twice about writing it, for it wasn’t a ‘safe’ idea. The more I thought about it, the more it struck me as odd because I didn’t feel comfortable talking about whatever struck my fancy on my own blog. I’ve always been a cautious person and deep in my heart I can still sense a certain reluctance warring with my bolder side, begging me to reconsider.

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3 Comments

Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Blogging, Guest spots., Social comment

 

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One liner Wednesday: Alternative dictionary…

Some alternative definitions occur to me whilst watching the news…

“Disorient” –  Something Donald Trump will inevitably do to offend the Chinese.

#1linerWeds
Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 
 

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It’s not you, it’s Them…

On the 23rd of June (just in case you’ve been living under a rock) the UK, or 52% of it anyway, decided to up sticks and leave the EU.

The Brexit, if you must.

The event itself is no longer news of course, nor, after weeks of social media meltdown and the meme-ification of politics, is it very interesting to me any more. In fact, I got so tired of arguing about it on Facebook (yes, this is ME we’re talking about, here) that I couldn’t even be bothered to write a blog post about it. 

As for analysing the tedious process of lying, spinning, vilifying, bribing, begging, blackmailing and bullshitting that passed for campaign rhetoric is concerned, I’ll leave that to the panel show comedians, the journalists and the more erudite writers, such as the lovely Mr Adam Pain, who wrote this excellent post on the subject at the weekend.

No, I’m more interested in a phenomenon a little closer to home, one which stems from the worrying but sadly not unexpected increase in the belief that the sort of casual, lazy racism that has been bubbling under the slimy surface of UK politics since long before Nasty Nigel quaffed his first pint for the cameras, is now perfectly legitimate because “the people have spoken, deal with it!” as I was charmingly informed on one Facebook comments thread, the day after we apparently became Great again.

Because, you see, I married an immigrant.

Wait, come back! No, it’s ok, she’s…well, she’s the good kind.

Before you write and complain, let me explain.

Rhonda is American, I’m pretty sure most of you have picked that up by now. She hails from Michigan and still has a strong accent, (the good kind) having been in the country less than two years. And ever since her visa came through, she’s had that most English of jobs, working in a fish and chip shop.

For the first few weeks that she worked there, clearly a novelty in hardly-cosmopolitan, rural Devon, Rhonda fielded a great many enquiries from punters, mostly along the lines of; “We went on holiday to America, have you been to Disneyland?” or “Now that’s not a Devon accent, not from round here, are you?” These slowly morphed into more specific questions, as regular customers got to know the nice smiley American lady behind the counter, such as; “So, what about that Donald Trump, then?”, as if she alone was capable of deciphering the rabid drivellings of a shriveled, narcissistic raffia-topped satsuma, simply due to being born on the same continent.

But apparently the shop counter small talk has taken a change for the unsavory in the last couple of weeks, since the very next day after the referendum, in fact.

Suddenly, a few casual comments about the result of the vote could turn to; “Yeah, we finally get to send all those bloody immigrants back where they came from…” followed every time by a slowly dawning look of horror on the face of the outspoken punter, and some hurried variation on; “Oh, I don’t mean YOU, of course, I’m talking about THEM, you know, the foreign ones.” 

Now, please don’t think that I’m defending any person’s right against that of another, to come to the UK legally and make it their home, by contributing to society and enriching it with their own cultural values, it is what made us “Great” in the first place, after all. 

And obviously (I hope) I’m not a closet racist with some sort of inferiority complex and secret, directionless rage issues.

But this is what I don’t understand; how is my lovely wife, who never has a bad word to say about anyone, any different from the charming Polish bloke at work, who also seems to see the best in everyone, no matter how ignorant they are? Why is she not tarred with the same “bloody foreigners coming over here stealing jobs from honest British fish and chip shop workers” brush as she undoubtedly would be by some, had she been sporting a neatly wrapped hijab, instead of a smart baseball cap?

Because she’s white, she’s from a country which has English as its first language (yeah, I know, but just go with it, ok?) and she has most of the same cultural and social points of reference as “we” do, that’s why.

I’ve had similar conversations, myself, the sort that include phrases like “fucking yanks, think they know it all…” or.“bloody immigrants, just want to come here and scrounge on our benefits” and rapidly stutter to a halt when I say something like, “Actually, my wife never claims to know it all, and she’s an immigrant, from America. And she got a job as soon as the fiendishly complicated and inhuman visa process allowed her to.”

“Ah” they say, usually with a knowing, wink wink, nudge nudge expression, “but if it had been one of them (insert toe-curling racist epithet here) they’d have got in with no problem at all, you mark my words.” Indeed I will, I will mark them “ignorant bollocks” and ignore them with the contempt they deserve.

Well, maybe not that exact conversation, but you get the idea.

It seems that these subliminal racial hints and in-built preconceptions make Rhonda somehow less foreign than them, at least to the sort of person who instantly equates other, more foreign sounding or, dare I say it, more brown-looking people with “immigrant”, which as a word, is being increasingly used as an insult and, as a demographic, is more and more being seen as a threat to “the British way of life”, whatever that is.

And yet, by the very definition of the word, Rhonda is an immigrant, just as much as my Polish mate at work and the nice lady who works at our local Chinese takeaway are immigrants. Useful, hard working, tax paying and as valuable to society as anyone else who is fortunate enough to call this peaceful country, unravaged by wars, famine or tyranny, home.

The fact that the Brexitastrophe has in some way helped to unmask the petty fears and prejudices of so many people in this, the country I have always been happy to call my home, makes me feel rather ashamed, especially when my wife comes home and tells me she was “disgusted” by some of the comments she heard in the days immediately after the referendum.

So, if you really are that convinced that all immigrants should be sent back to where they came from, or be subject to whatever private version of the final solution has been festering in your head, until the rise of proto-fascist snake oil salesmen like Nicotine Nige and Orange Donnie came along and gave you permission to voice your odious opinions with pride, then please, either have the courage of your convictions and stand by what you say, or, and this is the important part, so pay attention; piss off and go and talk to someone else.

Thank you for your attention.

 

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#atozchallenge: T is for Trans and TED…

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Today’s A-Z post could just as easily be T for Topical, due to the amount of media coverage the Transgender community has had recently; notably for stories about Caitlyn Jenner, who controversially (and temporarily) won Glamour magazine’s “Woman of the Year” award and for the equally contentious Bathroom Bill, which seeks to ban transgender people from bathrooms that do not correspond to the gender specified on their birth certificates.

But that isn’t the reason for me choosing to use this as the topic for today’s post, I have a far more personal reason; I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.

Facebook has always been a fascinating way to make new friends; you can get to know people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from many different cultures (the ones that don’t think the internet is the work of the devil, anyway) and it’s almost inevitable that you will connect with people you never would have met, if you’d had to depend on bumping into them purely by coincidence.

Which is how I met Kelly.

I was introduced by a mutual friend, (one of the many Americans I got to know when I first joined Facebook, five years ago) who had been at school with Kelly and thought that she and I would get on. All my friend told me was that Kelly had recently transitioned from male to female and that she was an airline pilot.
Now, given my earlier statement about making interesting new friends, I could hardly pass up the chance to meet a transgender airline pilot, especially as those are two things I have all but the most infinitesimal chances of experiencing myself, so I got in touch with her and we have been friends ever since.

It wasn’t until I’d known her for a while, however, that I realised what a truly extraordinary woman Kelly is; that is really the only word I can think of that sums her up, there is nothing “ordinary” about her at all, every time I learn something new about her, it just confirms what an incredibly driven, compassionate and caring person she is.

Kelly’s story is one of faith, overcoming prejudice, personal loss and sacrifice and a strength of character and self-belief that most people can only wish for.
She works for an international courier and logistics company, which has allowed her to work with some amazing people, including her colleagues, both at home in Alaska and with children’s charities around the world.

Here are some of the photos that Kelly (on the right in the first picture) has taken on her travels, described in her own words;

“The greatest joy in my life is spending time with orphans. The blessings I receive from these children are immeasurable. It gives me a purpose and a chance to leave a legacy on the lives of children around the world. Thank you Dr. Joseph, for being my host and allowing me to learn more about this incredible place!

For those of you who have a passion for orphans as well, Harmony House could really use your support. Asia has an escalating HIV rate due to many factors and is now affecting young children. I’m including this link, written by my good friend Dr. Joseph. If you get a chance, please take a moment to read.

Kelly”

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“This is my very dear friend Nicole, the Director of Harmony Home. We met for lunch yesterday to discuss ways to increase financial support for her nineteen shelters in Taiwan and China.

Her story is inspiring and started with her heart; to care for a college student who was dying of AIDS. His family had rejected him and the college expelled him. She took it upon herself to love him when nobody else would.

Combined with her passion, and her determination, she has touched hundreds and thousands of lives of those inflicted with this horrible disease. Today, Harmony Home cares for 102 adults, and over 1000 children. Her love for her children (adults included) is truly a reflection of what James writes, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” 

She has touched so many lives with such a limited budget. It is with great honor, to call her my friend.”

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“Dr Joseph, is like a brother to me, and was there from the beginning standing by me through my transition. He has a heart and a passion for orphans worldwide and was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Megan, is a very dear friend, who has a heart for orphans and recently developed a program to fund 30 orphans in Cambodia.

It’s people like them with such huge hearts that inspire me.”

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“This evening we hosted over 300 children from the the Head Start Program. To many, this was their only Christmas and to see their faces lit up, brought more joy than one could imagine. To my fellow pilots who sacrifice a portion of their earnings to make these programs possible, you have my deepest gratitude.”

All of which is pretty amazing, I think you’ll agree; Kelly and her fellow pilots do fantastic work with these kids and really do light up their lives with their dedication and generosity.

But it’s when you hear Kelly tell her story in person, that’s when you truly understand what she has fought through to become the woman she is today. And last year she got the opportunity to do just that, when her logistics company teamed up with TED, the ideas sharing platform, to stage a series of talks on diversity and overcoming obstacles.

I don’t often ask much of you, my lovely readers, but I’d like you to do me a small favour, just this once.
I know you all  have busy lives and may not have time right now, but you’re bound to have a spare ten minutes tomorrow (it is Sunday, after all) so please watch Kelly’s talk in the video below, I don’t think anyone can fail to be moved by the courage and dignity with which she tackles an emotive and deeply personal subject.

You can learn more about Kelly and the TED/UPS talks at this link.

#atozchallenge

Update: Kelly has asked me to make it clear that she is part of a team and, as such, only a small part of the good work they all do.

“On my time off I volunteer as a charity coordinator for my pilot union in Anchorage.”

Like I said; modest to a fault.

 

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#atozchallenge: R is for Royalty…

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“We” are celebrating a birthday today in the UK, although personally, I’m not that bothered.

Queen Elizabeth II is 90 years old today and I see no reason she shouldn’t be entitled to have a birthday, the same as anyone else, but I don’t feel any need to go out and wave a flag or hold a street party.
The royal family is one of those institutions that has a different image to different generations, I think.

For my parents’ generation, the royals were the epitome of Englishness, (despite the fact that they are, largely, German in origin) to be feted and cheered, to be seen kissing babies and accepting flowers from little children and waving in a genteel fashion.
A family of unabashed privilege who were somehow still seen as being in tune with their subjects and “suffered” alongside them in the war.

My generation are probably more cynical in their attitude, seeing a hugely entitled institution that has, in real terms, almost no influence over the country they purport to “rule” and one which seems increasingly out of touch with the society outside of it’s gilded gates.

The current generation is possibly more tolerant of them, having the wonder of mass media to beam glamorous pictures of fairytale princesses and their darling children into their lives, being able to watch the handsome  prince doing heroic things with helicopters and/or making a man-of-the-people dickhead of himself at fancy dress parties; it feels as though The Windsors (as I’m sure their inevitable tv reality show will be called) are part of the real world again.

And through it all, Liz has been quietly burrowing into the national psyche.

To be honest, to me at least, she’s always seemed the most normal and down to earth of the lot.
She looks like someone’s gran, she wears some pretty cool hats and she likes her horse racing.
She also looks like she could dole out a pretty good bollocking and her husband, well, he’s the best cantankerous old git you could possibly hope to sit next to at a bar for an hour or so.
He has offended practically every nationality and demographic on the planet but, for some reason, everyone still thinks he’s hilarious, because he absolutely doesn’t mean it, it’s just that his perspective is so spectacularly skewed by always having been able to say whatever he likes and have people laugh politely at his jokes.

I’ve never been overly impressed with their offspring, they all seem to have the slightly desperate air of a generation that knows its time is running out and, although their kids appear to have turned out ok, I think the English royal family has had its heyday and all the image makeovers and revivals it’s going to get and it wouldn’t be a bad thing for it to quietly fade away.

I have nothing against them really and you couldn’t pay me enough to swap places with them, but I don’t believe they are a necessary, relevant or financially viable commodity any more.
I know the argument is that they bring in huge amounts of tourist money, but I don’t think the tourists would stop coming if the royals vanished tomorrow; there is only so much time you can spend with your face pressed up against the gates, being impressed with how much richer somebody is than you.

And they never invite you in anyway.

In other royal news, Prince died today.
There is no need to say a whole lot more about that; he always let the music do the talking…

#atozchallenge

 
 

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#atozchallenge: J is for Jingoism…

#atozchallenge: J is for Jingoism…

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I’m aware that a large percentage of my readers are American, (although I’ve never really understood why that is) so I have had plenty of time to gauge attitudes to this particular subject, both on here and on Facebook, where I also have many American friends.

That is why I must qualify this edition of the A-Z challenge and point out, right from the start; that I know perfectly well this post doesn’t apply to the vast majority of you, or even (I hope) to the vast majority of America in general, which makes the whole thing all the more amazing.

Yes, you guessed it, this is another post about the extraordinary phenomenon that is the man they call The Donald, amongst many other, less complimentary names.

I know that I’ve made my views on the self-parodying psychotic orange clown clear in the past and I certainly haven’t changed my opinion since I last mentioned him, but he is becoming so ubiquitous in the media now, it’s almost impossible to go a whole day without at least one or two blobs of his verbal sewerage oozing into our consciousness.
And nobody seems to be capable of telling him that he sounds like a fucking idiot most of the time, that’s what I don’t get.

Ok, admittedly, we aren’t overburdened with scrupulously ethical and morally spotless politicians in the UK; there is currently a scandal involving the shady dealings of our prime minister and his tax affairs (never mind the fact that this is a man who stuck his dick in a dead pig) but even so, that pales into insignificance when compared to Fuckface von Clownstick and his campaign to become the leader of the free world.

I can’t comment on how the presidential race is covered by the American media in America, but I do see a fair amount of U.S. coverage online and there don’t seem to be many journalists, commentators or pundits (other than the laughable Fox “News” and the frankly odious Ann Coulter) who take The Great Drumpf seriously, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

Perhaps there are millions of your countrymen (and, unlikely as it may seem, women) who think that any of your leaders could have reached office by making ignorantly sweeping, racist pronouncements, threatening to deport whole sections of society, building walls and bragging about the size of their sex organs on television debates, but I somehow doubt it.
Can you even imagine the incandescent fury that would have resulted if Obama had said half the things this dangerous power junkie has glibly spouted in the name of self-aggrandizement?
It doesn’t bear thinking about.

He seems so utterly convinced that everyone loves him, too, that’s the most incredible thing.
He stands there on his podium, posturing and pontificating, saying nothing of any substance whatsoever, then presumably wonders why the press mercilessly take the piss out of him.

Here’s a speech he made in Albany just yesterday; I’d be deeply impressed if you can detect even the most rudimentary political nuance or hint of a policy from this unhinged helping megalomaniacal word salad:

“You are going to be so proud of your country. Because we’re gonna turn it around, and we’re gonna start winning again! We’re gonna win so much! We’re going to win at every level. We’re going to win economically. We’re going to win with the economy. We’re gonna win with military. We’re gonna win with healthcare and for our veterans. We’re gonna with every single facet.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, “Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.”
And I’ll say, “No, it isn’t!”

We have to keep winning We have to win more! We’re gonna win more. We’re gonna win so much. I love you, Albany! Get out and vote. You will be so happy. I love you. Thank you. Thank you!”

Well, he’s convinced he’s going to win, that’s for sure.
But what is the prize, that’s the question?
A country divided by hate and paranoia seems to be the obvious answer to that.

Over here, we sit and watch the news with open-mouthed astonishment, not sure whether to laugh hysterically or hide in the basement until it’s all over, because the only alternative to this all being one huge joke is just too frightening to contemplate.
If there is any justice at all, Barack Obama will eventually be seen by history as one of the truly great American presidents, it would be a shame to tear down all that he has achieved, just because it seemed like a bit of a laugh to vote for someone who can play the jingoism game on television and has a mildly amusing wig.

Whether there are enough people dumb enough to seriously consider voting for this out of control snake oil salesman, remains to be seen, but if they do and he actually wins, we’re all going to be worse off, that’s for certain.

#atozchallenge

 
16 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2016 in A - Z challenge, Social comment

 

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