Sunday, 12 November 2017

It Could Be That 2018 Will Be The Crunch Year

Dear Reader,

Hello again. The past 3 months or more have been taken up with so many important things that something had to give way. So this blog had to give way. In future, I will try to post at least once a month rather than weekly.

I have been doing a kind of bird's-eye review of what's been happening these past 3+ months, and what I see is more of the same, if not worse! Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the other day he felt that the Brexit matter would come to a climax by the middle of next year (2018), and he thought that it would not be the result that the leavers hoped for. 

But I see not just that but many other issues coming to a climax as well - notably the viability of the western system of economy. The Church of England's chief primate (Justin Welby) has said that the western economic model is "broken". And I well believe him, especially as the very rich get very much richer while the poorest are more squeezed than ever before. What has happened to our so-called Christian morality?

Indeed one reality appears to be that one-third of all English land is still owned by the families who acquired it at the time of the Norman conquest, 950 years ago!

And our prisons have not only become over-packed but are proving to be unmanageable. Will most of the inmates be improved citizens when they go back into society? No, sir; they will have learnt more about the darker side of life within the prison walls than they would ever have learnt outside them. UK society is being driven asunder by a huge wedge.

Though it's not wise or correct to blame all that's happening on Maggie Thatcher, she once did say that "If the State wishes to spend more it can do so only by borrowing or by taxing more. It is no good thinking that someone else will pay - that someone else is you." Now that kind of rhetoric made some 40 years ago has had a big impact on the country since to the extent that the old concept of a safety net for those genuinely in need has been more and more eroded while the Tory Party has been in power. And one example is that while private rents are leaping up by bounds as a result of the lack of housing availability, those that depend on local council support to pay those rents (which support is currently frozen) find themselves getting more and more into a poverty trap. Even the elderly and infirm may well be made homeless before long.

That year of 2018 seems more and more likely to be a climax year in so many ways. And towards more suffering by those without the means to do anything about their plight.

And how about our government leaders? They seem more concerned about their individual welfare and ambitions than anything else as the resignation trickle continues.

Our system of values really do need re-addressing. Our sense of what is really important seems to have been eroded. Are we alive just to make money and see our children better off? Is that really what life is all about as the detritus resulting from decades of waste pollutes the seas and the beaches? And the fish.

Maggie Thatcher, you really should have spent more time thinking and talking about those issues. Or did you listen only to your academic advisers and not to common-sense?

Economic growth only leads to a growth in waste and the killing of the natural world.

Thank you for reading this. 

Friday, 21 July 2017

A Matter Of Very Deep ConCERN?

Dear Reader,

On July 19 (just gone) I began to think more deeply about the weather we have been experiencing in this area of the UK, and how the weather forecasters just do not seem to be too accurate about their forecasting. They say they have built bigger and better computers to process the data more accurately - but do they?

In particular, the bursts of wind under perpetually gray skies seemed to be odd; plus the fact that summers of old just did not seem to be of the order we've been experiencing this past year or two. And what about the freak weather conditions in Cornwall just a few day ago? 

Oh, yes - it's "climate change" isn't it? Well, yes, I'd go along with that, but I'm beginning to suspect a lot more. Perhaps I'm just a suspicious type, but I looked into the strange weather phenomena and saw this photo of the sky over Zurich when the CERN Large Hydron Collider was being powered up:

Other news in July 2016 proclaimed that the "Large Hadron Collider (LCH) was shut down after causing a magnitude 7 earthquake which shook the whole planet." There have been many reports of strange conditions occurring when the Collider is powered up, and this website provides detailed examples of such news.

What this article is leading to is that perhaps we have become asleep to how many highly significant scientific and technological matters of an invasive kind have been developing in this world - particularly in the West - and which have been developed without our sanction. To the above matter of the Hydron Collider (which is planned to be replaced by another Collider of huge proportions) can be added the now long-standing saga of genetically-modified (GM) food, chemicals in fertilisers and now another issue which is just now being released and will affect us in a way that Stephen Hawking has said will be "either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity". And that is artificial intelligence (AI). And the matter of human genetic modification is also not well understood to my mind.

Is mankind going mad? Do our leaders have the technical capability or moral credentials to question these developments and able to slow down their progress until we have understood their ramifications? If leaders of our local authorities cannot even discern what is the right kind of cladding to put on our high-rise flats, what chance have leaders understanding truly complex issues that require their judgment?

I would suggest that we all need to make our democratic representatives aware of our concerns. I would also suggest that one's spiritual faith is being significantly tested and perhaps we all need to check in to ensure that we really know what is meaningful, and to seek guidance from on High.

Let's remember that simplicity is a reflection of genius, not complexity. Our scientists - I am certain - just do not know what they're playing with.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

We're Not Just Composed Of Flesh And Chemicals, Surely?

Dear Reader,

An artlcle in the Guardian this weekend was headed: "I took my first antidepressant this week. The effects were frightening." [Link]

This article elicited a great response. Within half-a-day this article received over 1,100 comments and over 2,800 Facebook shares before comments were closed.

I managed to make a comment:

Yes, I read below someone saying that Deborah is "very brave" talking so openly about her condition.
But all the replies I've read (sorry I've only read the last 20 or 30 or so) seem to be supporting this drug therapy culture in some way or other. Though I'd agree there are times in your life when pretty well everyone (I imagine) goes through some kind of stress of a threatening kind, and some kind of 'action' is needed to circumnavigate the issue, why does the action have to be one that supports the idea that we are *simply* made up of chemicals and that a chemical has to be the appropriate treatment?
In 73 years I've had a few knocks (like many) - and some of them tortuous. But apart from a phase in my late teenage years, I've never taken psychiatry very seriously. Why? Well 40 years ago I was asked to befriend a deeply disturbed psychiatric patient and found that sheer sincerity and love towards them seemed to produce results - and just in one meeting. Results that the 'experts' were surprised to see. And also because I have demonstrated to myself that the real self is more to do with Mind and Spirit, and that there are spiritual methods (not just one) that will at least mostly alleviate the problem.
Why subject oneself to danger through more chemicals? The very idea is lost on me.
Of course, I had a couple of 'Doubting Thomas' replies to my post, the last saying:
So your one experience of helping a friend means that all the years, trials, learning and experiences of the millions of people and the medical community should be trashed? If it was simple do you think people would not choose the easiest solution?
And there lies the problem. The straightforward mention of 'spiritual' means (to some) that what is proposed is that science has to be entirely given up in favour of what is perceived to be a 'simple' alternative. And that because so much has (apparently) been achieved by science must mean it's the only approach that matters. People seem to lose sight of the fact that science works only on the basis of what can be demonstrated as proven, and they lose focus on the fact that what was true (in science) just a few years ago is often already supplanted. And that's not even to mention how good safety precautions of 100 years ago have been ditched to create the Grenfell Tower scenario.

And when it comes to the subject of mental health (the topic of the above-mentioned article), the policies in force towards treatment only 50 years ago seem now to have been quite primitive and unthinkable today. But today the subject of mental health is still one of official detachment: "if the disease cannot be seen then how can it exist?" mentality. People talk of it and want to do something, but where is the will to do so? Meanwhile, as another commenter stated: "the medical profession's general response to depression or anxiety is the same: meds [medication] and more meds which only serve to mask never solve the underlying problems."

Has anyone stopped to consider that maybe the environment we have created this past 50 years may be much of the cause of today's hidden timebomb? When I was brought up in the late 40s and 50s, I remember a time of mainly happiness even though we were not well off. Children had so much freedom - until PC took over.

I read a book recently when someone observed that whereas we were once benefitting from the visitation to our gardens of so many friendly birds - sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes and the like. Today we mainly see magpies and seagulls. It's as though the bird population in the cities has mirrored the acquisitive attitudes of us humans.

Something's wrong somewhere that we should put so much faith in medication. Perhaps it's something to do with the (scientific) education we're mainly subject to? Perhaps we should re-examine our Human Values to see what is common amongst us all. Is it Love that's the common factor - or is it sheer indifference?

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Towards Unity And Transparency?

Dear Reader,

The state of affairs in the UK at this time really points to the country being on a knife-edge. There is the potential of total disintegration, while at the same time Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the young at the Glastonbury Festival in order to give them hope - that it is possible to have a society that is joined up and for the benefit of the many, not the few. And that was partly the message of another 'JC': Jesus Christ.

Today we rather downplay religion, yet I yesterday saw a news clip where a far-right demonstrator demanded that we maintain our "Christian values". It does occur to me that we don't take religion seriously because we do not trust those "Christian values", and why don't we trust them? Simply - I suggest - because only fragments of Christianity get taught, and there are now so many sects of the broad church that are in existence, with each of them emphasising different elements of Christianity. Worse, religion usually becomes Church-centred rather than Truth-centred. The total result is that we mostly have an emotional view (and, often, a political misinterpretation) of what the teachings are, and many may not realise that there's a lot more to be taught that has been hidden.

The full truth of the teachings of Jesus will soon be openly known, I believe, And as the Muslims come to the end of this year's annual major fast - Ramadhan - I would like to post this interpretation of the meaning of Islam, which is in concert with what Jesus taught: I suggest that if the far-right protester I mentioned was to read this he would wonder - if he really knew what Christian teachings are - what is the difference!
Islam [literally] means surrender to God. It teaches that God's Grace can be won through justice and righteous living; and not through wealth, scholarship or power. All who in a spirit of surrender and dedication, live in peace and harmony in society are in fact, followers of Islam. Islam insists on full coordination between thought, word and deed. Muslim holy men and sages have been emphasising the need to inquire into the validity of the 'I' which feels it is the body and the 'I' which feels it is the mind, and reach the conclusion that the real 'I' is the self-learning for the Omni Self, God. During the Ramadhan month, the fast and the prayers are to awaken and manifest this realisation. No matter which religion you follow, remember that the emphasis should be on unity, harmony and equal-mindedness (my italics).
The spiritual messenger who uttered these words goes on: "Therefore cultivate love, tolerance and compassion, and demonstrate this Truth in daily activity."

All true religious ways are intended to achieve the same thing, but we often need reminding of that.

The politics of this country - and of the world - need to come to grips with these Truths. The true ultimate aim of life is not wealth and prosperity of the material kind, but the overall happiness of all. And if we were to realise that fact, the tendency we find in business practice to cheat (taking the awful Grenfell fire as a major example) will disappear as we demand to have transparency and Truth in all our dealings.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

May-be The P.M. Will Now Heed The Wakening Call

Dear Reader,

In a way, I do feel sympathy towards Mrs. May. One week she's told in the clearest way by the electorate (other than the pensioners) that she and her Party are not wanted, and the next week she has the consequences of the most horrible of disasters to face: Grenfell Tower.

But the sympathy ebbs away when I think of how the Tory Party has treated the poor over this past seven years, the bedroom tax (when few other homes were available) being one of the most outstandingly divisive policies to mention. And now it is clear that someone was trying to cut corners in the recent refurbishment of Grenfell. A mere £6,250 extra would have made the property much safer (still probably not good enough though), but someone did not think it worth spending that figure. And the cost of sprinklers fitted throughout the block? Up to a £400,000 spend I believe, but again not thought to be worth doing by someone, somewhere.

The pressure is now on to ensure that other tower blocks in the country at a similar level of risk are identified and rectified. But in these days of insufficient housing, where will the residents of such blocks be housed in the interim? And will an emergency interim enquiry report be published quickly enough for the right levels of action to be taken?

Jeremy Corbyn provided a constructive suggestion in the idea of requisitioning empty private houses on an emergency basis. And as Grenfell is near so much wealth, that suggestion becomes even more poignant. I'm pretty sure that private flatted accommodation in that area would not contain the risks that have been found to have existed at Grenfell.

So those are the major issues that have to be dealt with after the terrible suffering and loss of life inflicted by someone's tardiness - and carelessness. I dare say Grenfell will be flattened and a memorial garden created in its place, but the memory of this disaster will take a very long time to dissipate. And a disaster is what it is. But even after admitting in a BBC2 interview that this was an awful disaster, Mrs. May again fell back on mechanical words to describe it: an "incident" she called it.

Such mechanical words uttered by people on the right of politics sum up their attitude. Public services and the duty due to the most vulnerable in our society are regarded as being secondary to duty towards big business. To such an extent that in a pre-Election Question Time programme, the Brexit Minister (David Davis) said that "things like that [vital public services] have to wait for economic growth". It says a lot, doesn't it? And, of course, he wouldn't dare suggest that some re-distribution of wealth might alleviate the issue: it is the forever growing gulf between the rich and the poor that is at the bottom of the present crisis of government.

And I suppose that Davis would call safety concerns at Grenfell as just "things" to be paid for when the economy is sufficiently lining the pockets of the rich. Or perhaps he - in his state of sleep - just assumed that the country was running well enough for him to be able to utter phrases like that.

It was in fact a Tory leader and prime minister of the 19th century - Benjamin Disraeli - who became conscience stricken by the same issue, and said that if the Tory Party did not address the issue his Party stood a chance of being lost forever. Well, 140 years later, here we have his Party at the same juncture: they stand to be lost forever, cast aside as a Party of unfeeling persons who ride only First Class, careful not to mingle with their subjects. 

Thank you for reading this.

Postscript (a quote from a recent interview):

"[During the 2010-15 government] the then-housing minister, who is now the immigration minister, in fact, specifically, when he was challenged as to whether he should put a rule in place that said that sprinkler systems should be fit in the buildings like this, as they already have to be in Germany, Wales, in Scotland, etc., his justification for not putting this rule in place was that they had this totally ideological idea that for every regulation they imposed they had to remove two. That was his specific justification. If there had been a sprinkler system in this building, despite all the other massive failings – that would’ve stopped people dying, and that didn’t happen."

Saturday, 10 June 2017

What A Youthquake!

Dear Reader,

It is clear (surely the Canterbury result demonstrated that) the young - for the first time in over 70 years - were fully engaged in Thursday's election. But why?

Well, here's what "The Conversation" has said:

Young people are at the heart of it all. If you’re young and living in Britain today, you’re less likely to hold a steady job than a series of insecure gigs, leaving you with a jumbled CV of zero-hours contracts and unreliable work. No savings, high rent, and huge tuition fees if you’re fortunate enough to make it into higher education. No-one should be surprised that young people offered this dismal social contract instead opted for the promise of investment in the welfare state, secure contracts, and an end to tuition fees.
Now, I was brought up in the decades after the War when politics was an important issue in the lives of many people. There were political activists in my own family on my paternal side, while on my maternal side there was the religious/spiritual view, and they were equally active. Strangely though, neither of my parents were active in either way, though their lives were clearly influenced in their upbringing by those family members who held activist views.

When I did my hiking tours of the Continent in the 1960s, I found people in those countries alive to the subject of politics, including young people, and were very mentally alert to the subject. The Second World War (and Nazi occupation) was still a recent memory, and many wanted a Europe that was to be united in peace and cooperation.

I thought that pattern would stay: but no. What happened is that we (in the UK) went flabby and were told in the 1980s that manufacturing and industry was a thing of the past and that finance houses were the bed-rock economy that we should then rely on. And that 'more' was the keyword and achievable for those that strove for it. Some even believed that 'more' could be got out of nowhere. And the entertainment industry grew beyond reasonable limits to the extent that many people live by it. 

What nonsense. The warnings from the climate and environmentalist lobby were ignored while those duped by the then political message went on on an orgy of 'give me' and 'let me enjoy myself'. And the greed influenced other countries who were also duped. Meanwhile, underclasses developed: the 'not haves'. And then the major western powers went on a hate campaign against terrorists - and in the process created even more terrorists. But that's another matter for some other article. Meanwhile we simply blame the banks and over-use the NHS because we can't be self-disciplined.

Today we have a hangover of the so-called great days in the form of pensioners in the USA and in the UK who recall when (according to their collective memory) their countries were 'great': America became a great industrial power, while the UK  still remembers the Empire. And both countries of late have been giving succour to all those pensioners and their children and even stating that we can return to the so-called 'great' old days. Viz. Trump in the USA and Brexit in the UK.

In the UK, the pensioners have been specially treated. Why? Not just because they do have special needs - or at least the poorer group do - but because they form a large political class of their own. The Tories in particular have believed that they should give preferential treatment to the elderly (to get their vote) while starving the future of the country, which is the young. Hence the visualition of their plight that "The Conversation" described above. And also why the Tories failed to succeed in this election: they forgot the young.

Make no mistake about it. What happened as a political expression on Thursday should not be taken as simply a defeat for the Tories and a triumph for Labour. What really happened on Thursday was the waking up of the young to reality. The young can change matters and they have an ability to lead this country - and the world - to a new realisation and order that will undoubtedly manifest itself over the next decade. 

The next few years will not be easy. Many difficulties will materialise that we can't even visualise right now. But there will be a good outcome; so long as the young will remain awake and open to the great challenges that they will undoubtedly be faced with, both physical and spiritual. And it is the spiritual - in finding our true human values - that will be key to properly expressing ourselves in politics. The day of 'give me' is over; the day of 'what can I do for you?' is arriving.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Two-Thirds of England Seem Not To Want Theresa

Dear Reader,

Well, the day is almost on top of us!

My feeling is that Theresa May will win her majority, but 66% of more than 250,000 people are indicating on Vote-for-Policies that they prefer Labour/Liberal/Green options and left-of-centre views in England. There is an indicator that the first-past-the-post voting system will work against democracy. 

Perhaps. Or maybe it is just those that have a huge political zeal that make their opinions known.

We shall find out on Friday!

But with the threat of the right-wing tightening their control around the world (and policies like fracking becoming a likelihood), I hope people keep to their apparent instincts and vote for fairness and also sustainability in the environment.

Thank you for reading this.