The Boy on the Beach

Drowned boy

The Boy on the Beach

He lies like a beached seal, washed up like human driftwood on the unforgiving sand.

He came from a war; fleeing towards peace, chasing freedom, safety and security.

His parents wanted all the things we have

Like a decent education for the children and a job that pays more than a pittance.

But most of all they wanted their children to be safe.

The boy thought he was going to a better place.

How right he was.

 

What has turned the Mediterranean into a graveyard?

A place where the unwanted die as the uncaring look on.

Right wingers beat the nationalist drum and raise panic in their wake.

The threatened become the threat as they mill around trying to reach safety.

When did fleeing persecution become a crime?

 

A policeman carries the boy’s body away

To a peace that he never knew in life.

 

Respect.

As a woman and a human being I believe I deserve respect and I do not get involved with people who don’t treat me with respect. But it seems that everywhere I look now there are women being disrespected in horrible ways. There was Malala being shot in the head for speaking out in the belief that women deserve an education. There are Nigerian schoolgirls being kidnapped because they go to school. There are women being attacked and raped or having acid thrown on them in India for such crimes as refusing to marry someone that they don’t even like.

Now I don’t think for a moment that any of this is particularly new (unfortunately!) but perhaps because of the internet and the impact of social media on the global stage, I think these things are just being noticed more. And so they should be. A world where women face violence, harassment and persecution every day of their lives is not a world I am happy to live in. It is unacceptable that anyone, male or female, should be treated as if they were the dirt beneath someone’s feet. Everybody deserves to have their dignity respected. So don’t ignore any harassment that you receive or think that it doesn’t matter. It does matter because if you don’t speak out then people will think it is acceptable to mistreat you.

And don’t allow other to be bullied either. If you see someone being picked on, don’t do nothing. If you’re afraid to intervene, then go round the corner and call the police. But don’t just walk away. If we want this world to be better than it is today, then we have to make it that way.

The Rise of the Far Right.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemoller

I find it extremely disturbing that in the recent European elections the far right have been gaining votes all over Europe. UKIP in Great Britain and The National Front in France are just two parties that have made gains at the expense of almost all the others. It may just be a blip or a protest vote which will change when the General Election comes in Britain next year but as a historian I can’t help thinking that this is how Hitler started. Someone once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

If good people give in to apathy then the fanatics win. If you have a vote, use it! Don’t let the fascists triumph! As W.B.Yeats said in the Second Coming, “the best lack all convction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” It is time for good people to be passionate; passionate about protecting our rights, passionate about protecting our freedoms, passionate about helping others to a society that cares about all its members, passionate about seeing that no-one is marginalised or ill-treated because of bigotry.

If we don’t defend the rights of others then who will defend our rights when we most need it?

On Shampoo and Stereotyping.

Shampoo

Yesterday I was in the supermarket and I saw this product which is labelled as shampoo for men. I instantly thought ‘do men really have different hair follicles or different dandruff from women or is this just a sales ploy?’ There has been a lot of fuss on the net recently about the Bic pens for girls, which is basically just a pink pen; I can understand with some things that men and women might need different things but for pens or shampoo? So in the interest of scientific experiment I have just gone upstairs to the bathroom and washed my hair in this men’s shampoo.
I shall let you know if my hair falls out or I start gazing lovingly at drill bits and hogging the remote control!

The Rise of the Modern Freak Show.

Freak Show 1

There is what I find a disturbing trend on the TV nowadays and that is what I call the modern freak show. There are programmes about people who have terrible crippling disabilities and diseases and the cameras are delving into every aspect of their lives.

I know that some good might come of this in helping publicise rare medical conditions and perhaps encouraging research into these disabilities and if it helps people in the future then it can’t be all bad.

But personally I never watch these shows because it would make me uncomfortable. There’s an element of schadenfreude about this sort of thing. It reminds me of the old Victorian freak shows where they would charge admission to look at badly deformed and disabled people.

Obviously the programme makers have permission to do these programmes or they wouldn’t be broadcast but I just find this whole sort of thing extremely unpleasant. Am I wrong? What do you think?

I hate fox hunting!

cute foxes

I hate fox hunting because I think it is unbelieveably cruel!  I can understand that if someone is a poultry farmer and a fox gets into their hen house then they might have to shoot it to save the lives of their hens.  But if they must kill it, then do it with a quick clean shot.  To tear a panic striken animal to pieces with a pack of dogs is an act of barbarity that should not be allowed in the twenty-first century.

Some people will say it’s traditional but that is a pathetic argument.  It’s the same argument they used to try and justify slavery.  If it was traditional to be a peodophile, then would that make it okay to be one?  Of course not!  Just because something is traditional doesn’t make it right.

And there are those who will say it is a sport.  No; tennis, football and rugby are sports.  Ripping wild animals to pieces with dogs is not sport; it a an act of gross brutality.

 

My big bit/little bit theory.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=464334032902

I had to share this video because I think it is really special!  And it chimes with what I call my big bit/little bit theory.  What I mean is that if you separate your rubbish for recycling then you’re doing a little bit to help make the world a better place and it’s easy to think that that little bit doesn’t matter but if everyone in the whole world does that one little bit then it becomes a great big bit.

I think we have to remember that it’s hard for one person to do a lot but collectively we can change the world.  It’s the small acts of kindness, the little meaningful things we do that really can create change.  The cynics we say that things are getting worse and there’s nothing we can do about it.  But I think that as long as people do small things to make the world a better place not just for the environment for the people who live on this Earth then things will get better.

And when we help others and the planet, we are helping ourselves.  By improving things around us we improve as people and that can only be a good thing.  You don’t have to try to change the world on your own but collectively we can and do move mountains.

What do you think?

I hate dogshaming!

There’s a new craze on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for something that’s called dogshaming.  It consists of posting a picture or video of your dog with a sign next to them saying something like ‘my farts are smelly’ or ‘I wee on the carpet’.

A lot of people seem to find this hilarious but I’m sorry but I don’t.  I think that for the love, loyalty and total honesty that you get from a dog the occassional widdle on the carpet or smelly fart is a small price to pay.  A dog is one of the most beautiful animals on this planet and I just don’t think its amusing to want to reward their love by humiliating them.

If any animal should be shamed; it should be us.  Dogs don’t start wars.  Dogs don’t chop down the rainforest and pollute the whole planet.  Dogs are infintely better behaved than most humans (apart from the bum sniffing!)  As far as I can see dogs have nothing to be ashamed of but we have!

Reclaiming our vaginas.

There is a movement in the Republican Right to ban the use of the word vagina and a woman has just been forbidden to speak in Congress because she said it on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Ladies, this word belongs to us and not to men, least of all to those who think they have a right to tell us how to live, what to do with our own bodies or what words they can put in our mouths.

There is also a movement, which I am proud to be a part of, which seeks to reclaim our rights, our lives and our words.  This is becoming known as the vagina movement.  So I would ask all you ladies out there in cyberspace to tweet or post on Facebook or write a blog about the word ‘vagina’.  This word is anatomically correct and so it is the right word to use.

The vagina represents the sacred feminine and in Native American Society women were sacred because they could give live through childbirth.  In the Viking Runes one of the runes is read as the word ‘vagina’ and it represents mystery and the unknown.  This word does not belong to bigots; this word belongs to beautiful and empowered women.

My Forty-Seven Favourite Words

Warning!  This is a long post!  But in honour of today being my forty-seventh birthday I thought I’d tell you about my forty-seven favourite words.

My Forty-Seven Favourite Words

  1. Love – Love is an obvious favourite because when it is going well the joy it brings beats any other pleasure into the ground.  Love can, of course, be awful, painful and embarrassing but the best of love brings out the best in us and I believe it always will.
  2. Justice – Justice to me is not an abstract term but a real almost living thing.  You cannot half believe in justice; in order for it to work properly, you have      to believe in it with all your heart.  I think it was Doctor King who said ‘injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere’.
  3. Dignity – Everyone deserves to have their dignity respected and everyone should respect other people’s dignity to.  Think how much better the world would be if people did that.
  4. Integrity – The people I most admire and respect and those who have high integrity.  They are true to themselves and the values that they believe      in.  My sister is a very integral person, she is a church going Christian and I am a Pagan but she does not discriminate against me because of my beliefs; she has way too much integrity for that.
  5. Creativity – In my humble opinion, doing creative things is the most fun you can have with your clothes on!  I also think that creativity is good for us as it helps to open up our minds.
  6. Inspiration – To be inspired is wonderful, almost on a par with being in love.  It’s the feeling that you can do anything, that anything is possible and its one of the best natural highs.
  7. Laugh – Oh you know we all need a good laugh!  The worst people are those who have no sense of humour, who would want to be like that?  Or spend time with anyone like that?
  8. Liberal – Time to get a bit political but I sincerely believe that being liberal is the only way to be and I cannot understand anyone who thinks otherwise.
  9. Democracy – Another political one but unavoidably so.  Democracy may not be perfect      but I think it is currently the best and fairest political system we have      and so it should be defended from enemies with and without.
  10. Caring – Caring is in some ways the easiest thing to do, at a basic level it is simply looking out for someone you are emotionally attached to.  If you      have to care full time for a relative then it can become hard but millions of people do it, sometimes because they have to but mostly because they want to.
  11. Open – I use this word in the context of an open mind, closed minds are sad things.  Everyone should be open to love, people, new cultures, etc.
  12. Experimental – No-one should be afraid of trying out different things, even if it finishes in an epic fail, sometimes you need to find out what doesn’t work in order to find out what does work.
  13. Exploration – Don’t just travel; explore!
  14. Feminine – In the past an often under-rated quality; fortunately more people appreciate it now.
  15. Strong – I’m not talking about biceps here, although there’s nothing wrong with that, but its inner strength that matters most.  Your strength of heart is what carries you through the dark.
  16. Kind – Avoid at all costs anyone who isn’t kind; they are not worth bothering with.
  17. Cheerful – Okay, no-one can be cheerful everyday but the people I like best are the ones who try.  I am always the cock-eyed optimist and I dislike negative people who try to bring me down.  I am quite capable of bringing myself down; I don’t need anyone else to do it for me.
  18. Compliment – Isn’t it nice to get compliments?  They invariably make me blush but I like them anyway.  I do try to give other people compliments because I see no point in being mean.  I don’t compliment things I don’t like; I always try to make what I say sincere.
  19. Human – Being human means being wrong a lot of the time but that’s okay.  When you think about it we humans are incredible.
  20. Humane – Being humane, to me, means caring about human beings even if you don’t know them.  You care about them because they’re fellow human beings and you hope they feel the same way.
  21. Natural – Natural is a great word that represents the entire natural world and all its wonders.  It also represents things that are easy in a good way.
  22. Gift – To be gifted is to be given a present or to have some sort of fabulous talent; both are very good indeed.
  23. Friend – A friend is a family member you got to chose for yourself.  I think its important in relationships to be friends as well as lovers.
  24. Eclectic – This comes back to open mindedness; the best artists, writers, musicians etc, all tend to have very eclectic taste, really it means that they like everything.
  25. Art – Art, to me, is a creative work of a very high standard that inspires people.
  26. Compassion – This is the part of you that reaches out to the next person and shares their joys and sorrows; without it we are bereft.
  27. Books – Books are so much more than paper we can learn from, they help us to explore, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.  They open up new worlds      of the mind and imagination.  I cannot imagine living without them.
  28. Reading     – This is something that those who enjoy cannot understand why everyone doesn’t love it. Reading is a state of being in a different zone with a book, lost to the outside world and entirely absorbed in your inner one.
  29. Writing – Obviously writing is a great pleasure.  It gives me the chance to      create worlds and characters, to play God.  I can moan to my diary, weave stories in my novels, and create poetry in my notebooks.  Although      sometimes it seems like a curse to be a writer, most of the time it’s a joy.
  30. Joy – Joy is that sense of being so happy you could burst.  And the best thing about it is its contagious!
  31. Poetry – This is sublime language put together in the most sublime way.  The best poetry bypasses the brain and speaks straight to the soul.
  32. Tolerance – Who would want to live in a world full of excuses for people to hate each other?       I don’t and I can’t understand why anyone else would want to!
  33. Wisdom – Wisdom is not intellect, wisdom is sense.  Your intellect can explain where rain comes from and how it is made.       Your wisdom will tell you if you stand out in it, you’ll get wet.
  34. Acceptance – Acceptance is key to resolving pain.  Yes, you need to respect other people but most importantly, you need to accept yourself.  If you’ve made mistakes in the past, (and haven’t we all?) the worst thing you can do is dwell on them.  Accept what’s happened and then you can move on.
  35. Spark – Ooh, the fire that lights up your brain, your heart, your soul!  It would be a sad world without it.
  36. Flow – Being out of the flow is the feeling of being out of sync with yourself and the world.  Being in the flow is a beautiful natural feeling.  It sometimes tempting to push to get the results we want but its always a mistake to fight the flow.
  37. Sensitive – This is a word that’s had a lot of bad      press because a lot of people think its means weak but in truth it means being aware of emotions, both yours and others and that is not a bad thing.
  38. Ground – This relates to the earth and the feeling      of being grounded.  Working in my garden helps me to feel grounded; there’s something about the contact with the soil that is beneficial.
  39. Ethical – The best people have a strong sense of ethics and being cruel and mean is anathema to them.
  40. Learning – I love learning new thing!  I always have and I always will.  Its like a hunger of the brain; it one of the things that makes life interesting.
  41. Shine – Everyone should shine as often as possible; what a lovely shiny world that would make!
  42. Smile – The cheapest and most natural high on the planet.  Never pass up an      opportunity to use it (except on the London Underground!)
  43. Listen – It’s amazing how many people find this really hard.  Take the time to      listen, especially to your loved ones, you won’t regret it!
  44. Communicate – Most of us don’t have super developed psychic powers, if you’re struggling, tell us.  Most of us will be happy to help.
  45. Empathise – Empathy is the thing that psychopaths don’t have.  Its what makes us      caring compassionate human beings.
  46. Cuddle – Not in a sexual way, but cuddling is such a lovely sign of affection, we should do it more often.
  47. Courage – Courage doesn’t involve shooting guns but having the guts to do what is right even against the worst sort of oppression, like refusing to give up your seat in a bus.  Thank you Rosa Parks; what a courageous woman!