Monthly Archives: March 2013

Something a little different

IMG_1954 IMG_1953 IMG_1952 IMG_1951 IMG_1948 IMG_1947 IMG_1946 IMG_1945 IMG_1944 IMG_1943 IMG_1942 IMG_1940 IMG_1939 IMG_1938 IMG_1937 IMG_1934 IMG_1933 IMG_1932 IMG_1931 IMG_1930 IMG_1929 IMG_1928 IMG_1927 IMG_1926 IMG_1924 IMG_1923 IMG_1922 IMG_1919 IMG_1918 IMG_1916 IMG_1913 IMG_1909 IMG_1908 IMG_1905Walking the mean streets of Hamilton on Saturday night I compiled this photo essay, I will let it speak for itself

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My Badges

As I draw this mini series to its end, there are a few conclusions that I want to bring together, make some sense of it all.  The underlying driver in all of this is a desire to belong.  When we look at hierachys of needs the desire to belong is strong.  To be a part of something is a step towards self actualisation and in my opinion a sense of belonging is important and healthy.  My question in amongst all of this is, what is it that you want to belong to? One of the things that I think about is when I say I want to be identified with a certain group am I saying that I do not want to be seen as one of those others? Well yes the answer is. A healthy response? That depends on what I am saying, if I am saying hey look at me I am better than them because I am not like them then no,  I guess that is not particularly deep thinking at any particular level but it is all contextual.  Choices about badges that I wear are everyday occurrences, ranging from the jokes I laugh at to the company I keep.

There are some issues that when they arise in conversation my blood just starts to boil and I often ending up declaring a different point of view to ensure that I am not seen wearing the badge of racist or sexist.

Apart from a need to belong at the basic level why is that badges of consumption are so popular, what are the drivers that mean we are prepared to pay a premium way over the actual cost of a comparative product or service to obtain the prestige or satisfaction of wearing one kind of garment or carrying one bag over another?  Consumerism is often referred to as the cult of the individual but here is the conundrum, if consumerism is the cult of the individual then why is it that we so desperately want to look like other people or be seen to be wearing the same clothes that other people wear? 

As a reflective person who values contemplation I have thought about this whole issue of badging, I  have wondered what badges do I wear, what badges do I strive for.  For me the big issue in my life is the badge of singlehood.  It is not one that I want to wear but it is one that I have chosen. I am having to examine just what it is that drives me to change that status, whilst I doo n ot intend to look at that particular badge right now I do want to comment on one the drivers of that need and that is my desire to be seen as normal.  Whilst I may cast derision on those who walk around with a big dog, drive a BMW, place stickers representing their family on the back window (or all three)  I know  that in my heart I want to belong.  Now I am n ot sure if I will ever find a place in society  that I truly belong but I believe that I may find a person with whom I can have that sense of belonging.

In the mean time it is my wish that we examine carefully the badges that we seek and truly know what we are signing up to.  If I  felt I needed great personal protection would I get a big dog?  Well possibly.  If I found a new partner would I advertise my status on the back window of my car?  No not at all.  If I could afford to drive and own a v8 BMW would I buy one?  I would like to say no but the correct answer is possibly.  I include these questions as I want to acknowledge that we are all different and have different needs and desires that compete internally and externally.  I am reminded as I write this piece that often badges that we wear say more about who we are not than who we are.

Live , laugh and love abundantly, and freely,

Paul!

My Badges

As I draw this mini series to its end, there are a few conclusions that I want to bring together, make some sense of it all.  The underlying driver in all of this is a desire to belong.  When we look at hierachys of needs the desire to belong is strong.  To be a part of something is a step towards self actualisation and in my opinion a sense of belonging is important and healthy.  My question in amongst all of this is, what is it that you want to belong to? One of the things that I think about is when I say I want to be identified with a certain group am I saying that I do not want to be seen as one of those others? Well yes the answer is. A healthy response? That depends on what I am saying, if I am saying hey look at me I am better than them because I am not like them then no,  I guess that is not particularly deep thinking at any particular level but it is all contextual.  Choices about badges that I wear are everyday occurrences, ranging from the jokes I laugh at to the company I keep.

There are some issues that when they arise in conversation my blood just starts to boil and I often ending up declaring a different point of view to ensure that I am not seen wearing the badge of racist or sexist.

Apart from a need to belong at the basic level why is that badges of consumption are so popular, what are the drivers that mean we are prepared to pay a premium way over the actual cost of a comparative product or service to obtain the prestige or satisfaction of wearing one kind of garment or carrying one bag over another?  Consumerism is often referred to as the cult of the individual but here is the conundrum, if consumerism is the cult of the individual then why is it that we so desperately want to look like other people or be seen to be wearing the same clothes that other people wear? 

As a reflective person who values contemplation I have thought about this whole issue of badging, I  have wondered what badges do I wear, what badges do I strive for.  For me the big issue in my life is the badge of singlehood.  It is not one that I want to wear but it is one that I have chosen. I am having to examine just what it is that drives me to change that status, whilst I doo n ot intend to look at that particular badge right now I do want to comment on one the drivers of that need and that is my desire to be seen as normal.  Whilst I may cast derision on those who walk around with a big dog, drive a BMW, place stickers representing their family on the back window (or all three)  I know  that in my heart I want to belong.  Now I am n ot sure if I will ever find a place in society  that I truly belong but I believe that I may find a person with whom I can have that sense of belonging.

In the mean time it is my wish that we examine carefully the badges that we seek and truly know what we are signing up to.  If I  felt I needed great personal protection would I get a big dog?  Well possibly.  If I found a new partner would I advertise my status on the back window of my car?  No not at all.  If I could afford to drive and own a v8 BMW would I buy one?  I would like to say no but the correct answer is possibly.  I include these questions as I want to acknowledge that we are all different and have different needs and desires that compete internally and externally.  I am reminded as I write this piece that often badges that we wear say more about who we are not than who we are.

Live , laugh and love abundantly, and freely,

Paul!

Badges of Class?

Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, BMW, Porsche, what do these things have in common?  Gucci, Prada, Pierre Cardin, are similar terms, yes they are marques or designer brands but, in the context of my previous posts about badges they are in my opinion just examples of badges.  Driving or wearing these items is in many ways similar to the actions of the swaggering young man who staggers down the street with his baggy jeans sagging around his hips with his boxers exposed and his salivating, snapping, terrier straining at the leash.  They all say look at me, I belong, I have it made.  Now before the howls of defence wail in the distance I need to say a couple of things.  I have driven a luxury car.  I drove for about an hour, what an awesome machine, you could lose your licence in every gear I loved it.  Would I buy one? Probably not it just seemed obscene to spend that kind of money on a car.  Do I understand people who might buy one? Well yes, but it is still a badge.

On the day I drove the car I had to kill some time, I pulled into a service centre to buy a cup of coffee and I couldn’t help myself I gave the throttle a good blip and the throaty roar that was emitted had a magical effect, heads snapped around like they were on rubber bands.  I could see people looking at me as I emerged from the car and could almost feel the envy in the air.  I walked past the first person who said nice car and the person said nice car.  I had my own little swagger on and the temptation was to say thanks mate it’s not bad however I said yes real nice to drive but it is not mine, the reply was how the other half lives eh!  I nodded my head and walked on, internally conflicted between the thrall of looking like I had arrived but secure in the knowledge that badges do not and can not define who I am.

I had my coffee that day at McDonalds not the fancy café I pulled up at, why well it just suited me I had a loyalty card and I was due for a free coffee.   Don’t get me wrong I am not some holier than thou, tree hugging hippy, (although sometimes even this kind of a badge is appealing) I enjoy a touch of luxury.   I started my day with a trim flat white, home made but I could have had instant!  I enjoy a touch of luxury every now and then but I know something for certain.  Whilst I may desire to belong to a certain group of people I know that this will not bring me any completion.  It matters not whether the name of my glasses says Jeff Banks, or Gucci to me, they looked good on me (or made me look good) whatever that means.

Over this brief period of blogs, I really have hardly touched the surface around blogging.  I have written with an intent, not to point the finger because whenever one points the finger it always has 3 pointing back at themselves.  I will write one more blog in this series about badging before I move on to a different subject.

I conclude now with the advice here.  It is Saturday in New Zealand the end of my working week.  I intend to be intentional this weekend in enjoying what I have, and try not to be introspective about that which I do not have.  I hope you are able to as well.

Ciao Paul

Family Badges

In my last blog I explored how certain dogs are a badge in low socio-economic groups.  Dogs as badges are not exclusive to this group at all; however I am going to turn my attention to another badge that has become popular over the last few years.  I am sure that you have seen them here is one,Family Sticker  I say they are a badge of the middle class, this is a generalisation however I base it on the scientific guise of observation.  Now I am not making a judgement about these stickers, and I think family is important and crucial.  I do however want to make some observations about them.

I have seen these stickers and at times felt some pangs especially when I see what appears to be a neat little nuclear family.  As an ex social worker I know that what appears to be is not always as it is.  A sticker is just a sticker, or is it? The question is what drives people to announce their family status to the world on the back of their cars?  Can one extrapolate from people who use their aggressive dogs as their badge the same feelings of disenfranchisement or small persons syndrome? Well perhaps.  I certainly know that when I was playing happy families some years back I was proud of the fact that I had been in a marriage that lasted 20 + years which was quite uncommon at the time.  This pride did not and could not stand any close scrutiny at all, the reality was my marriage was nothing to be proud of. I wonder if these stickers are more like a sticking plaster designed to cover up some wound or mask some reality in life?

I guess in some ways these stickers could be seen to promote individuality with various characters assigned different uniforms perhaps saying hey what a diverse lot we are!  Perhaps these stickers are a form of saying hey I love people, members of my family like the Promise Keepers stickers that proclaim “I love my wife”?  Some stickers are ways of coming out with same sex couples proudly announcing to the world their sexuality by having two men or two women as their adult figures.  When I think about it I tend to lend myself to the idea that these stickers are saying I am not like you people or the converse ie, saying I am like you….  None of these motivations really matter in the end.  I merely want to point out that before we scoff and point the finger at people around us who wear other badges that we don’t identify we need to be aware of the badges that we use.

I briefly considered putting a sticker on my car.  It would have had myself and five children, one son in law and two grand children on it.  A couple of things stopped me from doing so.  First of all was the cost.  I would have had to pay $45.00 to advertise that I was a single dad with lots of children hmmm let me think about that for a short period ding done no I don’t think so.   Ten coffees, 4 movies a trip to the beach or a set of stickers?  The second question was what agency do my children have in this?  Do I have the right to advertise my family status to the world?  Well probably but is it helpful to them?  The third question is why?  Why would I want to advertise my singleness?  Well this may have a logical answer but for right now I will keep my advertising for a partner off my car, however it does possibly bear thinking about.    In the end I couldn’t  think of a good reason to spend that money.

The fact however remains that I did consider it, what is it that appealed to me, is it a desire to wear a badge of belonging?  Well yes I guess so.  I think in one way or another we all want to belong somewhere somehow fit in?   I will examine that after my last blog on badging.  For right now I will limit my comment to the fact that I realised that by advertising my family status all I am really doing is advertising that I do not fit in to mainstream society but that is a whole new conversation that needs to take place.

So next time you see one of those stickers on a car window, think about what it is not saying as well as what it is!  As to stickers well here is my family and it will stay off my car window,My family3

Ciao Paul.

Badges part two

Badges, was inspired in the usual way, that is in a conversation there was something mentioned that made my ears prick up.  In this case, I was part of a conversation where someone bemoaned that a housing development had been filled up by Bull Terriers and a certain ethnic group.  Neither labels are important in the end, what was interesting to me where the labels and why these were ascribed.  The comment itself cannot be condoned and offensive however it is understandable, more on that later.

One of the things that I do in life is make judgements.  I try not to but it is very natural, from commenting on people who wear their sleep-wear to the supermarket through to people who have certain kinds of piercings or tattoos.  I make judgements about them most often based on the conditioning that I have received and to some part my lived experience of dealing with people.  I have worked amongst people from all walks of lives, politicians, professionals, criminals. And those are just my friends….   Every one has a narrative in their life.

My first house I owned was in a low income area, it was a comfortable warm home, handy to schools and shops, a large park on my back doorstep quite ideal really but I came to loathe that place.  Something changed in society and the once friendly neighbourhood came under significant stress that was manifested in increasing crime, graffiti, random violence, domestic violence and a general feeling of unease settled on the neighbour hood.  The schools became difficult and there was a clear sense of deprivation. Our house was modest and our belongings modest but we were seen to be “rich” in the eyes of those neighbourhood children that visited.  We needed to expand our living area and it would have made sense to renovate however we moved out.  The catalyst was the screaming.

It was a quiet week if I had not rung for police assistance due to the sounds of domestic violence.

Hardwired to care I would call the Police and then go to look for the screaming hoping the Police would arrive soon but often ended up intervening, enough of that for now back to badges.  The prized badge of many people who lived in that area was a dog, specific types of dogs, terriers to be precise.  Pitbulls, English, whatever it did not matter as long as they looked aggressive.  Often skinny underfed and mangy the children were but the dogs would be sleek and well fed, scarred most often but still well looked after.  These badges were mostly desired by males, adults, children and adolescent but 99% male owners.  These males would adopt a particular strut when out with their dogs, often resembling the gait of their dogs.  The key feature was to appear to be as staunch and aggressive as possible.  Ethnicity mattered not, European, Maori even people of Asian descent all the same.

One could apply a Freudian analysis  and diagnose small man syndrome but Freud is inadequate in many ways.  This badge of the dog speaks to me of a number of things, but above all else it speaks of disenfranchisement, that is not belonging.  When I think of it badging in general arrives from the same position.  It could be argued that people badge themselves in order to show that they belong, however it is my belief that here has been a huge growth over the last 25 years or so in the vivsible badges of society.  It is universal over all facets of society, this need to badge, to display some identifiable symbol that says I belong.  In the next few blogs I intend to look at some of these badges and then talk about the social structure and conditions that I think is driving this need to show that people belong.

Ciao

Paul