Monthly Archives: April 2013

Excuse me for not celebrating

reasoned thinking reflective up front and personal

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Let him fry

 

A refrain that will no doubt be heard in regards to the Boston Bomber, the cry for vengeance that is often heard. It is understandable but I am not sure how it helps.  Just as the cry for vengeance would have been heard after this incident in Afghanistan http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-125820/US-bomb-kills-30-Afghan-wedding.html#ixzz2QaHCuTuD .  Happened about the same time but didn’t hit the news.  Neither diminishes the horror or wrongness of the other.  That is for sure, and our press tells us what we want to hear or what sells papers. And news of collateral damage in Afghanistan does not really rate because it just doesn’t affect us.  As one commenter said on facebook about the Afghan bombing, well it is a war zone!  Well that is probably the same response the bomber may have in Boston. 

Now this is presented by the media as a religious issue, about Islam versus non Islam.  There may be some truth in that however when we have a look at that then why is it that Islam can live in harmony in the west with Christianity.

I guess for me we can break  it down fairly simply into a battle for resources.  This battle is age old and essentially drives all wars whether inter country inter tribe, inter family, what ever.  The end result of such wars is always pain and suffering.  Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not advocating peace for the sake of peace.  Compromises must always be acceptable, and I am grateful for those who went to war and paid the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom and will always treasure that. 

I watched a movie about Vietnam with my son earlier this year (or indeed last year) it was called tunnel rats.  It featured the men who went down the tunnels of the Vietcong .  the final scene was of two people both losing their lives in the same bunker, one Vietcong, one American, my son commented that the point of the film was that no one wins in war. Now I am not that in favour of the death penalty, however that has to be tempered with the knowledge that I have not been really close to someone who has been killed, well actually that is not so true read http://preview.tinyurl.com/Deathupcloseand-personal

I experienced very mixed emotions in this time, anger some of which was directed at the  perpetrators and some which is aimed at the authorities.  I cannot comment more because this is sub-judice.  However I did not want them dead… nor do I want them to ever be able to commit such a crime again.  So I must either accept that it will cost a huge amount of money to incarcerate them or allow for the death penalty. 

The thing that I want to comment on really however is that innate feeling of needing to blame someone.  Now this may come as a little left field but in the end if I am not a part of the solution then I am part of the problem.  Yes I know that despite my messianic tendencies I cannot save the world, in fact on a bad day I sometimes feel that I would be hard put to save myself.  All that I want to say is that before I start heaving bricks, I hope to make sure that I am not trowing them at a reflection of myself.

My advice to me myself and I tonight is to do what I can, where I can with what I have got.  Every time I reach out in friendship to someone who is different to me I break down barriers, when I tell my students that I brook no racist, sexist, homophobic put downs in my class I stand up for good.  When I try to be a good steward of my possessions and live a life of consideration not unbridled consumption then I take responsibility for my attitude towards others who do not have as much as me.  And when I am reflective enough to understand that it is only a very small part I play in this world, and that I can only model behaviour and hope, that I walk that which I talk then I am indeed modelling tolerance and respect and am not assuming that I am always right and have all the answers because I am not and I don’t.

So before I tell the US how to run its own justice system I need to make sure to the best of my ability that the country I live in and vote in has its own house in order and it doesn’t, but more on that another time.

Peace

Paul

Stuff happens

Some things just are.

Every question has an answer…., unfortunately not.  This week we are once again confronted with tragedy on a gross scale.  The first question on many peoples minds is either why or who.  Now should you have time to spare to read 50,000 words then I could probably produce a reasoned and extensive explanation of both those things, I could ramble on about alienation, relative morality, imperialism ad infinitum and ad nauseam I expect. This might help to explain acts of terror like that which has just happened in Boston. I could produce a thesis about systemic issues in Health and Safety failures that might provide some explanation about what happened in Waco Texas Christchurch Earth Quake, and Cave Creek. 

It is natural for people to want to know why and who.  They want someone to blame, a place to hang anger, hatred, and confusion.  Effectively a place to park many of the overwhelming emotions that flow over at a time like  that.  Witness the people who gathered at the court house when it was rumoured that a suspect had been taken into custody, voyeurism perhaps can explain some of that, a need to actually do something to avoid being paralysed with grief perhaps?  It really doesn’t matter

Underneath this is an unleashing and outpouring of grief and sympathy for the victims of such tragedy both the living and the dead. Keeping in minds concepts such as six degrees of separation and taking into account how we experience events through the internet, live feed and other high speed global village  kind of information things have changed.  Images that may have taken well over a year a hundred years ago are now on our screens in real time.  Technology has meant that many of these kinds of events are captured live.  Who can forget the pictures of people jumping from the twin towers, the Boston bombing captured live?  Such imagery impacts in a way that highly personalises the event that has just happened.  I think it also increases our personal trauma as well.  We then need to make sense of it.

I will talk about personal reactions in my next blog but right now I want to share one of my important life lessons, and that is to explore about how we react to people in trauma.  I have shared before how I seem hard wired to care and when someone in my life is experiencing grief trauma pain, my natural inclination is to want to fix it, make it better but the horrible naked truth is that some things just are and they are not fixable.  I have learnt through personal experience of grief and loss and by applying those lessons to other situations that I come across I think I have something that is worth saying about this.

I remember when my Brother took his life, a well meaning man told me he was going to hug me, I said no and he said I know what you need, I was at a bible study and he approached me, I told him that if he touched me I would knock his ffffing block off, he turned to the  pastor and said “did you hear that? “ The pastor said “yes I did”.  “Well what are you going to do,” said the would be hugger?  The pastor replied well I will hold you while he knocks your block off then perhaps a hug might help you feel better.  One of my poems encapsulates this feeling really well I think. http://softlyfallingpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/i-saw-death/ People want to say something to make themselves feel better as well as the person who is hurting,  On the outside the person in receipt of these words often has to  grit their teeth and smile as platitudes and words of condolence and advice are dished out.  On the inside my experience is that you want people just to shut up.

What they want is for you to say there are no words, can I hug you, I love you, call me any time you need to talk.  Don’t tell me that it will get better, don’t tell me how to feel or how not to  feel, don’t tell me you know how I feel, cry with me instead tell me it is devastating and you don’t know what to say or do and for the love of humanity don’t remind me of the good things in my life. All of those things are truisms and perhaps at some stage it may be appropriate to share… but let your first response be compassion, I know it works for me and the feedback that I have had from people who I have done this for is positive.  Remember thatm well meaning words of advice given when the trauma, grief, or pain is acute are often as poisonous and hurtful as the trauma itself.

One last word of advice, don’t be surprised when if you ask someone how are you they say not that great. Remember that somethings just are and not every thing can be healed or fixed in this world.

Paul

Urge

IMG_1909It’s been a while since I last posted, but I thought a follow up was due on my photo essay.  As I wandered the mean streets of Hamilton I caught these signs and decided to shoot a few frames.  I looked at all these signs and saw a common theme.  A theme that I think speaks to the heart of the ills of society. IMG_1937  Whilst signs  or names of shops are part of establishing your brand and are often deliberate I wonder what it is that they reflect.  Urge, desire, furnace, just a few of the names that I saw as I walked those streets.  All designed to capture our attention, it is the age of I the age of the individual and I suspect it is this that drives most of our social ills, many of our mental ills and by and large most of our economic issues.

We are the age of I want it now, whether it is material items, or love or happiness,  it is all presented as instantly available.  See it want it get it, yes there are many structural issues around economics but they are all based around the cult of the individual.  There is a real reluctance to allow for greater good.   This is especially accentuated when economic times are harsh, competition for resources brings out the worst behaviour in people.  We are seeing that here in New Zealand. IMG_1916

The government here in New Zealand has spent an extraordinary amount of effort on trying to reduce numbers on benefits, cutting support for people studying and raising taxes for working class people, driving pay increases that will not buy a cup of coffee for people whilst at the same time ensuring that those at the top end of the scale have their snouts firmly in the trough.  The debacle at Solid Energy is a prime example of that.  The salaries that these so called top level executives earn are obscene and in insult to all New Zealanders. What is it that a person who oversees a company collapse feels insufficient shame to stop them from drawing a clearly bloated salary that is not earned, and that politicians should defend this?

A 73% increase in the fees for directors of Mighty River Power is another glaring example of a sign that this government is sorely out of touch with society in general.  IMG_1903This example of corporate largesse is not unique but it is indicative of a belief that people have about their indispensability that goes well beyond their contribution to society.  This is fed by the mantra of individualism and driven be the desires that consumerism satisfies.

Well where do I stand in amongst this, I certainly don’t have an overinflated sense of my own importance.  I am easily replaced at work, for my children well that is a different story.  As to relationships well there is a lesson in that as well.  It is clear that the adage of can’t live with them and can’t live without them doesn’t apply to me.

I too am tempted by the trappings of consumerism, I like to think that I temper these by trying to live within my income, buying pre used when it is appropriate and when I get around to it I will put a no junk mail sticker on my letter box.  I am however human and on occasion get caught in the desires of this world, but my desires are met pretty simply and with hope one day they will be satisfied.Family Sticker

In the mean time I am grateful for what I have and live in the hope that the rest of which I seek will come to me in time.

Live laugh and love,

Paul