Friday, November 20, 2015

Unite in Kindness

I keep hearing myself say the folowing six words - this is such a sad world. And without a doubt, it really is.

Where is all this going to end? Countless atrocities are happening daily all over the world. That is all we hear on the news. It can become so depressing. But we need to hear those stories. We need to know about them. We need to feel bad enough so that we are compelled enough to say, "This isn't right, and something needs to change."

It might seem an impossible task, but something DOES need to change.

I don't know what the correct answer is. But I believe it needs to be thought out thoroughly. It can't be a decision made in haste in retaliation to last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Governments talk about war. I'm no expert, but from what I've seen over the last several years, war doesn't cure the problem. It creates a bigger problem, with thousands of innocent lives lost as collateral damage. Strikes by air missiles cause untold damage to vital buildings like hospitals and schools, road networks etc.

But could air strikes actually get to the root of ISIS and extinguish there leaders? Somehow I doubt it, but if successful, there will probably be men just as evil, waiting to fill their shoes.

Besides, to bomb ISIS, we would also be bombing innocent people. Is that ok with you? It's not ok with me. To them, we become the enemy, bombing their world into pieces.

To them, we are the terrorists. Then they also want to retaliate. And it goes on. And on....

The media plays a huge role in society and especially when it comes to events like this. They tell us what is happening, but give us the slant which suits them and their politics. So they are not simply telling us the 'news', they are telling us what they want us to know. They decide what we should know, and how we should feel about it.

Social media can work in the same way, but often social media can bring together like minded people who can share thoughts and ideas. And just now, there is an overwhelming amount of positive posts which is heartwarming. People who care. People seeking peace, rather than war. People wanting to find better solutions to the problems. People wanting to change the world to make it a better place.

Most of us probably feel pretty helpless about the state the world is in. We feel like we are powerless to help. But we are not powerless. Each one of us can change this world.

We can and we need to make this planet which we call home a better place. We can start by bringing more kindness to the world. A small act of kindness can bring about a change in mood, it could even change someone's life. With more kindness, the world can change. We can make a difference. And we don't need politicians or their favourite newspapers to tell us how to do that.

Just now, especially, we need to Unite in kindness.

Other posts you may want to read :

Rremembrance Day

Smile....spread some happiness

Friday, September 04, 2015

"Looking After Our Own" #RefugeesWelcome

Nobody can possibly have escaped seeing the harrowing photos of the last few days of three year old, Alan Kurdi. Sometimes there really are no words which can express emotions properly. And this is one of those times.

I keep reading about people not being happy about photos of that poor little boy being shown. The photos are too 'distressing' and 'upsetting' so shouldn't be shown.

But surely we should all be distressed and upset. We have in actual fact been ignoring this whole situation for so long. We should be distressed and upset. More than that, we should probably feel ashamed that we have ignored it for so long and allowed it to continue.

So if those photos are what makes people react, then I believe they need to be shown.

I find this photo no less harrowing. The poor man who tried in vain to take his wife and sons to a safer place.

I have sat and watched the news for months saying, how awful, this is terrible.....but what have I done? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So I am guilty of sitting back watching. Watching, grateful that it's not happening to any of my family, but I've done nothing about it. I haven't donated anything to help those people, I haven't signed a petition to ask our governments to help more. I have simply sat here, watching the television, saying, "isn't this sad."

I am as guilty as most people of thinking, well there's nothing I can do. But in actual fact, I can do something. I can petition the government, lobby my MP to ask them to intervene and do something to help these people. We can't all afford to donate money, much needed items or even a room in a house. But we are all capable of asking our governments to help more.

Our governments have probably been partly to blame for this situation arising in the first place. So isn't it their duty to try to help those poor people? I think it is.

Apart from some people criticising the photo of Alan Kurdi being shown, I have also seen some truly horrible comments. 'We need to look after our own', 'They just want to come here for benefits', 'They should just be dumped in Libya'

I actually hate even repeating those words, but just as those harrowing photos needs to be seen, those words need to be heard. And the people who say those words need to be ashamed of themselves.

Those refugees are our own. We all live in this planet....together. We are all the same species. None more special than any other. We are all people. So, yes, we do need to look after our own. And it is time for us all to start doing so.

What can you do to help?

Enough Suffering - #RefugeesWelcome

Friday, August 14, 2015

Does Pain Change You?

Today I saw a post on Facebook asking this question.

I scrolled through some comments and, unsurprisingly, the answer was a resounding  yes.

I wouldn't disagree with that.

Of course pain changes people. The ramifications of living with constant pain has to have an impact on life.

But the same could be said about other things in life. A new relationship, breakdown of a relationship, a new job, loss of a job, new additions to the family, bereavements, winning the lottery.....(yes, if only)

Life happens and when it does, it has a habit of changing us. Not just changing us, but shaping us into who we are. Everything that happens makes us grow into the people we are.

So yes, life changes us. But we always have a choice. We can still choose who or what it changes us into.

Perhaps sometimes we need to embrace whatever is happening in our lives, whether it is good or bad, and let it change us in a positive way.

Change is inevitable, but the choice of how we change is ours.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Stand Tall, Be Proud......

I'm having one of those days when a song keeps popping into my head and it's all thanks to Facebook. It's a song by Al Johnson from 1928. And just in case anyone wonders, no, I wasn't around back then, but I can remember my Papa singing it all the time when I was a wee girl.

I can only remember one verse, so this one verse has had the automatic replay button in my brain switched on all day.

There's a rainbow 'round my shoulder
And a sky of blue above
Oh the sun shines bright, the world's all right
'Cause I'm in love

As with almost every song ever sung, it can be found on You Tube. There are several versions of it. I chose the original Al Jolson's version to share here, but how I wish I could hear my Papa sing it again.

I said at the start that I remembered this song thanks to Facebook. For anyone who doesn't use Facebook, I will explain....

Facebook has put a tool on their site so that people can have a transparent rainbow on top of their profile pictures to celebrate LGBT Pride. I have added it to my profile picture, as have many of my friends. So Facebook today is awash with rainbows.

I am sure the Pride celebrations have been celebrated even more than normal this year after USA's Supreme Court made the ruling to legalise gay marriage. Hopefully more countries will do the same because I truly believe that all people in this world should be treated equally. We all came into the world the same way, so why should certain groups of people be treated differently because of they are attracted to? Why shouldn't they be allowed to marry and have the same legal rights as a heterosexual couple?
Nobody would have had any right to tell my husband and I that we shouldn't love each other or that we shouldn't get married. Nor should anyone have any right to tell a gay person that they shouldn't love or marry their partner. Surely love is something special which should be celebrated. It should be their choice, and there should be no laws telling them otherwise.

For too long, that has been happening and for too long people have felt the need to shut themselves away because they believe they won't be accepted for who they really are.

Sadly, as well as the rainbows on Facebook, I have seen some other posts about the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage. Some very shameful and hateful posts. Thankfully, the rainbows outnumber the hateful posts, so hopefully, it is a sign that people are changing.  Hate and love are two very strong emotions. I'd rather see a world full of love than hate.

It is time for change. Time to accept people for who they are, no matter who they love, no matter what colour of skin they have, no matter if they believe there are fairies living at the bottom of their gardens. We are all equal and deserve to be treated equally. Everyone should be able to stand tall and be proud of who they are.

When I was fifteen years old, my oldest sister got married. I, along with my other sister, was her bridesmaid. When the wedding photographer saw us outside the church, he came over to me and whispered, "When I am about to take a photo, I'll give you a signal. Bend your knees a bit, so you don't look as tall." I was six feet tall and pretty self conscious about my height, but there was no way I was going to bend my knees to make myself look a 'normal' height as he had put it. That was who I was, so why pretend not to be me? Incidentally, he didn't ask my sister to stand on her tiptoes to appear taller.

I was brought up being told, "Stand tall and be proud". I was a bit self-conscious about my height, but I did learn to stand tall, and be proud. That photographer's comment was just insensitive rather than cruel, although over thirty years later, I can still hear his words in my head.

I am not trying to compare that photographer's comment with the bigoted, homophobic or racist slurs and prejudices which some people are subjected to. But just as I refused to bend my knees to appear normal, nobody should have to pretend to be someone else, just so that they are accepted in society. Everyone should be allowed to be themselves.

Everyone should be encouraged to stand tall and be proud.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Je Suis.......

It is difficult to put thoughts into words about the terrorist attacks in France last week. Shock. Sadness. Fear. Relief when it was finally brought to an end. But I wonder if it really will ever end.

The extremists who carry out vile and barbaric terrorist acts like this, doing so in the name of their religion, are simply evil. But I don't think their religion is the problem. There are millions of Muslims around the world who are happy to live side by side with people of other or no faith. Terrorism is not about a religion. It is about terror.

I don't know how many religions there are in the world. There are many. And there will be followers of each of those religions who believe their's is the one everyone should follow. But there are also sometimes extremists within various religions, who take their beliefs to another level. They hate, injure and kill in the name of their religion. But, as was the case last week, other people of that same belief, condemn their actions.

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo office apparently came about as the satirical magazine had repeatedly published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. The cartoons often feature other religions too. They don't just mock Muslims. However, the Islamic extremists chose to use those cartoons as a reason for their actions last week. People around the world were shocked, saddened and angered not only at the cruel loss of life, but also because the attack was thought to be an attack on free speech.

This is where I have a problem.

Everyone wants free speech....I do too....but surely a line must be drawn somewhere? If we intentionally hurt or offend people, is it ok simply because we believe we should all have free speech?

A few words, a cartoon, a joke which may make some people laugh, but at the same time, may hurt and offend someone else. A cartoon mocking people's religion obviously offended people. I am in no way condoning the actions of those terrorists. Terrorists use things like that as an excuse for what they do. But is it really ok to offend people so publicly?

I don't think so.

Haven't we moved on to an age when we should think and consider other people's feelings more?

Shouldn't free speech be put to better use than mocking certain people or groups in society.

We will never all agree with each other. But can't we express opinions in a way which does not offend people? It is ok to not share people's beliefs, but surely it is not ok to be offensive to them about it.

I saw some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons online. And I have to say I found them offensive. I was not offended because of religious beliefs. I was offended simply because I found most of them to be downright disgusting and in very bad taste. They have printed a record amount of copies of this week's edition. They normally print 60,000 copies. Today 5 million copies were printed, in various languages, including Arabic. People queued up to buy this edition, and most shops sold out very quickly. Handwritten signs were put up outside newsagents in France to let people know that there was 'No more Charlie'.  I can't help but wish there really was no more Charlie.

Their front cover is a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign saying, "Je suis Charlie", with the headline All is Forgiven. They say that Muslims need to get a sense of humour.

Humour....I am not a Muslim and I reckon that I have a pretty good sense of humour, but when a joke, cartoon or prank affects people's lives....they are no longer funny. Perhaps people shouldn't find them funny in the first place.

When Prince William's wife in hospital during her first pregnancy, an Australian DJ played a prank during their radio show. They phoned the hospital pretending to be the Queen, asking how her granddaughter-in-law was. They thought it was a hilarious joke. A nurse answered the phone and believed it to be the Queen. That nurse ended up taking her own life due to that phone call. Not so hilarious.

In December last year, just days before Christmas, after the horrific bin lorry crash in Glasgow, a young man in the North of England made an extremely unfunny joke about it on social media. Many people were angry and offended....rightly so. It was a tragic accident. People lost their lives and others were severely injured. The young man who had made the 'joke' handed himself over to the police, probably because he feared retaliation from the many people who found his joke offensive. He was charged by the police. What he had done was a chargeable offence.

Charlie Hebdo repeatedly made cartoons about various religions and high profile politicians. Back in 2008, one of their writers wrote a very antisemitic piece. He was later fired because of it. Double standards there surely. Not ok to mock the Jewish faith on that occasion, but ok to mock other religions, especially Islam. Muslims are their main target.

And I have to say that Muslims seem to be the main target for many people worldwide. I do not, and never will, condone any acts of terrorism carried out by anyone. But what seems to be happening, is a war between Muslims and the rest of the world. We share the planet, for goodness sake. We live together. Side by side, all colours, all races, all beliefs. Can't people put differences to the side and live together peacefully. There is room for everyone. Room for everyone's beliefs and opinions. But I don't think there is room for offending people in this way.

Yes, we want free speech. But being offensive, racist and obnoxious has nothing to do with free speech, in the same way that terrorism has nothing to do with religion.

Mark Zuckerberg made a point of saying that Facebook will always be a place for free speech. People should be allowed to say what they want.

So groups like Britain First will continue to encourage people to share their vile, racist posts on Facebook.

I actually complained about one I saw the other day, but was told that it complies with Facebook regulations, so it would not be taken down. The post said that Muslims might be offended by jokes about Muhammad, but we (the British people) are offended by a picture of a woman wearing her hijab, in other words, we are offended by Muslims. Another post said that Britain is a Christian country, let's keep it that way. Aren't Christians supposed to show kindness, respect and acceptance? Certainly doesn't come across that way when you see posts like those on Britain First's website.

I find Britain First posts to be highly offensive. Sadly, though, posts like that are shared on social media like wildfire. Just as all Muslims shouldn't be considered as terrorists, I hope that all British people aren't judged as being racist.


After last week's attacks, there was a rally in France on Sunday. World leaders attended, linking arms to march in unity against terrorism under the banner of 'Je suis Charlie', supporting free speech. Ironically, many of those world leaders have been part of injustice, illegal wars and yes, even acts of terrorism themselves. They seem to have double standards and are happy to stand united when it suits.

And many of them don't actually allow free speech or freedom of information in their countries.

Our government recently ensured that the public didn't get to find out about their expenses scandal, by shredding the evidence. At the moment, there are a lot of questions being asked about paedophile rings and government members having had the knowledge about them going on, and some actually having been party to that. It is starting to look like more evidence will be getting sent to the shredder.

Allow media outlets to post offensive, racist cartoons.....but don't allow them to tell us what is going on within our own government. Something is far wrong here.

Our Prime Minister is trying to make some new laws to ban any political rallies. It is supposedly to prevent extremism in the country. He has also suggested monitoring all internet activity, even reading your private emails.  And if anyone dares to speak out against the government, they could be arrested.

Perhaps I should just hand myself in to the police now.....