Category Archives: Women

Transformative Power within British Politics #election15

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Never cut what you can untie

“No knot unties itself – every knot what once straight rope”

 

Today is the New Moon in Libra, so it seems like an auspicious moment to open new discussions (new moon) about the political relationships we have in Britain at the moment.  It helps, I’ve found, to review what lessons emerged during the last moon cycle beginning in Virgo. Virgo is the sign of service to others and it concluded with some fascinating lessons in contemporary British politics in this year of 2014.  And then there’s what Pluto in Capricorn / Uranus in Aries have been doing…. but this is not intended to be an astrology blog. What I am attempting to model in this blog is my own version of Polymathic learning; this means I bring all my funded wisdom to bear on the problem. Whether you ‘believe’ in astrology or not is of supreme indifference to me; as a student of the subject for 45 years plus, my own experience informs me. Let other astrologers with an interest in the outer planets’ impact on our human collective comment on what is going on for those who are interested. For my own part, this astrological information helps me understand where we are in untying the knots of British politics when we find ourselves in mid-transformation.

 

Cameron on IndyRef BBC

BBC reporting David Cameron

So what does this transformation look like in real terms? The biggest indicator, last month, was the Independence referendum in Scotland. That the result came about with an almost 90% turnout of registered voters from a highly-franchised electorate is extremely telling and when coupled with the fright a potential Yes vote evoked in our London ‘leaders’, clearly something is afoot within the political relationships of Britain. The rapidly rising membership of the Scottish National Party gives credence to my astrological suspicion that any British political transformation is far from over. As a member of the English precariat, this gives me hope because there is surely none for the likes of me in present British party politics.

 

For example: Once all the main political parties in Westminster recovered from the shock that the Scottish people might give them the finger, their notion of “service to others” resulted in Scotland being subject to some of the worst political threats  to the collective, using false promises laden with emotional/fiscal ‘gaslighting‘, probably courtesy of Cameron’s nudge unit, that the parallels with patterns of abuse in domestic violence were hard to ignore. This was concerted and remarkably united bullying aided and abetted by ALL the British mainstream media, with a single Scottish exception amongst the papers and a handful journalists with integrity on Channel 4, and still 45% of enfranchised Scots still gave Westminster the finger.

 

So how long has it taken for the real reason Westminster wanted a No vote from Scotland to fall out of the dark closet of British politics? Less than a week. If you want to understand Westminster’s idea of service to others, you only have to follow the money.

 

The remarkable success of democracy in Scotland has not occurred in a political vacuum. Astrologically speaking, these transformations have been in progress for some time now at a UK level also; in England, the changes have been harder to see because Westminster’s control of English political narrative is ‘supreme’ within the mainstream. They can, however, be seen in the social media via those active in confronting the terrible and murderous effects Coalition austerity is having on the poor, socially-exiled and excluded within our communities. I can’t even begin to name all of them because the attacks upon us are so widespread and diverse. These attacks of government upon the population they were elected to serve have been continuous over a 5-year period. As someone who has been subjected to these systemic attacks, where my very life was in the balance, I am looking for the political will to not only end this cruelty but to also try healing it. If there were ever a time ordinary English people needed lawful representation in politics, it is now. In the past, we could look to Labour to, at the very least, try. So how is the Labour Party doing in the electorate-relationship stakes?

 

Lab14 01In the last few days, the Labour Party parliamentary party has set out its stall for the general election next year, presumably in exchange for certain MSM support. Amongst the ‘special offers’ is the freezing of child benefit and the removal of Cold Weather payments to our pensioners. In exchange for MSM support, Labour clearly intends continuing the ‘tough on welfare’ policies so enthusiastically pursued by our present government.

 

Let me just turn and ask the lasses feeding their children by foodbank what they think of that ‘special offer’ then; and let me ask our elders how they feel about Labour helping them stay cold in winter. Since the majority of our impoverished elders are women too, it seems that women are to remain economic punching-bags for the red-rosetted version UK’s austerity merchants. It would appear that Westminster merely offers a different packaging; the actual product… and its horrific consequences… remains unchanged.

 

It’s interesting to consider the pressure being placed upon the English electorate to return to some feudalistic nightmare of our corporate / plutocratic elite, where profit comes before human life (seriously, check out what David Hencke is saying in that link!), and where PR is more important than substance. When I refer to the next general election as a ‘Life or Death’ vote – given the unanimity of Westminster policies being foisted upon us – it is with good reason and is supported by the facts. Which, interestingly, returns the subject to Pluto and the issue of transformation.

 

As with every transformation within the collective, the process involves a new and creative energy challenging an old and outmoded system as the new struggles to grow and evolve. With each struggle, those involved strengthen their abilities whilst the regressive energies become more rigid and totalitarian. The experience of social activists over the last five years of Coalition rule will have informed the Yes campaign and I imagine the experience of the Indy Ref continues to open the eyes of certainly more than the 45% in Scotland as I write. Here we are seeing ‘new’ ideas about service to others that involve alleviating the harm already inflicted, even if we don’t agree with everything being suggested.

 

BG7TxswCQAAAkMP_jpg_largeAs a general rule, to be on the side of ‘history’ during a transformational process is to choose Life. The old ways are in their death throes because no future is left in them or, at least, no future worth living for our children and grandchildren. For people like me, the old way of Westminster politics will kill us, in my own case the timetable measured in days or weeks; whether by systemic attrition or my own hand. The ‘Life or Death Election’ is quite real to us and we face it, in our living, every single day. This means the social structure has already collapsed at the very bottom of British society. In the last five years, this collapse has risen quickly; first, for the working classes but it has now started affecting the middle-classes too.

 

All these guys care about is money. They don’t care about society. They certainly don’t care about jobs and they don’t care about you.

OK, you might say, but this has always been going on. But it hasn’t. This sort of utterly amoral screw-everyone capitalism has become much more prevalent in the last 15 years. Our financial elite is now totally out of control. They learned nothing from the crisis, except that the rest of us were stupid enough to give them a second chance. And, now, having plucked all the “low hanging fruit,” they’re destroying the middle classes for profit.

Our current problems have their roots in the early 80s. While much of what Reagan and Thatcher did was necessary, the trouble is that they set a deregulatory train in motion which, over the last couple of decades has dismantled so much of the legal framework that protected us from greedy scuzzballs.

The middle classes went along with it. We were sick of the Left, tired of powerful unions and, besides, very few us could remember the inequality of the 1920s that gave rise to many of these regulations in the first place. Also, vain fools that we were, we identified upwards. We thought the elite had our interests at heart. The 0.1% must have found this pretty cute. They knew the truth. We weren’t their pals, we were just at the end of the line for the financial blood-letting.

“Why aren’t the British middle-classes staging a revolution?”: Daily Telegraph

Here, at a new moon interested in the British political collective relationship,

Alice Walker on power

we now know exactly what the present incumbents intend to deliver to an electorate they think they can control. When I look as the astrology of the situation, however, I see transformation regardless of how we might feel about it, and our only choice is whether we choose Life or not.

Speaking as someone who understands this choice only too well, there is one thing I would like to see when I come to vote in the election. I want to see a candidate on my ballot paper who stands for the belief that my life has a value beyond just money, their personal career path or the inhuman interests of corporate profit. In fact, I’d like there to be a such a candidate in every single constituency in the country, so that folk like me have a genuine choice.

I’m not bothered about previous party affiliations; I’m interested in a candidates who will actually serve the folk they represent and not their own personal narcissistic interests.  I’m interested in candidates with experience of real life and not just the privileged university-manipulated politics of millionaire wannabees. Nor am I willing to listen to those who counsel ‘waiting just a little longer whilst the elite ‘catch up’ with the people’; I’ve waited far too long already and still no change.

Media lessons

My responses find a similar resonance with the Electoral Reform Society and I can’t help believing that there is an English, Welsh and Northern Irish equivalent of the Scottish 45%. Astrology suggests you exist but there needs to be a change in how we relate to each other in order to access it.

As far as I am concerned, listening to those who have been systemically excluded from political debate might be a good place to start. The existing Westminster establishment and their corporate cronies can’t hear us; the mainstream media will only tell us what the Westminster  establishment want us to believe because… owners and other ‘private’ interests. If the people of Britain really want a genuine choice of Life at the next election, we’re going to have to put it there ourselves.

To put ourselves into alignment with the astrologically transformative energies currently at work in Britain, it’s time to start learning how to ask the right questions of what is really needed by those who face this Life-or-Death-by-Government, and then LISTEN to our answers!

And if we continue to do nothing? Westminster’s present party political system offers voters a choice of  various shades of the same old tune, on a scale starting at ‘utterly horrendous’ and ending in ‘catastrophic’ for anyone who isn’t a member of a rapidly shrinking elite, and not just for Britain either. This is a global phenomenon.

Seriously, do you really want to sit around doing nothing while the world goes to hell in a handbasket in order to satisfy the infinite greed of a dangerously selfish few? Is that really what you want for your children and grandchildren? Or do you belong to the Spirit of 45?

4 levels of questions

 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to #Ethics in UK Public Life

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Bullshit

Every so often, the UK government finds itself mired in scandals of sleaze and corruption. At present, we have a return of allegations that the UK Parliament is ‘home’ to a ‘ring’ of high-profile child sex abusers; there are lingering allegations of continued expenses fraud; and today both the Guardian and Huff Post report that the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee into Standards in Public Life  is saying “MPs should be required to undergo an induction course to teach them about the seven principles of public life that are meant to promote openness and honesty.”

For those unfamiliar with the Seven Principles of Public Life, you can find more information here.

 

So why are ethics so  important? From the perspective of a member of a presently socially-exiled social class, this is one HUGE reason as far as I am concerned:

Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression

We can be grateful to Dr. Sarah Wollaston, former GP now Conservative MP for Totnes, Brixham and the South Hams, – who clearly does understand the role of ethics in public life – to provide the appropriate professional response to the above.

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She elaborates on the issue of ethics in this report.

 

So given that the UK has existing standards of behaviour for public and elected officials, how is it possible that the Department of Work & Pensions floats ideas in the press that are clearly and plainly professionally unethical? Well, perhaps this might explain it:

 

A report by the committee pointed to reports that fewer than one in five of those elected for the first time in 2010 attended even one induction session, and one on dealing with ethical dilemmas was cancelled when too few signed up….

It said it understood that the issue was “delicate” as many elected representatives saw being taught ethics as “impugning their integrity and their common sense”…

HuffPost

 

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What we can be certain of, at this juncture, is that the ‘common-sense’ and ‘integrity’ of many present incumbents of public office in Westminster leaves a great deal to be desired, and this is a cross-party problem likely to be best resolved by a cross-party solution.

 

I believe that the casual breaching of ethics in public life by many of our parliamentarians lies at the heart of the social problems currently being created by the same. Whilst we have – as a country – tried to address this problem in the past, our attempts have clearly been unsuccessful because here we are again. The question in my mind is how do we manage the problem now?

 

As with any other ‘disciplinary’ problem, it is important to restate the standards likely to be applied. The Seven Standards of Public Life have been around for a while now but I wonder whether their importance has been framed correctly for our recalcitrant MP’s?

This is the frame I would use were I to be writing/delivering a training course on the topic. In addition to the reminder that those with public responsibilities are answerable to the public, I’d echo the Committee on Public Standards’ warning that those who fail to adhere to these are likely to find themselves deselected or recalled at best, or jailed at worst. Election or appointment to parliament does not come with a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card and failings in our personal public responsibility may well be punishable by the courts. In addition, those reluctant to apply the Seven Standards to their own behaviour could find themselves embarrassed by other public servants refusing to comply with orders they regard as unlawful.

 

Ceasar Chavez

 

Whilst I am certain the models used above are imperfect, they still provide a sound-enough foundation of the ethical principles that inform all professionals, whilst allowing for variations depending upon the exigencies of individual professions. When we start to see cross-professional ethical violations in matters of public political life (as with the DWP’s ‘forced therapy’ proposal which violated the ethics of both GP’s and mental health professionals), those of us who understand the issue’s importance need to ask ourselves what we intend to do about it.

 

Ethical violations are harmful to the point of criminality and beyond, wherever they may occur. When such violations are occurring in public life, the harm to the public will be extensive. As someone who could be personally affected by a DWP ‘forced therapy’ requirement, I have my own personal response to the Ministers of that department (past, present and future):

Forward Planning and

Atos and the Day of Judgment

Whilst the above were prepared for an impending WCA, the principles remain virtually unchanged because my response was designed to confront existing ethical violations within the DWP.  In addition, I’ve contacted and briefed my own MP on the matter because, in my own understanding of applying these principles, when we are faced with clear evidence of ethical violations, we must respond forcefully and vigorously to both correct and prevent them because they are always harmful to vulnerable others. I’m lucky my MP understands this; just as all those benefits recipients experiencing depression are fortunate to have a former GP in the House who understands ethics and abides by the Seven Standards, regardless of political hue.

 

This blog is for all those who want to understand the ethics involved and why they are so vital to public life, up to and including all those MP’s who missed out on their induction to public standard ethics after 2010. Perhaps those readers who think these are standards worth applying to our contemporary public life might bring them to the attention of their own MP’s. Any who persist in their failure to respect these standards, erroneously believing that ‘it doesn’t apply to me’, will still be measured by them, if not by their peers then certainly by their constituents. We don’t want them to complain they weren’t warned!

 

It really is time we all remembered how we are supposed to behave when faced with those whose behaviour is unethical.

 

What will you do?

 

 

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#LetsTalk Conversations with new activists #women2gether

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Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades

Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades (Image: Sonoran Institute and LightHawk)

 

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

 

Women2gether are attracting supporters. I’ve had wonderful twitter conversations with some of you – you have been a delight to encounter; thank you for your generosity of both self and spirit. Yet, to some extent, we might look as though we were failing at the first hurdle:  it takes some extraordinary event, like no-one at all turning up to our Sunday ‘meeting’, to illustrate it. There’s also the issue of why so few responded to Jane & Debbie’s petition – start putting the ‘gestalt’ together in that way and we might all just as well pack up our efforts and head sadly away. That’s, of course, dependent upon what kind of ‘thinking’ you are using.

 

I wonder if the version that leads you to this kind of mind-set bears any comparison with this?

from Halifax Herald

from Halifax Herald

 

Notice how self-centred and ego-ridden this viewpoint is.  In fact, it’s the same kind of thinking that led me to do this.  If we are going to challenge and confront this thinking then, in order to get a much broader perspective and arrive at more accurate assessment on the reality of where we are, we have to entertain more diverse opinions and viewpoints. “I, for one, am certainly NOT the Queen”, for example, can do wonders in moving outside this lethal box of rich white male cloudcuckooland and into our own reality.

 

One of the things Jayne, Debbie and I were very clear about, from the outset of women2gether, was our own physical and psychological frailty. We knew there would be times like this so, intuitively, we planned ahead with our honesty. When I get ‘news’ that our Sunday meeting was in spirit only, I don’t see this as disaster – I see it as a conversation we’ve not had yet about what we three witches mean when we talk about being ‘activists’.

 

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A number of folk have commented on the absence of ego in the way we work together. This kind of behaviour – both practical and psychological – is a sign of an experienced activist because, at some point, we all get the ego knocked out of us. It’s based upon a set of assumptions and consequences imposed by our real-life circumstances (my version).

 

The first ‘rule’ of activism is that we leave other folk alone to make their own decisions. This is based on the following assumptions, whoever you are; however you are ‘packaged’; whatever internal psychic structures you use; and everything that defines you as a human being, means;

  • You know how to make up your own free mind
  • The only time you don’t is when your free mind has been tampered with by others.
  • If you want to kill the activist spirit, you tell other folk what to do and try to control their actions.
  • You know an activist by their behaviour – we don’t wait for permission if we see an opportunity to help ‘the people’.
  • Every single one of us started our activist career as absolute beginners!

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And we rode on the wings of the tales of older – and more realistic – activists; not because they led us (although sometimes they did if we got lost) but to help us over the pitfalls involved.

 

It took us a week to organise a spontaneous walk-out

Nalgo Conference c 1980’s

 

Even then, speaking from experience, it can take much longer. The difference between followers and activists is followers assume failure and give up very early on in any ‘game’ that is not specifically about them  – activists keep an eye on the ball of ‘all of us’ instead. Also, notice who benefits if the ‘failure assumption’ is held to be real?

 

Can you begin to see how your attitudes may have been tampered with? So, how do we fix this problem? Quite simple really – do a reality check!

 

For example:

As a newbie activist, ask yourself these questions: who is your membership? Be specific. There are activists in all areas – what’s your specialty; who do you prioritize? Mine are women first and then all those impacted by the WCA.

This doesn’t mean I sacrifice my concern for everyone – it simply means I know where my roots are.  Once we know that, we represent the views of that group in our own activist work to ensure our voices are included when we rewrite a  Harperworld Mindset to include us as human under Human Rights law.  The consequences of adversity are as complex as the causative action is simple – we need as many voices as need to speak. There are four million people negatively affected by these undemocratic and forced economic crimes against humanity. It shouldn’t be that hard to prove now, surely?! Where are their voices?

 

When we know our roots – and these change with time, as do we – it’s easy to gauge the mood, especially when your ‘membership’ are restive and nothing seems to be being done about it. This trigger motivates our actions, so whenever inspiration or opportunity arrives, we say Yes to the experience of giving it a try to see if it works. That’s all it is. That’s all we do. Because we’ve said yes on so many occasions we’ve got practical experience but that doesn’t mean we know what we’re doing now, other than catching the mood of our ‘membership’ and acting on it. For example:

It was my own wider WCA membership who triggered my letter to the ICC (still no reply but I found the answers I was looking for: there is a way in). Then came Jayne and Debbie’s new petition – this is their activist spirit at work. They created and I threw my weight behind it because it represented the views of my membership. The surprising lack of numbers is as informative as our Spirit Sunday meeting 😉

 

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The only problem I can see in the situation is a missing conversation with all of you. So that’s what this blog is about. Folk don’t seem to be talking about it much. When they do, the conversation always seems to fall flat, so – fellow activists – we either read our membership wrong or there’s a ‘blockage’ somewhere. So, let’s talk about it what we think it might be – share your experience; blog about it as part of Women2gether, especially the lads. How are you finding it so far? Writing it down actually helps your learning process and helps us understand which areas of our expertise are most useful to you. This isn’t about us; this is about all of us!

 

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Testing current theories, at this stage, can be also useful. Given the situation is serious enough to create activists out of us…

 

I was thinking about this governments schadenfreude – motivation for the vindictive policies we’ve seen this past 4 years that target the most vulnerable citizens most of all. Some people believe that the policies are a consequence of a redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the wealthy rather than being malicious acts. But the tories laughed on hearing the accounts of suffering of the poor because of the bedroom tax and the food banks in parliament,for all to see.

But entertaining the idea for a moment that the inflicted suffering isn’t a motivation but a consequence, well that would make the bastards indifferent, callous and unremorseful, since they show a supreme lack of concern for the plight of those least able to defend themselves against injustice and inflicted poverty, Either way, I know evil when I see it, and this government ARE evil. The shock and anger at recognising that again just hit me afresh.

We must each be responsible and work to get rid of this evil presence, and taint on our collective history. If we remain silent and indifferent, that makes us complicit in their evil

Sue Jones

 

A balanced judgement weighs all the options first before coming to a decision based upon the evidence. As an activist, I ask myself, if this isn’t enough, how much more to I need? Then I ask:  ‘How serious is it?’ What do others think? Everywhere on the planet, I see women breaking the spell of the various HarperWorlds and finding genocide underneath. I see my own WCA membership heading in the ICC’s direction. Every socially-responsible free-thinking individual on my twitter-feed  seems to be treading similar paths, whatever their political hue. And some of us have tried already – such evidence supports our contention of crimes against humanity occurring in Britain have a grounding in fact.

 

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When a bunch of us activists agree the evidence is in that we are, indeed, living in very dangerous times, we can’t afford to wait on others to decide what needs to be done. We act on our own initiative because the likelihood of HarperWorld trying to control us is extremely high. We can loosen this control on a personal level by self-determining what needs to be done and what contribution we can realistically make.

 

Women2gether – and then men who love us – here are our problems: Jayne, Debbie & me. We can’t tell you what to do because a volunteer is worth fifty conscripts, or so I’ve been told by a man who knew. A volunteer looks around for the places they feel happiest in and offers those – what do you think needs doing? Do you need help doing it? Is  there a particular kind of help you offer ? Do you need to set clear boundaries on what (and how) we pass on in our information and sharing? For example: None of us will tolerate bigotry in any form and particularly any type of xenophobia or misogyny. We are all unique expressions of what it is to be human. Whilst the mindset we are trying to deal with says some have more value than others, the one we are aiming for says quite the opposite and always has done – remember the river at the beginning? Has your river been ‘redirected’? You don’t need to be told what to do because you already know.

 

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The difference between Harperworld (or what ever other fantasy the ego has power to inflict upon others) and human reality is this: Harperworld has to enforce its dictates and has no problem with the consequences so long as they do well out of it. Seek evidence of compassion and mercy in this mindset; I find none. It’s absence points to the presence of evil, a form of dualistic thinking being applied to the planet itself, let alone all the Peoples dwelling within Her. The presence of dualistic thinking – them and us – points to the existence of the opposite. It has to – that’s the Law in a dualistic world – there is always a balance.

 

Harperworld claims to hold the unbalanced monopoly of thought on our collective reality and, to a greater or lesser extent, we have fallen for it  because it has become the means of survival in the West. To transform and bring balance to the issue suggests we need to ‘become’ everything this polarity is not. That mindset issues orders; we don’t. Neither are we perfect; every one of us is the human expression of a living-artwork-in-progress, created by our histories, intuitions, thoughts, feelings and evidenced in the actions we take; the words we write; and our desire to protect those that we love, on every single level it seems.

 

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We are going to make mistakes with each other. Mistakes, especially at the beginning, are learning experiences for all of us because they help us shake off the mindset we’ve been slowly shackled to by the like of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (another ‘buffoon’ like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and, in his early days, Adolf Hitler).  That kind of mindset is Harperworld and it only ever heads in one direction. This is not the direction we go in. Nevertheless, we also need to be sensitive to the abuses we have all experienced as a result of the social exclusions we have been subjected to. These are unhealed wounds especially among women who have borne the brunt of them. This is why bigotry is forbidden among us – it’s classified as harmful to the complexity of our community. It is permitted to exclude those who disagree with our existence because they exclude themselves by their exclusivity. Simple. This ‘Law’ was established in evidence at the very outset. It also accords with human law.

 

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There are those who, for whatever reason, choose to remain asleep. These are the people being led. The power to act therefore resides with activists – especially when voting. Getting up to vote is what the likes of UKIP thinkers and provoked sheeple will be doing. Let’s at least ask any activist (voting means you’re active) to register their opinion too, particularly for the disenfranchised amongst us, like the homeless. Let’s encourage hungry women with hungry children to vote too – give their opinion of politicians who think austerity is an excellent thing and we ought to have more of it.

 

 

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Meanwhile, I’m still not well enough to go through the ICC procedures. If our women2gether activists want to go through them, that might be a good idea because they set the standards we have to work to. All the procedures are there. My thoughts, on why our last petition might have ‘failed’ is that it needed to explicitly include everyone – all ‘genders’, all issues. To get through the Prosecutor’s door, we need to do it without exclusivity. Nevertheless, our framework needs to keep everyone happy, like: we’re test-driving this new Gender policy to make sure the ICC listens to women on our terms because, if they can’t hear us, there’s a problem with the ICC.

 

ProTip:

Activists always read procedures at least once because we need to see what we’re going to be measured by. The more we know about the ‘how’, the more we understand about route, standards and evidence gathering.  Their aim is to elicit as much about what fails to achieve this as it does aiming to achieve a criminal standard of evidence from women. As we become more aware of how women’s voices have been silenced at all levels, as well as the depth of the very real consequences, we become more competent as activists. After I learned the ‘sacred’ principles underpinning ‘legal’ written procedures, the ground I stood upon as an activist became much more solid. This is could excellent learning for ‘newbies’ and anyone else interested in this stuff.

 

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Finally, thank you for reading this far. Any ‘confusion’ in this is entirely my responsibility. As new activists, take only what is useful to you – we build our own toolbox because we’re each unique. We also know when to stop – which is why I have to have ‘stopped’. I need to do pay attention to ‘group process’ before I go any further because, as an individual, I’m already stumbling.

 

So I ask of you: where do you think we should go next? Think we should stop now or do we want to carry on? Perhaps this is the conversation we needed that’s been  missing. If it isn’t, what do you think might need to happen now? The harmful are included on any planning because they form the problem, solution and evidence. In fact, like our own, their existence must be included if we are to be at all balanced. We are not like them, remember – our behaviour is different. What we do have is a not-so-successful-it-seems history of ‘managing’ it and we left a few Laws behind the last time we did.

In solidarity

 

Dee

xxx

 

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#LetsTalk: Important New Procedural Information for #Womens Activists #global

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For all activists working on behalf of women everywhere, this is to share some recent global procedural changes at the International Criminal Court in the Hague in case you haven’t seen them. I suspect they could prove extremely useful to us all.

 

Background:

 

The information came to light as a result of campaigning with #women2gether – a group of British women activists who have emerged as a result of campaigns representing the needs of poor, sick and disabled under austerity.

[For seeking deeper background, the rabbithole is here:

#women2gether began with this post from my colleague, Jayne Linney:

http://jaynelinney.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/lets-talk/]

Seeing another petition to the ICC resulted in our doing this:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/letter-to-the-icc-at-the-hague-re-potentially-criminal-breaches-of-human-rights-in-the-uk

(Please note: the examples referred to in the petition are neither exclusive or exhaustive – they were used only for illustrating the principle issue of  austerity as a crime against humanity)

 

In response, a disability activist colleague – Samuel Miller – posted this about his experiences with the ICC and UN:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s1ldp1

This is my ‘reply’ to his information:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s1llaq

 

It led me to take a further look at the ICC itself and its behaviour/decisions. This is what I found following a brief search:

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/04/24/greeks-seek-austerity-trial-at-the-hague/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17811153

(Please note how the women’s arguments are gaslighted, derailed, distracted, silenced and otherwise victim-blamed by legal and media commentaries.  Note, too,  the general assumption that there is no alternative to austerity).

We are not the only European women with similar opinions who are acting on them:

http://occupynewsnetwork.co.uk/is-austerity-a-crime-against-humanity/

 

 

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New Information:

 

As a result, I did another brief search of the ICC itself and it is this information particularly that I am aiming to draw to the attention of  global women activists (and the men who support us):

 

Firstly; past behaviour of the court shows clear evidence that its actions and decisions are  systemically and institutionally racist. Take a look at this:

http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/situations%20and%20cases/Pages/situations%20and%20cases.aspx

There is no way anyone can convince me that crimes against humanity on this planet occur only in Africa. So the assumption that all other world governments – especially those led by white men – can be assumed to behave lawfully is clearly unsafe because it’s not supported by evidence. However…

 

Secondly: The ICC has a very interesting new Chief Prosecutor: Mrs Fatou Bensouda, of The Gambia, who took up her appointment on 15 June 2012. It is reasonable to assume that Mrs. Bensouda was not in overall charge of the case management of  Greek austerity, because the case was already up and running when she was appointed.

 

Thirdly:  Since her arrival in office, the ICC has published TWO new protocols – one applied and one in draft:

Code of Conduct for the office of the Prosecutor.pdf  (effective from 5th September 2013)

and

DRAFT Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender Based Crimes, February 2014 – OTP-draft-policy-paper-February2014-Eng.pdf

 

I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know the finer points of all this, but when we apply general Human Rights principles – which the Court exists to uphold – using the measures contained in both the Prosecutors’ Code and the Draft Policy, the problems we know are there become very apparent.

 

Activist Observations:

 

I’ve only perused these briefly as potential working tools for activists but I’m already impressed and see a number of very worthwhile opportunities worth testing. Personally, I would like to see ‘test-runs’ of BOTH procedures to check if they actually work for women.

 

I can also see opportunities to accuse the Court itself of gender crimes against humanity because, in their Greek austerity ruling, the following occurred:

1. The ICC only considered a very limited male view of the economic situation as ‘legitimate’. Women’s experience and evidence was ‘overlooked’ in favour of a very small but extremely wealthy interest-group who have vested interests in the case of austerity’s impact on women remaining unheard, despite incontrovertible evidence that the cumulative  impact is systemically lethal to both us and our children.

2. The ICC failed to address the serious economic inequalities of the presenting protagonists and take these into account. It did nothing to equalize this discrepancy in representation:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/k7lk42 < (Women ought to recognise this situation only too well)

The  derogation of  the Court’s duty to ensure equality of resources for the legal representation of women cannot but result in anything other than an unsafe judgement. These were economically-deprived-by-intent non-legal professional women presenting legal arguments against well-trained and richly-rewarded lawyers aiming to excuse the ‘accused’ from their social duties and responsibilities towards women in their political and economic decision-making.  Under Human Rights standards, there is no way this could ever be regarded as a ‘fair’ hearing.

3. In only ‘recognising’ the men’s legal arguments around austerity  – already known to be deeply prejudiced against women in Britain alone – the Court excluded and silenced our voices and experiences, at a time when we can be shown to be carrying the greatest consequences, up to and including the violation of ALL our human rights.

If my interpretation is correct, this then renders the Court culpable in aiding and abetting economic gender-based crimes against humanity. The evidence shouldn’t be hard to find in events since this ruling was made.

4. In doing all of the above, as well as additionally and apparently participating in the gaslighting and legal mockery of the Greek women appellants, the Court took it’s eye off the ball of “Crimes Against Humanity” and colluded with silencing the viewpoint and experience of women,  derailing it into a legal cul-de-sac, where more general lawful principles of whether imposed economic austerity constitutes a crime against the majority of humanity was sidelined and silenced too. These principles – which the Court exists to uphold – appear to have been discounted in favour of legalistic arguments aimed apportioning blame and relieving government officials of their public duties or responsibilities to ALL the nationals they are answerable to. This is particularly the case in Europe, when ECHR lays these requirements down on those national governments forming a part of the EEC.

5. If my activist arguments have any traction, none of the above will accord with the Articles of Rome, which intends for women to have an equal voice in what constitutes crimes against humanity. Again, if my assessment is at all accurate, we ought to have tangible legal evidence pouring out of every orifice!

As both a woman and an activist, my own response is that can fuck off back wherever it came from, together with the corruption it rode in on.

 

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From my own perspective, I can see any number of possible new opportunities for women in these developments, not just locally but globally. Additionally, it seems as though the ICC prosecutor is seeing exactly the same issues. Whilst us Brits will pursue our own activities, since this is a global problem we’re all experiencing, I believe it’s vital to share this.

 

When 90 percent of Iceland’s women went on strike in 1975

When 90 percent of Iceland’s women went on strike in 1975

 

Final thought:

 

One small thought about how the global women’s  situation might be resolved…

 

In the case of economic austerity, there does seem to be one simple solution in redressing the crimes against women and children. It particularly appeals to me because I can just imagine the reaction from the very small minority affected by it:

Economic inequality is very well recorded; the difference between the wealth of, literally, a handful of men and most women – globally – is so great as to be hard to actually conceive, even in the face of the evidence.

 

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If we can prove there are gender crimes against humanity and have this ruled in the ICC, we’d have to consider arguments as to how it could be resolved. Taking a look at existing evidence, I’d say fifty-percent of  all humanity’s global wealth presently in the control of private interests was stolen from women… and we want it back. If men want to play hierarchies with their part of economy that’s their business – impoverished women have our own, very different, priorities that urgently need tending to.

If the ICC ruled in favour of women’s equality of resources, even just for legal preparation and investigations, it would begin the process of returning women’s economic resources to equal standards and enable us to begin undoing the lethal and cruel damage this entire system has crushed down upon women, and our children, everywhere…

And if these obscenely-rich and mainly white men refuse? That ought to be fascinating to watch… and record!

 

Whether any of this has any traction is for you to decide – I’ve simply see a realistic opportunity for all of us that’s worth sharing.

 

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#Atos and the “Day of Judgment”

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This post follows on from “Forward Planning“, posted on 9 December 2013.

Since it appeared, there has been additional material posted to the web on this subject. The first came from TynesideMind and is a video of stories from their clients about the experience of being subjected to a Work Capability Assessment. If you  don’t yet understand the problems facing those subjected to the test, I urge you to watch it.

I’m deeply grateful to both TynesideMind and those clients who gave consent for their stories to be told both in general principle and personally. Personally because I am presently a counseling client of TynesideMind and am due to be subjected to the Atos test depicted in the video this coming Thursday probably in the same Assessment Centre in Newcastle.

So, following on from my previous post, I checked my GP’s letter and arranged for it to be faxed to Atos. My doctor says the following things about the present state of my health (apologies for the poor quality):

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There is more. When I called Atos to ask for the right fax number, the man who dealt with my query asked me the following question:

What do you expect that will do?

I had to explain to him that during the previous WCA I had been summoned to, last March, a letter from my GP had been faxed to them. As a result, my WCA been cancelled and my file was closed. Only then would he release the fax number to me.

There is one ‘small’ problem with my GP’s lette, which both of us missed. It makes no reference to the specific regulations that empower both Atos and the DWP to cancel a WCA. The particular regulations can be found here:

ESA Regulations 29 & 35 – Substantial Risk Exceptional Circumstances

(Further details and information can be found via The Black Triangle Campaign)

I don’t know how serious this oversight is yet but neither Atos or the DWP can deny its existence in my own case because it was used last March after my GP wrote to them quoting these regulations.  It is therefore perfectly within Atos’s authority to listen to my GP and take him seriously. It is also reasonable to assume that, prior to writing the letter, he checked the opinion of my counselor – he did. My counselor confirmed my suicidal ideation under the exemptions applicable to counseling confidentiality, although she had already been given my full, free and informed consent to do so.

This is the situation at the time of writing.  Tomorrow, I will discover what Atos has decided.

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Please bear in mind that what I am attempting to do here is to bring a forensic insight into the processes of being subjected to the WCA.  Any  decision in my case is likely to hinge upon whether my suicidal response is authentic or not and/or whether my belief that the stress of the WCA is likely to cause further damage to my already failing heart has any validity in fact. I understand that, at present, Atos is ‘unable’ to assess my mental and physical health together – its an either/or matter even though I suffer from both.

In matters of true judgment, we have to consider and weigh the evidence. What I’m going to do now is invite you, the reader, to arrive at your own judgement based on the evidence. This is the kind of evidence I would want presented at any inquiry into my death, whether ‘natural’ or by my own hand, so I see no harm in weighing it ahead of time.

With regard to my suicidal ideation and the likelihood of my acting upon it – is there any evidence that supports this proposition? You are invited to consider the content of the following blogs:

Tales of Suicide Survivor

Further Reflections on Suicide

Medical evidence can be obtained from Hull Royal Infirmary (December 2001)

Further evidence can be obtained from the HMP Prison Service during 2003-5 and 2008-10 with particular reference to actions relating to suicide prevention.

So, in answer to the question: Yes I do have a history of acting on my suicidal ideation; latterly, this behaviour is most noticeable when I believe I am being abused by the systems I depend upon.

My claims to heart failure can be verified as follows :

I was subject to a heart attack in November 2012.  I was subsequently hospitalised with heart failure in November 2012 and again in September 2013, not long after I had received my WCA ‘call-up’ papers from Atos. These details are all available via my medical records. I believe that attending a further WCA puts me in danger of further potentially-lethal harm because it leaves me feeling like this and such high levels of distress impact directly upon my blood pressure which places unnatural pressure on my already failing heart.

This is my evidence with regard to questions around the authenticity of my health and mental health claims. I would challenge Atos and the DWP to provide an equal standard of proof of duplicity by both my Medical/Mental Health teams and me if they intend to call our word into question.

The next step of this Judgment are the allegations I make of lethal intent in my post ‘Forward Planning‘. I allege that the present Coalition government, with particular reference to those issuing orders within the DWP, together with others unknown, are engaged in an attempt to deprive me of not only of my life but of my Right to Life. Is there any evidence to support this contention?

Interestingly, there is.  It comes from a very reliable source and has only recently been released:

Government Reviewer Opposed Rollout of ESA

What this information makes extremely clear is that, against professional advice, the decisions being taken in the DWP at the time were based on ideology, not the best interests of claimants. If it is understood that such decisions were being made then, and we assume that the underlying ideology remains unchanged, then any intent, lethal or otherwise, contained within subsequent DWP behaviour will make this apparent.

So this is what the DWP have been doing over the last three years. The department has been told repeatedly that the WCA is not fit for purpose:

This is the LSE explaining the problem in May 2011.

Here, in 2012, GPs warn that the WCA is “driving our patients towards suicide” and accuse Ministers of using work assessments to ‘hound’ disabled people on benefits.

In 2012, again, MSP’s challenged the Tories about the WCA in the Scottish Parliament. Their response was to claim the stories being told were ‘anecdotal’.

It became far less anecdotal in October 2012 when the WCA mortality statistics were released.

In 2013, however, the mortality statistics ceased to be available, even under FOI rules – this presumably returns the issue of WCA mortality to the realms of anecdote.

These are the findings of the 4th independent review into the WCA.

This is an Appeal Court judgment against the DWP and supports the contention that the WCA discriminates against those with Mental Health problems. Please note the following paragraph:

 

Instead of accepting the tribunal’s findings, and conducting an urgent trial, the Government appealed to the Court of Appeal against the tribunal’s finding of “substantial disadvantage”.

Mental Health Resistance Network

 

This is a study that demonstrates how the DWP and Atos apply targets when passing or failing those subjected to the WCA.

This concerns a new ‘layer’ in the WCA Appeal process, introduced on 28 October 2013, which deprives me of any income at all whilst I exercise my right to appeal a WCA fail. (It is a matter of record that I failed two previous WCA’s and won both my appeals at tribunal)

 

I would submit that the UK government’s behaviour, as detailed above, points to a callous and casual disregard for my Right to Life. I would also submit that my contention that the UK government is actively and unlawfully seeking to deprive me of my life is a validly held opinion based upon the facts submitted.

 

I would invite both the DWP and Atos to submit evidence, of the same standard, to prove otherwise.

 

Let us all observe what happens now.

 

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Further Reflections on Suicide #WSPD

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Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. As some of you already know, I experience suicidal ideation (under very specific circumstances), so encountering the sister of someone who had successfully acted on their own reasoned ideation was a sobering event.  Apart from myself, I had never met someone caught up in this same dynamic before and their feelings are undoubtedly as complex as my own. The common ground between us was the experience of helplessness. His sister described listening to a similar kind of ideation to mine. Her brother was as rational as I – the only difference was that he succeeded whereas I had ‘failed’.

There are not words enough to express my gratitude to this sister. Despite her own profound grief, she was able to sit alongside me without any judgment or censure… and she validated me. She understood that it was possible to arrive at this ‘death choice’ in a rational way and then follow through. She knew I wasn’t ‘joking’ or ‘attention-seeking’ because she had direct experience of the devastating consequences. For someone in my position, this is the greatest gift one human being can give another. It’s not so much the listening that counts, it’s the validation – the shared recognition that something can be so seriously and rationally wrong that it causes someone to choose death over life and act on that choice. This is about as deep as it gets on the ‘life’ side of suicide.

As WSPDay progressed, many and various suggestions were posted for addressing the problem. Some work with the thought-processes of what is being expressed. Whilst such interventions can be helpful if our reasoning is irrational, they fall at the very first post when it is not. Those who approach me from this angle frequently get stunned into silence when I sharply explain the route I took to the edge of this abyss. I get angry because the proffered solutions are the equivalent of treating the outcome of open heart surgery with a box of Elastoplasts. I already know my own worth. To those in the suicide-prevention ‘biz’, these interventions may form part of your tool-box but they are the equivalent of using a hammer when a drill is required and are more likely to contribute to the problem than resolve it. You are going to need to go much deeper to get at the stuff I am dealing with.

For those who understand this need for depth but have never actually lived it, quoting Viktor Frankel, who said – from his own experience of the Holocaust – that the key to survival was to have found meaning, also works to a point but not with me. As a shaman, I can give chapter and verse of the meanings I have applied to my suicidal ideations and whilst you are right, you also miss an important issue. I may still here to write this but this wasn’t achieved by turning away – my achievement came from walking straight into my ideation with my eyes wide open. Perhaps you might like to consider another Holocaust wisdom instead. It was Bruno Bettelheim observed that those who survived were those who were able to express their feelings; it was those who didn’t who died.

The feelings and emotions involved with a rational suicidal ideation are deep, broad and long. Most ‘normals’ cannot hear them which, for those of us down here on the edge of the Abyss, adds to the problem in spades. Such ‘normals’ exhibit tendencies to label folk like me as ‘attention-seeking’, ‘manipulative’ or claim that we’re ‘making it up’ or ‘don’t really mean it’.  My personal response to such attitudes is to walk fast and hard into my suicidal abyss without a backward glance because it’s the only way to prove them wrong. I intend to present them with evidence of the real-life consequences of their own ideation. These are going to be much harder to deal with than simply acknowledging we were wrong and, consequently, can actually change the situation we all find ourselves in.

To address my kind of suicidal ideation, we all have to understand the very specific emotional ground we are standing upon. The common ground both Frankel and Bettelheim share with me is that they drew their conclusions when facing their own deaths. Much of the advice from those who have not lived the experiences is going to be untested theory which is useless at best and lethal at worst. If folk genuinely want to help those of us on the suicide abyss, it helps to understand the following.

Most of us with suicidal ideations normally, at the very bottom, actually don’t want to die – what we want is for something harmful within our life experience to die instead but find ourselves helpless because try as we might, we can’t change it. Over an often extended period of time, we come to believe that killing ourselves is the only way to effect the desired change, which is to stop what is occurring to us. During that time we will have tried various options and failed. Sometimes it is true that we need to understand our internal psychic structures to make the necessary changes – this is the area of expertise suicide prevention excels in, so despite their failures with me, lets all be deeply grateful for the work they do for others who can respond. These strategies only fail with me because I know how to effect change in myself – my problem is that the changes don’t impact upon my environment. When I am walking into my suicide abyss, it’s because the world refuses to change, not me. I walk in full awareness of my feelings (Bettelheim) and chock full of meaning (Frankel) because I want to change my environment so badly I believe its worth dying for.

The trigger is always the same: abuse.

I refuse to consent to abuse. I believe there is nothing wrong in my refusal – I like and admire the woman-who-is-me for her courage and obstinacy in the face of such behaviour. I refuse to be ordered about or governed by those who behave abusively and if they refuse to change, then I reserve the right to refuse to live. Anyone capable of sitting alongside me when I am in this frame of mind will hear, if they’re willing to listen, example after example of abuses I have challenged or confronted and how the abusers refused to change. In these circumstances, what the listener needs to attend to most – especially if they carry social responsibilities – is where the ‘system’ has failed. Somewhere in the reporting will be personal actions the listener can take but there will be no comforting tickbox list for this. Each conversation is unique, each potential action will be personal to the individuals within the dynamic and, remember, the chances of the listener failing to effect the necessary abuse-reduction are likely to be equally high as well. Nevertheless, it is this – deep listening followed by action – that makes the difference for me personally. It is this that marks the turning point – where I step away from the edge and begin the return journey to life because someone changed their actions as a result of mine. Someone did something they would otherwise not have done because of me. The change maybe minute but it is no less valuable for that. Sometimes what is done fails and I turn again to face the abyss but this time I know there is one more person trying to change the situation with me. I am no longer alone because another is facing down the problem and I want to help them as much, if not more, than I want to help me. If I do die, then my companion at the edge of the abyss will have more evidence to show they were right and the perpetrators of the abuse were wrong. As far as I am concerned, this is a win-win situation for all of us because, with each additional person ‘getting it’, at least we build the hope that the problem of abuse can be changed.

The road back from the suicidal abyss is very long, slow and painful for everyone involved. It has to be taken step by step. The kind of change I demand, as I confront and challenge my abusers, needs to be effected by as many people as possible for it to work. The long-term abuse of ‘helpless’ people by those with power to behave otherwise is not just wrong, it’s a crime against humanity. It’s a crime whether it’s perpetrated by those at the top or those who follow their orders and if that’s the world society wants me to dwell within, it can fuck off. I refuse. It will be over my dead body before I consent to such an arrangement because it breaks the law and I am a desister.

Is my strategy effective? Well, considering that I have been using it for nearly twelve years and I’m not dead yet, it would seem that it might. All I would say is that I’m sick of having to live on the edge of this abyss whilst so many of my peers are tumbling in through a lack of understanding how this dynamic works.  Perhaps, for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, my contribution might make enough of a difference that it saves the lives of some of my peers because, in a world ruled by increasing and unrelenting criminal abuse, it is quite evident that the wrong somethings and someones are dying.

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#DearCJSprofessionals We seem to have a very serious problem

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A few weeks ago, I had this idea about tweeting #DearDVPolice as a social media exercise in communication between police and public on the difficult subject of domestic violence. As you can see, from this blogpost (only just now un-password protected), I took the matter further because I have an interest in improving understanding between problem-solvers and those experiencing problems. The idea took off but soon belly-flopped when it got to @CollegeOfPolice, who leaped from huge enthusiasm to complete silence within a single afternoon. This was probably attributable to one of the many negative social labels I carry. Still, I gave them a couple of weeks to see if they’d get their act together and then said I was thinking of unprotecting the blog. “Go ahead” came the response “we welcome all kinds of ideas” as if they had never heard from me before. I felt as though I was dealing with “Dumb and dumber” because this behaviour lacked any real insight into the way women use the social media. It’s worth exploring this possibility again simply because results elsewhere have shown them to be effective.

From my CJS perspective, as a desister, there seem to be two schools of thought within the system at the moment. The first one – the school to which I belong – seeks to improve CJS ‘community relations’ from all sides. This includes identifying the problems, which leads to problem-solving whatever (or whoever) is getting in the way of effective lawful social solutions. For the purposes of this blog, I would confirm the existence of highly competent professionals across the entire CJS who adopt a similar approach. I’ve met them. They rarely have a problem with my desistance perspective because my intention is for the community to benefit. They are the most refreshing people you could wish to meet even though most say there is little they can do personally but tend to forget how powerful just listening can be.

The second learning mindset – this “School for Dumb and Dumber” – is the catalyst for this blog because it’s short-sighted approach is raising some very serious moral and ethical issues for the whole CJS, particularly in its attitudes to women. Bringing these out into the open where everyone can see them does, at the very least, define the problem because victims have the experience of how this system either failed or succeeded for them.

With regard to the issue of on-line abuse of women, the ‘second school’ is now making its attitudes very plain. What ‘Dumb and Dumber’ forget is that their ‘public policy’ now sets a social ‘standard’ of what is acceptable in the eyes of their ‘law’. The consequence produces a ‘virtual’ social sanction which permits the social-media abuse of women, both individually and collectively, and which completely ignores any evidence of the harm this ‘policy’ is actually causing the victims. In the matter of on-line bullying and stalking, the School of Dumb and Dumber transform the UK social media into a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to graphically abuse women until they are ‘dead’ or in hiding and to collude with blaming victims who object to it. Please bear in mind that the distinctions between on-line and real death are now extremely blurred – we already have a death count for this stuff. Whilst the prohibition of psychological torture is recognised as absolute in human rights law, its standard is not being applied by those responsible for UK law enforcement within the social media. With each failure to contain the problem, the danger of lethal violence towards women grows in real life with the end result of this ‘public policy’ can be measured by the death toll.

There are people in the CJS who understand this but I’m not sure you quite ‘get’ just how serious it has become – not yet, anyway. This ‘blockage’ seeks to systematically silence the abused whilst letting the abusers off the hook. The way around the problem is to remove it for the victims by enabling them to talk to you directly. Some stuff will be uncomfortable to hear; some may leave professionals feeling defensive but if we’re willing to give it a try I think we all might learn a very great deal in the process, particularly as to whether some CJS policy decisions can be reasonably regarded at lawful.

I’d like us to start having a conversation about what we can do to put a stop to what is going on here because I suspect this School of Dumb and Dumber are now way over a legal line they were never supposed to cross.

#Desistance belongs to us, not ‘professionals’!

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This post was first published on ex-offender.co.uk

If there’s one thing that really gets my goat about the Criminal Justice System as a whole, it’s the constant theft of goodness from those who provide them with their living. To listen to some of the ‘dedicated professionals’ sell their idea of what they ‘do’ for us criminals, you’d think a lot of them had been awarded sainthoods. Funny how the saintliest often looked very different close up. As any prisoner will confirm – and so do the courts – there are criminals on both sides of the door. Just because someone has keys or the social authority to incarcerate others, it does not automatically follow that their behaviour is anything a dedicated professional desister would choose to do.

Let’s get one thing clear. There exist truly dedicated and professional Criminal Justice professionals. I know because I have met them and, at some point in our contact, I was put under serious and unprofessional pressure by one or more of their colleagues and we dealt with the problem together. These were people with whom I forged rehabilitative alliances during my sentence and the mark of their professionalism was that they allowed me to teach them. I don’t believe I ever abused the privilege because it would have sabotaged years of dedicated work that began about 10 seconds after my wounding-with-intent offence. When my sentence was complete, I began my own professional desistance programme.

My desistance has everything and nothing to do with the CJS. It has nothing to do with it because my choice is my own – it is my choice as a free woman. I do it to a professional standard because my free choice has everything to do with the CJS. When I was banged up on the woman’s wing of HMP Durham at the height of the suicides, the Wing Governor told me my disciplinary standards were too high for the wing. Not, he hastened to add, that he disagreed with me. From what I could see, he did his best in one of the most corrupt places I have ever had the misfortune to dwell in. I arrived with the label ‘trouble-maker’ and retained it whilst resident there because the conditions were so bad. The way the women were treated was nothing short of criminal in some instances and it didn’t surprise me so many were dying. That the conditions that closed F Wing down continue to exist elsewhere in the Women’s Estate, even after Corston, says a very great deal about the ‘rehabilitation’ standards of the CJS as a whole.

Even though ‘you’ have been informed, we see no change in either your attitude or behaviour towards women prisoners. These are women who have already experienced systematic abuse; you’ve been told you’re abusing them; you’ve been told to stop. Nothing has changed, has it? It’s not so much a case of recidivism – you didn’t even try to ‘go straight’! The present CJS cannot deliver rehabilitation because it doesn’t know how. It’s a part of the problem and I’m sick of it’s evasions, avoidances and lack of responsibility.

When I see Probation, and its hatchlings, colonizing the word ‘Desistance’ it affects me in the same way as the sound of nails across a blackboard. There are individual Probation staff – usually working at the coal-face – who appreciate some of the points I make but, for the most part, “dedicated professional Probation Officers” cannot hear a word I say. They have appropriated the ‘good’ and dumped all their shadowy behaviour onto me. Calling me ‘vexatious’, after I complained about their attitude problem towards me. It’s why I sacked them when I was an offender.. No-one is as bad as I was painted on my first recall and it helps to have their bigotry in writing when I explain why I can’t work with Probation.

Looking through the ex-offender website blogs, what struck me was the level of contained anger in the posts. Here I add mine. The effect this anger has on me means that I become a ‘law-nazi’ – similar to a grammar-nazi. My anger is focused on those who break the rules. All those public officials who think its OK to lie – especially those employed within the CJS. That HMP Durham’s Suicide Prevention Officer always prefaced his information with “I do not believe in lying to prisoners” says a great deal about that officer’s professionalism and even more about his colleagues. The CJS can turn a mirror on its own behaviour before it can make any claim about its ability to rehabilitate anyone else. When it comes to desistance, the CJS is not playing in the premier league anymore.

Desistance belongs to those the CJS presently look down on – folk like me. It’s our way of proving you wrong about a whole lot of things. For me, desistance means that I can outdo each and any professional within the CJS because I know the whole system and your knowledge comes only in bits and pieces. Desistance is showing you – in word, deed and intention – just how little you know and how small-minded you have become. Desistance is me saying to ‘you’ that you can judge me when you’ve lived what I lived through; learned what I’ve learned; know what I know; and can do what I do. Desistance will be on MY terms; to MY agenda: with MY level of personal discipline; and if you want to learn, you can pay me to teach you. Desistance belongs to desisters. If you want to know about it, you talk to us and you treat us as equals with professional levels of respect. Anything less renders a CJS professional unfit for desistance work.

Desistance isn’t just a challenge for the criminal – desistance challenges society. Desisters choose not to break the law – how many of society can claim the same thing as they fiddle their expenses or lie on their tax return? Desistance is the ethical and moral challenge – from those you choose to call ‘unforgiven criminals’ – because our attitude, behaviour and outlook is demonstrably better than your own for the most part, especially given the challenges that beset us. Our failings are proof of humanity and there are only a few of you who manage to be as honest about yourselves as we are about us.

Ultimately, desistance is about forgiveness. There are all kinds of forgiveness and many different ways to forgive but it has to be earned. To make a bid for forgiveness, there first has to be a ‘sin’ to forgive – no sin, no forgiveness, and no learning discernment. In terms of desistance, it seems to me that parts of the CJS have yet to acknowledge that they have even sinned. At some point they’re going to have to acknowledge their behaviour… or change careers. Not my problem anymore – I left that kind of irresponsible behaviour behind me a long time ago. The CJS has some considerable catching up to do.

Personally, I think desistance could catch on. You know, a bit like the legend of the Danes who all wore Stars of David in solidarity with their Jews when the Nazis invaded Denmark. Anyone can be a desister from crime, especially today. We could all desist from disrespecting or devaluing other people for starters. Desisters are honest – we’re upfront about who we are and we’ve come up the hard way. If you find us angry and cynical, we’ve got good reason. We’re tired of dealing with thieves, liars and incompetents and, if I have anything to do with it, we’re about ready to show you the parts of us you have been refusing to see.

For all those who are tempted to perceive my previous sentence as threatening, on the bigotted grounds of my past criminality, I would ask this: what is it about applying the law equally and fairly to everyone that frightens you? Have you got something to hide?

Desistance and the Path of Blame

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A Female Whirling Dervish In Capadocia by RicardMN Photography

A Female Whirling Dervish In Capadocia
by RicardMN Photography

 

Hazrat Alim Azimi made me irritated, which caused me to examine my irritation, to trace its source. Alim Azimi made me angry, so that I could feel and transform my anger. Alim Azimi allowed himself to be attacked, so that people could see the bestiality of his attackers and not join with them. He showed us the strange, so that the strange became commonplace and we could realise what it really is.

Idries Shah: “The Dermis Probe”

Some forty years ago, when I was learning how to use my intellect, a woman friend told me I thought backwards. It’s a very strange thing to hear when we’re only nineteen and I’m grateful she elaborated on her opinion. She said that when a question is asked, I appeared to know the answer in an instant but I had to think backwards to the question to find out how I got there. In the intervening years, her insight has served me well because it is quite true and describes my intuitive experience of being Sagittarian.

Some years later, when I was learning to become a psychotherapist, I discovered there was another way to gain knowledge and understanding. Mostly, in contemporary society, learning is thought to come from without, to be ‘taken-in’ by the mind – our ‘upside-down’ education system is a very good example of this model. However, I was learning the language of the emotions. In this model, it is the feeling that arrives first, thought comes afterwards. It is only once we have explored these feelings that the knowledge and wisdom contained within them makes itself understood to the mind. In ordinary life, more often than not, emerging feelings are judged as mad, bad and dangerous by minds afraid of learning from the unknown, yet the lessons gained are worth every discomfort. I can attest to the truth of this wisdom because it well describes my Water-ruled birthchart.

The last lesson I learned, when starting out on my shamanic path, was to trust the promptings of my heart in any given situation and act on them, no matter how mad, bad or dangerous those actions might appear to be to either myself or others. What I discovered, when I did this, was that the spiritual wisdom suffusing my actions came later. It’s a very slow way of learning – this experiential path – but once the lesson is learned it becomes a part of me that I can trust deeply in any future situation. This methodology is described by my Moon in Taurus on 11th/12th house cusp.

In a world where many do not understand these processes, these lessons helped me realise that I have always educated myself this way. My thoughts, feelings and deeds have nearly always got me into trouble in one way or another. I suspect that it was only as a result of being with people who, in their own way, understood me that I didn’t wind up in prison sooner. With my backwards, downside-up, experiential, feminine personal reality dwelling within a forwards, upside-down masculine world insisting that I fit into its ideas of me, becoming ‘criminal’ seems almost inevitable. I am reminded of Faith Whittlesea’s remark: “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.”

It was whilst in prison that I discovered there was a ‘school’ of spiritual wisdom that used a similar technique which could also explain my actions. It comes from the Sufi and is called “The Malamati Technique“. This is how Idries Shah describes it in his book, “The Dermis Probe”:

  • to allow oneself to be attacked to dramatise the situation.
  • to incur reproach to illustrate its absurdity, or the shallowness of the attacker, or the superficiality of the assumptions of the audience
  • to incur blame for a higher purpose.

I am not Sufi and this blog is not a Sufi teaching. I am a contemporary, white-western-cultured shaman who is walking my own path and, needs must, am dependent upon existing spiritual world knowledge to correct my mistakes. This shaman deeply grateful to Sufism for sharing their wisdom because the understanding I have drawn from their lessons has proven to be a reliable anchor during storms at sea. My deep gratitude, too, to the Sufis who thought to share this wisdom freely with prisoners by placing it in prison libraries.The following is an example of how I put my understanding into practice:-

 

Recently, I was asked to help in a difficult situation and engaged the Malamati Technique in order to deal with the behaviour of this man. I was seeking to elicit the upside-down ideas pertaining to a deeply emotional situation and I gather the twitter results were as informative as I had hoped for. Having been supported to work through some the feelings I was expressing in order to understand them (downside-up learning), I am better able to return to this lesson in desistance and perhaps take it to its next stage. But first, it is important for me to reflect upon my actions so far.

 

If I view my blogpost “Attitudes towards Women in the Criminal Justice System” from the upside-down view, I probably look like a crazy, emotionally-manipulative female whining about something only real men understand. The judgment will be made about the ‘sorry-for-myself’ complaints and it is likely the suicidal ideation will be seen as a made-up story that does not hold any truth to it. “People who don’t know you may get the wrong impression” said some feedback, which was filed under ‘extremely useful’, alongside the implied threat of libel. I can live with this because the conclusions are based on a false premise. It’s false because there were some things I chose to leave out of the blog at the time. These were excluded because I was concerned that my actual confrontation might be harmful to innocent others and I wanted to make sure that those responsible for public protection were aware of the problem. As a desister, I have a social responsibility to ensure that my actions are not harmful to witnesses and we were already in a harmful situation. In addition, those who believe my suicidal ideations are manipulative need to take a look at my deeper reasons because these are not as they first appear either.

 

 

This blog is a lesson in desistance. True desistance is transparent. We don’t hide anything we do unless there is good reason, yet there comes a time when we must come clean. So here is the unedited exchange of tweets between @Prison_Screw and myself.

 

FireShot Screen Capture #074 - 'Twitter _ Prison_Screw_ @wildwalkerwoman hello my twitter ___' - twitter_com_Prison_Screw_status_372487098898857984

There is always a very grave danger in thinking our personal beliefs about ourselves or others is accurate. Unless we test our beliefs for veracity, they can sometimes come back to bite us.

To make us invisible for, to the man of the world, ‘visibility’ means that you are looking like something or someone he expects you to resemble. If you look different, your true nature becomes invisible to him.”

                                                               Idries Shah: “The Dermis Probe”

To understand desistance is to understand that there are some behaviours a true desister simply does not do – it’s an essence that belongs to the decision to desist, no matter how imperfect that individual might be. To be a desister is to trust that ours is always going to be backwards, downside-up and experiental world because it’s the only way we learn about compassion, mercy, kindness, humility and the need, on occasions, to put ourselves in danger for the sake and safety of endangered others.

If my reading of this man is correct, the information in this blog-post will be new to him, so his reaction will be fresh. What he does is of no interest to me whatsoever – this is about teaching the essence of desistance. For those who wish to observe, it is important to remember that this particular confrontation occurred several days ago in my reality. Although I’m not certain how my heart might react (my physical body seems fully aware of the danger given the number of times I’m having to use the Glyceril Trinitrate spray for my heart pains), my emotional responses are well worked through and my intuition says that if the Spirit I Serve wants me to stay alive, I will. Issues of life and death belong to ‘God’ – my issue is how I live the life I have and this seems to be as good a reason to die as any I’ve come across so far. Desisters learn from their knowledge and experience and I’m clearly still on my own path to learning, as well as taking up my responsibilities as a teacher of desistance. Let the avenues of learning unfold as they may.

For those wishing to observer, consider the following question: how well is this man practicing his knowledge of peace and reconciliation.

The transformation of Gunn – nicknamed Ben many years ago when he had a long beard – to a balding, middle-aged man has been captured in a portrait recently drawn by a fellow prisoner and sent out in the mail. The scholarly air is heightened by a short beard and Gandhi-style glasses. No surprise, then, to hear that he has used his time in prison to gain a BSc (Hons) and a master’s degree in peace and reconciliation. Gunn’s dedication to the cause of peace stems, he says, from the need to explore “why I had done the terrible thing that brought me to prison, and to repair the parts of my personality that had clearly broken down”. His soft vocal tones still carry a hint of his Welsh upbringing.

                                                                Eric Allison – 2009

“We may think we are wise, but nothing can be put into a full pot”: Saadi

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The Loveliest Compliment I’ve Ever Received

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Thank you again for your honesty. I drove to work this morning not thinking about all the ‘stuff’ I had to do today but instead thinking about what you have written and what I can change about how I work to make it a positive and useful experience for those I work with. Your insight is of immense value and I hope you know that.

 

Can you imagine knowing someone who could evoke such words from you or, more, being the someone they are written to. It takes my breath away because it’s everything I hope for. I am deeply honoured to have been a part this creation.

 

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