Tag Archives: society

Finding a ‘Place-to-Belong’ in Creation

Standard

BGjBHHICQAETknm

 

When I step back from the fray of ‘daily’ life, with its current menu of sleaze and corruption, there are times when I wonder how on earth humanity will find our way out of the mess we have either created ourselves or have been forced to live-within by the small-minded social thinking we are subjected to. As an imaginative woman, I am not short of ideas that, on a bad day, I think should apply to all us forgetting, as seems to be all-too-frequent in white culture, that the experience of others is different from my own.  This is healthy because it reminds me how little I truly know and how ignorant I really am, which is all the more important when I am busy telling my community they must listen to those voices we have silenced. Whilst such realisations are embarrassing or shameful in the moment, the value of such learning cannot be measured. I had one of these yesterday.

 

It is very hard to live in the UK at present without getting angry at what is being done to ordinary people by our government which cares not how many people suffer or die in order to achieve its fiscal ambitions. Everything in life is reduced to money; held by the few, denied to the many, and with the occasional tiny ‘aperture of escape’ dangled in front of the unthinking masses, via TV,  as a way of implying that talent results in success. I don’t watch television anymore but I see the damage done to those who do. If there is one thing that triggers my anger, it is witnessing this harm being inflicted upon those who don’t understand what is actually being done to them. Yesterday’s out-crop of sleaze had such an effect, so I climbed on my twitter soap-box and ranted about it.

 

Afterwards, a fellow tweep asked me to read their latest blog. Still full of the self-righteous fervour that afflicts those on soap-boxes, I was less than graceful in my immediate response (I’m really sorry, Inky) but I did read the blog. It was a humbling lesson for me, not least because a part of me believes I really ought to know better by now. Inky writes about the experience of being sightless in a world that judges the blind.

However, the hurt that I have caused people is in no way comparable to the hurt that I have been caused and am still being caused by society as a result of what I am. That will only disappear when I can feel truly comfortable talking about my sight problems (and know that people will actually listen and take notice instead of their eyes glazing over and my words being ignored).

 

In many ways, her words could easily have been written by me using problems other than sight. I know the experience of not being heard and eyes glazing over only too well and I had come so very close to doing exactly the same thing to her.

 

What such experiences teach us are our limitations and it triggered reflections on what is really meant by blindness. There is so much to our world that I am ‘blind’ to. It may catch my eye momentarily but my capacity to ‘see’ is switched-off and my attention slides off into other things I regard as ‘more important’. This often means that when the subject or person steps into visibility within my perception, I am shaken out of my complacency and into the discomfort of growing, which is exactly what Inky did. It wasn’t that I hadn’t noticed the event she discusses – I most certainly had. The harm within the viewpoint she was challenging had certainly impacted upon another ‘blind’ tweep I follow. I had witnessed @WelshWallace turn away from Twitter that night as a result of the mind-numbing stupidity of others whose careless comments about blindness must have impacted upon her very obvious talent as a sculptress. I may have noticed her turning away, but I did not ‘see’ it – in that moment, the person who was truly blind was me and my ‘disability’ had nothing to do with sightlessness. When I shared the blog with her, ”Welsh’ affirmed Inky’s experience completely – there was nothing she disagreed with.

Or am I just a stupid fool in thinking that equality means that everybody gets an equal chance to be themselves and achieve their goals in the way that best suits them?

 

This is not the first time it’s happened to me because it is the nature of the society I live within – all of us are affected by this casual blindness, especially in the West amongst us white folks, because it is inherent within its structure at all levels. It’s the outcome of living within a dualistic reality where perception is split into opposites and we ‘choose’, in our own minds, who and what belongs where, incarcerating others in the prison of our choices.

 

Here’s the thing: I know this already! I passed the theory part of this test years ago – or so I thought until I was presented with clear evidence to the contrary. Suddenly, all my ego-ideas of who I am collapse around me as I’m faced with irrefutable evidence of the opposite. It is extremely uncomfortable in the moment but as a spur to grow, these are lessons beyond value. It is simply not possible to grow up within white Western ‘culture’ and not be affected by it – anyone who claims otherwise is fooling themselves and misleading others. Those of us who, at least, try to think differently are inevitably going to experience this disillusion-of-self because experiencing it is the only true way to learn.

 

So how do we manage when we find ourselves in this situation? In my reality, we learn! For example, my dualistic white culture apparently seeks to subtract this bit or that part from our corrupted body politic in the quest for some kind of false homogeneity through the casual, thoughtless use of labels. As this is one end of a polarity, then authentic learning ought to add to our experience resulting in a diversity of profoundly different realities, as our physicists are beginning to suggest. What’s more – there are living peoples on our planet who have already absorbed this knowledge into their culture and world-view.

It would also suggest that we might be living in a “multiverse”—a universe that is much bigger than was once thought and in which the take different forms in different places.

 

How does a woman, steeped to the eyeballs in contemporary white culture, approach these concepts with a healthy-enough attitude that they inform, at the very least, my own world-view? Today, my advice to myself is to know that I am truly blind. Why? For as long as I believe I know a great deal about diversity, I am blinded by my own ideas because there is no room for authentic difference – by filling myself up with self-importance, I eclipse the multiverses evolving within the peoples around me. When I do that, I become a product of this prevailing culture apparently intent upon destroying all evidence of diversity, harming myself as well as others. If I can’t find out of this trap, then there’s every chance the problem may become permanent!

During the 1960′s and well into the following two decades, a branch of pop psychology developed which began to make some very speculative assumptions about the specific roles the two hemispheres of our brain play in our cognitive awareness and functioning. The general understanding developed that the left hemisphere of the brain was essentially analytical and concerned with processes and quantitative evaluation, while the right hemisphere of the human brain was where the artists and dreamers resided. This is a very simplistic understanding; and in recent years, imaging research has shown that both hemispheres share more or less the same attributes, and both can equally process the same cognitive functionality. However, and this is crucial, there is a level of redundancy in both hemispheres.

The growing speculation for the need for two (asymmetrical) brain hemispheres is to perform two acts of awareness. The left brain is devoted to specific tasks and objectives, while the right brain acts as a kind of peripheral awareness. There has to be a kind of background seeing, as well as immediate attention to the task at hand. Think of an early human on the side of a riverbank trying to spear a salmon—the left brain would be devoted to this task. In order to maintain awareness of the environment and possible dangers therein, the right hemisphere of the human brain is ‘looking’ out for predators such as a saber-tooth tiger seeking an easy meal in the form of a prehistoric human who is completely concentrated on catching a fish. Hence, why the right brain is often associated with insight, intuition and noetic realisations. Which is why artists tend to have an ability to see changes in their environment and social conditions before the rest of the population. Their ‘background vision’ is more highly developed due to them using both hemispheres of their brain for the purpose they were intended.

The left brain, on the other hand, has been shown to be highly narcissistic and with an inflated sense of its own worth and status. The left hemisphere sees no problem with itself, and this has been shown in stroke patients who lost the use of the right hemisphere of their brain. Operating in left-brain mode only, they assumed they were perfectly fine until they attempted to get out of bed only to discover they were paralysed on one side.

Between the left and right hemispheres of the human brain is the corpus callosum, which is a thin membrane of nerve fibers which separates the two halves and has now been shown that rather than being a communicative link between the two brain halves, it acts more like a buffer, with the left brain in Western people having a desire to literally switch off the neural activity in the right hemisphere. This is one meme which Betty Edwards was correct about in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain—the left hemisphere is a bully. In overly logical and analytical individuals, fMRI scans have shown the left brain actually inhibits the right brain—via the corpus callosum nerve fibers—from offering its contribution to the entire cognitive process. This state of right hemisphere nullification is where the debunker and the hardcore skeptics are trapped and can never leave—in their intolerant and highly narcissistic left hemisphere—using the two percent of neural wiring into their right hemisphere in order to shut it off. Ordering the right hemisphere to cease activity while the left side of the brain saves the world from ‘morons’ who dare question official government press releases or the mandates from any authority figure or bureaucratic institutions.

Along with this, their intuition and ‘background awareness’ are likewise diminished. (link)
 

So how to go about addressing this very serious problem creatively and compassionately?

 

The first step, I suspect, would be for me to get a realistic grasp of my place in Creation which, in my case, would have to include an awareness of my ignorance. Measured against the rainbow wisdom of Indigenous people, my knowledge of true reality seems to score about 0.005 to their 8 or 9 (bear in mind that these are my measures alone). To catch up with such astonishing wisdom is probably going to take me more than a dozen lifetimes and by the time I arrive, these multiversed souls will have been long gone. In theory, I could argue that this is a very good thing to know – that there exists a living ‘Road to Wisdom’ upon which my spirit can travel, grow and evolve – but as I have already illustrated, theory and practice are very different criaturas! What can I expect on this journey through Spirit?

 

Well, if present experience is anything to go by, I’m going to remain an ignoramus for a very long time and the path will be strewn with my many mistakes, both embarrassing and shameful, as I finally begin to appreciate the wonder of Mystery. Each and every spark of life carries a unique aspect that can only be understood on its own terms, not mine. For as long as my perceptions are seduced by this dark side of white culture, I will be as callously destructive towards the diversity of others as the worst fascist who ever lived. I have to accept that, in this lifetime, I am just beginning the road back to health and its going to be a very long journey.

 

So is such a rocky, difficult road worth taking? If I look to my dreams of a fair and healthy human society occupying our proper place on a miraculously living blue planet travelling an endless multiverse of existence/experience, then my answer has to be ‘Yes’. Nevertheless, such a journey will need to be taken one step at a time, with all the detours, blockages and dead-ends I have already experienced in this lifetime.

 

Where do I start? With the reality I experience through my relationship with everything that is ‘not-me’. For example: at present, I am blind to the experience and wisdom of life without physical ‘sight’ (bearing in mind this could easily change), so in opening myself to the shared experience of sightlessness will introduce me to the ‘Mystery’ of otherness. Within this, there will be information I would never even conceive of from my own limited perspective, together with what this evokes in all of us. I will learn, through experience rather than theory, what it takes to be a tiny part of Creation in healthy human form, with all my failings and ecstasies, alongside all my fellow travelers. In doing so, I will find my true place in this multiverse of multiverses because I belong within it.

 

Throughout human history, we have hinted to ourselves repeatedly that the universe we dwell within is ‘One’; a Great Mystery, both manifest and Spirit, some call God. Perhaps – I don’t know – the ‘stinking gift’ of white culture is our reminder of what occurs when we forget and commit hubris by believing we know better than the astonishing reality we actually do dwell within.

 

In the meantime, I can give thanks to all those who shared their time and patience educating this foolish traveler with the wisdom they have acquired. None of us will ever ‘know’ the Great Mystery but we can share what we have learned along our life paths and patch-work together an idea 0f what we could become as we step into our unknown future.

 

 

BNi7yGACEAArjF1

Advertisements

The Ethics of Obeying Orders

Standard

BMMd_XXCAAAryVF

 

Amidst the various news stories I came across yesterday were two that caught my attention. The first was a ‘note‘ written by a successful suicide and published by the family because they thought the information contained within it needed to be shared with others. Given that their decision came from one of the most painful experiences known to people, I acknowledge and respect the courage of both the author and his surviving family.

 

The second article was this: UNISON instructs its members to enforce the bedroom tax. As a former shop steward from one of the unions amalgamated into UNISON, I’m going to comment on this latest ‘advice’ to members, not only because I think this instruction is wrong but also because I believe the impact of it has the potential to cause very great harm to the ordinary  membership who are going to have to comply with it.

 

Many thanks to Robert Livingstone for his outstanding art work

 

But let’s begin with the bigger picture.  I make no bones about my opinion of our present incumbents in the Houses of Parliament. With the exception of a very few, no MP of any party has yet to earn the epithet they award themselves; ‘Honourable’. The UK Government, with its now daily offerings of cronyism, corruption, personal profiteering and ideological tyrannyin all walks of life – makes it all but impossible to conclude that these elected/appointed officials have any interests over and above their own career path. As the suicide and death rates rise, it is also becoming easier to believe that the results of Austerity presently being experienced by ordinary UK people are exactly the outcomes our government is seeking. To put it bluntly, the UK government is presently pursuing murderous policies against the wider British public; employed or unemployed, healthy or not,  and there has been a stark increase in people dying unnatural early deaths as a result of government policy. Whilst it is true that not everyone lives to a ripe old age, when death is caused by the intentional actions of other people, our law is inclined to call it murder. When such murder is being inflicted on a people by a government, our law has also been known to call this genocide.

 

One of the problems we face – those of us on the sharp end of these policies – is the apparent lack of comprehension from decision-makers in all trades/professions because those involved are frequently directly unaffected by what is happening on the ground. The UNISON decision falls within this remit. From my perspective, it is as though the leaders have forgotten some very basic Trade Union wisdom about solidarity with ordinary people. They are disconnected from reality in a way that is likely to prove extremely BNVz2o2CUAEFaXxharmful to their members and it is one of the reasons why I currently place no faith in traditional ‘working-class’ solutions to our collective problems. I am not alone in this opinion but mine is based on understanding the impact our involvement has on the psyche of each and every TU member party to implementing these government policies.

 

It would not be fair to single out UNISON alone – many of our public service trade union members face exactly the same problem – but let’s use my old TU’s ‘advice’ for the sake of this blog. The mythology that public service pays better than the private sector is now just that – a myth. Decades of public sector wage restraint has eaten away any advantages that might have once existed and our services now stagger from one crisis of service to the next. These services are provided by employees who are frequently low-paid, which means that when sanctions for non-payment of bedroom tax are applied to those who simply cannot afford to pay, UNISON members are likely to be sanctioning their own colleagues – something that is already occurring within the Department of Work and Pensions. So much for solidarity amongst the membership;  indeed, I cannot think of anything more divisive to workers’ organisations. The Unions apparently seem to be unable to support their own membership, which makes any declaration of their support for other social groups highly suspect.

 

UNISON claims the following:

It is… vital to ensure that UNISON members are advised, that if they are employed to administer part of the arrears recovery process, that they should follow the instructions of their employer and that they should be advised that they are placing their continued employment at risk if they choose not to fulfil their contract of employment.

This applies whether that is the sending of reminder letters, issuing possession proceedings, applying to the Magistrate’s Court for a possession order, attending Court, instructing bailiffs or attending with bailiffs in order to secure possession.

 

It is interesting that this advice centres on the Contract of Employment, not least because there are other legal interpretations that could be made had the union been willing to contemplate them. Whilst the reader can find more details here, I want to focus on what has happened to the ‘heart’ of this Contract, bearing in mind that there exists, in law, something known as an ‘Unfair Contract’.

 

I’m going to look at this from the perspective of civil and crown servants simply because the heart of the contract between Crown and Servant has been made explicit. Please bear in mind that these are only my observations. My opinion may carry no weight in law and therefore needs to be checked.

At the heart of the psychological contract are the following conditions: respect, compassion, trust, empathy, fairness, and objectivity. At the heart of the Crown contract, a servant must demonstrate the four core values detailed below:

  • ‘Integrity’:  putting the obligations of public service above your own personal interests;
  • ‘Honesty’: being truthful and open;
  • ‘Objectivity’: basing your advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence; and
  • ‘Impartiality’: acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving equally well Governments of different political persuasions.

In addition, if a civil servant believes that that he/she is being asked to behave in a way which conflicts with the code, he/she may now report the matter direct to the Civil Service Commissioners.

It is now clearly specified that the code is part of the contractual relationship between the civil servant and his/her employer.

As an observer, I would wonder whether these legal requirements for integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality also fall upon the employer too. If they do, and there is objective and politically impartial evidence to show that the employer is failing to adhere to these requirements, I would suggest that this may go to the Heart of the employees’ Contract of Employment. It may be that an employers’ breach of the Civil Service Code could be deemed sufficient to render previously forbidden industrial action lawful especially if the action sought to impose ‘fair’ conditions, like integrity and honesty, upon government in this instance. It would probably be necessary to demonstrate that individual members of government were failing to adhere to their own Code of Conduct with objective and impartial evidence.

 

There will be differences between a civil service/local government Contracts of Employment but they will be written down somewhere because this is how public servants function – everything is written down, or should be, because it allows for public scrutiny and the ‘heart’ of the Contract will contain the same standards.

 

Knowing these things, I look at the UNISON instruction and ask how the BMGmmISCcAE1_Mcpsychological ‘heart’ of the contract is being met by asking some union members to cause severe hardship to other union members for the sole purpose of keeping their job? I also ask how well Ministers issuing these instructions are complying with their own side of the Contract. In fact, from where I am standing, it appears that any living, beating heart has been torn from the living body of the British public… that no Heart exists in that realm anymore which, by logical progression, means that public sector staff are being instructed to deliver a heartless service to the people.  That my old union, UNISON, is instructing members to comply is about the worst thing it could do under present circumstances, not just to its own membership but also to the public at large.

 

There is one element that seems to be missing from the union’s thinking and that is the issue of ‘unlawful instructions’. No employee is required to obey unlawful instructions – simple. If an employer starts to issue unlawful instructions, an employee is actually required to disobey them – the reason? Because if we obey unlawful instructions, we become an accessory to crime and are guilty ourselves. Certainly, to take such a path will be fraught with dangers and dismissal may certainly feature within the experience whilst the case is fought through law but that is still no reason to refuse the solution, not least because our refusal will impact upon our psyche.

 

How is an employee likely to feel if, as a result of their unions advice, they become responsible for the prosecution and likely homelessness of one of their colleagues? How are they going to feel, day after day, dealing with the suicidal distress of the public? I wonder how Stephanie Botterill‘s case-worker feels because, in complying with government instructions, they may have violated their own heart and the damage this causes to the pysche of otherwise-loving people is as extreme on the inside as it is on the outside. The suicide note of David Somers describes the effect of treating other people as if they have no instrinsic worth:

 

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

 

This stuff eats away at our very soul until all life is extinguished. We end up carrying, personally, the guilt of others until it destroys everything within us that we value:

 

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

 

When I departed my trade union/local government life, I went into the psychotherapy business and learned, sitting with those who entrusted the tender aspects of self to me, exactly what happens to people who face this kind of systemic crime. The harm visits every generation afterwards. What we choose to do now will affect your children, their children and all the children who follow after. The decisions we make today have that kind of power.

 

And I have to ask myself, is this what UNISON intended when it instructed its members to collaborate with a criminal government? If it isn’t, then the union better reconsider its actions so far.

 

picture-61

Precariat advice on dealing with closet fascists

Standard

tumblr_m5a069Gd0T1r1hlkjo1_500

 

Yesterday, a fellow precariat posted this on the internet. I don’t know who this brother is or whether he has acted on his feelings but I know the rage he feels about how he has been treated because I feel much the same way when I am suicidal. If he has committed suicide, then his blog speaks the same language as Stephanie Botterill and Vicky Harrison. Indeed, if this brother does take his own life then, in truth, it might be a kinder ending than experienced by some in his position given the way the impoverished and homeless are treated by some in our community.

 

BIuqy41CEAIw50CLet’s be quite plain here – when the number of deaths, per week, due to Welfare Reform, had risen to 73 last October, we can make an educated guess which way those numbers have gone since the latest round of welfare cuts kicked in last April. This is murder-by-government.

 

When I worked as a psychotherapist I attracted, for some reason, a statistically-significant number of clients who were the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. The fact that my professional supervisor was German enabled me to deepen my knowledge of what went on under that facsist regime. During one discussion, I pointed out to her that there had been many other holocausts since and asked why, in her opinion, the German version was so bad. She replied that, for her, the fact that the wholesale murder of people had been done by an elected government – it had been systematic and ‘legal’ done in the name of an entire country’s people – therefore carried a far greater ‘weight of sin’. Whilst I wasn’t certain I agreed with her at the time – I hadn’t lived the experience then – it is much harder to disagree with her now. I mention this wisdom, learned over twenty years ago, because it has informed me ever since and might suggest that I know what I am talking about when I say that the British parliament is filled with fascists in all of our political parties.

scaled_full_b0c173ffa5120f3494f7

When we – anyone, really, not just precariats – is faced with others who believe our only value to our community is by being dead, one of the first things we might try is communication. This is a fascinating exercise for anyone who has tried it. In the UK, Spartacus tried. The outcome is detailed here and matches my own experience. True fascists avoid such conversations – even if they are ‘obliged’ by standards and rules to listen. It’s an interesting avoidance because, once we force the issue (usually following months of ignoring us), they switch the focus from content (“You are systematically killing people”) to ‘process’ (“You aren’t being polite so I’m not going to talk to you”). I’ve always been interested by the emphasis those with murderous intent place on politeness, although it’s taken me years to see how this process works well enough to put it into words.

 

There’s an example of this occurring at the moment. A collection of our church leaders in the UK have demanded an apology from Coalition ministers for their misuse of statistics as a means of demonising the poor. The same church leaders have worked hard, alongside other anti-poverty campaigns, to counter this propaganda but seem to be having as much success as Spartacus, the courts and the EU. It doesn’t matter how much evidence well-meaning people present; how many laws we enforce; how many petitions we sign or how many protests we attend – the government isn’t listening because it doesn’t want to.

 

What interests me is the peoples’ response. Speaking as a precariat, with my brothers and sisters unlawfully suffering and dying in their tens of thousands around me, I want to know when our ‘supporters’ are going to wake up to what is really going on around them and understand that apologies will never be enough. To truly apologise is to acknowledge our wrong-doing, provide restitution where possible and never commit that sin again. Show me the evidence that our parliamentarians understand this because, with the exception of a very few, I see no sign of such awareness. What I see are these ‘people’ not giving a toss for what anyone else thinks and carrying on regardless, whilst closing their minds on the grounds that we aren’t being polite. Exactly where does this behaviour fuck off in the minds of our middle-classes?

 

The Wannsee Conference (Berlin 1942) on the “Final Solution”…

“ushered in the final stage of escalation of the extermination policy – the incorporation of the whole of German-occupied Europe in a comprehensive programme of systematic annihilation of the Jews. The evolution of such a programme, once intiated as a planned operation, rapidly gathered pace in the spring…”

Ian Kershaw: “Hitler, the Germans and the Final Solution” 2008

Following the publication of the first of my precariat pieces, I came across a blog by Dan Silver which, in its own academic way, says that we will not achieve any meaningful social change without talking to those presently excluded from social discourse. As a precariat, I would agree entirely but for three reasons: firstly, precariats have experienced nothing but being ‘talked at’ scaled_full_c82403f5ec81a55b08fb– only the few actually listen; secondly, if you want us to listen to what you have to say, it might help if you started talking in plain English and, finally, any conversation has to be translated into action, otherwise why should we waste our time and intelligence with you?

 

There is a very big problem that gets in the way of any meaningful communication between various sections of our community and that resides in emotional intelligence and experience. Unless someone has actually experienced the underlying intent of our all-party UK government policy, you are going to have to take our precariat word and evidence that it is already murderous and many don’t ‘get’ this. Those in more comfortable circumstances (like having a sound roof over your head, a bed to sleep in and food to eat when you are hungry) won’t have experienced the feelings that erupt as a result of not having them. These are the people who complain about our precariat ‘attitude-problem’. To those I would say this – if someone is systematically trying to kill me, how the fuck am I supposed to feel?

 

workfare-stick-upAs a psychotherapist, I learned that anger is the healthy response to abuse. As a precariat, I am not supposed to express this anger, so what am I supposed to do with it? According to the fascist doctor I met in prison, I’m not supposed to feel anger at all! Well, that can fuck off for a start. In human terms, anger is the impetus enabling our ability to change things that are unhealthy for us. So when the comfortably-off chattering classes start bitching about my attitude, that tells me they don’t want anything to change that might affect them even slightly – like the discomfort of listening to those they have systematically silenced whilst colluding with our wholesale murder. You see, that’s the thing about precariats – we have a tendency to call a spade a fucking shovel.

 

Th problem continues closer to the precariat class too. The working class are getting hit as hard or, in some cases, harder (although I haven’t seen evidence that they are dying in the same numbers as precariats). They also have a history of organising themselves – which is what they are doing now. As a former Trade Union official, I’ll wave to my comrades of the People’s Assembly; recognise our common enemy; and then say this:

BKIsb8jCYAA0XQl“You are not going to change a fucking thing until you get right down to the bottom of society. Your Peoples’ Assembly fails to include the precariats because, hey, we’re going to cost you money to listen to us. You’re going to have to shell out for bus-fares to get precariats (and, for that matter, your poorest TU members) to your meetings. Perhaps you may need to feed us too. Remember that when you go out for a pint afterwards, if you want us there you’re the one that’s buying because we can’t afford to. In rural areas like mine, you may need to give me a lift back to my precarious home because the buses stop running early – or, if my worst imaginings come true, back to my tent if it’s still there when I get back. This isn’t some kind of socialist replay of ‘our glorious past’, we’re slap bang in the middle of a fascist government implementing wholesale murder.

 

scaled_full_3c3cdc5606510b56ed22Has the People’s Assembly got any plans for how to care for our existing homeless or is that something that can wait until our glorious revolution has been won? If that is what you are thinking, you’re as bad as the fascists and you’re still learning the lessons of how the German people ‘didn’t know’ about the Holocaust. ”

 

At this point, I would probably walk away from the mic because I would hope, at least, I’d been talking to folk who are half-awake and not closed down entirely. To carry on in that vein would meet my own definition of impolite.

 

The thing about true change or growth is that we have to start with grim reality and this is as true for personal as well as social transformations. For as long as the population is governed by what it chooses to believe rather than what is real, nothing changes. We have to be as disillusioned, disenchanted and authentic as we can be if we want to change the world. Those uncomfortable with my kind of authenticity are those who, at present, collude with murderers. For those who ‘getting’ what I am saying, take a look at this and then see how you feel. What you are feeling gets deeper and stronger the further down the social scale we live, because every other bloody class above us is saying the same thing whilst, at the same time, passing the buck of blame down too. To the rich, I’d like to say ‘I feel your pain’ but, hey, precariats have our own and it’s bigger, better and definitely more colourful than yours. To the rich, I’d say that I’ve never seen such a bigger bunch of incompetents than you and if that’s what your expensive education taught you, I’d be closing those establishments down. If all you can come up with is more of the same, get out of the fucking way so the people can do the job you refuse to do.

 

As a retired psychotherapist; as a practising shaman; as part of what I believe are my social responsibilities, I have to exercise tolerance but I tell you this – there is a moment where my tolerance for irresponsible social cruelty to others crosses a line into absolute refusal to play your game of social niceties. I hope inactive non-precariats start to feel deeply uncomfortable with my self-educated, intelligent and eloquent stare coming right back at you from the Abyss because you won’t change without it.

 

We can make changes right now to how we behave but those changes have to be authentic and meet a real need. Waiting until you’ve organised this; or prepared that report; or had a discussion; or whatever other delaying tactics you choose to employ is no damn use to anyone. If your imagination can’t stretch to what you, personally, could do why not take a few lessons from those who know how to.

BKjSFRQCUAAkuqB enhanced-buzz-5262-1340127249-17 enhanced-buzz-8064-1340208430-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knows – one day you might discover that you were wrong about those you despised.

 

If nothing else, that would be a step in the right direction.

 

 

 

BIGMaRqCAAAhC84

Why I can no longer listen to @classicfm

Standard

enhanced-buzz-5262-1340127249-17

 

Dear ClassicFM

 

At the moment I am in the process of decorating my home and, traditionally, I listen to your station while I work. I discovered today, after a bout of ill-health, when I resumed my task that I can no longer listen to you at all. You see, whilst I was poorly, I learned you don’t pay any UK taxes. I try hard to be a forgiving woman but I find my usually capacious stock of it is missing.

 

It’s not so much anger that I feel – although that does form a part of it – it’s the level of disappointment. Here you are, apparently milking your listeners dry with your products and performances  but you see no need to contribute to the public purse that enables your audience to afford you. No doubt, many of your presenters have their own ways of avoiding paying taxes as well, if I think about it.

 

I can’t listen to you anymore because every time you play a piece of music, I wonder what the composer would make of what you are doing – using their creation to make money for yourselves and giving nothing back to the people who made you what you are. I wonder what Beethoven would have thought of your use of his music? Or Mozart? You have taken their creativity and are using it to feed your personal greed – if that weren’t true, you’d be paying taxes. You benefit a great deal financially from the creativity of Joanne Rowling but you don’t follow her example.

 

A3zg4bWCUAA9oUg

 

I do not have a problem with people making money. My problem arises with those who profit from the poverty of others. Joanne Rowling doesn’t just pay her taxes – she gives her money away but you don’t, do you? Unless you can show similar behavioural standards to Ms Rowling in terms of taxes and charitable work, you have no business using the creators’ music you profit from, in my opinion.

 

I may be an audience of one but I do wonder how many other people might feel the same way I do. I have great respect for composers and love classical music with a deep passion. I cannot listen to your radio station – nor can I listen to the BBC for their open political bias – because I find myself betraying those I respect by doing so.

I’m tired of listening to selfish rich people abusing the creativity of the poor. Beethoven wasn’t rich! Neither was Mozart! How much money have you made from them? How much do you give back so the composers of tomorrow can emerge from those who are poor but creative? You don’t even contribute to the society you’re milking by your tax avoidance schemes. Why should I listen to you?

 

The thing that gets me the most is how I didn’t see it before! But then I didn’t know you don’t pay taxes. And I find I can’t forgive you (and that’s a big issue for me).

 

Financially, I am a poor woman and always have been. In my best earning year, I hit £30k and thought I was rich. I was self-employed at the time but I still paid my taxes. Those taxes pay for the infrastructure you take for granted but which is collapsing, if not already collapsed, for one third of the British population. The middle third are feeling the pinch and it’s hurting them badly. The final third – the ones who are running the country to suit themselves and nobody cares what happens to the rest of us – is your demographic. The lifestyle you advocate might as well be in Lala-land in comparison to mine nor is yours fairly earned as far as two thirds of the country are concerned. The size of your wealth is measured by the depth of our poverty – earned wealth includes paying taxes to support the infrastructure of the country.  You refuse to pay taxes when two thirds of the country are suffering – what kind of people are you?

 

Why aren’t you ashamed of yourselves?

 

The thing is that it’s likely your listeners come from all walks of life – just like me. Some of us are fully aware of the connection between tax avoidance like yours and hungry, homeless people dying in our streets.

 

To refuse to pay our social responsibility to the creative community we profit from is selfish but to continue to refuse when that community is suffering as a result of your selfishness is a sin that can only be forgiven by God because I cannot find it in myself to forgive you at the moment.

 

That is why I will never willingly listen to your radio station again and it’s got nothing to do with the music!

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dee

Women, men and finding new ways of relating

Standard

Picture11

Once in a while I encounter someone who I experience as setting no limits on who I might become for them. When this happens, I’ve always found it helpful to explain the limits I work within.

Here is an example, which began with a twitter conversation and has arrived at the following email:

Good morning, Danny 🙂

Arrggh – the ‘Abyss of Masculine Sexuality’ into which I could have fallen! Thank you so much for being a gentleman and helping me past it!

It might be worth explaining my gratitude in more detail because this is always an issue between women and men in danger of exploding in both our faces – if we can avoid this trap, all the better for us.

When I talk about this, remember I am not talking about you personally. I’m giving you an insight into my problems, not yours. Hopefully this may assist you elsewhere in your own work, especially when it comes to ‘women’s issues’ such as sexism and rape.

Firstly, my personal relationships with men (and women, for that matter) have always been fraught with problems. True; I’ve learned a lot and one of the lessons I’ve learned is that I get on much better with men, as people, when personal sexuality is excluded from the dynamic. I like men but life has left me extremely prickly around sex and sexuality. At 58 – and sans womb after a hysterectomy – I’m no longer driven by hormones into that region and, to be quite honest, I find that to be a relief because it leaves me free to be myself and to channel my desires into other energy.

I’m not the first woman to say that there is something about me that frightens some men. In the sexuality arena, this is because – on a psychic level – some of the harm I’ve experienced in the past has left unexploded minefields any serious suitor would have to cross. Because these unexploded bombs are emotional in nature – and many men have very real problems even hearing the emotional dimensions, let alone navigating them – it seems far more merciful for everyone to simply remove the entire subject from my agenda.

When ‘consent’ is removed, at the extremely early stage, we can see how sexual/gender politics affects the debate on the subject. For example; between us (and because my ‘energy’ contains this ‘No’ from the outset), it enables you to help me sidestep the masculine minefield by being the perfect gentleman – and I can explain to you why this is so helpful to all of us. Firstly because it strengthens trust. When men and women protect and guide each other safely through the minefields of personal relationships, we strengthen each other. Because sexuality and power dynamics are so heightened and corrupted generally at the moment, this is vital for building communities.

When I asked to be included in your web network, I was asking as a teacher and guide. I don’t know whether what I teach is useful or not – that is for you to decide, not me. What I do know is that I can’t function in that role if I’m bound within the limitations of current ideas on human sexuality. By removing that element – but not the minefield (funny how towers surrounded by thickets spring to mind) – I can see who is willing to put that aspect of themselves aside too. It is very clear that you can – which makes you an excellent role model and enhances what I am trying to teach. Thank you, young man. You are a credit to all those who raised you to manhood.

Our example enables me to teach lessons about love.

For example: the ancient Greeks had three words for Love: Eros, Philos and Agape.

Eros is the first expression of it – falling in love; being hit by cupid’s arrow. That kind of thing. There can be this element in a heterosexual man’s feelings for a woman included in his sexual expression. If it is there for both man and woman, then the chances of their love growing into Philos are excellent. Otherwise, Eros blows itself out in the end. It is not a lasting Love.

Philos is the Love that grows between friends. It lasts. It is the kind of Love that keeps couples together ‘forever’ in this world and the next – and it’s the kind of Love I seek to access with you by bypassing Eros altogether. When Philos is established between people (whoever they might be), Love continues to grow and becomes Agape.

Agape is to experience the ‘Oneness’ of the unified Universe – where nothing is excluded excepting those who, by personal choice, exclude themselves. (This is a Principle of Free Will – we all have a choice and if that choice removes us from creation, it must be respected and managed.) It is this experience I am interested in enabling other people to find because the information contained there affects what we believe about ourselves and others. It frees us from many of the limitations we are presently struggling against. What makes it different from all other routes is, in my experience, the fact that it is personal to each of us. Agape is to experience the universe with each one of us – exactly as we are with exactly our history – being perfectly placed to transform our planet and our lives for the better. It is to learn that each moment is a step on our journey and each choice we make opens the door to the next step.

We live in ‘interesting times’, as the old Chinese curse would say. One of the curses that affect us all is the systemic treatment of women globally. I’d suggest that a woman who doesn’t have a minefield around her is a rare bird, which can make life very difficult for men who do see us as people. In addition, the power-abuse dynamic (clearly illustrated in rise of BDSM pornography) seems to overwhelm everything to the point where some men are only interested in what they can get away with.

The advantage to all of us of ‘gentleman’ skills from the men is this. By behaving this way with each other by free choice (as opposed to some social ‘rules’), we can see who can’t behave this way and won’t be corrected. These are those whose free choice is to exclude themselves from Love and they do this by their behaviour. Who they are – or who we are, for that matter – is immaterial. Such issues belong to the relationship between individual and Agape and are none of our business. Our behaviour has to respect this relationship between individual and Divine (which includes Atheism too – it’s none of our business!) and we do this by treating our human relationships as if they are ‘sacred’ because they are!

When we understand this – Agape – we have a much clearer idea about the problems we are all facing as a community capable of experiencing this kind of Love. We care about this energy, so we behave in ways that minimise harm and accelerate healing. This is what I am interested in teaching to anyone who is interested in learning.

I don’t teach details; I teach Principles because these can be translated into our daily life in one way or another. Principles are tools anyone can use in their own way without loss – in fact, when we share how they work in our own life, we often give each other helpful ideas. For example, in my reality, I discipline myself around stealing other peoples’ ideas: the ‘property’ remains with the creatrix – I am only permitted to steal the idea if I can improve and return it in better shape than before. If I can’t improve on it, I must share it as it is, giving full credit to its originator. In a world of patents and copyright, I wonder if that works for others. Please bear in mind the pattern of our unhealthy system to thieve the ideas of women and claim them as their own. We are in the mine-field here, so let’s be careful of each other.

Finally, I’d like to say this. There are legends about crossing this minefield – it is part of the Monomyth. The Planet has nothing against male desire – She evolved it from the Passion of the Creator. The thing is that it is Sacred! You guys get a hard-on for God as well as women – it’s why the early Christian churches displayed you this way and why erections are sometimes called ‘godhead’. What has been forgotten by some is that you channel this energy, you don’t ‘own’ it. When you channel your desire to enthusiastically consenting women who also are friends, you will have a far better time than you have probably had up until now. Adult women have desires too and we can be friends to each other along the way to encountering the one woman who will leave you saying “Thanks but no thanks” to Allah’s offer of all those dark-eyed virgins. What I’d like to see is more gratitude to the women who do offer this to you especially because I don’t. If gentlemen are going to bed friends, remember she will be someone you will be able to easily introduce, without hiding your true relationship, to the woman who is sacred wife to your sacred husband.

This is how I would like us to love each other.

How does that sound to you?

 

Bear in mind that I do not expect these interpersonal boundaries to apply to anyone else but me. I share them because I suspect they might function as an example of  ‘good practice’ amongst those genuinely seeking to transform our troubled world.

 

 

“Us and Them”: #Tories, #Women, #CasualStigma, #Envy & #ESAEndGame

Standard

 

home 009

Whilst this is essentially an activist’s blog, I’d like to begin with a tribute to my cat (pictured above). His name was Jasper and he disappeared a few days ago. My intuition and local knowledge tells me he won’t be coming home again. Whilst I do my utmost to see the positive in others, I also have to face reality. The village I live in is cruel to cats. It’s a local thing – we have pigeon fanciers and other residents who poison or shoot them. In the past three years, I have lost three cats to this ‘final solution’. Jasper is the latest.

 

Cats have always found me if I have not been finding them first. We have an affinity to each other and like each other’s company. Jasper found me after my second cat vanished and my neighbour’s cat was poisoned. He was an opinionated criatura. He didn’t much take to the female cat I was asked to rescue or the kitten she produced but he never lost his affection for me. He would come to me in my distress and offer affection freely. My lap was his home and my bed was his next best choice. He took no nonsense from dogs and he made friends with all the local cat-lovers, visiting homes and seducing free meals out of each. And he was too young to have died naturally.

 

As an animal lover, we have to accept that our animal companions will leave us simply on the grounds of life-span. But they leave a hole in our souls when they do that is filled with grief. Now I have a Jasper-shaped hole in mine and it affects how I respond to human events. Yesterday was filled with those.

 

As some of my twitter follows are aware, I’ve been engaging with a Tory councillor recently. In truth, we have found we have a great deal in common, particularly when it comes to seeing trying to the best in people. Our difference – and it is a very great one – is that she can see the best in individuals but struggles to see any value in groups that are not her own. She is an intelligent, imaginative woman, who is committed to her local community – which is not mine (Tories are few and far between where I live). I can see the value of her chosen profession because I took a similar route out of my own problems when I was younger. Where we part company is in the matter of community.

 

From my perspective, the purpose of becoming an all-round ‘professional’ adult human being involves, at some point, a letting-go of personal ego for the ‘greater good’ of the community. It is a process of self-sacrifice which, if you happen to be the person inside the experience, teaches us that we are far more than just our ego. We learn that every time we do something, we affect and impact upon the entire living web around us. My own version now includes being willing to die for others like me – and I am not alone in this. Yesterday, whilst my Tory friend was explaining why she wanted me to learn how ‘not to envy’ those who are financially successful, another woman whom I really admire was putting her own life on the line for others in her position… again. If you want to understand why, check out #ESAEndGame on twitter. The voices there speak far more eloquently than I ever could about the depth and extent of the problems we are facing. I have made my own contribution but there are many others with similar tales who have been less fortunate than me. The fact that, following my GP’s intervention, Atos cancelled my WCA assessment and the DWP recategorised  my ESA claim (which, to my astonishment, means an increase in my benefits) was only made possible by the hard work of people like @Suey2y, the Black Triangle campaign and many other individuals, known and unknown, seen and unseen. Their work was done, not for personal gain – all the campaigners want is enough to live on – but for their community. All that effort, intelligence, wisdom and experience given freely to those in genuine need, without charge – to me, this is the best a human being can aspire to and I feel honoured to be in their company. The sad part is that I believe my Tory friend doesn’t understand this and I fear I cannot teach her. All I can say is that, on a personal level, if I had to emulate either woman, I would choose to be like @Suey2y everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. I have tried the route my Tory friend is on and, for me, it “grows no corn” – hers are the teachings of selfishness, as far as I am concerned, and I’ve done my best to leave those behind me. With all due respect to her, I aspire to become someone better than that. The rewards of selfishness do not interest me anymore.

 

Interestingly, at the same time, the #MHChat twitter community also took to the airwaves on the subject of #Envy but not before @MentalHealthCop had created the hashtag #CasualStigma. That a serving police officer dedicated to providing a professional service to the public could come up with something so thoughtful and compassionate is wondrous to me. That he can see the connections between the casual stigma directed at women ( #EverySexism ) and what he sees in his own job working with those who have mental health problems restores my personal faith in the police as a whole. He sees the overall problem this kind of stigmatisation causes and has done something to raise our awareness of it in his own field. He could have chosen selfishness – many police officers do – but instead he’s given voice to a largely silenced community, mislabelled and misunderstood, perhaps because he knows that we can change nothing for the better without listening to everyone involved, not just those with money, power or influence. Which leads neatly into the subject of envy.

 

Whilst I do know something about the subject of envy, last night’s #MHChat helped me clarify the distinction between an envy that is benign from that which is malicious. Envy is a feeling that arises from lack. We experience it when we see others with talents, skills, abilities or ‘stuff’ we do not have ourselves and everyone will have these feelings at some point or another in their lives. None of us are exempt. It’s what we do with those feelings when they arrive that makes the difference. Benign envy understands the feeling as an indicator of where we need to grow next. When we envy, it remains possible to look to see how the envied got that way. As one of my old therapists put it; “Take a look at what the person had to do to get to the point where you envy them. Then you can decide whether you are willing to make the same effort yourself. If you’re not, then be grateful that someone has so you can enjoy their expertise and, if you are willing to make a go of it, be grateful to them for showing where you need to grow.” Benign envy is open to envy’s cure: gratitude. I suspect it is this version of envy my Tory friend is referring to when she talks about Labour envying her party. Malicious envy, on the other hand, is a very different criatura altogether.

 

Malicious envy occurs when we see someone with something we believe we can never have. The sense of loss created in us by this realisation triggers a furious rage. Somewhere along the line, we decide that if we can’t have it, they can’t either and we launch an envious attack in order to destroy the ‘object’ that highlights our ‘loss’ (note the dehumanising that occurs here). We treat the envied as our enemy – even though all they are probably doing is getting on with their lives. The declaration of war comes from the envier long before the envied realises what is happening to them and the results are usually catastrophic. Envious attacks contain no mercy. To effectively destroy the quality we envy, we must destroy the human being who has this quality. To justify our actions, our total lack of mercy or compassion towards the envied and the bitter resentment of our envious attacks, we must reduce that whole person to someone despised. Our selfish self cannot permit them to exist in our world – we want them gone, removed, dead, obliterated. The very existence of the envied is offensive to us because they are reminders of our inadequacy. When such feelings run rampant through governments, we start to see genocide.

 

Is there a cure for this? I really don’t know – it’s a personal choice. Are we willing to acknowledge the appalling outcomes of our darkest feelings? Not everyone is, but if we’re willing to try then a good place to start is with our own experiences of being envied. We all have those too. We have all had experiences of being envied; where others take an unexplained but intense dislike to us and act on it. Remembering what that felt like is a route to having empathy for the object of our envious attack. When empathy finally arrives – which must include an acceptance of the darkest of our nastier emotions – envy shifts into benign mode where it can be therapeutically transformed into personal growth. However, if an envier refuses to learn and persists in such destructive behaviour, then their behaviour needs to be managed, usually by the police and courts, because uncontrolled envious attacks are, literally, crimes. There are no boundaries to a full-blown envious attack and people often die as a result. For those interested in these subjects, #MHChat is suggesting a causal link between envy and next week’s topic of #Bullying – why not join in!

 

There is one aspect of Envy Dynamic that is worthy of attention here. Those who have explored this in greater depth that I describe it thus: the relationship between envier and envied can be likened to a rope-bridge between two mountain peaks. Within the dynamic, the envier severs the bridge ropes on their mountain top but then blames the envied for the lack of bridge. It is the ultimate win/lose, where the envier ‘wins all’ and the envied ‘loses all’. This is why envious attacks are so destructive and it stems from profoundly deep level of selfishness that believes itself to be justified and our actions, justifiable. It is my own understanding of the deeper dynamics of envy that leave me despairing about my Tory friend.

 

On a personal level, my friend understands benign envy as a spur to personal growth but get her on the subject of money and, from my perspective, she espouses opinions that are very firmly based in malicious envy. From what I can understand (and I may be wrong), she believes that folk like me envy Tory wealth and what we really need is to learn how to get our own. Very little compassion exists for the human elements of this demand. If we don’t, then according to the Tory Party propaganda she uses, it becomes justifiable to inflict the casual stigma of skivers, scroungers and other personally destructive epithets to people like me in order to confirm our lack of any material worth to society. We become leeches to their material wealth and this must not be permitted. I suspect she regards me as the exception to this rule because I have stepped beyond her labelling and have become human to her. In doing so, I have surprised her because I don’t appear to envy those that have riches. She’s right. I don’t envy them at all. In fact, I look at their behaviour and find myself repulsed.

 

I have no problem with people making money. My problem resides with those, who I believe envy folk like me, for whom no amount of money is ever enough. When it spins out of control it looks like this. How does anyone need so much money? How many houses, islands, continents, planets, does one ego need in order to prove their ‘worth’? To me, this is a level of personal selfishness that knows no bounds and has no problem depriving countless others of their very real life needs – food, shelter and a valued place in society. There is no honour in stealing your ‘worth’ from the vulnerable, hungry, needy and destitute. Honour comes from what we can give to our community regardless of money. @Suey2y and @MentalHealthCop have honour because they give of themselves freely to the communities they serve. Even very wealthy people can have honour, as Joanne Rowling has already demonstrated by falling off the Forbes list by giving her wealth away to charity. In all these examples, the qualities of mercy and compassion are plain to the naked eye and they provide a sharp contrast to the merciless attitudes and actions of our Tory-led government.

 

In all things, I aim to be spiritual and I have learned this: where any form of Mercy and Compassion are absent, there evil dwells. Jesus – who lived the destitute’s life – teaches that we can serve Love or we can serve Money, but we can’t serve both. He is the one, so it is claimed, who said “The love of money is the root of all evil”. Each and every authentic Spirituality I am aware of teaches that true worth depends on the quality of the Spirit within each person, no matter who or where they are in the world. In Spiritual terms, how much money we have in the bank is irrelevant.  In fact, too much money has a corrosive impact upon the individual, because as their money grows so does their selfishness. Do I envy these rich people? Not a chance! My aspirations are rooted in my yearning to find acceptance and belonging in an inclusive community that recognises my value even as it sees my failings. If we have to use money, then let’s relegate it to its proper place – a simple means of energetic exchange within a healthy community. It is the same kind of exchange the planet shares freely with humanity and all other forms of life that dwell within Her. Only our narcissistic egos fail to see the value in this sharing and, like the tyrant Holdfast, seeks to gather it all to ourselves. But no individual ego is capable of experiencing this quality of sharing. Ego’s are too small, too limited, too selfish and, frequently, too lazy to make the effort to grow our Soul beyond the fascinations of self to the wonders of being part of a living planet. We learn these lessons when we dispense with our ego in favour of transcendence.

 

In reality, we are not separate from the planet we live in. We are an evolutionary miracle with, in my opinion, a far-too-high opinion of ourselves – especially in the West. The West’s Cult of Narcissism, however, severs us from this experience by destroying the rope bridge between self and soul by envious attacks upon anything that contains the Spirit of Life. Don’t believe me? Then it’s time you made the effort to research this yourself. Perhaps, in time, you may learn to be grateful for all those ‘valueless’ people who simply want a fairer distribution of this unearned and hoarded wealth. You see, when we understand community we realise that no single person is ever ‘more valuable’ than another and certainly not to the degree that current monetary wealth or corporate interests appear to be claiming. The endless destruction of people, habitats, environments and animal life, committed without mercy, bear all the hallmarks of an envious attack. I’m not interested in money for its own sake – God knows, money is finite because its influence ends with death. I’m interested in the kind of Spirit that will accompany me after death.

 

If, during life, I need to make use of money then what I seek is enough to meet my needs as a functioning and contributing adult member of my community; from people to work to cats. I, for one, need no more than that. In our present world, however, I take very strong issue with those who believe I should make do with less simply to satisfy their personal and misplaced narcissistic demands for something as ultimately meaningless as money. To them, I would say this:

 

I have not deprived you of anything. I don’t need to – you’ve done that all by yourself. If you envy my Spirit so much, why don’t you strive to find your own instead of seeking to destroy mine? And if you refuse the effort, who is lazy; you or me?  Discover your own capacity for mercy and compassion for all kinds of others instead of just you and yours! Learn the kind of humility you demand of me because, from where I stand, you don’t look humble at all! I may be no better than you but, beyond doubt, I am definitely no worse! Finally, if you want to fund the same level of Spirit I am exhibiting here, albeit imperfectly, then the end game will be to give away your money because you will no longer need it and the community can put it to better uses than you will ever find on your own.

 

If we must judge envy, then let’s judge the consequences rather than the feeling. If my assessment that current Tory Party policy is currently fuelled by malicious envy towards ‘outsiders’ has any basis in fact, then we ought to be able to know by looking at outcomes. Last night’s #ESAEndGame twitter storm – which trended as the UK’s No. 1 for a time –can provide all the evidence necessary. There are other examples: #EverydaySexism #CasualStigma #Racism #Bullying to name but a very few. When people suffer and die in such ways, the fingerprints of an envious attack are not hard to find, especially when accompanied by blaming, justification and mercilessness resentment. This dynamic appears at all levels; from government policy to, in my view, the selfish interests of pigeon-fanciers who have no problem killing their neighbour’s cats. Today, that last one is enough evidence to satisfy me.

 

Goodbye, my beautiful cat. I still love you, Jasper – you were my friend-in-need and I am grateful for all the time we did spend together.

 

As for my Tory friend, she will have to make up her own mind.

 

 

The Astrology of February 2013

Standard

This post is dedicated to all those people committed to change in our world.

February is the tipping point which will move us all forward.

Remember to be kind to each other while we do this!

The Progress of a Broken Heart

Standard

Source: Unknown

 

 

For those who don’t know, following my blog post on November 5th, I had a heart attack. I was admitted to hospital as an emergency because my bottom artery was blocked by a blood clot. The clot was cleared and a stent installed to keep it open. Apparently my other arteries were unaffected. Whilst I was released home a few days later, the clot affected one of the valves in my heart, causing blood to flow back into my lungs, resulting in a fluid build up there. This caused serious breathing difficulties which meant I needed to be readmitted to hospital for further treatment. This problem has been successfully treated with diuretics and I am presently at home again. For the record, I think there may be further problems that need tending to, given how I am feeling, but I don’t yet know what they are. I’ll be discussing these with the cardiac nurses during my hospital appointment next Tuesday as well as taking things very carefully between now and then.

 

The amount of personal support I’ve received during this time has completely blown me away. On a practical level, my immediate neighbours have enabled me to traverse this new environment without harm to my home. They’ve fed (and cleared up after) my cats, helped me with shopping and visited me in hospital – all volunteered freely and with good humour. Given that my criminal offence, nearly ten years ago, involved hostile neighbours I am fully aware of how my recent experiences could have resulted in a very different outcome. To say I am grateful for all these kindnesses and help is to put it very mildly, especially as my current neighbours are fully aware of my past. They tell me this no longer concerns them – their assessment is based upon their direct experience of me now. Whilst it may not seem much to them, their attitudes mean a very great deal to me. On one level, it means that I have finally come home after a long period of homelessness. Yet now, from my perspective, this is going to have to be a different kind of home at all levels.

 

Firstly, the ‘home’ of my own body needs to be transformed – I cannot live the way I was living before my heart attack. This is now a life-and-death issue. I need to take all the meds the doctors have prescribed to keep my heart functioning and my lungs clear. I need to stop smoking (not as easy as it first appears). I need to take exercise (and already have a delightful volunteer neighbour stepping forward to help me with this) and I need the time to do all this before I can return to work. I doubt any of the doctors involved with this form of rehabilitation would disagree with me. Yet this needs to be set in a social context.

 

At a social level, I can count myself extremely lucky that my heart attack occurred when it did. If I were living in Iran, I would be being sent home to die due to the lack of available medication to treat heart problems. Given the current situation of the NHS and the UK government’s insistence upon privatisation, the services I received may not be there in the future. For example, there seems to be a suggestion that free prescriptions for those on benefit are likely to become a thing of the past. Those sickness benefits available in the past are not going to be there in the future. My housing benefit is being reduced next month – were it not for the compassion of both my landlady and her agent, I might have been facing a house move now (another reason for me to be deeply grateful). At a governmental level, it would seem that there is far less interest in my recovery. In fact, I find it easy to believe that my government would prefer me dead, such is their determination to reduce the ‘costs’ of my living. So whilst my immediate community supports me to live, my country apparently wants me dead – and I am a minor case compared with those whose own ill-health is far worse than mine. Therefore, I am deeply grateful to learn that there are those who are enquiring whether UK government policies towards people like me are criminal or not. Even if my own ‘value’ fails to meet the ‘life’ criteria, I think these questions need asking if we are to retain any vestiges of being a civilised society.

 

 

One of the problems I have in trying to bring everyone up to date with how I am is the fragmented quality of my awareness now. I experience what happened to my heart on 5th November as the equivalent of a mega-earthquake that is continuing to produce aftershocks in my physical, emotional and psychological landscapes. The structures of my past have yet to be tested for safety. I am no longer certain of where I am going or who I am capable of becoming now, in this new landscape. Any moves I make at present have to be tentative because nothing is certain anymore.

 

What I can be certain of, however, is that the epicentre of my personal mega-quake occurred deep in the subject of women’s desistance. I have not gone back to read the blogs leading up to 5th November because I know they will be filled – both accurately and inaccurately – with the pain and distress of trying to find a way through the social walls of a systemic resistance to listening. These are old, familiar and well-trodden paths that I had to follow many times in prison. Then it wasn’t heart attacks that cut through the barriers to common humanity but my blood-pressure which could register 240/130 during such crises. My BP would keep on rising until I encountered someone who thought I might be worthy of life. By the time such encounters occurred, I had normally been transferred to Healthcare. My heartful mega-quake was no different.

 

Jules replied to my 5/11 blog. In her reply (which I will post here at some point), she met me as one human being to another, following what I had experienced as a prolonged, terrible and abandoning silence in the face of what I was saying. Reading her email sent me into shock. I suspect that it was the impact of this shock that caused the crack in my artery which, coupled with my blood’s attempt to heal the crack through clotting, led to my heart attack. It might sound as though I am blaming her but, believe me, I am not. The compassion contained in her reply meant, in my opinion, that I survived this breaking of my heart. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have lived to write this.

 

Nevertheless, what is clear to me now is that I cannot survive my own desistance without kindness, compassion and a mutual willingness to engage another’s point of view from their perspective. None of our perspectives are going to be perfect but without a conscious capacity for humanity and compassion, we are likely to be unintentionally murderous, regardless of whether it arises from an individual offender; from those engaged within the Criminal Justice system; or as commenters/observers. I’m probably not explaining myself very well here but this might help. As you will see, my post elicited one response which required moderation because it was a personal attack towards me. The respondent had problems understanding that not every offender is a thief, mugger or murderer; that if I have paid the full price society has demanded for my transgression, then I am no longer ‘fair-game’ to blame for all crime; and that, as a desister, I have a continuing social responsibility to contribute to the lawful betterment of my community. As an illustration of the point I was attempting to make, the comment itself was ‘perfect’; so, too, the moderation which implies that there comes a point where such prejudice and hate must cease if a society is to retain its claim to humanity.

 

I support my own viewpoint with the evidence of my willingness to die in order to bring this message home to those who are capable of hearing it. It is a form of experiential teaching/learning like no other for it shows us all how much suffering we demand or require, both of ourselves and in others, before we empower ourselves to say ‘Enough’. What is interesting here is that when we realise and act upon our ‘Enough’, we find ourselves behaving lawfully. Sometimes we may also realise that, in all possibility, our previous failures to act may render us liable, or vicariously liable, to the charge of crimes against humanity.

 

I don’t teach this lesson to make people feel bad about themselves – those who need that lesson cannot hear me at all. No – my lesson is to help those who can hear me to feel good about themselves instead.  Yes, these are terrible tales we are relating – they are enough to break a woman’s heart – but if we can hear them, we can change them as we change ourselves. It’s not about apportioning blame – there is too much of it now to even begin to know how to share it out. It’s about saying ‘Enough’! It’s about saying we will not add to this appalling situation through ignorance, denial or refusal to acknowledge reality but will find other, better, healthier, humane ways to be with each other. It’s about gently removing the weapons of attrition from the hands of the wilfully ignorant and placing that responsibility into the power of wiser, legal and socially responsible minds and hearts so we stop treating each other this way. This is how we learn to feel good about ourselves and what we do. Ultimately, it’s about discovering that, no matter what we may have done in the past, we can all be forgiven… but only when we learn to stop sinning. This is the primal message of desistance and it belongs to us all, offender and non-offender alike.

 

The impression I am getting, in the aftermath of my mega-quake heart-break, is that I am not required to teach this death-centred experiential lesson again. The message I am receiving, from my neighbours and my immediate community, is that I am valuable alive and living amongst them. This blog – as fragmented and perhaps confused as it may be – is an opportunity for me to say thank you to my neighbours and those amazing friends I have made within my social media. If my neighbours overwhelmed me with their kindness when I needed them the most, my astonishing friends have been sending tsunamis of love that render me without words and what feels like an inability to respond. Yet, love demands response.

 

Until my body feels aligned to whatever life-force I must now dwell within to live, I can make no wise decisions about which pathways I need to be following. So I contemplate the aftermath of my mega-heart-break in order to see what needs to be allowed to die back and what can be cultivated to grow in healthier ways.

 

From this immediate perspective, what I can be certain of is that social attrition, cruelty, an absence of mercy and increasing austerity will grow nothing of any worth and is more than likely to destroy any remaining personal creativity any of us might be able to access. Whilst my neighbours and friends offer me the realistic possibility of a continuing life worth living for the benefit of my community, I cannot ignore that my government appears to want me – and all those like me – dead.

 

How am I supposed to respond to such a requirement?

 

Indeed, how is any law-abiding citizen supposed to respond?

 

 

And, finally, my apologies if this is hard to follow – it is, nevertheless, a true reflection of what is occurring within as I wander through the post heart-attack landscape I find myself in.

 

 

Reblog: The Astrology of December 2012

Video

 

This is Carl’s big end of the Mayan Calendar video, sort of. December’s vibes place the individual in the midst of a profoundly transformative field. After all the crisis and drama of recent years, the responsibility for bringing change fall squarely on the shoulders of individuals, who must, now, take responsibility for wrestling the world around them into more acceptable shape.

This will be a more complicated process than you might think,because individuals themselves are the focus of profound and powerful transformative energies. People will be working toward a greater understanding of who they are and what they really want, even as they try to transform the world they find themselves in.

The beginning of a lengthy and strenuous process.

A more polished, written version of this analysis will be available on Carl’s blog on or around December 1st. The link to Carl’s blog is on my blogroll.

“Shattering!” – A Personal Experience of #PTSD

Standard

 

Professional advice regarding self-reflection

When you read the following, it is worth remembering that you are listening to my emotional past. Because our human psychic unconscious is vastly opportunistic when faced with an opening to unfinished business, many of my PTSD flashbacks relate to prison memories. Whilst this is connected to the present, the emotional impact still contains the shock of not just one, but many traumas. This shock, if experienced by the reader with whatever emotional triggers are felt as a result, is what is meant by projective identification. However, I am merely being myself during a PTSD episode – I’m having enough problems of my own navigating this hurricane of feeling – I don’t have time to be worried about manipulating you. Therefore, whatever is triggered has to belong to you, not me.

This is useful information for women’s desistance – please make a note of it.

The more you know about your own desistance trigger points the more you will begin to grasp where I am coming from.

 

 

As I’ve already indicated to Richard (*waves*), I am still working through the PTSD affect which I realise now, was mainly triggered by a problem I had at home with npower. My problem with npower is highly political and takes me right to the core of the problem I have with God/Queen, but hasn’t quite yet fully affected ‘my Country’. I have yet to be able to bring this to a more rational closure which means I am more susceptible to triggers that, at better times, might simply wash over instead of through me as they are now.

 

There have been a variety of triggers too – all of them related to the issue of integrity in public service and the standards we now seem to have to adhere simply to be kind and respectful human beings. But we do it. The Hurricane Sandy Storify – created by @PrinceOfRazors, himself a Katrina survivor – has integrity. It is the living story of people who, via the Occupy Movement, know how to respond to disaster from the bones of their humanity. I found this energy in prison. People from whom everything had been taken still finding that they had something to give.

 

When I remember the trauma, I am also required to report how this tragedy is balanced. My experience was validated by the prison officers who, when it got truly awful, talked me back from the edge. I was a very difficult prisoner to deal with if the officer wasn’t able to be human. What it meant, especially when I was in good hands, was that I got to meet some really amazing human beings and the way they talked me back was by telling me about themselves. I am a very easy person to talk to, or so I’ve been told. I got to hear stories about wolves, bears and helicopters in the wilds of Canada; or listen to the sorrows of grief from bereaved staff. These were the ones who understood that my rage was at the system and never personal – sometimes I got the sense that I might simply have been voicing how they were feeling themselves. I remember the small kindnesses and intelligent conversations whilst we went through the motions of the system because neither of us had any choice in the matter. I remember the astonishment on some officer’s faces when I treated them with respect and the way they always treated me fairly (but without unearned favour) as a result. They made my time in prison easier and I was grateful then and I still am now. These memories are the best human beings can be in the worst of times.

 

The officers and staff who gather in the above paragraph – and you know who you are – healed me on more than one occasion and I healed them in return. As a shaman, I can remove the harmful impacts of dealing with direct abuse from others – in my last prison, Low Newton, staff honoured me by letting me take all that crap off them. I did it for them – that kind of abuse has a corrosive power that eats away at our self-esteem. I did it for the wing or work area – because the energy of an off-balance officer affects everyone. A balanced wing has a lot of humour and prisoners can get things done – it’s a women’s wing, remember! There’s cleaning, ironing, washing, cooking, writing letters, hanging out and work. An off-balance wing is a nightmare.

 

Memory-release *In the segregation unit in New Hall, there were a couple of night staff who spent their duty healing all the wounds created by day. A softly-spoken woman who could spend hours talking down highly-provoked prisoners by, in my case, simply telling me that she saw the same things I was seeing; or the ex-miner who knew what it was to need a tab.*

 

When I remember these things, I remember the route out of darkness. At some point in any confrontation I may have had with the system – and I fought every step of the way through the proper procedures (being the good shop steward that I am) – I ‘won’ by bring transferred out of New Hall to Durham, and then subsequently transferred out of Durham to Low Newton. I owe far more than four Koestler Awards and a very great deal to be grateful for when it comes to HMP Low Newton. I notice that, as a prison, it scores as zero on prisoner suicides which isn’t quite the whole truth. There has been one suicide at the prison – I was there at the time and the Governor in Charge visited every prisoner personally. Perhaps the lass who died was on remand and not convicted, which is why she doesn’t show up in the statistics. Her death meant that every cell of its kind was changed to prevent further successful suicides.

 

*2004 memory of Ray, in F-Wing HMP Durham exercise yard, talking about creating a memorial for all our lost lives of F Wing – anyone who knows me from those days will know exactly who I am talking about*

 

The thing about Low Newton is that once officers and staff get the hang of working with women prisoners, they can ‘sense’ when a woman is in danger. This scale is measured by the near-misses Low Newton has experienced – I know exactly how near some of them have been. When that happens – especially if the woman is, in her own way, trying to desist – a shock wave goes through the prison. This is because officers and staff genuinely care about and are interested in the women as far as they are allowed to be by either system or individual. I would never have achieved Koestler Awards at New Hall or Durham. But after my recall to prison, Low Newton staff chivvied me into four of them by insisting on giving me resources I felt guilty for not using (bastards). Then they created a display along the main corridor which began with an exhibition of my paintings and was followed with commissioned Equality displays on subjects like Black History month, which was given a nod of respect for “Not bad for a white” by my beautiful black sisters. I remember each of you very well indeed and still treasure our experiences together in my memory. The compliment I value most, however, came unprompted from a highly disciplined officer and related to the display I had prepared on the Holocaust. It seemed that some of my posters had given officers an opportunity to educate prisoners about history. Not only had I got the right approach to open minds, I had also honoured the validity and integrity of those who died, civilian or service. Somehow, I had enabled a creative meeting place between prisoners and staff.

 

What we created was a cycle of validation.

 

I remember the friends I made among the prisoners. The ones who thought I was nuts. And the ones who would never dare do what I sometimes did, but were breathtakingly kind with their gratitude. I remember every hug, every tear shed, every tab and precious teaspoon of coffee shared. You know who you are as well. I remember stories too painful to share or too dreadful to relate here. This is just the beginning and the worst are forming a queue along the landing. These will be my prisoner stories.

 

The one I will tell now is of my exquisitely beautiful Muslim friend; an Egyptian woman with the long-necked Nubian look of Nefertiti – when she bound her hair, she was a dead-ringer for the Egyptian Queen. She was the one subjected to the most appalling racial and religious abuse on our landing by a treacherous old lag (a dead ringer for the ugly witch in fairy tales – a view that may be shared amongst staff as well). What was surprising was not the prisoner – she was no surprise at all – but the prison’s lack of response. My friend has to endure this for days and it had an awful impact upon her. On a spiritual level, I was once able to silence the verbal ordure with this – The Call To Prayer – and on a human level, I could be her friend and make sure that she knew she wasn’t alone. Between us and our faith, we were able to turn it around. Although we have lost touch, I hope my Egyptian friend, already traumatised through gender mutilation (she will not mind my speaking of this), understands how much I still love her. *There’s a great big hug for you tucked into this message, Nurat, wherever you are*

 

And then who’s next in this PTSD timeline trailing out along the prison wing at Durham? Hello TJ.

 

TJ is one of the loveliest souls I have ever met *”No – I haven’t forgotten you, shazza!” See, I told you they were queuing!* and one of the most honest. TJ is a local lass who could, when I knew her, only cope with life if she took the painkiller heroin. I asked her once if she could envision a life without it and she said ‘No’. In my opinion, she gave a fair answer to the life she was being forced to live. Whilst she may have given staff the run-around, TJ was always immaculate in her dealings with me. That – in my opinion – is a measure of potential desistance.

 

As for my Egyptian friend, she is already a model of desistance. During that prolonged racial abuse to which she was subjected – and which numerous prisoners, from two separate wings, complained about both during and afterwards – she never once retaliated. If she is still in prison and has not been released, she is a Corston woman.

 

And then there is shazza who, along with a member of staff at HMP Durham, was subject to predicted (by both prisoners and staff) violence causing actual bodily harm to both. I’m trusting she won’t be in prison anymore because she finally met the right woman. But the pair of them might be interested in the continuing potential of desistance (if I can find them –they are local (Durham)).

 

I carry the stories of everyone I ever met in prison, including the prisoner, whose name I now forget (a failing of mine, I’m afraid), who asked for her name to be included in the dedication of any book I wrote.

 

This how big my Prison PTSD reaches. I’m grateful for prison because it showed me, very clearly, what happens when the rules are broken. It also showed me that, sometimes, Governors and Governments – in all their forms – break these rules with malice aforethought. It is this malice that causes the trauma wound. When the wound is untreated, we get PTSD.

 

The only way to heal PTSD is with the truth. Sometimes we betray ourselves. Sometimes we are the betrayed. PTSD – the disorder, not the shock – is caused by a systemic refusal to acknowledge AND ACT upon the validity of authentic objections to abuse; a callous disregard for the existence, let alone the life of another.

 

Evidence? The governor of the Segregation Unit at New Hall who told me, to my face during a suicidal crisis, that my death would make no difference to him. Or the lazy officer on that unit who ‘lost’ my plastic knife? His behaviour resulted in my cell-spin and strip-search immediately following a 20:52 review – great way to treat a prisoner in segregation with an existing suicidal ideation. I gave every single officer absolute hell for his behaviour after that. I made sure they counted my plastic cutlery out on each and every occasion. That man also left his barbeque in the Seg’s office. I know that because I got on extremely well with the officer who told him to clear it out. So – a prisoner’s query here – with all that security, how the fuck did that man get his barbeque into that office. I was banged up in the cell opposite the office – I heard every word!

 

The SO in charge of the Segregation Unit in New Hall is one of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. The Unit’s governor – who once thought he could legislate my ability to love in a 20:52 review (I kid you not) – was a henchman for the Prince of Darkness.  The Prince of Darkness was HMP New Hall’s Area Manager – the man, who as prison governor, was named and implicated in the death of Zahid Murbarak at Feltham YOI. It was the “worry-wart” SO who went through the experience of a Catch-22 with me because he thought I was taking the piss. He learned something extremely important along the way because, forever after, he was always respectful and as kind as he was permitted to be within the rules of the unit. There are no rules that will ever confine how much gratitude I feel for that man… just for being willing to learn. When he ‘got it’, things really changed for the better for prisoners on that unit. Those with mental ill-health benefited from being there and those on C&C found it harder to misbehave. The changes that SO ordered – in full and proper accordance with rules, PSO’s, etc – and with the full support of the Governor in Charge ( a most excellent woman) included the level of legal kindness required by prison rules etc that had previously been denied. By the time I left, I don’t believe staff on that Unit would have got away with treating a prisoner the way I was treated at the outset.

 

But I’m not quite ready to tell that story yet.