"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Give Peace a Chance on October 8th

Trying to collect my thoughts after travelling from the South West of England to the South East yesterday, and also after collecting all the dirty washing from a three week family holiday, I have spent longer trying to catch up with emails, tweets and facebook messages than maybe I should today. But an important email was from the http://antiwarassembly.org/* asking for pledges to attend their Mass Assembly at Trafalgar Square on Saturday 8 October 2011, 12 noon.

Other Half and I were glad to add our pledges to those of many of our friends and political comrades including Roy Bailey, Tony Benn, Billy Bragg, John McDonnell, Len McCluskey, Owen Jones ..... the list goes on and it is easier for you all to visit the website and pledge your own attendence! The pledge we signed:

I pledge that if British Troops are still in Afghanistan on the tenth anniversary of the invasion I will join the mass assembly in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 8 October to make it clear to the government that they must not continue this brutal and pointless war in defiance of the will of the people.

Those pledging were also asked if they wished to add their own reasons for wishing to attending the assembly. My unoriginal contribution is:

I will be there because all my life I have wanted to live in a peaceful world. I was born in 1950, with the shadow of World War 2 hanging over my family. As a teenager in the 1960s I lived in fear of the bomb and joined CND. No decade since has been peaceful and I wish for my grandchildren to live without the terror hanging over them that has followed our lives. Cessation of the illegal action in Afghanistan will be a step toward this.

Please visit the website and if you cannot attend send a message of support.

*The Antiwar Mass Assembly has been called by Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and British Muslim Initiative.
Photograph courtesy of the website http://antiwarassembly.org/

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Dongles and Days Out

We are enjoying 'down time' in Somerset and until yesterday had little or no internet access. Also very little time to watch TV news or listen to radio news although the events in Tripoli have had us watching the BBC 24 hours news channel whenever we have spent some time in our cliff top home. The 'dongle' has not been a success but now we have managed to buy a subscription to a site and get access.

Unable to access twitter & facebook has been the worst part of the imposed internet silence. I realise that I get most of my news from twitter, from trusted 'sources' whose links I follow - and although I could occasionally access twitter on my 'phone I could not open the links - bah humbug! Facebook silence has meant I could not follow the progress of a poorly relative plus I have been down on both my home gossip and - along with the loss of twitter - my political campaigning!

But what more than makes up for all this is being with family and friends and the wonderful views from my cliff top. It really is idyllic here overlooking the Bristol Channel and on a clear day like today looking deep into the Land of my Father.... And other days out in the area provide other outstanding views.

Meanwhile, in breaking holiday news, Eldest Grandson [aged 6years] won the junior section of 'Hat for a Song' in a beautifully crafted hat made by Aunty, representing 'Ice, Ice Baby' - but his rendition of the song surely 'capped' his win. Meanwhile my 'Give Peas [Peace] a Chance' whilst not actually winning did stump the audience.....

Love to you all from all of us in Somerset!

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Give Peas a Chance

Pretty ironic that my last blog on Saturday afternoon should be entitled 'Blessed are the Peacemakers' considering the events since last Saturday evening. Like many others I have watched horrified as what started as a peaceful demonstration in Tottenham became the 'justification' for many to join in mob disorder and criminal behaviour across the country, starting in London and now spread to many big towns and cities.

The peaceful demonstration was completely understandable. As someone who has taken part in very many peaceful protests - often for peace! - I would plead that no-one should ever suggest that the subsequent mob behaviour from Saturday onwards will become a reason for disallowing future peaceful protests. But on this occasion why did this events turn so quickly into such frightening, mindless pandemonium?

I have many friends and family in the London areas alone that were very near to some of the areas that were in trouble. Really worrying. Let's make it clear - the sort of violence most of us watched on our TV screens cannot be excused. There may be 'reasons' why [mostly young] people were acting this way, but they are not 'excuses'. Just as when David Cameron said:

'Things got out of hand & we'd been drinking. We smashed the place up & Boris set fire to the toilets.' 1986 on the Bullingdon Club.

that was the reason for the behaviour, not the excuse. There cannot be justification for anti-social behaviour of any sort, whatever one's class and status in society and appropriate punishment should be meted out. [I am not being clever by dragging David Cameron into the fray - just pointing out that these sort of idiotic happenings - usually fueled by drink and/or drugs - can happen anywhere, anytime]

But what should be asked in the current circumstances is why since the weekend these criminals across the country have felt that they wanted to attack and destroy what was often their own community? Do they not feel that this is their own community? Have they no sense of 'ownership', no sense of a place in or committment to society - could it be because they have after all been brought up since Maggie T made her famous 'there is no such thing as society' remark? Does 'society' really not exist now? Oh I really do hope that is not how these people think.

Maybe some of the 'reasons' trotted out by sociologists, psychologists, commentators are right, maybe some are wrong, maybe some still to be aired will provide better answers - but whatever else we do we must all understand that saying 'something must be done' is not enough. There is such a thing as society - David Cameron and his vaunted 'Big Society' is a country mile away from what should be the real thing. Our politicians need to go back and look at its infra-structure. They must realise that until it doesn't matter where each citizen lives, until all citizens have equality in all things like access to free education, medical services, protection by the law [so that 13 year olds in inner cities do not feel it necessary to carry a knife for protection, for goodness sake], access to all manner of social services [to name a few: libraries; marriage guidance centres; youth clubs; welfare clinics] etc etc and the tax system is fair and big companies are not legally avoiding paying tax in the country in which they made big profits maybe, just maybe we are all sitting on a tinder box that could ignite again.

My facebook good night message last night was - broadly - to say that I hope peace would break out over night. A Beloved One replied 'Give peas a chance' - a lively pun on the wonderful John Lennon composition. So the blog title is what it is and the photo above is of the Amersham viaduct over the M25 under which we often drive when coming toward London. It always cheers me up.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Today's blog is an extended and amended comment which I made in a discussion on another blog site. Bit lazy? Maybe but it is all part of my 'campaign' for peace and tolerance [and boy! do people get angry with me when I talk about peace...]

The thread on the other blog arose from a newspaper story earlier this week about a hospital midwife who refused to wear scrub trousers to work, as she said it was at variance to the teachings in her particular form of Christianity.

To me the whole essence of the story boiled down to whether or not the employer had made it clear at the original employment interview that there was an enforcable rule about what needed to be worn where in the hospital. Granted in the Daily Fail article the words 'Muslims are allowed to wear...' appeared, but this is par for the course, and again it was not entirely clear where in the hospital this was allowed.

Anyway, the original matter has been resolved, one hopes with satisfaction on both sides. But the blog discussion continues and what really bothers me were some of the vitrolic and quite spiteful remarks that kept recurring on the comments thread - both for and against the midwife's views. Pleas for tolerance and mitigation were brushed aside and quite 'off topic' obvious 'hobby horse' rants introduced.

One commentator equated Christians with Right wing activists. He obviously hasn't read my blog lately! The midwife had quoted Deuteronomy 22:5 to support her refusal to wear trousers, and another commentator asked why we/she were not therefore supporting Deuteronomy 22:20-22: to stone unchaste damsels and adulterers as the Islamacists [sic] want to? [And ended a sentence with a preposition!!!!]

My reply went something like this:
We could all go on throwing Biblical quotes and references to each other to prove/disprove whatever we wanted. The above reference only proves that in this quote it was thought a father should feel himself/be made to feel himself responsible for the actions of his daughter before she is stoned to death for her promiscuity.

A few of my thoughts on this [and these are my personal thoughts although I happen to be a Christian so please don't attack the whole history of religion, Christianity or otherwise, just because you may disagree with me]:

1. I am really glad I didn't live in these times, because when this was written it was obviously a reflection of the contemporary times of the writer.
2. Other cultures do still regard promiscuity/adultery in women as a very serious crime. Again I am very glad I live in the UK in the 21st century - not for me, I am too old [!] but for my sisterhood!
3. As has been the subject of many comments on here, whatever version of the Bible one reads, there are many translations so we can never be sure that what we are reading is what the writer intended - whether we agree with what we are reading or not.
4. No one person wrote the Bible. It is rather like a newspaper today - we may like one article by one journo but not one by another. In fact the word 'gospel' means 'good news' [is that what our newspapers supply today?!] - and were written after the events described by four different 'authors'. Therefore Matthew's view of the Beatitudes, say, might and do differ from Luke's account.

Please allow that others may have a different view of religion to you and don't trash their views. I can accept other views [obviously I think I am right - otherwise I wouldn't be thinking this way!] but we can all live peacefully together if we are all tolerant. Sadly too many of any persuasion [religious or otherwise] feel that force is the only way to win an argument. So my favourite Beatitude is:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God

and if you don't want to admit the existance of God replace it with 'Man', or 'Earth' or 'Nature' or whatever.

And as my final, final, words on this thread I will quote someone much wiser than me, H.G. Wells a fervent atheist, in a note to G.K. Chesterton a fervant Roman Catholic:
"..... when H.G. Wells was seriously ill, he wrote Chesterton and said, "If after all my Atheology turns out wrong and your Theology right I feel I shall always be able to pass into Heaven (if I want to) as a friend of G.K.C.'s. Bless you."

To this Chesterton replied, "If I turn out to be right, you will triumph, not by being a friend of mine, but by being a friend of Man, by having done a thousand things for men like me in every way from imagination to criticism......"

[with thanks to http://www.tentmaker.org/biographies/chesterton.htm for this quote]

And as a final piece of mischief the photograph above is of H.G.Wells, the fervent atheist who never changed his mind - well not on this side of life anyway!