One Christian’s Confession

Left SideRight Side

Sometimes. For better or for Worse. For no specific reason, you just have to try and put down into words on something which will not let you rest. You know you may be risking censure, incredulity, dismissiveness, even mockery. You don’t care though. Whatever it is that drives you to write will not let you rest until the jumble of thoughts are put out there into some attempt at coherence. You don’t even expect to put A Case that will win any sort of approval. You just have to write.  Irrespective.

Back about…..several months ago I was going to write one of my ‘Why I Am A Christian’ posts. I was going to take the tack on the universe is filled with wonder and quote all sorts of stats, then tie those up with philosophical lite musings on existence, statements on tolerance and wrap it all up with a conclusion that this how I see it. There were drafts, re-writes and ‘what were you thinking bout when you wrote that!’ interludes (several). As Christmas approached determination beckoned to Get This Done.

And then Events intruded, or maybe challenged, or perhaps just came along in some kind of synchronicity with a Cosmic intention to drive out any complacency or even flippancy masking as ironic humour, because dear reader….that….was…not…going…to…work! Not now. As if it ever should in this world. Nothing like Christmas run-up to bring the arguments / challenges for and against all into sharp relief. I’ll explain.

Local (ie UK) news in December:

Channel Isle- Jersey 8 retired folk killed in an explosion at their small, sedate apartment block.

West Midlands – 4 small boys died when the ice on a frozen lake gave way

Manchester – Woman knocked down and killed when struck by a police car perusing a stolen vehicle.

Christmas Eve – One killed, three injured in a shooting at a pub in Wallesey (Near Liverpool)- A national news event in the UK.

At the night. One killed when their car struck by a vehicle pursued by police- London area. Two died when their car went into the sea at a harbour, near Swansea.

Those are the ones I can recall in the news. I may have missed others. That does not count the accidents, sudden deaths and serious illness diagnosis (I can count three in my personal circle). OK, maybe it is possible to be compassionate and fatalistic and philosophical in one’s own comfy bubble. But four young lads on ice? How does anyone justify that in the Cosmic Scheme? Dare you use The Folly That Are Humanity’s Errors excuse in that case??? And do not try and tell me that such heart-breaking events are all part of God’s Plan. I am simply not buying into such a Detached or at the other side Complacent view. Not for the sake of the children, their families, friends, neighbours, rescue service crews and so on. Or in those other cases.

I can circumnavigate the issues on Wars, Catastrophic Accidents, Damage to Humanity through Natural Events, even diseases. I can fill pages laying the blame at the door of Humanity itself for most things on the basis that this was a world gifted to us and we have the free-will and it is we who are screwing up. You call that Inflexible?. Dear reader I can, on an internally stormy day bring us all into the cycle of blame, citing politics, economics, social trends to name but a few no problem. Don’t blame God. Don’t say it proves there is no God. Don’t try and shift the blame. Don’t try and wriggle out with the ‘There Is No Free Will’ get out clause. I can chew them all up. And point the finger back at We The People.

But kids falling through ice, when playing? Folk mown down by speeding cars? Exploding residencies? How do those random, tragic, spirit breaking events fit in? My dear wife who was brought up in all sincerity with the notion of a Guardian Angel is now very scathing on the topic. As I said earlier The All Part of God’s Plan gets no room with me, and pity help anyone who tries to even suggest to me such events are judgements; if that were the case there should be a whole lot of folk spontaneously dropping down dead right now.

So, NO. NO I can’t explain, I can’t justify. Probably some might try and suggest, it’s all to do with degrees of scale. Dozens, Hundreds die and it’s just ‘news’. If it’s smaller numbers and children, it hurts. Some will analyse the various Human responses. That’s fair enough on the Human Secular Scale and folk will accept that. However if I try and quote, say Luke 12 6-7….

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Then am I not risking getting a very hollow laugh in response? Indeed there are many theological and honest faith-based answers there. The trouble is, how do you use them when innocent folk die? How do you convince folk that your faith is based on something? And dare you say them to the grieving, in their raw unimaginable anguish?

At this stage in such a post it would be traditional for me either to. (A) Offer up a confession that my faith has evaporated and I can no longer belief (B) Slog on with some convoluted explanation which might relate to folk of faith but no one else (C) Go Cosmic. Link Life with the Rest of the Universe and degrees of scale and lose everyone irrespective of beliefs after the fourth sentence when the readers give out in one big collective….. UH?

OK. So none of the above will have a universal, ‘popular’ appeal. Thus I have to be starkly honest about this issue of God, Faith and Tragedy.

I…Do not…Know. I have no answer for you.
I have my Faith.
You know how that works? You have your ‘Something’, be that Theistic, Atheistic, Spiritual, Political, Social, Cosmological or a mix of all. You have your ‘Family’ be that by Blood, Societal or Friendship (wide labels). You have your…‘Something’. You know there are flaws, you know some of it / them drive you crazy, test your limits and yet you are still drawn back there…. Just because.
So that’s what I have.

Without sentiment though. I’m sure I could quote a biblical quote to cover that, but right now I’m not the one to use such, on ‘paper’. You have to be careful of the Written Word, it does not always convey meaning too well. No, I’m just one person with a set of beliefs I hold to, ones which don’t make me better than someone with another set. I hold to my beliefs.
I just question some of the teachings my fellow believers bring to the debates.

And I have no theistic answers why in the proverbial Scheme of Things little boys playing on one winter’s day drowned in an icy waters.

Maybe there are none.

That’s the problem with Faith. It’s not a comfort blanket.

It’s a…

Your turn. You fill in the blank as you see it.

Advertisement

Musings on Music. Or. Pronouncements on People and Music.

Music

Music has been a part of my life for a number of years. Thus follows observations learnt during that journey.

The music which is discovered in your youth leaves many lasting impressions. Amongst these can arise the abiding notion that the music you discovered then is the only one of true value and that anything after is pale, manufactured and over-hyped. It is difficult to shift this belief. I look back to the 1960s with great fondness. A time remembered as rich in memories of innovations, vibrancy and colour. The charts seemed alive with gems. LPs & EPs opened up new worlds of excitement. When you are young and usually short of experience this feeling is common. You want to be seen different and ‘wise’ to the ‘new world’. Later years will shave away that optimism, but Music lives on in your head, heart and soul. The opening chords hit you, and you are ‘Back There’. Not that there were not some money-grabbing atrocities, puerile knock-offs, snobbish indulgences or ones that now cause a ‘What was I thinking of,’ wince. Of course, be honest, that is how ‘You’ or I think of them. (I have a whole collection of incendiary opinions from the 1960s & 70s I keep locked up in a bunker in the back of my mind; I don’t mind infuriating the public at large I just don’t want to upset some good friends who might hold those songs dear.)

A brief journey into You Tube comments sections will find the same observations for every decade (or half-decade) since, along with that lamentation about the offering of subsequent eras. And we’re all guilty at some stage of indulging in this. This dyspepsia can often be put down to the mood one is in at the time. Over-blown nostalgia. Simple grumpiness. Or you heard something current which you dislike but can’t get the thing out of your head.

Therefore although the words and the melodies of the celebrations, laments or dismay differ, the theme carries on. Music eternally reaches down into our deepest parts and brings forth emotions, across the whole spectrum even into the seemingly irrational devotion or dislike of the song. Music knows no boundaries, it defies all your other norms. Take these examples: The ‘right’ song and the most sober person is suddenly in their mind ‘there’ in the mosh pit, even living it out with a few good friends in private. They are conducting the orchestra in a soaring classic work. Playing a country ‘air’ guitar and lamenting lost love. And all the myriad styles (pick up your hair brush or air guitar and let rip no one is looking) .


Yes there are terrible songs, to you and me anyway, there are styles which grate you, and me. There are purveyors and artists we do not care for. There are songs we thought we still loved, but memories are mischievous pixies and when we actually listen to them again, we realise we only have the memories of how the music sounded ‘then’.

Know this though and know it well. There are no bad eras. We, of whichever generation do not have the right to judge what is coming out of another era. There are aspects and trends we can voice comments, even concerns about, as long as we don’t bring  White Privileged Tailored Religion, or My Excuse To Be Vile Because of My… to the debate. We do not have to be part of everything, we should not try. Our individual complex composite characters* will not fit into everything, anyhow and anyway. We can say but one thing using whatever vernacular fits us. With reference to my 1960s youth I chose.

‘Sorry man. This an’t my scene man. And that’s the bag I’m in. You keep on keeping on though,’

*individual complex composite characters – ICCCs- Remember you read it here first……No copyright applies……

 

Comes A Time… (The Social Media Computer Programmers Had It Coming). Musings on Shortcomings.

When I Want Your Help….

 

I was going to address another topic then on my ‘page’ was this insipidly coloured phrase ‘What is the one thing you would change about yourself?’. Were it not for the unhappy experiences of one of my good friends ‘Scottie’ at Scottie’s Playtime  I would have been having a WTE (What The Earth- THE polite version- We must strive to keep an All Ages profile) interlude. But apparently, according to one of those hapless souls who work under the burden of being termed a ‘Happiness Engineer’, and I quote:

“The idea behind the feature was to help people with inspiration for writing blog posts”

To be brief, the day I need help from any WP programme to write my blogs is the day I know I have nothing left to say, and thus will shut down said blogs and watch Netflix, negotiate with the garden and plants on how they want things done, and playing board games (military and RPG).  

This is also an insult to the blogging community in general as someone in WP has assumed that there are hordes of well-meaning folk who want to have a blog but have not the wit to write anything and need to be guided into various topics. If ‘What is the one thing you would change about yourself?’. is an example this tactic is as much use as a paper tissue party hat in a rainstorm. Bloggers and readers of blogs know it is a competitive world out in the Planet Blog and you had better come up with something original or catching, and not the invitation to an existentialist musing which has already been written from all directions, serious, and comical. 

Or maybe on reflection I am being a bit too harsh, perhaps there is inspiration from these unwelcome, variable, inane comments. But maybe the folk at WP do not want to read the results.

Wait. I am not done yet 

If the previous incident was not incendiary enough to send most respectable writers and bloggers reaching for allegorical pitchforks and burning brands, then as we all know there is vast range of combustible cyber material on there. Consider this one which has made itself known to a vast number of users…

Something Went Wrong
If you have not yet encountered it, then steel yourself.

There you are trying to access something, or are half way through something when all goes down and you get this message. No indication as to what went wrong, no hint as to the user, other than to ‘try again’ you are left there devoid of assistance or direction, quite aware ‘something went wrong’ Once you have calmed down and spared your innocent machine from a ruinous demise, it is time to muse on the business. Here we are in the 21st century on the cusp of quantum mechanics and physics being any everyday tool in computer work, and yet when there is an error all that the progammers can come up with is ‘That Something Went Wrong’. They have created these systems, evolved them, and yet obviously do not have the control we expect. We are left to conclude that the age of incomprehensible computer speak with numbers obscure abbreviations and a proliferation of full stops when there is a problem has gone. In their rush to supply speed and a galactic number of apps, programmers have lost control, and we are left with…

‘Something Went Wrong’

I cringe, shudder and weep at the thought of this message being used to the more physical aspects of the world, somebody, somewhere looks at the damage, shrugs and says ‘Something Went Wrong’

I conclude this, rather satisfied that I did not resort to virulent sarcasm, and very, very bad words; let me not be tempted to push my luck.

For there is worse out there.

In the Name of Merciful Gods or Reason. Or What-Have-You.

I do not know if you have encountered this one. It may be a quirk of Microsoft Edge alone. However; there you are typing out a familiar address or clicking onto a favourite and suddenly up pops an insipidly coloured page with a message that start with ‘Hmmm….’, I have never absorbed the details beyond that because an incandescent red mist descends. I am faced with a failure in the communications network and am given a message with ‘Hmmm.’ suggesting the problem is nothing to do with anyone at Microsoft, it is something I have done wrong and they are treating me with the gentle distain of a visiting uncle looking over a child’s shoulder at their homework. (unless that is computer homework, it which the uncle had best stay out of it)

I would suggest that the person or persons who thought up this one have never had to deal face to face with an irate member of the public. I would venture to suggest further that if they did treat a member of the public like this and were assaulted, then in the subsequent legal proceedings that despite the best efforts of any Microsoft Legal team the judge and jury would look leniently upon the said member of the public, even to the extent of awarding them damages.

I would suggest for the long-term safety and well being of whoever these remote folk might be they should consider replacing ‘Hmmm.’ with ‘Sorry’ for I am sure Micrsoft lose a number of customers this way (this is a restrained comment).

Conclusion  

Anyone who works in a specialist field (and these days it would seem most of us), will be swift to approach criticism on our task with one variation or another on the lines of ‘Yes. But what the public don’t realise….’ .And I daresay computer folk have whole libraries of responses. However, and there always is an However. Computers invade all aspects of our lives in work, leisure, well-being and so forth. Thus saying.. ‘Yes but…

Guys, it does not cut it….

Do better.

Finally, for the next time I get one of these irritants from you I shall restrict my responses to a mature and seasonally gentrified Big Raspberry

Some Musings Inspired by…. Not Too Sure What

plato

Despite the fact that there is a risk a lot of the old seasonal joy for one reason or another has been sucked out. It is still a season to be Quirky

And since it is supposed to be religiously inclined season

Some religiously inclined or inspired musings

Is the current pre-pre presidential nomination spat between ex-occupant of the Whitehouse Trump and Govenor of Florida De Santis with Trump’s threat to form of third party and thus tear apart the Republican Party God’s way of saying to the rest of us ‘Hey guys. I’ve got this covered,’?

There again

Considering the proliferation of popularity and adherence to one of possibly one of the most idiotic beliefs ie Qanon. Is it possible that down in Hell Satan is saying to his devils and demons ‘Hey guys. Don’t fret none. I’ve got this covered,?

And yet

Evidence of God’s Unfathomable Love is the fact that we are still around. Although don’t get too complacent, there’s some unsettling evidence in the Old Testament that like all parents, His patience is not infinite. (Sobering, Wry Humour or Just Another Christain Sounding OFF? I dunno, you decide – Meanwhile all challenges to my personal faith will be explained in a post coming here, sometime before 25th December)

About that previous one. Here are some thoughts on perspective.

Earth- 4 billion years old. Life 3.5 billion (about). Humanity (sort of) about 1 million- tops. Current estimated life expectancy of Planet Earth about 7.5 – 8.0 billion years. Even if we make it to another million, that’s only 0.00025 of the whole time span. Be humble people.

Gee- That’s a BIG universe. (Latest estimate 90 billion light years and counting). Gosh- Are quarks that small. (43 billion-billionths of a centimetre).

Put those those two together and on a cosmological scale and you’ll know how a quark feels. Like I said, be humble people.

Ok, I’m done for today

Concerning The Inconsistencies of Social Media Algorithms

Red warning content disclaimer tv show background design.

A responsible heading when dealing with controversial topics.

A good friend of mine (whose name is withheld to avoid them having to suffer further censure) when producing a politically themed post on a social media platform suggested certain politicians and pundits of strong and controversial views might have their perceptions improved by a bracing dive into a large natural body of water,

Jump in a lake 2

no doubt working on the basis that such a refreshing immersion would clear away their ill-humours, latent dyspepsia and possible heart damaging frenetic outlooks. The social media platform upon which this was posted (the name is withheld to spare The Well-known International company being subject To abusive or satirical comments turning up on their site) banned my friend for 12 hours for allegedly encouraging suicide.

This action puzzled me, for the actual activity is a popular one, often social groupings and bondings, all very healthy in fact.

Jamp in a Lake 3

Now if this ban were on Health & Safety grounds I would approve for there should always be caution and some manner of supervision when amusements take place around large bodies of water. In particular where styles approaching athletic or acrobatic are employed, in a possibly less than professional manner.

Jump in a Lake 4

However, as you can see from the evidence displayed this activity gives many folk joy and amusement, gifts which in these troubled times should be welcomed.

Jump in a Lake

Side view of dog jumping into lake against sky

Wow factor of 11

It, therefore, can only be concluded that the algorithm used in the company’s surveillance suggests that certain people of high public profile and controversial views when coupled with the idea of large bodies of water might give rise to morbid thoughts within some sections of the population. This, in turn leads inexorably to the next deduction, being the person or persons mentioned are the ones which give rise to the distressing thoughts and not the large bodies of water. (see additional evidence)

Wannsee, Germany, 20-29 Years, Adult, Back Lit, Carefree

Thus I would raise the issue, should not the company’s concerns be addressed to the principal subject matter; this being the person or persons, their content and all references of support to them be removed from the said platform (or platforms)?

Second Responsible Public Warning………

Red warning content disclaimer tv show background design.

Ron_DeSantis_in_2020

While the topic of engaging with bodies of water with enthusiasm be left open to mature and reasoned debate.

In Memoriam

Twentieth anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks is observed at the Memorial Plaza

The National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York 

Lay aside your views on The Hows, The Whys, The Blame, The Cause, The Effect and above all the social media clutter.

Remember 2,977 died. 25,000 were injured. Then there were the losses of pregnancies, the subsequent deaths and severe anguish of relatives and friends, the abuse heaped on the innocent. The resonances remain raw.

People were and still are suffering.

One stark reminder for us all, one bitter symbol of an avoidable world-wide blight.

      

Motivations, Inspirations, Imaginations…And Characters. A Journey Care Less and Content

Strolling

Foreword

You know how it goes. You have this idea for a topic, and you start off. Then some allied aspect else occurs to you, which begs to be added on, which in turn leads you off down an interesting lane and somehow the original topic is behind you, round a bend somewhere and you are there, scratching you’re head wondering ‘So?… How did I get here?’

The intention was to write about World Building and how the one which formed out of my work was a place I liked to revisit, just to be there. Then the theme became something else. Here was another writer wandering through This, That and The Other. For no other reason than ‘Just Because’….

The books which are part of the post are not mentioned because there is no intention to publicise them. You’ll find enough information in earlier posts. The subjects of this post are creativity, inspiration and motivations. Anyway back to that start…

The Beginning

Sometime ago I promised myself ‘Tone down on the politics. Concentrate on the writing. Be at one with your creativity,’………………..

The next day……

Back on the soapbox or picking fights on Facebook. Will I ever learn?

Learn what? To desensitise myself against thing which get under my skin? Remove some part of me?

Well, maybe not picking on an easy FB target and ridiculing them. Maybe ‘They had it coming. Taste of their own medicine. See how they like it,’ Are not worthy and mature reasons, perhaps those sentiments border on excuses. Weighing down someone’s ‘one liner’ with three paragraphs of International Relations Theory and History? Maybe that’s showing off a bit. Overkill much?

I tell myself my political and social comments should be addressed to Word Press where generally the standard of debate is higher.

The fact, though, the political part of me, is one reason why I write fiction as I do; the challenge being to try and tone down the preachiness. A character sounding off on some political issue in the middle of an action episode sounds ‘odd’. A lesser character taking up half a chapter on observations on an injustice just spoils the narrative and detracts from the plot.

Yet there is nothing wrong with placing your opinions or views in a narrative, the characters will let you know if they think you’ve been too wordy. Those lesser characters’ two or three lines of conversation will suit just as well.

On reflection my views were one of the driving forces and at the same time a bit of a challenge to fit in neatly. I loathe the latent misogyny trying to slither back into our cultures. Thus was more than happy with Three Strong Women characters appearing. Prejudices on the grounds of race, religion, adult consensual choices tend to be a red flag, so those who embrace any or all of these prejudices would truly hate my trilogy. Sometimes a mischievous part of me nurtured on Facebook would snigger while whispering ‘If anyone hates this part. Good…they got it coming,’.

Another motivation and this is not criticism just personal taste, I did not wish to read anymore grimdark or ‘gritty’. The real world had enough of that for me. Happy endings and good folk running rings around bad folk was my intention.

In addition is a little fantasy of the whole trilogy being on a public forum where I would wait for the inevitable feeble whinge that is it is all ‘woke’, whose users are such easy targets…. (Ah but there I go again. Looking for confrontation)

Yet as I go treading into more dangerous and delicate yet related ground; it has been an observation that there is more than one way to receive criticism or even ire for portrayals of characters outside of your own social, ethnic, political, belief system grouping. This observation, and the word is stressed comes from reading commentary from those whose group is portrayed, in a sympathetic or positive light and yet is perceived by the commentator as not being the correct portrayal. My own conclusion is in this fraught world where colonialism, in the European sense has died out and the old Cold War alignments disintegrated and social norms are altering it is for many people or peoples essential their group are portrayed accurately and in a balanced, mature context. Of course my get out clause being; ‘These books take place in a Fantasy World. Not this one,’, though human natures being what they are it is unlikely this response would be seen as satisfactory. Never mind… ‘You can’t win them all,’ . And anyway folks this is a world of my characters and they led me through allowing me to explore (or was that witness?) all manner of the possibilities.

Characters eh?

One advantage, or salutary warning is once you let your characters in on the act and they start to influence you, the pace of writing picks up until the creative or speculative processes reach a velocity which leaves all caution behind. In a very paradoxical, maybe cussed mood, the lack of sales encouraged me and them onwards. We reached the ‘What The Heck’ Stage, followed by ‘C’mon Rog’. We just have to go this way, you know parts of the back story have been building to this. Remember the sub-text kiddo,’. This of course led to other directions for taking the main narratives too.

Maybe the final result would seem to some a vainglorious mash-up of genres, sub-genres and styles. And there would be no argument from me. In my defence this is what happens when the driving forces within you set the imagination in movement and in turn you feel confident enough to let the narrative take control.

Should the whole work come to public attention and there is consequential criticism of the plot line, characters and result, let it be so.

For I had far too much fun putting the whole together to regret. (apart from those stupid persistent typos and a few instances of getting the names wrong- sometimes you can be too indie).

And now I am learning restraint and economy on a monthly Blog Battle*, which is as much fun being very instructive, while keeping my interaction of Face Book to a minimum.

*

BlogBattle

https://bbprompt.com/

We Did Not Want To Be Here. And Yet We Are

War

A continuation of…

As Legions Before Us. We Will Be Tested

This not grandstanding; nor doomsaying; nor least of all a rallying call. We are moving past all of that. We are in the place where Reality is demanding our choices. This is how it is. You are being drawn to those choices, you will be asked to judge which paths.  For there are two human emotive tectonic plates grinding together and at some stage one will flip over the other, and there will be the quake. Those are National Domestic Pressures and The War  In Ukraine. Both remorseless, unavoidable, most of the elemental forces out of your control. Your reaction though will still be yours, along with tens of millions of others, each drop, each flake with its own weight and influence. Prepare yourself. And do not look for advice or guidance here I would not presume such arrogance.

The world is still dealing with a pandemic, the, medical, social and financial costs. Nations are facing domestic political upheavals in one form or another. The two closest to my heart being The Fracturing of Consensus in the USA and Brexit in my own UK. While now we have on the European Continent a full scale conventional conflict between two nations; The War that has been on hold since the Nuclear Sword of Damocles arrived. Both nations are locked in. One for survival, the other for a complex mix of motivations, some traditional, others recent. Both have invested great amounts of blood and treasure. One has massive resources, the other is in receipt of a steady stream of support. With each passing day, each shock of more death and misery. While in our own nations the domestic world goes on; at times you could be forgiven for briefly not thinking about Ukraine. But it will not go away.

War on the doorstep, be that literal, continental or geo-political in scope. War in one of its uglier industrial scales. No fast sweep of motorised columns; a hard version of commuter traffic, while folk stand gawping, some shaking fists, and then in a few days, it’s all over. ‘How shocking. I hope our government protests,’ you would have thought. Not this time, this was one militaries prepare for; well to begin with not so much The Russians. This was the grand demonstration to a horrified public what happens when the invaded supplied with latest weapons, trained for this happening, take a stand. The attacker very rarely gives out with a collective ‘Whoops’ and pulls back. Instead they revert using whatever they have in their locker, irrespective of the structural damage. While their troops on the ground, weary, low of morale, confused and angry take out their fear on the civilians. And there are the brutal mercenaries, bringing resonances of the WWII German SS police battalions .

Even so, after a while a certain adjustment can take place, what was in your mind, grabbing all of your attention, slips into the background. Back to the Domestic. Home news pushes to the fore, again. Ukraine: you’ve done all you can, you think; price rises, job security, polemical domestic politicians, they cannot be avoided.

However this war will not go away. The scenarios in which NATO is involved begin to take credible shape. Are you prepared for those? Are you ready to support such a step? Or would you judge it is best for all if the war is let to run down and Ukraine accept it has Fought the Good Fight, but must accept some compromise with Russia? Would you then hope the cost in men, material and economic damage would cause the downfall of the present Kremlin Court, then fences can be repaired, slowly and to salve our consciences money is poured into the surviving parts of the Ukraine. Money? Where from? Our own economies are suffering. National Debt is high. Some economists must be having sleepless nights, more so those in the various Financial Branches of governments. There again as we steer around the circle, NATO being involved would bring its own heavy costs. Unavoidable, pick one.

Whatever path is taken there will be prices to be paid. Militarily, Economically, Politically, Ethically even (Remember, every Ukrainian victory or defiant stance comes with a price in Russian blood, we also are now locked into that one way or another. Remember those days when you thought killing of anyone was reprehensible, but you still do. Except the World doesn’t allow you that detachment)

To re-visit. With the coming of Covid the world changed, though we got off lucky; a different strain could have brought an unmanageable death rate. But we are learning to live with it; just have to stop playing politics and silly conspiracy role-play games . A war in Europe involving Russia vs The West. Now that is no so easy to walk through; if it stopped tomorrow, all arms laid down the resonances would continue for at least the rest of the decade. How long before Russia and Russian stops being associated with brutality?

So far I have used the ‘?’ symbol six times. Could have been more. Strategies still developing in The West and Blindness to Consequences in the Kremlin. We are on a road in a fog, approaching something more than a crossroads.

You and I. We in our places. And we wonder or we resolve. If we take the latter  will we stay the course? (Seven ‘?’s and counting). When we look back all the other stances we took, seemed to have elements of simplicity. ‘We shouldn’t have gone there’; ‘We shouldn’t have got involved’ ‘We shouldn’t be doing this/that’. ‘We should be’; ‘We should be’…. Now, in these early months of 2022, ‘We should be doing…What?’ Your choice of Statement. (Eight ‘?’s and counting).

I did not bring in other issues, such as the catastrophic drought in the Horn of Africa, or the likely famine in Northern Africa due to the disruption of grain supplies from Ukraine & Russia, or…..

On reflection I was likely wrong to use the road, crossroads analogy.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say ‘Make your accommodations, or sketch out your own forecast so you may navigate through the storms ahead,’. Perhaps? (Nine ‘?’s and counting).

As Legions Before Us. We Will Be Tested

Child victim of War

Foreword: Two previous attempts at this post binned; five days of rehearsing paragraphs in my head before they made it to the page, and I still don’t know if  it is even close to the original intention. The drive would not let me rest though. Bear with me. Encapsulating these aspects of The Human Condition were never destined to be easy.

Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, then Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Northern Mozambique, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Niger (to name but seven of the approximately twenty plus conflicts in Africa), Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, (blink and you might miss those two) and now a war in Ukraine which is coming into its eighth year when shorn of the curtain of a fight for independence by minorities was elevated to one which cannot be avoided. These are the sometime headline ones; not the ones packaged into small items on the brutally repressive regimes and the bloody conflicts between communities or criminal gangs.

Ukraine. If we are starkly honest with ourselves, and this is a time to be so, this one takes hold of us by the heart and mind, because those folk and their towns look so very similar to our own. And in the next sentences I walk a literary minefield. Do we notice more because of the colour of their skins. Yes? For the simple reason that familiarity brings a greater degree of emotion. Deep inside lurks the feeling with a myriad of deeper causes ‘That could be me. Us,’  You can’t stop it. No more than someone native to any of the nations above would bitterly think ‘Welcome to our world. You, of The First World,’ Human nature: You might be blessed enough to have the gift of Thinking Before Speaking; dare anyone here claim they have the gift of Perception Before Feeling? You will have to accept, I don’t believe you. No person has that sort of Objectivity. The Invasion of Ukraine, an industrial powered, visceral, savage, unavoidable, twenty-four seven media reminder what has been going on non-stop somewhere, sometime, somehow. For some folk who follow the world news, maybe the last straw. If anyone out there and has been weeping, threshing, howling, shutting down their TV or laptop save for rom-coms, sports feeds, domestic themed shows, or wildlife documentaries….I for one don’t blame you. Just come back to us some time.

And of course there are those issues on your doorstep. Pandemic, voter suppression, job security, rising prices, civil rights, domestic and civic violence, environmental concerns; those for examples. We agonise and rage over what is happening in Ukraine, but we worry about doorstep issues. We even might taste fear over one or more of them, dread them starting to link up, like a series of small forest fires merging into one vast wall of speeding immolation.

A short while back, I wrote about the importance of Hope. A plea to not to give way to despair. In all honesty an easier work to write. This is about the application of Hope. … Firstly we can all Hope, and we can all believe we will sustain the intention in a good way. Until our own Reality comes in; the inescapable truth of a War in The First World. Not just in the fierce imposition of the media, or the stream of consciousness interchanges between others. It comes creeping up on us. Sometimes swirling about us when we planned on going to sleep, or maybe dragging us out of a restless half-place, or maybe hovering there while we go about our daily chores, worse intruding upon our leisure time asking ‘Should you be….’  

You will be tested. I cannot predict how, where or when. I can tell you those myriad of emotions you are feeling are part of rehearsal. Steady yourself for a journey into a Batman’s Gotham City grotesque warping of Doctor Suess’ ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’. You could already be finding you are wishing one man dead, perhaps joyfully celebrating resistance and shrugging at the sight of dead Russian soldiers, bitterly seeing those in your country who are ‘soft’ on Russia as not just wrong or nuisances but traitors and possibly paid by Moscow. Be prepared to be feeling emotions beyond anger, to find callousness has become part of your prism. You will be drawn in. Conflict and War are most adept at justifying; the shock being you will believe, In This Case, it was right to embrace them. If you ever thought you were angry over something outside of your own personal life, now you are stepping up (or down-depends on your viewpoint) a piece. Beware how you tread; an emotional solution the Ukraine could became your template for problems at home. You might well feel fatigue at some stage, taking comfort when the news slips down the ratings…’Can’t be so bad anymore?’ Really?

Those words disturb you? Do you feel I have stepped too far into incitement, a tabloid rabble-rouser, safe in his age and home? Are you, instead nodding your head and invoking battle criesIf You Want Peace Prepare For War’, ‘Democracies Don’t Start Wars. We Finish Them,’ ‘Justifiable War. It’s In The Bible’ (it’s not actually -Augustine of Hippo might have been the first to write on the subject). Or are you shaking your head and thinking What is he on about? I don’t understand where he is going with this?’. Perhaps you are there gnawing on your lips and saying ‘Well. Yes. But there has to be a better way. There must be. Surely we can’t keep on killing. Can we?’. There we are then. You, me, others; drawn into in a confused internal conflict where principals, ethics we are told about and the ever raw emotions collide, maybe merging in pairs or a trio only to fly apart like some of the more exquisite subatomic particles, or remain in constant antagonism. Whichever; they will plague us with a constant restlessness, even if that be only a far off rumbling of someone else’s storm.

You might cryTested? I did not sign up for this!’ Well sorry soldier, The Human World’s dynamics has the monopoly on this particular conscription, switch on some communication,  step, outside the door. Yep. You’re drafted. Even trying to be detached is some kind of statement. Your only other option is Hermitage while trying to avoid the Media finding out about you and placing you in today’s circus side-show.   

Regrettably there are no test-papers, no Yes/No/Maybe forms to fill in or on-line courses for you to tackle to see if you have passed as an In-Tune Human. (We don’t count social media for this circumstance, there are too many opportunities for pollution by those who wouldn’t even qualify for consideration to try the test; they come from Right, Left and up underneath). Thus you justifiably ask ‘You are telling me an awful lot of grim stuff. Is that all you are dealing in this time. Some Old Testament prophet re-enactments?’ 

Well, maybe. Or look at it this way. This is a journey. The weather is unsettled, make sure you carry an umbrella, a hat, and a shower proof jacket in a back-pack. Ones woven with judgement, perception and reflection. Unsettled weather. Best carry a bottle of cool reason ease the parched feeling brought on by the sudden heatwave of anger. Take opportunities to find yourself some shelter to get out of the extremes; wait for the breaks, indulge yourself in the respite. If you can grasp a short span of calm and understanding, a wish to be charitable or helpful in some positive and constructive way, thus you are coping, you are not destroying. ‘So far so good’; ‘I could have done worse’ ;’I’ll know better next time’  Maybe not the most positive of statements or evaluations, but, in testing times perpetual excellence leads to burn out, or worse Arrogance – the doorway to…..too many bad choices.

To conclude The Testing will not end in the foreseeable future. Your continued, dogged, sanguine efforts to help the victims and stand against oppression mixed with the realisation we are all fated to stumble at times, not living up to expectations; these will be part of the way upwards and outwards. Surviving and then washing away this latest deluge of the dross of Ignorance and Aggression.

Take care of yourselves folks. You are a precious resource.

I Ask Of You A Difficult Task

Truth be known. Some might think this as two tasks. Some might feel the source material and sentiments are not appropriate. Stay with me though.

Firstly I would ask you to read the following Russian (there’s the current trigger word) WWII poem by writer and war correspondent Konstantin Simonov, written in 1941 to actress Velentina Serova. The moving work was carried by many USSR soldiers, wrapped with a picture of their wife or girlfriend, it became an unofficial icon, a means of coping, a hope the bearer would survive.

Wait for Me

Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait with all you’ve got!
Wait, when dreary yellow rains
Tell you, you should not.
Wait when snow is falling fast,
Wait when summer’s hot,
Wait when yesterdays are past,
Others are forgot.
Wait, when from that far-off place,
Letters don’t arrive.
Wait, when those with whom you wait
Doubt if I’m alive.

Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait in patience yet
When they tell you off by heart
That you should forget.
Even when my dearest ones
Say that I am lost,
Even when my friends give up,
Sit and count the cost,
Drink a glass of bitter wine
To the fallen friend –
Wait! And do not drink with them!
Wait until the end!

Wait for me and I’ll come back,
Dodging every fate!
“What a bit of luck!” they’ll say,
Those that did not wait.
They will never understand
How amidst the strife,
By your waiting for me, dear,
You had saved my life.
How I made it, we shall know,
Only you and I.
You alone knew how to wait –
We alone know why!

That was the easy part.

Now I want you to think of that poem not as a soldier to his love, I want you to see the writer as HOPE, writing to you. I ask you to not to think on how moving to read of such intimacy between two people. I want you to think of this notion HOPE we hold so dear, speaking to you. Of course, within you, some of the words and phrases will change to fit your perceptions, this is fine; the necessity is to cling to HOPE.

In the spirt of the poem this is not the soft HOPE we all evoke ‘Gee I hope things will be better’ and then leaving the rest to someone or something else. This is the dogged, persistent HOPE in the face of all seeming evidence to the contrary. The one which keeps us carrying on and not falling into the mires of Fear, Dread, Despair or those wretched excuses for not wishing to face Reality: Conspiracy Theories and Fashionable Cynicism. HOPE which takes you beyond the boundaries of Reason. HOPE which all your experience thus far tells you is a naïve and pointless exercise, because all the evidence, dependant on the situation is whispering or screaming at you there is nothing left but Doom and Gloom, ‘Roll up all the maps’  ‘Shred those inspirational posters’  ‘Sing nothing but lamentations,’ …….and so on. Yet, HOPE is there, just because.

This HOPE is a hard Task-Maker. It does not promise you perfect solutions. It does not try to sell you The Happy Dawn or The Cheerful Ending, Song (and roll credits) This HOPE is about the beginning, the one which is unsatisfactory but better than all the alternatives which could arise. This is the HOPE for a grudging end to fighting and an ill-humoured backing off. This is the HOPE which serves up rations, blankets and some shelter, to stave off the hunger, the dispassionate elements of weather and the fear. But this is the HOPE which lays the groundwork for other HOPES to seed and grow and from them even brighter ones and so on.

This is a tough HOPE. It is used to being mistaken for and called other names such as Fatalism, Cynicism, Realpolitik or Pragmatism. This HOPE knows them well and sometimes even rides in on their vehicles, grinning knowingly because it has turned them to its use.

This HOPE knows it treads a lonely and harsh road. Yet it bids you follows, for without this rough companion your eyes are clouded with grey hopelessness or blood red rage, your ears are filled with screams which will not be blocked out, your meals taste of ashes and you smell burning and dead. Your thoughts are ragged, your heart turns to a husk and your capacities for Compassion, Tolerance and Respect wither away to a sharp stalks fit only to be used to lash out in futility as you stagger in a haze seeking a solace which in the paradox of human nature you deny; Hopelessness.

Wait therefore, beyond the roiling caused by emotions of the latest media feed, and the confusion of a myriad of discordant sounds. Wait not for the perfect dawn, the soft tender brush of first sunlight, the cheer of birdsong and the growing warmth of day. HOPE as you wait for the coming soon of night’s end; HOPE for the storm and the chill to end; HOPE your shelter will hold fast. Then as you rise HOPING for HOPE, embrace its own patch of warmth, its sliver of comfort, its whisper that your HOPE is one voice in a choir which despite all that may be visible never stopped singing HOPE‘s song. For all The World

You may scoff, you may doubt, you may even wonder just what this post was about. You should not be surprised to feel so, I did give you advanced warning of what was ahead.

You may go away, feeling you’ve ‘Got it’. Then in unknown days ahead come to feel the return of the burden of the media feed and things you feel you have learnt and your hold on HOPE start to lessen. You should not feel surprise to feel those either, I know I will. Thus you must return to holding tight to the rough calloused hand of this HOPE.

A Difficult Task to consistently HOPE with all your heart.