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Poetry

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This poem is quite a heavy piece, I had always envisioned it as a performance piece and it's for all those who have experienced a trauma they would rather forget.

Brainwashing

 

I wish that I could wash my brain

And make it clean and free from pain

I wish that I could wash my brain

And wash away the hurt and stain.

 

Brainwashing, brainwashing

Brainwashing, brainwashing.

 

I wish that I could wash my brain

And make it clean and free from shame

I wish that I could wash my brain

And wash away the dirt and pain.

 

Brainwashing, brainwashing

Brainwashing, brainwashing.

 

I wish that I could wash my brain

And make it clean and free from stain

I wish that I could wash my brain

And wash away the hurt and shame

 

Brainwashing, brainwashing

Brainwashing, brainwashing.

 

I wish that I could wash my brain

And make it clean and new again

I wish that I could wash my brain

But I can't....

 

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Domestic servitude /The Alternative Feminist

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 9 Sep 2022, 16:19

Reading through some of my notes this morning I was drawn to a passage in my politics book, (we’re on ideology at the moment) about Simone de Beauvoir and her book, The Second Sex, where she suggested that the female body made them amenable to being constructed as a man’s ‘other’. Well I was thinking about this, and I concluded that you could say exactly the same about a man’s body, it really all depends on who’s on top!!

Now, for those of you who may not know this, Simone was the long time love of Jean Paul Sartre who wrote The Age of Reason. If there is anyone out there who ever got to the end of this book, then stand up and take a bow because you deserve a gold medal for endurance. I have tried on several occasions to read this and maybe, it’s the practical side of me, or something but I thought this was the most overblown pretentious piece of navel gazing I ever had to endure.

The main character has got his girlfriend pregnant, now this character is not 16 or 18, this guy is, as far as memory serves, around 30, he’s running around trying to get her an abortion and all I could think was ‘grow up and take care of your responsibility, because if you weren’t prepared to face the consequences of your actions then you should have kept it in your pants’. To me this was all a non issue, it was just a story about a man trying to avoid the reality that it was time to grow up which unfortunately IS the reality for 90% of the women in this country.

A friend recently sent me an email extolling all the virtues of Thomas Jefferson and all that he achieved in his life and all the way down reading it, I was thinking, ‘ Well, that’s very interesting, he was able to do all that because there was obviously a woman at home who did all the cooking and cleaning and childcare, leaving him free to think and act.  I bet he never cleaned the toilet in his life!’ Which is not to take anything away from how brilliant he was, but just how brilliant could we ALL be if we were freed from the drudgery of housework?

So, on the question of domestic drudgery and gender equality in the home, here is the argument as to why it should be shared by EVERYONE! I call it the ‘Everyone principle’, well why not, I can be as pretentious as Sartre when I need to.

EVERYONE lives in the house, EVERYONE uses the facilities so it’s the responsibility of EVERYONE to care for and maintain them.  That’s it, plain and simple.

‘If only it were!’, I hear you cry. Now men will argue that the women stand over them and criticise how they do things, fair enough, I accept that does happen. But the thing about housework is this, we’ve been doing it for many more years than you, and there is a method to it which we have perfected from all the practice we have had. 

So, in order to stop this argument, here’s my advice for women, SHOW them how it’s done, don’t just tell them to do it. Show them the method and don’t criticise them if they don’t get it right first time, just recognise that they need MORE practice. For men, just LET her show you how it’s done, it just a job that needs doing, it’s not a threat to your masculinity (whatever that may be) and remember it’s your home too, so take care of it. 

By, the way this advice applies to the children as well, they are quite capable of doing some housework, within reason and depending on age. I mean, tie a couple of dusters to the hands and knees of that crawling baby and get the floor polished as they go along, simple! 

Just use your imagination and maybe some day, we can all grow up to be brilliant.

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Happy Birthday

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 9 Sep 2022, 16:31

A friend recently pointed out that my blog was a year old, which surprised me as I didn’t think I had started it until around April. So, happy birthday to my blog and thank you to everyone who read, or commented on it.  

When I began last year, I wasn’t exactly sure where it was going to lead, it actually hasn’t led anywhere ('Yet!’ she cried hopefully) but it all came about when I began taking acting lessons in January and the confidence I gained from them, is what led me to start the blog, and since I had a free one with the OU, I thought this was as good a place as any to start. I always had ambitions to write and an interest in politics, although growing up in Ireland through the 60’s, and 70’s (in truth, I’m still growing up) it would have been impossible not to. So, this seemed like a good way of getting the politics out without having to be a politician or joining any party. I have joined several political parties over the years but never stayed too long with any of them. The ‘politics’ of party politics is something I really can’t be bothered with and I have found that, in life, as with everything else, ego is the biggest obstacle to getting anything done whether it’s your own or someone else’s.  

When trying to decide on a title, I wasn’t sure if I should put my name on it, a lot of bloggers write under pseudo-names but I don’t like anonymous and always thought that if I wasn’t prepared to stand by what I said, then maybe I shouldn’t say it at all. So, that’s why my name is there. I like poetry, to read and to write, and while I’ll never be Wordsworth or Yeats, I like to indulge a little and since I had several poems from the creative writing course from the previous year, I thought it would be a fairly safe way of starting off. 

So, I had the poetry and the politics, and with the inclusion of opinion in the title, I liked how it sounded, so that was where the title came from. Looking back now at some of the pieces, I can see themes that have developed over the year. God, humanity, inequality, in amongst all the politics, poetry and opinions. 

The ‘God’ thing coming through surprised me because it was only when I started writing about it did I realize what a potent force it is in my life. Over the years, we have had a long and sometimes very fraught relationship. I fell out with Him/Her/It as a teenager and spurned all offers of reconciliation for many years. But He (I’m going with He, if only to cut down on the typing) was relentless in His pursuit and so thirteen years ago, I gave in, (He had me cornered and we both knew it). I haven’t always got it right and didn’t always do what I was supposed to, one time in particular stands out in memory which I got hammered for, so that is why now, it’s God’s way, or it’s no way. That’s not to say I take it all lying down, I argue the toss back and forth and I know this probably all sounds crazy, but it is what it is, and when I do what He says, I don’t go far wrong. It’s not an easy option, just the opposite in fact, but I’m committed now so I have to go along with whatever comes up.

I am still no clearer as to what God is, my experience tells me that it’s this invisible force that moves us and that is as much as I can tell you. I can see parallels with the God of the Bible but mostly I see misinterpretation of how it works, and the closest explanation I have found to my experience is in the teachings of Taoism.

With the writing, I find myself drawn more and more to writing from a religious or spiritual  point of view, not just about politics and the morality of the systems of government we live under but, also, on what I see as the hypocrisy of the Churches who really don’t speak out enough about poverty and inequality. The huge disparity in wealth between those at the top and those at the bottom appals me, and I can’t understand how anyone can sit in comfort with millions and ignore the hardship that others are living under, and it especially appals me to watch the perverse glee of the Conservatives about the cuts they’re inflicting on those struggling at the bottom, and their demonization of the working class while giving the wealthy all the breaks, and still calling themselves ‘Christian’??

 Anyway, plans for the future include getting stuck into my course work and continuing with the writing. My Alternative Feminist has been quiet for a while but hopefully we’ll be hearing from her soon. I would like to write more on everything but every hour at the moment seems to be accounted for. I am hoping to begin a novel in the weeks ahead, and the drama starts up again in March so there won’t be much of a let up for a while yet.

There’s still plenty more to write about and as long as the Conservatives and the Churches remain as they are, there will be no shortage of things to comment on. So I shall wish you all well on ‘our’ anniversary, I shall be going to the opera tonight to celebrate and hope that you all continue to keep reading. 

Thank you for your time and your interest.

 

 

 

 

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Immaturity

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I was watching a great programme on BBC 4 last week about Harry Belafonte.  I didn’t know he was so politically active in the civil rights movement in the US in the 1960’s which is period I have a lot of interest in. (My great political hero of that time is Malcolm X, and I would urge anyone with an interest in politics to read his autobiography.  Actually, I would encourage everyone to read his book, it’s a great read).  Anyway, towards the end of the programme he talked about establishing a council of elders which intrigued me because I’ve often remarked to a friend of mine that here in Ireland, we’re seriously lacking in wise elders, and he would often remark that you only had to look at our politicians to see that!

 

Anyway, there have been many times in life when I really needed some good advice but could never find it, and it took me quite a long time to realise that most people are fairly useless when it comes to giving advice and are often motivated by the desire to either create drama or hear a juicy bit of gossip, (an unfortunate side effect from watching too much Eastenders).  Even today, it’s still difficult to get good advice without prejudice, and doubly difficult to get if from someone who has a genuine regard for your welfare.  I found, when I was growing up, questions about life were generally met with a wry ‘you’ll learn’ with the implication (hope) that if you did, it would be the hard way.  People almost took a perverse pleasure in withholding information that may have been of use to you, and then enjoying watching while you struggled and invariably failed. 

 

The cult of youth in society, has probably helped to devalue the elderly and they are seldom regarded as having little of value to impart.  Ironically, most of the older people I know have never really matured, they just got old.  I know people in their seventies who still operate on the emotional level of a fourteen year old, some are not even that old.  It seems appropriate that the legend of Tir na N’Og would be Irish, it means Land of the Young, a place where you never grow old.  There is a strange attitude to growing up here, it’s as if it is a form of surrender, or maybe it’s just to do with the fear of death.  No one seems to actively seek maturity here, people think that once they’ve turned eighteen, they’ve matured and have no need to grow anymore, as if the day of their eighteenth birthday magically conferred on them all the wisdom and knowledge they would need to carry them through the rest of their lives.  Then there are those who try to maintain the lifestyle they were living at eighteen, which generally means out drinking and partying all weekend which is actually quite sad in a forty year old. 

 

Paradoxically, we also have here what I call, the middle-aged teenager.  Young people who never had a youth and just went straight from childhood to middle-age.  They generally come from very religious families and belong to the cult of the ‘mammy’.  In these families, mammy knows all, generally has her nose in everybody’s business and dictates how her children live their lives.  They in turn, remain strangulated by her apron strings and never raise a word against her because no-one is ever allowed to question or upset ‘mammy’.  They aren’t mature either, just old in their thinking and habits, and I’m always very wary of anyone over the age of 12 who still refers to their mother as ‘mammy’.   There is often one rebel in there somewhere who no one talks about except when ‘mammy’ is feeling sorry for herself and in need of the collective sympathy, who couldn’t take the claustrophobia of it all and cleared off to England at a young age and hasn’t been heard from since.  Fortunately, for Irish society these families are on the decline.

 

There are two reasons why I think we as a country and a society, are like this.  The first is religious, and has to do with the long domination of Irish society by the Catholic Church.  The other reason is centuries of British rule.  Together, these two elements have created a society that doesn’t know how to think or act for itself, it only knows the way of the invader, Britain, and the oppressor, the Catholic Church (although their influence has waned considerably in recent years). 

 

I often wonder how we would have evolved as a society if we hadn’t had the imposition of those outside forces on us.  We have no real sense of ourselves as a people, other than as cultural clichés, and there is a tendency to blow with every wind that comes through.  I often think we are the world’s biggest fashion victims, I’ve watched fashion trends come and go, with everything from rottweiler dogs, to large jeeps, which really are ridiculous for a country like Ireland with all the small back roads we have.  It was a revelation to drive through France a few years ago and in the entire country I only saw two four by fours vehicles, and one of them was being driven by an Irish man on holiday.

 

This is what happens when countries with different cultural values and practises invade others and impose their way on them.  The continuity of natural evolution is disrupted and sometimes lost, often to the point where it is irretrievable.  Many societies across the globe have struggled to maintain their own culture in the face of the cultural holocaust of foreign invaders; the aborigines in Australia, the many native tribes in the US (a lot of whom never survived) and more recently the Tibetan people whose country has now been wiped off maps of the world after invasion by China.  Then, of course, there is the ongoing saga of Israel and Palestine. 

 

A few years ago, the Anne Frank Exhibition came to my home town and as I wasn’t working at the time, I volunteered to help present it.  It turned out to be a great learning experience.  We’re all aware of what happened to the Jewish people under the Nazi’s, but what I learned from this, was that the story of how this is presented in history is highly suspect.  The attempted systematic extermination of the Jewish people is often presented as a one-off, a terrible aberration, when in reality it was the accumulation of almost 2000 years of anti-Semitism by the ‘Christian’ churches.  Someone, somewhere, back in the day, decided that the Jewish people were collectively responsible for killing ‘God’ when Jesus was crucified and that kicked the whole thing off.  Other interesting facts I learned are that England was the first country to expel the Jewish people as a whole back in the middle-ages.  The word ghetto is Italian, and means ‘ironworks’ because that’s where the first ghetto was, in Italy in an old ironworks.  We all know the character of Shylock from Shakespeare’s, The Merchant of Venice as a money lender, but what we don’t know is the reality behind it.  The image of the Jewish person as a money lender and tax collector is based on fact but what I didn’t know was that Jewish people were forced into those occupations because no one wanted to do them because of how unpopular they were. 

 

For almost 2000 years, the Jewish people were marginalised, discriminated against, oppressed and expelled and treated in all manner of rotten ways until finally someone decided to wipe them off the face of the earth.  The Jewish people with their long history of expulsion and oppression went along and did as they were told for the most part, probably believing that it was another of those anti-Semitic pogroms and if they kept their heads down and went along they would probably come out alright in the end.  As Malcolm X said, they ‘sleepwalked’ to the gas chambers and in light of their history it becomes understandable now how that happened.

 

But what I don’t understand is this, why in 2000 years of this treatment did no one ever seriously object, why did no one ever speak up on their behalf, why did no one ever stop and say, 'these people are human beings too, what if  we are wrong in what we are doing to them?'  Where were all the ‘Christian’ voices in the so- called ‘Christian’ churches?  Quite frankly, I think the ‘Christian’ churches should be sued under the Trades Descriptions Act for false advertising.

 

And again, we come back to the same old story, because people don’t think for themselves enough and will often choose the easier road in life.  They don’t want the hassle, they prefer to keep their heads down and go along with the crowd, it’s easier to have someone do your thinking for you than to sit down and think for yourself, or to stand up and say ‘Well, actually I think you’re wrong!’   To go against the crowd, to stand apart, to challenge the authorities.

 

Now, this is not to excuse what is happening in Israel and Palestine today, but in order to understand a people you need to understand their history and in doing so we gain perspective and some understanding of the mind-set and the collective anger that must exist within the Jewish community.  Of course, they are going to be defensive about their territory, especially when they perceive themselves as being surrounded by so many hostile forces.  Who will guarantee their safety and security?  Who can they trust when they have been subjected to 2000 years of oppression, who can they have faith in when less than 80 years ago, they were almost wiped off the face of the earth?

 

Everything that is happening in the present has it’s roots in the past, there is no easy road to resolving the problems that exist today.  It is going to take a long time for the Jewish people to be able to trust the world and it irritates me to listen to the simple condemnations of Israel by people and politicians without regard to the whole picture.  If they really want to help they should reach out the hand of understanding and friendship, and maybe a collective apology on behalf of mankind for what was done to them as a people for 2000 years, would be a good place to start. 

 

To the Israeli people, or to Mr Netanyahu and the Zionist right, I would like to say, in remembering your history, remember that the Palestinians are human beings too and that oppression in any form leaves a bitter taste.  Whether as the oppressed or the oppressor, no one can predict the future and no one knows what may lie ahead for any of us but one thing I do know, is that the more friends you have on your side if, or when trouble comes, the more support and protection you will have against those forces who would seek to do you harm.

 

For God and all of humanity.

 

As always, comments are welcome.

 

 

 

 

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Grey

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 13 Nov 2015, 13:12

Ghosts

 

I see them

On the streets.

Grey ghosts

lost...

in the shadows of life.

Breathing but not living.

These spectral corpses

move and merge

with

the grey of the road,

the grey of the walls,

the grey of concrete

glass and steel.

Crushers of souls.

These hollow-eyed,

grey shadows

disappear into the stony

wastes of life:

Where no colour lives.

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Obesity

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There’s a lot of talk about the ‘obesity’ crisis and no shortage of ideas as to it’s cause and it’s cure.  Luckily, I don’t have a weight problem, actually, it’s got nothing to do with luck, just good eating habits.  When it comes to food, I have a fairly straight forward philosophy – if it isn’t real, don’t eat it – at least not in large quantities, and if you can afford to, go for the organic.  I’m not saying I never eat a biscuit or some chocolate but my diet is about 97% good, and 3% less good.  That figure is reducing daily because the dreaded hot flushes have started and I’ve found that certain things exacerbate them, sugar in all it’s forms is one of the worst, along with tea and coffee too, to a lesser extent, so I’m in the process of removing them from my diet, although I had cut the tea down to about two cups a week.

 

 I am not a fan of fast food and because I’ve never had a lot of money, I make most of my own meals from scratch.  I have tried McDonalds and quite frankly, you won’t find me in there unless I’m absolutely starving and there is nowhere else open, and when it comes to fast food, nothing is faster than a banana, just peel and eat or even quicker, an apple, you don’t even have to peel it.

 

The thinking behind my eating habits is this, I am a human being, I evolved over thousands of years like the rest of the animal life on this planet.  I am part of the eco-system.  My body was designed to eat the food that occurs naturally on this earth, which is meat and fish, fruit and vegetables and some crops.  

 

If you look at the list of ingredients in something like those fake butter type spreads, there are ingredients in them, I can’t even pronounce.  They’re full of chemicals and colourings and flavourings.  Now I am a human being, NOT a chemical processing plant.  The human body was not made to process this kind of stuff.  A case in point, Diet Coke. Everyone I know who drinks this stuff has two things in common, they have a weight problem and they are addicted to it, and it’s disgusting, it’s just a tin of coloured water with chemicals in it.  Now, ask yourself a question, would you give Diet Coke to a dog to drink?  The answer of course, is no, (at least I hope it is) so if you wouldn’t give it to a dog, why would you give it to a child?

 

Taste like everything else, develops over time and the more real food you eat, the more your taste for it will develop. 

 

Now not everyone can cook, and I remember watching one of those reality cooking shows about diet a few years back, and it showed a family in which there were four children, and neither of the parents could cook.  I was stunned, I couldn’t understand how you could have four children and not cook, not to mention the huge expense buying processed food or having takeaways all the time.  Eating is a basic human necessity, we all have to eat so we should all learn how to cook.

 

Now, I’m not slagging off people who can’t cook.  I understand there were changes to our eating habits with the advent of frozen and processed food in the sixties, coupled with the invention of the microwave oven and the removal of cookery classes from schools under the Thatcher government. (although I think they are now back on the curriculum, and if they’re not they should be)  This created a hole in our diets which has been filled up with overly sweetened, salted and processed food, full of the aforementioned colourings, flavourings and whatever else they put in there.

 

Realistically, this stuff just can’t be doing us any good.  Now, most of us know who Gillian McKeith is, and I know she came in for a lot of stick about her fake science and fake degree, and she was a bit extreme, but one thing you can’t argue against and that is, she got results.  She took stones off people and added years to their lives.

 

I watched another programme recently on GM crops, and to be honest I didn’t really know much about them and had always thought how harmful could a crop be?  Well, extremely harmful is the answer.  This programme was about crops in India and how companies have genetically modified the wheat and cotton crops so they don’t generate seed, so the farmers have to keep going back and buying new seed every year from these companies.  But the scary thing about these crops is that they suspect they killed cattle.  What happened was, the cattle started dying and when they opened them up they found that one of the stomachs in the cows,  (they have four) had dried up.  They put it down to lack of natural enzymes in the food they had eaten.  Scary stuff.  I also read recently that some researchers believe that ‘man boobs’ are caused by wheat in the diet.  How do we even know if the wheat used in baking is GM free?  Mostly we don’t.

 

There’s an arrogance in science that thinks it can do better than nature, that thousands of years of evolution can be disregarded and that we have the right to screw around with nature as much as we like, with no consideration for the consequences.  I watched another programme a couple of years ago about plagues, and every plague they discussed was caused by man screwing around with nature, from rabbits and mice in Australia, to killer bees in South America, every one was down to man’s interference.   We get so carried away by what we can do, we never stop to question if we should do it.

 

So people, think on, you owe it to yourself and your health.  Eat well and organic as much as possible, and go for the real food.  Start today, try and cut out the sugar or at least to cut it down; throw out those manky fake butters and treat yourself to the real thing, there’s nothing to beat it for taste. 

 

Comments as usual, are welcome.

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New Year

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I’m a bit late with the new year wishes but anyway, I wish you all a very happy new year and may the year bring you everything you need and maybe a little of what you want.  I haven’t made any new year resolutions other than to rest as much as possible through January and February.  The pace of life last year has been relentless and it has left me exhausted, between work, study, hobbies and plays, not to even mention family and friends, some of which I haven’t seen in months.  So, lots of Friday and Saturday nights ahead curled up on the sofa watching movies which is another area of my life that has been neglected.  I haven’t been to the cinema since the last Batman movie, which I loved by the way.  I am hoping to finally get to see the Hobbit this week.

 

I don’t normally make new year resolutions, for me the new year begins in March with spring when it’s starting to warm up and the evenings are lighter, which is a much better time for resolving to make changes.  We’re in the middle of winter now and we need our comforts around us at this time, I always try and hibernate a bit in the winter to re-charge for the year ahead.  The only thing I do for new year is to take down the decorations and clean the house and then I usually spend new years eve watching Jules Holland’s Hootenanny (not sure if that’s spelt right).

 

My other wishes for the new year ahead are, I hope Nick Clegg has an attack of conscience and does us all a favour by taking his party out of Government.  I was talking with my son’s girlfriend the other day about the report on MP’s pay, where they’re looking for an increase of about 20K, she said they should only get it in vouchers so that they aren’t able to spend it on frivolous items like cigarettes, drink and holidays! And may all those millionaires and advocates of the private sector who sit in Government and get paid from the public purse, find themselves out of work and unable to find a job in any sector, not that they need it anyway!

 

And may the rest of us remember our humanity in the face of Tory demonisation of the working classes and remember a pay packet is all that separates us from the dole and poverty. 

 

Happy new year to you all!

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Rape

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 19 Oct 2023, 16:25

I was reticent about writing on this subject, and I was going to comment on it earlier this year when Senate hopefuls, Todd Akin, and Indiana State Treasurer, Richard Mourdock came out with some crassly stupid remarks on the subject but decided to leave it as a topic for another day, sure that it would come up again but I never envisaged that it would be in such shocking terms.

The death of the young woman in India from injuries sustained from a violent gang-rape has sickened and shocked me, and I am not one who is easily shocked.  This young woman was stripped and gang-raped for an hour before being badly beaten and then thrown into the street. 

I feel physically ill when I think of how utterly helpless and terrified she must have been. The thing that is missing in relation to many discussions about rape, is that very little attention paid to the long term effects and aftermath. Over the years there has been a lot of nonsense written about rape, mostly by people who know nothing about it. Some say that it has nothing to do with sex that it is about power. I disagree, it is about sex and power but it is also about immaturity, and cultural and religious beliefs. The question has been asked many times, why do men rape?  Well, the simple answer to that is, because they can, and mostly because they know they will get away with it. Just to clarify, when I say men, I mean it only to denote male in gender because no real man would ever rape anyone and would be abhorred by the idea of forcing themselves sexually on another human being. The preoccupation with sex in our society merely reflects our own immaturity in dealing with it, and is also reflected in the fact that almost every woman I know has, at some point in her life, been sexually assaulted by a man, the only difference is the degree to which it happened. I remember as a teenager, even before the assault, being hunted like an animal by young men who thought they had the right to manhandle me in any way they chose.  There was nothing extraordinary in this, it was almost a social norm. 

The attitude of the man who assaulted me and the men who assaulted this young woman is exactly the same. It is two-fold, on the one hand it comes from their overblown sense of entitlement, culturally they have been socialized to believe they have the right to do and to take what they want. On the other hand, it can reflect the religious and cultural belief that a woman is of less value than a man. The Bible is often used to justify this belief and we saw it in action recently in the vote against women bishops in the Church of England. The Bible is an amazing book, it contains a lot of history and also a lot of truths about humanity and our origins. But people have used it many times to justify their own prejudices and to give credence to beliefs about the superiority of men over women and other ridiculous ideas like Manifest Destiny and the superiority of some ‘races’ over others. Within the Bible you could find a passage to support any argument, just by virtue of the volume of writings contained within it. We also need to remember that the Bible was put together by men not God. It has been edited and re-written in part by several Popes. Its texts are selective and reflect the times in which they were written and what has been left out of the Bible is almost as significant as what is contained within it.

Unfortunately, these archaic cultural and religious ideas of a woman’s inferiority are still prevalent throughout the world, even in supposedly more advanced countries. It can be seen all around us from the extremism of the Taliban, to the front benches of the present Government and again the only difference is in how it manifests itself in action, is in degrees. We all remember Mr Cameron’s patronising ‘calm down dear’ to Angela Eagle. 

Most societies, ours included, has patriarchy as one of its foundations and when something is that inherent it is very difficult to change. It was only recently that the primogeniture rule in relation to the Crown was changed to allow a first born female to be monarch.

The caste system and the class system are no different in practice, they both promote the idea of inferior and superior people. The most extreme case of this was in Nazi Germany, which is often presented as an aberration in history, a one-off event. This is a lie. Nazi Germany was the accumulation of 2000 years of bigotry and prejudice against the Jewish people, driven in the greater part by the ‘Christian’ Churches. Again, I use that term lightly because too often the Churches act in ways that are far from the Christian ideal. 

It really is time for a re-think on these issues but I don’t hold out much hope of it happening soon. It would be wonderful if the horror of this incident changed attitudes, maybe it will, but I think it will take a lot of time. I do, however, take heart from the younger generations here in Ireland where I see change happening and fathers being much more involved in the care of their children than past generations. 

As long as we continue to create social hierarchies among people, as long as we continue to bring up our males to believe in their superiority, as long as the class and caste systems remain in place, and as long as these cultural and religious beliefs go unchallenged, unfortunately, incidents like this will continue to happen.

 

Comments, as usual, are welcome.

 

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Strivers, skivers and parasites

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 11 Oct 2020, 09:25

Well, I hope you all enjoyed Christmas, and looking over the weeks headlines, it’s good to see the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in the Tory party.  


From Osbourne’s ‘strivers and skivers’ speech, to Alec Shelbrooke’s big idea to give welfare claimants cards, that can only be used for essential items, and now we have Iain Duncan Smith planning to cut welfare for up to three years to discourage the lazy and wanton, and all those who are living the high life on benefits!!

 

Now, I have a solution to all these problems, I ask you, why stop with cards?  If they really want to be sure that these ‘skivers’ don’t use the taxes that us ‘strivers’ pay, to spend on things like drink and cigarettes let’s take it one step further.  Why don’t we put tags on them like they do with criminals, then with all thBe technology we have, we can track their movements, or better still, although this one probably applies to the long term unemployed more.  If they’re out of work for more than six months, we could have them chipped and pinned like they do with dogs.  We could give the police scanners and if they find anyone in a pub and/or smoking, or walking along the street with a carry out, then they could be scanned and if they are on benefits, we could have them arrested and cut their benefits.  We’d save the tax payer a fortune!

 

But, now when I think about it, this might prove too expensive.  Maybe we should try something else, I know, we could have them wear a special kind of badge that shows they’re on benefits, and then if someone sees them drinking or smoking or spending their money on non-essentials, we could set up a hotline where they could report them.  Of course it should be free, but I don’t really think the hard-working strivers of this country would mind spending a pound or two to rid the system of another scrounger.  Who knows, we might even end up in profit!!  

Come to think of it, badges might not work either, well, they could take them off you see, it would be difficult to enforce, and cards too could be expensive, and then if they lost the card it would have to be issued again, even more expense. 

 

Right, what about this instead of cards at all.  We could set up stores where they would have to go on a weekly basis to collect the essentials they need to live on, then they wouldn’t need money at all.  I’m just thinking, we could kill two birds with one stone here, as well as controlling the spending of welfare recipients, we could also put those with weight problems on a restricted calorie diet, thereby fixing the obesity crisis as well.  Simple eh?

 

But now when I think about it a bit more, there could be a more efficient way of organising all this.  I actually have very good organisational skills, did I not tell you, oh yes, I am a model of efficiency when it comes to getting organised.  I’m also good with ideas, I know, I’m a real all rounder!  Maybe I should join the Tory party!!

 

Right, so how could we make it more efficient?  I’ve got it, why don’t we round them all up and put them in camps, after all, they are parasites feeding off the rest of society and really they don’t deserve to be part of society so we should separate them from all the ‘good hard-working strivers’ in this country.   Yes, that’s a  better idea and they can stay in the camps until they get a job which, of course, we will help them to find. 

 

That’s definitely a better solution, but then what would you do in a recession when people can be out of work for a long time and there might not be any jobs?  Hmmm, now that could be a problem and it could prove to be very expensive over the long term.  Give me a minute to think….Ah yes, I’ve got it, you know at times I amaze myself with my thinking!  We could have them put down, yes, that would work, wouldn’t it?  I wonder if anyone would object, that’s always a possibility, you know how people are always banging on about human rights these days. 

 Hmmm, let me think what we could do to drum up support for the idea.  Well, we could always run campaigns in the papers and pick out some of the worst cases to show the hard-working strivers how these parasites are sucking the life blood out of this country.  Yes, the Daily Mail would definitely be interested in that, and we can always count on Rupert’s media empire to support us.  Oh and do you know what else we could do, we could sell it as a green solution to the problem of over-population, reduce the surplus population, reduce the green house gases and save the planet too, I really am brilliant when I get going, if I don’t mind saying so myself!

 Now that that’s sorted, how are we going to actually get rid of them?  I know, maybe we could shoot them all, that’s quick and fairly painless.  One bullet per person, to the head, that would work best, wouldn’t it.  It would definitely be the quickest way, and maybe we could get the bullets from Asda,  I hear they’re great for this sort of thing.  Oh sorry, I should explain, Asda are Walmart, they’re just called Asda here.  Who knows, we might even get a discount for buying in bulk.  Maybe we could even help them out with the problems they’re having with their workers going on strike in the US. 

 Now there’s another line for the business to expand into.  Oh yes, we could make a business out of it because everyone knows that the only thing that matters in life is business and making a profit.  Yes, people have to work, that’s what they’re here for isn’t it?  I mean, have you never heard of the old saying ‘Work will set you free’?  Yes, I remember reading that somewhere, there was a place where they had it above the gate, it began with A, I think, oh it’s slipped my mind now, but I’m sure it will come back to me, anyway……

 Now that I think about it, the shooting thing might not work either, it might be a bit time consuming, having to shoot each one individually.  I’m sure there’s a much quicker way of dealing with all this….YES!  I’ve got it.  We could do them in batches, round them all up into a room, it would have to be sealed of course, and then drop in something, like poison gas!  Yes of course, it’s such a simple solution to a simple problem, I can’t understand why we didn’t think of it before!

 Which is really what the Tories big ideas are all about.  Simple solutions thought up by simple-minded people.  It’s very easy to paint everything black and white, it’s easier to group people into categories and stick labels on them and ignore the fact that you are dealing with individual human beings, in individual circumstances.  To think like the Tories requires no real thinking skills at all.  In the world of Osbourne, Shelbrooke and Duncan-Smith, people on benefits are scroungers, skivers, parasites, feeding off the backs of the hard-working men and women of this country, the good people, the taxpayers.  But when you really look at it, who are the real parasites feeding off the people? 

 I mean, what about the global corporations?  There is a myth about the economy in this country that is continually supported by the media, I recently heard it repeated again on the BBC news.  You have heard it too, when pundits and politicians talk about the ‘decline in manufacturing’.  THIS IS A LIE.  There was no decline in manufacturing in the UK .  What happened was that companies took all the manufacturing jobs from here and moved them overseas.  All the manufacturing jobs that used to be done here are now being done in places like China, India and Turkey .  Most of these jobs were traditionally done here by the working classes but under Margaret Thatcher’s ‘free market economics’, (after she wrecked the unions and with the help of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire turned Union into a dirty word), companies were able to chase their profits around the globe from one exploitable, low-waged economy to the next.

 But here is the paradox in all this.  The people here are still expected to support a first world economy even though their jobs were allowed to be taken away by their government so that all their business friends could make bigger and bigger profits while those who were lucky enough to have a job have found the value of their wage going steadily downwards. 

 And this is another thing I have often wondered about, WHY ARE  ALL THE  PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR A COMPANY NOT ALLOWED TO SHARE THE PROFITS?  One person may start a business but it takes a whole army of workers to build it up and maintain it.  No one became a millionaire or billionaire by themselves alone! Where is it written is stone that the person who started the business is the only one entitled to the profits it makes?   

There are only two things in nature that take more than they need, one is man and the other is cancer.  Anyone who operates in this ethos of greed, who sucks up a bigger share for themselves and is quite happy to sit and watch his fellow man go without especially, when he has more than he will ever need, is a cancer on the face of humanity.  These people are the real parasites.

 

 And now, in the midst of a recession, caused in no small part by the very party whose initial policies led to these problems to begin with, they arrogantly scapegoat the working classes and unemployed, and blame them for the present economic ills when they had little or no control over them at all.

 Margaret Thatcher and business leaders promoted an ethos of greed in the 1980’s, it is still alive and well in certain sections of the business community and the present Government, and is evident in the arrogance and simple-minded outlook of Thatcher’s Children and their policy ideas.  In their view, it’s dog eat dog world and tough luck if you lack the skills and/or money to survive in it. 

 Let’s all ignore the fact, that they are members of the party that created this world, that it was their policies that allowed the jobs of the working classes to be taken away, that skewed government policy and the law to favour big business and the corporations, that know nothing of the reality of life for the millions who are struggling daily with real poverty, who sit in their mansions pontificating to the rest of us about money and values while cutting housing benefit for the young, who deride the public sector but are quite happy to take THEIR wages from the public sector, who want to dictate to a man who has lost his job and is now living on £71 a week dole money, how he should spend it, while having done nothing to protect workers and their jobs.  

 Yes, Merry Christmas, Mr Cameron and Co, may the new year find you all on the dole and the sooner the better for us all, and shame on you Nick Clegg for keeping these people in office!

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Riots in Belfast - again!

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Saturday, 15 Dec 2012, 16:50

Well, plays have all been performed, to good reviews I might add, and assignments are up to date, so now that I am all rested and recovered, let’s catch up with what’s been happening in the world –

 

Riots in Belfast?  Didn’t we do that already?

 

They’re at it again.

 

So, what’s it about this time?  Flags, eh!!

 

You know, when I see people out protesting like that on the street over some perceived attack on their culture, faith or whatever, I often think, ‘You really don’t have enough to bother you’, and it really must have been a slow week for news when this lot made the national headlines.

 

Now, in the great scheme of things, how ridiculous must this seem to any outsider, the Union flag is taken down and there are protests and riots, for what, a piece of coloured material?

 

Now, the thing about all this is, you can say it’s about flags, or culture, or identity, or religion, or nationality, or loyalty, and you might think you’re right, but when you strip all that down to the bare bones it comes down to this, and this is what no one else in Northern Ireland will ever just come out and say publicly - identifying with the Union Jack is about clinging to an idea left over from the British Empire (of which NI is it’s last outpost) and that is, to identify yourself as British is to claim that you are superior and not just to the Irish, but to everyone that isn’t white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant, that’s it in a nutshell. 

 

It’s about nothing more than that, ‘I’m British’ means saying I’m better than you without actually saying, ‘I am superior to you’.  It’s the exact same attitude that prevailed in the days of Empire when Britain went stomping around the globe terrorising the natives and bringing us heathen types civilisation, and which still prevails today among right-wingers, from the Tory party to the National Front.

 

Ulster was planted hundreds of years ago by the British, actually it happened about a hundred years before Britain even existed, and Ireland has never been part of Britain, it’s always been the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or as it is now, Northern Ireland.  

 

So, there are no British here in NI, only a few confused Irish or Northern Irish, for we surely are a breed apart from the rest of the country.  I mean, how many years do you have to live in a country before you consider yourself a citizen of it?  Hundreds of years later, and they still can’t lower themselves to stand up and say they’re Irish, or even Northern Irish.  They treat it as an insult to be considered Irish, and as someone who is Irish by nationality, I find that insulting.  What is so wrong with being Irish?  What does nationality mean at the end of day, I was born in Ireland so I am deemed to be Irish, they were born in Ireland too, but they’re British.  What’s going to happen when/if the Scottish vote for Independence, Britain isn’t going to exist anymore, what will they be then?

 

When I think about my identity, I think first and foremost, I am a human being, then I am female, and identifying with a country, a flag, or one culture is far down the list of what I am. There are very few singularly, one culture people left in this world, not when you sit down and consider how much of our lives have been influenced by other countries and their habits, especially in these days of globalization.  In reality, each of us is a single multi-cultural unit.

 

As long as people don’t think for themselves, they will cling to other’s ideas of what their identity is.  It’s easier to adopt the cultural stereotypes we’ve been spoon fed by our respective communities, than to look at the reality of these things and challenge notions that are as archaic, and out-of-date, as the dinosaurs.   

 

Now, if you really want to go out and protest about something that may be wrong in Belfast then here’s an idea.  In October of this year in East Belfast , in the space of 10 days, 7 people committed suicide.  Also, in West Belfast this week, apparently 5 people committed suicide.  (I haven’t been able to confirm this yet, I heard it at work in relation to the tragedy of another local suicide)  The rate of suicide in the North is off the scale compared to the rest of Europe .  (see previous post: In defence of young men)  With the ongoing stranglehold on the working-class Protestant areas by the paramilitaries, the decades of economic neglect by government and the pressure of culture and tradition, there are communities here in real crisis, and no-one seems to give a damn.  

 

And it certainly doesn’t help when a Chancellor gets up in Parliament and starts sneeringly classifying the working class of this country into strivers and skivers, especially when he got to be where he is, because he had the double good fortune of being born into a wealthy family and the privileged classes, where their money and social connections bought him all the advantages that life has to offer.

 

There is a lot of pressure in people at the moment, the rising cost of living and falling value of wages, the added pressure of conforming to the social and financial pressures of the season of 'Goodwill', not to mention the fear of losing your job, or of trying to find a job if you don't have one in the midst of a recession.  These all make for extremely stressful times and it's heart-sickening to watch this government gleefully slash at the poorest and weakest in this society and arrogantly scapegoat them for the present economic ills which they were not responsible for, while giving all the breaks to the rich and fellow members of their class.  All I can say is, roll on the revolution!!!

As always, comments are welcome:

 

 

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Last night

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Well, tomorrow night is the last night of the play and while it has been a lot of fun, I will be glad to get my life back.  I am looking forward to having nights at home again and being able to do other things.

We got good reviews from all our venues, and one lady even came backstage to say that she saw the professional show in Belfast but she thought ours was better.  So, that is the last of the acting for a while, there is talk of a Shakespeare play next year but I will be concentrating on the writing and studying for now, at least until I catch up on my reading.

So more blog posts coming soon.  Watch this space!

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Christian?

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 1 Sep 2022, 14:24

A little quiz question for today, what do the Pope, the Queen, David Cameron and Bono have in common?  

Well, if you said the Pope is head of the Catholic Church, the Queen is the head of State for Britain and the Church of England, David Cameron is the head of the present Government, and Bono has a big head, then head would be the connection and you might be right and, actually, that is a right answer too, when you think about it. 

But that’s not the answer we’re looking for today, so, sorry if you said that but good thinking just the same. 

The answer we’re looking for is, and this might surprise some people, they all say or think they are Christians but in reality none of them are, which might surprise some people since two of them are heads of Christian Churches and at least one of them thinks they are God. 

So, how is that the right answer, I hear you say? Well, I was at mass a couple of weeks ago and the priest was talking about the reading that day, which was the one about how it would be ‘easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it would be for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God ’ (or heaven, anyway, same thing).  And he went on about wealth and poverty and I was sitting there thinking, ‘Well what about the Vatican?’  I almost got up and said it, and if it had been another priest I might have, but this priest is old and retired and then I thought, ‘Well he’s not Rome so why harass him about it’. And then yesterday we were back on the money question with the story of the Widow's Mite. Now, I go to mass, I consider myself Catholic, definitely not a Roman Catholic but Catholic in the original sense of the word, which comes from the Greek and means ‘universal’, and that is how I consider myself. I am a member of the ‘universal church of humanity’. 

I was in Rome a couple of years ago and while there was a lot to see, from an historical perspective, I didn’t particularly like the place and I certainly didn’t feel too inspired by the ‘Christianity’ of the Vatican, and wouldn’t be in a hurry to go back any time soon. When I was there, I was hoping for some profound spiritual experience and the nearest I got to encountering anything like that was looking at Michelangelo's Pieta, which is in St Peters and is a stunningly beautiful piece of sculpture. If you ever go to Rome, I couldn’t recommend going to see this highly enough. 

The other big attraction was the Sistine Chapel and, honestly, I felt a bit let down by it. Firstly, it’s not really a chapel, as you would imagine, it’s just another room in the Vatican and by the time you get to it, you have passed through so many rooms painted from floor to ceiling with angels and the like, that your eye is a bit tired by the overload.  

I had the same thing in the Renaissance section of the Louvre, I remember coming out and thinking, ‘If I see one more picture of the dead Christ…!’ And, for the record, the painting of God creating Adam, which I had always imagined was this huge painting across a domed ceiling, is in fact a small panel in the centre of the ceiling about 5ft by 3ft. (it probably is bigger than that, but from my perspective, that is how it appeared). The place was also packed, it was a hot day and, between the crowd, the stifling air and the smell of body odour, it wasn't a pleasant experience. 

Anyway, what got me about it, was the wealth of art in the Vatican museum and, also, the fact that the Pope lives like an earthly king. He lives in a palace, is surrounded by lackeys and riches, he is dressed in expensive robes, waited on hand and foot and separated from the people. He is supposed to be Jesus’ representative on earth, how is that anything like Jesus? And another thing, he is supposed to be infallible, says who? I would like to know where that idea came from? He can’t be infallible, he is a human being, it isn’t possible, all humans are flawed and imperfect, it’s the most interesting thing about us. Just think how boring it would be, if we were all perfect and flawless?  

When you look at it, everything about the Pope goes against everything Jesus preached about and the same goes for the Queen. It is a complete hypocrisy to have a Queen as head of any Christian church and the same applies to David Cameron and Bono, you cannot be that rich and be a Christian, it just isn’t possible, you may perform Christian acts now and again, but as long as you are sitting with all those millions (and avoiding paying tax) you are not and never can be a Christian in the truest and only sense of the word. 

And since we’re on the subject of Churches and religion, any religion that differentiates between men and women is wrong, especially if the Bible is a big part of the religion, because one of the first statements in the Book of Genesis says, that God made them, male and female, both equal. That’s it, equal, no more, no less, equal.  Not the Animal Farm kind of equal, where ‘everyone is equal, only some are more equal than others’, no, not that one. There was no qualification to it, all equal, no argument. 

And if you really believed in the God of the Bible, you couldn’t regard any human being as not being your equal, (or as discussed in previous blogs, of equal value), because if you believe God made everything, then to say that a woman is something less than a man, is to insult God. If God made them equal then who is any human being to say that Her/His/It’s creation, woman, is something less, when they are both human. The value for what He/She/It has created, then extends to everything because if you truly believed that, then you have to consider that everything that God has created is of value to God, otherwise it would not exist.  

Which makes it very arrogant and insulting to go traipsing around claiming dominion over other lands and other human beings and treating them badly, or as your own personal property. Because if everything is God’s creation then, maybe it’s time we started to really think about that and consider how we are living and how we treat other people and the planet. Maybe it’s time we cleaned up our act and started taking care of what we have been given because whether there is or isn’t a God, and whether you believe or don’t believe in a God, we only have a short time here so why don’t we do our best to live well and respectfully, and try and make life better for everyone.  

I mean, does the Queen, David and Bono, and all those other millionaires and billionaires, really need all that money. They can’t spend it in a lifetime and it won’t buy them another life. They can’t take it with them so what do they need it for, to feed their egos and make them feel like they are successful, that they are better human beings than the rest of us?  

Sorry, but the bad news about that is, if you can sit with millions or billions in a bank while on this planet another human being is dying for the want of something as basic as food, then you have failed in the most important area of life, you have failed as a human being and you have certainly failed as a Christian. 

What are we here for, if not to live, life is supposed to be lived is it not?  Why does it always feel that life is something to be endured or survived, why can we not just live and live well? We speculate and ponder on the meaning of life and maybe it is something as simple as that, to live it and live it well. 

Comments as usual, are always welcome.

 

 

 

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Calendar Girls

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Rehearsals have been taking up a lot of my time in the last few weeks but we finally get to tread the boards next weekend in the Playhouse in Derry.

We're also booked to appear in the Balor in Ballybofey the week after and then The Alley Theatre Strabane on the 14th and 15th, and finishing off in Omagh on the 21st, although I think Omagh is already sold out.

So if you're going to be around or near any of these places in the month of November, you're welcome to come along and see our performance.

And maybe I'll get back to a bit of blogging once the pressure is off, not to mention my first assigment due this week as well, it's all go at the moment.

Be back soon, I hope!!

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Equality

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 1 Sep 2022, 14:29

Following on from last weeks post, I talked about our equal value as human beings and recognise the belief systems and social constructions that we have created which divide us into classes and hierarchies, placing the value of some humans higher than others.

Most of us agree with the idea of equality but find it difficult to see how it would work in practice. The main reason this difficulty arises is because when we try to articulate it, or when we look around us, we see that there are many ways in which we are not equal.

Each of us is an individual with individual talents and abilities and to try and come up with a statement that encompasses the idea of equality, while recognising the diversity of mankind, is a challenge in itself. I used to always say I believed in equality but having children opened my eyes to how individual each child can be, even when they come from the same parents and, also, how much the individual personality of each human being is present in the infant child.  

This is what I came up with as a statement in support of equality, I have concluded that while it is about the value of each human being, we also need to recognise and appreciate the individual.

Equality (of Value) - To allow and encourage the growth and development of all people to their full potential as human beings, without impediment or prejudice.

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Common Humanity

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 1 Sep 2022, 15:08

X Factor, Jeremy Kyle, The Only Way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea, Jersey/Geordie Shore, what do these programmes all have in common? 

The answer: they all seek to reduce the value of human beings in order to provide ‘entertainment’ and I use that term very lightly because I don’t find any of them in the least entertaining. 

I don’t watch X Factor, I did once, back at the beginning when everyone was talking about it, just to see what it was about. I tuned in one Sunday morning when the repeat showing of the auditions was on and this is the reason why I have never watched it since. A young man came out to sing and it became obvious, very quickly, that he did not have talent as a singer but the disturbing thing about watching it was that this young man was what we term ‘special needs’. Sharon Osbourne was the only one to show him any humanity as the rest of them fed off his confusion and humiliation. I felt physically ill watching it and haven't watched it since then. 

I say confusion because I later learned from someone who, when at music college, had been encouraged by her friends to enter the auditions which were being held locally. She told me about the process of turning up, being left outside for hours, being ushered into a booth to sing and then told to come back for the next audition or not. A few weeks later she went through the same process again, but something about the whole set up did not feel right so she did not go back for the third audition, this is the process you go through before you get to stand up and sing before the ‘judges’. So, in the case of the young man, if he had come through that process, then he was merely being used as fodder with no regard to his humanity and that is fine, up to a point, if you are fully aware of what is happening, or why you are standing there, but he didn’t. 

I have seen some of the Jeremy Kyle show, another foul piece of programming which, again, takes human beings under the guise of ‘helping’ them in order to turn their lives into a public spectacle. I have never seen TOWIE, or Jersey/Geordie Shore but I did see them advertised in a friends house one day and from the talk at work, this confirmed everything I had deduced about them, well, let’s face it, you wouldn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to work that one out.  I did also see about 15 minutes of Made in Chelsea one time, another piece of garbage television and, quite frankly, 15 minutes was about 14 minutes too long. 

The ‘scripted reality’, (a contradiction in terms to begin with) of these shows is television at it’s laziest, as it relies on reducing humanity to their lowest common denominator. The spectacle they hope to create is every bit as nauseating and disturbing as the events that used to take place in the Roman Coliseum. It was interesting that Anders Breivik talked about having to stop thinking about the people he was going to shoot as human beings in order to carry out his slaughter. The same thing happened under the Nazis in Germany and throughout the conquest of places like Ireland, Africa, the Americas and the Antipodes. In order to hurt, humiliate or kill other humans they had to be regarded as not fully human, or not as evolved, their value reduced, their worth regarded as being less than another's.

There are many ways we reduce our humanity, we do it by drinking too much, eating too much, taking drugs, being physically, psychologically and/or verbally abusive, allowing ourselves to use or be used sexually, or for monetary gain. We also do it by grouping people into social hierarchies like the class system or the caste system. We do it by labelling people with derogatory descriptions likes chavs or the ‘n’ word, (I loathe that word in particular, and physically cannot say it, so I won’t write it either) or claiming that the church someone attends is better than those of another faith. But the real reduction is when we deliberately pick on those who don’t have the skills or the intellect to understand what is being done to them, because in seeking to reduce them, we also reduce ourselves.  

I didn’t get off to a very good start in life and from there it went rapidly downhill, which explains why I am doing Open University at my age. This is not an exercise in blame, the reality of the situation was that my parents were ill-prepared for the task of parenting. I was too, which of course I didn’t realise until I became a parent, but luckily enough I was blessed with a certain intellect and realised how inadequate I was and so set about trying to acquire some skill in the area, which is why I believe it should be part of the school curriculum. 

There were also other events which over the years contributed to the de-valuing of me as a human being and left me with no sense of self-worth. Then twelve years ago, I hit a crisis point, one of a few over the years but the one where I finally started to turn it around. Since then I have been on this spiritual journey which regular readers (yes, you two, I’m giving you a mention today) would know, as I’ve mentioned it before, and since then I have done a lot of work to raise my sense of worth. By that I do NOT mean that I now have high self-esteem, because self-esteem leads to a large ego and an overblown sense of your value, what I have now is self-love and self-respect which are basically the same thing. I am not any more valuable than any other human being on this planet but neither am I of any LESS value than any other human being on this planet. And this is true for everyone whether you believe you were created by God or whether you believe your existence here is the result of the evolutionary process alone (for me personally they are one and the same thing).  And when I see something on television like the Jeremy Kyle show then, I think, ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’, because if I had not been blessed with the gifts of intellect and understanding (and I don’t mean that to sound like I know it all, every day is another learning experience) I might never have reached the place where I am today. Which by the way, I didn’t do all on my own, I did it with God/Universe’s help and help from other people. I also read and thought a lot about things and, on that note, for anyone in need of some good advice or who maybe doesn’t have much of a sense of their value as a human being, I  would highly recommend ‘The Road Less Travelled by M, Scott Peck. This book was an invaluable source of help and I would also recommend the follow up ‘ Further Along the Road Less Travelled’.   

The degradation of humanity is usually the first step on the road to tyranny as history has shown us and something we always need to be aware of.



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Me and Jc or My Finest Hour (so far)

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 1 Sep 2022, 15:53

It may come as a surprise to you all to know that me and Jesus have a lot in common, I kid you not. You probably already know that on the day Jesus was born, there was a new star in the sky to announce his arrival.  Well, it also happens that on the day I was born, there was also a new star in the sky. It was called Telstar, and was the first telecommunications satellite, launched to improve telecommunications between the US and Europe. So if you want to Google that, you’ll know exactly when I was born, and what age I am, no prizes for finding it though, sorry, and I’m too much of a lady to reveal my age publicly.

‘Ha!’

Sorry, did you say something?

‘Nut'in, just clearin’ me throat’

Ok then, moving swiftly along…….as you probably already noticed I am ‘Devine’ by name, I like to think I’m ‘divine’ by nature too, at least that’s what I tell people, and if I tell them often enough they might start to believe it.

‘Ha!’

‘Do you have something to say?’

‘Jist a bit ova tikly throat’

Well, perhaps you should go and get a drink of water or something……preferably, somewhere that isn’t here?

Anyway…..you may also have noticed my initials are AD, which stands for, yes you guessed it, Anno Domini, which of course means, ‘In the year of our Lord’.

I also read a while back, that historians had pin-pointed Jesus’ birth to the month of July, which is also the month I was born in.

‘Aye well ad hiv tae agree that July’s a gud month’

I wasn’t born in a manger but I did once know a dog with mange, if that counts?  A bit of a stretch I know but you can only take them where you find them.

My early years were spent in Mount Sion, a street in a town in Northern Ireland and, as an Irish Catholic, I too grew up in a country under foreign occupation, just like Jesus under the Romans. So instead of ‘Romani Ite Domum’, we had ‘Limeys Go Home’ which later became 'Brits Out'.

 ‘Yer showin’ yer age now love’

 ‘REALLY, I just can’t be doing with all this interruption, are the pubs not open tonight?’

 ‘They probly are but am skint’

 Well, that’s just TOO bad then isn’t it?’

I’m SO sorry about this, he’s a disgruntled Ulster Scots speaker, he’s been hanging around for the last few weeks, I don’t know what he’s looking for, I’m hoping he’ll get fed up soon and go back from wherever he came …anyway, shall we carry on?

OKAY…On the miracle front, I haven’t quite managed to feed five thousand with a few loaves and fishes but I could feed a small army on half a stone of spuds and a pound of mince. But one other memory stands out for me where, like Jesus, I first ran into trouble with the religious authorities. I recently entered it in a memoir competition although it is more autobiography, but it came nowhere so here it is for your reading pleasure or not!

Communists in the Convent!

I don’t know where my interest in politics began, I think it was partly by osmosis. Growing up in Northern Ireland against a background of increasing political unrest made it inevitable that something would rub off. I remember the political figures of the day making their way into our skipping songs;

‘Vote, vote, vote for Bernadette Devlin, here comes Paisley at the door’….at which point someone would jump into the skipping rope and we would sing the song to the end. 

…. ‘for she is the one who will have the best of fun and we won’t see Paisley any more’.          

These names were interchangeable because to us they were just names and didn’t have any particular associations for us. Although it wasn’t long before we knew Bernadette was on our side, and Paisley was on the other. I remember her coming to our street, she was canvassing for election and my mother and several of the women in the neighbourhood all went out to shake her hand. This surprised me as I had never considered my mother as being political in any way.

I also remember learning the words to the Strawb’s  ‘Part of the union’.

‘You won’t get me I’m part of the Union, til the day I die, til the day I die!’ I can still sing it now.  This was probably one of the first signs that I was definitely headed left.

Then in primary 7, I found myself on the receiving end of a campaign of bullying and if there is a defining moment that stands out in memory where something fundamental changed within me then this was it. 

I had had a disagreement with a girl in my class, what it was about I don’t remember but she was someone I never particularly liked, she was spoiled and vain, and looked down her nose at everyone. From there it had escalated as she and her ‘gang’ had taken to following me home every day in a twisted game of follow my leader, where every movement and gesture was copied and mocked. There seemed to be no end in sight, as I endured another lunchtime of mockery and the gang seemed to be increasing in numbers, and that was when I decided enough was enough!

Parents seldom involved themselves in their children’s quarrels back then so there was no point in trying to get anyone at home to listen. There were too many of them to take on single-handedly and so, after thinking and re-thinking my options, I decided that after lunch I was going to take the only one available and talk to the teacher, and hopefully get it sorted out for once and for all. I waited until everyone was seated back in the classroom and then I walked up to the teachers desk and simply said: 

‘Miss I have a problem and I need you to help me sort it out’.

She was taken aback because I wasn’t known as the type to put myself forward and was usually quite reserved but she gave me a fair hearing, listened to the other side as, of course, they denied all but then, inevitably, broke down in tears. Apologies were made and accepted and so it was sorted and we passed our final months at primary school in peace. 

I was particularly pleased at how I had handled the situation and it had given me a renewed confidence which was exactly what I needed as I was due to start in the local Convent Grammar that September. My older sister had begun the year before and had regaled me with tales of real experiments in Chemistry and real cooking in Domestic Science. I couldn’t wait to get started and felt that the world was finally opening up and that bigger and better things lay ahead. 

As far as memory serves, it was a quiet summer and nothing extraordinary happened and I was glad when September finally rolled around and marched proudly off to school with a bag full of books and a heart full of ambition.

From being the oldest class in primary school, it was a bit of a come down to find you were back at the bottom of the ladder but this was the big school and the disappointment was soon forgotten when I was given my first time-table. Not only was everything more interesting and grown-up but there, first thing on Monday morning, was a subject I hadn’t even considered, Drama!  This was turning out even better than expected.

I had always loved performing. I had sang on stage at concerts in our local Parish hall, I played the violin and did Irish dancing as well, so stepping out on to a stage was second nature to me. This was the next step in my development, real acting on a real stage, Hollywood here I come!

Sister Pius was the teacher. I was a bit disappointed by that as I didn’t imagine it was a subject a nun would know much about. She was small, not much bigger than me, slightly built with a fringe of dark hair visible at the front of her veil, she was very neat in appearance and held herself stiffly which made her seem a bit uptight for something like Drama. However, when we had our first lesson all my fears were dispelled, she seemed to know her stuff as she talked about voice and poise. To help us with this, we were set an essay for our second lesson, it was titled, ‘Something I believe in’, and we were to read it aloud in front of the class the following week. 

I was thunder struck as I realized I had a head full of ideas and beliefs which I had never articulated. Not only were they there, but I all of a sudden I had an urgent desire to express them, I wanted the world to sit up and listen, I had important things to say! Opportunities like this didn’t happen every day and I determined I was going to make the most of it, Pandora’s box had opened.

A few of my classmates were nervous about having to stand up in front of everyone and talk but that didn’t bother me in the least, this was right up my street as I decided this was my destiny and imagined a future making great speeches to large audiences who cheered and clapped at every utterance.   

The only thing I had to figure out now was which great idea or belief I was going to write about. I definitely believed that David Bowie was the greatest singer in the world but I wasn’t sure if that would be an impressive enough subject, I wanted to dazzle everyone with my great thinking and wonderful ideas so, after some consideration, I settled on my subject, Communism, now there was something I could believe in. 

I had become interested in Communism for a few reasons, one being that every time Russia was mentioned my mother would go into a rant about the Communists wanting to take over the world and turn us all into ‘Godless heathens’. This really appealed to me as we were marched out to Mass for every Holy Day in the calendar, not to mention May and October Devotions. 

We had also been subjected to a daily round of family Rosary a few years before, after the Pope issued some edict on the matter, and my mother being the most Catholic Catholic in town, insisted in following orders. The thing about the Family Rosary was that it was to be at six every evening so, after being dragged in for it a couple of times, we soon realized that if we disappeared about ten minutes beforehand, then it was easily avoided. At five forty-five every evening, there was a veritable exodus from the street as not only me and my siblings disappeared but half the neighbourhood as well. 

The Rosary was soon abandoned amid despairing admonitions from my mother that ‘she didn’t know what kind of crowd she was rearing!’  There were a lot of good Catholic mothers back then whose devotion to their faith would contribute to a rising tide of atheism.   

The other reason for my embracing all things Communist was that under their system everyone was equal, at least that was the theory. I was the middle child in my family, quiet by nature, I was often overlooked and I was still smarting over the promise of a special present for passing the eleven plus which never materialized. So, after all that, quite frankly, the Red Army couldn’t get here quick enough!

As I started my essay, I realized I didn’t really know enough about Communism, apart from the idea that everyone is supposed to be equal so I had to do some research. I checked out the school library and got loads of information from one of the encyclopaedias.  All the big names were there; Marx, Lenin, Castro.

Totalitarianism was mentioned which I didn’t really feel comfortable about as it sounded a bit like the Catholic Church but, after some consideration, I thought I’ll stick it in anyway and resolved to look into all the authoritarian stuff later.  

And so I crafted it over the week, standing, reading it aloud to my younger sisters. This was great stuff, everyone would be dead impressed! 

Monday morning I was up and off to school early, the big day was finally here. Sitting in class, essay in hand I was suddenly struck by fear; what if someone else wrote about my subject and they got to read first?  It would look as if I had copied them. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner? I counted, there were about 9 in front of me…and the first one was about to go up.

‘Something I believe in’

I held my breath,

‘My Parents’

And let it out relieved.

‘Parents!’ I thought to myself, ‘is she serious?’ 

Of course we all applauded when she finished. The next one stood up.

‘Something I believe in’

Again I held my breath,

‘The Catholic Church’.

‘The Catholic Church!! You have got to be kidding me, God, these people have no imagination at all’ I thought. 

I started to relax as one after another, they stood up to read, a total of three subjects; God, the Catholic Church and parents, sometimes a specific parent like their daddy or their mammy. I couldn’t believe it! I had worried unnecessarily, there was no competition in this crowd at all, this was going to make me look even better!

Finally it was my turn, I stood up, took my place in front of the class, gave my papers a quick shake, a little dramatic gesture to draw their attention and read: 

‘Something I believe in’…I took a deep breathe and said…‘Communism’

I looked up to gauge the response…all eyes were on me...and so I began.

As I finished, feeling very pleased with myself, I scanned the crowd. I had definitely made an impression, there were murmurings in the crowd and quite a few looks of surprise. As I waited for my round of applause Sister Pius started to stand up, ‘I’m not going to get a round of applause, I’m going to get a standing ovation, from the teacher herself!’ I thought…..

In hindsight, of course, I think the only reason I got to the end of the essay was that the nun was in such a state of shock she was unable to speak or move until that moment. 

As she walked towards me, I could see from the expression on her face that something wasn’t quite right. Her face had gone very pale and hers lips were pursed tightly together.

‘THIS CLASS IS OVER AIDEEN DEVINE OUTSIDE NOW!’ she demanded emphasizing every syllable. For such a small, slight woman she suddenly had a very strong angry voice.

As I was marched out of the room, I racked my brains trying to think what had gone wrong?   

‘AID DEEN DEE VINE, where did you get this?’ she demanded. I didn’t really know what to say and looked at her dumbly.

‘I know your mother and your Aunt MaryB’ she said. My aunt was a teacher and best friends with Sister Ursula and my mother had done some substitute teaching in her time so the Nuns all knew them which, of course, didn’t help at all. 

‘WHO is telling you these things?  WHO is putting these ideas into your head?’ she demanded again, almost screaming. What was I supposed to say, I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about?  I thought about my mother and wondered if Sister Pius thought as she did. Did she too believe the Communists were plotting to take over the world and part of their dastardly plan was to accost Catholic school girls and brain wash them with their ideas, and they had somehow infiltrated our small town?  Before I could answer she snatched the paper out of my hand.

‘COMMUNISTS!’ she said, shaking it at me and starting to turn red. ‘COMMUNISTS!’ she repeated, a little louder this time as if she needed to hear it again because she couldn’t quite believe it the first time. Building to a crescendo she shrieked, ‘THEY DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN GOD!’

To me that was a minor detail, in my thinking there was no real conflict between God and communism, I mean it says in the bible that we were all created equal in the eyes of God, to me that’s just what Communism was all about. In my naivety/stupidity (take your pick), I finally answered,

‘No-one sister, I thought of this myself ’ and was about to start to explain the thinking behind it when she started to gasp for air and her eyes looked as if they were going to pop out of their sockets. ‘God, she’s going to have a heart attack’ I thought and wondered if I should wait until she collapsed, or run and get help now. I hedged my bets, worried that I would be held responsible for the death of a nun and decided to wait. After some moments she managed to suck in a deep breath and recover some of her composure, much to my relief! 

‘YOU thought of this!’ she screamed, a little less hysterically. ‘HOW COULD YOU?!!’  The volume started to rise again. ‘You’re not even allowed to THINK these things, never mind SAY them or BELIEVE in them!’ she screeched.

I didn’t know what to say to that, I felt confused. ‘Not allowed to think!’ The phrase ran around in my head, this just didn’t make any sense. ‘Not allowed to think’ I thought again, because I couldn’t quite believe that was what she had really said. ‘Surely you can think anything?’ I thought. ‘How can thinking be wrong?’ I was about to query this when the bell rang for next period which interrupted the moment. There was nothing more to be said, at least not by me.

‘Go to your next class!’ she ordered and turned to go.  She stopped, and looked at me again, ‘I’ll be keeping my eye on you!’ she warned, and stomped off towards the Staff room….

So, apart from the Nuns, my mother, and some of the teachers, the response was on the whole quite positive.  Several of my classmates were impressed and wanted to know more and while it would give me the greatest pleasure to report that the Convent Grammar became a hotbed of subversive political activity, unfortunately, I can’t.  The only thing I can report is that Drama was taken off our timetable much to my eternal disappointment.

Unfortunately, this was a foretaste of what lay ahead for all my educational ambitions. Chemistry had a grand total of two experiments, dipping litmus paper in various solutions and making blue crystals. They changed the rules for Domestic Science that year too; there would be no cooking in first year, it would be theory only and by the time we got to second year, I had long since lost interest and gave it up. I was never destined for domestic servitude.

Although these were disappointments, there was one silver lining in this cloud. My old protagonist and leader of the bullies never got to read out her essay and was very vocal in letting everyone know how annoyed she was about it, but we were all on new ground here and since most of her gang hadn’t got into the Grammar School, there was nothing she could do about it.

Salvation also lay in English with Mr. Gallagher who had regular class debates where, although everyone got their turn, somehow, I always managed to have a place on one side or the other, even if we never got to debate the motion ‘This house believes in Communism’.

My dramatic ambitions thwarted, it would be many years before I would get up in front of an audience again but I recently joined a drama group and am very happily back treading the boards. It may not be Hollywood but at least I’m getting to do something I love.

Over the years my interest in politics never waned either, although it has gone through a few reincarnations.  I’ve joined several different political parties at different times but at some point my thinking always diverges from the party line and conscience, among other things, compels me to leave. 

I’ve been called an anarchist on several occasions, that being one of the nicer things that has been said and I’ve often been told I ‘think too much’. People think they’re insulting me when they say these things and I usually answer ‘Well someone has to, because no one else seems to be!’ 

The Red Army never got as far as my home town and with the fall of the Berlin Wall it’s been an increasingly lonely position being the only Communist in town. I think me and Fidel are the only two left, although his health is a worry these days and, whatever you think of his politics, you have to admire his staying power in facing down the bullies of Western capitalism (see I still know the lingo). Soon I’ll be the only one left, (I don’t recognize China, ironically, for political AND religious reasons), not that it bothers me, I was never one for following the crowd, being chased by them was more my style!

I still describe myself politically, as a Communist and what I have come to realize is, my Communism is my own and identifies more with that twelve-year-old believer in equality for all than Lenin or Marx. I’m still waiting for the Red Army to arrive but, metaphorically not literally and, who knows, with the present economic climate and discontent, my days of making great speeches to large crowds may lie ahead and the revolution might just start here!  

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The Beauty Industry

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 1 Sep 2022, 16:06

The beauty industry and industry certainly is an apt title because the way some load the slap on these days, it certainly has the appearance of industrial strength. When did a little ‘enhancement’ become part of the manufacturing industry? 

Make up was worn in the past to highlight your best features and disguise flaws, like pock-marked skin, and the acne covered teenager certainly has my sympathy but, is it just me or is everything becoming more and more ridiculous? 

I was at a wedding a few months ago and when women go to weddings it takes an army of hairdressers and ‘beauty’ (and I use that word in it’s most loosest form because there is very little aesthetic appeal in the sight that I beheld) therapists to apply the (industrial strength) treatments. It’s no longer a case of a little foundation to smooth over the uneven patches and a little colour around the eyes to highlight their sparkle. Oh no, now it is fake tan, hair extensions, bras that have breasts pushed up and out so high, you almost have to dive out of their way as they arrive 5 minutes before their owners in order to avoid a couple of black eyes! Then we have the latest and most ridiculous attachment of all, the fake eye lashes which, rumour has it, have been used by small birds to nest in, I kid you not!  A friend of a friend actually woke one morning to find a large spider trying to mate with hers…seriously, and she was still wearing them! 

Now, young women might get away with this look (actually they don’t, it just adds years to them) but on the older woman it becomes quite scary. There were quite a lot of older women at this particular wedding and as they started to pour into the hall it was like watching the opening number in some mad comic opera, ‘March of the Drag Queens’ (the Darth Vader theme kept running through my head for some reason?) which would have been fine if it had been a Lily Savage tribute night or some such but Lily would have looked like an icon of style and good taste compared to this lot. 

Firstly, they all had the hair with, and this is a particular pet peeve of mine, the ‘large ringlet’.  They are everywhere these days, from school girls to television presenters. I remember many years ago watching a Bob Hope/Jane Wyman film in which they played a married couple who were splitting up and who meet on a night out with their newer, younger halves. Jane has a head full of ringlets and Bob quips, ‘Who did you steal those curls from, Shirley Temple?’ Ringlets do look lovely on a five year old but not on a forty-five year old!!  Actually, I don’t know anyone over the age of seven who can get away with that look and, if you doubt me, then the only thing I can say to you is ‘Remember Nellie Olsen’.    

Then there is the heavy application of the ‘war paint’ and the fake tan, and this is where the difficulty lies because the fake tan is of a different texture and colour to the face make up and, if it’s a ‘diy’ job at home, then you also have to add in the orange knuckles. If someone painted a wall in your house and left it this mis-matched in shading then you would be well within your rights to complain!!  But this forty (or should that be fifty?) shades of tan and foundation actually make Oompah Loompahs look good. Again, not a good look on the older woman, especially if she’s a little on the heavy side, which most of these were and, even more so, when it’s a warm sunny day and the heat inevitably leads to the make-up running which then has to be re-applied and re-applied to the point where the outer edges start to crack and split and the whole sorry mess ends up looking like a bad polyfilla job. Not a good look any day but great for scaring children (if that’s your thing) and Halloween, or scaring children on Halloween even but not so great on a day out. 

And where does this idea of beauty come from? Now, I’m not pointing fingers here but I saw Katie Price on a talk show one night and the host asked her what advice she would give to anyone trying to make it as a celebrity???  A really crap question to ask anyone but, anyway, she answered and this is the truth, ‘Just be yourself’, without a hint of irony and looked quite mystified and annoyed when a large portion of the audience laughed. This from a woman who has had more industrial treatments than a new VW.  I mean, when you look at her hasn’t she been turned into a walking ‘rubber doll’ and she's done it to herself? 

Now, botox has started to invade the High Street as well as the celebrity circles which, I suppose, on the plus side will stave off the cracking and splitting look but, really girls, what’s wrong with a few fine lines and even the odd wrinkle?  What’s so wrong with your own face and skin colour that it all has to be covered and dyed??Did you ever see anyone who looked better after all the ‘beauty’ treatments and cosmetic surgery?  All character has been wiped from their face and, sadly, IT’S ALL A CON!!!! 

It’s just another weapon in the patriarchal-military-industrial-capitalist armoury to keep you feeling inadequate and consuming of products. These treatments don’t make you look better or younger, all they do to the older face especially, is to highlight the lines and wrinkles. What is so wrong with what God or Evolution (depending on what you believe) gave you that it has to be ‘improved’. What is so wrong with the natural look that it needs to be painted over. I’m not completely against a little make up, I mean I bought foundation back in 1998 and then I had to buy another one last year and there are days when maybe we don’t look or feel so good and a little make up can help. But I have found, as I have gotten older, that less is definitely more, especially when it comes to rouge. And if you really can’t live without the war paint then, scale it back a bit please, and if you’re not sure if this applies to you then a good marker for this is to ask yourself this question, Do young children cry when you talk to them? If they do, then it’s probably time to re-think your ‘look’. 

Because if you really want to stay young looking then the best thing you can do for yourself is to eat well and lead an active life, cut down on junk food and the alcohol, cut out the cigarettes and treat yourself with a little love and respect, and that will shine out of you and make you look and feel better than any amount of beauty treatments, botox, silicon, or polyfilla ever will. 

 

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Battle of the sexes/The Alternative Feminist

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 1 Sep 2022, 16:09

Today guys you are going to love me!  In the battle of the sexes there is one issue that it a complete mystery to me, leaving the toilet seat up. Seriously, what is that all about? So the guy comes in, lifts the toilet seat, does what he has to do and leaves without putting the seat back down. That's it, no big deal. Woman comes in puts seat down and does what she has to do, then leaves without putting the toilet seat back up.

You see this is the core of the issue and this guys shows that you're not giving it enough thought. I am now going to give you the return argument if the toilet seat is an issue in your relationship. Where is it written in stone that the toilet seat has to be down? Why can it not be up? Nowhere because, realistically, men you could make this an issue if you really wanted to.

'No she never leaves the toilet seat up when she finishes and I always have to come in and put it up. Next time I'll just not bother and splash all over it'. See what I mean - end of argument.

And, ladies, sorry but if this is an issue for you in your relationship, then my advice to you is to go live in a Sudanese refugee camp for a week or two, it might help you get a little perspective on it. Because the only real issue in the bathroom is - do we have toilet roll? 

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Future Ideas - Part One

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sep 2022, 12:09

Following on from the last posting, I touched on the failure of the global capitalist system and the present economic situation and I would like to go back to that subject and expand on some things.  

Firstly, the present situation is not going to improve greatly in the near future basically, for the reasons I stated before, that being the failure of the present capitalist model which governments won’t or can’t admit to.  

There are many things wrong with the system and these problems go hand in hand with our political structure.  The way government is organised is out of date and the two main parties are still trying to govern with agendas that were relevant to the past but bear no relevance to the world we live in now. We have the Conservatives on one hand who are traditionally (and still) the party of the upper classes and the rich. On the other, we have Labour struggling to re-define itself in light of the New (Tory) Labour legacy of Tony Blair, and weighted with the historical legacy of the welfare state. 

Going forward, whoever can really define the middle road between public and private sector, in a way that works for everyone, will have the next election sewn up. This is where the Lib-Dems have failed and it should be where they are leading the way. Government should be the referee between public and private to ensure that workers are paid and treated fairly but not to the point where private enterprise is stifled. Its role should be to provide balance. 

So, going forward, here a few suggestions to improve and revitalise politics and the economy. The House of Lords has to go, the class system is the biggest obstacle to creating a society that works for everyone and as long as it is maintained by government, then the division between rich and poor is going to grow wider until it leads to revolution. This might have happened in Britain after WW2 but the creation of better employment practices and the welfare state by Labour probably stopped it.   

Next, I think the day of party politics is over, the two main parties come from perspectives that are out-of-date.  The Conservatives want to dismantle the welfare state but historically it is because of how the private sector did business and exploited it’s workers that lead to the creation of unions and the Labour Party. So the Conservatives are a retrograde party always trying to turn the clock back and skewing everything in favour of private business to the detriment of the ordinary working person. 

Labour are the traditionally the party of the working classes although, you would hard pushed to find many working-class on the Labour front bench these days. They are perceived as the supporters of the public sector and are often portrayed as the enemy of business and the private sector. 

Every time we elect a new government, we are changing between these two opposing positions. This constant changing just keeps screwing everything up as they come in and out, every 4 years or so, with their ideas on the best way to run things and set about dismantling the work of the previous incumbents. (The exception to this was the New Labour government who carried on the Tory agenda). This hits the state education system worse than other areas and probably accounts for how badly it performs in relation to the ‘public’ school system whose teaching and results remain consistent and, which probably accounts for the upper class dominance in the echelons of power and state. It’s a wonder, now when I think about it, why the Tories have never sought to privatise the government and they don’t seem to mind being paid out of the public purse! 

Come to think of it, maybe we should privatise the government, at least then we would be able to sack those who don’t do the job they’re supposed to do instead of having to wait until the next general election. 

Realistically, what do we need to run the country? A good accountant to manage and distribute taxes.  Then what???  Why do we need all these government ministers and politicians? Wouldn’t we be better off employing people to run our services and wouldn’t it make more sense to have someone who has worked in education or health, and spent most of their life working their way up through the system, to be the Minister for Health or Education. Someone who actually has years of experience in the field and not some upper class twat who never did a day’s work in their life and only got the job because they were best mates with the PM through college.  

It would take the politics out of politics and instead of general elections for political parties, we would have referendums on issues like going to war, or free health care. Imagine if we’d had a referendum on the Iraqi war, do you think it would have happened? There could be televised national debates on the issues, with those for and against putting their arguments and then we could all go to the polls to decide what to do. It would make us more responsible as citizens and more involved in the real issues that affect our lives.  

One of the main problems with politics today is that people outside of London feel cut off from the government and that most politicians are out of touch with the reality of our lives. So in order to remedy this, I think that most of the power should be taken out of Westminster and given to County Councils, with each county having an elected Governor.  Issues could be brought up through councils (these should also be elected and you would have to be resident in the county to stand for election). It would be the job of the Governor to liaise with the council and the offices of Ministers. The main task would be to let the government know how much money is needed for roads, health, etc. and to ensure that it is distributed properly. I also think that in order to prevent corruption, each county should have an independent Ombudsman to look into complaints and through them people could challenge any perceived unfairness or mismanagement. Maybe we could pay the majority of our taxes to our County Councils instead of to the treasury too, so we have more control as to how our money is spent and it would benefit our own areas more. 

All vital services like energy, transport, police, education and health should remain under the control of Government but to allow for private enterprise to maintain and reduce some of the waste, there should be a 51% Government to 49% Private split in their provision. I think all these services should also be managed by county councils with government overseeing from a distance.  

Going back to the economy and the global capitalist system, I also think it is time to start putting up a few trade barriers. I really think there should be a ban on global corporations and if we can’t ban them, we should make them return a percentage of their profits to the country they trade in regardless of where they are based. 

The big global brands have sucked the life out of our local and small businesses and all their profits go out of the country. I also think that a percentage of business profits should be shared among the people who work in the business. This could be done directly but I think that the best way would be to do it would be with a profit tax which would be specifically for health, education and pensions. Most people don’t mind paying their taxes if they are guaranteed that the money is used productively and they can see the benefits they get return.  In order to be fair about it, it should be capped, so that small businesses don’t get crucified with taxation the moment they start making a profit. 

So, what do you think?  Comments, as usual, are welcome.

 

 

 

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Identity

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sep 2022, 12:30

Watching the Olympic opening ceremony the other night, I realized that the soundtrack of the opening was also the soundtrack of my life. While I was born, and still live in Northern Ireland, I identify with a lot of aspects of British culture.

I mostly watch BBC television and listen to BBC radio. David Bowie was my first crush and Led Zeppelin my favourite band. I recognized the films clips from Kes and Billy Elliot, they’re both in my own film collection and, of course, I can thank the OU for knowing all about Glastonbury Tor. When I thing about identity, or what country or people I identify with, then there are so many influences that have shaped me that it would be almost impossible to identify with one country or one group of people alone. I would have considered myself Irish growing up but, realistically, there are many aspects of Irish culture that I can’t relate to at all especially the drinking culture.

Politically, the group I identify most with are the working class, but I also identify with women across the globe, especially those in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan in their struggles against male domination. I can also identify with the black man’s struggle against racial bigotry, Malcolm X is my one of my political heroes and I often think his assassination was a greater loss to the American people than Dr King. I also identify with the Native American community in their struggles to survive after the loss of their land and the ongoing problems that alcohol has caused in their communities.

Spiritually, I identify with their idea of the Great Spirit but I also identify with the Chinese philosophy of Taoism and Tibetan Buddhism. Christianity is the faith I was brought up in and I also have a lot of regard for the teachings of Jesus. There is a school of thought that believes that Jesus studied Eastern philosophy, part of this comes from his saying, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’….because Taoism translates as the ‘way’ and, of course, there are many other similarities between both philosophies. (I prefer to call them philosophies, not religions because, at their core, they are about seeking truths about how to live morally and ethically) 

When I consider all of these things, I can’t stand up and say I am one thing and one thing alone, I don’t belong to one homogenous group, to the exclusion of all others. I am a sub-culture of many different places and peoples and when you think about it, aren’t we all? 

We eat the food from different places, are influenced by other peoples ideas and ways of living, we have been shaped by so many different things that when politicians start deriding multi-culturalism, I often wonder how interesting it would be, if all the people in the country who had a parent or grand-parent from a different country went out on strike for a day. I think it would be really interesting to see just how multi-cultural we all are and I’m sure there would be a few surprises among them all. Even the Queen is descended from Germany on one side of the family.

And there was another thing about the Olympic opening, when the athletes were coming in, there were very few countries that weren’t multi-cultural. I have often said that time will prove Darwin right and all those people of dark skin who came to live in traditionally white countries, and all the white people who have moved to places like Africa and Australia, will eventually have descendants with different coloured skin. It won’t happen overnight, it’ll take a few generations but I remember the first time I saw a picture of Eugene Terre-Blanche, the leader of the right-wing National Party in South Africa, I remarked that it was strange for a black man to be leading a right-wing party, when I was informed he was white. Well, he didn’t look very white to me and that was what got me thinking about it. If the Theory of Evolution is right, it follows logically that is what should happen, as they adapt to their new environment. I discussed this with a friend one night, whose parents were originally from India, and he had to agree that his skin was lighter, and he noticed when he went back to India on holiday, how much paler he was compared to his relatives.    

I have done a bit of traveling in the last few years and what I have noticed over and over again is that no matter where you live, or what political or religious philosophy you subscribe to, the fact is, there is only one human race and the vast majority of us are just trying to make our way in the world. We want to be happy, we want a reasonable standard of living and we want to watch our children grow up in peace. 

We’re very lucky in this part of the world, in spite of our social and political problems, that most of us have a roof over our heads, most of us have enough to eat and, the truth is, most of us live like kings compared to other parts of the world. We have a lot to be grateful for and yet we take so much for granted, we throw away our lives and chances with drugs and alcohol. We have eyes but we don’t really see the great beauty that is all around us in nature and in people. We have ears but when we are out and about, they are usually plugged into an ipod, or suchlike, and we never stop and really listen to the birds singing, or the wind soughing through the trees.  (Great word that, soughing)

Western society has us tied in knots, we have been burdened with the stuff of capitalism and consumerism, we feel cut off and alone, most of us don’t even know our neighbours. Those who rule over us are so out of touch with our basic reality that it makes us feel powerless to effect any sort of meaningful change. We have grown tired and cynical as we have seen politician after politician promise us the sun, moon and stars only to watch those same people, once elected, become another political clone, the grey man in the grey suit who helps fill the pockets of the rich, while ignoring the plight and reality of the rest of us. We yearn to be part of something, to unburden ourselves of the debt and pressure of modern life, we want to live simpler and better lives. We don’t need to be millionaires or billionaires but is it really too much to expect a reasonable wage for a reasonable day’s work? 

In Steve Hagen’s book, ‘Buddhism, Plain and Simple’ -  ‘Henry Ford, after he make his first billion dollars, was asked how much more he wanted.  He said he wanted just a little more’.

Henry Ford was also a bigot, and ferociously anti- Semitic, he advocated expelling all the Jews from the US. So, for all his wealth, it doesn’t seem that Henry was a very happy man but it does allow us to see the thinking behind those who have so much wealth. Governments have advocated the ‘trickle down’ effect as way of re-distributing wealth. The idea is that if we allow the rich to become even more richer, then the wealth they create will trickle down. Unfortunately, the rich and the very rich, or ‘the haves and the have mores’, as George Bush so succinctly put it, like to keep all their money for themselves that’s why they are rich to begin with!

History will judge us, and history will condemn us, for the simple reason that those who had so much were allowed to keep it, while others were left to starve to death. We can’t say we didn’t know because we do know and while most of us are not millionaires or billionaires and are limited in what we can do, governments are not.  We need change and we need it at the top because that is where the power is. We need to think about who we vote for and why. Do we really subscribe to the tenants of the religious faiths we belong to or are we all just too worn out and tired trying to make it from one working week to the next to think about our actions from a moral or ethical perspective?

Change will come, whether by choice or circumstances, the global capitalist system has failed although governments across the globe are still desperately trying to prop it up. We are now living through the last days of global capitalism. This way of living is coming to and end, it was never sustainable anyway. The economy is contracting and India and China are experiencing an economic slow down as well. (One thing the recession has done for me, is that I realized how few of the trappings of consumerism, I really need. I was out of work for a year and living on the dole certainly helps focus the mind on what you really need, as opposed to, what you want) 

Capitalism is sustained by two things, oil and consumption. Oil is a finite resource and there are those who say we have already reached peak oil production, so it’s going to be all downhill from here. When I look around my house, as I’m sure you can too, ask yourself, just how many more products do you really need?  When every room has the flat-screen tv, there are two or, maybe three cars parked outside, your wardrobe is stuffed with clothes and shoes and all the incumbent accessories, and you probably only wear the same 3 or 4 outfits, again and again. The bathroom is overflowing with lotions and potions, the kitchen is the same with all the gizmos and gadgets and around the TV in the living room, there are so many electrical items that a six- plug extension, with surge protection, of course, can barely cover it. 

We need to really start thinking about the future and sustainable living, because if we don’t start planning now, then we are in for some very tough times ahead. If we don’t start preparing for a world without oil, then we’ll be facing a future of famine and war. There is a lot of talk around electric cars but how are they going to be built when manufacturing depends on oil, not to mention the tarmac needed for the roads?  And what about electricity, how are we going to be able to provide the energy levels that we enjoy now? 

These are all questions that need to be taken seriously and we need to start looking for the answers. In looking forward, we need to look back to how we lived before we all became part of the capitalist system. I have always envied and admired the Native Americans and their lifestyle before ‘old whitey’ landed. They lived sustainably and didn’t desecrate the land the way we do. Christopher Columbus didn’t have to wade through rubbish dumps, or slum housing and ghettoes when he landed in the Americas. The first Europeans who arrived thought they had found the Garden of Eden as the land was so pristine and abundant with food. We need to find some middle way between our technology and our resources so that we can take all the scientific and technological achievements and marry them so as to create a society that can sustain itself and work for everyone together, not just for those at the top. And to be able to do it without ravaging the planet, because this is one area where we will all be in it together and if, we don’t start making real plans, then there are some very dark days ahead for our children and grandchildren.

(The Native American communities are being ravaged by alcohol. The Lakota Sioux in South Dakota are trying to raise money to build a healing centre to help deal with the problems that alcohol is causing on the reservation and to care for children when their parents can’t. It is called Oceti Wakan, which means Sacred Fireplace. If you wish to donate you can log on to their website, just type in Oceti Wakan and you’ll find it)

 

 

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The Demon Drink

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sep 2022, 12:46

Back when I was a teenager, (about 10 years ago, no really, it was!!!) there was a group of men in our town who were known as the local wino’s. Now, I remember seeing them drinking down along the water wall, next to the river. I recall seeing them drunk but not falling down drunk. I never saw any of them passed out on the street or being sick, and they all lived into their sixties and seventies. Looking back now, these men almost seem like paragons of temperance and moderate drinking compared to what I see on the streets around me now. We Irish like to portray ourselves as the ‘easy-going, happy drinker, just out for the craic’, but the truth is, we are the world's drunk.  

This is not the land of the ‘happy drinker’, it is the land of the serious alcoholic. It's hard to believe this country was once known as the Land of Saints and Scholars. (The saints are thin on the ground now and most of the scholars have emigrated). Alcoholism is endemic in our society and the fall out from it reverberates into every area of our lives whether through days lost at work, the cost to the public purse of medical treatment and court cases, not to mention the long term social problems it causes in families. The estimated cost of alcohol abuse in Northern Ireland in one year is - £900 million pounds – yes you read that correctly!...I’ll repeat it for you just to be sure, NINE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS!!  This is just in the six counties of the North, in a population of less than 2 million people...and what is the government solution to stem the cost of all this?

Well, this is the really fun bit, the first thing that our local  minister is proposing in order to help curb the binge drinking culture, is to allow the pubs to open later! Yes, that’s right, in order to stop people drinking more, they are proposing to allow the pubs to open longer so that people will be able to drink more???!!! I kid you not! Ye cuddent mick it up (that’s Ulster Scots, by the way, oh sorry , I forgot, we did that already! See previous post - Belfast Riots) 

The next proposal is to allow children to stay in the pub until 9.00pm so that their parents can drink longer!!  This is also to make us more attractive to tourists, apparently?!!  Yes, there’s nothing like watching the local clientele drink themselves into a state of emotional tiredness to make your holiday in Ireland complete. If you’re really lucky, a fight might break out and think how much more enjoyable this scene will be when the local steroid-inflated bouncers come charging in to ‘sort things out’ while a couple of children cringe terrified and crying in the corner. No holiday in Ireland would be complete without it!! 

Third on the list, and you are going to love this one - they propose to put the alcohol behind a solid wall in the supermarket so that you have to buy it separately from your shopping!!!! Well, that should sort everything out now, shouldn’t it?? 

Yes I can see it now, picture the scene – two adults, who imbibe on a daily basis, find themselves at home on a Tuesday night and the drink has run out, the dilemma, what will they do now?  Which of these do you think, is the most probable outcome?? 

Will they:- 

A) Decide they’ve probably had enough and could do with an early night, so they go to bed and sleep it off.

B) Flip a coin to see who will go to the supermarket to check out the latest drink offer but decide the stress and inconvenience of having to buy it at a separate counter from the rest of the store puts them off so they call it a night and go to bed!

Or

C) Phone their local taxi service to get them a carry out from the local off-licence?

Yes, for our inebriated friends, it’s really not much of a competition is it??  Because we all know addicts would walk through hell-fire to get their drug of choice and would quite happily sell their mother, soul, children into servitude, if it meant getting what they wanted. Oh, and meanwhile up the hill at Stormont (the NI Parliament), they are still debating minimum pricing!

Meanwhile, down here in the real world, the graveyards are steadily filling up and every day the social problems grow and grow, passing on a legacy of neglect and abuse from one generation to the next. There is hardly a family in this country that doesn’t have at least one alcoholic and several problem drinkers.

Now as I previously mentioned, the RAAD (Right (bunch of) Assh*les Against Democracy, I think that’s what it stands for...) are busy shooting and beating up young men for recreational drug use. Meanwhile, the country is rapidly disappearing into an alcoholic haze of dysfunction and depression. If they were really interested in ridding this country of it’s drug problem, then they should start with the most damaging and costly drug of all, ALCOHOL!!  

So what could be done to curb the drinking problem? Well, here’s a few ideas that I would like to propose. Firstly, restrict the opening hours of off-licences and close them completely for two days a week, say Sunday and Monday. Better still, let’s close everything on a Sunday. I’ve been to many countries in Europe and it was a revelation to me that everything still closes down on a Sunday. Why can’t we do the same, allow the shops to open later during the week, if necessary, but couldn’t we all do with a day off from everything. I remember lazy, quiet Sunday’s when I was young, they were great, we wandered around town and out into the countryside, we had peace and time to explore. 

Next, lower the tax on beer and hike it up on spirits, wine and alco-pops, and remove all tax and VAT from non-alcoholic drinks, like Becks Alcohol Free, which I drink myself and would highly recommend. (For the record, I'm not a reformed alcholic, I've just seen and experienced too many of the negative effects of alcohol, and I have better things to do with my time and money) 

Next, they could try enforcing the law in relation to age and prohibit the sale of strong spirits to under 21’s. It wouldn’t do any harm to ban all advertising that glamorizes alcohol while they’re at it. So what do you think, not very drastic measures but worth consideration?

And then, maybe we could all start telling the truth about alcohol. We treat it as our best friend, no occasion is complete without this guest of honour but, in reality, it is our worst enemy, and who in their right mind would invite their worst enemy into their home and family? Alcohol destroys families, wastes lives, money and talent, and the long term damage to children is something that would be almost impossible to quantify. Alcohol needs to be treated with care because if you don't treat it with respect, it will strip you of yours. So, if you take a drink, enjoy it but remember that the view through the bottom of the glass is a false one and no problem was ever resolved by drinking yourself into a stupor. Life sober really isn't that bad, I still enjoy a night out but I can drive home at the end of it, I wake up with no 'morning after', my purse isn't empty, and I actually remember the nights events. So, try it sometime, who knows, you might even grow to like it.

As usual, comments are welcome.

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In Defence of Young Men

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sep 2022, 14:30

One of the items on the RTE News this week caught my eye (one of the advantages of living along the border, we get all the British and Irish Channels).

Apparently, there has been an increase in suicides among young men due to the economic situation here.  Figures showed that 38% of these young men were unemployed, while 32% worked in construction, which is the sector suffering most since the downturn. I also read in the New Statesman that suicide rates in Greece have gone up 40% since the austerity crisis.

The high suicide rate relates to men and boys and a few years ago there was a European report which showed that the suicide rate in this part of Ireland was 73% per cent higher than anywhere else in Europe. So, although the present economic situation is partly to blame at the moment, there are also other reasons why young men are suffering so much. 

One of these, I believe, is the level of violence aimed at young men. I never knew how bad it was in this country for young men until I had some of my own. Throughout their lives, from they were children until they were grown up, their primary experience of dealing with older men and boys was one of threat, violence, bullying and intimidation. I remember having a conversation with my youngest son many years ago when he was at secondary school and he said to me, ‘Mum, you have no idea what it is like, every day, all you get is, I’m gonna fight you, I’m gonna get you.’ 

This level of threat has followed them right through their lives, from their teachers to their peer group, to work colleagues. I remember, as a teenager, witnessing a teacher slapping a twelve year old boy on his hands with a leather strap that was a quarter of an inch thick and feeling physically ill. (I was in another classroom that overlooked his). I have seen numerous acts of violence committed against young men throughout my life and, so, it was no surprise to me to read that young men under the age of twenty five were more likely to be victims of violence than any other group.

Here in the North, there is another more sinister side to this violence that comes from a self-appointed Republican paramilitary group RAAD, who are shooting and beating up young men for minor drug offences (the major drug dealers pay protection to other criminal groups so they don’t get touched). They think if they add Republican to their name, this gives them some sort of legitimacy within the Nationalist community. We have had the extraordinary situation of parents bringing their sons to these people to be shot out, of fear that if they didn’t, there would be worse done to the whole family.  

There is also the cultural aspect to this, the macho culture that continually supports the ridiculous idea that males need to be toughened up. A few weeks ago, I read a letter in the Observer newspaper from a doctor, (unfortunately the paper went to the recycling) who said that males were the weaker sex, that a premature child was more likely to die if it was male. I was also speaking to a school principal who taught at a girls school for many years before becoming principal of a boys school. She told me that there was a huge difference in them and that girls were smarter, quicker and matured earlier and the boys were more naïve and took a lot longer to mature. I have to say that concurs with my own experience of bringing up boys and girls.

The question I would like to pose is this – what if all this violence was being directed towards young girls?  What would we be doing then, society would be in uproar!  A friend of mine asked this question at a recent community meeting, he works with and counsels young men. After the meeting, he was taken aside and told not to ask the question again by members of one of our ‘political parties’.

What kind of society have we created which accepts that young men are legitimate targets for violence and do not deserve to be treated with the same gentleness and kindness as young women? Why do boys have to be toughened up and made to repress their emotions? 

There are also paradoxes to this here in Ireland and that is in the way young males are ‘mammied’. Where their mother, whether through her own narcissism, or through some warped idea of her role as a parent, mollycoddle young men and do everything for them, indulging them all the time. The outcome of this, is to leave a grown up boy who is incapable of caring for himself, who has never learned how to deal with issues in a mature fashion and who finds himself in adulthood completely unprepared for, and unable to cope with, the realities of life.

A boy is a human being and, as such, has the same emotional range as a girl. He needs to be allowed to freely express his feelings as a child in order to learn how to manage and control them so that they don’t overwhelm him then when faced with crises later in adulthood.   

The role of a parent is to prepare your child for life in the real world. To spoil a child is about the worst thing you can do for them and is not a sign of your love for them but a sign of your own emotional immaturity. Most of us love our children and only want the best for them but spoiling a child is the laziest form of parenting because it requires no effort. I watched Rabbi Shmuley Botech on Oprah a few years ago and he drew a great analogy that has always stayed with me. He said that if we thought about it in terms of meat, it would help us to see it more clearly, a piece of meat that is spoiled is rotten and no good to anybody.

This is exactly true of children, the worst people to deal with in life are those who have been spoiled because they expect everything their way, have no empathy for others and have an overbearing sense of their own importance, (the front bench of the Tory party is a fine example of this) and while your child may be important to you, the rest of the world is not so enamoured.

As a society. we need to re-think how we treat our children, boys and girls. Our young men are in crisis and there are not enough grown-up men to help them negotiate their way into adulthood. We all need to take a long hard look at ourselves as parents and human beings because we are failing our children. We try to impose cultural falsehoods on them about how they should act and behave with no regard for the person they are. We allow these levels of violence against them to go unchecked and even believing it is for their own good. Men will not stop being violent until they are brought up without violence, when it is seen as the evil it is and not as something all boys need.

So be kind to your sons and if you want to spoil your child, spoil them with your time and attention. Make an effort and show them their true worth and how to value it. The constant threat of violence only leads to more violence and, inevitably, plays out in the ultimate act of violence against the self, suicide. The job of parenting is probably the hardest job there is, you are responsible for preparing this other human for life, it’s a profound role  and it requires effort but it has it’s own rewards when we see our children grow up into happy respectful people.

 As a final thought I would like you to think about this, the Lakota word for child is Wakanyeja, it translates as ‘sacred being’. Imagine what kind of world we could create if every child born was treated as a sacred being.     

 

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Riots in Belfast (did they ever stop??)

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sep 2022, 14:41

As you may, or may not, have seen on the news this week, we had the 'Glorious Twelfth'. This is where sections of the Unionist and Loyalist community come out to march and celebrate the victory of the Protestant King, William of Orange over the Catholic King, James. This all happened several hundred years ago but you couldn't beat the Norn (Ire)landers for their long memories!  They make elephants envious!!

Anyway, back in the day, when NI was ruled by Unionists, they could pretty much march wherever they wanted but since we've had 'peace', the nationalist community has decided it doesn't want a load of Orangemen marching down their streets and they can now object and refuse. So, in Ardoyne, in Belfast, the two sides live in quite close proximity so, every year, one side wants to march and the other side objects. And every year, as usual, it ends in rioting with the police stuck somewhere in the middle and bearing the brunt of the abuse, not to mention, of course, the thousands of pounds it costs the public purse! (this is a very simplified out-line, there are numerous sub-texts to all of this, which I really don't want to bore you all with, I've been bored by it for years).

By the way, did you know that there are more 'peace lines' in Belfast now than there were throughout the Troubles!  The politics of NI is like a child with a scab on their knee that they keep picking at!  This was one area the Good Friday agreement seriously missed out on. They should have banned all commemorations, marches and all other demonstrations that related to Republican or Unionist politics for a period of at least 50 years to really give us all some peace. 

Do you remember this same debacle, at Drumcree near Portadown that dominated the news several years ago. Unbelievably, or not, they're still whinging about it. What always amazes me about these situations is how people that thick-skinned can all be so easily offended. 

I think they should tear down all the peace walls and keep the police out of it and let them knock blue blazes out of each other until they finally realise that these people are always going to be here and they are going to have to learn to live with them.

Here's another ironic fact about NI. Throughout the troubles, the rate of mixed marriages in NI (ie: between Protestant and Catholic) was one in three!  There isn't a family here that doesn't have a relative or two who have married into the other side. 

Another big step to finally ending all this nonsense would be to integrate all the schools unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as the Catholic Church has a strong grip on the education of Catholic children which is even more amazing considering all the paedophile scandals of the last few years!  But we're nothing if not forgiving (blind) to the sins of our own side. Urrgghhh! (sorry almost choked writing that last bit!)

Anyway, and so it rumbles on, and on, year after year, after...zzzzzzzzzzz!!  Sorry, dropped off there for a minute!

'Can't the politicians sort it out', I hear you say, 'don't they have their own parliament over there now, like Scotland and Wales??'

Aha ha aha aha ahh ha ha ahahahhahha!! 

Sorry.....yes we do, our very own wee political meeting house up in Stormont where they get to argue about how to spend the pocket money from London. Tis a joy to behold, the oul enemies of yore, all dressed up in their best suits playing at being proper politicians and trying to act like the grown-ups in the House of Commons.

AAAHHH HA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Sorry, or should that have been LOL LOL LOL!!

Sorry, about that, I'm a bit giddy tonight! Oh, I've just realized, LOL over here, also stands for Loyal Orange Lodge, lol, lol, lol, AGAIN!! 

Och, ye cuddent mick it up!  That's Ulster Scots, by the way!  You didn't know I was an Ulster Scots speaker did you, I didn't either but there you go!  Ulster Scots is a language now too!  Well, if the Fenian's (Irish Catholics) have a language, the other side have to have one too. 

'If yer gan awa' hame, mick sure the dooog is a'right.'  That translates to, 'If you are going home please check that the dog is ok'.

I know it sounds like English spoken with a thick Scottish accent but what do I know and there isn't one registered speaker of this language either. Maybe I should register, I might be able to get a grant from the Ulster Scots Coouncil. Och aye, they get thoosands o' poounds a year fer the promotion o' the 'Ulster Scots Culture and Language'. They have a big shiny office up in Belfast, it's on Great Victoria Street, not far from the Bus Centre, it wid be easy te find. Who knows, maybe a cud git a jawb there, I could be a translator for English tourists who don't speak the lingo...wat de ye think, eh?

Well, isn't it good to know that while we're all watching the pennies in this time of austerity, that our taxes are doing so much good, and being directed to those areas of greatest need over here in NI!!

 

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Robert McCune, Saturday, 14 Jul 2012, 11:15)
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Bankers again!

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sep 2022, 14:54

Well, here we go again, another banking scandal, quelle surprise!! 

Yes, because we all know that bankers are honest, hard-working, decent types only interested in looking after our money and giving us the best deal they can offer! So what if they fixed the interest rates, mis-sold mortgages, mis-sold insurance, gave themselves huge bonuses and salaries and screwed up the computers, not to mention all those billions they lost.

Well, anyone can make a mistake can't they? I mean, it's probably not really their fault is it? If the nasty old governments had just got rid of ALL the regulation and let them do whatever they wanted well, they would have sorted things out all on their own, wouldn't they?

When you think about it, it's probably the fault of those poor people and all those benefits cheats who get their benefits paid into bank accounts, yes, clogging up the system, they probably shouldn't even be allowed to have a bank account!!  Because £67.50 a week to live on, if you're a single person, is tantamount to living a life of luxury. Just think of all the places you can go and things you can do with £67.50 a week, after you've bought your groceries and paid all your bills. It's no wonder so many people want to live on the dole isn't it?

It just doesn't compare to Bob Diamond's millions, does it, or David Cameron's? I mean what sort of hardship must David Cameron have grown up in when everything was handed to him on a plate. Living a life of privilege, going to the best schools and colleges, never having to worry about what he was going to wear or what he would eat for dinner, or if the house would be warm enough in the winter. I mean, it must get so frustrating being one of the elite that him and his mates used to go out and trash restaurants on the weekend when they were pissed. Of course, daddy paid for it all because, you know, it's not like those people in the riots who seemed to think that they were entitled to do whatever they like. I mean, they were vandals, not like David and his pals, well, that was just youthful high spirits, wasn't it? 

I don't know what you mean, double standard, indeed!

And let's not forget the hordes of immigrants who are arriving by the boat-load daily. If we didn't have all them to worry about we might have noticed what was going on and helped the bankers to look after things better. You know who I mean, all those people fleeing dictatorships and the like, you know, all those countries that the white Europeans used to own, when they had empires and those places where they helped to throw over the democratically-elected governments and install those friendly dictators who would help the British and American arms industry by buying all those weapons and tanks and things. 

You know, I can't remember them all, well, like we did in Iraq and Iran, helping those backward peoples with their funny religions to find the true path to democracy and capitalism, so they can live like us, burdened with taxes and worried about keeping our jobs, and paying mortgages on our negative equity properties. Why should they be allowed to live in peace and harmony with nature in their own countries? We know better than them, everybody knows that! That's why we had to go there, to teach them, to make them civilised like us. 

HA, HA, HA, Ha, ha, ha, haAAAA!!! 

What are you laughing at? I don't think this is a laughing matter at all!!

Actually, you know you're right, because if this was really true, it wouldn't be funny at all......it would be tragic! 

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 11 Jul 2012, 23:24)
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Spiderman

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sep 2022, 14:55

Went to see the new Spiderman film last night. It was an enjoyable enough film but I really didn't see the point of it. There was nothing new added to the character, or the whole Spiderman story, and it seems to have been made with the Twilight audience in mind. 

Overall, worth a look but, personally, I prefer the Tobey Maguire films and being a big movie fan means that the next big outing for the summer is almost here, the Dark Knight is next and, unfortunately, last outing. Cannot wait!!!!

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