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Valentine poems & work

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 12 Aug 2018, 18:01

We're doing a CICM Spectacular Failure at work for February (this is the boxing themed one, I devised, wrote and presented) and one of the fun events is to write a love poem for Valentine's Day, so I put pen to paper and wrote a haiku and a sonnet.

Haiku

Sitting alone, night

falls, and warm embraces melt 

the hardening heart.

Sonnet

What can I say or tell you about love

When Shakespeare does it much better than me

Run off a line about the stars above,

Or tell a tale of how I, became we.

Create a metaphor, on winter’s cold,

How love sprang forth and melted the snow.

How I gave him my heart to have and hold

Playing Juliet to his Romeo. 

There are no words that can really describe

How true love feels and that moment of bliss

The magical spark it has to revive

You, when in their arms, and that first soft kiss.

 

So as you go forth, remember the stakes

And try not to be, another’s heart-break.


So, that was my busy afternoon at work! 

Talking about work, a friend of mine phoned me today to ask if I would help him with a job application this evening.  He's a bit of a handy man but hasn't had much work recently and saw a job for a street-sweeper advertised for the local council and thought he would apply.  I went in and looked at the form.  It's not a form, it's a 36 page booklet!  For a street cleaning job!  This is not a joke, it really was 36 pages long, this is totally insane!!  WTF is that about??

I spent a weekend recently filling in a 17 page application for a secretarial job, or an 'executive assistant' as it is called now.  It is the last application form I am ever going to fill in, from now on if they don't take a CV, I'm not even going to apply. I had also applied for another job as a Head Receptionist in a hotel where I have worked on and off for 10 years.  I didn't get it.  The criteria listed experience of reception work, hotel work and supervising staff, all of which I had.  But the job was given to someone who has never supervised staff, never worked in a hotel or done reception work!  

I was having a conversation with a work colleague recently, (he's in with the same agency as me) when I realised that the salary I am on now is exactly the same as it was in a job I was doing 10 years ago, for basically the same work.  This realisation along with all the recent joys of job-hunting have pissed me off big time.  So, I've been making a few decisions about work for the future.  So, along with the CV, I have decided I am not doing agency work again either, no-one is making money off my talents again except me. I am also not going to give anyone the benefit of my abilities or experience unless they pay a decent salary.  I would rather do minimum wage and I will!

Another receptionist/admin job I applied for sent me this lovely email:

Thank you for your interest in the Receptionist/Admin Assistant position at ...... We have reviewed your application. Unfortunately, you are not the right fit for the position at this time. 

So, this is what I emailed back to them:

Well, what a surprise, 'not the right fit for the position at this time'.  Is there ever a time I would be 'the right fit' considering this is now at least the 6th time I have applied to ..... for a position, clerical, accounts, administration, reception but never quite 'the right fit', and not once even an interview.
I mean what could someone with a degree, years of experience in admin, accounts and all office practices ever have to offer ......,  Not quite the 'right fit'.  What does the 'right fit' mean?  Not smart enough, or too smart, over qualified or under qualified, too experienced or not experienced enough or is it just that I don't have a 'relative' to smoosh with the right people and pull the right strings, because it seems that it's not what you know but who you know...isn't it ever???
Well, I guess I'll pass ........ over in future, no point in applying, not the 'right fit', not today, definitely wasn't yesterday and most certainly will not be tomorrow.

When my father passed away this summer, I rang in to work and was told if I wanted to take time off, then I could take it unpaid or out of my holidays. 

I came across 2 other stories about work this week too, so it's not just me being put through the wringer.  The first was about how Amazon workers in the US now have to wear a wristband to track their activity, sorry, to 'help them find the right packages quicker', or so says the company.  But more tragic is the story of Don Lane, fined for taking time off for a doctors appointment, and because of this missed his ensuing appointments and died.  He worked for DPD who deliver for Amazon, among others.  

Capitalism, it's all heart, isn't it!   Oh, the joys of work!

Workers of the world it is time to unite, change is coming and that revolution just might begin here...watch this space!

 


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The Purge

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 11 Oct 2020, 09:29

I’ve grown tired of the noise of modern life.  Not just noise in the literal sense, but in the metaphorical sense too, the visual ‘noise’ and the ‘noise’ of stuff that seems to be clogging up my life.  The audio pollution seems relentless.   I try not to listen to anything more than I have too.  I had stopped watching the news and I’ve stopped listening to the radio in the morning because I just can’t stand the daily drivel as I drive to work.  And there’s another thing that gets on my nerves, the over the top dramatics of everything, the news, interviews, even quiz shows.  You can’t get a straight answer anymore, there has to be a dramatic pause before everything.  I used to enjoy quizzes but the minute the dramatic pause starts, I turn over or as it is now, turn off.  Which explains why my TV watching is down to 3 shows, The Good Fight, the Grand Prix and Gardener’s World.  Monty Don on a Friday night is the most chilled out moment of my week.  Yes, I know how sad that sounds!  

The sound of silence is seriously under- appreciated and it’s only when you try to find a silent moment that you realise, silence is almost impossible to achieve.  Even when there is no one around, there is still the background noise of cars in the distance or planes passing overhead.  Even at the top of Gortin Glen, you can still hear the distant drone of traffic.

So, I’ve been cutting back and cutting out a lot of stuff recently, I’ve also cut back on my time online, again the ‘noise’ of constant advertising driving me away.   

I’ve been having a bit of a clear out too.  As well as trying to get rid of the audio and visual pollution, I’ve been clearing out my ‘stuff’ as well.  Actually, it’s been less of a clear out and more of a purge, getting rid of all the old stuff that has been clogging up my life and my house.  There is just too much of everything and I feel overwhelmed by it.  Too many clothes, shoes, books, creams, jewellery and all the other useless stuff I have accumulated in pursuit of…I don’t even know?   What is the point of it all?  I mean, what is it all for?  I’ve also found, the more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of, so I’m still purging. Minimalism here I come..

I’ve also called a halt to all spending.   It’s part of my life plan to try and bring capitalism down by not spending my hard-earned on anything other than the absolute necessities, like food.  So, I’ve set myself a weekly budget of £40, £20 for diesel (I need to travel to work, although I’m looking for something closer to home) and £20 for food, which is doable when you live alone.  I don’t have much debt and I’ll be rid of most of it within 20 weeks or less, although there is one loan that will run until next year, unless I get lucky and get a lift of money from somewhere. 

I was discussing the accumulation of stuff a few months ago with a good friend of mine and he recommended a great documentary called The Century of the Self.  It’s available to watch for free online, and was made by the BBC.  I highly recommend it.  It explains how government and business have basically being doing their level best to brainwash us all.  And they’ve been pretty successful at it too, I have to say.  We have moved from the concerns of the collective, to the promotion of the individual over all others.  It’s basically, divide and conquer by another name.  We’ve been encouraged to put our own individual needs, over the needs of the greater good.  Where we used to have neighbours, now we have competitors in the race to have and to own; better job, bigger house, fancier car, more stuff and more stuff and more... etc, etc. 

And what is all the spending for?  Profits, for the corporations.  The wars and misery in the world today are driven by profit for the few at the expense of the many.  The pursuit of money is a poison for humanity and the planet.  It has caused the most horrific damage, pain, death and suffering to the world and its inhabitants since its invention.  If we got rid of money tomorrow and instead started living by the maxim,’ everyone taken care of’, the world would become a very different place.  All we need is the will to do it…  To be continued

As always, comments are welcome..


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The Universe

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The universe is approximately 14 billion years old, give or take a couple of hundred thousand.  The Earth is estimated at 4.5 billion years old.  Man or a man-like creature is reckoned to be between 2.4 and 7 million years old and homo sapiens, from whom we’re descended (correct me if I’m wrong) have been around for about 200,000 years.  Not very long at all when measured against the age of the universe and according to physics, everything that is in the universe existed the moment it began.  So, we were at some point in the life of the universe, stardust.  Wonderful! 

‘Good morning starshine, the earth says hello’.  Pardon me, just having a little hippie moment there. 

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched way back in 1977 and it has taken the best part of 40 years to reach the edge of our planetary system and now they are zooming along somewhere in interstellar space at an impressive rate of 37,000 mph.  Even at that incredible speed, it is still going to take them 40,000 years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.  The vastness of the universe is beyond our comprehension and some planetary facts can be mind-blowing.  For instance, it takes Neptune 165 years to complete one orbit of the sun, amazing! But even more amazing is that even if Voyager reaches our nearest star, it would take it, (and this is incredible) 400,000,000 years to reach the other side of the Milky Way.  That is a distance beyond comprehension....and that is just one small galaxy in a universe of millions?????

 In 1990, when Voyager 1 was leaving our planetary system and heading into interstellar space, a distance of 3.7 billion miles, Nasa, on a suggestion from the writer Carl Sagan, turned Voyager around and took a picture of earth; ‘a pale blue dot’ Sagan called it. 

Carl Sagan wrote the great story, Contact, which was later made into a film with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaghey.  It is one of my favourites and I strongly recommend it, especially if you like sci-fi or even if you just like a good movie.

So, back to us - the life of a human being is averaged at 3 score and ten, 70 years,  if you’re lucky, and many never even come close to this life span.   When that is measured against the age of the universe, it really doesn’t amount to very much at all, a mere speck of dust, a fraction of a blink of an eye in the vastness of the cosmos. 

So, here we are with our paltry 70 years, on this tiny blue dot rolling around the sun and what do we do with it?  In this eye blink of a life, we waste so much of it.  We waste it fighting in wars, over land, religion, money, power; making ourselves and everybody else miserable and afraid; scrabbling around like rats trying to ‘make a living’ instead of actually living; bitching and whining about petty stupidities, like what other people have, what we don’t have, how someone looks, how someone lives...

 We sacrifice the only life we have (I think) obsessing on nonsense and tying ourselves down to the slavery of capitalism; wasting precious time appeasing the forces of society, family and our own misguided expectations.

We allow others to dictate how the world should be and let them do our thinking for us.  The two most destructive concepts man has created, money and religion, have systematically robbed us of the experience of joy in this short life of ours and have created the greatest miseries ever inflicted, not just the human race but on all other life forms on this ‘tiny blue dot’. 

Is this really the best we can do with our precious time?


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The Vacated Heart/Capitalism

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Monday, 6 Nov 2017, 22:32

Here's a little poem I wrote a while ago.  I'm not sure if I've finished it yet as poetry is something that seems to evolve.  I've called it The Vacated Heart but now that I look at it again it could just as easily be called Capitalism - a health warning!  Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.


The Vacated Heart

A lonely wind

meandered 

through the hollow chambers

of the now

vacated heart.

Fleshy forms that once pulsed 

with heat and passion

have petrified

into stony silence

and a body lies broken,

washed up, 

on the unforgiving

shore of life.

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Black Friday

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 28 Nov 2014, 22:53

Black Friday

So the annual glut fest begins in earnest, as if we weren’t gorging enough with Christmas, we now have the cultural imposition of another Americanism, Black Friday, where you get to see humanity reduced by the brainwashing of the media and the capitalist system into a spending frenzy, buying stuff they don’t need and if they really sat down and thought about it, would realise they probably don’t want either.

It kills me to see human beings brought down into acting like rats fighting over the scraps from the bin, and for what?  A bargain buy, another piece of stuff to fill the house with, as if we didn’t have enough already.  At the end of the day, are you really any happier with the latest iPhone, has the quality of your life suddenly improved because you can now download your apps a little quicker?  (I don’t even know if that’s correct, I have a very basic mobile, I don’t have an app to my name)  It’s heart-breaking to see how many people fall time and again for all this nonsense, it seems as if the whole world is brain-dead.  When did we all become fashion victims?  When did we stop thinking for ourselves?  Are we all so desperate to feel ‘accepted’ that we have to follow like sheep to the next ‘big thing’.  Social acceptance is like a cancer in our minds, and who are we all trying to impress? 

Why does anyone give a damn what anyone thinks about them?  No one else is living your life but you, so why does some stranger’s opinion matter?  And really, if you need certain stuff to fit in with whoever, maybe you should re-think who your friends are and start connecting with people who accept you for who you are, preferably without the need for all the stuff! 

Because that’s what this is all about, the judgement of others.  There was never a time when human beings were subjected to the ‘tyranny’ of public opinion more so than they are now.  We watch week in and week out, programmes like the X Factor and those crap shows Channel 4 specialises in about people on benefits.  Watching the news tonight, didn’t the media just love it, watching the scraps for crap!  They point the finger in condemnation, like the Tories and their self-righteous pillaring of the poor and unemployed.  Let the self-righteous point the finger when they haven’t been party to encouraging the whole sorry spectacle to begin with.

Immediately after the news story on Black Friday was an item about Ebola in Sierra Leone, here is a country in crisis and people living in the most appalling poverty.  We have so much here and still we’re brain-washed into wanting more, more, more!

If we are into adopting Americanisms, then let’s try this one, let’s adopt the habits of the original Americans, let’s take only what we need from the earth, let’s re-build our communities (tribes) and look out for each other, let’s take care of our people and our environment and let’s stop with the competition.  Instead of working to out-do each other, let’s work together and support each other and let’s work to make sure that every human being has access to the things that really matter, like food, clean water, a decent and safe place to live, health care and education.  Then maybe, at some point in the future if you really have to go shopping, you can go knowing that in your community, there isn’t a child or older person going without or feeling lonely or that out in the world, there isn’t another human being sleeping on the streets or dying from the want of some of the basics in life that we all take for granted.

 

 

 

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The Beauty Industry

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 9 Sep 2012, 19:33

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 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 here, 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 was 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 this is the truth,  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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Future Ideas - Part One

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:31

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, it should ensure that workers are paid and treated fairly but not to the point where private enterprise is stifled.  It’s role should be one of balance. 

So, going forward, here a few suggestions to improve and revitalise politics and the economy.  Firstly, the whole political system needs reform.  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 creation of the working classes, although you would hard pushed to find many working-class on the Labour front bench these days. They are traditionally 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.  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 ‘bessy’ 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 feel 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 liase between 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 too should 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 50% 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 for them.  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, 1 Apr 2022, 14:42

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 a sub-culture? 

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, 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? 

I read this 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 too or we all just too worn out and tired, trying to make it from one working week to the next?

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 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 in such a way 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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