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Forgiveness

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 18 Jul 2019, 22:53

Going back to the previous post, on the question of forgiveness, part of why I find forgiveness difficult is because there is an arrogance about it. To say to someone 'I forgive you' seems to me to be rather self-righteous.  When Jesus was forgiving people in the Gospels he didn't say, 'I forgive you', he said 'you are forgiven' or 'go away and do not sin again'.  Don't worry, I'm not about to go off on a religious kick but there is a lot we can learn about ourselves and the nature of humanity from the stories in, not just the bible, but in other ancients writings like those of Lao Tzu. 

Lao Tzu was a Chinese philosopher who is credited with founding the system of Taoism. If I had to choose a religion, Taoism would be my first choice although there are a lot of similarities between Taoism and the teachings of Jesus. I'll have to check out what he says on forgiveness and come back to this.

In the meantime, I'm heading to England tomorrow for a long weekend and it's getting late and I have an early start in the morning.  I have a few outings lined up.  I'll be checking out the Van Gogh in Britain exhibition at Tate Britain on Monday and I'm dining out in Bel Canto on Saturday night which I'm really looking forward to. Fine food and opera all in one, should be fun!

And as to forgiveness, I'll leave that to 'God'.


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Weddin

Happy Birthday

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 10:23

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, are 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.  So, those are the plans for the months ahead. 

 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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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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God vs Science

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:58

 I am very interested in everything, I think life is amazing and I become awestruck when I think of the amount of different life forms on this planet alone not to mention the possibilities that may exist out in the universe.

I have also been on a bit of a spiritual journey for a few years now and I have listened to the whole God vs Science debate with interest.  This is what I have concluded based on observation and my own experience.

Gravity is a force which cannot be seen or touched but you can see and feel it’s effects.  Magnetism is also a force which cannot be seen or touched but it is possible to see and feel it’s effects. 

 Throughout human history many people have recounted experiences of contact with an invisible force outside of themselves which they have not been able to explain, but for want of a better word or explanation, refer to as the Divine, or God.  It’s effects do not seem to be as regular or consistent as gravity or magnetism, but that does not mean that it does not exist, or that at some point in the future we may find an explanation for it.

 Man through his experience with it has turned it into a religion, rightly or wrongly, and tacked on a lot of his own rules and ideas to it, but that does not mean that within the universe there is not an invisible force at work that we don’t quite have a full understanding of yet. 

Personally I believe the closest anyone has come to really understanding or trying to explain it is Taoism which ties in with my own experience and as the Dalai Lama says ‘Anything that contradicts experience or logic should be abandoned’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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