What are they doing with OUR money? - With the financial squeeze that's being put on OUR National Health Service I can't help wondering, how many millions have been, and will continue to be squandered by OUR government on Iraq. A criminal wast of OUR money. And, if the war was illegal surely they should be brought to book.......And now they want to spend more millions (our money) on an out-dated weapons system.
REMEMBRANCE DAY - how should we remember them?
This is the basis of an address I gave at a public meeting, hosted by the Penzance branch of the Society of Friends, at St John's Hall, Penzance, on 11th November. It was severely cut back to fit into the five minutes allocated.
What am I?
When I encounter contentious law, I am an anarchist.
As I witness the waste of war, I am a pacifist.
When the needy knock at my door, I am a philanthropist.
And the greedy grab even more, I am a Marxist.
When disgusted by gross corporate greed, I am an anti-capitalist.
When I clash with the conflicts of creed, I am a secularist
I subscribe to children in need, I am an altruist .
As I see our beautiful earth bleed, I am an ecologist.
If the charlatan shows no shame, I am a moralist.
As I hear proud patriots proclaim, I am an internationalist
When winning means more than the game, I am an idealist.
When flattered by fleeting fame, I am an egotist.
Until Kings cast off their crown, I am an anti-monarchist
When the loves of my life let me down, I am a pragmatist.
Faced with a forlorn frown, I am a therapist
When my sorrows I seek to drown, I go and get pissed.
As I have faith that, only by working together, will we solve the problems of the world
without regard to the supernatural, I'm humanist.
But, as I have made so few plans in my life, (the best-laid plans... (Robbie Burns) I have just taken advantage of opportunities as they arise, I have concluded that I am a serendipitist.
There was this preacher in New Orleans, standing outside his church, eyes raised, hands clasped together and the water was rising. A man drove by in a big 4x4 saying "Jump in, I'll give you a lift to the high ground." "That's alright" said the preacher, "The good Lord will save me". "OK" said the driver and off he went. Half an hour later, with the water up to his waist a man rowed by in a boat saying "Jump in, I'll give you a lift to the high ground." "That's alright" said the preacher, "The good Lord will save me". "OK" said the boatman and off he went. One hour later, with the water up to his chest a helicopter came by and the winch-man swung down and said "Catch hold of the strop, we'll give you a lift to the high ground." "That's alright" said the preacher, "The good Lord will save me". "OK" said the winch-man and off they went. Two hours later the water was over the preachers head and there was nothing left but bubbles.
Up in Heaven the preacher sought out God. "I've a bone to pick with you" he said. "All my life I've been true to you. I've deprived myself of all the good things in life. I've never smoked. I've never touched the demon drink, and I've remained celibate, and that's how you treat me. What have I done to deserve that?". "I'm sorry" said God. "I don't know what went wrong. I sent a bloke in a big 4x4, I sent a bloke in a boat, I even sent a helicopter crew ........"
What's that about history repeating itself? Bessie Smith wrote and recorded the song Backwater Blues in 1927. I'm surprised I haven't heard mention of it under the circumstances Backwater Blues. Have a listen, courtesy of redhotjazz.com
Britain abolished the death penalty for murder in 1965. With the passage of the Human Rights Act in
November 1998, the United Kingdom joined the ranks of "fully abolitionist" countries.
Somehow our leaders appear to have reintroduced it by the back-door,......... and without the inconvenience of a trial. One of the reasons for the abolition is that mistakes can never be rectified. How many mistakes will be made before it is abolished again?
Today (18th Feb) we took one more step towards being a civilized society with the so-called ban on fox hunting.
All the arguments; town v country, toffs v hoi polloi, rich v poor, pest control, countryside management, employment, whether it's un-enforceable do not stand up to scrutiny. My stance is that to gain pleasure from tormenting, and killing any living creature is demeaning our society. Until such activity is deemed unacceptable we cannot call ourselves civilized.
Bob Dylan wrote a song, the refrain of which goes "Ah, I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now". Such a wonderful line, I wonder where it comes from. It keeps coming back to haunt me.
When I was younger (or should that be older) I was a fully fledged, died in the wool, card carrying, secular, non-believing atheist. But, at that time, I knew the God that I didn't believe in. He was the God of the Bible. The one who meted out retribution. The one who commanded the stoning to death of adultress' on their fathers doorstep. The one who answered a few prayers but ignored so many. The one up there who looked down and heard all, saw all, and knew all. The one who I would finally meet when he sat in judgment. How could I believe any of that?
As I grew older I explored a few of the Eastern religions that didnt rely on a God, I flirted with Zen Buddhism but, although I found much in all of them that was good, I couldnt make that final step across the divide from the natural, to the supernatural world.
Then I came across the open minded, science based approach of Humanism. That was where I felt at home. I then heard other definitions of God. From the Sea of Faith, Anthony Freemans The God within. I heard that God is love. Even Stephen Hawking said that, 'If God existed at all, it would be a mathematical equation'. Mmmmm! Could my conscience be a God? So now, when I'm asked "Do I believe in God?" I ask Which one? Or I hark back to a programme I used to listen to on the wireless. Brains Trust - the forerunner of the Any Questions and Question Time format. There was a Professor Joad on the panel who became famous for his often used response. He would say, "Well, it depends on what you mean by God".
In Donovans song Colours, he wrote; Freedom is a word that I seldom use without thinking. Thats a
When my daughter was coming up to her third birthday, I was singing the old Negro spiritual Oh Freedom. The last line of which goes, Ill go home to my Lord and Ill be free. She said Daddy, Ill be free soon wont I...?
As a humanist I am all for freedom. We all strive for freedom, don't we? Free to....? Free from.....?
Show me the person who is totally free and Ill show the loneliest person in the world.
It's a bit of a paradox to my fellow Humanists that I just love religious music. Im supposed to be
non-religious but negro spirituals, gospel choirs, The Russian Orthodox choir and Jewish cantors.
Can make me feel numb all over.
When I was a kid, (well I was grown up really because I was allowed to stay up later than my mum and dad) I used to gaze into the remnants of the fire and listen to the wireless. Jack Jackson must have been the original DJ. One night he played Mahalia Jackson singing Silent Night.... I was stunned. Such power, such passion, such conviction. She bent and twisted the tune till it was almost unrecognisable. Years later she toured over here with a gospel package tour including Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
One of the songs I like singing most is Just acloser Walk with Thee. I first heard as a tune by George Lewis. (It was played so movingly on a solo trumpet at a memorial for the twin towers atrocity). Years later an old jazzer wrote out the words for me. It remains one of my favourites.
Surely I can appreciate religious music without being religious. I can appreciate fine architecture of churches without being religious. I can appreciate fine works of art without being religious. I guess its down to the spirit in which its delivered and received.