Saturday, 31 December 2016

Time Waits For No Man, they say


Dear Reader,

"Time marches on" is the common epithet, and even though we are entering a New Year, time is still time, and no New Year celebration changes that! Time is a continuous process, but we like to break it up into manageable chunks, don't we?

But a New Year does give us chance to reflect and think about where we are at and what we might hope for in the New Year. For my part, I can only hope that my life becomes even more simple, and I will try to make it so. In fact, I see simplicity being a major basis for happiness: when we are cluttered with too much - especially when it's not needed - discontent seems to become a bed-fellow. Many of us tend to seek for more to escape the feeling of discontent but we invariably fail miserably to get what we really want - which is peace of mind.

In all sincerity, reflecting on all that's been going on since the start of the Millennium (and before) I feel that we have been manipulated - or massaged - into believing that wars are inevitable, that dictators need to be removed and that economic growth is the panacea for the future of the world. But these policies have clearly not worked. So I ask these serious questions: "Who really benefits from these policies?" and "Do we have a choice?"

Well, the benefits (if any) are surely not felt by around 98% of the world's 6 billion population, and the wars we have entered and are still fighting have caused huge suffering and have left ugly legacies, not benefits. Meanwhile, despite deprivation of many in the non-developed world - and increasingly in the developed world also - we are witness to gross anomalies in how public funds are spent - particularly in the CERN collider project. If you do not know what I am alluding to I invite you to do some research on the subject - it's quite incredible to find how so much has been done and spent under our very noses that we would reject, I am sure, if we were to vote on it. We have preferred instead to concentrate our attention on issues like Brexit and Trump versus Clinton. And sport and the latest fashions.

On the question of whether we have a choice, the big stand we can make is just not to go with what we're told to go with. Perhaps instead we should use more common sense and realise that the World can only take so much, including economic growth, which has surely reached its limit.

The World wants and needs peace, does it not? Well, I feel that we seem to be getting further away from peace, not getting closer to it. We surely need to change the tide by reversing the process. We can do this by saying "no more!" and personally acting upon that determination for the sake of a better, peaceful and sustainable, future. There is a better way and it is achieved by a notion of the common good: independence of thought is needed, yes, but that should not mean the break up within nations and of nations, which is currently the popular theme. Instead, perhaps the common man should unite one with another around the World in Common Purpose and True Spirit of no harm, as demonstrated by Gandhi, the 70th anniversary of whose death we are to remember and contemplate on in one year's time. 

I wish you well and, sincerely, a very Happy New Year.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Can The Ocean Fill A Small Hole In The Sand?


Dear Reader,


Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. Matthew 24:35

Well, Christmas approaches again. I wonder how many of us have thought that perhaps this time should be about contemplating how (it is has been said) to “Cut the 'I' feeling clean across and let your ego die on the cross, to endow on you eternity.”

About this, the author of the following is Father Charles Ogada, a Catholic Priest of the Order of the Holy Ghost Fathers, who revealed this story a few years ago:
Many spiritual masters have said that it is with the mind that you can conquer the mind. And this is true. But nay, it is very difficult. Why? Naturally the mind does not want to die. How then can you trick it into destroying itself! How difficult it is for the thief to catch itself.
...
Even when one has succeeded through rigorous spiritual exercises in emptying the mind of all thoughts and desires, yet that tiny root-seed-impulse, the seat of ego-consciousness, the sense of I–ness from which all thoughts germinate, will still persist.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was troubled by this problem. How can the mind know God?
One day he was having a walk along the shores of the ocean lost in silent contemplation. As he walked, he met a little boy who had made a very small hole beside the sands of the shore and was transferring the waters of the ocean into the little hole.
Augustine was puzzled when he saw this child. He stopped and asked the little child what he wanted to do. The boy told him that he wanted to transfer the ocean into the hole he has made.
The saint was amused by the child’s audacity. He told the child that it is a mere waste of time. First the hole is not big enough to contain the waters of the ocean and secondly, even if it were as big, it will take the child uncountable lifetimes to transfer the waters with the little cup in his hand.
The child then raised his head and said to the saint: “So also it is for the mind to understand God!” Immediately the child disappeared and Augustine realised it was Jesus who had come as a little child to teach him this lesson.
Dare to Let God do it

There is a simple way out. And because this way is very simple, it is very easy since it allows you be at ease and at peace throughout the process. Allow God to kill the mind. Don’t try to kill the mind. You might not succeed over a trillion million life times. Instead, allow God to do it. In the first place only God can do it because only He has the Power of mental dissolution. God is the Master-mind. Only the master can set the slave free. Secondly, it takes Him no time. When God Himself fights the war then not only will you be sure of victory, but you will also enjoy the war. The war will be fun. This is because you will be unaffected by whatever happens since the Lord is your shield. You will remain calm and equal-minded in cold and heat, day and night, sorrow and joy, loss and profit because you know you are in that Divine zone where you are totally screened from the dualities of the mind. 

This is also the message of the Bhagavad Gita

Please click on the image to read.

In 2016, I became much more aware also of how the teachings of peoples as far apart from one another as the Maya, the Hopi and Tibet also convey the essence of the same perspective outlined above. 

My Christmas present to you is the thought that since the essential teachings of all sincere spiritual paths are so similar there is reason to suggest that, even amidst the terrors that have been experienced this past few years by (seemingly) most unfortunate peoples, that there is reason for Hope. And that there is cause for Faith and Charity to join in to prepare for what must surely be the soon-to-arrive and welcome end of the Old and the beginning of the New, when Peace will reign.

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

What Has Populism To Do With Coral Reef Destruction?


Dear Reader,

Our focus, perhaps media-driven, seems to be on populist determinations. The Corbyn, Brexit, Trump and Italy's referendum events have opened the doors to people wanting to have their say; to have a proper share of the control in what is going on in the world. However, though I can see the point of the reaction - certainly because we have created leaders and governments that are usually not in touch with the everyday affairs of ordinary people - do we (the masses) understand enough of what we are doing and what direction we are going in? Are the right reasons being employed? Is this all just another expression of the 'me, me, me' phenomenon?

Populist movements are not new, of course. One of the greatest such movements was led by a banker, Thomas Attwood, back in the 1810-1830s period, when he led a campaign in England to introduce a fair system of elections and proper representation in government. But from his home base in Birmingham, he utilised the remarkable sense of unity between employers and workers that existed there in those days to create a Political Union that was unprecedented. And he spoke in front of crowds of 100,000 or more in Birmingham to put his point across. They were momentous days, and some commentators have remarked that those days were possibly the closest this country has come to a revolution. What stopped a revolution was that the British government finally gave way to sense and the creation of reform laws that - over time - changed the democratic landscape of Britain. And, eventually, created education for all.

So, history suggests that populism does have a place in things, and that populism can be a real and welcome force for change. What is more, such events as led by Attwood do not need people of great levels of knowledge, but, rather, greater levels of moral conviction and determination.

So, isn't it that characteristic, moral fibre, that should be the main thrust of populism? For without it, I submit, the chance of creating anything better than previously existed is lost.

In which case, with Donald Trump indicating that he is going to overturn the Dakota pipe-line decision; that fossil-fuel creation and manufacturing will continue as though climate change is a chimera, what has populism achieved in the USA?

Great coral reefs are being destroyed as a result of climate change and pollution; whole species are in danger of extinction, and other catastrophic situations, and yet Trump is being welcomed by people who say they are tired of 'the establishment', but in reality are really just wanting to have more money in their pockets. Meanwhile, the institutions of Europe appear to be in the process of being dismantled while there is a refugee crisis that affects the whole of Europe, and with no populist idea of what to do about it.

Never mind, those with money will still be able to buy their BMWs, Mercs and Jaguars - and yachts. For the time being.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

You Think You Know Where We Are Going?


Dear Reader,

Despite that time in the early 60s, when we seemed to be at the edge of World War when the Russians were sending ballistic missiles to be installed in Cuba, Cuba under Castro was well-led and to be admired in many respects: in my opinion. Certainly, there were articles appearing in the liberal press postulating the view that the country was the best led country in the world!

After all, education, health and the economy were all looked after well, with no reports of corruption nor, even, any secret police to spread terror - and certainly no extreme materialism. The Cubans that had fled their country at the time of the 1959 Revolution have never been happy with Castro's presence, of course, but those that remained seemed to be happy under Fidel's regime.

But Trump the Philosopher sees things somewhat differently. To him, Castro removed people's rights and was - in his words - "an evil person". But I have to ask the question, what "rights" do people really need? The attitude seems to suggest that "rights" are to actually supercede "duties", but, surely, we have to earn - through duty - our rights: yet there is a prevailing tendency to expect an easy life with the minimum effort, which has been one of the drawbacks of our Welfare State. And, in around 1970-time, it became so much easier to have abortions and divorce without thinking through the consequences of such action.

Now, I understand the basic reasons why abortions and easier divorce came into being - and I have the utmost sympathy with those reasons - but, to me, both "rights" have been vastly over-utilised and these and other moral issues no longer seem to be discussed, as though we have moved into an age where everything goes. But without morality we cannot call ourselves civilised, I suggest. And our sense of community has, sadly, largely dissipated.

There may be those who think that "civilisation" simply means freedom and the advancement of the arts - of any description - but was that the case in ancient advanced cultures, in India, China and Greece ... and even the Islamic era of the Middle Ages. Of course not - philosophy and ethics were of prime concern. And in the case of most of the ancient great cultures, a deep spirituality underlay their philosophy and ethics.

Our Western "civilisation" now rapes the earth, the air and the seas and follows a vision of continued growth, but (in the UK, for example) how many HS rail projects can you have before they start having to be built on water once the land has been used up?

Today, the Meaning of Life seems to be disregarded ... we are, they say, to follow the American Dream, or versions of it, modified to the way of life of each country but essentially still the same variety that seems to have propelled Trump into the White House ... or Trump Hotel, whichever he chooses to reside in. That in itself is a clue as to Trump's way of life. "Me, me and more me". Would the great American fathers be happy with this kind of vision? Is this what we really want?

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Headless Chickens Need To Be Given A Direction


Dear Reader,

Do you get the impression that previously respected world powers now have their heads of government running around like headless chickens? Well, that's my impression anyway.

Our own Prime Minister May met Chancellor Merkel yesterday with both ladies all smiles ... and later parted with facial expressions showing clear division between the two. Brexit has caused a stir and no mistake, with our Tories thinking that the Great in Great Britain still means as much as it did 60 years ago. But we made a mess in the campaign against President Nasser of Egypt over the Suez Canal in 1956 (incurring sanction from the US) and then President de Gaulle put a stop to Brtish pride. I don't think we've learnt from those lessons. At least Prime Minister Wilson refused to join in with the US over Vietnam, but Wilson wasn't Tory, was he? Ahem, but Tony Blair wasn't Tory either (in theory), so his international ventures need a bit of explaining.

This year, however, we have experienced the rise of popularism - with Brexit and now Trump - but the poor people who understandably got fed up with the faire offered by their governments have been sold downriver. In both of the populist outcomes the people were downright misled by those who should know better, and the water now becomes murkier as people are wanting to know what's going on. And with the French and German elections looming I feel that the water will become even murkier.

What will the people do when the waters become more polluted? I would say they will get more angry ... and the anger will only create chaos  ... and, potentially, harm.

So it is surely time for man to think more about what he and his immediate circle can do about the plight of the world, for there is a way through it all. The way is not strictly a political way, though, as people have forgotten that politics is only a tool by which to go in a certain direction. To have meaning, that tool must work from a base of values, but the materialist base that we have created clearly no longer works.

So let us look at a prescription of positive thought delivered by a guru of amazing perspicacity - Sri Sathya Sai Baba - in the year 2000:
Today the food you eat, water you drink and air you inhale are all polluted. People themselves are highly polluted because their minds are filled with negative feelings and worldly desires. No doubt, you can have desires, but they should be under limits. Many human hearts are a den of evil qualities like anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, pomp and show. Love alone can drive away these negative qualities. Desire, anger, greed, jealousy, etc., arise only out of body attachment and improper food habits. So control your attachment and desires. The letters that you write will appear blue when the pen is filled with blue ink and red when it is filled with red ink. Similarly all that you see, hear and say will be negative if your heart has negative feelings. Hence fill your heart with love. Then all that you see, hear, say and do will be suffused with love and you will experience a world suffused with love.
Don't you think that this doctrine has extra meaning today, sixteen years since it was stated, having experienced what we have since 9/11 (2001)?

I read with great interest an article that appeared in one of today's UK newspapers, by an American doctor who had an out-of-body experience while undergoing surgery. He received a message whilst in the out-of-body state, which was to the effect that the basis of the universe is suffused with love, and that is the single value we should be living by. That doctor has now completely re-shaped his lifestyle and moved from mass production health working to a people-centred and holistically-based healing centre.

Doesn't it make you think?



Saturday, 12 November 2016

Well, The Trump Card Has Been Well And Truly Played...


Dear Reader

Hello! And I hope you're adjusting to your world, wherever you may be. These past few months have produced some utterly surprising outcomes, not only throughout the world but here too, on my own patch.

You see, we did not - in the end - move house to anywhere. Yes, having declared that we were on our way, we had to reconsider owing to my wife's health. But we still plan to go once we've gone through all the health checks that have still to be made.

But I delayed writing a further article until the outcome of the US presidential election. For some reason, I had a doubt that Hilary would win even though she appeared (to me at least) to be by far the most qualified.

As far as the president-elect is concerned, I have heard little from him other than false promises. Already he has indicated a modification to his intentions on the so-called Obamacare plan, and many feel that it will be impossible for him to build the Mexican wall. On top of that, the very idea that he can somehow resurrect the US economy without also tackling climate change conditions must be the sign of a man in denial.

But, in some ways he sounds a better proposition than Clinton - particularly on the matter of the US attitude to overseas issues and staying out of other people's business. On that he sounds to me to have some commonsense.

The fact is, though, the American people seem to have elected a man in simply because they want a change. What kind of change they will actually get is beyond their comprehension I suspect - just as the people in the UK voted for change with Brexit without knowing the consequences. And still don't. And I suspect there will now be a chain reaction through Europe - in France, Germany and Catalonia. 

By the end of 2017 I see a world where people will be congratulating themselves for voting for change, but then will be shocked to see the result of their actions, as the result could well be anarchy. That's not to say that everything was going right without that vote. Not at all: the various governments and cartels had got many things wrong, and some form of change was necessary. But it's the manner of this change and just who is representing those for change that concerns me.

And it could well be that certain other things will transpire in 2017 that have so far been untalked of. I cannot clarify my meaning on that.

So, this is the start of a switchback ride that none of us can truly envision as to its end. Except that at some time - maybe in 10 or 15 years time - I firmly believe that the world will come to know Peace. At last. I cannot say more than that, but that is what I believe.

And Peace is what I wish for everyone.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Time To Rest My Pen - For Now!


Dear Reader,

Over the next few weeks, Anasuya and I will be searching for, and moving to, a new home, and we will be so busy that I need to suspend this column. There is just too much to do to reflect properly; if I were to try to write anything coherent in the next few weeks I would probably only succeed in driving you all from this column!

But I enjoy writing on matters that affect us all, and hope that I have made some kind of sense. One thing is certain, the world is going through stresses and strains that we may not properly comprehend, and the situation calls on us all to reach our higher selves. I believe that we will be very tested, and many are probably already being tested: we will find that only by looking deeply into our hearts will we be able to properly sail through the storm. 

I hope to return in about two or three month's time refreshed and able to write further perspectives of where we are heading on this planet and home, called Earth.

Thank you for reading this and previous articles, and I send my very best wishes.

Au revoir!

Friday, 29 July 2016

I Believe In This...


Dear Reader,

You've no doubt heard of the old tale that trouble comes in groups of three? Well, I had three messages this week (and within the space of three days) which may not be "trouble" in themselves, but possibly indicate something of what we might be doing more of. That is, reflecting on what's really what.

The first was while innocently watching a BBC TV quiz programme called 'Pointless'. Now in this programme, a list of questions was asked of the contestants related to Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol". And one particular question seemed to be the trigger for the other two messages I was to receive; the question was "What was the last dream scene that Scrooge was taken to by the Spirit?". The answer, of course, was the isolated grave of Scrooge himself, with a simple headstone revealing nothing about his life.

Now the second message that came to me was at a wedding, when I met a relative by marriage who, like me, is retired. He is an Asian by birth who had been a practising Anglican Christian until recently, he now having decided that he no longer believed in a God, but is now an Evolutionist. Well, good luck to him, everyone is entitled to their own philosophy.

The third message was at the same wedding, during its rituals. It was a Hindu wedding and the priest officiating was very helpful to those attending by explaining everything that happened as he went. At one point there was a ritual relating to the four aims on which a householder's life should be based: a disciplined life (dharma), desire for (right) achievement (kaama), pursuit of (right) wealth (artha) and spiritual liberation (moksha).

Now, to bring these three 'messages' together.

The third (last) message - to me - is a reminder that life needs to have spiritual meaning, for without it one can be blown in all kinds of directions. That fact that there are four such aims seems also to indicate that the admixture of these should be in balance, otherwise too much emphasis on one side can lead to one being unbalanced. The priest pointed this out; the fact is that too often if we follow any such values at all they tend to lurch towards the material in respect of desire and pursuit of wealth, leaving the other two components on one side. This approach will usually lead to great difficulties in our personal lives as well as an affect on the community in which we live.

The second message (about following a non-spiritual belief) would tend to take the person away from a life system containing deeply meaningful aims. Either that or it leaves one to have to find a suitable replacement for it - or, even, to lose a sense of morality. If one rejects the notion of a God then the values defined in a spiritual way of life would tend to be abandoned, or at least followed half-heartedly and without inspiration.

The first message (about the grave) forces us to acknowledge that our sojourn on this planet Earth is brief, and that to live the life satisfactorily means to have followed a sustainable values system. Without such a view, the life opportunity has been wasted.

In short, these messages suggest that a life of sincere spiritual belief and practice is a necessity. Indeed, I would suggest that if a righteous spiritual system were to be sought and followed there would be no wish to look into other ideas or pursue a life of wastefulness.

That's how I see it, with the addition that I see a Big Plan behind all this; the great teachings are too profound, in my view, to indicate anything else. 

Thank you for reading this.

Friday, 22 July 2016

One Big Cloud


Dear Reader,

A year ago, Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party by its membership and by a very substantial margin in the process.

Since then, the centrist members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) have made quite a few noises of dissatisfaction, and this week it became very apparent that the reformists of yesteryear want back what they believe to be their party. They believe it's their party, in stark contrast to the view of the membership. They (the centrists and hangers-on) now believe that they will overcome this Corbyn spectre in the September leadership election.

It is very noticeable that none of the bigger names in the party have been brave enough to put their names forward for the contest, stating that the rather nondescript Owen Smith will do the job for them. I ask one question: really?

All the indications are that Jeremy Corbyn will win again, and again by a substantial margin. Leastways, I will be surprised if that is not the result. And the outcome of that? Maybe the centrists will join up with the Lib-Dems.

Corbyn has recently been labelled by the media as being a man without policies, but I see nothing but policies about worthwhile values in what he talks about, and in particular (this week) he has enunciated well his determination to bring fairness into the workplace. But he has long fought for issues of far greater impact, one being his peaceful fight against nuclear weapons (being a strong supporter of the likes of dear Tony Benn), but being - in general - one who sees nothing being achieved in warfare.

Is he wrong? Patently he is not. We have seen nothing but escalating warfare in the Middle East and north Africa this past 25 years, and a combination of that and sanctions imposed by "the west" have imposed considerable suffering among civilians. To what end?

The one positive note is that this week's BBC2 coverage of conditions in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan reveals it to have grown as a well-ordered town in the desert over the last four years: the 80,000 Syrian people there are surprisingly cheerful and optimistic. But so were the Palestinians who preceded them in Jordan, and what progress have they been able to make in their near-70 years of camp confinement? Optimism can dissipate into anger after a generation or two.

So the war against war seems to me to be perfectly valid. And if that is so, surely nuclear war is even more a white elephant and should be got rid of.

So it was that the matter of the renewal of Britain's nuclear submarine fleet came up for a vote in the Commons this week, and many (centrist) Labour MPs joined in the gushing support of this great folly. 

Disappointingly, my own (Labour) M.P. voted 'for' the renewal of the nuclear programme, choosing to ignore the fact that £31 billion (plus £10 billion contingencies) could be better spent elsewhere. I wrote to my M.P.:

As you are a Christian (I believe), if you were to have a neighbour whom you felt to be dangerous, would you go out and buy a gun in case you should have to use it against him? Of course not. Then why support Trident, probably the greatest white elephant ever. It even beats HS2 [the superfast London-Birmingham rail project].
A Cumbria (Labour) MP launched a ferocious verbal attack on Jeremy Corbyn during the parliamentary debate on the Trident nuclear deterrent. He even congratulated the new Prime Minister in their choice of an official Labour Party policy! Another stab in the back for Jeremy. He described Mr. Corbyn - a long-time anti-nuclear campaigner - as “reckless, juvenile, and narcissistic”.
The sheer stupidity of this approach [he said] should be dragged out into the light and seen for what it is, because renewal is not only Labour party policy but the settled will of the country, and every parliamentary decision relating to it will have been taken by 2020.

So, according to him, it is "stupid" to try to prevent the wholesale slaughter of people in a kind of war in which there would be no winners and instead the erasure of life on this planet? And that's apart from the ability to put up to £40 billion to better use?

In contrast to the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn has told the House that he personally would never press the nuclear button, murdering millions of innocent people. The Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said that renewing Trident would send out a message that all countries should have nuclear weapons – something that she said would not make the world a safer place.

"Stupid" views? Sounds more like wisdom to me coming from people who are probably seen as weak by the macho community.

And as for Jeremy Corbyn being specifically "stupid", it's interesting that a recent Guardian article listed 100 names of internationally prominent academics, philosophers and journalists (including elite thinkers Chomsky and Pilger) who have protested against the treatment of the Labour leader.

Is it that Mr. Corbyn has "stupid" friends, or have many Labour MPs simply lost the moral plot?

Thank you for reading this.



Friday, 15 July 2016

Time To Wake Up?


Dear Reader,

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” 
― Edward R. Murrow (a famed American broadcaster of yesteryear)


At the end of a hard day, it is forgivable that we like to just be fed what is in front of us with the minimum of effort on our part. But if we truly want to know what is going on in the world then we surely need a service that informs, and informs well. But can we trust that service? The answer is, regrettably, that the issue of the quality of news reporting and what is deemed to be transmittable is under scrutiny. 

John Pilger is one of those that work hard to tell us the truth, and there are others too, like Robert Fisk; but Pilger works independently and the quality journalists are too few in number, often framed by their own hype. Also, the best journalists tend not to be presented at peak-times on TV. Perhaps part of the reason for the lack of journalistic quality is the little-publicised fact that around 300 journalists (of all nationalities) were killed during the Iraqi trouble since 2003: many men who risked everything to find the truth are no longer here to tell us the story.


Illustrative is the fact that the BBC journalists interviewed in this John Pilger film of 2010 were admitting that they didn’t ask hard enough questions on going to war in 2003. Yet – wait for it! – they were recently saying the same thing after the Brexit referendum. And I don't remember much hard questioning of Cameron after the Libya incursion, which subsequently backfired in the manner of the Iraq War. As Pilger has questioned, why has Cameron not been challenged on
"the dispatch of British special forces to Libya and British bomb aimers to Saudi Arabia and, above all, the beckoning of world war three".
In other words, we don’t have journalists on the main channels that we can rely on to press hard on important matters. They have not learnt any lessons from Pilger's 2010 revelations and the quality of the journalism remains tainted. And the reporting means that politicians are often not brought properly to account.
Take this quote:
Sarah O'Connell, who has worked for BBC News for many years, gives an insider view of the organisation:
'not many national BBC news journalists see enough of life at the "bottom" of society to report on it properly or accurately. If most of my colleagues at the BBC didn't start life with a silver spoon in their mouths, by the time they've served ten years at the BBC (and the longevity and security of a BBC news staff job is recognised industry wide), they've pretty much gained honorary status of the establishment class.'
She continues:
'when you walk into a BBC newsroom you can see and hear the privilege. There are only a few genuinely working class voices. There are hardly any black faces at all.'
As an example, O'Connell describes in disbelief how widespread abuse of the parliamentary expenses system by MPs was essentially ignored by the BBC. When she tried to report the scandal, she was told by BBC News editors that 'this isn't a story, MPs have to eat.' She adds:
'But it was a story. It was one of the biggest political stories of the decade. And the BBC missed it, because, to most of their journalists at that time, the idea of having lunch for £150 on expenses, well, it just wasn't a story, was it? Not when it was exactly the kind of thing BBC news executives might be doing as well.'
As a result, politicians have got away with - and are still getting away with - what amounts to murder.  In my opinion, the way the news is generally presented tends to feed our apathy.

In addition, the BBC gets accused of just plain prejudice, as reported in the Guardian headline: 
Campaign to sack BBC's Laura Kuenssberg
All this - together with the constant bombardment of information experienced in this day and age - means that the ability of ordinary folk to form informed, quality views on the world is considerably reduced. It would appear that large-scale manipulation by the authorities and via the media is at work, and probably always has been. The problem is that the ability of the media to shepherd people into a belief appears to have considerably increased.

Ironically however, the fact that the scale of 'the problem' is now so great may well mean that the majority have, through hardship, become aware of their predicament and have had enough.

A positive antidote, however, is not to voice hate to our political governors and commentators, but to realise that we can be the originators of our own change, and that we can tell these people that it is unnecessary to be part of this total system towards growth (for the purpose of filling the pockets of the wealthy). A system that causes so much hardship - not just to us, but to all the people and creatures of the world, and to the planet. In other words, to show our humanity. Love breeds love, not greed, nor envy.

Thank you for reading this.

Here's a previous, recent, article of mine on a related issue.


Friday, 8 July 2016

Is There Just One To Blame?


Dear Reader,

It is inevitable that there is a cry to bring an individual "to justice" for this or that, but even for the most basic malfeasance there is often some other factor that influenced the act to be perpetrated. In Tony Blair's case there were - I believe - several influencing factors,  but perhaps the most important factor was how the 9/11 phenomenon gained the sympathy to swing the matter to support the US. But I have to say that I believe that a further major factor was in the rise of 'New' Labour, and its apparent attempt to be all things to all people.

Not long after Tony Blair took over as leader of the Labour Party, one of his acts was to remove the famed "Clause 4" from the Party rulebook, and though I can understand why he thought it was "old hat", the principle in the clause was to link the importance of the ordinary worker to the wealth of the country - that the worker was just as much an important cog in the economic process as any other person, even the chairman of a large business.

The removal of this important principle - which could simply have been re-worded into modern language rather than be rejected - thereby let the Labour Party free from certain intrinsic values. As a Labour Party member of the time and one of those who voted out Clause 4, I take equal responsibility for that error. Of course, like many others, I was more concerned about Labour regaining government at the time over the principle on which we were voting within the Party. I did not spend enough time to think of the consequences - what has proved to be a terrible mia culpa on my part, I believe.



Thereby Blair led the break away of an important link between Labour and the working people that was then thought of not to be a big issue: that progress and fairness for all was possible without all that heavyweight principles stuff. In fairness, we were trying to get out of the idea of a class-based society, and that was one of Blair's mechanisms to take us out of that mentality. But since that time the number of mega-rich people has exponentially grown, while at the lower level of the scale there is more hardship and more people subject to control by a few so-called elite. It came to be that people at the bottom of the pile no longer felt they had a political party that spoke for them: at least until Jeremy Corbyn arrived.

The breaking of working class links didn't stop there. Although Blair was significantly successful in achieving unity in Northern Ireland, his instincts became robustly in favour of imperial endeavour when the Iraq question came around.

Up until Blair's time, the Labour Party's basic principle was anti-war. That principle was deeply respected by Labour's Harold Wilson in the 1960s, so the UK did not side with the USA in the war in Vietnam. Thank goodness; but the wisdom of that precedent appears to have been lost by 2002.

Blair's "I will be with you, whatever" message to George Bush jnr. in September, 2002, seems to sum up Blair's general attitude, and was uttered in a presidential tone, no doubt influenced heavily by his sympathy to the US on the matter of 9/11. But by that stage the principle of collective responsibility in cabinet had been diminished, and, post-Chilcot, we have retrospectively found out that the cabinet did not question the process towards the Iraq War anywhere near as closely as they might have. The then cabinet appears to have been in awe of the power of The Man, Tony Blair.

Parliament was warned, however, by the very respected Robin Cook, who resigned from the cabinet in 2003: click here to see him present his resignation speech.

Significantly, we now know for certain that the evidence for going to war on Hussein was scanty. So scanty it seems that a spy was passing intelligence to MI6 which appears to have been lifted from the film The Rock, starring Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery. And Hans Blix (the chief weapons inspector) argued strongly that there was nothing to be found but asked for a further period to ensure that was the case. That request was denied and the outcome was that the US (and the UK as the strongest supporting ally) went in to finish Saddam Hussein, but without any form of plan of how to follow up a (presumed) successful invasion. Winning hearts and minds was said to be the intention of the whole project, but any hope of that was given up on long, long, ago. 

Some say one million Iraqis have died. More realistically perhaps the true figure is half that number. Officially it's half again. But few people seem to think of the affect on the Iraqis themselves, and that they continue to go though a continued hell as a result of the Daesh/ISIS phenomenon, which itself was mostly caused by the so-called Bush-Blair War.

In conclusion I would say that Tony Blair has been a victim of his own hubris. Following a very successful first 5 years in office he so convinced himself of the righteousness of his actions, and all those around him, that much-required close scrutiny and evaluation of the true state of affairs seems to have gone astray. Many people in government (not just Blair) seemed to forget certain principles of government and failed to stand up for them. And not only they but also Army commanders who did not highlight the poor quality of the soldiers' equipment.

There is not just one culprit, therefore, in this very regrettable business.

Have we learnt? I would hope so, but memories rarely last more than a lifetime. And it didn't stop Cameron from following a similar Blair-type line into Libya. 

I only see a return to long-term sense based on strong and well-upholstered government principles, themselves based on sound values which include real honesty and clarity towards the public. We did not see much of that in the recent Brexit campaign, so it does seem we have a long way to go yet to achieve anywhere near the ideal state.

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Pause Amidst The Hurley-Burley


Dear Reader,

As the referendum re-run petition comes close to 4 million signatures, I thought it timely to re-cap a little after these mad last few days.

The petition has really been triggered because those with the most working years left have been left high and dry in the vote – and to a large extent by the very people who voted ‘in’ in 1975.

In other words, those who voted ‘in’ in 1975 (when two thirds of the country voted ‘in’) have decided to become independent after the UK has become non-independent by virtue of selling off its crown jewels and (over the years) becoming deeply ingrained with Europe: the academic inter-action and security being two prime examples, as well as privileged trading conditions within the EU. We once advertised to investors: "Come here and be part of the EU". So, investors did come, but now we choose to turn our backs on them.

Of course those who voted in ’75 must think it to have been a mistake, otherwise they wouldn’t have voted that way, would they? But the point is they voted in 1975 to give the next generations a better and more harmonious chance, and now – those generations having grown up and seen benefits of some kind in staying in – they’re taking away the right of the generations they created! Further, the older group are not the people who will sort out the mess (sorry, opportunities) that has now been left for the younger generations!

How bizarre!

What we are supposed to do now we have no control over any major businesses to speak of, I wait to see. 

In short, the Brexit vote was hot-headed, though I do feel for the poorer people who have most felt the affect of substantial immigration and its affect on services, while the government chooses to reduce support for those services. It's the last issue - lack of government understanding - that I feel we should be concentrating on.

Further, it may take years of re-negotiation with the EU before Brexit takes effect. And in-between there would be so much uncertainty in the capitalist world that the financial situation may get a lot worse. Plus the fact that the EU itself may well be in danger of entirely breaking up.

It's successive UK governments that's been the problem, in reality. But if we were to have a general election, who is there to vote for that shows the ability to provide the proper direction? Oh dear.

But there is one great positive thought about all this. If we were to at last realise that the world cannot sustain continued growth and if we were to live more constructively, then opportunities do exist to create a sustainable and even a happier future.

If that situation develops, then I might rue the day I voted 'Remain'. But for as long as we must continue to have 2+ cars per family and our yearly holidays abroad, it won't happen.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

URGENT! Please Petition Parliament To Change The Voting Rules!


Dear UK Citizen,

For a Just result, please link to...

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215

Kind regards,

John

It's The Oldies What Did It! Shame!


Dear Reader,

Well, it does look like the 45s and above age group ("the oldies") have seriously prejudiced the futures of the younger people, particularly the u-25s.

For me this is a serious matter, that us oldies, who are much more numerous, have taken to remaining selfish about what we want. This is again a situation where we forget that we're not here for that long and yet we presume, near the end or past the end of our working lives, we can take away the chosen futures of those who have their entire lives ahead of them.


Click on the image to get a bigger view.
I cry "shame!".

Not only this effect on the young but we may well see the break-up of the UK: Scotland and even Northern Ireland may well decide to take their own trip. And I don't blame them as they can see their English cousins are more concerned about their own affairs than the future of the UK as a whole.

The EU may now break-up as well. Perhaps the Brexiters may not be concerned about that, but this line of thinking will be found to be utterly negative. 

Why don't we all just get divorced from our partners and families as well? It's the same thing isn't it?

We have a lot to learn. Love and tolerance seem to be words we have forgotten about - but, admittedly, with no thanks to the political classes we choose to elect.

Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The EU Exit Post-Mortem


Dear Reader,

Today is one of the saddest days in my life, feeling that I'm going through another divorce.

But I feel as though it's unfinished business. I don't see how 48+% of the UK population can be regarded as defeated (whichever way it had gone), and it raises the spectre of identity issues in Scotland and even Ireland, where the border issue comes up once more. And the impact on trade and relationships with the Republic of Ireland.

What will it mean for our farmers, I wonder?

Added to that it appears that much of the North-East vote (for Exit) was more of a protest vote against politicians than anything to do with the EU. But will the political parties listen to that protest?

It's a totally unsatisfactory situation we're now in i.m.o., and I fear it's all going to get worse as the world is not what it was when we were last "on our own" over 40 years ago.

And what I think many people have overlooked - or don't wish to consider - is that the EU popularity is as fragile in Germany and France and other EU countries. I can see Europe breaking up, and the consequences will just add to the chaos.

Not saying the EU has been a wonderful experience: there clearly have been many aspects of it to grumble about. But we could all have made it into something bigger and better if we were to have thought more deeply.

For me, a sad, sad, day.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

EU In or Out - My Last Thoughts


Dear Reader,

If you can spare the time please watch this talk by Prof. Dougan. Also his comments on the immigration issue that he didn’t have time for in the video: link.

What is alarming is that he poured cold water on the notion of a 2 year EU exit deal (which Brexit are promoting) and was talking more in terms of around 10 years to bargain our way out … which leaves an awfully big interim situation with an unknown affect on our economy. And, consequently, the poorest yet again being hit the hardest.

Another video that supports Dougan is one from an academic at Oxford, Prof. Collier:
So, having listened to 2 such brains, it’s really a no-brainer, surely!
I'm sure you will vote according to your commonsense.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Jo Cox


Dear Reader,

My ability to write with a clear head this week is severely interrupted by the awful news of the killing of this amazing lady and member of parliament, a mother of two young children.

I therefore mostly limit this week's article to the words of others, including the following from a leading member of Avaaz, the well-known pressure group:
I can't imagine, in these tears, how to honour her, but then yes I can. It's through love. Jo was passionately campaigning for Britain to stay in Europe. Not just because it is smart, or advantageous. But because she spent her life caring for Syrians, and Africans. She was a beautiful light of love for all people, for humanity. The man who took her life, stabbing her and shooting her over and over, screamed "Britain First". Somehow it's not surprising, in an awful way, that her life would be taken by that kind of hate, that kind of selfishness. Because it was to fighting that darkness that she devoted her time on this earth.  
It so happens that this week I was looking more closely at the work of Nikola Tesla, and in his philosophical mode he reminds us (via his slightly awkward English) in a timely way about the significance of Life:
Life is a rhythm that must be comprehended. I feel the rhythm and direct on it and pamper in it. It was very grateful and gave me the knowledge I have. Everything that lives is related to a deep and wonderful relationship: man and the stars, amoebas and the sun, the heart and the circulation of an infinite number of worlds. These ties are unbreakable, but they can be tame and to propitiate and begin to create new and different relationships in the world, and that does not violate the old.
Knowledge comes from space; our vision is its most perfect [conduit]. We have two eyes: the earthly and spiritual. It is recommended that it become one eye. Universe is alive in all its manifestations, like a thinking animal.
Stone is a thinking and sentient being, such as plant, beast and a man. A star that shines [asks us] to look at [it], and if we [were not to be so] self-absorbed we would understand its language and message. [The] breathing, ... eyes and ears of the man must comply with [the] breathing, eyes and ears of the Universe.
It is extraordinary that at Jo Cox's home town of Birstall, Yorkshire, many flowers of tribute have been placed at an old memorial to Dr. Joseph Priestley, who was born in that place over 250 years ago. He became a famous scientist and philosopher, and, like Jo, was a great supporter of liberty. He was a friend of America's founding fathers. 

Thank you for reading this.

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Big Picture - What Are We Being Led To?


Dear Reader,

My comment (last week) about how the main news channels seem to deliver superficial reporting led me into reading the results of some disturbing - and other elevating - investigations into what has really happened in the world over the last 15 years. Although I have been aware of a fair amount of it for some time, the scale of it now astonishes me.

Without wishing to sound like a doomsayer, I detect a certain feeling that the future of the world is coming to a head. How we are to get through the next few years, in my view, will be determined very much by how we come to see ourselves. "What are we really, physical or spirit?" is the leading question, as I see it, and I would suggest that the question can be answered individually by seeking to determine whether we allow ourselves to be controlled by fear.

An article I recently read partly addresses the matter in the following statement:
One of the central features of traditional societies, as outlined by the UN’s 2007 declaration of indigenous rights is ‘non dominance’ [of people or the environment]. Perception is too easily manoeuvred by knowledge that is an outcome of money and power, rather than veracity. Despite these power structures at play, our lives are not that different from one another. Each person experiences emotions, tensions, difficulties, in life, that we assume makes our reality unique, but is a slight but vital part of being human. Each day is not a step towards a doomed future, but a new opportunity, to let our perception, see our faults, as an opportunity for greater understanding of the world from which we emerged.
The part of the world I live in - in the West - can no longer be said to be a "traditional society", in my view, though it is the only form that we really know of, and are conditioned to. The way the Western countries are run uses (one way or another) a dominant approach, seen visibly when dealing with non-Western countries (e.g. seeing military action as being the first option in the Middle East), but more subtly in our own country, whether it is the UK or USA or other Western country. But it is the first two of these countries that, in my view, are masters in the art of dominance. Other European countries have not succumbed to bullying as much as the UK and the USA in my opinion. In fact Michael Moore’s comment (below) is interesting:
Where To Invade Next, which arrives in UK cinemas on Friday, argues for the United States to borrow social and political ideas from countries in Europe and North Africa.
In the film, Michael visits several countries including France and Portugal but not Britain.
He [Moore] said: “It was a conscious and purposeful decision to not go to the UK, with all due respect. We didn’t feel there was anything left to learn here, and you have given up on yourselves to such a degree.”
Moore also seems to be lost for words that we’re even thinking about breaking away from Europe.

The history of Western man has been of the warring and grabbing description for a long, long time, and that attitude was extended to the extraction of finite resources from the environment and also its pollution. There are a certain number that have got very rich by that process, and most of them (naturally perhaps) would not want to lose what they see as "earned wealth". But that dominating attitude has put the UK in the position where ordinary citizens are told that austerity is inevitable to pay off the nation's debts (and we are told this while the government mismanages the economy to only increase our indebtedness), while extremely wealthy people are not subject to such policies and experience none of the suffering that they have helped to create.

But, leaving domestic economic governance issues aside for now, there is the deeper matter of veracity and integrity. That is, do we really know what is going on in the 'bigger picture', and to what extent are we being led downriver.

Now I am a firm believer in the spirit; that whatever is to happen to me physically, I will survive in the spirit, so in one sense I am inured to the activities of the world. But I do wince at the suffering metered out to innocents in the process. And being of that philosophy, I do not allow myself to be "led downriver": it is as well, in my view, to not lose sight of the machinations of government that are at work, and the (often) sinister methods that are used.

There's a whole array of matters - both positive and questionable - that have been developing over the past century, details of which (UK and US) governments have managed to keep wholly or fairly secret, by means of deception and by technology. I'll not go into all of those: it's matters of government behaviour that concern me the most. 

Perhaps you are already in tune with the fact that there seems to be virtually irrefutable evidence that the 9/11 affair was stage-managed. If there is any doubt in your mind about that then please watch this erudite presentation. There are other presentations I could also point you too that are equally compelling: it is important to objectively select what is there.

But, on the same tack, the matter that has come as a complete shock to me concerns 7/7 (of 2005). It was more of a shock because this occurred (of course) in London, and I was one of so many that accepted the main media reportage at the time at face value. This presentation has changed my view.

And the revelation that 9/11 and 7/7 seem to be connected by a certain Israeli security company, ICTS (and, probably, other common links), puts a very different complexion on these deplorable attacks on innocents.

Further, a British man, Richard Hall, is very much worth following. He is very, very active in all manner of sound investigations. See this list on Youtube.

But all these revelations are just a severe reminder to me of the dangers of being simply absorbed by our everyday lives. Most of us probably live to do our best and materially work and gain as much as we can in this life (for our families' happiness), but forget that there is another side of ourselves to foster. Also we have a tendency to just let government do what it does, even though we don't like 'em!

Try reading Noam Chomsky on how much we have surrendered.

In not looking after the spirit side of ourselves we leave ourselves open to being manipulated and dominated by 'the system'. And a combination of 'the system' and our surrender of our own will over the last 30 years in particular has largely succeeded in taking away our conscious, real, selves. All this has been aided by media control and the electronic gadgetry that is now available in proliferation to keep us occupied.

Please heed this warning. The answer lies within each of us, as taught us by the great spiritual masters such as Jesus and the Buddha. Let us awaken!

Thank you for reading this.