Thursday, 5 May 2022

Mark Twain Quote

 From the New York Herald, October 15, 1900:

"I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the Treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. . .

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle get its talons on any other land."

Mark Twain.

 





https://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/twain.html

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Are You part of the Solution or part of the Problem?

 


For this special edition of Blogblast for Peace, I'd like to focus on one question: 

Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

For me, the conflict in Ukraine is shining a huge spotlight on all the things that need to change before humans can ever hope to have world peace.

It's impressive how many countries are offering homes to Ukrainian refugees, but also completely  hypocritical. The UK voted for Brexit in large part to stop the influx of migrant workers and refugees. They have even tried to make it illegal for ships to rescue refugees at sea. In the USA, Americans who voted for Trump wanted pretty much the same - no more refugees, no more illegal immigrants. Build that wall! Similar in Australia, with their refugee detention centres.

If you are completely behind your country allowing in Ukrainians, but not willing to speak out at those refugees dying in oceans and trucks, still held in detention centres, then you are part of the problem. 

By Adam.J.W.C. - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14985392

 

If you think Putin should be tried for war crimes, for invading Ukraine, but are not also lobbying to see Tony Blair and President Bush stand trial for lying about Sadam having weapons of Mass destruction in order to invade Iraq... you are part of the problem.

A 2016 study by Carnegie Mellon University professor Dov Levin found that the United States intervened in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000, with the majority of those being through covert, rather than overt, actions.[91][92] A 2021 review of the existing literature found that foreign interventions since World War II tend overwhelmingly to fail to achieve their purported objectives.[93]

If you truly stand for Peace, for justice and a better way, you cannot pick and choose which country you support. That's how world wars start, when others "pick a side".

If you cannot be objective - you are part of the problem.

Wars and conflict do not start in a vacuum; they tend to erupt after unresolved issues are ignored for decades and/or when other countries intervene... and other countries do not intervene unless there's something in it for them. Humans as individuals can be caring and altruistic, but world governments are rarely into self-sacrifice for the Greater Good. Governments do what is best for themselves and their country first. All of them. And as such, their participation in any conflict is at best "dark grey" vs "light grey".

If you see one side, in any conflict, as "Good" and the other as "Evil" - you are part of the problem.

We now know that there were several German resistance movements who fought against the Nazis, but back in WWII the whole attitude was that EVERY German was evil. Britain rebranded products to remove any trace of Germany. So German Biscuits became Empire Biscuits and the British Royals dropped their German titles. And now I see people online talking about hating Russians, because of Ukraine. That they're not drinking Vodka any more because it is Russian... seriously?

Have we learned NOTHING?

If you think Russians are responsible for their leader's choices, then should those Americans who disliked Trump claim full responsibility for the things he did, even though they never voted for him? And do those Americans who did vote for Trump now feel they have to shoulder the responsibility for whatever Biden chooses to do? I doubt it. Everyday people have very little control over what their governments and leaders decide to do. 

If you see ANY country's population as completely culpable for what their leaders/military do... you are absolutely part of the problem!

I know, because I lived in a country, tagged by many as "evil" - Apartheid South Africa of the 1970s-80s. I know how complex and many-layered the truth of a country can be, then watch how it is over-simplified by the world news in order to stir up emotional interest. South Africa has 11 official languages, 6 major religions and, pre-1990, a racial classification system of THREE segregated racial types.

I know how it feels to have strangers hate you simply because of the country you live in, not bothering to find out your opinions on that country. I recently posted an article on Farm murders in South Africa on Facebook. A British friend wrote back that he would not try to raise help and support because the farmers were "white" and (his words), "Well, what can you expect? Apartheid." Except this is now 30 years after Apartheid ended, and so those young thugs torturing and murdering people have never lived in anything but a free and completely equal society.

If you see any group as deserving death, pain and suffering... you are part of the problem.

I have no grand solutions to offer here, beyond this fact - we have to change how we deal with each other, or we will eventually destroy each other and our planet. Repeating the same old mistakes isn't good enough any more.


Monday, 1 November 2021

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Turn, Turn, Turn

For two decades (how did the time go by so fast?) I've taken part in Blogblast for Peace, every November. I've watched it continue to grow, steadily spiralled outwards as we draw, write and create in the name of Peace. But this year I'm turning around and following the spiral back to the centre. 

It's time to turn. 

Because no matter how much of a difference we might make in fighting for world peace, there is no greater battle, nothing ever more important or courageous, than ensuring your own personal peace. Your well-being has to come first. 

Your mental and emotional health,

                 your sense of spiritual or ethical integrity,

your self-respect, 

                                                                    your personal sovereignty,  

your inner peace. 

Because when there is no peace within... there can be no peace without.

 As wonderful as it is, to belong to a large group all battling for positive change, I'm also seeing a lot of burn out. People who are saying they feel exhausted; long past running on empty. So this season of Peace, I'm asking you to turn the spiral inwards. I want you to check your inner core; is it steady? Is it calm? Is it a sanctuary? Are your boundaries clearly marked and are you brave enough to hold them firm? Because it takes tremendous courage to stand up for yourself whilst still staying centred in peace and love.

The hardest thing to do is to love yourself and treat yourself with kindness, because the world will fight you on that. Our society prefers people who are obedient to others. It ridicules those who choose to put themselves first. But the boss who implies you are lazy or not pulling your weight if you ask for sick leave... will he be there for you when your health collapses? The "friend" who calls you selfish or unkind for refusing to constantly help... will they be there for you when you collapse from exhaustion?


It's not your duty to take care of everyone on the planet as well as fighting for Peace and the planet itself.  That burden is too great; no-one can carry that much. You will burn out. 

For two decades we have all cried "NO MORE" for world peace; now we must do it for our selves. No more giving without receiving back. No more draining yourself dry in the hope that somehow, some day, all that sacrifice will be appreciated and recognised. No more giving parts of your self away. No more self-destruction and lack of inner peace. 

Turn, turn, turn ...


Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Countdown to Blogblast - BRAVE!

The theme for Blogblast for Peace this year (Nov 4-7 2021) is..
 
"Courageous Peace in a Time of Great Change"
 

I'm ready! :) And here's my inspiration... Brave!




You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody's lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
...
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Growing Brighter

 I saw this picture on a friend's Facebook today...


... it hit home for several reasons.

The first being that this was something I failed badly at, when I was young; I regularly dimmed my light when I was a teen. It started after I moved countries, at age 10, and wanted to just "fit in" at my new schools in a strange new culture.

Looking back, I can see that a lot of the "me" from those high school years (I was 12 when I entered high school) was barely visible and often hardly ME at all. And even after I finished school, the ME I truly was had become so buried under the "me" I wore to be accepted that I really only managed to be my true self in small bursts, usually when I was too tired or too emotional to care if anyone was offended or scared by my brightness. 

In my late 30s, I had just begun peeling back the dimness and was beginning to shine, when I married and moved countries again. Immigrating triggered all those old feelings of insecurity, of not "fitting", and sadly, once again, I began to dim myself down in order to fit in.

It's taken me a long time to understand that there's a lot more to dimming my light than I realised. And Facebook made me notice that. You see, on Facebook I have gathered everyone I want to keep contact with in a fast-easy way. That includes a very varied range of people, from childhood friends and family to new friends and people I know through various work/interests.

This is what happened - I began to lose friends. A few at first, but these last 18 months it's been more. I began to think, "What is wrong with me?" Today I realised... there's nothing wrong with ME, but there was a lot wrong with the dim "me" I was still, often unconsciously, using to fit in. I lost Facebook friends because many of those very different people only knew the dimmed "me" I had used when we were together.  But once they were all on my Facebook wall, all in the same "room", there was no way I could juggle all the dimmed "me" variants and the real ME started to emerge.

I'd say, at this stage, I'm the brightest ME on Facebook that I've ever been. And that ME is ever evolving as I open up to who I truly am. And that has caused problems. People have un-friended ME, because I've been "too" -. "too loud", "too quiet", "too Left", "too Middle of the Road", "too forceful", "too soft"... I've had all of those as accusations. And they have hurt at times. The old "me" wanted to scrabble madly to fit in, but on social media, under so much scrutiny, it was impossible to please everyone and so... I began choosing what pleased me.

I embraced my "too much" and accepted my "too bright-ness". I'm still working on this and yes, sometimes I'm still losing friends. I lost a dear friend recently. This person left me with "too blunt" and "too forceful". Am I? I have others who grumble that I'm "too accepting", "too polite" and "too forgiving". Am I both? Or am I just... ME. Messy, complicated, still evolving. A star in the process of learning how to be a sun. Sometimes burning things, but always unintentionally. Trying to be warming, but aware that some can only cope with so much brightness.

So, whoever you are, whatever type of star you might be, or be in the process of becoming... just SHINE. Those that need your light will find you and yes, those that aren't able to cope will move on. Love them and let them go. They are their own stars, they will find their own place in the sky to shine. 

The universe is big enough for everyone. 

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Repeat Patterns

 I drew this picture a long time ago, in the 1990s, as an illustration for a book: "Die Dans van die Brein/The Brain Dance" by Shani Grove


This drawing was for a chapter on how, and why, ordinary individuals lose their self-identity when they join group belief systems. The harmful systems, such as cults and extremist political groups, in particular.

On January 6th 2021, I saw this illustration in action on the TV news when mobs attacked the Capitol Building in the USA. It was a strange feeling. I'd been convinced this would happen for over four years and yet seeing what I had feared happening was still shocking.

I first heard about Donald Trump about five years ago. I guess he was well known to many by then, but I'm not much into paparazzi or reality TV. I had no idea who he was until he exploded into Scottish news with a new golf course he was proposing to build in our county. Within a very short time, he had managed to antagonise a large percentage of Scottish people with his bullying business tactics that eventually revealed him to be a greedy, vindictive, and untrustworthy liar. "What a nasty little man," I thought to myself, and dismissed him.

When he reappeared on the news a while later, as a candidate for the US presidential elections, I was bemused. Did he really think people would vote for a crooked businessman as president? Was he really that much of an egotist? I decided to watch one of his campaign speeches to see.

And my blood ran cold.

I'd seen this scenario played out on old TV news reels, but I never expected to see it live in my own lifetime. No matter how derogatory and hate-based his speech became, the crowds cheered. I don't know how many of Trump's campaign speeches I ended up watching, I just remember the important bits. Like the night he made fun of a disabled reporter and the constant, pounding messages so similar to those that Hitler had used on his own doting fans.

And why did it work then? For the exact same reasons it worked now: because the Germans were desperate for positive change. Germany was reeling from the harsh WWI reparations and the Great Depression. People had no jobs, no money, no hope. They were starving for hope and Hitler fed them the two things needed to fulfil them: a promise of making Germany great again and someone to blame.

Make Germany great again... because it's not your fault, Mr Ordinary-German with your wife and two kids. You are the chosen one. The true people. The higher blood line. You deserve better. You deserve the best. And it was taken from you... by THEM.

THEM.

The disabled, the gays, the lesser races who take your jobs, your women, your country's money and resources. Don't hate yourself. Don't ever take responsibility. Blame THEM and follow me. I will make us great again. 
 
You know, I listed them in that order, because the Nazis used the "final solution" on the disabled and elderly before they moved on to homosexuals, Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses...

THEM.

Let's blame them. Let's rally up our mob mentality and blame THEM: the Hispanic races, the Mexicans, the disabled, the homosexuals, Trans kids wanting to be safe in public toilets, fleeing refugees, Canadians, journalists, women with an opinion, Muslims, the Left, The Democrats... 

THEM.

You know, even as I watched Trump going on about how evil and bad THEY were, even as I felt that ice-cold fear of recognition, I still told myself I was paranoid. And surely people would not vote this man into office? Surely people would see through his egomania and be turned off by his hate-filled prose? But I'd forgotten my book illustration and that chapter on how easily people are sucked into belief systems that seem insane to those watching from the outside.

For the last four years, I've constantly tried to make those in the spiral see that this man they follow is a narcissist. Constantly said "He is dangerous." He is hate-filled. He twists the truth to suit his own agendas and he cares NOTHING for anyone but his own self. He fuels bigotry and fear of anyone different. He makes them the problem; the obstacle that needs to be overcome in order to make everything great again. In doing so, he has even made good people believe bad things. I know families and friends who have turned against each other because of this man's constant messages of hate.

And now, as the world watches the USA reeling like some boxer punch-drunk from too many blows, I'm saying it again. This man has done serious harm and he will continue to be dangerous until you tackle his legacy: the hate. 
 
His leaving the White House will change nothing until people on all sides return to seeing each other clearly, as individuals of the same country, with the same right to respect. If you cannot let go of hating THEM, there will never be a healthy US (play on words intended).

It's up to all of you now, Americans. Left, Right or whatever; all races, genders, religions. YOU are the country and only your strength and compassion can put it back together again.