Saturday, 20 April 2019

Pondering on Beliefs

This erratic blog! 

Ah well, instead of putting it off (as usual) or doing multiple posts on Twitter, here’s today’s pondering:

TFTD, NB Christians

“To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude).

.. It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).”  (Re

Put another way, 

To live “well” is to hold high a system of beliefs that values each human, the good in each of us and in the world we live in. This Love, this *Charity* is what enables us to uphold our beliefs, our values, by 

- *moderating* our perceived/inflicted needs/appetites;
- standing up for the *justice* in those values and moral truths; and
- taking care to *discern* so that our path and values are not subverted or misrepresented.

MUCH to relate to 21stC Earth. 

But seems we’re missing it. 

What is it about #moderation #justice and #discernment?

There are writings on the wall: #climatechange #POTUS #Brexit #migrants and the myriad of effects and consequences of each of those, to start with. 

For further thought:

(From Pope Francis’ prayer at the Way of the Cross in Rome on Good Friday)
Lord Jesus, help us to see in your Cross all the crosses of the world:
The cross of those who hunger for bread and for love;
The cross of those who are alone or abandoned even by their own children and family members;
The cross of those who thirst for justice and peace;
The cross of those who do not have the comfort of the faith;
The cross of the elderly who are bowed down under the weight of years and loneliness;
The cross of migrants who find doors closed because of fear, and hearts sealed by political calculations; 
The cross of the little ones, wounded in their innocence and purity;
The cross of humanity that wanders in the darkness of uncertainty and in the darkness of the culture of the fleeting moment;
The cross of families broken by betrayal, by the seductions of the evil one or by murderous lightness and by selfishness;
The cross of consecrated persons who tirelessly seek to bring your light into the world and feel rejected, mocked and humiliated;
The cross of consecrated persons who, along the way, have forgotten their first love;
The cross of your children who, believing in you and trying to live according to your word, find themselves marginalized and discarded even by their families and their peers;
The cross of our weaknesses, our hypocrisies, our betrayals, our sins and our many broken promises;
The cross of your Church which, faithful to your Gospel, struggles to carry your love even among the baptized themselves;
The cross of the Church, your bride, who feels continually attacked from within and from without;
The cross of our common home that withers seriously before our selfish eyes that are blinded by greed and power.
Lord Jesus, rekindle in us the hope of the resurrection and of your definitive victory against all evil and all death. Amen!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

When the writing's BOLD on the wall

Click to see article
Really don't see why this reality 'crisis' over Theresa May is so surprising. After all those years at the Home Office -- draconian immigration rules, rushed bills denied proper scrutiny time, "cat" and other inaccurate, untrue accusations, "go home" vans, *attitude* towards Human Rights Act (an important cornerstone of what can be seen as UK's "written" constitution based on values of the older unwritten one), invisibility even absence when major issues arose (inc Brexit ref) -- the writing was bold on the walls.

May's management style so far has appeared more self-preservation than innovative, letting others take the flack. Still, the buck does stop at the top. #nowheretorunnowheretohide 

Though history also shows *rulers* who have built self-protection defences, put others in the firing line (literally and not) and still claimed success (from the jaws of defeat). 

In all that, it is still we the citizens, people, voters who must live with any and all consequences. Communication systems now allow us to widen our knowledge, to check, to discern, to realise our own truths. To decide. To engage or not. And how to. To choose.

If we do look to history, even that of the last 100 years, we can see the patterns, the human foibles, the psychology used by leaders, of them and between us. We can also recognise we are equipped emotionally and intellectually with capacity to make sense of these within ourselves and the wider reality. In 2016, surely our human existence has progressed enough, we are equipped enough, to discern and deliberate a choice -- for integrity and honest behaviour. 

Perhaps the current pace of growth and life has done us a disfavour by reducing our capacity to slow down for reflection, to discern. That may be where we need to re-establish some equilibrium. 

I hope our instincts lead us to choose Life that has room for all living beings and things, that nourishes and nurtures our abilities and individual beauty; that recognises we all have a part to play in holding up our 'sky', in any one moment in time. That if any part is left, let down or fails, it diminishes us all and weakens the structure of our existence. Seems to me, the challenge is to find how to hold up that 'sky' while Time marches on unperturbed by our human dilemmas. 

We can not turn back Time. We can learn from our past, our decisions and actions: accept them because we lived through them, allowing them (even in disenfranchisement) to happen. But recognising we have a choice in how to move forward. 

Even if it is merely by a conviction just to hold up our individual bit of Sky, as a living, respectful, sentient being.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Too early to feel resigned, surely

I did say it and have done for a while.
It's our turn now - just can't be denied.

We're at the top of the ladder. Next in line.
Every week, perhaps every day, there'll be a passing,
a departure
that stirs our memory, shakes us to the core, reminding
us of our mortality, its brief tenure.

There are no words. Surely it's too early to feel resigned.
It might just be quiet silence, a gentle nod
to say see you on the other side.

Take it easy, Glen Frey.

The curtain falls
I take my bow
That's how it's meant to be
It's your world now.

(Frey-Tempchin, from Long Road Out of Eden)

Monday, 11 January 2016

Sway to the music

Listening to Ziggy play his guitar.

You never think of mortality when you grow up with people and events. Life in the moment is always more important. Perhaps we just don't want to think that far ahead.

Sure enough, it is not that far after all.

I remember an elderly aunt saying how all she did in the later years was read the obits. It sounded pretty morbid to me, in my youthful ignorance/arrogance. But I stored the knowledge, even in the dreading of the day I'd be doing the same.

The day's arrived. And I won't seek out the obits -- they'll come to me, media being the way it is in the 21st century. From now on, there will be days like these, almost everyday.

Not quite like December 8, 1980. The (other) day that the music died. That was pure disbelief, "tragic to be taken so young, so unexpectedly."

Or the day a 14 year old school friend died, from skateboarding on her neighbourhood pavement.

Henceforth, there'll be sadness that is poignant, self-reflective, foreboding too. Who'll be next? Him. Her. Me?

Too sad to be *sad* this day.
Let's sway
Sway through the crowd to an empty space....

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Once a migrant...

The movement of People is increasingly fascinating to a wide range of individuals and communities, including political parties and academic researchers. Is it a human instinct, a survival mechanism, a basic need that has happened since the species began? Or is it a modern day social construction designed to irritate those 'put upon', to impose on their good will, to siphon diminishing resources to incomers away from those who 'belong'?

The debate rages on. (Who 'belongs' anyway?)

This caught my eye today: a report has found that low-skilled immigrants (read Mexican men) "were generally more likely ... to leave for a job opportunity." Some good money would have been spent on this by the (US) National Bureau of Economic Research to declare what seems to be the 'bleeding obvious'.

In my experience, when you understand the importance of feeding your family and yourself, of having a better life or prospect of one, you have tough choices to make - one of which is invariably tearing yourself away from your home and all that is 'safe' and knowable, and moving to where you can find the means to support your needs. You migrate. You find means to food, to survival. You find work.

And once you've done this uprooting process once, it gets easier. Especially at the lower skilled, lower income end. But isn't that the way society has grown the world and the economy that goes hand in hand with it. Powered by those prepared to or needing to move.

Which of course includes those at the higher skills level.

However, often it is the 'bleeding obvious' that is the point. Reading beyond the words of the article, I see the risk that challenges humans to move or not to move and the gains and losses each makes along the way. I see that reflected in the nature of society: closed vs open, stagnant vs dynamic, fearful vs hopeful, 'small' vs 'big', regressing vs blossoming. I know the society, the humankind I choose.

Humans have always migrated. Look how far we've come. And not. See how much further we could go.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Did ESOL work for the non-English-speaking 0.3%?

"Miliband says rightly that the ability to speak English is vital to those who plan to stay in the UK. The implication is that not enough do. Jonathan Portes, of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, points out that, according to the Office for National Statistics, only 134,000 – 0.3% of the population – don't speak English at all (and won't be helped by cuts to English language courses).”[1]

In my experience as a migrant and working with migrants and their communities, I have never met anyone who does not want to learn English. They may do more listening than speaking, in that universal fear of being embarrassed by their lack of fluency, and compensate by smiling a lot. Recognise yourself in a foreign land?

The ONS figures highlighted above show just how minimal an issue language is in the UK, if one even thinks there is an ‘issue’. Which is exactly what the disinformants choose to do.

Belabouring the point about migrants’ English language abilities merely serves to hide an even more tragic situation: how the very ESOL classes designed to improve immigrants’ language and capacity to “integrate” were not up to the task for that 0.3% of the population.

Too often at grassroots level, I have heard of immigrants dropping out of classes or even completing them without seeing much improvement. Why? Because the classes were too advanced and not pitched at the needs of the specific group or class. This ultimately was not good news to have circulated on the community grapevine. 

What a lose-lose situation; and all that money spent ineffectively attempting to make the so-called “hard to reach” learn English.

It must be said that some ESOL classes have benefitted a good number of new arrivals to find their place on the ladder here, as a refresher, transitory or grounding opportunity, or simply as a means to a certificate of achievement to find acceptance in the workplace. I believe this number is not the one objected to by those who harp on about migrants not wanting to fit in.

The “hard to reach”, those who “don’t wish to integrate” may well have had that basic urge to belong knocked out of them, for the n-th time, by well-meaning colleges and providers of ESOL courses who didn’t take into account participants’ education base, perhaps illiteracy; who didn’t consider their personal and life context (family, age, status, experience); essentially who weren’t flexible in supporting the different needs and learning styles of a spectrum of migrants.

In so doing, the marginalized were reinforced into that position – women, the home-bound, those with little or no education, the elderly and so on, who now have less chance of progress in these cost-cutting times, and who will continue to have their ‘lack’ of English held against them.

NB for a bit of extra background to this piece, see last blog below.

Still underperforming!

Ah well, the story of my life. Still can't quite get to grips with this blog. Whoever would have thought being a hermit was this hectic.

One itch that's been irritating for a while has finally received some attention and I'll post those paragraphs shortly. It all started around 2004 when I realised how some migrant or black/minority ethnic women were not benefitting from traditional ESOL classes put on in Edinburgh. Largely because they were too 'formal' for those with a low education base, taught in a way that didn't match their participants' daily living context. Shame. The opportunity was lost to some very intelligent women who would have responded much better in a less 'academic' model.