Thursday, June 26, 2008

Major Barbara & Mugabe

Watching Major Barbara, at the National Theatre I wondered if Shaw's invitation to the audience to 'make war on war' to change society was music to the ears of those who would have it that Iraq should have been invaded and who similarly would have Mugabe violently dethroned (especially and most speedily if he sat on a store of oil). This week, as an adjunct to an email from a friend I was asked (seriously) what I would do (as a 'pacifist') about someone like Mugabe.

Lets start by examining how literally we are to take such suggestions as to 'make war on war'? We can read Einstein in a similar vein when he says 'I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace.' But when he finishes with 'Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war' we know exactly what he means.

Here are the thoughts of others on the subjects of the play, including fighting fire with fire or using violence and war to achieve ends however seemingly justified.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors,
16 April 1953

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to an evil power. ...It is rather a courageous confrontation with evil by the power of love, in the faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart.
Martin Luther King, Jr

Non-violence is a power which can be wielded equally by all - children, young men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When non-violence is accepted as the law of life it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts.
Mohandas K. Ghandi

So what would I do about someone like Mugabe?

Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.

I would persevere. I would not expect immediate results. I would step by step work on the problem rather than taking a short cut using violence.

The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.

As Asimov puts it 'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.'

When you consider the vast resources available to the rest of the world and the power those resources wield maybe it is an oversimplification to imagine those resources being used for a covert (nonviolent) operation to remove Mugabe to a Mental Health facility for his own good and the good of the country he is clearly unable to govern because of his mental health is unfit. Or try something else and if that didn't work try something else...and only stop trying when the problem is solved.

I am beginning to see violence as laziness...that if we don't come up with the answer immediately that we give up and resort to violence...

Einstein said "It's not that I'm so smart , it's just that I stay with problems longer."

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Things Could Be Worse

Today as I sat by Jane's bedside in hospital as she lay twisting in pain, with a drip in one arm and holding a bowl to throw up in, in the other - I thought, 'Things could be worse.'

In the next room we could hear, 'Carl, Carl, Carl!'
'Open your eyes Carl!'


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sunrise on the Longest Day of the Year

So the journey started at 1.30am when I cycled to the Brick Lane Bagel shop and met up with 20+ other cyclists and stocked up on bagels. We cycled to London Bridge to pick up those coming from Greenwich and then to Soho to pick up even more. Our destination Primrose watch the sun come up on the longest day of the year (although I am reliably informed by Christine that it had been the previous day as it is a leap year!)

Throughout people waved at us, beeped, shouted in support and a few drew alongside in a taxi, decked out in formal wear and military regalia at 3am and asked us most politely what it was all about...and when they heard they replied with remarks and salutes including the words 'jolly', 'bravo' and 'ta-tah' you do.

Hundreds of us made it to Primrose Hill to join people already there looking out at the sweeping view of London at dawn.

Although I have no picture to show this event. The picture which will be forever in my head will not actually be of the sunrise but of circling around Regent's park and the twinkling of the red rear lights of hundreds of bikes weaving up the hill and through the trees like little fire flies.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Random Acts of Youth Work

Just in case you can't read my writing...and to explain. I presented my dissertation also on the back of a napkin and here are some of the references...

All Anne Herbert needed was a napkin to write her philosophy of life: ‘Practice random kindness and acts of senseless beauty’ (Atkinson 2004). This is where such philosophies come from, the informal settings like that of youth work where we don’t seek to begin our relationships with young people at a formal meeting with a filing cabinet of documents between us but perhaps at a meal with napkins and conversations between us.This phrase jotted down on a paper napkin in a Sausalito restaurant was seen by a man sitting nearby who liked it and copied it down and the ‘slogan began to spread, as slogans do, and eventually it appeared on bumper stickers, business cards, coffee mugs, in newspaper and magazine articles, and taped to peoples' refrigerators’ (Atkinson, 2004)

From a Sermon with Reverend Atkinson (2004)

”The word "kind" comes from the Old English "gecynde." It was a noun meaning one's ancestor or offspring, and it is related to the words "kin," "kinship" and "kindred." It eventually came to be used also as an adjective, and eventually took on the meanings "good-natured, generous, gentle, bearing good will, having consideration for others and being willing to assist others." Kindness is an act, whether it be random or not, in which we treat another as we would treat our close kin, it is an act of generosity which expands the circle of caring, recognizing that in fact we are all kin.”

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the flowers,
Kind deeds are the fruits.

Take care of your garden
And keep out the weeds,
Fill it with sunshine,
Kind words and kind deeds.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American Poet, Educator, and Linguist


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Art on the South Bank

Don't you love the South Bank?
You never know what you might see along the way

btw the sign to the left is showing an entrance way to the Tate
... might give you an idea of scale!


Monday, June 09, 2008

Brick Lane

Great bargains & interesting faces down Brick Lane...

...and a discussion on how an expensive lock would not suit my bike as it may give the impression its more expensive than it is making it more likely to be meaning a very careful purchase of a lock that is good enough to be a deterrent but not good enough to promote interest.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Y Tree

This is the Y Tree - Full of reasons why people come to club!

These are some of the reasons why some of our new and older youth volunteers come...

Our Y Tree is strategically growing by the Hope Garden that we planted at the start of the (academic) year and shows some of our hopes coming to fruition!

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