Growing Old – Gracefully.

One of the great issues with growing old is the inevitable physical deterioration. Of course this can sometimes be mitigated to various degrees.  In the event of progressive and inevitable slowing down of our physical capability, ‘Nothing’ remains the main cause of physical deterioration, depression and associated anxiety. Clearly it is a fact that you cannot run as fast at eighty as you could at eighteen, our mortal coil changes with age, and so it must. Nevertheless sustaining our life and making it worthwhile is what we all strive for, but frequently forget how.

There are several manifestations of ‘Nothing’ getting the upper hand.  In our age of instant gratification the temptation to delegate your mind to the mindless is almost infinite. For example watching TV is perfectly OK as long as it doesn’t turn out to be an excuse to do ‘Nothing’.  Watching TV or listening to the radio are often described as ‘company’ for the lonely, and indeed at can be seen as such, however, passive listening or watching without purpose simply closes down the active mind.

I don’t mean following a dramatic series or soap, listening to a concert of your favourite band or a sports event such as golf or cricket.  I mean just watching anything to combat boredom.  Boredom and ‘Nothing’ are close friends. They are an evil pair that stalk us twenty four hours a day. The third member of the killing trio is loneliness.  Loneliness is the scourge of our modern society, it destroys self-esteem, closes our minds, and envelopes us in ‘Nothing’.  By loneliness we do not mean those who seek a solitary existence, loneliness is quite different, it is mean and destructive, it feeds on boredom and ‘Nothing’.

The following sections in this series will give you some insights into how to avoid ‘Nothing’. Believe me, ‘Nothing’ is a killer.  It is the fact of the matter, that escaping nothing prolongs life.  Having objectives, targets, ideas, ideals, and affection are all life enhancing.  They are all within us all if we reach down within ourselves to live a fuller and more enjoyable life.

Please let me know of your ideas to brighten the lives of those who are mature.  How we can as individuals and as a society enhance and improve our own lives and the lives of others.

Fighting Time.

What’s the point of time past, it’s done, finished,

tomorrow matters so much more, but it looks empty

and mean, the coldness of that empty day aches

in my aging limbs. Gone has the speed of youth,

gone has the lust for living, and winning ways.

Today time has ticked slowly by, tick tock, tick tock.

Yet these vital seconds have vanished in a trice

down an empty space, invisible, vanished for eternity.

What can I bring to tomorrow? What can all this vanishing

past bring forward to give some future purpose?

Alas, the creative power of my youth is vanishing,

consumed by speeding, greedy time.

taken on the wind of time, each gust a day less to live.

Wasting Time.

No work, no where to go, nothing to do

all very tiring, wearing out my soul,

Listen to the silence of many books read

Some entertaining, some right over my head.

Space is suddenly everywhere, yet no room

for me and my fading patience staring

bullishly at the blank wall of my existence.

Looking back, even that is fading to limitless grey,

nearly as far as the horizon of my emptiness

Looking forward to nothing, how comfortable

will that be, if I switch off, and choose to

ruffle the sofa, the snoring grunting breath

Of time passing, and eating me and you

 in its hungry vacuity with no horizon.

Look again, its beautiful!

I was reminded this morning that today is the start of South East Asia awareness month, in the context of BLM this is a timely page turner. The breadth of human kind is astonishingly wide, yet we tend to be enveloped in our own tribe. As I said in an earlier blog we tend to be afraid of strangers, and defend our own kind. Hence the birth of prejudice and racism.

If only we’d take a fresh look at all the beautiful people, no matter what their origin, how refreshing that would be. Some are so lucky because of a gifted life they have travelled widely and known many people from many tribal backgrounds. For these lucky few it is easy to see the wonders of difference. Where there is no threat, there is almost always generosity, where there is need there is kindness.

In our crowded cities, the only thing that stands out is the differences; of rich and poor, of racial grouping, and religious observance. Yet, if we look for common good, there it is under our noses. If only we would engage, if only we would smile, if only we would look and see what beauty there is every face.

Look again my friends, and see our glorious world.

Facts and Opinion.

It frightens me that as I grow older, the idea that I could trust absolutely institutions such as the BBC and most national newspapers, is less well founded. Now, alas, it seems that ‘social media’ has bulldozed its way into the mainstream definitions of truth.

I get impatient with the unnecessarily aggressive style of political interview where arguments are so perfunctory that aggression seems to win the point. He who shouts last, shouts loudest, seems the order of the day.

I am not for one moment saying that politicians and others should be allowed to get away with shoddy arguments. However I would like to see political correspondents and others allow their prey to develop decent arguments without jumping down their throats half way through their responses.

Listening seems almost a lost art. For example, the present pandemic is a constantly moving phenomenon, and those in power at all levels are doing their best to respond effectively. Yes, I agree they’ve made mistakes, but who would not. I am fed up with broadcasters leaping on past errors with such relish, whether it be an action recommended too early or too late.

We are living through a uniquely difficult time where two things count more than ever. The truth and tolerance. Baloney theories on social media are needed like a hole in the collective head. To help us nurture truth and tolerance we need the mainstream media to restore our faith with care and respect for the listener.

Media king pins, seem to have been captured by the allure of celebrity, and in so doing forgotten their pursuit of truth.

It is also clear to me that the mainstream social media is focussed on money rather than truth. Celebrity and materialism sum up what drives our media today. Neither it seems to me, spells a particularly ennobled future.

Where Angels fear to tread.

I am very lucky to have many friends from many backgrounds, and they all matter to me. They matter as human beings and all of them slide in and out of focus according to our contact.

I wrote a blog a little while ago which agreed with the BLM campaign and since then I have learned a good deal more. That learning came about quite by chance. Last month in the garden of a lovely condo complex in St Kitts I got into conversation with four friends two of whom were ladies of colour from the USA. Both ladies are lovely to share time with, both mature, both beautiful, both extremely articulate.

The crucial stage of our discussion came when one of the ladies said, “Things are improving, for us in the USA.”

The other, replied, her voice raised “Why should they be improving, why do we need improvement? I’ll tell you why, because we’ve been treated like pieces of shit all my life, and I’m fed up with racism, every minute of every day.”

Her impassioned cry hit me hard, I saw in her anguish, the hurt of a whole life skewered on the horns of racism. I felt then, and I feel now like crying. I hope more people feel like crying, feel moved to do something to turn this ghastly sin of so many generations, What will it take?

“I’m going to vote for Trump.” she said.

After a sharp intake of breath, I implored, “Why, oh Why? You must be crazy!”

“I’m not crazy, another turn with Trump as President and the US will burst into flames and we’ll see real change. It’s the only way, there’s no middle road, the prejudice is too deep, we need to tear up the good old US of A and start again.” She smiled at me, “It’s the only way.”

My mind is blank, I pray she is wrong, I can do no more than weep.

Don’t pre-judge my prejudices.

Yes we all have them, prejudices. Racism is probably the most naturally occurring prejudices of all. We are all born into tribes, and belong intrinsically to that tribal group. We are brought up to respect our own as a primary behavioural response. We are in nature defensive to people from other tribes.

The more different the tribe the more defensive we become. The marks of difference are many and various, including but not exclusively, relative wealth, language, education, colour, religion, physique and many others.

Tribes have been fighting and murdering each other since time immemorial, as they do today in the Middle East, on the Chinese India border, and in the ghettoes of our huge cities.

There are ideological prejudices between democrat and totalitarian, between socialist and republican, and between rulers and the ruled, the exploited and the exploiters.

We all would do well to categorise our prejudices, to look inward and see ourselves as we really are. A collection of prejudices, not many of which paint us in a favourable light. If we take any one and encapsulate that in one anti-prejudicial catch all: Change!

We will improve ourselves, our tribe and our world.

All lives matter, History matters, our future matters.

Kneeling on the neck, “Shit, who cares! I’m a police man and I can do what the fuck I like. Specially to black folks!”

That’s what woke up the world. Imagining the beginning of man’s inhumanity to man. Another expression of superiority of race, one man over another.

The world as we know it was built on a series of wondrous adventures and artistic achievements, from the glories of the Benin kingdoms, through the Aztecs, the glories of India, the wonders of Aboriginal civilisations. Then through Greek and Roman philosophies and systems of governments through to the adventurous Victorians of England and their European competitors. Not to mention the contribution of modern America.

I’m sure this is not a comprehensive list of civilisations, excluding as it does the mighty and inventive civilisations of China and Japan and other Far Eastern cultures.

The issue today is, not how we got here, but how do we go forward? Yes we need to be aware how nasty we have been to each other, from the horrors of the Holocaust, to the ghastliness of Srebrenica, and to the capture and sales of 4 million Africans in to slavery. Slavery was and is not the exclusive sin of the Europeans. For everyone has espoused the practice from China to South America from Ancient Greece to the teachings of the prophet Muhammed. It continues today in West Africa, the USA, Europe and UK.. In brothels, nail bars and car washes, in the services of ships and bars, in the forests and mines of Africa, and many palaces throughout the world.

All these examples of man’s inhumanity to man are wrong, unjust, unspeakably evil. The world abounds with murderous states like Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Iran, who both routinely execute their citizens often for the most frivolous and capricious reasons.

It is clear then that man has consistently treated his fellows with contempt and unkindness. The question that faces all of us is how we treat the future and how we manage our histories.

Not all our civilisations are similar. I assume, for example, that the Saudis think that chopping criminals’ heads off in public is OK! Most civilisations think killing human beings is wrong. This is here and now.

Workers (usually low caste Indians) in the gulf states work in appalling conditions, many die struggling in impossibly hot temperatures. There are thousand upon thousands of women trapped in slavery round the world. This is here and now.

There are millions of Muslim Uighur and Kazakhs Chinese locked in ‘Correction camps in northern China’. This is here and now.

So while the action of thousands rightly support “The Black Lives matter” demonstrations, they must recognise that they have not the monopoly on righteousness. There are so many evil drivers in our world, some born long ago, many still thriving today.

I agree there is no excuse for evil deeds past or present, and I support wholeheartedly the will to change existing racism. Especially in the United States of America the leader of the modern world. I am far from sure that tearing down statues of men and women wrongly seen as heroes in their time, is doing anything other than hiding the past.

Whist the Vicar’s wife thought it Ok to hold shares in a sugar plantation, she was ignorant rather than evil, because she knew not what she did. Ignorance and fear led mankind into all sorts of cruelty, conflict, and inhuman murderous acts. We know these acts today as wrong. Even when the Church supported many inquisitions, the barbarous cruelty of some was swept under the carpet.

There is little doubt that the white races have treated the black races as inferior. This is an untenable lie. Yet this belief is commonly held by white men and women. The recent and persistent police murders of black citizens, has at last raised the common consciousness of the veil of racism. We can only hope that the veil will stay raised and real change will come about.

Remember, The evil that men do, lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.

Trump – a sacrilegious idiot.

Donald Trump having cleared the way through peaceful protesters with tear gas and truncheon wielding goons, has the nerve to pose in front of a Church holding a Christian Bible, and preaching hatred.

The guy is a massive buffoon, who has now really shown us that he respects no one. I am not a Christian, but I respect all religious beliefs that preach respect and love. That the POTUS could demean his role and behave in such scandalously self promoting peacock pose, is astonishing and the most disgusting gesture since the second world war.

I know that his posturing will appeal to some, but I do hope that most people see this goon for what he is. A self promoting half-witted idiot.

Please vote if you are an American, against TRUMP! Help save the world.

Violent protesters are voting for the status quo.

                                       We can see the USA turning the knife in its own gut.  The terrible and indefensible killing of George Floyd has let loose an understandable rage which itself has led to indefensible abuse from protesters and Police alike.

Firstly I have to admit that I think police brutality especially against Black Americans is common place and in all cases inexcusable. Whilst not all police in the USA are guilty of excessive violence, too many are.

Of course law enforcement is in the shadow of zero gun control, a fact that must make law enforcement at least most hazardous.  Nevertheless the culture of brutality that exists widely in the USA is an inescapable fact.  Not all policemen by any means are physically brutal or colour prejudiced, but many are.  This is self-evident.

I fear that the riotous behaviour of many of the protestors will influence the upcoming election in favour of the incumbent. (Hard to believe – I know.)  However history teaches us that non-violent protest swings opinion to the Democrats and vice versa. It is also a fact that violent protests, looting and destruction attract the most news worthy headlines.  Add these two things together and all Trump has to do is keep schstum, and the election will be his.

If America is to see positive change toward a less racist more harmonious society, it must embrace the idea of passive protest.  There is a need for leadership akin to Mahatma Ghandi and Luther King. Do I see such a leader or group of leaders emerging?  Sadly I do not.

So, the violent protesters and looters are allowing Trump to fiddle, while America continues to burn.