ANOTHER SURVIVAL PLAN

Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock formation in Wadi...
Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock formation in Wadi Rum, Jordan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The snot season is upon us. It’s Autumn in the UK and the viruses are on the march. It happens every year. You sail through summer feeling invincible. You might have a bit of Athletes Foot or maybe a blush of Thrush, but generally, between June and August, you feel good. Then the mists and mellow fruitfulness announce the ‘flu season.

I stood in a line at my GP‘s surgery last week, waiting for my ‘flu jab. It was like queuing for bread. We were all so grateful for the lady in a white coat when she stuck the needle in. One after another, we passed down the line, in one way and out down the corridor past the toilets. My arm came up like a balloon for a few days, but thankfully, I didn’t experience and of the other possible side-effects and now I am protected from this year’s ‘flu strains – I hope…

Watching the long line of people waiting for their jabs last week made me think how difficult it would be for our understaffed overworked NHS to deal with an epidemic of something much nastier than ‘flu. I don’t want to sound scary, but if a plague descended, would be have the resources to deal with it? I doubt it.

Keeping yourself healthy has become obsessive for some. But I understand how these people feel. We seem to be teetering on the edge of disaster every day. It’s out there, on the news – the horrors of what has just happened in a Kenya shopping mall, the terrible fighting in Syria, the recent unspeakable child cruelty cases in the UK – all these events mean that focusing on your own health and well-being provides a safety net, and sense that all is well with the world, a way of feeling better about it all.

Every time I pop a vitamin pill or walk a couple of miles, I feel a glow of smug self satisfaction that I am doing something positive for the world. Here is one less older woman who will develop diabetes, Alzheimer’s, have a stroke, get cancer etc.  Of course, I know that I have as much chance of developing these diseases as anyone else, but a good brisk walk, a diet of fruit and veg and a few yoga poses every day makes me feel better and if I feel better, I feel healthier. Am I fooling myself here? I don’t think so. Mind and body work together, if you let them.

I guess I am trying to shut the trauma out of my life, like everyone who gets obsessive about exercise and eating habits. But I don’t want to focus only on those things. I want to do something to make a change, however small, in the way the world runs. That doesn’t mean being a do-gooder, or thinking I’ve saved the world by voting for the Green Party. It means keeping my eyes open and recognising when I am needed and being there, even if what I contribute is very small.

This is all getting very philosophical. Not even sure what the word means… I know it comes from the Greek philo and sophia and means a ‘love of wisdom‘ – that coming together of the cognitive and emotional parts of the way we think. Love appears to have a lot to do with it, too. But love alone cannot fulfil the thirst for knowledge and wisdom, but the striving to learn about what love is, what everything ‘is’ is the beginning of our desire to find real wisdom. Passion makes us start asking questions, makes us question everything and that leads to an accumulation of wisdom and wisdom come through the passionate journey, not the arrival. I read somewhere that philosophy is a state of mind not a particular type of knowledge. It’s about keeping the mind and soul open to ideas, to passionate curiosity, to questioning and then,  allowing wisdom to flow in.

Knowledge will make you free
Knowledge will make you free (Photo credit: tellatic)

Going back to that long line of people waiting for ‘flu vaccinations, in an emergency there is little time for questions and we all have to rely on the wisdom of the professionals. They have to be wise enough to get it right. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the questions ready and to ask them when we can. Being engaged in what is happening to you, on every level, wherever you are embraces the idea that we can all use our innate wisdom to make life better for everyone.

Is this a pipe dream? No.

 

 

 

LEAVE OUR BODIES OUT OF IT, PLEASE!

 

200 px
200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How interesting that my blog with the word PORN in the title has had more hits that many of my other blogs. Poor Old Porn was a blog I wrote as a send up of the porn industry on the internet. I’m hoping that most of the people who are reading it get my point and are not simply looking for tits and bums? How naive am I?

This morning I heard a piece on the radio about how disrespectful some boys are to girls and how schools and teachers are looking at ways to talk to boys about how they see female sexuality and the female sex per se. Some of the boys interviewed said they were horrified at the images of women published in some tabloids. That’s good. They had something to say about it and expressed the view that women should not be used as sex objects and to sell products. You would think that by now, things would be improving in the way women are portrayed – you would think that in 2013 in our civilised? society, there would be respect and equality in every facet of life. Dream on.

As an older woman and now a grandmother of girls, I think a lot about how life will treat them, how boys and men will relate to them as they grow into women. How can I protect them? How can I tell them what to look out for? Should I tell them that men are after only one thing and put them off for life? Of course not. It’s up to their parents to do that. But maybe my wisdom and love might help them to understand what they will have to deal with if things don’t change for the better? And maybe they can help facilitate that change by having high self-respect, educating themselves and believing in their right to be equal?

Across the world women and girls continue to be abused in all sorts of ways. In the UK two women a week are murdered in domestic violence incidents. In the UK we still do not have enough women in politics, as leaders in the boardroom, as scientists, as philosophers that people listen to. But look at what happens when women put their heads above the parapet? The recent hateful tweets about intelligent, successful women on Twitter show that in our society at the moment, there are people, probably not exclusively men, who want women to stay silent and adhere to roles that make them either servants or whores. Twitter took action on this because a huge fuss was made. Good for them.

Personally I think that the way women’s bodies are exploited is unforgivable. Call me old-fashioned, call me Mrs Whitehouse – am I bovered? No. I firmly believe that pornography turns women into lumps of flesh devoid of personality or feeling. It does the same to men, too. And it’s everywhere. This isn’t about sexual liberation anymore. It’s about money. It’s predominately about women’s bodies being used to make money for others.

English: Child with MacBook. The original capt...
English: Child with MacBook. The original caption was “Hoping computer skillz run in the family.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet, there has always been pornography. The Victorians loved it, the Renaissance painters made it high art. Today, we shrug and say it’s just part of modern life.  But today, porn is accessible online to children in a way it never was before. So children as young as eight years old are seeing images that will affect how they develop and understand sex and sexuality. This is very worrying.

There has to be a real sea-change across the world. Men must stop trying to control women. They must stop being afraid of women. They must stop abusing women and girls. They must realise that we are all human animals capable if extreme cruelty but also love. And love comes in all sorts of disguises.

It just takes an editor of a newspaper to realise that sales will go down, not up, if women’s bodies are exploited to raise sales figures, to make a start on that change. Tesco reluctantly took notice of the thousands of people who complained about soft porn magazines that were on view in their stores. It can be done. If we make enough fuss, the exploiters will listen. Porn on the net is another matter. Someone opened Pandora’s box and the lid cannot be closed. So there has to be more legislation to prevent access to these obnoxious sites, that exist exclusively to make money for the companies that own them.

So if you are angry at the way women are treated in this country or in any other country, start writing. If you are concerned about the effect all this has on our children, make a thorough nuisance of yourself by writing letters to anyone who might be able to help. It will be a small ripple in a huge pool, but it will impact on someone, somewhere. After all, as citizens, we all have the vote and can make a difference. We just have to work at it.

 

EMOTION AND REASON

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The man who shot 12 people and wounded many others in the Navy Yard in Washington DC yesterday, has been described by people who knew him as reserved and bookish, as a man with an interest in weapons, but ‘never’ the sort who would use them in anger, as a man who was quiet and unemotional and an asset to the owner of a restaurant where he worked as a waiter just two years ago. Are these people really saying such things about the man who shot 12 people and wounded man others? Yes, they are. So what makes a man who seems so ordinary – dull even – carry out mass murder? Is it the fact that guns are easy to get and therefore, to use? Or is something else going on?

Augusto Boal receives the Crossborder Award fo...
Augusto Boal receives the Crossborder Award for Peace and Democracy. Abbey Theatre, April 3rd 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The great humanist and director Augusto Boal said that in life, there must be a balance of reason and emotion. Too much reason or too much emotion and balance is lost. What is happening in a human mind when a decision is made to kill another person? There must be a decision as we all have free will, so there must have been a moment when this man, described as calm and cool, pulled the trigger over and over again. He was seeing what was happening and hearing the screams and the gunshots, yet he carried on.

Was he really there? By that I mean, had a connection in his mind switched off? Was he, at the moment of the first shot, somewhere else? This may sound a naive and rather silly question, but I have pondered over it for several hours today. The man was described as unemotional, reserved. Was this a human totally disengaged from his feelings, from his emotions and acting like a robot?

So, maybe it’s not just about the gun lobby? Personally, I cannot see the logic behind this desire to own something that will give you the power to kill another creature, human or otherwise. It’s insane. But I do know that there are economics and politics involved, which is why guns in the USA are still available to the general public. However, as I said, something else is going on here. Are the influences on the human mind changing so rapidly that there is no longer time to stay grounded, to make sure you are in balance?

Every way we turn, we are bombarded with images that show death and destruction in all its forms. We see it daily in films, on TV, in the media. And what is the alternative? Sentimental rubbish or overt sexuality. Now, it has occurred to me that all this stuff that is put before our vulnerable, human minds is lies. Life is not the way it is portrayed in films or on TV. In real life, there are consequences. The drama does not end when the credits roll. It goes on for millennium. The repercussions descend down through generations of unborn children. What we see and hear mimics life, but it’s not the whole truth. And do we become desensitized when we watch the news, where real horror is shown to us as we eat our pizza and chips and look forward to ice-cream? I think we do.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the imbalances our lifestyles create. Young minds do not always have the intelligence or experience to differentiate between fact and fiction. And now, I am beginning to wonder if adult minds are losing that ability, are losing balance? Is it all beginning to get a bit blurry? Did this murderer rely on warped reasoning devoid of all emotion to enable him to carry out his crimes?

What was happening in the murderer’s mind in the days leading up to his terrible crime? What happened in his childhood? What makes people lose touch with their emotions, with empathy and sympathy, with a sense of care, with generosity of spirit, with love?  Much as we may not want to know, these are questions that must be answered so we can find ways of creating life-long education that will show us how to keep reason and emotion in balance.