Monthly Archives: March 2012

Forced Work Experience

I was really sorry when one person used her “ethical business” blogpost in an alternative local magazine as a platform to comment on an unrelated matter. She conflates the benefits of work experience, which she extols, with the government moves to force people on benefits into doing unpaid work.

Her views, especially given the magazine, are old fashioned and disappointing: she sees going to work as learning ‘proper behaviours’ and about bowing to employer expectations – she is an employer. It reminds me of arriving at the bank in Mary Poppins. There’s an implication that these “proper behaviours” are about subservience and conformity, something again I did not expect to have implicitly endorsed in this rag whose echoes are of an ecological, not Torylogical nature.

What the many critics of the government benefit reforms mind is the forced, unpaid labour (which is a form of slavery) which little understands that people and business work best when they are linked by people’s passions and abilities. Few of these schemes are going to put those who aren’t working in a place that helps them find truly suitable paying work – this is about cutting the welfare bill and resocialising claimants to the system.  Why do we believe our value comes from earning and often from something that’s hard and unpleasant, a grind to be endured and whose end is welcomed? Why do we view those who do what they love as lucky at best, or to be scorned as idealistic wasters?

I know a business coach who said to me that for her work, that you love is the only kind there is.

Our problems stem from misplaced values systems and imbalanced power.

I believe that unemployment would be largely solved if everyone got paid for what they do, rather than be made to find employment doing something else. Hence the push towards voluntary work and squeezing out of the welfare system is completely nonsensical and negative. And it is exploitation, not experience.

I would counsel a return to that magazine’s roots – for those who want a better world, often looking to alternative ideologies and spiritualities, and dare to believe that the status quo is not the only or often the best way.

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Why I Hate Mother’s Day

I hate today, especially that churches make this commercial circus worse. I know lots of Christians who don’t go to church and who generally avoid places with large points of sale – from shops to cinemas – inviting you to spend more under the guise of being a faithful child.

What churches do worse is that they have now realised that parents’ days are hard for lots of different kinds of people – unlike commerce. So the godshops publicly list all the reasons why anyone might be suffering, making pews uncomfortable places, even for those who are happy with their offspring situation.

I don’t want to repeat that list here and hurt anyone who has already struggled through today. But I want to remark that there’s a wide range of reasons why Mother’s day is difficult, and not all of these are understood.

The worst that a church can do is expect a public display of affection from children to mothers; and then  – for the childless among them – to get a kid skipping up to often someone they don’t know with a flower they’ve no use for. No, it’s not inclusive, it’s patronising and thoughtless. It says to the recipient, you want to be part of this money and baby making carnival and you’re not but we’ll make it right for you by going through the charade. We’ll be your surrogate child. Aah.

It feels like a fertility rite, boiling one’s use down to whether one has sprogged.

I think many feel: if they don’t have children present, they don’t want someone’s else’s pretending. Perhaps to some people, it feels hard to be reminded of their childlessness, whether they be a young person who hasn’t thought about children yet, or a mature person reflecting that (especially for women) their childbearing days are over, or running out. Perhaps that approach of middle age is attached to other thoughts about singleness and physicality, life achievements etc and that well intended posy can bring on a whole load of issues. Perhaps even to one well known by their congregation, there may be situations (including absent children) and private hurts that are being contained – until the flower pots come out.

If we wanted our issues all brought up, we’d be with a counsellor, not in church.

Many of us feel we’d like to make a fuss of our parents on their birthdays, which is a day special to them, not to jostle with everyone else with overpriced set menus and specially (often ill) chosen films. Something for retailers to consider.

I’d also encourage people to be thoughtful about asking what one is doing on a parents’ day, or getting (especially in a chiding/expectant way) and for those leading church services to think that sermons on the women who nearly didn’t get fruit of their loins – at every service – along with long prayers ‘on this mother’s day’ constantly repeated and then family issues being listed – might be just what some worshippers do not need to hear.

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Good Friday

As we’re close to the Easter season, I’d like to share what I wrote last year on my new take on this day

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Justice for Animals

Stop using the death sentence, and euthanasia instead of medical care

It is unhelpful that the Bible has influenced our culture to believe that we are ahead of the animals and have, to quote that unfortunate Genesis phrase, dominion over them. Whereas ecological people of all beliefs have questioned how we can use this passage to subordinate the rest of the earth and how a good God would ask that of us (especially when doing so puts us all in danger), there are ways in which we carry out this traditional King James understanding, regardless of whether we take much heed of the Bible.

Whereas experimentation, battery farming, and hurting animals is usually seen as disgusting, we are in a culture where animals can be killed at human whim. An unwanted litter? Too many pets at the rescue centre? Can’t afford to keep or pay the vet’s bills? I was alarmed to hear that if a horse breaks its legs, it’s shot. No braces or operations. We often hear so called animal lovers speaking about not being cruel by allowing something to continue to suffer. Yet only once have I heard someone claim that they felt the cat itself said it was time to release it. The decision is entirely the humans’.

When I say the human, I don’t always mean its owner. I have often heard of someone taking their animal to the vets to come back with a corpse.

We are obsessed with property, so that not only does every piece of land (as well as buildings) have to belong to someone, but so do the animals. If it’s domesticated, it comes under our jurisdiction with rules imposed on animals about tags, passports and behaviours – which can lead to their termination.

The Green party – of which I am not a member – is all for mending what’s broken and not being so quick to discard. I’d like us to take that to animals too.

The other fear is that how we treat animals is not far off how we see each other. Do we start ‘euthanizing’ people we can no longer afford to look after, state or privately? We also kill animals for disorders and traits that in humans we have fought so hard to have accepted and de-stigmatised.

Do we bring back in the death penalty for not only murder but violence – absolutely not!

The notion is that animals don’t have souls. Not long ago, it was believed that women didn’t either – it was still being debated within 100 years (as well as other ethnicities). We also assess which life forms are intelligent – probably ones we can get to do something for us – and which are crushable bugs and vermin. We have laws that say certain rodents must be reported and killed, whereas others can be our pets. Note that some keep as pets the very creatures that others fear.

There are those who claim they can talk to animals. Critters apparently do not use language and communicate as we do, but they do feel. We are poor at communing with anything that doesn’t think and behave as we do. Some deride this notion, especially that an insect or similar can have feelings. We’re brought up to crush slugs, spiders, flies and wasps (though not hurt bees, even though they sting too). We are told to fear wolves and be glad that there are no longer wild in parts of the world. We are told that animals naturally have pecking orders and live in packs and can never be our friends unless we become its master. If a domesticated animal shows a sign of behaving in a way we are threatened by, it must die.

If there is disease or even fear of disease, animals must be killed by law. I am incensed when I recall that marksman broke into a woman’s home to shot her sheep during a British supposed epidemic.

Without trial of the animal, we put creatures we believe have no views or say to often immediate death. If we do not comply, then we are punished.

I find it sickening that so many of our societies try to control so much of our lives – and now those of our fellow creatures, always against their interests.

Societies that live close to nature often have better understanding and relationships with animals.

Killing animals who have attacked is lacking in forgiveness and a very fear based solution. Rather than kill animals who are violent, they should be sent to a whisperer to find out

1 – why…. often violence is a product of violence, worse if it is human abuse that leads to a victims’ execution.

2 – to retrain them.

I doubt that (m)any of animals killings are necessary.

Why do we not let animals die naturally anymore?

Money should never dictate the health or support of any being. I visited a former workhouse this weekend and I thought of what I wrote early in the new year on Dickens, and how timely he feels – and how frightening that is.

Often resources are possible – we all know where the missing money is – in the pockets of the powerful few. It’s also not cheap to have animals killed and buried.

Rather than scorning those who claim to speak with animals, listen to them; and start listening to creatures and respecting them.

Is it not human fault that we breed more domestic animals than we can feed? In the wild, they would not have to rely on us to get their food, and sadly nature would take those that did not survive. And that does not mean we have the right to interfere with their bodies to keep the birthrate down.

Rules about animals should be no more than needed; not lord over them or be controlling of humans who wish to have animals in their lives, whilst ensuring responsible stewardship. I don’t want more enforcement of having to go on training courses for pet owners, but perhaps training should be encouraged – and of the partnership, not mastery variety.

I also call for a change in law to stop forcing the death of animals; and for a change of the expectation that people put animals down when there are often other solutions. And rather than dismissing them, that people who claim psychic powers with animals are listened to. It sounds like a gift that enhances animals’ and humans’ lives – and that these supposed lesser creatures have a lot to teach us.

See also my Hubpage!

PS I now have a suggestion for ex bailiffs (as they should all be changing their jobs, as per my previous post on Justice in Banking) that they can be enforcement officers for animal cruelty rescue.

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