Category Archives: society

Robert Potato Peel Pie

Remember the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society?

Here’s a recipe involving the peel of a certain 19th C British baronet, with a little Hartley’s jam…

Cooking (reading) time: about 20 mins

I was intrigued that He Who Set Up England’s Police has just been in the news. Statues in Robert Peel’s honour are now an endangered species, for they may be destined to go the way of Edward Colston’s last Sunday (7th). I confess I laughed when I heard that the likeness of this unpopular 17th C Bristol magnate ended up in the Frome, in daylight and in front of a crowd.

His removal was long overdue. In 2007, at the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery in Britain, residents questioned why this man from 300 years ago whose wealth came from the slave trade, whose contributions (except the almshouses named after him) to the city are no longer tangible, should still be sitting in the middle of it. The nearby concert hall was being renovated, and much of the populace asked why this venue and its street bore his name. Bristol – the city of Princess Caraboo, Hannah Moore and Dorothy Hazzard – has a rich history of memorable people and a recent heritage of musicians. So why – if the largest music venue in the city needed to be named after anyone – did they pick someone who lived long before this hall, and who has no connection to music, but plenty to an abhorrent and obsolete trade? I was surprised that the statue and the hall – now with a ridiculous gold extension – had survived thus far.

I am pleased that we are asking about who we give honour to and if it is right to still give them honour. I note that like Colston’s displaced effigy, much statuary in Britain is 19th century, sometimes several after the person’s life; and that as one person put it, it’s public veneration. I like Christopher Wren’s epitaph – that on principle, we should be able to look round and see what they did. Not that I necessarily esteem the bewigged polymath and possible Illuminati member, just the notion that I shouldn’t need an eerie graven image to remind of what you’ve done.

I realise how many of Britain’s statues are of war heroes and states people: those whom we perceive made us great. I also note that many of our historic townhouses are named after historic rich men who were also public figures. Each time, this wealthy ‘successful’ businessman was also a statesman – MP, sheriff or mayor, often repeatedly. This ancient correlation continues.

So as I meld back to Robert Peel, I want to have in mind who were revere and remember, and that today, wealthy business people still steer our cities and countries (as well as get the best properties).

Robert too was from a wealthy business family, made from cotton, in the north west of England before moving to the West Midlands. Bury and Tamworth, who have statues to him, are now asking if they want to keep them.

Conservative media point out that activists may have confused his father – also Robert Peel – who opposed the abolition of slavery act in Britain because of the loss of revenue it would cause. Presumably he saw himself in that category, since cotton manufacture involved slave plantations. It’s said that we don’t know whether son was like father, and that Bobby jnr was too junior to have made much input to his father’s late 18th C decisions. Fair… but I thought that it wasn’t due to slave support that Sir Peel II was now on the not/wanted list: it was his police record.

It’s well known in Britain that Robert Peel set up our police, although I didn’t know the story. I thought that literally he was the first superintendent of the force, or perhaps even took on the role himself as a lone officer. Robert Peel didn’t do policing though: he created it. He was an MP and later prime minister in Britain, dying in 1850; and he was titled – 2nd baronet. He went to what we might call privileged educational establishments and lived in a hall. He founded the Conservative Party.

That doesn’t make him the enemy, although I confess that I baulked at reading this about him.

Peel is called the father of modern policing (note the paternalistic term), because by setting up the Metropolitan Police in London, he paved the way not only for the rest of England to have its own forces (Scotland already had one) but his example was followed in America.

So what did our example inspire or unleash on the world?

Bobby left us with 9 principles of policing which I’ve seen adopted in America as well as here – a sort of 10-1 commandments for law enforcement. Pro-police writers remind that Robert’s reforms cut hangable offences by 100 – so how many were left, I ask? – and working hours and child labour. So he did do some things right, or at least, better than his forebears. He also saved the country from its existing state of martial law enforcement; his ‘Peelers’ only had truncheons (wooden batons), not swords and guns, and their uniform was deliberately different from the red coats of the hussars, so that it was clear that a Peeler was not a soldier.

Can I stamp on this notion put about that we in Britain still call police ‘Peelers’. The only time I’ve heard that term used is when it is prefixed by Potato.

I’ll comment briefly on just four of those nine principles.

Note that police around the world are not keeping to these.

1) proportion, and persuasion first; never use more force than necessary

so no brutalities then, such as the ones that sparked all the riots recently or the abuse I read of today by an officer to another woman, allegedly seeking drugs

I agree to the first clause, but I wonder about the second ever being so; it is widely misused

2) police cannot usurp the judiciary – so no killing suspects and dispensing with trials

But the judiciary is not sovereign and untouchable, nor incorruptible; it too needs reform

3) Impartial upholding of the law – so no prejudice; but impartial can also lead to blind pernickityness; and the law itself needs much scrutiny (and will get it from me in another piece)

4) police are the people, and vice versa: that citizens are assumed to uphold the law and enforce it where they see it being broken

This makes assumptions about citizenry. We can’t opt in or out and we rarely have much say about the laws created, nor do we always agree with them. So whereas Bobby was expecting high standards of his namesakes, and society, I find that a bind which actually goes wrong…

Firstly, there is what kind of person joins the police – which is a topic to come back to…

This principle also gives support to the prevalent push that we can handle our problems without police – fodder for another article…

I want to focus on what was happening in England during the time of modern police forces’ inception. I remind that many US writers have commented that slave and immigration control were connected. I heard that London – England’s first force – was about custody of cargo.

So, I wondered, did England’s other contemporary great dock city – Liverpool – follow suit?

The banner photo on this blog is of Liverpool.

I recalled a snippet from a book on Liverpool’s docks by Ron Jones that made me want to investigate.

The official police in Liverpool seems formed by an act of parliament in 1835; although, as elsewhere, they existed in some form previously. This means, they were 6 years after London’s.

I wondered why it needed a central government act to create them as well as the docks I’ll soon get to…

In August 1819, the Peterloo massacre occurred in Manchester, a rival town in the same county which produced much of the goods that Liverpool got rich on shipping. A large (size unverified) crowd met to discuss equality and universal suffrage – for not even all men could vote yet. Their banners even included the word ‘love’. But over 2000 soldiers on horseback set upon what’s normally described as a peaceful crowd, and hacked at these unarmed civilians with swords. They wanted to charge the speakers, such as Henry Hunt, with treason (which was dropped), they set on journalists, and rushed through an inquiry. I watched Timeline dramatised TV based on the transcript of the inquest of one man, Lees. The trial was held, not in a proper court or a public space, but a pub in the next town. The witnesses – cotton workers, the mainstay of the town – were terrified as the magistrates were also their employers and landlords; some had even been part of the yeoman who attacked. As London lawyer, Mr Harmer, acting for the deceased’s father, made progress in showing the corruption and violent intent of the soldiers and town leaders, the coroner shut down the case.

However, it is often seen that this event was key in bringing about change, although not the revolutionary ones which were hoped for and feared, and not all immediately.

It did lead to the setting up of the [Manchester] Guardian newspaper, Britain’s most left wing daily broadsheet, and an important voice of supposed free and thorough journalism.

In 1831, riots occurred, notably in Bristol and Nottingham. Some of the fuel to the literal fires – the custom house, mayoral and bishop’s residences in the former, and ducal castle in the latter were burned – was the refusal to pass the Reform Bill. This Act is behind George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch, which describes the ‘rotten boroughs’, meaning that Members of Parliament were not representative of the population, by any means; it was a bribable boy’s club with easy to keep seats. The bill took up some of the issues that those Lancastrians of 12 years before had met about. But also, the city corporations also were seen as corrupt and self serving, as was especially felt in Bristol, Nottingham, and in Liverpool. The rioters’ quarry were people who had helped block this important bill for greater fairness. It was enacted the following year, and ‘rotten boroughs’ were no more.

Sadly, many of us feel that our government is still mainly self serving and not representative, and are effectively bribed by the wealthy elite.

Several accounts of these riots – such as you might read in a guidebook – don’t tell you that the soldiers again set upon their people. They’ll instead tell you how much property was damaged.

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The Police and Albert Docks

Many readers, perhaps those not from Britain too, will recognise that place. It’s famous – the Merseyside Metropolis has made it so. They are the synecdoche for the whole of a huge system, mostly designed by one man, Jesse R R Hartley Hare*. I wonder if his statues and plaques are on the Unpopular List? (*Hartley Hare is from kid’s TV; and J R R Hartley wrote a book on fly fishing).

Much of Ron Jones’s book, like others, boasts about the wonders of Liverpool (yes, I am already a fan) and its docks, but I realised that my values have changed. I’ll write a report on my travel blog. In short, Liverpool was built on the wealth that its port gave it, but it was a very divided city. The story I recalled was that when Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, came to open the much vaunted groundbreaking dock in his name in July 1846, many of the half a million who came to greet him couldn’t afford shoes.

There were other significant visitors to Liverpool that year. Lots of them. They came from the West. Unlike the Prince, they weren’t guests of honour. They’d come in hordes, in desperation, due to a potato famine that they saw their neighbouring country as having contributed to.

These Irish families – already destitute, tired, stressed, displaced – were squeezed into tight ghettoes. 20,000 citizens – that’s about a tenth of Liverpool at the time – were sworn in as special constables (ie plain clothes police for a particular s/reason) to help control these asylum seekers.

Not to welcome or support them, but contain them.

Now I’m not assuming that there was no trouble from these immigrants, any more than I’m supporting the rioters of the previous decade; but I am questioning how they are portrayed and how much their treatment added to the ‘social problems’ that we conveniently and patronisingly file them under.

I’d like to point out that these immigrants were white, and the same ethnicity as the indigenous people of Liverpool.

In Ron Jones’s book, I noted a comment which wasn’t critical but which should have been, and is very timely. A local lecturer, Dr William H Duncan, spoke out against the diseases that he said were rife in these Irish cramped lodgings, and said that they endangered everyone else in the city, morally and physically. This man then went on to be the first chief health minister for the country.

I very much take issue with this, which used health of others to demonise these Irish and other poor people, and use ‘infection’ as an excuse to control them and knock down their homes. The book doesn’t say what happened to the residents.

I’d like to say – and remember, I am very fond of Liverpool – that a city which is very cultural today and famous for certain musicians especially – was actually slow to get culture. At Albert’s visit, it didn’t even have a theatre yet, a lifetime behind more provincial towns. Even its classy residents who lived in terraces or mansions far from the stinky water which gave them their wealth celebrated key events not long before with bear and bull baiting. So the rich too engaged in activities which were considered morally dubious. Yet here was one putting moral fibre next to illness and equating the two. Familiar?

What did those new docks really mean?

I wonder if Jesse Hartley will join the not-so-wanted list. Of his day, I can see that he could be a hero, and that the wealth he helped amass for Liverpool (not even his native town, he’s from Yorkshire) would make him celebrated. As an engineer, architectural books keep telling me that Jesse’s work was extraordinary. But I can see that actually his work was short sighted and he seemed a hard, driven man, although because he achieved things, we overlook that. I’ll analyse what he built on my other blog.

I want to ask WHY Jesse Harley created so many new docks, on top of the 18th Century set which saw so much slave trade. A Liverpool superlative it should not be proud of is that it was Europe’s leading slave port; and it sent at least 10 times the human cargo ships that Bristol and London did. When Albert Dock opened, the slave trade had been outlawed in Britain for 40 years. Yet the port thrived on the produce it had made, and the produce of domestic slavery which continued in America till c1860. I was also surprised to learn that in Britain and its empire, slavery needed a second act, passed in 1834, to actually grind it to a halt, which wasn’t immediate.

Whilst we celebrate the names of those to whom we attribute slavery’s abolition, perhaps even they need scrutiny. William Wilberforce didn’t advocate immediate emancipation – he said slaves needed to be prepared for freedom. Resocialised, don’t you mean? Sometimes, they had to work for a generation first.

There is another very evil fact about slavery that I’ll end with. I had to walk round my home to take it in.

But my point for now is that Liverpool’s connection to slavery was around the time that policing began, and so did those new docks; and at a time of unbridled trading worldwide – two acts in the 1830s and 40s meant its ships could travel without restriction, and its profits were therefore unfettered.

What of the local workers – in factories and docks? Would they be considered working under modern slavery conditions?

I was also learned why these warehouses were built. London had a new kind of dock. Liverpool was encouraged to get some too. These enclosed docks where you could moor right by the secure warehouses meant that

1) the rich merchants lost far less of their goods to theft (or fire) 

2) the HM customs people could check and collect more easily.

Ah. Now we know why central government was involved.

And you’ll note that Jesse Harley’s designs included not only a huge wall (see why thoughts on walls here) to keep out, but police booths. Note their arrow slit motif and castle-like quality.

I don’t support looting, but I do wonder if some of the looters were those who couldn’t buy shoes.

Liverpool was also a port where people sailed for a new life to America. If you’ve seen The Golden Door, you’ll know it wasn’t such a land of the free and opportunity – more of a work force advert. Customs in New York were utterly brutal and degrading, in the name of health. But this also meant that further immigration occurred in Liverpool – mostly outgoing.

So yes, police were about keeping ‘rabble’ quiet and money in the right places.

I’ll also briefly touch on the fact that Catholic Emancipation happened at this time, and some further Church of England strangleholds on public office were released to non Anglicans.

Is it an accident then that policing was created in this era?

My shocking final fact: HMRC tweets that modern British tax payers helped end the African slave trade – we were paying for the compensation to the slave OWNERS til 2015!

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Filed under history, medicine and health, society

Why I’m An Abolitionist

Not just of slavery – take that and being anti-racist as a given – but of the police and all enforcement, worldwide.

I’ve been thinking about police for some years. I began a piece about their reform three years ago in which I quickly saw that I needed to ask deep and fundamental questions about the whole of society. And by that, I meant globally. I realised that police are key to the kind of world we live in. And by that, I mean that how they treat us is how safe and free we are.

If you’re expecting me to say: good policing means an orderly, safe world – you’re wrong.

That wasn’t what I was going to say at all.

I may begin sharing my work from June 2017, for the time feels right. There is a worldwide hunger for police reform after the horrific death of George Floyd 2 weeks ago, but sadly he is one of so many that have been brutalised by the force we have to pay to supposedly look after us. Policing isn’t just an American issue, or an issue for those countries that we dismiss as being far away and undeveloped and run by despots. Those people matter too. And they might be your country. Even if you think your country’s police are safe and reasonable, I ask you to think again.

Here is a big point to make early on: that I will not use the country specific talk of so many. American friends and readers, you are especially bad at this, as if you are a synecdoche for the whole world. You aren’t, but right now, the infamous horror on your soil is opening a platform for all of us; and I hope that the strength of feeling against this disgraceful and horrific act is going to open the way for real action on something that has been mooted for a long time.

I am also going to make a point early on which has to be made carefully, for I do not wish to alienate readers at this stage, nor to ever sound as if I in any form tolerate racism or belittle that.

I do not.

However, I do clearly state that I ABHOR ALL FORMS OF INJUSTICE and that for me, there is a bigger bottom line here than racism. My friend said: the attention’s on that fire because that’s where it’s burning at present. And I see that the Black community wants us to look at the fire, because they want us to see what’s been done to them – again. And we witness that with you in anger and sorrow.

But I want to look at fire itself – at this flammable liquid and who’s pouring it.

I am concerned that in the understandable ire and strident voices against the many incidences of racism and the disproportionate amount of police related suffering among non-caucasian people, that there is a new imbalance and set of otherness.

When I began my piece, almost three years ago to the day, I knew that otherness – the concept of people or things being different to you – was the absolute fundament of all else. This basic decision about whether this other form is similar or not to me was quickly followed by, so how shall I relate to or treat them? And that for many, that equalled fear, resentment, treating as less than, abuse.

But there is also a subverted version of this which is being seen via the speaking out, as if those belonging to the other group are all corporately guilty and are ‘other’ to the victims.

Those of us who stand – and I hope that is all of us – against the brutalities of police abuse and against racism, but who are not black, can feel that our solidarity and care must be qualified and earned. What would I or you know about prejudice, brutality, and suffering?

Well, in my own case, more than you might be assuming. I realised that it was possible to stand so vociferously in my own groups’ pain that I wouldn’t let outsiders in, even those who wanted to join with us and stand with us. I could make them feel bad for not having it bad (enough). I could assume the happiness and ease of their lives as compared to me and mine.

I would also like to say – I am on a controversial roll now – that I note that ‘Black’ is often used as a synecdoche for all those ethnicities which aren’t ‘white’ – a description I don’t like. In Britain, we called non ‘white’ BME (Black and Minority Ethnicities), and there’s a new set of initials coined, again leading with B for black. But what about Asian (a wide and diverse group), native American, Australasian; Inuit, Latin… (another broad group who seem to have a new name), Romany, Jew…forgive me if I’ve missed a group, especially if it’s yours. We are many. We are one. We all matter.

I know that black and Asian people and others are disproportionally targeted for police searches and arrests.

But that oft-quoted fact seems to have the horrible logical upshot: that more of the rest of us should be subjected to arrest and search.

NONE OF US SHOULD BE.

I want to abolish stop and search. I want to abolish enforcement targets. I want to abolish spying, weapons, and customs.

I want to abolish the police. Why does only America seem to say this?

I did a little research – it sadly didn’t take much looking – to find negative police incidents in every country I could think of. I don’t know if the beating of a Romani in Romania in April got much international coverage. It should have. “Police brutality” searches get pages of internet search results, as does “police corruption”. Searching “police + bullying” seems to be designed to bring up how to handle bullies, and how to involve the police if you are being bullied. And yet, it was through US churches that I came across a call – and not a new one – to stop calling the cops.

How else might your issue be addressed?

I’ve long felt a discomfort with calling the police. I know that they can worsen a situation, and for some people, it can mean being taken into a system that harms you, or even kill you. There’s the phrase: suicide by police. I keep seeing the statistic that over 1000 people are killed each year by police in America alone. I did a little research and was sickened to learn that these deplorable figures in the US are not the world’s highest. I’m unsure how these deaths by law enforcement were classed – direct shootings or other violence, or did mistreatment in custody resulting in death also get counted? How many of these fatalties are reported and made public? I’m reluctant to quote Wikipedia, but according to its chart, Brazil had 6000, Venezuela 5000 deaths by enforcement each year; the Philippines 3000, Syria was similar to America; India and several African countries were in the hundreds – Nigeria had 800. China isn’t on there! Interestingly Canada is around 30 a year, unlike its neighbour. Much of the rest of the West – Australia, Malta, Scandanavia, Britain – claims less than 10 deaths each, perhaps a single incident, or none. But I know that in the last couple of years, police shot and killed a suspect at a busy London railway station, as happened at Amsterdam in 2018. Thus this high drama risked many people, and the supposed bedrock of democracy – the judical system.

I give you some examples of corruption and brutality, although it’s heart rending and stomach churning. The couple who called the police over their car being burgled as they changed a tyre and the moustache twiddling policeman who implied, give me the expected bribe and I might actually show some interest. The kettled protesters in many demonstrations and the violent clashes and cruel treatments, held for hours. The man who reached for his papers in his car’s glove compartment, and was shot dead because police assumed it was for a gun. The family watching video games at home – also shot. The young women who had sex with 2 officers in exchange for her freedom – who walked free from court. The immigrant told to give a handjob in return for her papers to remain. The organised chronic infiltration of environmental protesters, even entering sexual relationships and having children with them, only to dump their ‘partner’ once the operation was complete. The police who ran drug and child abuse rings, paid huge salaries tax free and given legal exemption whilst ‘peacekeeping’. I could go on… that was just a snippet of some cross-country examples which I could bear to type. None of those were hearsay. And all of those were in the West.

I note that some tabloid British newspapers sided with Trump and the mayor of Minneapolis against the strident calls to abolish the police. I was really interested in this call, which the council of Minneapolis have supported, and that another US place which was considered unsafe – Camden – stopped its police force, and instead created a community based safety system, and seems to be better for it.

But I want to go further than replacing one set of prefects with another. I don’t simply look at official crimes statistics to see if it’s worked.

Calls for the police’s removal seem to be followed by calls for other systems, and I am against systemic control. When we speak of decriminalising cannabis or prostitution (sorry, I won’t call the commodifying of physical love ‘street work’), it usually asks for regulation which means official licensing, and that the government financially benefits from these trades.

I’m asking about the very way that we organise ourselves and who has control.

I am very clear who should not have it.

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I’ve felt uncomfortable with the police for some years – at least 10. I consider it a good day if I don’t see any. I’ve always hated customs and border controls, which puts me off travelling, and I am concerned about internal travel. Why I am anxious about this journey, I ask myself. If I am anxious taking a walk, what am I worried about?

Ah. Doing something ‘wrong’. That some official, especially during the lockdown, will tell me that I have committed a misdemeanour and am liable to be punished. I have the wrong train ticket. I crossed the road in the wrong way. I didn’t touch my smart travel card on the right place. I’m eating or drinking something outside when I shouldn’t be. I’m wearing or not wearing something that I should be. I don’t have permission from the authorities for something, like holding a meeting or playing music, or having a stall or allowing my customers to drink outside my premises. And now, that I might be deemed to be ill or walking unnecessarily, and even barred from buying food that I need, or be forced to give my genetic material to the state, or be taken away and incarcerated, or worse, for not doing those things.

Or for refusing to comply (be meek) when told off for allegedly doing any of the above.

The year I really got uncomfy with the police was the year that I started this project. There were at least three incidents of terrorism in the world at that time, and I want to say that all of them mattered – not the ones in the West or in my country more. But in May 2017, a terrorist bomb was detonated at a pop concert held in an arena in central Manchester. Immediately following this, Manchester cathedral did bag searches! Canterbury cathedral had armed police in the grounds – two hander rifles; and there were suddenly armed police at other places that I would never have expected them (police in Britain had hitherto usually been unarmed.) Everyone I knew reported having seen them. In provincial, safe towns and cities. Outside the zoo; the library; at the railway station. And everyone going to a concert at an arena in my city had to be searched. Well, with these terrible people about, it’s necessary, sighed one ticket holder. A large annual market in a small town now has a huge police presence.

My thought was: this spreads fear and compliance to the provinces. We’re not just to think that these abhorrent attacks happen in our capital or largest cities. I note that London, Berlin and Paris each had them in recent years. And as well as being the centres of political and economic power and greatest populace, these cities are the hub of creative ideas and free thinking. It was suggested to me that Berlin’s horrific incident sent a message to a chilled, liberal, egalitarian city: It can happen to you too. When it happened in Manchester, it says: it’s not just the capital that can suffer this. None of you are safe, so all of you will need to make sacrifices.

My fear after these atrocities was not Will This Terrorism Come Here but What Erosion Of Civil Liberties Will Happen Next? Of course I was sad for those who suffered – please take that as a given. Of course I would not like such an event near me, although I realised that one in my city, a mid sized historic low crime area, would serve the Population Control By Fear agenda well.

Happily, those armed guards didn’t seem to last, but the police got new powers and ‘toys’.

Because of this heightened discomfort, I read Norm Stamper’s Protect And Serve: How to Fix America’s Police. I was more interested in reforming police per se, but at that time, I couldn’t find other books. You can see my review on Amazon, but I generally disliked the book and was disappointed. The subtitle said alot [sic]: he, as a long serving ‘cop’, was pro-police and had a fix-it mentality. He praised the ‘tools’ – that’s those ‘toys’ – which are a disgrace, and I fear are very common among police internationally.

If both of us were stopped and asked to empty our pockets, who’d you want to let enter?

He had: spray, two guns, numchucks, a taser, two sticks, plus surveillance technology.

I have no weapons and no spying devices whatever.

So even when police stop people who are found with a weapon, is their one knife as bad as all this?! Sometimes people have knives for legitimate reasons, and are not planning to harm. Knives are widely used – in mediaeval times, even monks carried them. Now I’m not suggesting that we all do, but I’m making the point that knives have multiple and good uses. All the above list have only one – to harm, if not kill. And we know that these are (mis)used, and not seldom.

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In 2017, I wanted a new kind of police. I’d long queried army and security agencies.

But now I query them all. Or rather, I don’t query, I assert: NO.

I looked into why we have police.

The answer is that they were created – usually in the 19th century – to protect government and their lobbyists’ interests. They were to stop rioters; to keep looters from cargo. At the moment, we’re especially being reminded that the American South’s forces grew around catching and returning slaves, and that many forces have a link to immigrant control, and controlling poorer people, who are often from non-white ethnicities.

I think we need to again go broader and deeper, and say: why do any of us need this force?

Disadvantaged’ covers a wide kind of person, and I know that poverty and mental illness aren’t situations that can always be easily spotted. I could add many more groups, such as the so called neurodiverse, who also can be picked on by the police, and with tragic results.

Injustice goes after whoever is different. We are back to ‘other’ again. And often other is misunderstood, and seen as a threat. And how you deal with threats is to control them.

I want us to back up a little and take in that police took over from the army and private watchmen, and that they are about controlling ‘rabble’ and protecting property. They are the servants of the ruling group. It is about council revenue acquisition under the guise of enforcing the law.

I have an essay about why the rule of law is unjust. I will just say here that for law to work, it uses fear. There’s the final punishment and that of going to court as a deterrent; and then there are the people who are our first contact, those on the streets, those who pull us into that system. Note that police groups are known as a FORCE. I’ve not heard fire brigades so deemed.

It really has struck me that police have come out of a fear and materialism based culture. They say that they keep us safe, but I wonder if they’re brainwashed into believing that, or just trot it out?

We don’t believe it.

What is truly being safe? We are told, during this pandemic, to keep safe, but I recall a card I loved.

Two butterflies; one in a net, one flying outside. The latter says:

You are safe, but I am free

I know which I’d rather be. The flying butterfly is in many ways safer as well.

When I walk about, am I scared of burglars or gangland war? For some, yes, that is a very realistic concern and it is not impossible that I could be attacked, or that my home could be.

We have a name for government licensed home attackers: bailiffs. (Sometimes they’re even attacking and pillaging on the behalf of the government)

And now, for some of us, we have home attacks in the name of health.

I am more concerned at being stopped, harangued – not by ‘criminals’, but by the very people who define what crime is. For I, like many of us, don’t fit, stand out, do or are something which the establishment doesn’t like. Let us find our unity, not demarcation, in that and go from there into an adventure of new possibilities and an equal, caring world.

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I’ve much more to say, which will include my thoughts on why I don’t admire Robert Potato Peel; how we can avoid using police and what a world without police could be like.

I end by reminding that we are all valuable, all deserving of going about freely and without fear or bullying. We’ve recently seen the extreme of police bullying in those murders, but bullying starts with the milder end – the right to stop, interrogate, search, take something from you, watch you.

I believe that we must burn this candle at both ends and stop both.

I remind again of our solidarity as beings, however we self describe and whatever groups we affiliate with. Let our anger at evil acts not cause division and tip the seesaw the other way.

Let us remember too – and I find this harder – that our enforcement workers are people too, and fellow citizens. If any are reading this, please ask how being a good, decent and loving being fits with the tasks you’re given and the very ethos of your work’s existence.

If it were my world, you’d all be having new employment with immediate effect.

It’s all of our world and I’m not trying to rule it (I believe in facilitation, not ruling anyway), but I’ll be sharing my thoughts – which I’ve actually worked on for many more years than three – on how I suggest and invite to build something better than what we’ve all endured for so long.

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A Lord’s Prayer for our times

Big Brother

who art in cloud servers

Big Data be your name

Your new world order won’t come

5G won’t be done

On Earth as it was in China

Give us this day our daily bread (and whatever walks we feel like)

and lead us not into totalitarianism

For yours is not the kingdom

the power, nor the glory

for it belongs to a God called Love

and Hers is the new normal

from now and forever

Amen, so let it be

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A loving list for lockdown loosening

Thank you to all who spread love and hope and solidarity

Thank you to all who have the courage to speak out

Thank you to all whose musical contributions have helped raise our vibrations to love – such as John Martyn’s I Don’t Know About Evil, Only Wanna Know About Love (which I play as I type)

Thank you to all those who acted unselfishly, even if I disagree with the need to stay in, or stay apart; and those who defied it – you did what you believed was right

Thank you to all those who came into work and served us – again, regardless of what the danger really is, that perhaps believing the worst, you came in anyway

Thank you to all those in enforcement who act with compassion and common sense, and have the courage to question unjust orders; thank you to those who don’t give them

Thank you to all those who have worked so hard to find solutions, whether political or medical; and to those whose solutions listened to the people you are here to help, and who refused to create or legislate anything that harms people, the planet, or the values we stand for

Thank you to all those who printed what they believed to be true, or gave the others the opportunity to hear other points of view, and did not print what powerful others told them to, inciting fear

Thank you to all who don’t report other people for breaking lockdown rules or use apps which allow for government spying

Thank you to all who are considerate of their neighbours and don’t make this time harder through selfish noise, tempting as that may have been

Thank you to all those who are lenient, especially on those who can’t pay, and even better – those who’ve started questioning the fairness of their fees during this time

Thank you to all those who have broken down boundaries, reconnected, been resilient, found creative ways to connect and allow services of all kinds to continue

Thank you to all those who call for a more equal society; thank you for those who are helping make it

And thank you to all those who read this

Love to you all

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Love Warrior Speaks Out against enforced testing, tracing and treatment

I am deeply, deeply concerned about proposals for conditions of lifting of the lockdown – which many of us feared far more than the virus.

I’ve heard it said that the priority is saving lives – but it should be to protect life, a meaningful one with full human rights. The handling so far and proposals erode our basic freedoms and wellbeing.

Community testing can easily be community tyranny – such as army administered drive through tests (which trap us), or admission otherwise barred if we don’t comply.

We also show our deep discomfort about contact-tracing apps on our phones, and how the information is mis/used. Those we contact do not opt in and we fear for arbitary arrests and containment, and of targeting specific groups of people deemed to be a threat.

We have also long been concerned about vaccinations and other enforced treatments, such as what happens to us if we refuse or appear to test positive.

This gives the state, police, and army powers, takes away ours, and gives the government samples of us and allows it to know who we know.

We query what the tests actually show, what they really do, and what is really happening.

Whistleblowers have come forward in security and science. I heard the words of doctors asked to cook figures; experts in the field who say that the lockdown has weakened our immunity and prolonged the time needed for the virus to stop; who query the level of contagion and type of contact needed to be infected; that projected figures are exaggerated and that tests and vaccinations are not necessary nor effective, and often harmful; and as well as the fear many are living in, that health issues are caused by unhealthy substances in our environment, especially wi-fi. Some of those coming forward include Rashid Battar, Derek Henry, Wolfgang Wodarg, Scott Jensen, Knut Wittkowski, and some of these can be seen on the OpenHand website.

These links to YouTube and social media often suspiciously disappear.

All the official remedies have assumed face value and allopathic models, as well as total state control.

Many health professionals are saying that naturally building our immune system whilst avoiding the unnatural substances in our world, like fluoride, chemicals, coating of pans and tins, smart devices, and 5G, as well as restoring calm, balance, and at least some freedom (especially to be outside, with others than just our household) would better ways to combat the disease.

We ask that 5G does not come and for extra care about what is being sent through out airwaves. Some can already feel and hear strange things…

We ask that this is not a time for bullying or division (I know people whose benefits have been refused or threatened during lockdown!), not a time of telling on our neighbours or setting our own against us.

We ask that this city and country leads (whereever you are) by imposing no enforcement, roadblocks, uninvited home visits, or incarceration; and instead looks to why this virus is here and what we can learn from it.

[On Sunday afternoon, I’ll have a sermon to share]

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St George – do we like him, or not?

I was almost thirty before I knew when my nation’s patron saint’s day was. I discovered it by accident by visiting a cathedral on this date = 23rd April.

 

George – who took over from St Edmund as England’s mascot – is less well known and celebrated here than our Celtic neighbours’ saints. Pubs in England will promote St David, St Andrew, and St Patrick’s days, but in school I was never asked to make a St George’s day thing; never attended a party for him as child nor adult. I’ve not seen the St George flag – a white background with a red cross – hanging out on this day, any year.

 

In Britain, we don’t use our national flag that much, unless there’s a royal occasion. They appeared at the most recent royal weddings, for which we all got a holiday; for the Queen’s landmark milestones, and on her palaces.

 

The just-for-us English Georgian one is seen in one of three contexts: six nations rugby, the football world cup; or by nationalists such as the English Defence League who march occasionally, proclaiming messages that most of us consider dangerous, for they are unwelcoming of other nationalities which live among us. Hence, there is concern and derision for this use of the flag and perhaps why, when it’s not an international sporting fixture, that we don’t display them. Note that whereas it’s considered a sign of national pride for our Celtic neighbours to get their flags out, it’s been noted that in England, we must have the pan-island Union Jack (which has the Georgian cross in it, combining England and Scotland’s flags but not Wales). Perhaps this point is why people like EDL do attract a following.

 

There is a fourth place that we might encounter St George – in churches. He’s not that common as a dedication for parish churches, unlike Mary, Paul, Peter, Andrew, Trinity.

He’s not found by fishing ports, like Nicholas, nor town gates like Botolph and Giles; not popular in a region in which he lived like Cuthbert or Edmund (in Northumbria and East Anglia respectively).

 

In English cities of multiple medieval parish churches, only Norwich has any Georges (2 out of 31); none of London’s 39, York’s 19, Bristol’s 14, Cambridge’s 15, Ipswich’s 12 (I’m allowing ruins and chapels as well here)… not in any of our other cathedral cities or county towns… save Canterbury, whose George in the high street (1 of 12) was obliterated in the last war.

 

Even checking the lost churches of these cities, which sometimes doubles the amount of dedications, I found only one George, ever, in London (in Botolph Lane) out of c100 parish churches in the old city; and nor could I swiftly think of any just outside it. None other of Norwich’s total 63 medieval dedications, nor any of its monasteries, were to St George. There’s one at Stamford (Lincs)… but not many in England, and I can only think of them in towns, not rurally.

The most famous English church dedicated to George is the chapel at Windsor castle. This vast perpendicular space is at the heart of the country’s largest castle and one of the places we most associate with our monarch, now and historically. It is from here that knighthoods are dispensed, in the order of this patron saint, which involves garters – yes those sort!

 

George lived in the 3-4th centuries, thus before English parish churches were conceived; rededication is possible. So it is significant that someone who became and stayed our patron and who died 1700 years ago, whose Order is 700 years old, has few churches to his name.

 

I noted that from Georgian times, George does appear in new churches, and not just Anglican ones. A Unitarian in Exeter, a German Lutheran church in the city of London, bear the name George, when saints and people’s names are unusual as part of these denominations’ titles.

 

In Bristol, England’s then second city, there’s a regency St George near the centre (and an area to the east); there’s a contemporary one in Brighton’s Kemptown (a town created by a George); a late 19th C monster in Jesmond, Newcastle – home of the Geordies; and there are three in Edinburgh’s new town (18th and 19th C), a building venture dedicated to King George. Glasgow has a 19th C George in the Fields and its original sibling, a more central late Georgian George, which like in Edinburgh, has its own square – a royalist, unionist statement. There’s an 18th C George at Great Yarmouth, home of Nelson’s naval hospital and column.

Georgian churches – from the era – are traditionally English; solemn, quiet, not given to fuss; upright pews for stiff sitting, lips and values; orderly; places for mayor’s swords to rest in public ceremonies celebrating status; cerebral, but not given to displays of public affection, or the indulgent colourings in of our Victorian or Catholic, ahem, neighbours…

There’s a couple more Catholic churches dedicated to St George – such as Southwark’s RC cathedral and again in Norwich – not centrally. These are later 19th C dedications.

 

I note that George is not a British monarch’s name until the German house of Hanover takes over the throne; and that four kings are named George in a row; and then George returned last century to make an Edward sandwich (our first king, who built the palace that became ‘mother of all parliaments’) when we were being very imperial and class and might driven. And it’s a George who instigated a cross for military bravery in the last war. Hmm…

————

 

I was feeling uncomfortable about George the dragon slayer and this sort of Englishness.

 

I wasn’t sure about the dragon, who is the symbol of our neighbour, Wales. Note that name means ‘foreigner’ (a name given by the English to those whose self moniker means ‘fellow countrymen’) and this dragon seems to be about squashing threats of those that are different or other. I note too that dragons are important symbols to China and elsewhere.

 

I was further appalled to check the official St George website, royally appointed, who is trying to promote this under proclaimed saint, and their version of the dragon myth:

 

Pagans placate a sleeping dragon (well, let it sleep then!) with an unwitting sheep in order to get their essential supplies; and when sheep run out, they turn to the women. If the princess hadn’t drawn the lot to be dragon fodder – no doubt a good looking one – would St George have turned up to rescue her? On a white horse!! And killed the blessed thing (NOT on his horse) so that the villagers could get the water that the dragon nested by. (Was there no other water source? No reasoning and negotiation? No befriending the dragon?) Oh, and this feat naturally got the wayward barbarian Pagans turning to Jesus (well, the religion named after him) since the dragon slayer was of course already a convert…

 

So blonde, tall (Aryan) George, in his pennant shield with traditional armour on the horse (supposedly female fantasies), is usually depicted killing some poor alien beastie below him (not even what the story says), looking ugly and in agony. Supposedly too the picture of chivalry, and symbol of crusaders (more attacking foreigners and ‘dragons’ in the name of Christianity)…

 

Then I read a little more about Georgie not Porgie and felt a little more comforted.

 

One – EDL fascists – he’s not even English! (He’s from Turkey and lived in Persia, a part of the world you’re often harsh about). Ironic for crusaders then…

I bet we don’t even say his name right here.

 

But – I began to like his story and feel he is especially appropriate. Converted to Christianity, swift riser in the Roman army… still bored and cynical (when’s the dragon coming?). Well, the real dragon of George’s life was his emperor, Diocletian, who persecuted Christians in times of unrest and who were standing up to his harsh regime.

Then there was a supposed plot against Diocletian’s #2 by Christians – note there had to be reasonable reason – and so churches were shut (ringing any bells?) and scriptures burned; citizenship, if not life, would be forfeited for those found foul of the Emperor’s decree.

George wouldn’t do the worst that he was asked to by his paymaster, and in fact, he took down some Roman posters. But his paymaster was in the city, and George knew he was about to be cooked goose… Indeed, despite his brave and reasoned arguments, and his former favour, Diocletian put him to death for refusing to renounce his faith.

I’m now suspicious about that as a reason for martyrdom… rival Edmund claimed that too.

But… regardless of whether my facetious retelling (based still on the royal St George website) is true, it’s interesting that this is what the official fans purport and this is what the Catholic church canonised him for.

Not only courage, but compassion. Not for mass conversion, military might or beastie brutality, but for refusal to comply with unjust orders, to order his 1,000 men to bully citizens, and to renounce his faith and principles. George was willing to also disobey the scriptural mandate (did it yet say this, or was that later king’s scribes?) to obey earthly authority, but George must have felt that as this clashed with what he felt God was asking of him and what he lived by, that he must follow his God and his conscience. And he even told the Emperor off for his unjust rule.

Now I’m impressed.

Maybe this George is worth giving attention to afterall.

I hear that he has long been revered, not just here, but in many parts of the world.

May we and would-be Diocletians continue to remember him.

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Tough Love isn’t love, it’s nannying

This might be a snaky logic one – a whole slither of snakes with tails in their mouths…

I did an internet search on the phrase ‘tough love’ and there were many results, from parenting and recovery (where it has its source) to foreign policy, health and government, to relationships.

None were from sources I particularly esteem.

“Tough love is no love at all” and its synonyms also rendered results in all the same spheres. There were many addiction recovery advocates who were firmly against, as well as those working/with depression and dementia who described the greater suffering this stance causes.

The first site in the latter category I found is no longer there, or I would like to have named the author and linked to it with her permission. She was hugely honest and said that she realised that the tough love she dealt in her relationships wasn’t love, but her pain, fear, her need to be right; and what she’d considered ferocity of love was really insecurity, arrogance and self righteousness.

Once she realised that real love isn’t tough, but gentle, she transformed her fractured relations.

And I thought: this woman is spot on.

Tough love is a lower energy response. It is what transactional analysists would call parent/child mode. I…your mum, teacher, ruler, boss, doctor, priest, law maker/enforcer know better than you.

And as your friend, sibling, partner, counsellor, I also assume a role of power over you. The playing field is tipped, and you’re slipping to the bottom end. You’ll fall off unless you do what I tell you to. I, with my greater experience, training, qualification (do you have that, really?) and the position I’ve been given (by you?), have rights to do this.

I explored a judge’s right to have power to enforce medical treatment – which I think should be zero – and this is pertinent as we face this multicountry viral problem. I’ve been researching vaccination, aware that what we may assume is a must and is safe and good for us may be something quite else. It is another example of the state’s power over us, taking sovereignty of our own choice and bodies away from ourselves to a ruling class that many of us didn’t meaningfully choose. I’ll have future examinations of the necessity, type and role of the state…

The Nanny State answer is the assumption that they – leaders and scientists and doctors – know better than I what is good for me, and then the really manipulative one: you (or your kiddie) will harm me (or my kiddie) if you don’t have this vaccination. Thus I’m going to need to make you to somehow, by fines, exclusion, or injection by force. You know the last of those is rape?!

Nanny States aren’t, for me, the ones that ban public smoking but those that have sin taxes – such as on sugar, which I’m not convinced is the evil made out to be (I’m far more worried about the unnatural substances in our homes) – and attempt to stop eating on public transport; those with laws about age restrictions, wearing helmets, and yes, whether we have to have particular tests and treatments… in short, narrowing our choices from how you cross the road to what shots (of any kind) we have. I note that there’s inconsistency: compare the UK and the Netherlands: one bans cannabis and prescribes motorcycle helmets; the other bans jaywalking and prescribes ID carrying.

But like all these others, nannying comes from not only arrogance but fear. It says – I dare not give you choice because I don’t trust you; or what I really mean is that my power over you might be diminished if I gave you choice, and you might not choose me or do what I say, and then, I’ll have no confidence. I don’t really have much in you, or in the possibility of other possibilities.

It might say: I feel responsible, or perhaps, more truly: someone else will hold me responsible and I can’t handle the guilt (or bad stats or telling off) I’ll get if I don’t intervene.

Nannying leads to tough love, for it says – you must do this my way, or there are repercussions. On even an interpersonal level, it’s often about punitive measures or exclusions, perhaps hoping that it makes the recalcitrant return to prescribed behaviours. Of course, there’s a chance of harming them and your relationship irrevocably.

The prescriber, the nanny, the tough lover isn’t prepared to see that their idea of right, truth, best practice and what this person (or people) need isn’t necessarily what they think; and that their way of getting it might be closer to a grown up tantrum than anything we might seriously call policy. I will arrest you, fine you, turf you out, not speak to you, stop your money, invade you, watch you, drag you to where I think you should be…

Often, this is into a system which in itself needs scrutiny. I’m alarmed that homeless people as well as those on benefits and deemed to be addicted or ‘a danger to themselves’ are told: this is what you need to do to get our help – you may not have asked for it. They often have to sign a non negotiated agreement. And there’s often ‘loved ones’ who push towards these systems.

Such systems themselves need tough love.

As this time will show us more than ever, there’s not one way to do things, and the way that we’re used to doing them may not be shown to be a valid one. There’s subjugation of will, the normalisation of the nonconformist, the use of threats and force to gain desired outcomes – desired for those dictating and enacting it, not those on the receiving end.

Does this really come out of care? There is a fear of loss, but this is actually exacerbated by tough love behaviour rather than alleviated. If you’re ill, and someone tells you that you must undertake prescribed procedures in order for them to continue with you, you not only risk them not continuing with you but in not continuing – for such a response jeopardises recovery. And what you enjoin might actually have a deleterious affect. You don’t know everything about another person and we are all so diverse. That’s why I’m a passionate advocate against one size fits all solutions and systems, to this virus and to what we build after it.

There is healing which harms,

remedy which ruins

imperatives impair

Real love gives freedom and agency and respects choice and differentiation

Love is gentle, not harsh; it sees people as equals to cherish, not inferiors to instruct

Love doesn’t have requirements, especially not self serving ones

Tough love is no love at all, but need

Well, the snake has been more singular and straight than I expected, but we need to keep mindful of serpents, and keep being wise and asking questions…

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Easter 2020 sermon

‘Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and others came to the tomb while it was still dark’ and every year for over twenty years, I have risen at daybreak – not a natural act for me – and gone outside to a special place to commemorate those women’s silent bravery and the first hope of Easter. This year I am on hill overlooking my city.

Usually, I replay my 7 Sayings compositions for Good Friday and add my Easter Day piece, and then later join with other Christians. But of course, I can’t attend worship with others this year – and it seems incredible that churches have been told not to open on their most holy day, the fulcrum of our faith.

This year, more than ever, I felt the need to speak about the meaning of Easter, and this year it will be physically, visibly felt. We are still in the tomb, for most of us round the world can’t meet to celebrate this feast, but we can prepare for the bursting forth in subversive victory by planning for it in our collective cocoon, doing the inner work until the outer can physically manifest.

I’m proud that there are Particular Baptists and Priestesses listening to this, and I’m glad to have brought you together, for this is a common purpose that we need to work towards.

Whether we recognise the phrase, we are all Lightworkers, here to usher in a new kingdom.

God has especially intervened in his – or her – relationship with humans three times: when he first made us; when he sent Jesus; and…now. The New Age isn’t a ducky hippy fantasy – it is here. I believe there are three covenants that God made with us: one with a particular people, although I think God has always been broader than that; and then he opened to the door to the Gentiles in the new testament, so that inclusion was through belief in Jesus… and now I think God is saying: open the door.

Perhaps the Particulars will particularly flinch at the suggestion, or I think assertion, that there is but one God; and whatever we call Her, that we are using different dialling codes to the same exchange.

I have come to understand that God’s essence isn’t judgement and exclusion. His prime attribute isn’t holiness, or even power… it’s love, Love with a capital L. And today we don’t proclaim good news because you have to accept serious bad news first. It’s not – believe or else; feel guilty and let that dictate your acceptance of God’s gift with not just strings attached, but thick cords. That cannot be grace – or a healthy relationship.

Today, the temple curtain in our sadly empty churches is rent in two: God isn’t held in the Holy of Holies for priests – or priestesses – alone. She’s not even in buildings, beautiful as they often are, which can be shows of strength and privilege, and doors that can exclude as well as give sanctuary. God is out in the world, within our walls and yet beyond them.

And God is birthing, through us, not 5G – the next level of technological connectivity, which very much concerns me – but 5D, the 5th dimension. For me, higher D is about living in a consciously soulful place, seeing one’s story arc from an authorial point of view, more and more in tune with what SARK calls “your inner wise self”, or Spirit, and not what traditional Christians would call ‘worldly values.’ It is a greater focus on the unseen and immeasurable.

Events over the last year have started to push me out of the 3D world, the ‘lower energies’ as those card carriers of the woo woo community (like me) would say. I’ve discovered that even having a lifelong faith doesn’t mean you’re always living at a higher level, just as those who don’t consciously have a faith, especially not my faith, can walk a higher path.

I believe, with many others, that this is the time when our old structures will fall, to be replaced by ones which are rooted in different values.

I was asking myself what I would do if I was tasked with responding to the virus. And my first thought was: breathe, then pray. I don’t know how many world leaders did that, but it’s something we’re not encouraged to talk about. We’re also not expected to talk about feelings, especially not love, in politics or business or education or health. We disregard the nonquantitive, non empirical, the non corporeal. And I think this is where we have gone wrong.

I was first drawn to the Green Party – of which I now consider myself ‘a candid friend’ – because the first policy document of theirs I read 10 years ago hinted at spirituality, and it also began by asserting the equality and value of all living things.

We’re so used to systems where not everyone matters and not everyone wins. We are run by wanting money in one way or the other, by what we own and who owns us.

This time has brought up the issue of personal sovereignty versus the executive powers of the state – even to close the churches on this most holy holiday. Although it is largely voluntarily to stop the spread of the virus, I am mindful that there are times when churches have been closed on government orders purely because they were disapproved of. I am not advocating selfishness and lack of responsibility, but I vociferously believe in our own agency especially over our own bodies, homes, and the healthcare we choose, and our right to worship, our right to think for ourselves, and I do advocate doubting until personally satisfied.

I think it’s vital that we remain aware and that what emerges out of this cocoon time is not a new normal where we no longer meet in person, mingle in groups or crowds, that everything we do is electronic which can be traced, with even greater reliance on technologies that are harmful to our health; that we remain compliant out of fear, and even begin to fear each other.

I want there to be an openness to ancient ways as well as new, to diversity and divergence. I’m reminded of that film and book trilogy by Veronica Roth about a dystopian post traumatic city which is divided into factions, according to personal traits. The leaders are desperate to keep everyone in their factions, and despise and fear those who live outside the neat systems put in place by the city fathers. But – plot spoiler alert – our heroine, who is one of the dreaded Divergents who don’t fit, discovers that the city fathers designed this system so that society matured when it realised that Divergents were the key, not the enemy.

Those who didn’t fit the system didn’t threaten it, they completed it.

I think this is a lesson our world needs, for it is in the throes of hoiking out our divergents for fear of the new world that they especially might midwife. But we need to celebrate those we formerly thought of as aberrations, not fix and suppress them.

In traditional Easter theology, this is a time for overcoming the Enemy, and this year, more than ever, it’s a time to remember that our God has overcome death, fear, illness, and evil.

In Tom Robbins’ novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, he says that the enemy is not all the ‘others’ – other nations and ethnicities, the other sex, the other class, the other sexualities, the other faiths, and whatever else we may divide ourselves into and want to blame and set ourselves against. He says ‘the enemy is the tyranny of the dull mind’.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote of ‘the banality of evil’ – that the ultimate darkness is not often charismatic or potent, but simply dull conformity. For her, it was the inability to think which made the execution of evil possible. And I would argue, to feel…. Outrage at injustice, but also love, a love that can’t allow injustice but that can still love those who do it, and have so much love that it pulls perpetrators out of their actions into wholeness, out of our own dullness into awareness.

I began by mentioning Mary Magdalene – and I’m almost done. Mary has become more and more important to me over the years, especially when I began embracing the Priestess path along side the Christian one. Elayne Kalila Doughty calls the priestess path ‘the vow to walk as love’. I have taken that, and realise I can live that without a dog collar or a torque.

I’ve learned, or am learning, that the telos of love is to love without needing a response; that love can take many forms, and at this time of ascension, that we are especially called to expand our expressions of love beyond the factions laid out for us by old paradigms – for perhaps those who laid them out also had the notion that the ultimate maturity was when we learned to live beyond them. Much of our love, like our law, is possessive, exclusive, right and wrong, win and lose; it requires permission, it has territories, it’s proprietary.

I believe that today we celebrate the rising of the One who burst all that. I think his relationship with Mary Magdalene was one that defied categories. Jesus isn’t to me just the Christ Conscious one; for me, he is God, who rose in physical form, and what he embodied and taught is something we can share in, as Mary did – for she best understood him and preached his message. I see her as a special messenger, perhaps being to the Trinity what the RAC claimed to be to the emergency services. (Yes I did just say that the Trinity is a 4 leaf clover).

I’ve been watching Xena: Warrior Princess. I see myself as Warrior Priestess. Xena and her companion Gabrielle – whose love also defies categorisation – commit to following the Way of love and light, overcoming darkness in the world and themselves. They knowingly go to their crucifixon, followed by an incredible act of love and forgiveness, transformation and resurrection – just as we remember at Easter. I’m more convinced than ever that death is not the end and that and Love goes on, not just for Jesus, but all of us.

The Easter sermon that I best remember is from Durham Cathedral in 2005: that when Mary asked Jesus if he was the gardener, she was kind of right. Jesus is making a new creation and asking us to be part of landscaping, planting, weeding, watering and hoeing… for soon we shall be picking. I know I’ve barely quoted the Bible – and I enjoy biblical exposition – but I’m seeing that we’re called now to a faith beyond just the Book, beyond the words we call God. So as we awaken this Easter Day 2020, let us awaken in all senses, and have clear vision, and courage to love, to be the change in the world we seek, and with Jesus and Mary, be bringers of a new age.

Listen at https://yourlisten.com/BetweenTheStools/easter-2020-with-music and https://artradio.tv/elspeth-rushbrook (yes this site is safe but a warning comes up if you click this link direct from WordPress)

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Holy Week 2020: it’s table turning time

Last year, I wrote about Table Turning Tuesday and I’d like to expand on that this year.

I said, I’d like to see those doves (from the Temple) scattered.

This is the year for scattering the doves, the year we can’t go to temple or church, most of us.

This is the year for examining those practices of ‘temple’, whatever that would be in any of our lives and cultures, examining those pillars to see if they still stand up and what it is they’re holding.

There’s nothing like a pause, having to close doors, to make you think about the practices we have, what’s held within and without those structures.

 

Here are some things I do not want to come out of the lockdown period:

-Greater state control and watching

-Greater police powers

-Greater reliance on and misuse of technologies (drones, tracking, facial recognition/biometrics are all misuses)

-Abolition or discouragement of physical money because cash is easier to budget, easier to help neighbours at this time, anonymous, and I’d like to see a return to the principle of Gold Standard so that you have physical monetary value, not hypothetical economy which creates more crises

-Less agency over our own bodies and choices

-Thoughtlessness for neighbours: as hotter weather and a bank holiday weekend looms, inflicting the smell from braziers and barbecues, throbbing bass lines and power tools or loud conversations isn’t fair, especially if those around you can’t get out, and are trying to work or are ill. This feels especially harsh this Holy Week for those unable to go out to worship

 

What I do want to see come out of this virus:

-Citizen’s Income – an unconditional support for each individual

-Abolition of all unnecessary fees, from late library loans to tax returns

-Abolition of debt collection and bailiffs – there is ALWAYS another way

-Abolition of cutting off utilities and more reasonable pricing…are these resources really something to have harnessed and sold back to us?

-Rethink of rent and mortgages, which are too high

-A shift in medicine from biology alone to energy

-Rethinking government and education and many of our practices

-Caring for those in our community, including in unofficial ways

-The enjoyment of stillness and the environment (built and green); the pleasures of walking

-Creative ways to be together, and a new joy in doing so when we can again

-A greater emphasis on spirituality

I’ll be back on Friday evening 7.17 GMT with my 7 Sayings service, and again on Sunday morning

 

 

 

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Thoughts on how le virus is being handled

I’ve been doing much and varied research from pandemics to papers to polemics to priestesses…

It’s not that I wish to play down those who are suffering from Covid-19 or worried about loved ones, but some numbers suggest a different perspective:

As of 17th March, according to an unsourced graphic in the Daily Mail, there were about 1500 cases in the UK and 54 deaths. There are 67m of us.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-8121607/Janet-Street-Porter-73-rages-quarantined.html

I don’t know if I can trust those stats (I usually don’t trust that paper), but if so, less than 0.000025 have been infected, and my calculator doesn’t know how to show how tiny the 0.067 of those dead out of those infected is in the overall population. It’s less than a millionth. In my region, 1 in c5m has died – one 5th of a millionth.

What are the overall deaths in that period, and of what? How significant are these covid deaths?

I see that the numbers have risen quickly, but then the chart is designed to show that and there’s been a sudden awareness (heightened by the media and then the closures and then testing).

On Tues 25th, the Guardian showed 8000 cases in UK – that’s still 0.0047, although it’s grown again… and now there’s figures of what the projected deaths would be if we didn’t all stay in…

I also read from multiple sources that last year’s flu season saw 26,000 deaths in this country.

I wonder if coronavirus is the only condition that sufferers have – often it’s cited that those that contract it and die have other health issues.

Countries want to seem powerful by taking action and showing that they’ve implemented a solution and to have low stats – not to be the place infamous for infection.

I wonder if high figures are used to justify harsh means.

I am wondering about the difference between testing positive and contracting the illness in a serious way, and the veracity of the claim that low to no symptom carriers do meaningfully infect others. By meaningfully, I mean that they exhibit unpleasant to dangerous symptoms.

There is a difference between infection and contagion. Is infection truly proven, or circumstantial? Is infection in fact by the power of association – such as we’re seeing through fear? I’ve been looking into why the germ has such power in our medical model, and into the work of Antoine Bechamp, Louis Pasteur’s rival, whose work was largely passed over for a more lucrative model.

Is the positive test indicative of something else than dangerous infection? Why can some people carry the illness and not show any signs?

I heard – from an unspecified personal source – that in one European country which now has police-enforced lockdown, a group of four young people breaking the curfew were picked up and all tested positive. The message: renegrades are dangerous: they are our enemies. (And ‘Stay in, or else’ as one British headline put it). But I read: this is spin. Why were they picked up rather than sent home? (And wasn’t being in a police car causing possible infection to all?) Did they have to be tested – isn’t that intrusive? And there’s a backlash against younger people. “This is the ultimate test for selfish millennials” a British newspaper that I deplore headlined an article. Younger generations might question more, rather than being selfish. I wonder what the demographic of that paper’s readership is, and if it’s boomers, then that’s the last bastion of wartime compliance…. I shall come back to this topic sometime.

That group of young men needed to be shown to be not just nonconformists – if they were safe to be out, so might the rest of us be, and the measures thus shown to be unnecessary. They had to be shown to be dangerous. All four of them tested positive?! So I’m suspicious about this story, and certainly its use in the PR campaign.

Should it be up to the government, or WHO, to impose nationwide policies and restrictions?

Isn’t this a time to involve natural health if allopathic medicine is so overstretched? I read it was used in China, very effectively.

It seems that many are voluntarily observing advice, such as self isolation, social distancing, and better sanitation, and many public places had closed before they were made to. I am very concerned when armies and police get involved, because their presence against their own people – and their training and mindset – is undemocratic.

It’s not a democracy, it’s a tyranny.

I note that the countries who’ve taken a controlling approach to lockdowns include those that have (had) dictators or been under occupation. Denmark has passed a law regarding mandatory vaccination – and it also is proud to have eradicated ‘Down’s syndrome’ babies – which is an ugly and forceful stance on ‘health’ that correlates. (‘Down’s syndrome’ people are beautiful souls of pure love, which we need more of).

The time I was proudest of those countries was when they stood against Hitler. Their leadership and armies wouldn’t comply. Ten years ago, the Greek police wouldn’t over plans for forced vaccination.

There are parallels with that time and now, and the courageous work of medical journalist Jane Burgermeister.

It’s disturbing when resources can be found to control your own in the name of public safety.

Many of us can see that this could be martial law coming in through a back door, and we wonder if it wasn’t deliberately left open. We fear each other, even loved ones, and this makes it hard to reach out and show love, especially if the net is being censored. Solidarity is built when we reach out to strangers, not when we’re afraid to touch them. We recognise too that our ministers, our police and army, as well as health care workers are all people too and that they are part of us.

Seeing each other as ‘other’ is exactly how we are able to commit abuses, even atrocities.

Seeing each other as fellows to connect and protect makes us handle events very differently.

Controlling measures shows for fearful leadership.

If countries or cities want to impress others with their leadership, they should be aware that totalitarianism doesn’t. We remember harsh regimes with a shudder. These are not times to emulate or leaders to be proud of. Their effects continued long after, and the memory remains permanently, as do the actions of individuals – such as those officers who dragged a couple from their home in China and left a disabled child to die.

Mussolini, Hitler, Henry VIII, Edward I, Bloody Mary, Franco, Hoxha, Ceausescu… we’ve heard of these and have a nifty negative opinion, even if it’s not very informed. S/he was the one that…

It’s these kinds of systems that will no longer work. Whether the virus is intentional or just has the potential to be used for control, I believe it actually can be the catalyst to break out of unjust, self-orientated institutions into better ways. I’ll have more to say on that over Easter….

So I’m not belittling the virus or the difficult job of how to deal with it, nor am I advocating breaking your country’s curfews and saying not to care about others and that the disease can’t be spread by contact; but I am questioning assumptions and models, thinking ahead on what might happen, how this situation could be misused, and I’m not assuming that there’s only one way to handle it. I will be discussing that too into my Easter message, which will appear here on Easter Sunday. There’ll be other messages during this coming Holy Week and a link to my Good Friday sundown service with my own music.

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