Equality

Some people are racist. We know this from looking at the world and society today. As much as I find these totally abhorrent we live in a society where people can have these views. The same goes for any religious or even non-religious belief. I can choose to follow a particular faith or religious value but your belief doesn’t mean that you can choose to actively treat another person as a 2nd class citizen based on their gender, race or sexual orientation.

We have witnessed legal cases brought against people who have tried to deny services to people who are gay. The have based their actions on “deeply held religious beliefs”. While as a society we respect these beliefs that cannot and must not be allowed to treat others with disrespect.

As a country we have come along way since the 1970s where openly on TV we saw racist terms being used and people being ridiculed.

If Ashers bakery had won their case it would leave open to all religions saying that they could deny something or someone because of their religious beliefs. There are laws protecting religions in equality laws just as much as sexuality and gender.

But the bakery isn’t a religious organisation. It isn’t a church or a religious establishment. It’s a business which is run by Christians. The law states that you cannot discriminate against people of their race, gender or sexual orientation.

Ashers bakery claimed that they had no knowledge of the persons sexual orientation. This is bullshit. They discuss within the family that they felt they couldn’t provide a service to someone who is gay. This is against the law.

The cake was never to be seen apart for the four walls of a party at the time who were campaigning for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. It’s not as if the cake was supposed to be seen by millions as a political statement. Because of the legal action obviously it has now been seen around the world.

What some people don’t understand is that just because you don’t believe gay people should have the same rights and privileges of straight people doesn’t make you right by placing your religion card. It doesn’t work that way that’s why we have laws to protect people.

Feel free to move to somewhere like Russia that doesn’t afford equality to those who have a different sexual orientation.

Equality laws are here to say. Get used to it.

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Crazy

Some weeks just seem to be naturally crazy more than others. Everything seems to land on your desk at once and everyone either wants something or asking you to do something.

It can go for months and nothing really happens in the news and then all of a sudden we are confronted by a royal baby birth, devastating disasters and tragic stories of people loosing their lives to cancer.

This week for me has been a difficult one. I am confronting the future and contemplating what it might hold yet clinging on to the now and not get swamped under by matters.

I used to work with a woman who would suggest a time management course if we felt that we were under pressure as year leaders. At the time a chair to her face seemed a good option rather than ‘further training’.

It’s how we respond to pressures seems to be a key phrase when experiencing tumultuous pieces of life.

Two homos and a straight

Getting back into reading and now that my attention span has settled. It is amazing what bargains you can find on second hand book websites. I picked up this Kenneth Williams biography for the glorious amount of 1p it was just the postage that cost a few pound.

My obsession with the Carry on films continues and even more so with the life and works of one of its greatest stars. This is the third book I have read on Kenneth Williams and it was good to read about what those who were closest to him remember about his often misunderstood and complex character.

I certainly see familiar traits and peculiarities in his attributes. A comic actor playing to the audience but racked with self-doubt and over-riding depressive tendencies.

I would have loved to met KW and was sad to realise that at the time of his death in 1988 I was living in London and could have unknowingly crossed paths at one time.

I do watch a view “youtubers” some have been good and some have been dreadful. I think being honest and open about your life is an attractive thing. Someone who is living a lie and hiding who they truly are is an ugly trait.

Connor Franta has been open about his life and has released a book about his journey in the twenty two years he has been on this planet. At times he gives his opinion and how he sees life. He challenges the reader to live in the moment and enjoy the things that are around us.

Some could be cynical and say he is cashing in on his status or just releasing a book like everything other Youtuber. I for one am glad that he openness and honesty seems to be genuine and he is allowing himself to be role model for a digital generation that are ever more surrounded by social media pressures.

I picked up the last book that seemed to strike a chord with me at this moment. Someone who had documented and spoke about his depression and anxiety so candidly. It was good that an ordinary bloke had published a book on his perspective of why you should stay alive. The biggest killer of young men isn’t road accidents or cancer it’s suicide.

The book was easy to read and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who has had or is having problems with depression. Everyone is different and it’s about finding the right treatment for yourself. If it medication then that’s good. If it’s yoga and exercise like the author it’s whatever works for you.

The key about treating mental illness is that you do have the power and the right to find what keeps you alive.

Celebrities 

A hundred years ago we had people who were famous around musical halls and some in the developing film industry. A little movie pun there. It was something of a honour to have someone visit your town. Now it seems we all want to be or even know who had experienced their 15 minutes of world fame.

Pick up a tabloid and you will in the first few pages be reading about some person you probably haven’t heard of walking out of supermarket on the way to completing their shopping. How does the photographer know they are going to be there? It’s all set up to make it look like its spontaneous.

Newspapers and magazines do a deal with a person they are trying to promote and for a certain amount of money or a gentleman’s agreement will place them all over their pages.

I know I have spoken about being “famous” before and the crazy reasons people who want to be known.

I was talking about a certain person last night who is on the television in the programme “The Only Way is Essex”. A reality based programme that catalogue the daily lives of those in the Essex area. I was explaining that this person is bereft of any redeeming qualities. False hair, nails and boobs. An ugly personality to go with it. Why on earth anyone would want to emulate this person is beyond my comprehension.

The values that some people hold seem to be that you should look as glamorous as possible the more make-up the better. Tits, teeth and tan. But what happened to honesty and education? Happiness and caring heart?

I would rather spend time thinking about how I treat my friends or speak to a person on the street than spending hours worrying how I look. No wonder we have so many young people who are self-conscience about their appearance.

Mental Health 2015

Yesterday I went to a meeting for those interested in promoting the needs of those who suffer from mental health problems. It wasn’t restricted to any particular form of mental health so it was compelling to hear some of those stories and events that others had experienced.

 (An amazing venue was the Royal Station Hotel. A gorgeous place.)

It was heart-wrenching to hear others who had suffered. It was also sad to hear that there is chronic underfunding of mental health especially for young people in this country.

I will continue to help promote mental health issues as it’s been something I have experienced over the past 20 years or so. Talking about these issues doesn’t make someone ill. Not talking about them does.

It was good to hear from Danny Bowman who suffers from Body Dismorphic Disorder. An illness which gives the person a distorted view of themselves when they see the image in front of them in the mirror.

What ever the illness people need to be educated. There’s a lot of people out there who still have the “pull yourself together attitude” or still making hurting comments about someone who is genuinely suffering.

(Danny Bowman speaking about his experiences)

Over the coming months hopefully Mental Health 2015 will continue its good work. Let’s hope others can be encouraged to speak out or even let someone they know if they too are feeling unwell.

Easter weekend 

I sit here on Maundy Thursday thinking about this holiday weekend, or holy weekend. To Christians it is the most important time in their religious calendar. A time when they remember the death and resurrection of Jesus.

A much talked about event on social media has been the leaders debate. A time where political leaders have their say on the matters that concern them and field questions from the public. All these running up to the general election in just over a months time.

I have always voted in every election I am eligible it a privilege that a democratic process is followed allowing the people to have their say in who runs our country. The laws in this land have been made by our parliament for centuries and this way should continue.

I look at the situation in Indiana. It has brought in a law where businesses have been allowed to turn away anyone who they think is part of the LGBT community. This being under the guise of “religious freedom”. The similar case to the bakery in Northern Ireland where they have refused to make a product which supports gay marriage. They have claimed they cannot do so because of their relgious conscience.

I think of Jesus’ life and trying to come up with situations where he “turned people away” or decided certain people should be excluded from society. Quite the opposite is what the bible tells us. If we are to believe the gospel accounts then he welcomed those who had been “cast aside” and those who were seen as inferior.

What will be the message of the church and its people over this weekend? We don’t mind you coming and being part of our community as long you renounce your “sinful lifestyle”.

This is why I cannot be a part of a group of people who treats anyone as inferior or doesn’t understand what it’s like to grow up in a world where people say you are inheritantly broken or evil. I didn’t choose to be gay just as much as you chose to be straight. Maybe just maybe the church and its followers might think the damage they cause on the holy weekend.

Holy Week reflection 

Despite being a humanist now I still take time to reflect on things during Holy Week. Habits that formed during my time as a member of the Church of England seem to die hard. It is something I have done for on and off for around 30 years.

What am I doing with my life? Are there anything things that need changing. These are questions I do ask myself but it always seems easier to criticise and point out other failings rather than my own.

It’s easy to look at others an judge. I don’t like the way you talk or what you are saying. I don’t like your lifestyle or the priorities you have in life and not worthy of any time.

Do the things that others do have any consequences that could affect your life? If someone steals or murders then it could. This could end in the person being convicted and having to spend time at our majesty’s pleasure and that costs money in an indirect way.

Are we giving to others that would make their life better? Do we give our time and money to help those who are less fortunate that ourselves? If you are making an excuse while you reading this you probably need to.

Reflecting in rather than on Holy Week is a good thing. It makes me think of spring time and new possibilities and chances that we have been given.

What will I try to do more off to better others lives and less of that makes me more of a selfish person. Surely that has to be a good thing.