Well-being

In an international study, England ranks 14th out of 15 for children’s overall life satisfaction, coming ahead of only South Korea. Romania tops the list.

This headline is sad and worrying but it isn’t surprising. Spending the good part of twenty years working with young people I see these headlines and feel helpless at times. Just look at the way people speak to each other on social media not just young people but adults. 

Take for instance if an athlete wins a medal for their sport and someone will comment negatively. Not about what the person has achieved but you will see revolting personal remarks about them. Why? Why would you want to bring someone down who has achieved something? The textbook answer is that someone tries to bring an other person down to make themselves feel better. It certainly goes much further than this.

Read the news or see headlines when someone is brought before the courts because they have racially abused someone. Whether it be online or the high-profiled case of football fans racially abusing a black man on the Paris metro system. We think it’s almost our god-given right to say what we think about someone else. Regardless if this is hurtful or even against the law. Just because you think you have a right to say something doesn’t mean you need to say it.

Common sense and courtesy. Words that are used but rarely put into practice when it involves other human beings. No wonder that the biggest cause of young people misery is bullying.

I couldn’t sleep last night and at 3am memories of a former boss came into my head and I was trying to describe to myself what this person was like and how they had affected my well-being. The description I came up for her was a ‘life-forcer’ – someone who drains all the life force out of you through intimidation, bullying, lies and dishonesty. She drained anything moral and good about you and made you want to retaliate.

There aren’t many people who I have met who are like her. Borderline psychopathic. They have no concept of empathy and didn’t realise that what they were doing was harmful and dangerous. We all have the capacity to be like her but it is our choice to go down the path of being respectful and courteous. I was pulled up in a corridor and chastised in front of pupils, something unprofessional and unnecessary. I asked that she didn’t do this in a following conversation. She obviously bit my head off, chewed it and spat it out. I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

What can we do? Be polite. Show others that you can get ahead in life without the nastiness. Bullies never win. You will always be better than the horrible ones that will get to you and wind you up. We must instil into each generation of people that they are valued and loved. There will be people who try to bring you down but it’s their problem, they have insecurities and inadequacies. Learn to move on and surround yourself with those who love you.

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Charleston Shooting

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I am shocked and appalled at this mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a peaceful place of worship where people had congregated for a Bible study during the week. They had accepted the killer to sit in with them as part of this. They didn’t turn him away because he was a stranger or because he was the only white person there they accepted him in.

From 1988-1991 I spent three years at a residential black led Theological college. At the time I was a religious person. I was accept in as part of the community even though I was the only white person in my class. Not once did anyone ask me why I was here or mention my race. It was one part of my life I cherish with great affection as it was a time of growing up and experiencing new things.

It has been implied that the shooting wasn’t racially motivated even though he was a white supremacist. It’s even been implied by the christian right that it is an attack on them and their right to bare arms. They are saying that this proves that they need more guns in america. Surprisingly the question has been asked why did any of the church people have guns on them to protect themselves. Any rational and normal person who isn’t crazy would realise that they were in a church praying and didn’t think that bringing a gun to worship god was part of that.

The commentary from christians should be all violence on anyone is wrong. It isn’t biblical at all to think that you should be carrying a gun around with you just in case someone might want to shoot you. The christian community should be unanimous in condemning such violence and particularly if it as racially motivated crime.

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.

EDL Newcastle

Newcastle is a wonderful city. It is modern and diverse. Lots of things have changed over the past few decades and it has been a great place to visit and hopefully to work.

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Elephant in the room

People are terrified of being label racists if the say that one part of any community has a problem. This has pervaded more so in the recent grooming cases where men of Asian decent had been involved in the grooming of white girls.

Reading the news over the past day it still seems strange how some cannot believe and deny that there is a problem within the black Afro-carribean community of gun and knife violence. Operation Trident was set up to tackle these crimes in 1998 solely addressing these issues.

I am not saying that all black people are involved in gun crime as that plainly is a racist suggestion as you are saying ALL the community are involved. That’s simply not true. I spent three years in an Afro-Caribbean college and got to know many people. There was no even a mention of it then.

Gross generalisations have whittled our ability to distinguish that which is reality and that which is truth. Ridiculous conspiracy theories that all police are “trigger happy” and willing and ready to shot anyone who get in their way.

Yes there have been inexcusable prejudices and problems in the past. You only have to look at the disaster of the various initial Hillsborough enquiries to know that transparency hasn’t been forthcoming.

Society must move on from such tragedies and learn from the past. There is no point in taking with you your own baggage and hoping that it fits the future as it won’t.

Let’s look to the future that evidence and proof need to be examined and what ever the outcome people have to accept and move on.

End of the EDL

The EDL was always about the puppet at the top. He was a showman. Albeit a bad one. He was supported by people out of the scene. People who had money and an anti-muslim agenda.

The people who were brainwashed by Stephen Lennon (Tommy Robinson) were the ordinary people in the streets. They fell for his lies about Islam and directed his hate to all Muslims. This was generalisation and prejudice at its worst. It caused damage to a lot of communities and divided a lot of people. What it did do was galvanise a side of people (including myself) to stand up to peoples prejudices. I was certainly happy to join the anti-fascism march back in May of this year against the EDL in Newcastle.

Take a rough straw poll of people opinions on twitter I can see many are dismayed that Stephen has jumped ship calling him a traitor and other unsavoury words. It showed you how much there were sheep following one another and being at his beck and call. Other have congratulated him for taking the EDL this far. I just ask the question “What actually have they done?”.

They have terrorised and abused people in this country not just Muslims but those who have stood up to their appalling beliefs. They have cost the taxpayer millions of pound insisting they protest around various parts of the country. Money that could have been spent more wisely.

I believe it’s the end of the road for the EDL but not for vile right-wing views.

Strange

So I have gone from being depressed to being okay to anxious. Now I am feeling okay again. I have no idea why and there aren’t any major reasons for these sudden mood swings.

Looking at the events in the news it’s a wonder that anyone would want to get out of bed in the morning at all. Geoffrey Bloom who was once a UKIP MEP now an independent hasn’t a clue what racism is or the meaning of being tactile. Pointing out that there are no black people on the cover of a poster isn’t being racist. Excluding them is.

The mass killings of innocent civilians in Kenya once again highlighting the dangers of radicalism and terrorism. How on earth anyone can justify their religious beliefs by killing another human being is beyond me. Yet the loonies, conspirators and those who are there to spread hate and discord blame an entire religion on an evil minority.

Yep, you can see why I have trouble with the world.

But there are many who allow peace, love, tolerance and understanding to flow to every part of their life. They are not necessarily religious or doing it for ulterior motives apart from the fact that they are genuinely nice people. That’s what I have to focus on each day and that’s what gets me out of bed. Well, that and two cups of coffee.