Not “government”, representation.

This “British” society is not good for anyone. It is not working to anyone’s benefit. The majority (only just) party is working to disassemble the safety net that is the welfare state. They are taking away the means of survival for the most disadvantaged, they are reducing the possibilities for the merely poor, they are making life a misery for those in work, they are reinforcing the mentally (and physically) destructive behaviours that make them think they have a right to destroy other people’s lives.

We need to stop calling them “the government”. They have no right to make decisions that go against their constituent’s interests. They are our representatives. They are supposed to represent us, not work to destroy us. They are not given their positions through god’s will, they are voted for by the electorate. Sometimes the electorate is both misinformed and misguided, we need a more honest and reliable media, one that prides itself on it’s integrity, one that sets itself against abuse in all it’s forms, one that sees titillation for what it is (playing to the lowest common denominator), one that respects it’s readership/viewers. And we need a government that embraces these values too.

We need to work towards a healthy and kind society, one that we can be proud to be part of. We also need a way of triggering a general election when it is obvious that the current majority party is not representing the majority of the population.

Media Rules

Many of us read the papers or watch TV and assume there is some kind of gatekeeper watching any and every thing that is published. We assume that such a gatekeeper evaluates every item that is published against certain criteria that we never fully formulate even in our own heads.
We expect out and out lies to be seen and stopped before ever they reach us. We expect the many and varied media to be both honest and transparent. Why we do so is a mystery as virtually none of them are.
Why is it that even the most cynical, hard bitten, hard-headed thinker is convinced that because a certain newspaper printed it it must be true? That the news on a particular TV channel is both complete and completely unbiased?
The media of all it’s hues employs many fine and honest people, who are well intentioned and fair minded. Unfortunately, like the rest of us, they have to pay their bills. The people who bankroll them have certain expectations, and they will only continue with their support if those expectations are met. And, whilst biting the hand that feeds is a fine old tradition, one can only go so far before that hand is withdrawn.
This doesn’t mean that everything in the media is a lie, it means that everything in the media should be evaluated against the knowledge that there is a bottom line. Additionally, there is a paradigm of “what is interesting to the audience” that limits what is reported. The news, as Terry Pratchett so beautifully put it, is very often the “olds”. (As a matter of fact his book “The Truth” is woven through with an insightful critique of the media, which is not surprising when you know that Sir Terry worked in newspapers for a number of years.)
But it isn’t just what is reported, or even if it is reported honestly, that is an issue. What of the things that aren’t reported at all? What of the things that are so oversimplified that they become a misrepresentation? What of the things that are over-reported and become distorted because of that?
The media doesn’t have to be dishonest to mislead us. It has it’s own rules, it’s just they are not necessarily the ones we think they are, let alone should be. What they leave out is often more important to us as individuals than what they put in. Whatever they currently focus on inflates it’s importance in most people’s minds, without them consciously evaluating why.
And we are encouraged to think that the things that are not reported are not important or are delusions of “cranks”. As a cranky crank I stopped reading newspapers many years ago, reading between the lines and evaluating every sentence became tiring and unrewarding.
Finding the wholesale trivialization and distortion of a large proportion of the population angered me. Reading articles that were blatantly designed to stir up hatred and divide the population further infuriated me. The whole blame culture made me ashamed, but not as ashamed as the blame the victim culture that the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat government encourages.
Iced on the top of everything else is the prurient celebrity obsessed culture. Which raises unfortunate individuals to a precarious pedestal and then knocks them off, often in the most unkind ways possible.
I find it deeply upsetting that firstly these poor souls are raised up, supposedly, above everyone else; that their private lives are then scrutinised with a magnifying glass; and then, when they are found to be human, they are cast aside and ridiculed. We might want heroes and gods, but can we not be kinder about it. It is not fair to expect anyone to meet the impossible expectations of the celebrity media.
But in addition to setting some people up for a painful fall, celebrity culture is negative in another way, it trivialises and devalues our lives. It tells us we are not important. And we are important, every single one of us is vitally important. No one is more important than you are, and don’t you forget it!

But I’m not going to let that stop me

I hate living in a city. It’s almost as if there is an inverse relationship between the population density and the friendliness of the people that you meet. Perhaps people feel overwhelmed by the number of potential friendship they could have and just shut down because they can’t cope. Perhaps this culture of envy and fear makes people afraid and hostile. Perhaps this culture that focuses on all the bad things and seldom even mentions the good things make people unhappy and shut off.

Anyway, whatever it is, I’m not having it! I know people don’t like it, but I’m going to smile at strangers; I’m going to talk to people I don’t know; I’m going to complement anyone I think deserves it. Tough.

I will not allow this world to twist me any more. It’s my life and I WILL smile, laugh and find beauty. Even when the media and political system make me both furious and sad. Even when personal tragedy hits I WILL work on the good memories.

There is always a primrose in flower, always a hint of blue sky, always a friend who will give you a hug when you need it. You might have to look for a good thing, you might have to wait an extra day, but it is there.

I’ve struggled ever since I came to the city. I’ve met some really nice people, but very few of them have been prepared to be friends. I lived in rural Cornwall before I came here and friendships just sort of grew, naturally.

I find the way some people won’t let friendship grow, peculiar. I find the way some people won’t even meet your eyes, offensive. I find the way some people pretend you didn’t just talk to them, infuriating.

But I’m not going to let that stop me.

Austerity… Part 1

My parents were born in the 1920’s. They lived through the war. They understood real austerity, austerity because of practical circumstance. What we are living through is NOT austerity for any practical reason, but a form of desertification imposed by those who already have far, far more than they need.

Children are dying from malnutrition in Western Industrialised societies in a time of plenty. It is a time of plenty for those who have decent, well paid, long term employment. In that group I would include the mainstream media, upper echelons of corporations, and politicians.

People who have never been without have no understanding of what it is like to have the washing machine break down just before christmas, and then having to choose between the washing machine and christmas presents for family.

They have no understanding that visiting relatives for a few days has to stand in for a holiday because there is no way you could afford to pay for any kind of real holiday.

And it very easy to sit in judgement of those who have less than you do for the “bad” choices they make. It is very hard to understand why people buy things instead of healthy food; why the very poorest drink, smoke, dye their hair, take drugs. But the stereotype is not accurate, and there are reasons for those decisions.

When you are frightened and feel insecure what do you do? You get a blanket and some cushions and make a nest. When that is how your life is, all the time, you buy things, more things, things to try to make a nest that makes you feel secure. And because the food you eat is inadequate, you never quite grasp that it is your mind set that you need to change, because your brain chemistry makes it very difficult to think clearly.

When your reality is awful and you can see no hope of changing it, you feel the need to blot it out, at least for an hour or two. So you drink, you take drugs. You can’t really afford them, so that makes you feel worse, and, for some, the spiral begins.

The more desperate you feel the more you need to do something to lift yourself, the less it works, the more desperate you feel. And some just give in. Others finally hit a bottom that is so low they can start a new journey, to a different reality. A different way of looking at the world. Rejecting the pressures imposed by wider society to conform to the materialistic claptrap of the TV and papers… the very media people who have that decent income.

And so we live with this artificial austerity, knowing that some are not effected by it. And resentment grows. Do they not realise that they are creating a tinderbox? Or is that what they want, to give them an excuse in the eyes of their believers to “crackdown” on the very poorest and most vulnerable?

And what do you want? Do you want to live in this tinderbox? Do you want to be part of, and party to, this insanity? We cannot avoid being involved to a certain extent, we need food, we need clothes, but I think we need to look back to the realities that my parents knew, before the coming of the supermarkets (who have created some of the problem). It seems to me we need to think once again of both community and self-reliance. We need to be building an alternative, kinder, more local society, either to avoid the explosion, or to be there to support us when the explosion happens.

For help with that https://www.transitionnetwork.org/

Tipping over…

It’s all distraction and exhaustion, the more pressure everyone is under the less likely they are to challenge the system. Until… you reach tipping point… they’ve gone too far, both in America and here. People, even the most unlikely people, are starting to think.

We have rising unemployment balancing against people working stupidly long hours. Many of those who are in work are stressed because they are over worked, under appreciated & terrified they will lose their jobs. And many of those who are unemployed are stressed because they have totally inadequate income, the media attacks them all the time, they feel they are failing in their lives, they are terrified they will never get a decent job.

What this picture lacks are two things: common sense, which would tell anyone this is an insane situation and is possible to remedy; and, respect… respect from employers to employees, respect from the media for those who have to struggle with our twisted benefit system usually through no fault of their own, and finally self-respect. I have worked for my self respect. No bastard is taking it away from me. I am a worthwhile human being whatever my employment situation is… and so are you!

We have media that oversimplify, stereotype & trivialize. They demonise the poor & powerless, at the same time deifying “celebrities” (who they have created in the first place).

The criteria used to decide what is newsworthy is not just biased, it is warped, increasing feelings of powerlessness, fear & alienation in the naïve, uneducated (wait til that rant appears), & unwary.

The entertainment media predominantly concentrate on themes of deceit & mistrust to the point that dishonesty seems normal. To want or expect honesty & decent considerate behaviour is viewed as, at best, idealistic &, at worst, naively stupid.

“Soaps” are the worst offenders in all ways. Stereotyping characters in the most negative ways possible. Trivializing & poking fun at those who most need sympathy & understanding. They also underline their own myth that every happy experience will inevitably lead to tragedy. All in the guise (for many watchers) of reflecting real life.

Much of the media treat all their followers as if they are stupid or naïve. They offer little in the way of mental stimulation but much titillation, then wonder why fewer & fewer people engage with them. In attempting to always grab the biggest market share they have forgotten we are all individuals. We will swallow their nonsense for a while, then, inevitably, one way or another it makes us sick.

Life itself, as well as being mundane & tragic, is richer, funnier, more rewarding & unexpected than anything the mainstream can imagine. The stories passing around the social media certainly illustrate these points.

The inhumanity of governmental behaviour at this point is very worrying. It’s like they believe their own propaganda. This is scary to say the least. Bear in mind that “power” often attracts those who feel inadequate in normal life, very often they have sociopathic tendencies (the need to manipulate, absence of compassion, etc). This means there are a disproportionate number of politicians who have these qualities. Obviously there are those who go in to politics because they are so horrified by the behaviour of the sociopathic element. But it does explain the cruelty of much of what is going on at the moment.

Protest marches are a great way of getting people to realise that they are not alone. But if those marches are misrepresented, or not reported at all, by mainstream media do they have the intended effect? We need to look again at the tactics of resistance. Tactics which worked in the recent past aren’t necessarily going to be particularly effective now. The establishment have developed ways of dealing with predictable resistance…

Any ideas anyone? It’s time to tip over this government that is destroying everything we have and hold dear.

A Post from Facebook 29/01/12

British Culture has become increasingly informed by greed and impatience. Selfishness and fear stalk the streets. Some would make the argument that this stems from the mind set that produced chants like “what do we want? More pay! When do we want it? Now!” But those chants were used by strikers who had finally realised that they had been exploited to the highest degree for many years. Theirs was a chant of frustration with a long existing situation.

It seems to me that the current problems in British culture are rooted mainly in 2 places. Firstly the Thatcherite belief that “there’s no such thing as society”, which can be unpacked to mean “you are on your own with no connection to, or responsibility for, anyone else”. This is a fearful place. We need other people, we need to be able to rely on other people.

The second root of the problem is the media. The constant bombardment of images, the focus on visual (surface) presentation, the soundbite format of information, all leads to a feeling of fragmentation and alienation. Seeing that others have so much when you (and I) are struggling to survive feeds envy and selfishness.
 How often is there an exploration of the sacrifices that have had to be made to gain material possessions? AND, more importantly, how often is there a discussion of the “real” worth of such things to both the individual and wider society?

We need to slow down, to give ourselves time to think. We need to think wider and deeper – consequences for ourselves in the short term and the long term, as well as what are the wider ramifications. Thinking is our greatest friend. We are all connected on a global scale whether we like it or not (personally I like it). We are all human beings. Time to take time to think globally and act locally (as the Green Party used to say). Time also to take responsibility for our own actions and our own lives.

Taking Control of Our Lives – Part 2

So, we have been lied to and manipulated by the media, corporations, and politicians. So what? What can we do about it?

It’s hard to know what, short of insurrection, can make a difference. And why not insurrection? Well, for me, violence of any sort is an anathema. I will admit there are a few occasions when it is the best option, but those occasions are few and far between. As a general rule I would far rather side step violence and go straight to the negotiations that always have to follow violence.

Too many people get hurt in any insurrection for me to like it as an option. Too often the people who do get hurt are innocents, in one way or another.

But we have a problem if we are going to try negotiation in our current situation. The politicians, and others they have allied themselves with, do not believe that they need to listen to us. And, over time, they have proved repeatedly that they are strangers from the truth. They would say anything to get their own way. They cannot be trusted.

So, what can we do? If we are not to embrace violence and we cannot trust the word of the people whose behaviour is violence by another name?

I think there is something we can do. It is not a solution on it’s own, but it will make us stronger. We can disconnect as far as possible from the mainstream. We can ditch the TV; we can choose not to read newspapers; we can change our buying habits, so that we buy the things we need more than the things we want; we can buy locally grown, and made, food; we can reconnect with cooking and growing our own fruit and vegetables; we can start to believe in ourselves and our abilities again; we can develop our skills and crafts, so that we can make and do things for ourselves and those close to us, rather than being dependent on others who may not have our best interests at heart; we can make good and reliable friends. We can change our behaviour so that we 1) like ourselves, 2) like the things we do in our lives, and 3) we can develop our resources and friendships to help us get through the difficult years ahead… Until we can built a sustainable future together.

Notes from the past…

15/10/11

I’m finally so fed up with this country and culture that I can’t keep quiet any longer. People are important. Self-respect, integrity, love, generosity, sympathy, empathy, respect, manners, the simple beauty of nature, they are all important. Money is only a tool that we adopted when barter became too complicated – can we please remember that!

Rant 1 over… more to follow.

16/10/11

Rant 2

We have media that oversimplify, stereotype & trivialize. They demonise the poor & powerless, at the same time deifying “celebrities” (who they have created in the first place). The criteria used to decide what is newsworthy is not just biased, it is warped, increasing feelings of powerlessness, fear & alienation in the naïve, uneducated (wait til that rant appears), & unwary.

The entertainment media predominantly concentrate on themes of deceit & mistrust to the point that dishonesty seems normal. To want or expect honesty & decent considerate behaviour is viewed as, at best, idealistic &, at worst, naively stupid.

“Soaps” are the worst offenders in all ways. Stereotyping characters in the most negative ways possible. Trivializing & poking fun at those who most need sympathy & understanding. They also underline their own myth that every happy experience will inevitably lead to tragedy. All in the guise (for many watchers) of reflecting real life.

Much of the media treat all their followers as if they are stupid or naïve. They offer little in the way of mental stimulation but much titillation, then wonder why fewer & fewer people engage with them. In attempting to always grab the biggest market share they have forgotten we are all individuals. We will swallow their nonsense for a while, then, inevitably, one way or another it makes us sick.

Life itself, as well as being mundane & tragic, is richer, funnier, more rewarding & unexpected than anything the mainstream can imagine.

12/11/11

I saw a comment yesterday where the person said that facebook wasn’t the place for politics. As this person isn’t one of my friends (and from what I saw of his profile, never will be) I didn’t challenge it. Personally I think this person doesn’t understand what politics is.

Life is politics. Some times written LARGE, sometimes written small. It’s about what you think is important: what you will fight for; what you will fight against. And to quote Rush “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”

Eyes closed or eyes open it’s still all politics. To quote another of my favourite bands, Skunk Anansie, “Everything is political”.

Take care of yourselves. If you don’t no one else can.