Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Compassion is an act.

Compassion
(kəm'pas(ə)n/) noun
 
A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.


Looking at the newspapers and the news bulletins today one would believe that caring for ones fellow man is non-existent. It seems that everyone is in for oneself with disregard for his neighbour.

Compassion is sacrificed in the name of the balance sheet and profit, and 'others' have been superseded by 'self'.

The terrible events on the 13th November in Paris can only demonstrate the evil intent of some people. Regardless of the reasons that these people use to justify their actions, it is the antithesis of compassion.

In every day life we come across many small examples of lack of compassion for others and 'selfish society' is a term that everyone can recognise.


I suspect that we would all say that we are not one of these people and that we do have compassion for others. I wouldn't argue with that but I would like to challenge this further in that we can all feel compassion for others but what do we actually do about it? How many of us actually do something about the people we sympathise with, assuming we are in a position to do so?

I am not pointing the finger as I am as guilty of this as anyone so I am speaking to myself too.

The words of a song I knew in the 1970s come to mind. 'Compassion is an act and not a word'. Now we all know that compassion is a word but what the author meant was that compassion without action is not worth much. We can all feel sorry for someone, and even say we feel sorry for them, but unless we back it up with action it does not achieve much.

Another news item that fills the bulletins at this time is the thousands of immigrants that are finding their way to Europe from war-torn Syria and other areas in the Middle East. The pure number of them is enough for us to get nervous and be concerned about our own way of life, protecting our jobs and benefits amidst financial restrictions, closing ranks and metaphorically pulling up the drawbridge to keep the 'intruders' out.

These are real and legitimate concerns of course, but looking at the other side of the picture, can you imagine yourself living in a land where murder and slaughter are an every day occurrence? Where your children are playing amongst the rubble of bombed out buildings, and food and other essentials are scarce or non-existent? On top of this you know that your own government is corrupt and ineffective.
You have heard of this distant country who will welcome you, give you aid and encourage you and, if you are prepared to work, you will be able to earn a decent living and bring up your family in peace.
I ask you, what would you do?

Wouldn't we all try to find a better life for our families?


Of course we cannot all give a home to these people or assist in the rescue of them from the boats or give financial aid, and we can pray and donate to charities.
There is one more thing that we can do, we can recognise that these people are human beings with feelings and relationships and families just like us - and also that God loves each one as His own, regardless of their nationality, religion, or whether they acknowledge Him or not.

Surely this is where compassion begins.





Compassion is an act and not a word
Sorry can be felt not only heard
Unspoken love is known by those who are not spoken to 
Loving acts say more
Than kindly words can do

A hand to hold in need makes the darkness fly
A smile can make the painful times go by
Gentle guiding narrow roads
Steps unsleeping unburdened loads
We all search for the answer 
Have you found the one
Who is the source of love


(Protected by international copyright laws Barbara Goldie-Scott)

Friday, 18 September 2015

Europe - in or out?

There has been a lot of debate in the UK regarding our EU membership,  and there is to be an in-out referendum on the subject by the end of 2017 giving the UK populace a chance to voice their opinion once and for all.

Of course, as expected, there have been scare prophecies from all quarters. Stories which tell of disaster if we stay in, and likewise of disaster if we leave.

But it has been rather encouraging that over recent months more high profile remarks have been in favour of the UK leaving the European Community, one of which is Boris Johnson the Mayor of London with a post on Facebook on the 22nd June 2015 stating the following:

' Let us look first at Britain, and the negative side of the ledger: the sacrifice of political independence. It is considerable. We have given up national determination over an amazing range of policy areas, from the hours worked by junior doctors to the right to strike international free trade deals; from levels of indirect tax to the composition of our sausages.
It has been recently estimated by the parliamentary authorities that about 65 per cent of all legislation passing through Westminster either originates in or is heavily influenced by Brussels.
I happen to think that this is not, in itself, especially healthy for democracy. The main reason why Ukip became so potent and so electorally dangerous was that when people wondered vaguely what their government could do about levels of EU immigration, they were amazed to discover that the answer was – nothing. That basic power, to decide who you were going to allow to settle in your country, had been given away.
Over decades, British politicians had given away powers that weren’t strictly theirs to give. They belonged to the people; and when the people asked for them back, they were told that the heirlooms were now locked in the silver cabinet in Brussels.
It was that sense of a loss of control that caused voters such fury – even people who were actually quite willing to be persuaded of the benefits of immigration. That is why Ukip got 14 per cent in the polls.'


The general public does not understand the intricacies of the debate but they do see the effects. Bearing in mind the bias of most of our newspapers, we see ridiculous rules being implemented which everyone can see do not help towards our way of life or the reputation of the European community. They only create a reason for people to point the finger of ridicule.
If the EU collapses they only have themselves to blame. Looking in from the outside it seems that there are a large number of people who are having to prove their positions in Brussels.

It seems to me that the UK would survive if separate from the EU.
Yes there are companies that have built their businesses around the EU structure which will probably suffer, and some may even go bankrupt as the EU market dries up, but I would ask the question, why is it that it is assumed that if we are not in the EU we cannot trade with the EU countries? And, of course, we can rebuild our links with the countries we were trading with in the years prior to us joining the EU.

Then there's the cost.
Fullfact.com website states that the UK paid £20 billion in 2012, accounting for discounts of £8 billion we are finding £12 billion a year! This equates roughly to £33 million a day!
How can this be justified at a time when the UK is experiencing cut backs in every area?

The latest situation with the mass of immigrants flooding Europe cannot help in influencing the public to remain united with Europe, not because of what the EU has done in this situation, but because of what the EU has not done. Allowing the immigrant situation to get completely out of control with no leadership whatsoever can only damage people's opinion of the EU, a fact that will be remembered in 2017.

I will be interested to see what the country decides, but I know that I will be voting for our country to take the sensible decision and come out of the EU and live up to the name of Great Britain once again.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Charity?

Where does charity start and finish? 
At what point does the very acts of charities become self defeating?

This week we had the appalling news in the UK media that Olive Cooke, a 92 year old woman, committed suicide apparently because she was pestered by charity fund-raising letters and phone calls to the rate of 260 begging letters a month.

According to the report (Daily Mail 16th May) charities such as Amnesty, Alzheimer's Society, Save the Children, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Prostrate Cancer UK and Breast Cancer Care were amongst those who sent begging letters to Olive before her death. Olive was already contributing to 27 charities on a monthly basis from her pension.
To make matters worse Olive was an enthusiastic collector for the British Legion for the past 76 years since her husband died in WW2 and she was responsible for collecting thousands of pounds for charity.

The family has since denied that Olive's suicide was due to pressure from these charities but it does highlight a very good point, that many elderly folk are being targeted deliberately because they are seen as a 'soft touch' and in turn the charities are failing the very people they are set up to help.

So, where did it go wrong?
It seems that individual charities have been selling their donation data to mailing companies who in turn contract out, or sell, this data to other charitable organisations. Obviously this then leads to a mass mailing to all on the list from other charities.
I guess it must be a profitable exercise otherwise they would not do it and, playing on the goodwill and compassion of people, make a decent profit.

But I would question whether this whole process is self defeating in that it is targeting the very people they should be helping. I cannot help but ask the question, 'Is money becoming the god of these charities? The clamour for profit meaning that the original purpose has been lost?'

Also have the costs of these huge charities become too top heavy to be manageable?
The Daily Telegraph reports that Sir Nick Young, the chief executive of the British Red Cross, earns £184,000 pa, Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, received £163,000 last year, Chris Bain, the director of Catholic aid charity Cafod, earns £87,000 a year,  Richard Miller, director at ActionAid, earns £89,000 a year and Christian Aid's Loretta Minghella, who was a former chief executive of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, was paid £126,072 this year and £119,123 the previous year.

These are only the CEO's, how much are the charities paying out to senior management, lower management and in overheads before they are able to help the people they are set up to help?
Has it got to a point where the clamber for position and a large salary are the only desires for these charities?

Isn't it time the individual charities stopped selling off their data lists, the Information Commissioner looked at the sale of personal details, the Charities Commission reviewed the restrictions upon the mailing to vulnerable people, and the government followed through on the rhetoric of the recent election and curbed this trade? - otherwise we may see other Olive's in the future.



Thursday, 23 April 2015

A letter from Jess.

I don't want to get into the habit of posting other bloggers posts, but I discovered this post recently from a 28 year old woman blogger and her insight struck me.
I have printed this (with her permission) unedited. Although it is rather long I would encourage you to read it to the end.
She writes to her friend JC.

Dear JC,
I just finished watching the movie God's Not Dead and I am glad I did. Sometimes we wonder why things happen to us and most of the time we question and blame God. Truth is I have been guilty of this countless of times. I've often found myself saying WHY! Why am I in so much pain? Why are there so many people dying of hunger in so many places? Why God, why?! Yet I never really stopped to ask myself, why. You see God has always been with us, even when we made the first decision to eat the fruit. After that he was with us when we decided that we didn't want God to be our king. No we wanted someone we could see, and even when he didn't have to he gave us one.
Over and over again in the bible there are stories about we humans making our own decisions, and what did God do? He let us make them.

 Now I don't know about you but I clearly remember my mom warning me before I decided to do something I wasn't supposed to. Naturally as an ignorant child I would disobey, and BAM I would get hurt. Soon after my mom would comfort me and say, "Didn't I tell you not to do that? This is exactly the same with God. He gave each of us freewill in this world. He made us responsible for our own actions. So all of those times when I exhausted myself asking God why, I should've asked myself why? Why haven't I made a difference? Why am I not helping people out there that are homeless? Why didn't I hug that woman that felt so alone the other day. Why didn't I visit my father in the home and read him the bible. Why didn't I tell my brother that Jesus loves him even if he doesn't believe in him anymore. You see it's easy to blame God for what is negatively going on in our lives, but we fail to realize that if the whole world decided to love and help one another, there would be less death due to violence and starvation. There would be more cures to these " incurable" diseases.

I look around me and all I see is hate and selfishness. Now imagine what God sees. We have become faithless and it's not because of God. No, it's because we are selfish. Did Jesus come dressed in pure gold with a crown on his head proclaiming to be the rightful king of the world? No, he came humble and poor born in a stable where they kept the animals. Did he grow up demanding riches and honor? No, instead he walked around wearing sandals healing the sick and the lost. He never judged anyone which he had all the right to. On the contrary he was kind, gentle, and most of all compassionate. Jesus showed us what he sees in us, because after all we were created in his fathers image and Jesus and God are both one. So that means we are also one with both God and Jesus.

It's funny, I've questioned God about so many things, but I failed to remember who enticed Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. I didn't stop to think about what Jesus said to the people about that Devil. He told them that he was a LIAR from the beginning. He told them that there is NO truth in him. Yet we believed him didn't we? Do you think the devil is not alive and well today? Of course he is, and guess what, he has not changed. He continues to lie to us each and every day in every way possible and the sad part is that most of the time we continue to believe him.
I believed that I wasn't good enough for a very long time, but one night Jesus showed me that I was and still am good enough. I don't have to believe the lies. I am worthy and I am needed here. I have a purpose because God says I do and he has never been a liar and never will be!
I want to ask you to take a little bit of time out of your busy schedule and watch God's Not Dead and to open a bible after seeing the movie. God will speak to you, and I know something will change somewhere deep within your soul my friend. Thanks again for keeping up with me, and may God bless you always.
                                           Sincerely,
                                                   Jess

If you would like to follow her blogs here is the link http://letters2jc444.blogspot.co.uk


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Eclipses and life.

On March 20th an eclipse of the Sun shadowed it's way across the UK.
The shadow spread itself from South to North within two hours of starting at 8.15 in the morning, and the sky grew eerily dull with a strange hue although, in the South of England, the cloud base prevented us for seeing the spectacle.

As I walked my dog in the morning twilight and the light was slowly fading, my thoughts wandered as to how the eclipse can be a metaphor for our ambitions in life. A sort of dimming in one's expectations in life.

When we were young we had dreams and aspirations and the world seemed to be at our feet. We could achieve anything with our life-line stretching out ahead of us into the distance.

As time moved on and we woke up to reality we slowly became aware that our dreams were not going to be realised. Life and responsibilities crowded in allowing our dreams to be pushed back to the recesses of our minds.
Maybe we are quite happy with this situation but, somehow, this has left us feeling that we have missed out and we haven't achieved what we could have achieved with the right breaks.

I had dreams of being big in business, an entrepreneur, and to this end I tried more than one venture to achieve my aims, all of which were unsuccessful.
Eventually I accepted that I would not make a businessman, and also gradually realised that earthly wealth is not important, but I take comfort in the fact that at least I tried too succeed - and I quite enjoyed it too.

I wonder how many do not achieve because of lethargy, idleness, procrastination or fear of failure?

It's interesting to note that many successful entrepreneurs will give you a story of struggle and hardship before succeeding, but they all persevered in the face of adversity.

Have you been holding on to a dream, hoping that one day your boat will come in?
I have news for you - it probably won't!

I am approaching my seventh decade and I am quite content in my position in life but some of you will still be able to achieve your dream with a bit of courage to enable you take the plunge - and the knocks that arise.

Don't let your ambitions be eclipsed and cast a shadow over the rest of your life. Take courage, take a risk if you need to. Persevere and achieve your dreams.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Respect for all!

A recent report in the UK press quotes an American study which says that men who open doors, offer their seats and walk on the outside of the pavement when with women are guilty of 'benevolent sexism'.
This, says Professor Judith Hall of Northeastern University in Boston, is as offensive as 'hostile sexism'.

It seems that all of the training my parents gave me in being respectful towards women is now 'uncool' and not politically correct in today's society.
Professor Hall states that it is an insult to women to be given special treatment. I take it that this means that if I meet a woman whilst approaching a door I should go through first and leave her to her own devices.

I cannot help but feel that the women who say this and are offended by sexist respect are a very small minority. Certainly an episode on a crowded underground train a few years ago leads me to believe this is true. I offered my seat to a woman who was standing next to me and she was amazed and, thanking me profusely, mentioned it several times to her friend.
Maybe she was a 'traitor to the cause' and letting the side down but in my opinion the majority of women like to be respected in this way.

Taking this discussion a stage further. I am quite happy to hold a door open for a man also. Respect does not only have to be for the opposite sex but is just good manners to all people.

It seems to me that comments like those from Professor Judith Hall's are slowly chipping away at general respect for people within our society and that can only be a bad thing.


As for me, I will be proud to continue to be polite and old fashioned - and enjoy it!


Respec!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

God is love

All of us at some time in our life travel through dark times. Times when we see the dark clouds of depression, when all around us seems to be negative and closing us in on us and squashing the life out of us so it even gets hard to breathe.
Of course there are good times also when we can walk in a forest or heathland and love the sun warm on our face and the joys of Spring floating past us in the breeze, feeling a bit like a calf being released into fresh grass after a long cold Winter.

But when those dark clouds descend and we can feel the closing in it's easy to see life in monochrome and two dimensional.
I would encourage anyone experiencing this to remember a fundamental Christian truth, that God Is Love.
Now that may seem trite and easy to say but it's something that I can witness to and have learnt over the many years that I have known Him.

If we can just peer above the clouds for a moment we will see that the Sun is still shining and it always will be. The cloud does not change the fact it only seems that way from our limited stand point.

Likewise if we can peer above our circumstances we can see that God is still love.
The darkness does not change that.
No matter what we are going through at the moment - God is still love.
If we are going through divorce - God is still love.
If we are suffering bereavement - God is still love.
If we are at our wits end - God is still love.
If we are suffering homelessness - God is still love.
If we experiencing loss - God is still love.
If we are in poverty - God is still love.
God never changes and He loves you no matter what your situation is.


If we walk through a dark tunnel even if we cannot see the walls we know they are there and we can depend on it. Walking through the tunnel of life, no matter what darkness we feel we can be sure that God is there. Just lift up your head and reach out to Him.

Though my soul may set in darkness,
It will rise in perfect light,
I have loved the stars too fondly
To be fearful of the night


- Sarah Williams

Friday, 13 February 2015

Celebrity v royalty

It seems to me that there are more 'celebrities' created every day, most of which who have done nothing to earn the title. Featuring on the front page of the daily newspapers sporting the latest fashion or handbag. I can only assume that there is a readership that loves to read about it.

Nowadays an ambitious young person seeking fame and fortune can appear on a TV talent programme and become an instant celebrity.
I have no problem with that, except that fame is not necessarily the answer to leading a fulfilled life.
These people are praised and placed on a plinth, looked up to and made to feel invincible - and that their opinion is intelligent and knowledgeable.

So, it's rather a surprise to me when the media continually report opinions from celebrities on anything from politics to world events, whilst ridiculing and labelling Prince Charles as a 'Meddling Monarch' because he dares to give his opinion on world events.

Surely, because of his upbringing, his world travels carrying out the role of ambassador, and training to be the future king, he is more knowledgeable than most to give an intelligent argument on world events. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Entertaining angels?

Hi again,

A few mornings ago I peeked out of the curtains and noticed that there was a very hard frost on the scene in front of me. Everything was tinged with white ice crystals glistening in the morning sun.
Anybody  that knows me knows that I hate the cold weather and I wonder why humans don't hibernate. Realising that I had to take the dog for his morning walk I dreaded the thought of going out into the cold.

When I ventured to the local common I started to notice the frost on the gorse bushes, the crunching of my feet on the frozen grass, and the birds singing above my head, and it made me realise that although I had a negative first impression, I actually saw the scene in a different light and appreciated the beauty of it.
I pondered the thought that first impressions can sometimes be wrong and if we look at things at another angle we can sometimes get a different opinion.



My thoughts then wandered to people that we meet.
How often do we gain an immediate negative opinion of someone on our first impression? Perhaps the way they dress, their manner, their looks?

The Christian Bible mentions that when we meet people we could be entertaining angels without knowing it. I am sure that angels don't only appear in suits and therefore our snap judgements can be wrong.

If we were to look under the surface of the people we meet we would probably find someone with the same thoughts, feelings and passions as ourselves.
Should that make us think twice next time?


(You can email me on inkyblagger@gmail..com - with an 'a')

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Toleration and acceptance...

Hi all,
Time to be a bit more serious I think.

All of us were appalled at the recent events in Paris and Belgium where terrorists mowed people down in the name of their religion.

The terrorists are fanatics, the dictionary definition of which is someone who is 'a holder of extreme or irrational enthusiasms or beliefs, especially in religion or politics'. It's important to remember that they are not representative of Islam, have a distorted interpretation of the Koran and do not represent the majority of peace loving Moslems.

I am a Christian but I can stand with Moslems and any peaceful person of belief, to allow them to practice their faith unhindered.

In the 1990s I carried out a contract in Karachi, Pakistan. The two Pakistanis I was working with were of different faiths. John was Christian and Eunice was Moslem. We worked together well, discussed religion on several occasions and at the end of the contract we were good friends. There was no animosity and a great respect for each others point of view.
In my working life in the broadcast installations industry I met all kinds of people who were of varying levels of faith, but the best discussions I have had were with an atheist. On vary rare occasions did I receive any kind of ridicule for my faith, although I am prepared to receive this for what I believe.

All of us are human, regardless of colour and creed and equal in the sight of God, whether Queen or Pauper, and to turn against another human for any reason is to turn against ourselves.



Thursday, 15 January 2015

Tell me of your 'experience'....

Hi again,

In my walk through life there are a few things that irritate me. I am an easy going chap, I think, and I don't get irritated that easily. But I have noticed in recent years that everything has become an 'experience'. Have you noticed it?

Going to the shop they ask you to complete a survey about your 'shopping experience', I went to the dentist the other day and they asked for feedback on my 'dental experience'. 
I was at the dentists, for goodness sake, where some woman I hardly know wants to pull my head with a pair of pliers! How is that an experience? 

Traipsing round a shop pushing a filled trolley trying to avoid elderly people, small children and women who seem to be on another planet IS NOT AN EXPERIENCE! It's hell!

Which makes me wonder what the levels of euphoria are. Would boredom or excruciating be at the bottom do you think?



And another thing where has this term 'in store' come from?
Everything is 'in store' now. 'See our latest offer in store', the adverts say. Is this another influence from over the pond eating away at our established way of life?

When I was at school (which admittedly was a while ago) Miss Burge always put a 'the' in between these two with threat of the ruler if we failed. When was this dropped?
Suppose we drop the word 'the' completely. Then maybe later 'and' can go, we don't need it.....

And don't get me going on tradition! 
Maybe that's for another time. Watch this space.


(If you can't respond try my email.)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

An old feller rambling his thoughts

Hi all,
Well here I am with my very first blog. 
I hope over the coming months that the stuff I put on here is interesting to someone, and that you will have a laugh, gasp, or maybe a cry with me as I share my observations (as long as it's not my wallet!).

I am just an ordinary chap who is a bit past his sell-by date, having experienced most of what life throws at us all. Not as much as some but maybe more than others.

Some people will probably think I am a grumpy old git but I hope that others will see that this is tinged with grains of truth.

All of the posts are my observations and are not intended to offend anyone, and if they do I apologise in advance.

Look forward to posting soon!