Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Before the shooting starts.

                                               Before the shooting starts.

So far, we don't have the horror in Australia that has shown up again in America: school shootings. It might only be a matter of time. I pray we never see it again, in the U.S. or Finland or Scotland or wherever else has seen this sort of evil.  But IF anyone asked me how to stop it, I'd have one idea apart from the same-old same-olds about gun control, armed guards in schools, etc. Not that I'm criticizing attempts to stop it, it's just that there is one I've not heard anyone suggest so far.
Everybody, be careful how you treat everybody else. You know, the Golden Rule? Treat people the way you prefer to be treated yourself?
Perhaps I'm being too obvious. Or is the obvious being forgotten?
The two boys who cut loose at Columbine were, I've read, social isolates who were bullied and rejected  by others. The young man who perpetrated the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary was beset by mental or psychological disorders. By some accounts his family, being survivalists, had a suspicious view of the world around them. Our press have not  yet gone into detail about the two shooters who attacked this week. The young man who shot up a college campus in Virginia was described as an outsider. If I'm misinformed, by all  means tell me how. But consider if you will what I'm saying here. Would people lash out and perpetrate the abomination of mass killing if they felt that the society they were part of  cared about them, that they were among friends?
I could be over simplifying. Sometimes a person becomes isolated because they have driven others away, not because others rejected them. But I'll stick by one point here. Having spent thirteen years in schools as a student, four years on a  university campus as a student and twenty five years in schools as a teacher, I'm sure I know this: some individuals get everybody else's stuff dumped on them because too many people want someone to look down on, and they pick on whoever they think will put up with it. That is to say, they are pettily spiteful, insecure and small  minded, and cowardly in the way they look for someone who will 'take it', while crawling to anyone who they are scared of or want to be seen with. It's a sad world sometimes. So I'm still wondering, would people lash out and do the shocking things they do if they thought they were hurting someone they had reason to care about?
Boys need to avoid showing contempt for girls, and girls need to avoid showing contempt for boys equally. Young respect the old, older ones respect the young.
I once replied to an email which came from a stranger, to see what they wanted. It seemed they did not know that the email had even been sent to me, and instead of saying that politely because it was really not my fault, they came back with "I don't even know you, you creep."  Silly girl. That was uncalled for. In my case it did not spark retaliation because I'm not a nut job about to explode, but it is the sort of dopey uncalled for rudeness that sometimes proves to be the last straw.
This had been said before: societies which are crowded, where people live physically close to each other, are the ones with the most developed codes of etiquette for treating others. Politeness is a social lubricant which can avoid offense. Simple courtesy or kindness can defuse anger in others, or at least not trigger a reaction that ends in blood.
Of course it's not all that simple. The things going on inside someone's head can be complex and make them impossible to predict. But I wonder: if more people took the trouble to be civil, instead of 'no-one messes with me' abrupt, would we see fewer outbreaks of rage?

Monday, September 1, 2014

It could be worse.

It could be worse.

It doesn't always help to be told to count your blessings, if you're feeling dismal because you see everything in such a negative way that nothing looks good. That's the trouble: it's the way you feel, no matter what objective reality is. But a sermon I heard recently was a valuable and timely message for  me. The pastor, who has a son with serious health problems, related how he had a flash of realization one day in the past. He was well and truly down over his son's suffering, and the pain it was causing the family; and the message was sent to him in the Spirit, that God is still worthy to be praised. There are things we can never understand in this life because our perceptions and our intelligence are too limited, from the perspective of the God of this universe. We can't see things He can and make sense of them and the reason why He is letting them happen. The text for that message was Job, not surprisingly. It was something I'd read before but it did not hurt to hear it again. We will have some wretched times in this life but we should never let go of that realization, God has not forgotten us and is still acting for our benefit. He is still the True and Only God.
Now I've said this, I just hope I don't undergo and time of trouble. But whatever happens, well, the truth is the truth. May we always be upheld by that knowledge.

Friday, June 13, 2014

                                           Are you blaming me?

News tonight reports hundreds of women and small children, some children unaccompanied, getting into the United States illegally then handing themselves in and wanting to be allowed to stay. The same sort of thing happens in Australia, although it's a bit harder because we don't have land borders with any other nation. They come by boat or plane instead. And wherever it happens, sanctimonious opportunists follow, calling themselves caring people by claiming the moral high ground.
Now real refugees have a need for help, but like any other worthy cause, this one gets exploited unscrupulously and self righteously. I would never want to be unsympathetic to those in real need, but I won't be bullied and morally blackmailed by humbug; and there are some dishonest claims being made in regard to illegal arrivals.
The illegal arrivals, whether genuine refugees or not, are housed, not abandoned in the wilderness.. In the U.S. case reported tonight, emergency accommodation has been set up. And we see various self styled commentators loudly condemning the U.S. Government because the accommodation is not five star. I'm using an analogy here. Suppose fifty people turned up at someone's house, wanting to be taken in, and the house owner is criticized because they can't find a bedroom and a banquet for all of them? Why are they being treated as though these people were their responsibility?
The U.S. Government is not responsible for the citizens of other nations. If they enter the country in an illicit way, so that it is not possible or mandatory to plan for them, why is the U.S. Government to blame? It's the same with our Australian Federal Government. Some fifty thousand people arrived by boat before a change of government and a new policy that put a stop to it. Fifty thousand extra people are not easy to cater for without proper notice and planning, and our government is NOT responsible for the citizens of other nations. If they are genuine refugees, which past experience shows they may NOT be at all, then they have claims under the U.N. Charter. But it is absurd sanctimony for critics to stand there abusing the government because it can't lay out a lavish reception for them. We have our own poor and disaster  victims to look after too. Some of the unauthorized arrivals are wannabe migrants trying to jump the queue by claiming refugee status. They do not have a true and legitimate claim to residence in the country they enter. And even where the arrivals are genuine refugees, the country in which they arrive may have its own resources stretched providing for them. Both the countries discussed here have suffered major natural disasters, and their own  citizens need support and financial assistance to recover. We have to consider those before someone tells us we have to look after thousands of other countries' citizens as well. People who enter without permission or notice should not think that facilities are all laid out for them as a matter of right. The worst part of this is that the attitudes of people become hardened. I would never want to deny someone in real need, if I could help them, but I won't be told that I have to give up our own family's stuff to some outsider who demands it by gate crashing the country without permission. Self righteous critics walking around sounding off are an insult to genuine social conscience - in my humble opinion.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What if it's true?

What if it's true?
 We saw a really sad event in N.S.W. Australia recently. A well known and widely liked T.V. presenter took her own life. In the last year or so she had taken a public stand against cyber bullying, having been a victim herself. She confronted the issue and some of the bullies involved. She suffered from appalling depression. It's a rotten thing to see. I suffer from depression, although medication keeps it under control, but I know how vile a thing it is - one of the devil's deadliest weapons. To some people this woman, who I will call C, is a victim of bullies. But there's more to it, we learn. C wrote in an autobiography that she terminated a pregnancy some years ago because her then partner was involved in the Olympic Games and they did not want the distraction. Now I'm not going to make judgemental comment, just ask a question that seems to need asking.
According to what the press has reported,  C began suffering depression at that time. The horrible affliction  that finally overcame her started with that event. Now I've heard that before: people who terminate pregnancies suffering acute depression afterwards. So it's too easy for a man to talk, some might say, but what if the statement is true: what if there IS a link between abortion and depression? Should that not be said just because some people don't like it?
It's an ongoing problem. Some things are true, but many people do not want them said.
Saying them can arouse the rage and hostility of many. This is political correctness, perhaps, or political censorship of opinions that certain self-styled judges do not think should be said. Some of the same thing has come up about climate change. One extremist said climate change denial should be considered a crime against humanity. 
Some  have not learned much from the days of Hitler, Stalin, or even the Spanish Inquisition. There are still those who think statements they don't approve of should be stifled.
What if it is true that abortion can leave an aftermath of depression? Would C still be alive if she had not done this?
All I'm going to say is: if a thing is true, perhaps we need to hear it whether or not it suits the political fashion of the time, or the political views of those in power, or who think they should be.
The outlook is grim.