Trigger Warning – War and Politics ahead…. and I’m not apologising for what I am about to say.

Recently, because of various things, including my Autism enhanced emotions, I have been avoiding any news other than what I had come across in my facebook feed.
Before you have a go at me and say that I am wrong for doing this – I’m not unaware of the situation that the world is in and I’m certainly not doing this selfishly – currently I am the only adult capable of rational thought in the house and having a full blown meltdown would not help my family at all.
Let me remind you for a moment the make up of my family. TOH is Aspergers & has a spinal problem that is making him physically disabled. NOS is 16, in the middle of his exams and Aspergers/Dyslexic. PT is  Aspergers & 11… and finally there is PW who is nearly 3.

I regard Channel 4 news (UK) as one of the more reliable news media – they don’t pull punches and tend to be less politically biased than most. Today I saw (in my newsfeed) a video from their Facebook page.  I knew it would make me cry –  the first picture is of a dust and blood covered toddler – but I also knew that I had to watch it.

This is the video I am talking about – and yes, the trigger warning is for this video; it’s not possible to watch it and not feel anything…

https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10154354235831939/

I was in floods. I wanted to gather in all those children and bring them to safety. I wanted to storm up to Putin and Assad and slap some sense into their masochistic, greedy, violent, bigoted heads… they’re not making war on this place because of the innocents that live there, they’re doing it because of POLITICS and MONEY. They don’t care how many children they kill or orphan, how many mothers they make mourn…  they just want the land that contains the oil.

I now understand why the Green Party have a policy against weapons. They just cause pain and heartache to everyone. But our world is still too barbaric to embrace such a forward thinking, peaceful thought as making War the crime it actually is. My own reaction above is proof of this – I am a peace loving person. I talk through conflicts and problems and try very hard to not let my inherited violent instincts make me do things… yet if I were trapped in the middle of a war like the people of Aleppo, I too would fight to preserve the lives of my children.

Politicians (for the most part ) are more interested in power and wealth than helping the people that vote them in. Those who start out wanting to help people, get corrupted or burnout from fighting the system they are trying to change.

Those who welcome and embrace the culture that politics has end up wealthy  and powerful. Of course, they don’t want that to end, so they keep it going.  And things like Aleppo will continue to happen because they make money for the people who make the weapons, the politicians and a myriad of other people who have grown bloated and immense on the profit associated with War.

Does this not ring warning bells for anyone with any sense?

The only way it will change is if the society of the world wants it to change… and because that society is dominated by the powerful and wealthy, nothing will change – they will fight against anything that threatens the way of life they have, as hard as a normal mother would fight to save the lives of their children.

I have to live in this world. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. I will do as much as I am capable of to change it…  Vote for change, give anything I can afford to the charities that are trying to help people caught up in the nastiness, use my words in an effort to reach other people.

Yes, it’s Armchair Activism, but other than physically going places, I can’t see anything else I can do.

And the words I would like to use? How about these to start with?

The Only Thing That Matters

I see a child lying there,
She’s sleeping without a care,
I see her mother crying,
Her youngest son is dying.
Third world – No world,
Everyone can see,
That the only thing that matters,
Is that everyone is free.

I see a man in the park,
Lying on a bench in the dark,
I see a rich man walking by,
He won’t see the poor man die.
Rich world – Poor world,
Everyone can see,
That the only thing that matters,
Is that everyone is free.

I see a vision of tomorrow,
It’s filled with so much sorrow,
I see a vision of yesterday,
It’s just as bad as today.
Old world – New world,
It’s all just the same,
The only thing that matters,
Is that everyone’s to blame.

Taken from “The Book of Dreams” by Mandy Ward

Thoughts and Ramblings: Respect

Respect. It’s an odd word.

There’s so many people using it and sometimes I wonder if they know what it means. Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what it means, and I’m a writer. I should know what words mean… but sometimes the English Language stumps me and I have to turn to the old faithful, the dictionary.

Definition of respect

noun

  • 1) [mass noun] a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements:the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor
  • the state of being admired or respected:his first chance in over fifteen years to regain respect in the business
  • (respects) a person’s polite greetings:give my respects to their Excellencies
  • informal used to express the speaker’s approval of someone or something:respect to Hill for a truly non-superficial piece on the techno scene
  • 2) due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others:young people’s lack of respect for their parents
  • 3) a particular aspect, point, or detail:the government’s record in this respect is a mixed one

verb

[with object]

  • 1) admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements:she was respected by everyone she worked with(as adjective respected)a respected academic
  • 2) have due regard for (someone’s feelings, wishes, or rights):I respected his views
  • avoid harming or interfering with:it is incumbent upon all hill users to respect the environment
  • agree to recognize and abide by (a legal requirement):the crown and its ministers ought to respect the ordinary law
Taken from entry in http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/respect; 30/11/2012

Ignoring the other meanings for a moment, let’s look at the first:

a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements

How many people can you truly say that you respect? Can you actually say to yourself, while looking in your eyes in the mirror, that you respect someone that you have professed to hate?

Taking a personal example; I hate my Grandfather.

It might be a bit of a shocking example for many reasons, the very least of which is the fact that he passed on to the Summerlands a while back and one should never speak ill of the dead, but I have some very personal, very deep seated reasons for hating him. Some people that know what I am talking about may actually understand why I hate him.

Can I respect him?

I don’t know. I honestly, truly and with deep feeling in my bones do not know if I can respect him.

Why? Mostly because I barely knew him. Possibly if he hadn’t have done what he did to me, I might have been able to get to know him and I might have been able to respect him. However as things stand, I didn’t know him and I am unable to decide if I can respect him.

Can any of you say the same about the person that you hate?

Anyway, back to the main subject, why is it important to be respected?

Believe it or not, Wikipedia gives us a very good definition of the emotion of respect which may shed some more light on the question:

Respect gives a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”).

It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect.

Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, disrespect, whereas actions that honor somebody or something indicate respect. Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures.

Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified by Jonathan Haidt as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.[1]

Respect should not be confused with tolerance, since tolerance doesn’t necessarily imply subordination to one’s qualities but means treating as equal.

The antonym and opposite of respect is contempt.

Taken from entry in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respect; 30/11/2012

Respect is important because it defines civilisation. Everyone in this world is trying to gain respect in one form or another. And it has so many different forms… Self Respect; Environmental Respect; Cultural Respect; Societal Respect… and these are just the big ones.

Putting it simply, respect is the glue that ties civilisation together and when it is lost, differences become arguments, arguments become fights, fights become wars… and we all know what war does to civilisation.

Want an example? Okay. Let’s look at Israel and Palestine.

Going to the root of the problems in the geographical area of the world that these two countries claim is their land would probably be a whole article in itself.

Actually, thinking about it, the whole conflict could have a hundred different people analyse it and write weighty tomes about what they think is the problem and still not solve anything.

So I am going to tell you what my opinion on the matter is. Feel free to disagree; we’re all human after all and that is a big part of our nature, but I promise you I will respect your opinion (see #2 under Verb in the dictionary extract to see what I mean by that use of the word) and we shall remain on friendly terms.

Israel is the country that Judaism calls home. It is the place that their records tell them they come from and the birthplace of their religion.

Palestine is the geographical name for the area. When the news talks about the Israel /Palestine war what they are actually going on about is the State of Palestine…

Again, Wikipedia does a damn fine job of explaining this one, so I’ll let them enlighten you:

Palestine[i] (Arabic: فلسطين‎ Filasīn / Falasīn / Filisīn), officially declared as the State of Palestine (Arabic: دولة فلسطين‎Dawlat Filasin),[1][2][3] is a state that was proclaimed in exile in Algiers on 15 November 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO’s) National Council (PNC) adopted the unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Independence.

Taken from entry in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Palestine; 30/11/2012

So here we have two separate countries claiming the same piece of land.

Why did the war start? I don’t actually know why (that’s an article for someone more interested in the subject), but I do know that they could have lived together quite happily had they just respected each other’s differences and agreed to share the physical space. The World is quite a big place… even if the piece of land they are fighting over is pretty small in comparison

Historical region of Palestine (as defined by Palestinian Nationalism) showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders

Historical region of Palestine (as defined by Palestinian Nationalism) showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders

See? Surely it’s big enough to be divided equably between the two countries? Especially if they were to respect each other’s wishes and religious places.

Obviously they couldn’t come to a respectful conclusion. Look what happened next:

Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders

Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders

Surely both sides would be happy now? Well we all know from the news that neither side is happy. Look at how it stands now:

Palestinian National Authority showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders

Palestinian National Authority showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders

Will they ever be able to respect each other enough to live together without fighting? That’s a question that only time can tell.

Why on earth are you maundering on about this? Is there an actual point to this article?

Um, yes, actually there is a point. And believe it or not it’s about people…

Think of the geographical location of Palestine as a single person. What do you get?

One very messed up disturbed person! Schizophrenic even…

Definition of schizophrenia

noun

[mass noun]

  • a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
  • (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements:Gibraltar’s schizophrenia continues to be fed by colonial pride

Derivatives

schizophrenic

Pronunciation:

 /-ˈfrɛnɪk/ adjective & noun

Origin:

early 20th century: modern Latin, from Greek skhizein ‘to split’ + phrēn ‘mind’

Taken from: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/schizophrenia 30/12/2012

And the way that Palestine is looking, I’d say that there was almost no hope left of curing them… I could be wrong; I hope I’m wrong. As a Person, Palestine  lost it’s self respect  a long time ago.

In a person when you lose respect for yourself it starts you on a gentle downward slope. A lot of different things can cause that initial loss of self respect, but it’s what happens if you don’t recover that feeling of admiration for yourself that concerns me.

Why it concerns me is that I had an Eureka moment today.  And yes, it actually happened in the bath. All the best things happen in the bath; half my best story ideas occurred to me in the bath… as well as a few other things. This particular eureka moment is a bit more serious… And this is where what I said about my Grandfather comes in as well.

What my Grandfather did to me (no, I won’t tell you exactly what it was, just that it should never ever happen to an eight year old girl) stopped me from developing my own self respect properly. Then I went through the whole growing up thing, hit teenage years and what little self respect I had managed to regain disappeared into being a teenager.

When you’re a teenager, you are looking to be treated as an adult, but still want to act like a child. So you do some very stupid things to gain respect from your peer group.

In my case, that included getting completely and utterly blotto on red wine and throwing up in other people’s gardens on the way home, as my long suffering little sister did her best to get me home (did I ever say thank you to her for that? I can’t remember, but I’m saying it now – THANK YOU, CHRISSIE!)

You mistake the respect and tolerance that adults give each other as self respect… and in the process you lose what little self respect you actually have.

Now most people climb back out of that particular pit and redevelop their self respect. I did too, pulled myself back out, went to uni and met my fiance… then I had kids.

One of the things that they don’t warn you about having children is that if you aren’t careful, you can lose your self respect. I did. I mistook the love I had for my children as self respect and submerged myself in their needs. I forgot about my needs. There’s a fine balance between loving your children so much you give yourself over to them totally and loving them while you love and respect yourself.

In the bath, I realised that I had done the former.

It’s time to get myself and my self respect back…again.

And that revelation and realisation makes me happy. It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to do it.

Book Review: Six Weeks by Jessica L. Degarmo

 

Six weeks after a drunken coupling with her boyfriend, Matthias, Imogen discovers that she’s pregnant.

Like every woman who has found herself in that situation, she has a decision to make. And it’s the journey towards that decision that the story is about.

 

Life isn’t simple and Imogen has more than one person to think about on this journey: Her eight-year-old sister who relies on her to look after her; her boyfriend who sees Imogen as an escape from his abusive father; her drunk of a mother who doesn’t care about herself anymore.

 

And that’s why this is such a good story.

 

For a start, it hits you straight in the gut as Immy is told that she is six weeks pregnant and that she only has six weeks to decide what to do before it is illegal to terminate the pregnancy. Her confusion and stress are so real, it draws you in and you forget that you are reading a work of fiction.

 

Ms Degarmo is an artist and emotions are her paints; I sat there and read the story all the way through, biting my tongue, wanting to step in and slap her mother, to hug Sadie and to give Immy the support she needed. The tears flowed as Immy had to make an incredibly hard decision and that’s the mark of a brilliant writer, the ability to make you feel everything the characters feel, to make you see the characters as real and not just as constructs.

 

This is one book that every woman will be able to connect with and that every teenage girl should read before they venture out into the wide world of relationships.

This isn’t the first of Jessica’s books that I’ve read and it won’t be the last.