Sunday, 15 March 2015

Living in a 'Both/And' Country

There was a bit of a scary documentary on TV the other night. Robert Peston was looking at what might happen to France after their next election. There is a real possibility of the far right getting in. 

This is reflected in many other nations, including the UK with the rise of UKIP. Not as far right as the Front National in France, but a definite leaning in that direction.

It’s clear that there is a concern amongst ‘locals’ with regard to ‘newcomers’. But if we go back into history, pretty much all of Europe can be classed as ‘newcomers’. Most of us have relations who have travelled beyond old borders and taken up residence in another country.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French Front National, sets out the issue as countries needing to decide if they are ‘globalists’ or ‘nationals’. It sounds almost convincing. Until you consider the fact that she is demanding a choice. Either you support your country, or you are a ‘globalist’ and want to do away with borders.

But it’s not either/or. It can be both/and. I’m rightly proud of the country I’m born in. And if people move to my country, I want them to be proud of it too.

But I also love the variety and colour of the nations. I love it that the city I live in is 50% ‘other than British white’. I love the different viewpoints on life. I love the different foods. The different costumes. It adds to my nation. New colour and variety on top of the colour and variety already brought to my nation by previous generations.

So, yes, I’m nationalist in the sense of being proud of my country. But I can be a globalist too.

The choice we are being faced with by extremist right wing parties is a false choice. I want to live in a both/and country.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Two Tough Questions

My thanks to our good friend Ros Turner for this one....

Two tough questions...
Question 1:

If you knew a woman was pregnant,
Who had 8 kids already,
Three who were deaf,
Two who were blind,
One mentally retarded,
And she had syphilis,
Would you recommend that she undergoes an abortion?

Read the next question before looking at the response for this one.

Question 2:

It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts.
Here are the facts about the three candidates.

Candidate A: 

Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists.
He's had two mistresses.
He also chain smokes
And drinks 8 to 10 Martinis a day.

Candidate B:  

 He was kicked out of office twice,
Sleeps until noon,
Used opium in college
And drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C: 

He is a decorated war hero,
He's a vegetarian,
Doesn't smoke,
Drinks an occasional beer
And never committed adultery.

Which of these candidates would be your choice?

Decide first ... No peeking, and then scroll down for the response.

Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Candidate B is Winston Churchill.
Candidate C is Adolph Hitler.

And, by the way, on your answer to the abortion question:

If you said YES, you just killed Beethoven.

Pretty interesting isn't it?
Makes a person think before judging someone.


Amateurs ... Built the ark.
Professionals ... Built the Titanic

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Splendid Grief

Splendid grief. Two words that don’t go together? I heard them used by Sir Nicholas Soames MP in relation to his grandfather Sir Winston Churchill, and specifically to the full State Funeral given him in 1965. Fifty years on, there’s been a lot of reflection this week as to what Churchill achieved.

It was unusual for a ‘commoner’ to be given such recognition with a State Funeral, and the occasion was both solemn and a celebration of a man who led a nation to victory against the Nazi’s. Grief. But splendid too. It would have be a very different world without him.

As I reflect on the loss of two dear friends from cancer, one at quite a young age, the words come back to me. As we celebrated their lives, there was genuineness about the celebration. But grief too. Lives taken too soon.

It would have been a very different world without them. Splendid grief.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Towards the Sunrise

Often we embark on a journey with no end in sight. We're not sure how long it will be, or even if we will end up where we want to be. Or at least where we thought we'd be. Such is the journey of life. Twists and turns. Unexpected moments. Some pleasant. Some not so.

But there are always blessings along the way.

The Children of Israel trekked through the wilderness with Moses for 40 years. Quite a journey. But they got there. And near the end of the journey there were unexpected blessings. One of them  is simply recorded- they camped just outside the Promised Land with their faces 'towards the sunrise'. They were travelling north, but as they looked east, they saw the sun rise.

It was a new day for them. They were at the start of something. A few verses later in the bible, we read that they found a well of water and sang a song of declaration over it- 'spring up o well!'

Wherever you are on your journey, take time to state your purposes. Declare them. Write them down.

And take time to look around. You've got this far! Enjoy the scenery. Look towards the sunrise.

(You can read the story in the bible- Numbers 21, v 10 onwards)

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Between The Bookends

‘I’m here between the bookends of everything that was and what will be’ It’s a quote from an Amy Grant song.
Every one of us is on a journey. We have no idea of where we are in the journey between those two bookends. In a sense, there is little or nothing we can do about that.
But what we can do is ensure that where we are right now is as effective and life affirming as it’s possible to be. To give our all. To live to the full.
The Apostle Paul said ‘God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!’ That’s true for every one of us. There’s a life worth living, a life worth giving.
If I’m between the bookends with no idea at what particular point, I want to make my life count. So for me, with apologies to Amy Grant for changing the lyrics, it’s not ‘what will be’ but what, with God’s help, CAN be.
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
T. E. Lawrence

Monday, 8 December 2014

Using The F Word

A few years back I had the privilege of attending a pension’s event in Australia. (Stay with me- I know pensions is pretty much a ‘click to the next article’ subject). One of the guest speakers was Dr John Trickell. He was discussing longevity- a hot topic for us pension geeks!

Dr Trickell said we had to start using the ‘F’ words – fun, family, friendships and faith. It is these four ‘f’s that give us long life. He went on to prove it with research and data.

It makes sense. A good combination of a healthy lifestyle with lots of family and friends around. And linked to a real faith that there is more to life than just the latest paycheque or the newest gadget. (Which is why I HATE Black Friday by the way).

So it was interesting to note a new article on the BBC website today, investigating a community that lives a lot longer- and a lot healthier- than most. They are a church community in California.

Fun, family, friendships and faith. Try it. It works.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Black Friday or Red Friday?

I must admit it had passed me by. Black Friday that is. It was only on the actual day that I noticed it, so I guess I can be grateful that I managed to avoid most of the hype.

Apparently, it’s the day after Thanksgiving in the States. I’m pretty sure we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here, so it’s sad that we decided to import the day after. Or did we?

Of course, it’s not ‘our’ import at all - ‘us’ being the Great British population. It’s the retailers. Another opportunity to make some money. Another ‘sale’. And sadly, we fall for it.

I much prefer Red Friday. Instead of needless taking, it’s about selfless giving. One man who gave all.

Black Friday? Bad Friday. Red Friday? Good Friday.