Sad Music, Dark Literature and Positive Thoughts 2

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Tag Archives: History

Stay home and do nothing

This post is a more serious than normal.  At the end of it I’m going to make a suggestion for anyone reading this that can make a massive difference to the world whilst costing you nothing more than a few moments of your time one evening.

I wish that I could think of something really funny to post this week.  Being able to do so would provide the perfect antidote to the conversations at work.

If people aren’t ranting to release their stress from the multiple projects at work, they’re instead discussing foreign affairs and especially the recent events in Paris, France.

I try to keep out of any discussions at work merely for the fact that political arguments in the workplace can be divisive.  There used to be someone who worked with us who would get quite angry when people did not agree with his views.

As far as I am concerned everyone can do exactly what they want so long as what they do  doesn’t affect anyone else’s freedoms.

Using this basis as my moral code, I know it’s not okay to spend the weekend in a football fan mob physically attacking passers by for no reason but for the love of a fight.  Yes, this obviously affects the freedoms of others.

But it goes further than this.  Everything that each of us decides to do has the potential to affect the freedoms of someone else.

Driving your car above the speed limit in urban areas removes the pedestrians’ right for safety.  Hmmm…a lot of people seem to have difficulty realising this.

And what about buying chocolate or coffee that isn’t fairtrade?  What about the freedom of the coffee or chocolate workers not to be slaves?

And what moral stance robs the helpless more of their freedoms?  Do we ignore the atrocities being committed in Syria, Iraq, Yemen etc?  Do we ignore what happens to girls, women – and men – in these far away countries?  Do their freedoms mean nothing to us?

If their freedoms mean something then we are morally obliged to think of how we give our fellow humans freedom.

By the way, this is not an argument either for or against war.  I do have my own belief as to what we should do but I don’t feel it’s important to try and convince anyone of it via this blog.

Doing nothing is often the greatest way to remove the freedoms of others.  Recent British history is littered with people doing nothing and letting a few famous people continually sexually abuse children.  An extreme example, maybe, but I hope that you get what I mean about doing nothing rather than something…anything.

I’m not going to make a case for or against war on this blog.  What I will say is that I respect those who are ready to go to war as well as those who don’t feel that war is right.  So long as they have sensible reasons for their stance it’s not a simple answer to say that either is wrong.

The most important thing is to be doing something to make the world a better place.

If all you do is talk about what’s right and what’s wrong and not do anything yourself to help anyone else, then what are the consequences of your actions?

To paraphrase a saying that I once heard, evil wins when the good stay home and do nothing.

Right, I started off by writing that I’m going to suggest something that you can do to improve the world without spending more than a few moments of your time.  Well, if you cannot work in a hostel, in a poor country helping the needy or by giving to charity maybe you can write a letter.  And I mean a letter that can literally save a fellow human from being tortured.  Here’s something I’ll be doing.  It’s called Write For Rights and is organised by Amnesty International.

John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty

As in the words of the poet Robert Burns –

There was three kings into the east,
   Three kings both great and high,
 And they hae sworn a solemn oath
   John Barleycorn should die.

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

I do have a passing interest in ancient beliefs and folk lore.  One of my favourite books on my bookcase (yes, I do have a bookcase in my lounge) is a collection of old folk tales of the British Isles.  One tale within this book is called The Wee Bunnock, the original version of The Gingerbread Man which was a nursery rhyme read to me when I was a toddler.

For those unfamiliar with John Barleycorn, you may want to read this wikipedia page.  I will tell you in summary that it is a story and song dating back centuries with John Barleycorn a metaphor for barley, and the whisky and beer that is made from the barley.  It examines his life, indignities and death and subsequent new life as an invigorating drink.  Man, I offer thanks for his passing every time I have a glass of whisky.

One of the facts that Jehovah’s Witnesses have said to my wife Gloria is that Jesus Christ was not born on 25th December.  She later asked me about this.  I explained that that’s true but this does not disprove anything in the Bible as the Bible never actually tells us Jesus Christ’s birth date.

The date of 25th December as the celebration of Jesus’ birthday should bring a wry smile to every Christian’s face.  This date was previously Dies Natalis Invicti which was probably first celebrated in Rome by order of the Emperor Aurelian who was an ardent worshipper of the Syrian sun-god Baal.  The worship of Baal features repeatedly in The Old Testament as an idolatrous religion.

And as for the twelve days of Christmas, look no further than the twelve day Yule festival.

Well, this is the pity with Britain.  We have a rich history of pre-Christian beliefs, festivals and architecture but it seems to me that not enough Britons care about them.  Our pre-Christian history is as exciting and frightening as that of South America or Africa but do we care enough about this in Britain today?

Okay, you are right.  I am a little biased.  I got a grade A in my History GCSE exam and I enjoy a glass of whisky when it is etiquette to do so.  So, I will continue to shout that John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty.

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