Tag Archive: non-violence


Nelson Mandela

To start with, Nelson Mandela died yesterday.  I was watching Mrs Brown’s Boys with two of the women from the bungalow when the programme was interrupted for President Zuma’s address.  I got the giggles listening because we had all just been laughing, and because it was no great shock, at his age, 95.  I saw President Obama’s address and wondered how he felt to be the one delivering it, as the first black president of the US.  It must have been an awesome moment for him.  There were a lot of moving tributes, and seeing the celebrations outside the old family home, now a museum, was very encouraging.  There are still racial tensions there and apparently some white people are afraid that now the reconciler has died revenge will start to be meted out.  I hope those fears prove to be unfounded.

It’s not an ideal world, and violence is a part of both rule and struggle.  He was fighting for equality between all races, but he was fighting for his own as well.  Otherwise the threat of violence towards the racist white rulers might never have been.  I don’t understand a lot about politics so I can’t write as eloquently as some, but I am in awe of the Civil Rights campaigners and activists.  Once I wanted to be a missionary in Africa.  I was only a child, I didn’t understand everything that was involved, the possibilities of death and mistreatment and everything.  In recent years I have had a very painful relationship with black people around my home and in church and hospital. I’ve had more than one black Christian call me a witch and turn away from me in self-satisfied rejection of me.  I have been called racist a lot.  I’m now very nervous of black people and some types can really make me feel amazing levels of anger.  White people can as well but I feel it more with black people because I’ve never been called racist towards white people.  It hurts, because time once was when I wanted to marry a black person.  I feel a mixture of helpless rage and heartbreak, I just can’t get it right, and neither can they.

I fear the fact that Nelson Mandela never renounced violence.  I know everyone is saying wonderful things about him and I feel touched by those things.  I daren’t say too much for fear of betraying my ignorance of politics and the profound changes which have irreversibly come about in relation to his name.  President Obama said he belongs to the ages.  Hopefully the ages won’t forget and go backwards.  Hopefully the ages won’t employ the violence that was not renounced by their revered father.

Edit note:

I feel really stupid.  I watched a documentary tribute tonight by David Dimbleby which reminded me of the Truth And Reconciliation councils and I saw some of the footage.  I also saw where Nelson Mandela told his followers to take their weapons and throw them in the sea, so he did renounce violence and asked his followers to.   I remember hearing about the truth and reconciliation hearings a long time ago.

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How Useful is Philosophy?

When I was in my 20s I was aware of a stereotyped response people came out with about the usefulness of philosophy, ie that it was probably no use at all when it came to the practicalities of life.  In that stereotype people who wanted to study philosophy were asked what use it would be for anything.

I was just thinking about that.  I haven’t given it much time before writing, maybe only about 10 minutes.

The conclusion I came to was that every life action comes out of an underlying philosophy, whether conscious or unconscious.  That people who say they have no time for philosophy are unconsciously adopting that of pragmatism, though they would deny they are moved by any philosophical position at all.

In Colossians 2:8 it says that they should not let anyone take them captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy because in Christ we have fullness.  In the context of the chapter it says that.  I have been wary of philosophy for many years on the strength of that, as have many others.  I have thought, with many others, that true Christianity and conversion was what was needed.

He does say ‘hollow and deceptive’ though, and one hopes that he is not putting all of philosophy into that bracket.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  It is true that no one comes to the Father but by Him.  Among His disciples He always preached non-violence, though He acknowledged that those who did not embrace His teaching would go to war but that the disciples were not to be afraid because wars were bound to happen.

There are many who would resent the Christian position, unadorned, being thrust into their faces as the solution to life.  I think that an awareness and understanding of philosophy is at least a bridge in cross-cultural communication between Christians and non-Christians and the arguments for the Christian position can be found in and through other philosophies which people who would consider themselves anti-Christian and anti-religion would engage with more readily.

It must be the ultimate in unaccountability to say that we recognise no philosophy or religion at all.  I think it is true to say that there can be no lasting peace without recognition on both sides of an immovable higher authority to which each side submits itself throughout.  So I find myself unable to reconcile Jesus’ statement that there would be wars with the Church of England prayer ‘give peace in our time, oh Lord’, because different people groups do not recognise the same authority, and each people group recognises its authority in ways that make them at odds with others in their communities.

So is God just an imposition of the strong on the weak?  Having experienced many things, including physical healing, I cannot say so.  To me it is not enough to say that everyone has the power to heal and not refer that power back to a giver, especially as the healing I received was in a Christian context.

But I do think that people who have no time for religion or philosophy are dangerous people to be in control.

I think I started thinking about this today after listening to a Noam Chomsky recording on Napster, about mafia and hegemony.

I’m Sorry But . . .

Today I feel emotionally sick and out of step with everyone, even with my own sense of decency.

Is there a time I should just shut up and let people get on with it?  Just for a day maybe, or a week, or maybe I should cut my tongue out and never be able to speak for the rest of my life!  Now there’s a thought.

As much as I truly admire the people who work so hard for our security and am very touched by the happiness and satisfaction some of them I have heard speaking today are expressing, I still find it repulsive that anyone can be happy about and rejoice over someone else’s death.  No matter how much they or others close to them have suffered.

As I said, I feel emotionally sick.  I still can’t have a thought or emotion begin to materialise without the people upstairs start their stuff.  The uncanniness of it is doing a number on me, along with some of its deliberate and markedly repetitive illegality when they bang just after the boundary line every day.  I wondered after I typed those last paragraphs and thought maybe I’m being a bit too squeaky liberal to be real.  Perhaps I should join the celebration, for reasons of my own it feels like a bit of a weight off of my shoulders as well.  Maybe all decent people are glad, and I just don’t have that level of freedom to be able to enjoy it with everyone else who is also decent.

But I remember stories of days when missionaries went among cannibal tribes, eyes wide open, taking the risks.  And dying.  No political pull outs.  Died for their peaceful, loving, non-violent beliefs, killed by the enemies, in lifestyle, that they had gone to live among and convert/evangelise/win for Jesus.

Jesus said, so the Bible tells us, if we choose to believe it (or it might have been Paul), ‘render to no man evil for evil, but overcome evil with good’.  Armies and governments and terrorist groups are made of many people who, individually, would be identified as ‘a man’.  I’ve heard it preached and taught that war is a different kind of situation to which that does not apply.  That sometimes peace has to be fought for, and that that is the justification for war.  But how can you fight for peace with weapons of war?  If you do the same you become the same.  The act of war causes and deepens wounds in the psyche, personally and nationally, which make it more likely for physical warfare to continue to be embraced as an option.  People don’t repent, they go into denial and justification, and that isn’t something which makes for a future where this is less likely to happen.

We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12), and that means to establish new habits of acting and thinking. I’ve noticed that when I take a step to do what is right, I understand how wrong the former thing was and how wrong its support structures and rationalisations.  Especially if I thought before that the right thing was the wrong thing.  In my early days as a Christian I was taught that pragmatism and compromise over the truth were not acceptable approaches to living the Christian life.  That belief has not abandoned me, even though these days the church is more at ease with ideas of necessity and pragmatism.  I’m not sure why that is.  Maybe I just haven’t moved on as I should have done.

However, I believe that the spread of peace depends on abandoning war as an acceptable way of ‘maintaining’ ‘peace’.  If war is not an option, we have to go further in building international relationships.  Not ‘so far and no further’.  So far then ‘how very dare you, sir?’  Peace is not compromise.  Peace is Shalom, whole and vibrant.  Peace is love, not polite, formalised, ritualistic functionality.

If war is not an option, outraged people with hurt egos can’t issue a call to arms, pumping out buzz words ten to the dozen that make you feel ashamed and embarrassed to disagree with them.  People who do not embrace armed conflict as an option must surely be easier people to approach.

If we want to talk about the brave people who die in the pursuit of peace, and lay down their lives, I think there is more chance of healing for the world and of leading by example if those people lay down their lives in refusing to kill, rather than in trying to maintain peace and security for their own group by killing people and groups who are seen to threaten it or who strike at it.  If we lay down our lives for peace, sacrifice our lives in being actively peaceful and refusing to engage in war.  Let our own lives be taken rather than kill an aggressor.  Rather than a few being brave for many, I believe we all need to face it and trust for ourselves.  That way we relate with love for all, even for our enemies.  That is how peace is built.  We are governed by peace because we are founded on peace.  It isn’t the result, but the whole structure.  As long as we need to protect our lives, we live with fear.

This is what I should do, not what I do.  I am protecting too much, things and goals which wanting to achieve make me careful for my life.  Crazy things, like seeing the end of coercive medicine in the mental health system, a change in understanding and an end to labelling.  Even more, I don’t want to die on my own, maybe never to be discovered and with my life seen as worthless and full of failure, and something to be despised and not missed.  That is my craziness, wanting to hold on to my life until I feel it is worth something, not so guilt-ridden and not so isolated.  That is how I feel under the present abuse.  Too guilty to die, and guilty for hanging on.  Sorry for coming back to myself, but on the other hand, I think facing and coming to terms with yourself is a necessary part of being able to embrace this lifestyle choice anyway.  So no, I’m not sorry, really.  You have to come back to yourself to lay your life down by deliberately committing to non-violence.  I know so.  I’m only sorry I can’t express it better because of what is going on in my life at the moment.  I could possibly express it if I chose my own advocated actions, but under the abuse I can’t do it in words.  The option for me seems to be to surrender to and make myself vulnerable to my abusers (who might only be abusers in my mind anyway), or not to be able to express it in words.  But I do have a problem with my abusers if that is the point they are trying to make  by their abuse.  ‘Join us, we’ll teach you the way of peace and non-violence by making you pass through the fire of our violence’.  Jesus didn’t use violence.  The Bible says the devil can appear as an angel of light, and that means his presentation is appealing and persuasive.  But trust goes to the cross.  They present as Christians, and everything I try to say is aurally countered, either actively or with silence.  Or is it all a product of my own fear and darkness?  The Bible says in Christ there is no darkness, it also says the darkness becomes light.  To me that doesn’t just mean that a light shines removing the darkness but that, where Christ is, the darkness itself, even the darkness of violence, is light.  That is the conviction of my heart and soul.  Love, my love for those who do me violence, makes even the violence a source of light and something into which I should walk.  And these words are darlings I refuse to kill by putting them into action.  The violence and exclusion/silence, because of the ‘hallelujahs’, feel like a call, a ‘trial by fire’.  But also, post-communism, it feels somehow inappropriate.  So why am I arguing so much?  Have we talked our way out of needing to pay the price, by invalidating the price asked and demanded as torture?

God Hates Fags

So do I, ask my sister.

Dr Gallo, my Spanish psychiatrist, who called me obese in one of his reports, came towards me in the corridor once, and he absolutely stank of them.  I suppose I must have given him a questioning, intelligent, ‘oh really’ kind of look, because he looked a bit sheepish and uncomfortable.

I was thinking something along the lines of, ‘smoking kills, I don’t smoke, and I’m a nut, he smokes, and he is my psychiatrist.  He knows smoking kills, so he is addicted or in denial, or at least dishonest, because he goes out for a crafty one and looks sheepish when caught by one of his patients, or inmates’.  My actual thoughts were, ‘oh, he smokes’.  It was a bit of an enlightenment, an ‘aha’ moment.  I suppose I might have gone into my Christian prayer ministry and revelation mode.  But for me the logic behind my thoughts and feelings, as a psychiatric patient, is as previously stated.

It is my opinion that someone that insensitive, to write in a woman’s psychiatric tribunal report that she is obese, almost as though he were a vet rather than a doctor, and who smokes himself, ought not to be dealing with people on the mind level.

No, I didn’t mean homosexuals.  Not honest homosexuals.  I did that myself for two years.  I’m not sure how honest I was, maybe I rationalised my activity with the rationalisations I had been given by society and psychology until in the end it felt irrevocable and unchangeable.  Along the way of coming to terms with it I answered my own questions and my partner’s questions and probings with my own rationalisations drawn from society’s logic and permissiveness.  Of course, homosexuality used to be a reason to be detained under the mental health act, I think, or it was at least viewed as a mental illness.  But now it is a crime to show yourself ‘homophobic’.  I said that to the psychiatric staff on my ward.  I was sort of stonewalled.  Or patronised.  No one was interested in changing anything they were doing to me after I said it, anyway.

I was thinking about homophobia the other day, and wondering if there is such a word or crime as ‘Christianophobia’.  In the interests of balance I think possibly there should be.  Maybe ‘Religiophobia’ as well.  I have indulged, in myself, a homosexual relationship, though not a complete lifestyle, and I believed it was wrong beforehand and believe it was wrong now, afterwards.  And I am a Christian who believes the Bible says it is wrong and that therefore it is.  Unfortunately you can’t catch me with the shellfish argument, because I am also a vegan for moral and spiritual reasons.  Therefore I would not wear animal fibres either, mixed or otherwise.  So OK, I used to have a lesbian relationship, and now I am saying it is wrong, and that Biblical Christianity says it is wrong, which I believe.  Where does that put me as an individual on the crime scale, in relation to this issue? (By the way, I think Islam and the Quran also say it is wrong).  Not only the crime scale, but what are my own human rights on this, in terms of owning my own experience and my beliefs about it, including moral, spiritual and religious?  Can I be penalised for religiously aggravated homophobia against myself?  Do I have to limit myself in how I talk about my own life and beliefs about it?

The politicisation of ideas of right and wrong, illness and wellness.  Mental illness really is a political concept, isn’t it? Part of the irony, for me, is that an awful lot of force and assault, not to say violence, is used against some very non-violent people to make sure they take their ‘medication’.  By these people who say we are a danger to ourselves or others otherwise.  I do feel sick thinking about it.  Sick with violence and rage, the retaliatory kind.  That is a normal feeling.  I’m not acting it out.  There would be no point.  Their force and violence would be greater.

So the force and violence of a recognised professional body against an individual is OK and justified, but if that person, before not violent or physically forceful, wants to retaliate, even says they feel they want to, it isn’t?  It’s a threat to society?  But these professionals are not?

God hates fags – an interesting forage and forray.

Government Hanky-Panky

Maybe it’s time for me to stop being drawn on this, but this morning I heard (sorry, I get confused) William Hague or Iain Duncan-Smith (I think it was William Hague) say something about harassment of journalists in Libya.  He paused before saying ‘in Libya’, as if trying to emphasise the point that he was saying Libya, and nowhere else, maybe not the UK.

Being the self-centred person that I am, I thought he was saying that I am harassing journalists and I got a bit upset.  Then I thought, ‘wait a minute, he’s probably trying to draw a distinction between the journalists in Libya (about whom he doesn’t have a bad word to say), and some of the journalists here, in our minds’.  I thought of Julian Assange.

I know many people will have seen the video of him outside the court about a week or so ago (I haven’t seen anything more recent) with him so close to tears saying he hasn’t had the chance to put his side of the story and that there have been incitements to violence towards him and his staff.

I don’t know him, but tears are very powerful with me.  Some people say they are a form of manipulation.  Maybe those people have never known real desperation.  I was frightened of my tears for years, after reading in a counselling type book that they are a form of manipulation.  I realise that tears only express our feelings and not necessarily the truth about the beliefs we hold that make us cry, but they must be one of the most valid expressions of personal, heartfelt reality, and for that reason I for one cannot despise them or be dispassionate about them.  If we took more notice of tears we might be a less violent, bigoted, punitive, testosterone-and-spleen-driven and reactionary world.  I believe real tears always should be reconcilers or at least a gateway to reconciliation.  His tears touched me.  I don’t know if they were real or not.  But how desperate does a person have to show themselves to be in order to have the violation of their legal human rights redressed by those who should and who think they have the right to judge instead?

My own emotions are mangled.  I’m being shouted at and banged at every day, especially when I’m just lying on my bed trying to connect my life to its source and neither moving nor speaking, just enjoying the feeling of beginning to recover the connection between my mind and emotions, then it all starts.  And I do the same thing back sometimes, even if only eventually and not on the spot.  Early in the morning I am too shocked and don’t know how to handle myself.  I can not get dressed for days because the violence makes me feel I can’t cope with life.  And then I feel ashamed of my own reactions when I give it back.

All that to say, condoning computer-hacking from anyone, including the government, excluded, I wish I could help Julian Assange and I would if I could, and would do so in every way that I could if he or his representatives asked me to.  There is no way I would not be prepared to help, believing as I have that he tried to help me.  Isn’t it funny how the government always steps forward to try to get you to disconnect from ‘bad influences’ only after they themselves have been exposed?  If they had not been exposed, if the timing of the leaks had not made me feel supported, I wonder what they would now be saying and doing?

‘The Big Society’ manifesto and plan almost completely replicates some of the concerns I raised in a document on my computer, following years of official abuse and neglect, including from the police, which was addressed to the chief of police in Sussex but not sent.  Given everything else it is hard for me to believe that someone hasn’t lifted it straight from my computer.  I know some people will believe or try to make out this is lunatic, but others will not, they even comment and sometimes get uncomfortable if I log on to a parliamentary broadcast, which I watch from the beginning and delayed, at the time that I actually log on and start watching.  This happened one Friday at the reading of a Private Member’s Bill, and the discomfort was particularly pronounced.  I keep intending to find it and watch it again, because at the time I thought I understood the discomfort.

My browser has crashed a couple of times while typing this, always when I am getting into a release of full flow.  It must show in my typing.  I think that, among other things, my key strokes are being monitored by someone.  I obviously don’t know who or why. There are people I think of and think of course I’ll stop if it’s them and they want me to, but I go on in stubbornness and/or uncertainty.

I started the post to say that it seemed fairly clear to me that, whatever William Hague was trying to communicate with his statement this morning, what appeared to be the surface message didn’t appear to me to be his main concern, and I wish they wouldn’t go around making object lessons and drawing comparisons and contrasts from another country’s distress while trying to appear to have a single message and motive.

Julian Assange, I love you.  I am absolutely backing you up with my best intentions and my strongest hopes for your safety, if that is all I can do.  I can’t quite connect with your reality, as I said when I try to connect with my own people cry out and start banging, I don’t understand the dynamic, I usually go for the explanation that makes me feel guilty, and it’s happening now and it is so distressing, so excuse me if you find this inappropriate, but I feel as if my own entrails are being fed upon.  I believe I have heard you trying to communicate with me, and from you in your position I appreciate that so much.  But I don’t know, maybe you’re communicating with me and every rights aware individual, and I’m just bending it to myself.  I hope you will get someone to contact me if I can help or be of any use to you.  That’s how I feel, whether it is appropriate or not.  I feel as if my whole community is the idiot brigade, and they’ve all come out now.  I’ve got another person now who somehow thinks it helps and is cool to shout hallelujah at me.  Maybe I should respond with better grace and gratitude.  I don’t know why they are doing it or who has given them the idea.  They only did it after searching me out with 5 minutes of yelling and me yelling back in the end.  I feel really bad about this.  It’s obviously an affirmation and I’m being ungrateful.  I should be grateful.  It’s so good to hear.

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