I put this together very quickly from my photos and vids after coming back from Trafalgar Square. Love and respect for the occupiers. We need to explore ways in which we can take political, individual and community responsility for tackling the climate crisis and the skewed political and corporate cultures that are destroying the planet and the human solidarity of the people on it.
More than twenty years ago – in November 1998 according to data from the photo – this is a picture of an extraordinary group of young people I worked with in Newham. While I am mostly retired now I still do work with children from time to time.
This week the wife of the young man standing farthest left brought their two children to the ‘Making Worlds and Games’ course I am running at Redbridge Library. I expect to see Rizwan later in the week.
The Immortalists follows the life path of four siblings from 1969 to the near present. Gifted or cursed with the foreknowledge of the dates of their deaths, their natures and choices and perhaps this knowledge move them forward towards their destiny. The book reflects engagingly on living and death and is in places quite profound.
It touches on the experience of being Jewish American and the experience of being a gay man and offers insights into those worlds that I do not know. Its journey through the past half century brought back echoes from my own journey. But beyond such particularities Chloe Benjamin gives us characters whose real feeling, failings, victories and defeats and lives resonate with our own humanness.
I would, of course, definitely recommend this as an engaging and reflective good read.
Wednesday 24th April. I joined the Extinction Rebellion at the Marble Arch corner of Hyde Park. They have been there since 15th April. The atmosphere was very good and the protest has been peaceful. I joined Drum Master Tom Morley who with his customary style led a group in exuberant drumming at the corners of the ER encampment. And I after joined those supporting the ‘arrestables’ – those taking the protest further by disobeying police instructions to vacate the road where they had set up tents. Though arrested no one appeared to be harmed. I’m happy and grateful for all the people who are doing this as it’s clear that most of us don’t really understand the gravity of the situation. If we did we would, as Greta Thunberg says, panic .. and transform our societies, systems and ourselves.
Related FB Posts.
I’ve not posted here for a while but I have posted a lot to Facebook. June has been an eventful month.
In the early hours of the morning we heard a short series of loud bangs but thought little of it. Going downstairs a little while ago I noticed that the window pane above the front door was broken. I went outside. Most of the broken glass had fallen there rather than inside. A short stretch of the road including my house is cordonned off by a tape on one side and a police van on the other.
I spoke to a police officer who said that people were trying to get into a house a little way down from us and the method they used caused reverberations that had damaged glass on a few properties. He said he could get a company to board up the window but that we would have to pay for it. Although the officer did not say this directly I suspect that it was the police who used this method to break into the house he mentioned. The fact that he apologised for the damage reinforces my suspicion.
I tried to find out more about what had happened but the officer did not seem willing to give further details. He said that there was nothing to be worried about and it was not what I was thinking. Since I was not thinking about anything much at the time beyond what to do about the window there must have been a fault in his mind reading techniques.
This is a minor inconvienience and I hope a minor expense but I want to know if anything similiar has been happening elsewhere in Newham – especially given the police incident in Barking Road yesterday.
I posted the above to Facebook. Only later getting more of the story from the Newham Recorder website.
Congratulations to the people of the UK. We have passed the collective intelligence test.
Congratulations to all the Labour Party members and supporters who have worked so hard for this result.
Congratulations to the awesome Jeremy Corbyn who contrary to all of the negatives that have been said about him has been a dream of a leader.
We may have lost on points, but when everyone expects you to be bleeding on the ground and you’re still standing and the ‘winner’ looks in a worst state than you are, that’s a victory in my book.
Let’s take a moment to clean up, have a modest celebration, and then start preparing for the rematch.
Never lose the momentum!
A reflection –
It was the first time I had done this. Standing outside the polling station on Thursday handing out leaflets for the Labour party or any party. I had joined Labour in 2015 as a registered supporter specifically to vote for Jeremy and joined as a full member within 24 hours of him being elected. I joined the pro-Corbyn group, Momentum and attended ward meetings. Earlier this year I became secretary for my ward.
What attracted me to JC can be summarised in three words. Honesty, Humility and Humanity. I think that is what attracted most of us and what is still attracting new members.
I’ve heard some people say, since this whole thing began, that Jeremy is a nice guy, but he’s not a leader. I’ve heard them say that he has no charisma. Which is really weird because I can’t see how it can be said of someone who pulls the crowds and inspires the near adoration that Jeremy does, that they are not a leader and are not charismatic. I can only suppose that a lot of people just see leaders as having characteristics that are quite opposite to Jeremy’s. They believe that leaders must be, of necessity, mendacious, arrogant and cruel. This is surely why Theresa May’s boast that she would not hesitate to launch a nuclear strike that kills hundreds of thousands is treated as normal while Corbyn’s refusal to say that he would do this is presented as extraordinary by the press and even disqualifying for a leader.
But Jeremy Corbyn’s personal characteristics and socialist beliefs and his persistence in them, are just one part of the Corbyn phenomena. Something deeper is at play. The crowds that are drawn to Corbyn, his supporters on many Facebook groups, the people giving the thumbs up and smiling and crossing fingers as they leave the polling station. It is as though they are part of a conspiracy of hope, indeed a conspiracy of hope, faith and love. Corbyn has become a catalyst for a change, not just political change, but a change in consciousness.
Many people have commented that Jeremy has maintained a campaigning schedule that would overtax even a much younger man. While he is undoubtedly robust and fit for his age there is something else at play here that is actually quite obvious. He is feeding off the energy of his supporters even as he feeds them inspiration. Preaching to the converted? Of course he is. It is exactly what Corbyn needs to be doing right now and it’s what we need in order to cohere as the political community that we need to be. He may be preaching to the converted but the converted are coming together in larger numbers all the time and we are all converting others. We all have stories of family and friend we have brought onboard.
One day the movement will grow beyond Jeremy and I think beyond its current host, the Labour Party. That day is not today and I pray it is not in a near tomorrow. Whenever that day is we will not go back to a leadership that is mendacious, arrogant and cruel. Corbyn’s legacy and ours will be that we have redefined leadership as being essentially about honesty, humility and humanity, about being a servant rather than a master of the many.
That we did not win a majority of seats on Thursday is not, for me, a disappointment. We have won a significant moral victory. The path forward is full of obstacles but we have a sense of our own strength now, we know who we are, we know who our adversaries are and they know who we are. Things are clearer now.
The BBC Website gives the facts about the Grenfell Tower tragedy
Rapper Lowkey witnessed the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Akala says “The people who died and lost their homes, this happened to them because they are poor.”
It is impossible to deny that they died because they were poor, because our leaders did not care enough to care about their job of protecting all of us, serving all of us.
Jonathan Pie talks about ‘cladding over poverty’.
“It is a bold decision and one that affords Mrs May the opportunity to become as dominant a figure on the political stage as Margaret Thatcher was 30 years ago… she is right to call an election.” – Daily Telegraph editorial, 18 April
“It was always a gamble to call a snap election and Theresa May’s decision to do so was particularly surprising in view of her innate caution… Rarely has a prime minister made such a calamitous misjudgement.” – Daily Telegraph editorial, 10 June
They underestimated Corbyn and they also underestimated the British people. I did not. A confession. I bet £20 that Labour would win. I lost. I also bet £20 on no overall majority. I won £300. Not advocating gambling though.
Negotiations on the country’s exit from the European Union have now started in Brussels, but Theresa May’s government does not seem to have the first clue about its objectives and how to reach them, according to several European columnists.
This article basically says that we’re in a mess with Brexit and have no idea what we’re doing. Britain was doing okay under the amiable lightweight Cameron until he threw it away with the referendum; now we have a speaking robot and Boris Johnson. We have no plan and should be grateful that the EU negotiators are looking out for us more than we are looking out for ourselves.
My own feeling is that when faced with a seemingly binary either-or choice, a neither-and choice often appears, as in ‘I choose to stand paralysed between these unacceptable choices’ or ‘I will take both please’. Although we may seem paralysed at the moment, this is not an option. It is however an option, as in any relationship, to say something along the lines of ‘while we cannot stay together with things as they are, it is possible to change things in ways that are mutually beneficial but that we never explored because we didn’t seriously think it would come to this’. Negotiations are then framed as being about redefining the relationship rather than about leaving or staying. Effectively negotiations have to be about this anyway but framing it in a way that is cooperative rather than competitive means that we are more likely to get a result that we want rather than one that nobody wants. Oh, and something else, before going into any negotiation, cooperative or competitive, it’s a really good idea to know what we want. We don’t. We should tell the EU we need time to ‘get our head together’ and then have a second snap election in autumn where parties keep their current manifestos but prepare a ‘Renegotiating Europe’ manifesto. Then, and only then, will any party have a clear mandate for a clear vision.
NATO to be sued by Serbia for the use of depleted uranium during the illegal bombing of that country in 1999.
I don’t know anything about Horstel or his other policies but it is rare to hear a western politician speak the truth about Syria as this man does.
Paul Mason speaks to Progress. Seems about time someone was clear that some things are simply incompatible with the values a decent Labour Party should have, supporting illegal wars is definitely one of those things.
“If it’s important to you to have a pro-Remain party that is in favour of illegal war, in favour of privatisation, form your own party and get on with it!”
Kate Tempest at Glastonbury telling concert goers the social truth in her own uniquely passionate way.
“Stop stability. Meanwhile suicide is increasing, more rough sleepers, ugly words in public places, fear and doubt and all the racists have come out to show their faces. Under May there is a gulf that separates us and it seems to get a little wider every day.
“Now watch her pray on every tragedy. Divide, divide and frenzy up the nastiness….
“If this is strength then we are all f***d.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s reception at Glastonbury is simply amazing. Corbyn is unique as a politician. He can be seen as the manifestation of a collective will to create a better world.
I was shocked and am really saddened by Jo Cox’s death. A few weeks ago I and others were angry at her public remarks about Jeremy, but now I feel regret, not for the disagreement but because the potential for her continuing to work with us has been taken away forever. However dysfunctional it is at times, the Labour Party seems more like a family than a corporation. When a family member dies we regret arguments we may have had and harsh words said and it no longer matters who was right or wrong, we remember the great things about them, and for a while at least we remember that we are a family.
I don’t know much about Jo but I know that despite her differences with Jeremy she was one of the handful of MP’s who nominated him in order to ‘widen the debate’ and without that choice we would not have this remarkable leader. I will always be grateful to her for that.
Jo clearly had a commitment to open debate and an ability to listen to opinions differing from her own while wanting to state her own robustly. If there is any lesson to be learnt from her death it must be that we need to be tolerant of views that diverge from our own, we need to make people feel safe in expressing those views knowing that while there may be robust challenge it will always be in the form of ideas and arguments rather than invective and violence.
We should not define and divide ourselves by where we live, by race, religion, gender or sexual preference. No book is ‘holy’ or ‘infallible’, no people are ‘chosen’, no nation is ‘indispensable’.
It is strange to write about something so profound as my mother’s death on a public website. I have said little so far, only the statement I made on Facebook on Friday 9th October:
The passing of my mother in the early hours of this morning has left me with a sense of loss that will deepen over the next few days and weeks as I am reminded of her by the absence of our familiar routines. Nevertheless I feel enormously blessed that she was such an important and positive part of my life for so long, that her illness was brief, her suffering slight and that I was present to see her off on her journey home. I am grateful too for Sandy who by my side throughout, for family and friends who shared the loss and to those on FB who have offered condolences after seeing Sandy’s posts.
I’m posting this here because I can’t write deeply about the non-personal and less personal without writing about or at least touching upon what is deep in my personal life. Right now I can’t do more than touch on my feelings and I wish to say and share no more in public than this ‘goodnight’.
This is really IMPORTANT It is vital that enough people understand this and its implications so we can make CHANGES to the way we perceive, believe and act at individual, family, community and political levels. What Annie Leonard says is obvious, painfully so, but our systems of education, media and modes of public and interpersonal discourse do not facilitate our seeing or focusing on the wider picture, in fact there is a pressure to narrow our focus. So this very simple and clear exposition is something we should watch, think about, share and then act upon. An obvious first step would be to dramatically cut our consumption of stuff.
Emma Watson: Gender equality is your issue too
Date : 20 September 2014
Speech by UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson at a special event for the HeForShe campaign, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 20 September 2014
Today we are launching a campaign called “HeForShe.”
I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality—and to do that we need everyone to be involved.
This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.
I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.
For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.
When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.
When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”
When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.
I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.
Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.
Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?
I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.
No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.
These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are changing the world today. And we need more of those.
And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.
In 1995, Hilary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today.
But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?
Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.
Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.
I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49 years of age; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.
We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.
If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.
Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.
If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.
I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too—reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.
You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me, I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.
And having seen what I’ve seen—and given the chance—I feel it is my duty to say something. English Statesman Edmund Burke said: “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”
In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt I’ve told myself firmly—if not me, who, if not now, when. If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you I hope those words might be helpful.
Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.
If you believe in equality, you might be one of those inadvertent feminists I spoke of earlier.
And for this I applaud you.
We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the “he” for “she”. And to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?
(Transcript from UN Women.)