I am a Barcode

I am a Barcode

I’ve become a barcode,

A commodity.

I sit upon a shelf

And dream of being free.

My dreams are sold

As merchandise

Alongside aftershave

And forbidden rice.

I’m a product of

The twenty first century.

All is bought

Nothing’s for free.

Everything has a price

But no worth.

Equipped with a price tag

From the moment of its birth.

I’ve become a barcode,

A commodity.

I sit upon a shelf

And dream of being free.

Opher – 6.12.2020

The whole planet is up for sale, every tree, fish and insect has a price.

Pay enough and you can have a pet whale!

Every forest is there for profit, every chimp and rhino.

Every idea has value.

Everything we do is bought and sold.

There are businessmen wanting to bribe politicians to sell the future.

My barcode is evident in everything I do. I have no other purpose.

Freedom

We all want our freedom!!

What’s that actually mean?? Can we ever be completely free? I think not.

If we live with other people then freedom is a compromise. One person’s freedom infringes on others.

If we live alone with nature that too has its limitations. The creatures and plants have rights every bit as much as you. Some of them have nasty habits that might well limit what you can do. Then there are other limitations such as the weather.

What is this idea of freedom? Isn’t it often confused with licence?

A few definitions might help – ‘the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.’ Or ‘the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.’

That seems simple enough until you start to analyse it.

To act, speak or think as one wants. Pretty straightforward. I want that. But then I am someone who is not prone to violence or abusing others. What if I was a person who enjoyed punching people, setting dogs on fire or raping children? Should I have my freedom? Supposing I was someone who enjoyed intimidating others with weapons or thought that bullying was fun. Should I have my freedom? Or if I liked to take whatever I wanted from anywhere I wanted? What if I liked shooting endangered species or chopping down trees, or throwing my waste in next door’s garden? Or if I owned a company and wanted to make more money by selling dangerous goods or dumping pollutants in the river?

What is this freedom? It’s a bit of a moot point. In all human communities, there are laws to prevent people from doing harm to others.

Is freedom merely a question of where we place the boundaries for those laws? How much should the state become involved with a person’s freedom? Should it insist that all children have to attend school? Should it set the limits on drinking and driving? What about drugs? Should individuals have the right to choose? Should eight-year-olds be allowed to use heroin?

What about guns and knives? We see the madness in the USA. There were 39,707 deaths from firearms in the U.S. in 2019. I wonder how many were injured? In the UK there were  In 2020/21 there were 235 homicides involving a knife or other sharp instrument in England and Wales. Should the state say that it’s too dangerous for people to have knives?

What about the right to speak – to say what we want? Elon Musk has just bought twitter. He says it is to promote the right for people to say what they want. Should we be allowed to say what we want?

I was watching some old episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was hilarious but………………. there were a number of scenes with people blacked up and expressing racially stereotyped views that were highly derogatory. It made me cringe. Society has moved on. But should the racists and fascists have a platform to intimidate, demean, threaten and bully? Should they have the right to take away the rights of whole races of people and create a society with institutional racism that generates second-class citizens on the basis of their colour, religion or race? Isn’t that promoting hatred and division, depriving society of many skills and artificially creating a hierarchy that doesn’t exist?

We say Trump, Johnson and other populists using Twitter and other social media to spread lies, fake news and false information. They undermined experts and scientists for their own ends and in so doing spread misinformation and conspiracy that generated hatred, division and even death. It has resulted in thousands of deaths from covid, the storming of the seat of democracy, racial hatred, the spread of ridiculous conspiracy theories, a disillusionment with all politicians, an undermining of democracy, the spread of superstition, the undermining of science, the ridiculing of the media and the spread of propaganda on the internet.

Now there is no doubt in my mind that politicians need holding to account, that the media lies, that democracy is a sham and scientists can be bought by big business ….. but do we want to replace experts with snake-oil merchants? Replace science with superstition and propaganda? Replace democracy with fascism?

That is what is happening.

Then we have the right to think as we like. That seems reasonable. Do we have that right? No. Definitely not.

In Putin’s Russia the views of the bulk of the electorate are controlled by the state. The only information they have is what they are told. The same in China. But is it any different here? We have a media run by the establishment spewing out propaganda and polluting minds. It is so obvious with the likes of the Daily Mail, Sun and Daily Express but it’s the same with The Telegraph and Times and the rest are not much better. Even the BBC is far from impartial.

The establishment owns the media and while the propaganda is less draconian the effect is the same. That is why we have the political system we have. That is why a party that only really represents the top 5% gets elected. That is why the non-establishment parties have to become establishment parties in order to be elected. The media controls minds.

Those who chose to get their news from the internet are in an even worse situation. The right-wing have that sewn up. They pump out even more extreme propaganda under the guise of free speech and unbiased news. A lot of it is pure hate and put out to stir up division.

If you live in any society your mind is not your own. NOBODY is immune to the constant drip of propaganda. We are not as free in our heads as we might think we are. Even our cultural (and religious) upbringing is simply brainwashing. Our own families are probably the worst source of brain control.

Unless you’ve been brought up by wolves you have already been indoctrinated.

The Hell’s Angels seem, in one sense, to epitomise personal freedom. Their hedonistic lifestyle is the very essence of freedom. Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, freewheelin’, out on the highway doing what they like. Except when you scratch the surface and you find misogyny, racism, violence and intimidation. Their freedom comes at the expense of others. They remind me of the robber barons of long ago who would ride in, slaughter, rape and steal. They thought they were free too.

Freedom huh?

I think I might move on to not being enslaved or imprisoned.

Well you get imprisoned if you break the law. For the most part that is for serious stuff like killing, stealing, raping or violence. That seems reasonable. But I’ve known people harassed, fined and imprisoned for possessing marijuana. It’s these grey areas that seem to cause the most problems. What should be illegal and who should decide. In places like Russia you get locked up for opposing Putin, opposing the war or being against the state.

In Britain we supposedly allow protest (though they are trying to take that right away) and can call out our politicians as lying criminals. That is not against the law.

We do not have slavery – or do we?? We all know about the laws and also know that many people are still be held in slavery – girls brought over for the sex industry, the drug gangs holding people, illegal factories. Slavery takes many forms.

Isn’t work really a form of slavery? We have to work to live now that our natural way of life has been taken away. We sell our time and bodies. It’s all a question of degree. I certainly am not free when much of my life has been tied in to having to work. Someone else has been demanding I do as I am instructed for a good part of my working week.

We all want our freedom!! Getting it is something else!!

For me I am satisfied if I have the right to live how I want, wear what I want, practice whatever religion I want, believe what I want, vote for whatever political party I want, drink and eat what I want, read what I want, go where I want and say what I want.

I would like a few more liberties but I am aware that I have a pretty liberal existence. I don’t mind having laws to prevent people hurting others; I don’t mind having laws to stop me (or anyone else) from inciting hatred and violence; I’m glad we have laws to protect the weaker members of society and the environment.

For me freedom is about compromise. It is a question of getting the degree of compromise right.

Poetry – Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

The same thing

Time after time

Injustice and violence

‘Dominate the jerks’

Says Trump.

One rule for you

And one rule for me

Complete lack

Of empathy

From the chump.

Life is cheap

If you are black

In America.

Where’s the leadership?

Where’s the compassion?

Where’s the country’s Cazar?

Hiding away in his bunker

With the lights out

Tweeting threats!

Devoid of answers.

Devoid of humanity.

Displaying no regrets!!

Opher 1.6.2020

How long does it take for a people to gain justice?

How many years?

Civil rights is not a gift to bestow; it is a right.

Human beings are all one species.

It is time we started to judge people by their character and not their colour.

Long overdue!!

Poetry – Freedom is infectious

Freedom is infectious

Putin and his oligarchs are in control

They claim the right to direct us.

Same with Johnson, Trump and the elite

They claim to protect us.

But freedom is infectious.

Stand against the establishment machine

They claim that we are reckless.

They bleed us dry, laugh and sigh

Then kick us in the solar plexus.

But freedom is infectious.

Ukraine, Russia or the USA

The people’s spirit connect us

That elite is just the same

They never respect us

But freedom is infectious.

But freedom is infectious.

Freedom is infectious.

Opher – 7.3.2022

The real war is the one that has raged down the centuries – between the ones who are in control and the rest of us.

In primitive times it was the chief and shaman who held the power, had their pick of everything, lived in plenty and presided.

As ‘civilisation’ grew, kings, princes and robber barons, Bishops, Popes and Sheikh, lived in their palaces while the majority lived in hovels.

The powerful took from the poor until they had more than they could ever use. Ostentation lived beside poverty and death.

It still does.

The superyachts crowd the marinas while beggars starve in the streets.

That is the real war.

Whether it is the billionaire Trump, the greedy Tories or Putin and the oligarchs; they are all part of the same problem – gross inequality.

It’s time we ‘civilised’ people created a freer, more equal society – a global society without tribes and war.

Poetry – My Culture – a poem about the struggle for freedom and equality.

Poetry – My Culture – a poem about the struggle for freedom and equality.

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My Culture

The society we live in did not come about by chance; it was fought for every inch of the way by people with vision and aspiration. The peasants and serfs were kept in poverty but they were not stupid. The robber barons stole the land from under their feet and they were powerless. The wealthy businessmen stole their products through guile. The State enacted laws to protect the establishment and keep the poor in their place.

With the coming of the industrial revolution ordinary people were kept down. They were paid a pittance in order to keep the profits high. The bosses creamed off huge wealth while the workers slaved. The owners and aristocrats lived in mansions and palaces with servants while the producers of the wealth lived in poverty and working conditions that were scandalous.

Gradually the ordinary people fought for representation, fair reward for labour given and justice. Ever so gradually the work conditions improved and the wages rose. Each step on the way was met with bleating and violence. The establishment was loath to give up its luxury; they feared the result of suffrage for ordinary people. They believed we might change the laws to create fairness.

They give us as little as they think they can buy us off with. Only through the unions was a living wage grudgingly conceded. Their fear is revolution.

This society we live in is the result of struggle. The freedoms we have are tenuous. The establishment claw back all they can. The wealth still sticks with the elite. The trickle down is as meagre as required to keep us docile. Zero hours contracts, austerity, unemployment and pay freezes are deployed while the rich get richer. We are all in it together is a lie. Information is biased and distorted – the Daily Mail and the rest of the press, even the BBC are all part of an establishment. He who tells the story controls the minds. The media moguls have a vested interest.

Democracy is a fragile thing and bought with blood – lots of blood.


My Culture

This is my culture – the wisdom of my ways.

Suppression and oppression – the order of past days.

Freed into the sunlight – on a democratic wave.

Released from penury – and the status of a slave.

The blood of my forebears sinks heavy in this soil

They paid dear for a share of the profits from their toil.

They fought for their rights and freedoms against a selfish few

Who garnered all the wealth away and propped up many a pew.

This is my culture – the result of battles fought.

Standing up for rights – against a great onslaught.

Liberty and equality – to stand tall and not in fear.

Freedom from King and God – is a right that we hold dear.

From the wealthy, the bishops and the kings

We wrested back our freedoms, among a host of things.

They grudgingly relented to give the very least

And we seized the goods on offer from the Baron and the Priest.

This is now my culture – value it we must!

If once our eyes do stray away – they’ll fling it in the dust.

Rights and freedoms – are febrile in the light.

They’ll rip them away – they have the power and the might.

I give thanks to the Levellers, the Chartists and rebels all,

Without all their struggles we would not have a life at all.

The suffragettes and Wilberforce struck blows for equality.

They chipped away at oppression and left us democracy.

This is that culture – worthy of a fight!

Free of church and monarchy – valiant and bright!

A culture to be proud of in which I take delight.

Proud to be an Englishman and put the world to right!

Not as an exploiter, a victor or an owner with his fee

But as a friend, a fellow traveller, a champion of the free.

Together we could stand to create justice without tyranny

Take the best from all our cultures and live in harmony.

I offer the hand of friendship

But keep a wary eye.

Freedom is a very rare thing,

But seize it we must try!

Opher 18.8.2015

Poetry – Roaming free

Roaming free

Once we roamed free

Over plains and sea,

Using our wits

Our skills and our knowledge

To take what we needed

To hunt and to forage.

Now swamped by numbers,

Our cruelty and greed,

We create our own downfall

Through the folly of deeds.

Opher 24.6.2019

I still yearn after that life of a hunter gatherer. I know it was harsh, uncomfortable and dangerous. We tend to glamorise and gloss the hardships. It was dangerous. Few grew old. But it seems real to me.

I fear that we are swamping the world with our numbers and sowing the seeds of our own demise out of greed.

Changing the country for the better.

While the country prospers, only a small minority benefit. It was always thus. The wealthy control the system. Under the Tories it is worse than under Labour. Labour are the lesser of two evils.

How do we change it??

Proportional representation would be a step forward.

Enforcing a proper graduated, fair tax system would help.

Controlling the media so we get unbiased news is crucial.

Having a much higher basic living wage.

Having a national bank to promote innovation and entrepeneurism.

Overhauling the education system to get people to think.

Creating a fairer social with far less inequality.

Then there’s poverty, racism and the environment to factor in.

I do not believe it is beyond the wit of mankind to create a far superior model for society, one which eradicates poverty and racism, is fair and just, not belligerent, protects nature and allows individual freedom.

We just have to move away from this greed, elitism and media propaganda.

Poetry – We are all refugees

We are all refugees

We are all refugees,

Mutated chimpanzees,

Wandering afar

In search of better lands.

Exploring the earth in small bands.

Adventurous or fearful,

Curious or desperate,

Our reasons are disparate.

Tracking the herds

Through the seasons,

We all have our reasons.

Fleeing war or poverty

Desperate for a new start;

We appeal to you with all our heart.

We’ve left our homes

And all we own,

Our friends and family,

And throw ourselves on your mercy.

Once, maybe long ago, you were just like me –

A refugee.

Setting out on a fraught journey,

Seeking something better

For your family.

You settled here,

Worked hard and made it your home.

Now you want to be left alone.

But we have undertaken this flight

Out of necessity,

Seeking liberty and safety.

Look kindly on us and what we could be

For you were once just like me – a refugee.

Opher 22.6.2019

Nobody really owns the land. We are all passing though. We borrow it for a while.

None of us have a right to the land.

All of us, at some point in time, migrated out of Africa. Perhaps in search of better lives? Perhaps fleeing violence or starvation? Perhaps just curious and adventurous?

Long ago in the past we settled and set up home.

Now there are millions displaced by the ugliness of war or starvation, seeking escape, seeking a better life.

Do we drive them away? Do we ignore their desperation? Do we become tribal and harden our hearts? Do we address the causes of the problem – the climate changes, the wars, the poverty? Or do we lend a helping hand?

The Tension between Individual Freedom and Social Responsibility.

It is an interesting debate that goes to the heart of the division in the world. Weighing up the degree of personal freedom against the good of everyone and the planet.

I think there are some question we should think about.

Should a man have complete freedom? If he is inclined to kill and rape? If he is inclined to torture animals? If he is inclined to explode his own nuclear device wherever he wants? If he wants to drive the wrong way on the motorway against the flow of traffic? If he wants to beat his wife? If he wants to forcibly indoctrinate his children? If he wants to shoot endangered wild animals? If he wants to dump huge amounts of toxic waste in the river? If he wants to refuse to wear a mask in the supermarket? If he wants to play his music at full volume at 3.00 am? If he wants to impose his religion on others against their will? If he wants to discriminate against people because of their colour? If he wants to call people of colour or women by derogatory names? If he wants to verbally abuse people? If he likes punching people? If he likes to wear his hair long, or short, or colour it? If he wants tattoos all over his face? If he refuses to wear a suit? If he wants to take money or goods off people at gunpoint? If he wants to drive at 120 MPH down Mainstreet? If he doesn’t want to work but expects to be supported? If he wants to wear brown shoes instead of black? If he wants to use any drugs of his choice? If he wants completely uncensored literature? If he thinks sex is OK in the supermarket? If he thinks that pornography is OK to look at on public transport? If he thinks abortions should be banned and imposes that view? If……. if……. if……….

Does he have a right to do what he wants?

Does he have a responsibility to fit in with society?

I think this is what it at the heart of Trumpists and Democrats, of Brexiteers and Remainers.