Core Values – Number 2 – Fairness

I believe in fairness. I’m not sure if that come from my upbringing or is something intrinsic to my character. One thing I am certain of is that it does not stem from any religious belief. I have no religious belief.

My trust in fairness leads me to all manner of social and political views.

I think the gross inequality created by capitalism, feudalism, monarchies, despots, global elites and all other systems created by human beings – stinks.

Politically this could lead me to communism. But I stop short of that. I do like the idea of equality but it seems to me that communism tends to create tyrannical control which impinges on my freedoms. So it leads me to Social Democracy. I think all people should be treated fairly and rewarded according to their effort and worth – but not over-rewarded. I think we should take care of the weakest in our society.

Fairness leads me to despise all forms of racism and misogyny, homophobia or discrimination.

Fairness leads me to recognising the value of all life and not treating animals with cruelty or thoughtlessness. They too, wild or domestic, should be treated fairly.

The drive to treat all people and animals fairly drives my life. It’s inherent in everything I do.

Poetry – So they tell me

So they tell me

They tell me that I have a place,

It’s set out just for me.

But I do not like the place I’m set,

I do not want to walk that path,

To talk that speech,

Or strain my brain to forget.

Around me they have created rules

Set parameters

To control us fools,

And we are expected to play the game

Within the bounds

That keep it the same.

The real players are the Kings and Queens,

Robbers and callous thugs.

We as pawns are merely

Tiresome bugs.

They use us like they use

A bothersome, worthless tool.

We exist as a means to an end

Worth no more than a shrug

Or nothing at all.

Within this game we have to make the grade

Cut off from the natural way,

As a cog within the machine

I turn to create wealth

And take my pay.

I’m bought and sold

Used and discarded

Bled dry, controlled

And disregarded.

There’s no way out.

We’re in the game,

Caught in the web.

The more we struggle

The tighter the knots –

One more trapped pleb.

It is self-perpetuating

Designed to build our own cage.

Any rebellion causes mirth

As they incorporate our rage.

Opher 2.9.2015

Poetry – Equality

Equality

Something’s gotta change.

This racial divide is despicable.

This use of violence intolerable.

This inequality reprehensible.

This has gone on

For far too long.

People need to act.

That’s a fact!

The level of racism in the country is incredible.

Indefensible.

Incomprehensible!

Opher – 20.11.2020

The Black Lives Matter campaign should not be happening.

Not in 2020.

The fact that racism is still so prevalent is a sign of a sick society.

America is the richest country on the planet – and the most unequal!

Something has got to change.

It starts with education.

Freedom.

For me, freedom is not the right to bear arms and do what you like. It is about living responsibly within a society without violence, hatred or division. Within that society, I want to be free to do what I want without repression, oppression or restriction providing I do not do harm to others, incite hatred or violence, or infringe on other peoples’ rights. That is a compromise.

Freedom to me is having a good standard of life without having to work too hard or in dangerous conditions.

Freedom is about living in an environment that is pleasant, congenial and has respect for nature.

Freedom is about not having to worry about healthcare, injustice, discrimination, exploitation or violence.

Freedom is about having choice.

I feel extremely fortunate to live in a country with a great deal of freedom.

I think we take it for granted.

I live in the UK.

I am free to travel inside my country or abroad.

I can follow or criticise any religion I want.

I can vote for any political party.

I can follow and criticise any political party without fear of retribution.

I live in a country that at least aspires to provide equality to all races, religions and genders (even if there is still inherent racism, sexism and prejudice).

I have access to free education and healthcare.

I have a pension.

I have a welfare system as a safety-net should I need it.

In the workplace, there are rights – minimum pay,  safe working conditions, maximum hours, holiday pay, employer contributions to pension and health.

We do not have a brutal armed police regime.

We have clear restrictions on detainment and the conditions we experience when detained.

We have a justice system.

We are not terrorised by crime. Our criminals are rarely armed. Our society is not riddled with guns.

There are environmental laws to prevent the environment from being destroyed and my food, air, soil and water being polluted.

I am free to protest and complain.

 

If I compare this to other countries, even Western democracies like the USA, I feel extremely fortunate. Many countries have tyrannical governments, theocracies where other religions or atheism are persecuted, discrimination against homosexuals, women or racial minorities, gagging of protest, heavy police states with armed police and no adequate justice systems. There are places where workers are exploited to the point of being slaves and the environment is trashed for profit, where the air, water and soil are so heavily contaminated as to be a health hazard.

Our rights and freedoms have been long fought-for over many centuries. This is not the result of benevolence from our rulers and bosses. They gave every shred of freedom grudgingly and are always looking to claw it back.

We see in the States the environmental laws being dismantled and workers’ rights being reduced – to maximise profits and stimulate the economy (ie. to put more money in the pockets of the wealthy).

We see the same thing in the UK with Brexit where environmental laws and workers’ rights are up for grabs.

History shows that we have to be vigilant.

I am glad I am living in a free country. It is by no means perfect. There are many battles ahead to maintain our rights and freedoms and to improve upon them.

But, every now and again, perhaps we should stand back and think how lucky we are to live in a country with such freedom and how grateful we should be for the people who fought (and gave their lives) for us to enjoy these freedoms.

The onus is on us now to build upon them.

 

Freedom to not wear a face mask

Matt sent this through to me in a tweet. Unfortunately, it was in a form I couldn’t copy so I retyped it.

Thank you to whoever wrote it. Very salutary!

Freedom to not wear a face mask

Welcome to the Freedom Café!

We trust you to make your own choices if you want to wear a face mask. And, in the same spirit of individual liberty, we allow our staff to make their own choices about the safety procedures they prefer to follow as they prepare and serve your food.

We encourage employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom, but understand that some people might be allergic to soaps or may prefer simply not to wash their hands. It is not our place to tell them what to do.

We understand that you may be used to chicken that has been cooked to 165 degrees. We do have to respect that some of our cooks may have seen a meme or a YouTube video saying that 100 degrees is fine and we do not want to encroach on their beliefs.

Some servers may wish to touch your food as they serve it. There is no reason why a healthy person with clean hands can’t touch your food. We will take their word for it that they are all healthy and clean.

Water temperatures and detergent are highly personal choices, and we allow our dishwashing team to decide how they prefer to wash the silverware you will put in your mouth.

Some of you may get sick, but almost everyone survives food poisoning. We think you’ll agree that it’s a small price to pay for the sweet freedom of no one ever being told what to do – and especially not for the silly reason of keeping strangers healthy.

Freedom – a discussion

Freedom.

 

‘One person’s freedom is another person’s tyranny’ – I said that.

 

Freedom is something that I’ve thought about a lot. Nobody values their freedom more than me. But when does freedom become licence?

What is obvious the minute you start to think about freedom is that it is all a compromise. Nobody, not even the frontiersman living in the wilderness, is completely free.

Freedom is dependent on context. You don’t sit on a bus and belch and fart – or at least you shouldn’t.

As a youth I used to idealise the life of hunter/gatherer societies living, what I saw as a more natural existence, in tribes, in tune with nature. I recognised that it was a hard and dangerous life; a short life too, but it had that sense of freedom that I craved.

But I bet if I went and lived in one of those societies I would find my ‘freedom’ just as limited. I think that the religious/spiritual beliefs, the hierarchy of the society, the cultural taboos, the personal relationships, the hardships and dangers; they would all have put strictures on a person’s freedom.

As soon as you live with other people you have to take them into account; you compromise.

‘Freedom is a word I rarely use without thinking of the times when I’ve been loved’ to paraphrase Donovan.

Even living on one’s own has its compromises. One has to eat, to be safe, to keep warm and sheltered. There are constraints.

Freedom is never absolute. We all have to live by rules that are, hopefully, designed for the good of all – whether that is driving on the right side of the road or not attacking other people. Without rules and regulations that restrict people the world is unsafe, people are abused and exploited, and the environment is wrecked.

So – what we argue about when we talk of freedom is the point where the rules become too petty and restricting, is it not?

So what are the freedoms that I value?

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of belief
  • Freedom of political views
  • Freedom of movement
  • Freedom of appearance
  • Freedom from abuse or exploitation
  • Freedom to be treated fairly by those in power
  • Freedom to enjoy myself

 

There are caveats to these freedoms that I accept. For instance I would accept that neither I, nor anybody else, have the right to incite violence or hatred through my free speech. I accept that inciting racism, misogyny or bullying others is wrong. I do not believe that I, or anybody else, have the right to brainwash children. I do not believe that any of us has the right to inflict pain or anguish on other people or creatures. I accept that I should not do anything that damages the environment.

Other rules I might argue over – the drug laws for instance or whether burqas should be allowed.

So I am prepared to accept limits on my freedoms as long as those limitations have a good reason.

Particularly in America I hear people talking about their freedoms – the right to bear arms, the right to prevent other people having abortions, the right to home educate, the right to indoctrinate their children and the right to stop sex education.

What I don’t hear is the effect of exercising these ‘rights’ on the freedoms of others.

I hear about opposition to ‘Big Government’ and that communities should decide. Yet I see the mass killings, environmental destruction, gross inequality, exploitation, racism, violence, sexism and do not hear of pragmatic solutions to these problems.

The main problem I see is that everybody thinks they are right, what they believe is true. For example they are content to exercise their right to hunt and kill and assume that what they see as vermin is the same as what others see as vermin, and that their views of their freedoms are universally agreed. Couple that with a belief that their own government is the enemy and all experts lie because they are in the pay of either government or big business, and I think we have a society that is in deep trouble.

A society exists upon acceptance of agreed rules. These rules compromise one’s freedom but are necessary for a variety of reasons.

Have we got the balance right? There’s the debate.

When does freedom become licence? When do rules become petty restrictions of rights? Do we allow the bullies, the powerful and wealthy to do what they like and run roughshod over everyone else?

One person’s freedom is another person’s tyranny.

Freedom – What does it mean?

I hear so many people talking about freedom. We value it so much. But can anybody ever really be free?

I suppose if you live completely on your own in the middle of a wilderness you can be free. There are no laws to affect you or compromises with people.

It always seem to me that a lot of Americans still have that frontiers mentality and think they are living in the Wild West. But we aren’t. We’re living in civilisation. Here in Europe, where things have been established a lot longer, we’ve rubbed a lot of the edges off. Things are a lot calmer and more stable. We know that freedom is limited. When you live in a society with other people you have to obey laws, make compromises and learn to be civil. Those that don’t are locked up, ostracised, punished or made to suffer.

You see nobody is free in a society. Freedom is relative.

What we have to ensure is that the compromises are good ones, that the laws are fair ones and that they work to create a society which doesn’t restrict people too much or introduce injustices.

If everybody was completely free to do as they want the roads would be undrivable, nobody would have any possessions, our homes would have to be fortresses, and the streets would be a riot of rape and murder. The bully boys would rule and nobody else would have any freedom whatsoever. Cities would be impossible.

Living in a Mad Max dystopia would not be fun for many.

As soon as people formed families and tribes they were forced to create a working relationship that functioned around restricting certain behaviours and that limited freedom. No chimp or gorilla is free to do as they want. They have to fit in with the social setting. If they don’t they are banished.

Being in love is probably the greatest impingement of one’s freedom. It is when an individual realises that someone else is more important than oneself. One is usually happy to give up their freedom. Such is the power of endorphins.

So freedom – an illusion.

Even in that wilderness is that person completely free? Aren’t they subject to a whole range of restrictions, worries, concerns, desires, wishes and dreams that could be considered a limitation of freedom?

Women’s rights! There’s a battle to be fought!

 

Women’s Rights

 

How long does it take to gain real equality?

Women have been treated badly in many cultures throughout the world and still are. In all Abrahamic religions women are treated as second-class citizens. In the UK they weren’t allowed to own property until 1870! Women were seen as the property of men. They had no rights.

Looking around the world one can see many instances of misogyny and repression of women. They are sometimes not allowed out of the home without a man. They are forced to wear burqas and hijabs. They are not allowed to drive. They are not allowed to work or own anything. They are segregated from men. Some are not able to access contraception or use it.

Equality looks a long way off.

In the UK the suffragettes started up in 1867 to fight for the right to vote. It wasn’t until they became violent that they finally achieved the vote in 1928. It wasn’t until 1956 that women teachers and civil servants gained equal pay with men. In 1968 women had to go on strike in the Ford Car factory in Dagenham to gain equal pay.

As late as 1970 women had to have a male guarantor in order to get a mortgage.

There is such a lot to fight for. Even in the West we are far from a situation of equality. That will only occur when half of parliament, business managers and those in top jobs are female.

In 2018 the DUP are stopping women of Northern Ireland from having the right to abortions.

No matter what legislation is brought in until we sort out a proper system of child care I do not think women will ever achieve true equality.

Until we have universal human rights and women are afforded equality in all areas there is a battle. It is a battle worth fighting!

Open Bridges – Hull Year of Culture – Another Triumph!! – Photos

 

You only appreciate freedom when you are deprived of it!!  That was the philosophy of the event. Or as Joni Mitchell might say – ‘You don’t know what you’ve got til its gone.’

Hull is unique.

We all know that. It is unique in a number of ways but Bridges was a way of demonstrating one of its unique characteristics. The city is divided in two by the river Hull. That is not unusual. Many cities are divided in two. What makes Hull unique is that there are thirteen bridges crossing that river and none of them are fixed. They can all be opened.

Rich and Lou Howard-Duffy had the idea of dividing the city by opening all of its thirteen bridges – separating it and depriving Hull of its freedom – and then bringing it back together.

It was a symbolic of the way the people of Hull have fought for freedom and unity down the years from Wilberforce’s work to abolish slavery right up to the present day.

At seventeen minutes past eight o clock – the symbolic 20.17 – the bridges were opened and Hull was divided. Then it was rejoined and its freedom restored.

To celebrate 18th century schooner HMS Pickle set off rocket flares in front of the majestic architecture of the Deep and tugs gave a salute of huge plumes of water.

Congratulations to Rich and Lou Duffy-Howard for pulling off such an audacious event!!

We’re all free once more!!  We need to cherish and protect those freedoms. They were hard fought for.

A rocket flare goes off over the Deep.

To find out more of this fabulous project go to Open Bridges Hull and see some of Rich Duffy-Howard’s brilliant photos and read all about it.

Introducing Open Bridges