Eye Opening “Citizenfour”

So tomorrow I start my new job, fingers crossed I’ll never have to work a weekend again (apart from if I manage to get back into the Army Reserves; but I want to do that, its not really work).  I decided that I would treat myself, and be a teenager again, stay up late and catch up on TV.  Working in retail, late nights are a not really an option.  4am wake ups are common place, especially when the masses need their coffee.  However now I have a new job, I thought I’d treat myself to Match of the Day, and to finally watch “Citizenfour”.

Wow, what an eye opener.  Last night my entire opinion of Edward Snowden was changed by Laura Poitras, massively hard hitting documentary.  As I put it on, I was generally disinterested, expecting it to be another “Talk to the viewer” documentary, where its just facts and figures thrown at you by someone who has no great understanding of how things work.  This was an outstanding documentary, one where you followed the path that Laura walked along, from prior to her actually receiving the original e-mail from Citizenfour, through to him ending up on Moscow.  I watched how the NSA attempted to tell four judges it was okay for them to ignore constitution and law.  As the documentary progressed, I was, honestly, on the edge of my seat, hooked.  I watched Edwards journey from US citizen, to lost soul in an airport and I felt his pain.

Now, for those of you that no me, I am not usually an emotional soul, but this film really hit home.  I was shocked that the NSA, and GCHQ, are using such tactics, and actively. Now I’m not am American, sometimes I wish I was, but watching this I am damn glad I live on this side of the pond.  Well, I was until I learned of “Tempora”, and how the evidence released in the documentary point to that we’re tapped often, frequently and this meta-data is collected.  As was stated, how can people educate themselves, when they live in fear of being spotted looking at something they shouldn’t.  It pushes them underground, it criminalises them in the eyes of said governments.  Don’t get me started on that stupid “1918 Espionage Act”, what hell is wrong with American law?

“Hey, we are charging you with breaking the 1918 Espionage Act.”, “Well alls I did was tell the truth.”, “Yeah, by the way, any defence, is no defence.  So your guity, that is the only outcome.”

What.  The.  ?!?!  On how many levels of wrong is that?  You’ll happily debate about random unimportant issues, like computer game certificates, yet sensible changes on the law, nope.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for you Independents across the ocean.  We’ve been together since, well, hundred & odd years ago, and I can’t see that relationship souring.  However considering you are all meant to be the shining example of civil liberty, I cannot see that after watching “Citizenfour”.  You are the opposite.  If the NSA aren’t reigned in, if they aren’t stopped and the people who allowed it happen brought to justice, you are one step from creating Big Brother.  How long until peoples doors are being kicked in because they searched the word “Jihad”, under the patriot act and arrested indefinitely.  The fact you have charged a US citizen with something he is automatically guilty of, because he told THE TRUTH.  He showed your nation, he showed the world, they you have lied to everyone who trusted in you, and what do you do?  You commit the one single act that screams against every single, civil liberty that you threw the shackles of colonialism off for; Freedom.  You have ruined a man’s life, because he told the truth, because you didn’t like it.

Well, Obama may be President, but he could have pardoned Snowden, as he revealed the issue within the NSA.  Instead he has allowed this charade to continue, and has even supported the legal side of the affair against Snowden.  Any person with an ounce of intelligence knows he’ll be put in jail, or worse, put in jail and disappear.  America has egg on its face, they know it, the world knows it, why can’t the US just do the one thing it never has; Put its hands up and say “Yeah, we messed up.”.

I hope that Snowden eventually gets to where he wants to get too, somewhere he can call home, that isn’t another oppressive, insecure state.  If you haven’t already watched “Citizenfour”, watch it.  Don’t hesitate, don’t wait, just go and sit down now and let your mind do the rest.  This isn’t some Zeitgeist BS that I’m asking you to watch, its a documentary.  Something that happened, see how it impacts you, them, Snowden, Poitras, Greenwald and the US.


Time for some gaming me thinks.


Sharing a memory for Stan

Wow.  So much wow, obviously I never realised that what I wrote could reach so many people, but here I am, still writing.  Obviously what I wrote touched a lot of hearts, or at least sensibilities regarding the subject of the Falklands.  My father did three tours of Northern Ireland as well, but Stan Collymore hasn’t managed to duck out of my sights just yet.  I want to increase the weight of the case against the man whose moral obligation is way below his own personal intelligence, and that isn’t as high as he first thought.  In ten days I mourn (or celebrate depending on how you do it yourselves) the loss of four men that went to the Falklands and never returned.  Like most people, especially between May and June, those feelings rise to the surface as memories are brought back to the fore.  Having had the absolute honour of meeting some of those men I want to touch on the survivors; those who live the daily horrors of war.

I remember, at some point during 2007, during the Falklands 25 celebrations I was invited to come to a presentation on the Falklands at the Imperial War Museum North.  It was a perfect chance for me to meet some of these blokes who my Dad always went on about, those heroes who fought at Goose Green, Tumbledown, Harriet, Two Sisters, Wireless Ridge & Longdon.  My father rarely spoke about anything that happened at the Falklands, he always left the room on Remembrance Sunday, always spoke about the fun times.  He often preferred to tell me the stories of his time in NI, which wasn’t a nice place to serve at all by anyone’s standard.  So I came a long a felt like a bit of an outsider, but as I have come to expect, Falklands Veterans are a hugely welcoming bunch and soon I was talking Soldier to Soldier with most of them.  At the time I had just left the Signals (V) myself, same trade as my old man, Radio Relay.  After a couple of presentations, it was spread across a week, it came to Rick Jolly’s presentation.  It was a moving presentation & speech that left every person in that room with wet eyes.  Afterwards, as I have come to recognise as the drinking of the sorrows, I went for a few beers with my old man, some gents from 2 & 3 Para, 42 Commando (Sorry if that’s wrong) and Julian Thompson (just thought I’d name drop).  Later once the beers had flowed I was told a moving story from a paratrooper (I don’t want to cause offence; so I won’t divulge) and it broke my heart.  Listening to this man tell me what he saw, went through and had to deal with on a daily basis must be torture.  Suddenly it dawned on me, War creates humanity on a level unseen.  You realise how weak the body is and how easy the soul is broken and these men saw the worse of it and look at them!  Classic, perfect examples of men that you have ever seen.  They would do anything for each other.  Again, just after Rick Jolly delivered his tear jerking speech, a Marine stood walked over, shook his hand, thanking him and left.  He was there just to thank this man who, twenty five years earlier, had saved his life.

Now I want to look at those people, those boys (many between 18-22 years old) turned into men.  Who afterwards, through a destruction of their internal methods of thinking and dealing with problems, turned into fine examples of humanity.  Yet behind closed doors, many struggle and fight a daily loosing battle.  PTSD is rife amongst those men, my father was a proud man, but he had his own inner demons that he fought on a daily basis.  Look at what they have as well, they either still work, dealing with the problems that arise as and when they can, or they struggle on a small military pension (or huge depending how long you served and suffered for).  The British army made these men what they are; a perfect example.  Where are you going with this Len, I hear you cry, well bare with me and you’ll understand.  In 2007 my father, struggling with cancer was granted a gift by the SAMA82 organisation to return to the Falklands and it meant so much to him.  He managed to visit the final resting place where his four friends passed away, he always wanted to say a proper goodbye and despite suffering from Cancer at the time, he climbed up Mount Pleasant and said his goodbyes.  Pride, I cannot begin to describe what I felt.  In 2009 when he passed away from the cancer he suffered from, he was given a military send off from his SAMA82 colleges and I was so happy they helped me say goodbye. 

Now, considering what my father went through to battle his own demons, his were small, few, but troublesome.  The boys that fought through those jagged rocks, across barren green expanses, through terrorising night attacks, they still live with that to this day.  They get nothing in return, apart from the brotherhood with whom they served.  They have a war pension to look forward too, but in today’s financial climate, it isn’t much.  Yet as long as TalkSport, MOTD and any other sports shows offer to finance and pay Stan Collymore to work for them and share his offensive views, you are spitting in the face of all those Veterans that fought in the Falklands War.  Your also accepting the mockery that Stan Collymore makes of the peace process, and the losses caused through the actions in Northern Ireland.  Not only Soldiers perished in the Northern Irish conflict, civilians died as well, and I call on TalkSport & the BBC to ensure that Stan Collymore is fired from his roles, so he cannot and will not continue to make offensive, irrespective and degrading remarks for those who have thought for the flag he wears on his shirt.

Many will think this as an over-reaction, something to which he doesn’t deserve to lose his job.  Remember that when Stan is being offensive about the British army in one conflict, he’s making a mockery of the British army.  Many of these soldiers who served in Northern Ireland, and the Falklands, some served through Korea, the Cold War, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He’s using his ability, presence and popularity to make it acceptable for him to say such things, hoping that money and prestige will protect him.  If anyone above him, next to him or in control of him has any morality or intelligence about himself, they will cut him loose.  I call upon the BBC & TalkSport to cut him loose of his contract and allow him to wallow in his own pit of despair.  Let him walk a mile in the daily shoes of those soldiers who suffer, let him see what he feels to be made a mockery of for entertainment.  He will not be laughing anymore.

Opinions that don’t matter

So as many of you know, but some don’t, my father served with a large group of heroes to go down south in 1982 and liberate the Falkland Isles from an invading force of Argentines.  We went to an island eight thousand miles south of us, that was inhabited by nationals of the United Kingdom and liberated them against foreign invasion.  It was something that no one in the world at that time thought we could accomplish, especially considering the cuts and pressure from the Soviet Bloc during the cold war.  Outnumbered, outgunned and logistically stretched the British Navy, Air Force and Army managed to wrest control of the Island’s from a nation whose ports and airfields where a stones throw away.  It was a miracle forged through blood, sweat and tears.  It changed how the world worked in a political sense, people didn’t want to mess with a nation that would do such a thing and it also proved that the United Kingdom would, and still will to this day, protect its sovereign territory.  Hundreds died and thousands still bare the scar’s of war to this day, some physical, some mental and some both.  I was lucky to have my father back after the conflict, many wives, sons, daughters and families didn’t see their son’s return home.  It was a short, brutal war that united a people under one flag.

Enter an eleven year old boy, who has hopes of becoming a football star one day.  I have no idea who his father was, but judging by his comments regarding Sir Alex Ferguson about being a father figure, he obviously didn’t have a father like I had.  Stan Collymore has opened his hole once again and started talking about issues he has no connection too or full understanding of.  So I have here to give Stan Collymore a brief history lesson of the Falkland Isle’s so rather than offend the group of people who had suffered because of the conflict, he can educate himself and learn that his scything statements mean nothing, just like his punting.

The Falkland Islands was first, according to written record, founded by a English Captain named John Strong.  Upon finding said UNINHABITED (This means no one lived their Stan) island he left it.  So firstly, de facto, the island was founded by the British in 1690, however the French, ever to annoy us, decided to settle it in 1764 and it changed hands, a lot, until finally, we settled it proper and it became a colony of the United Kingdom in 1840.  Not a single, solitary, individual Argentine set foot, as an attempted native inhabitant (against Crown will), until 1982.  Yes Argentine fishermen often frequented the ports of the Falklands, but it has, since 1840 (Which, just in case your maths isn’t up to fact; One Hundred and seventy four [174]) been a British Colony.  Recently, in order to prove that its inhabitants wanted to be British, the Falklands had a referendum poll where out of a total of 1,650 people, 1,513 voted to REMAIN British, 3 voted to NOT BE British and the rest didn’t vote.  That’s a 99.8% to remain as part of the Commonwealth, and if that isn’t your smoking gun I have no idea what is.

Now, before I digress into the history of a disputed part of land eight thousand miles away, I need to point something out.  When you played for England, you did nothing, lets be honest.  You failed to not only score, but at most you played 270 minutes of unimpressive football, pretty much sums up your entire career within the footballing realm.  Every single person that sailed to the South Atlantic to fight against the Argentines, to protect the civilians that had chosen to make a life their from an aggressor that has an appalling civil human rights record, worked (at least) for a total of 116,496 minutes.  That means, in comparison, that each soldier played a total of 431 games for England and did a damn sight more than you ever could.  Your 428 caps short of being close to anyone who sailed down South that year and fought for the flag that you so proudly stand behind.  I’d love to see you do a day in the shoes of any of them men and call it easy.  You are nothing but a bad footballer, that punched his girlfriend in France and then threatened his ex-wife and her parents.  You are a pathetic excuse for a human being, and you stir up the feelings of every single person who has not only been touched by the Falklands Conflict, but also by the Conflict in Northern Ireland.  People want to forget the past, but they want to respect the fallen as well.  You do neither, attempting to make yourself more popular by offending anyone and everyone in the process.

What I would advise, Stan, is that you stick to what your good at: Being a bad football pundit and beating up women.  Considering you need a job I would advise steering clear of offending veterans as, often, they are in positions of power higher than you could ever dream.  You might have kicked a ball around a pitch before, but you weren’t good at that either, so why not climb back into the pundit hole you came from, keep silent and let the world carry on without your venomous presence.  If my father was here to write this himself, I would assure you, it would reach places that would embarrass you.  Sadly he isn’t here anymore, so as his son I will stand up and say it instead.

Personal Update

So since I have started blogging I have had loads of views and followers, which is a good thing, but I don’t blog for that reason.  I find that when I write, it just pours out and blogging helps me keep up my word count and encourage me to continue writing.  I, usually, write about controversial subjects with a passion that some take time to get too.  I carry with me baggage, like any person, some of that is belief based, but the majority is personal.  Often I will write about something I feel passionately about like religion or politics, sometimes I will jump onto the bandwagon and target something that everyone is barking on about, because when I write, I write with passion.  I have been told, and read, by several people and in several places, that anyone can write.  Anyone can write a book. anyone can write a script, article, poem, short.  Its not something that requires skill, as people write every single day.  Its the content, passion and dedication that separates a writer from a blogger, or one time competition entrant.  Someone within a group I am a member of has managed to get herself published, professionally, which is a fantastic achievement and one that requires dedication.

Then I turn to my own writing, I turn to the writing I dedicate myself too and I get a sense of dread based failure.  Like I am looking into a deep chasm of commitment that I cannot step into, the fear of hurting myself when I do is too great.  The bridge across the chasm is much more tempting, the bridge of giving up, of going back to that life of playing games, working five days a week and, really, not having a great sense of accomplishment at the end of it all.  Now the life I lead outside of work I can accomplish so much, house, wife, child, happiness leads from these things on a selfish level.  I made a child, I worked for my house, I managed to meet someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.  These things some people don’t desire, and they have their own self accomplishments, but these are things I want.  Sadly those things are quite easy to achieve through being a nice, caring, hardworking person.  My work based achievements are harder to reach, I dedicated myself to a corporation for nine years before I was spat back out again with not much to show for it, now I am back with the same company, just a different umbrella and its hard work, again.  I hope that in a few years time I would have climbed up to, at least, the next level and I will have accomplished something from the company.

Personally, I have a very low self esteem at the moment, almost none existent.  I don’t feel like I am accomplishing anything at all.  This is the point of todays blog.  I write, sometimes, too much about subjects that have zero impact on my life.  Nine times out if ten I, honestly, don’t say what I say in order to change anyone’s point of view.  Likewise I care little about the comments made, as they won’t change my mind.  Life is grinding me down, I honestly feel low, but not in a depressed dangerous kind of way.  I am just disappointed within myself.  Its human nature to seek approval of others within society, so often the choices we make and the things we say are all done to seek approval of our peers.  Irrelevant of what some might say, its the reason we do things and the reason we commit on a level we do regarding certain subjects.  Luckily through my own ignorant, selfish nature, I honestly don’t do anything to see approval, I couldn’t care less about seeking anything from anybody.  I have no real close friends anymore, my peers are all too far away (work wise) and the girl I love knows where she and I stand with each other.  I think, what I am missing, is someone who just backs me up.  I am missing a friend that I can spend time with, be with and just talk to on a level where he won’t be a huge moron about the subject matter I am talking to him about, but debate with me the finer points of the subject.  I am not looking for a yes man, I see too many of my friends who have too many yes people around them and I, honestly, feel sorry for them.  I am looking for someone who, at the end of a debate will smile, and go for a cup of coffee with me.  No anger, no snide comments, no continuation of attempting to prove a point that was made time and time again, in order to sway me.  Just a simple smile, and change the conversation to the psychology of cats.

I can see that, on a deeper level, that person was my father.  I could talk to him about anything and he would debate with me, make me see the finer points and then show me a video of a cat falling over.  Why?  That is what a good friend does, essentially we all go through life accepting that these friends are great, but some only surround themselves with yes men, people who agree with them for the sake of having friends in lots of places. 

I am struggling with life at the moment, that chasm won’t disappear, nor will I avoid it.  I stand at the bridge deciding whether or not to jump into the chasm and see what happens, or just cross the bridge.  What I feel though is that I am being pushed across the bridge, even though I have not yet decided.  I have already dove into one chasm, the religious chasm, and I know that its a difficult path to follow, but I am walking it.  I would just like someone to stop me and support me with what I want to do and, at the moment, I feel like I am alone in the crowd.  The crowd is surging towards the bridge of simplicity, the easy life on the other side, where people just work, breath and sleep.  I would love to jump into the chasm of writing, but I need support, emotionally and physically to do the writing course I want to do.

Although vanity and self gratification aren’t the best principles for someone to follow, I just want to write a book, publish it and have my name printed on the cover.  It will prove that I can do it, and it is something I have a deep passion for.  The passion I have when I write can get so deep I forget time exists, and I slip away onto a stream of subconscious thought that spills out onto the keyboard.  Later when I look back I can see bits I’ve missed as my fingers move at such a rate, I forget to type whole words.  I love writing, but I cannot afford to do it full time, yet.  Yet is a world used when someone really wants something, and is working towards it, but your not quite there.

Here’s to hoping that, sometime in the future, I can be the writer I want to be.
Take care everyone.

Religion in Politics, rant & Writing Update

Owen Jones reaction to David Cameron’s statement about how religion has a role on moral ethics was perfect.  I’ve only ever glanced in the direction of Owen Jones in passing, never really paying attention to what he has had to say, but recently, especially with him taking a huge step against Cameron, he has stepped more into the spotlight of the political scene.  I have his book “Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class” sat next to me, waiting to be read behind “Confessions” and “The Return of the Prodigal Son”.  Jones points out that Religion and the State need to be kept separate, and I whole heartedly agree, when you mix politics and religion together in a pot nothing but negativity comes from it.  Cameron though, sadly, is correct and religion can lead to be a positive role-model for people.  Surely though, I hear you cry, those morals can be given without religion.  Yes, yes they can, but its just something you have to indoctrinate your children from a young age, something which religion can step in and do so much easier for you.  Yet Cameron is stating that a country, which is multi-diverse with its religious state than it ever has, can be a “Christian” nation where morals are given to our younger generations.

Now the issue with this is, he is using religion as a tool, not as a moral guide.  If he, himself, had used the religion he so fully believes in, the bedroom tax wouldn’t have come into effect.  So we can also scrap the reduction in benefits, the spreading of wealth amongst those who need it most and the support network improved for the poorest of people within the United Kingdom.  Yet Cameron has done the opposite and has used the religious card as another political, long term tool, to attempt to gain votes that he has lost.  Targeting the very
moral tool that so many good children have been brought up on in this country, Anglican or Catholic, Christians are in it all together.  Christianity embodies the very essence of being in something together, completely, in fact most religions do also follow this very moral code.  An example of this the rich sitting next to the poor within church, not in a separate VIP section, not in a better furnished section, but the exact same section as someone who comes from a poorer background than themselves.  A good religious person, who follows a moral code or book to which their own, independent religion publishes, knows that within that book are some basic rules.  Treat people as you expect to be treated, humanity is first and foremost, don’t kill, don’t cause suffering. 

Sadly David Cameron hasn’t done any of the above, so considering that he has released a statement saying we all need to be more “Christian” about our lives, your the furthest from that David.  You treat people like they are the lowest of the low, forcing people to go to food banks, Christian run food banks, that you criticise with one hand and yet claim we all need to be more Christian with the other.  Humanity comes after profit, considering that is what the definition of Austerity really is, the reduction of budgets (the benefits being the hardest his) or increasing of taxes, neither of which affect you or your constituents.  Your forced policy on change within the benefit and welfare system has caused more deaths than you care to admit, especially the farcical ATOS episode, which I am sure you will put down as a “Mistake that we will all learn from”.  And finally suffering, how many people have suffered under the Conservative government David?  Too many, and yet the minority are protected thanks to your constituents being within that minority.  You are, possibly, the worst Christian that we can look for as an example of Christian living.

I am, as my followers know, coming back to my Catholic roots and it feels good.  Its nice to know that I have people can I be myself around and not feel as if I need to change who I am.  I am walking my own journey through life and its a tough road, I am suffering from stress caused by my life catching up with me and, through my own fault, myself not taking control.  I do, however, follow the Christian principles laid out by the Bible and what is read to me at church.  I don’t follow my faith blindly, I ask questions, I question my faith on a regular basis and I converse with people far more knowledgeable than myself regarding issues of faith.  I am embracing Theological discussions with people who are open minded, not from the Neo-Atheist department of thinking, as if I wanted an open mind to be berated by a close minded fool, I would join a Facebook group that told me what to think regarding religion (such as a Neo-Atheist group). 

The ironic thing about Neo-Atheism is this; They claim that religious people are closed minded fools who are told what to believe, yet happily share facts and are spoon-fed by the admins of these groups, information that is often false.  Catholics don’t let people die and pray for healing, they go to a Doctor, or hospital.  Afterwards they thank the Doctor and hospital for the help provided, and they then thank God.  In that order, not the order of “God, hospital, Doctor”, in fact I know that most religions if they believe God has actually had a hand with the healing process, it is through said Doctors.  There are extreme off-shoots of Christianity where small groups of individuals, bastardise and change the Bible so they can get what they want;  these people are called extremists.  Extremists change the words, processes and the very systems of belief to suit their own goals.  Extremist Christians will let their children die because they believe God will save their child.  Just like an atheist junkie will leave their child to die of starvation.  Extremist Muslims will use Jihad as a reason to kill lots of people.  Just like an atheist teenager in America will go on a killing spree because he is mocked for how he looks or his sexuality.  Extremism isn’t what the MAJORITY of us believe in, which is contra to what your Neo-Atheist groups will force you to believe.

However, attempting to converse with a Neo-Atheist is like trying to find the Higgs-Boson particle, you get close to proving a point and they will deflect the argument and disappear into a whole different point because they hate being in a corner they cannot get out of.  Yet a normal, sensible, honest Atheist will just smile and carry on.  Why?  A true Atheist will allow you to believe what you want to believe, they will allow you to worship what you want to worship.  Like I allow an Atheist to believe in a lack of God without berating them on the subject, why should I?  It’s their chosen belief, why should I try to change them?  If they want to converse in an intelligent manner regarding deities, then by all means I will participate.  Neo-Atheists are as bad as street preachers, they are as bad as people who ram religion down peoples necks, because they don’t just preach it, they enjoy the degradation and the mocking that comes with Neo-Atheism.  Maybe the mature thing for me to do is to just ignore it and carry on, which I do nine times out of ten.  What grinds my gears is when people act so righteous about Atheism, like it is an actual religion.  If Atheism was a religion it would be the Anarchy of religion, because what do you worship?  Who is in charge?  If Atheists want to be Atheists then surely it is just a lifestyle rather than an aggressive belief system.

So I managed to write nearly five thousand words during my seven hours writing spree the other day, which was an accomplishment, however I don’t know if its good or not.  Luckily I have managed to get involved with a very support group of writers on Goodread’s that are helping me write.  Finding my muse is difficult, especially when I rarely get time alone and without interruption.  Several times I have been tempted to just give up on writing completely, but I honestly believe I have something to give and I have no given up thus far.  Due to my line of work I cannot turn my phone off, or mute it, as I am required to be in contact with people a lot of the time.  I have a feeling though that across the next few months, I hope, that things will get easier before they get harder.  If I continue to struggle across these months to write, I will probably just give up.  Its a huge emotional and stressful struggle attempting to do something that you really want to do and not getting anywhere with it.  I did expect to get a huge amount of support from family and friends, but so far I have only been given serious support from people I didn’t know six months ago, people I’ve never met and people who have no impact on my daily life.  I guess it can be too much to ask for sometimes, sitting in solitude when your in a full time relationship isn’t something that both parties will want to partake in.  Asking for a few hours silence when sat alone in a room, whilst sitting within a fully functional house may be a bridge too far.  However I cannot afford to pay £5/£10/£15 a day to write in utter silence in a coffee shop in central Manchester.  I guess I just attract the noise level, however I am open to anyone who wants to part-rent a small office space within central Manchester 🙂  I guess I will just have to see how it goes, however I may need to organise my time better than I already do, its frustrating but very little is me alone (this week has been, but with it being the holiest week on the Catholic calendar….).  I am just constantly feeling demoralised, if its not one thing, its another and being the age I am at, and the direction I want to go in, I can only take so much.

On a side note, I have been asked to join my local parish choir, which is in dire need of male members.  Obviously I said yes, so I now go up on high and blare out my voice for all to hear.  Its not pretty, but at least I am helping them out.  Anyhow I have ranted enough, I hope you all have a great Easter weekend

Take care.

Can Britian be proud of its role in Afghanistan? (The Big Question; BBC)

So after returning from church this morning, the TV was on and a television show called “The Big Question”, hosted by Nicky Campbell.  When I read the title, it immediately registered an interest, so I stood want watched the unfolding conversations take shape.  Several points were raised and I will cover those that were an interest to myself.

I personally think that the war in Afghanistan was worth it, for many reasons, some not worth mentioning here.  Thanks to the US, UK and many other UN nations taking part in the Afghan War, millions more are now educated.  People seem to forget that since those first shots were fired in 2001, it has been thirteen years since it started.  Within that time an entire generation was born and another came of age, and thanks to the sacrifices of those soldiers who have laid their lives down for the protection and security of those people, they can be educated in a fair and just way.  Not only are more people able to read (literacy has increased hugely since 2001) & write, but females are able to do so as well, which is thanks to the military again.  Women before 2001 were third rate citizens in the eyes of the Afghanistan population, mostly due to the rules, regulations and laws passed by the controlling Taliban.  Democracy has taken root, granted many will say that this was force, but yesterday millions of Afghan’s went into polling stations to vote for THEIR president.  Not a western sponsored president, but an Afghan native, who wants to put his own rules, regulations and laws into effect, who wants to build the Afghan nation back up again.  The people, not the Taliban, now have a right to choose who that president is, something which pre-Taliban era, they wouldn’t have had hope of doing.  Again, Women were permitted to vote, something which would have be a crime punishable by death before we entered into Afghanistan.  Individual freedoms are evident as well, over two million mobile phones are now owned and used actively within Afghanistan, radios are permitted to be listened too and newspapers can be printed and purchased by the public.  All three things would have been punishable crimes beneath the Taliban.  So yes, the nations that have sacrificed their sons and daughters to the war in Afghanistan have something to be proud of.

There is a darker side to the freedoms that have been given to the Afghan’s.  Granted they themselves have lost sons and daughters during these troubles, from both the soldiers whom have come to free them and the Taliban/Al-Qaeda forces that have fought so hard to maintain a foothold in a land that no longer welcomes them.  Corruption is rife, both at the high level and lower levels of the Afghan government.  This is a sad fault of the amount of aid that has been granted and given to the Afghan government, and with a reduction of aid would come less corruption.  If we reduce the aid and now just leave Afghanistan, how can we be proud of our achievement?  Someone mentioned that we need to look back in ten, twenty years time and see what Afghanistan is like then.  Only then can we see if all the sacrifice was worth it, but already with the minor freedoms that have been granted to those living in Afghanistan at the moment, it is worth it. 

A point which I would like to touch on was David Cameron’s speech regarding leaving Afghanistan in 2014 “Come what may”.  This is why the world cannot have true justice and protection.  Our foreign policy is a hypocritical mess, shrouded in honest intentions and just causes.  How many times has a population sat in a country, being murdered by its own military/police/government and we have sat by and done nothing?  Partially we can blame that on the media for not giving it the coverage it requires to allow the normal public to understand and feel empathic towards the cause.  Mostly we can blame the government for making the decision to ignore the plight of a nation in need or help.  We went into Afghanistan to flush out Al-Qaeda and we did a great job of it, at first it was difficult, but with the elections that we saw yesterday the proof of success is right there to be seen.  Kosovo we went into the country to protect the people being murdered, a little too late, but we went in.  What next?  We allowed Russia to annex the Crimea despite the Ukraine pleading for help.  We allow atrocities to occur all over the African continent and yet, we never intervene.  So what is our foreign policy based around?  Is it based around what we can take or get from the country, which brings to question our long standing deployment into Afghanistan.  Should we have left much earlier and handed it over to the Afghans?  What happens if another nation, say South Korea, requires military aid against North Korea or China, will we decide that we cannot aid them because it will cost us too much in military spending?

What is the price for a human life?  What is the price for a hundred lives?   The UK has stood at the forefront of protecting smaller, weaker nations from enemies, or even an indigenous population from its rulers, for a long time.  Alas we haven’t had a great history at treating indigenous populations perfectly in the past, but maybe its atonement for what we have done.  Maybe its not.  That’s for you to decide.  I honestly would like to see the UK take more of an interest in world policing, many will disagree, but we have the best armed forces, within the entire world, for a reason.  We have one of the longest standing, most organised and well drilled armies in the world.  We’ve fought in more conflicts than any other nation on the globe.  We understand hearts and minds better than any other nation and we understand rebuilding nations from the ground up.  What is an army for if it sits inside the walls of a barracks doing nothing?  Yet people will stand with their “Anti-War” banners and flags declaring that a military budget isn’t required and that war is wrong.  Yes, war is wrong, people die and that’s unacceptable on so many levels.  I ask you, what is worth more?  The life of a youth who hasn’t lived, or the life of a soldier whose trained for this moment?  I would prefer to wear a uniform and lay my life down for someone who may go on to do great things with the life I saved, sacrificing mine.  So many before have done this, and I think we can all look to the conflicts on the past to see how they impacted on the free world.

I digress, Afghanistan should have had a longer time with sustained support from the countries that have fought through her and in her.  We’ve pulled out suddenly, with little preparation and left it to the Afghans with little support from outside elements.  Going back to the foreign policy of our government, this is unacceptable, for if within the next three to five years the Taliban return and take over, we only have ourselves to blame.  Or more accurately the Conservative government.

I hope that the Afghan’s have a peaceful and prosperous future ahead of them.

Humanity: Part 2

We often, in todays society, rush to complain about things or complete with one another.  We don’t take the time to look at the person who has failed to perform, the item that isn’t in stock, the bus that’s late.  We don’t stop and look at the situation, we don’t care for such things because its easier to moan and complain.  We often find targeting people around us, people we know and some we don’t, makes us feel much better about the situation.  This isn’t new, conflict between humans over petty things is something that will never change.  Rarely does the day go by that someone doesn’t eyeball another, with contempt or scorn, that cannot be matched and for reasons so simple or subtle.  What someone’s wearing can often offend someone, it can even cause the death of someone, Goth’s, Chav’s & Nerd’s have been beaten and/or killed because of clothing.  Why?  Lack of humanity, lack of compassion & lack of understanding and there is a reason for this, which I will touch on later.  We prefer to moan and whine when something isn’t completed, but avoid doing the task ourselves, just so we can get our word in.  We don’t look at why the original task wasn’t completed, or what has happened to stop the task.  Even when we take ownership and complete the task, we make a fuss over how hard the task was and how we need thanking and congratulating.  Long gone are the days when people just did the right thing and completed tasks without question nor praise. 

Sometimes we take advantage of the simplistic availability of daily luxuries of life, ignoring the basic kick of human instinct.  We idly contact each other over Facebook, text message or Snapchat with an instinct like nature.  No more is letter writing practiced, we don’t spend long hours waiting to make a phone call to someone sat at home, we just do it briefly.  We are bred, especially within todays society, to ignore those intimate and natural feelings of humanity towards one another, instead relating more to instantaneous actions, distance and space.  Sometimes, like a brief but bright spark, we connect on a human level and join together within a group.  Be it in protest against a governmental action, or because we airsoft together, those moments are too far between.  We’ll make promises on websites, forums or via other modern forms of electronic communication, that it won’t be too long until the next time.  Yet months later, after connecting in a human level, we make the same promises again.  We use modern technology as our excuse, as our “Get out of jail free card”, because we don’t understand how to say no.  When I, and often I will admit, cannot make something that is a social event, I just say no.  I am treated like a criminal at least fifty percent of the time, like I have massively offended someone with my answer.  Granted I can see that is could be disappointment, it could be frustration, or it just be the simple fact that people have forgotten what a no sounds like.  People use technology to create excuses, knowing full well that no one can physically see where they are.  “Oh I cannot make the football because my cat is dying.” (Cat survives; but you got an early night).  “Sorry, but I need to get home as I have a leak in my bathroom.” (Sorry, I need to get home because I can’t be arsed and I want a bath).  Now, before you all start verbally berating me, I understand that sometimes an excuse is a softer approach than a no, but that’s lame.  If your friends are truly friends they will just turn around on go “Okay, maybe next time dude.” instead of making you feel like you’ve just killed someone’s hamster.

With that said, there is a reasoning behind why we react like this, and its foundation lies within greed.  We desire and seek out expensive technology and then use it to create that distance.  We obviously have those friends that we always hang around, but how many people hang around in groups of ten, twenty or even thirty anymore?  Granted students may, but that’s the nature of being a student.  We have no argument within that area, we stay within our cliques, our “Special Groups” and do whatever we can to get through the lack of humanity.  Its the groups, cliques & special friends that ostracise the rest of humanity around you.  Now science, science is awesome, the advances are coming thick and fast, helping humanity do things that we should be striving for.  The side effect: We lose our humanity in the process.  We don’t only seek out the move away from everyone around us, we see out more and more expensive lifestyles in the process.  We spend money on items that have a huge chunk added to the price tag, just to satisfy a fat cat sat at a table in some boardroom somewhere.  We work hard to pay for a life that distances ourselves from one another, and I pity that, I really do.

Stroking the cheek of a loved one or holding the hand of someone dear is something you cannot buy.  You can pay a man/woman to pretend to be your girlfriend/boyfriend and hold their hand, but there isn’t an emotional attachment.  Looking into the eyes of someone you love and seeing the satisfaction of them seeing you, that’s something you cannot buy or pay for.  Technology cannot replace humanity, people can try and create a world where it can, but honestly it cannot.  Love, compassion, understanding, care are all required for us to continue making mankind and carry ourselves forward.  Without those things we become fragile, angry, distant, unattached.  When a woman can murder an animal, when a man can murder his children, when a child can kill another child, we need to look at where and why this is happening.  Detachment.  We are slowly becoming detached from our humanity by the march of technology.  We sit around each other, face buried into our phones, looking at the world through a glass screen.  Downloading music, images, ideas instead of going to see them physically or find them ourselves.  We lead short lives in the big picture, spend them with someone, doing something, going to see, looking up! 

I have a deep love for the Cyberpunk genre and I always have, partially because of the cool technology, but mostly because its mankind fighting against the machine.  The machine of the corporations, the wheels of capitalism, the unhindered march of technology and its slow destruction of what makes us all human.  Luckily we will eventually get to the point where we destroy ourselves in order to defeat the machines that promote corruption.  Now as you can probably tell I am saying this via an internet blog, instead of a soap box on a high street or town square.  Your correct, maybe I am as bad as the people I am talking about, but the difference is I am making changes to my life.  I am no longer wasting time within cliques, I am not attempting to grab more technology to create a better “Life” for myself, I am going to see things with my own eyes and hear things with my own ears.  Also I am pigeon holed by the technology with my approach on the subject.  If I did stand on a box in Market Street, saying the above to a crown of people, I’d be filmed and then placed on YouTube under the title “silly man on market street” with the sniggers and heckling for all to hear.  No one, of course, would stand up to me in the crowd, that would be against what they have been indoctrinated to believe.  So I display my thoughts here, where those people who can manage to find their way here can read it, people who have the intelligence to have an intellectual discussion.  Maybe I’m wrong…

However, unless things change, I fear for myself and eventually my children.  I weep for my future, and that of mankind, for we don’t stop feeling sorry for ourselves, stop making excuses and start changing the world we exist in, our future will lead to nought.