Sunday, 20 July 2014

Thought Picnic: It's my turn

But now it's my turn,
If I don't have all the answers,
At least I know,
I'll take my share of chances,
Ain’t no use of holding on,
When nothing stays the same.
From It’s My Turn - written by Carole Bayer Sager (lyrics) and Michael Masser (music) for Diana Ross.
Stand bold
This part of that beautiful song simply exemplifies a view of life that I have, the fact that one should take control of one’s life for changes and chances that present themselves.
Speaking to a long term friend who intimated that he was putting his house in order for posterity, he left me with one of those pieces of advice that lasts a lifetime.
Some twenty years ago, he said to me, “Never be embarrassed to ask for what you as an adult should not be ashamed to demand.”
Stand sure
As I talked of uncertainties that moderate my adventurism, he said I had been through enough to know how to make wise choices and he believed I always made the right choices. However, he also said I needed to free myself from the encumbrances of societal mores that limits my expression, my expectations and my abilities.
Wiser as I have become and hopefully more wiser as I go, I constantly take my share of chances, learning better acceptance of myself getting to the point where the pursuit of happiness would care less for what anyone thinks about what one desires for love and for life.
As nothing stays the same, we must change, adapt, review, renew, relive and rejoice in the blessing of life we have, but this can only happen when we get to the point that we can boldly say, “It’s my turn”.
It’s my turn
I can't cover up my feelings
In the name of love
Or play it safe
For a while that was easy
And if living for myself
Is what I'm guilty of
Go on and sentence me
I'll still be free
It's my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you'll understand
This time's just for me
Because it's my turn
With no apologies
I've given up the truth
To those I've tried to please
But now it's my turn
If I don't have all the answers
At least I know
I'll take my share of chances
Ain't no use of holding on
When nothing stays the same
So I'll let it rain
'Cause the rain ain't gonna hurt me
And I'll let you go
'Though I know it won't be easy
It's my turn
With no more room for lies
For years I've seen my life
Through someone else's eyes
And now it's my turn
To try and find my way
And if I should get lost
At least I'll own today
It's my turn
Yes, it's my turn
And there ain't no use in holding on
When nothing stays the same
So I'll let it rain
'Cause the rain ain't gonna hurt me
And I'll let you go
'Though I know it won't be easy
It's my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you'll understand
This time's just for me
Because it's my turn
To turn and say goodbye
I sure would like to know
That you're still on my side
Because it's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn
To start from number one
Trying to undo
Some damage that's been done
But now it's my turn
To reach and touch the sky
No one's gonna say
At least I didn't try
It's my turn
Yes, it's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Opinion: This is a time for outrage at the direct hits

A hypothetical
If the presumed BUK surface-to-air missile system shot from the territory of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine had whizzed past Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, it might have been reported sighted and considered a near-miss with some expressing a bit of outrage at such a reckless activity.
Alas! It was a direct hit and with it 298 souls were lost, the consequence of which should have precipitated such outrage at the needless, careless and atrocious waste of human life wrought by bungling rebels with Russia's support.
Then again
Down in the Middle East, literally all the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, whilst terrifying and capable of causing carnage with the loss of life and damage to goods and property, they are in their thousands, near misses. We must for all intents and purposes express outrage at the crude militancy that is no match to Israel’s firepower and organisation.
Then, you watch the missiles fired from Israel into Gaza that has no defence weaponry, literally every missile has been a direct hit, whether intentional or not, people are losing their lives in the hundreds and this calls for widespread outrage, because of the carnage caused, that is presented as a defence.
Between terror and killings
Now, I can understand the terror of missiles coming into Israeli cities, terrifying all, young and old; the government needs to have some strategy and game plan to deal with this nuisance, though I have my doubt that even with the incursion into Gaza, the missiles can be stopped entirely, for there is a deep-seated issue of unrest that is not been addressed towards achieving peace for Israel and its neighbours.
Yet, the terrified can be becalmed, for near-misses belie a stark reality along with a sense of survival. Direct hits are a different story, the people are dead and that is the end of their story.
Blood for fear barbarity
The exchange system between Israel and Palestine of avenging fear within the borders of Israel with the blood of Palestinians in their cooped-up regions as they are ring-fenced from Israel with settlements, borders and walls cannot be the roadmap to peace for all concerned.
What has developed is escalating belligerence with no prospect of peace on the horizon. More pertinently, until we are ready to express unbiased outrage at the needless loss of life anywhere in the world and make perpetrators of the killings accountable for their actions, we acquiesce and grant immunity for more impunity to those have taken the level of their lawless activities to an unspeakable level of atrocious violence.
We must condemn the near-misses, but the direct hits must attract the sternest criticism from all fair-minded members of our humanity as well unmitigated outrage.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Opinion: Finding the right food for the conscience - truth

"We are lying and finding sexier ways to do it." Sarah Firth
Narratives are many
Many current events in the world has forced people to take sides, speak fully persuaded of the narrative that appeals to them and that has become their truth.
Whether there are facts or evidence to support the view they espouse is another thing.
However, there is a tendency to buy into a narrative, to be identified by a Shibboleth and that becomes a sworn mantra to be recited to any that might have ears.
Know who is at fault
From the fundamentals, one can examine the sometimes odiously accepted view that a lady's dress is ultimately responsible for her being raped and that the rapist is excused, exculpated and never needing to account for the crime, that is how the seed of impunity is sown through a contrived narrative that grants immunity.
Yet, all you have to hear in any statement is the qualification, "ultimately responsible" and with that the perpetrator walks, the victim twice victimised and bereft of justice.
How we champion impunity
For decades, we have excused Israeli belligerence against its cheek by jowl Palestinian neighbours and lands adjacent, impunity reigning with the narrative of security and defence without any accountability, except to a contrived sense existential threat.
We all know Israel is there to stay, it is not under threat of extermination, even if words have been spoken to that effect, but it is a political and propaganda tool deftly used by reprehensible politicians to distract us from a deeper truth of untrammelled aggression, unspeakable atrocities and bloody injustices that make the heart ache.
We must apportion blame where it is due, whoever dropped the bomb is responsible for the carnage just as the other side is responsible solely for their own acts.
How deny the truth
I return to the analogy that regardless of the manner of dress, whether provocative or not, the rapist is responsible for the rape and that is where the law stands and where justice is sought.
Likewise, the downing of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam was the sole criminal act of the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, no other contrived narrative is permissible and they should be brought to book.
Provocation is not responsibility
Provocation should never become responsibility, if the provoked should choose to retaliate, the provoked should be held responsible for the consequences of their actions without dissimulation.
Therein is the matter of conscience as expressed in Sarah Firth's quote. Would we accept the lie of a contrived narrative or the truth of clear responsibility for particular actions?
I have a conscience, it has a duty to stay true by supporting the truth. It has the task of expressing my humanity of empathy, feeling, understanding and appreciating the broad spectrum of what life is.
For to know pain, suffering, injustice, cruelty and hurt is to begin to see the truth of aspects of our human wretchedness.
Most importantly we must save our consciences from being seared with narratives untrue that serves to exacerbate unconscionable impunity.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thought Picnic: We are story people

The fool I am
Life is an interesting journey of many experiences that are never fully told. I would be the first to acknowledge my frail humanity, my weaknesses, my stupidity and my foolishness.
Yet, where some might think I am being hard on myself, I realise that maybe I have not been hard on myself enough to make some changes necessary to change some of the situations I have been in.
Things procrastinated, things fancied, things desired, but they have been things, within grasp at times but left to be as if they did not matter, yet, they have mattered more than ever because they are not just the stuff of life, but what is necessary to make life better.
Celebrate blessings
It is part of that bigger deal of the pursuit of happiness that I have allowed to elude me not out of lack of speed or purpose but with a laid back presence of mind that sometimes one cannot be bothered.
Bother, one must, or bothered one would become, as these things become subjects of deep introspection and scolding lessons of life that one is almost ashamed to share because of one’s failings.
Then as if the end of life is close, one ruminates and reminisces, striving still to put regrets at bay and celebrate the blessings that have made this life wonderful. I find myself saying to myself quite regularly that despite some experiences I would never wish on anyone else, I really do love my life.
Story people, we are
Maybe some things can be better, maybe some things can be improved upon, maybe some changes can be implemented, maybe some new experiences can enrich my life more, I am open to all and more because that is the joy of living.
That is what make each and every one of us story people, let us write these stories and celebrate life, for in all the pain and suffering, there is wonder, beauty and fun to be had, the advice I would give to many regardless is, never lose your sense of fun.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Opinion: Thank you Ian Thorpe for coming out

He came out
Yesterday evening, I got to my hostess’ place and heard the news that Ian Thorpe, the amazing Australian, athlete and swimmer had come out as gay on a Michael Parkinson interview in Australia.
That we still have to greet this news as brave and courageous is indicative of the global community we live in, even so in Western liberal societies where being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or intersexual is generally accepted.
The struggle
Yet, the bigger struggle is with the individual, the idea of self, the acceptance of self, the conflicts and inner turmoil of the mind, the fear of rejection, ostracism, persecution, abuse and excoriation, the guilt, the shame, the self-loathing, the tendency to conform as if what you are can be done away with by the use of willpower, the list of emotions and battles is endless.
Then, many are blessed with the situation that they can care less of what others think because they have become whom they want to be and have begun to thrive and excel with the full expression of self, we are almost envious and jealous of them because they are in the process of completing their lives in the pursuit of happiness.
The society
Certain societies cannot countenance sexuality that deviates from heterosexuality predicated from religion and what they call their culture or traditions to the extent that they have not only criminalised homosexuality, but created criminal justice systems to punish severe what in more ‘civilised’ societies is regarded as normal as for any other person.
The individual then has to decide which battles to take on or live a kind of double life, satisfying the public needs of heterosexual expression whilst finding private fulfilment of their somewhat suppressed sexuality, living on the down-low.
Ian Thorpe ran the gauntlet of media interest in his sexual preferences all through his active swimming career as if it is anybody’s business what a person’s sexuality was or who they decide to have sex with.
Depression taking hold
Within the miasma of this personal struggle of conflict, concealment, fear and adjustment, Ian Thorpe fell into deep depression maintaining an identity that was not his that he drank heavily and contemplated suicide.
Thankfully, he went into rehab and has come to the point as he said in his interview, “I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man. And I don’t want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.
This is the point where a person has in an adaptation of the Kübler-Ross model, for every encounter of adversity, be it grief, disease, struggles with sexuality, failure or any similar circumstance, we traverse with varying degrees of impact and periods of time of introspection and expression, the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Acceptance leads to freedom
Until we reach the point of acceptance, it is nigh impossible to get on with life and move on to the next stage beyond what ails us.
Yet, we have scored victories with the model in terms of grief, maybe disease in my case and also failure in many cases of my life story, but are stuck in the rut of sexuality, usually not on the acceptance of who we are, but on the bold acceptance of who we are to others.
That freedom eludes many and the freedom is a great release, for he is now looking towards finding a partner and starting his own family.
The reality
This is the world we inhabit, one that freely expresses homophobia that takes licence to abuse, malign, harangue and persecute for who we choose to love and how we express our love.
It is however heart-warming to read of the deluge of support from around the world to Ian Thorpe’s coming out, more so, the real human story of the pain he lived through before being confident enough to accept his own identity and the expression of it would be one to witness to many that we do not need to suffer for the fact that we are not heterosexual.
Focus on the person
If those who have known us for so long and have respected us for who we were then decide on learning of our sexuality that we are no more worthy of their love, fellowship, understand, acceptance and respect, it should be a reflection on them rather than ourselves.
Sexuality should never be a function of respect, rather it should be the personality, the character, the integrity and the virtues of the person, in goodness, compassion, thoughtfulness, empathy and developing relationships.
Maybe in our lifetime, all across the world, it would not matter to anyone who we love and when we touch, kiss, celebrate and talk of our lovers, it would just be as normal as it is to be human and part of humankind.
Thank you, Ian Thorpe for making it easier to be who we really are, thank you.