"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Friday, 28 September 2012

J K Rowling's own Shades of Grey

Do women lack the confidence to make their points of view known in meetings and radio phone-ins? It would seem so. Driving over to see my sister yesterday there was a piece on the radio, describing this imbalance between male and female voices where opinions are sought - something like 70% male to 30% females. And it seems much of this is down to a lack of confidence in the fairer sex. Why? Because we are afraid we have nothing important to say; that we will be ridiculed; that we will not be given a fair hearing. I confess -

I have suffered from this to some extent all my life, around the meal table, in meetings, at conferences! Victorian children were "seen and not heard." It is only relatively recently that children have all been encouraged to be opinionated and their comments heard and indeed respected for what they are worth. 

Now I feel I must voice my own strong opinion on something. Many will not agree but I don't care. This has to be said. 

 J. K. Rowling is worth upward of £500 million, much of her fortune reaped from the pocket money and birthday money of our youngsters. So why, hot on the heels of the Fifty Shades trilogy, does she feel the need to produce her own version of something much darker than the Harry Potter books knew how to be. (1) My concern is that I am sure this book, The Casual Vacancy, will be bought by those same youngsters and young adults who were introduced to reading by Harry Potter and his friends.One million have been pre-ordered already.

OK, we writers have a creative urge - many of us feel compelled to write. I understand that. But to write stuff which in places is frankly disgusting, disturbing, brutal, and unnecessarily explicit, in bad ways? Don't writers have some kind of social responsibility, especially where our young people are concerned?

I'm not a prude. But we are not going to become better people by reading books such as these. Rather we need to celebrate the beautiful and the wonderful ways of our world.

Why is this important? Because, as well as our inherited physical characteristics, it is widely believed that we pick up mental wounds from the collective experiences of our ancestors.

The unhealed wounds of mankind inflicted through millennia of evolution by strife and violence and disaster mean therefore that hundreds of millions of people are psychologically, emotionally and physically scarred and wounded and in need of healing. It has even been suggested by some psychologists that “human culture as a whole has been saturated by unhealed wounding, which, if unchecked, will continue on a downward spiral toward inevitable disintegration.” (2)

Surely we should be doing all we can to heal wounds, not perpetuate them? How can we hope to heal the world when so many of us have such mental and spiritual wounds? And books like Fifty Shades of Grey and The Casual Vacancy simply do not help the quest to heal an already overly evil world.

Come on Jo. I hear that you give plenty of your dosh to good charitable causes. Perhaps you should be diverting your creative writing energies into something altogether more healing.

But then I put this forward diffidently with little confidence and I don't suppose any one will agree. I await the ridicule with trepidation.

Adapted from an idea that is explored in some more depth in Healing this Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope.

© Eleanor Stoneham 2012

(1) see the Daily Telegraph September 27 2012 - "Oh Jo, What will the children think?" Re J K Rowling's latest book, The Casual Vacancy, Comment by Allison Pearson who writes - and I quote: "J K Rowling's first adult novel is an everyday story of country folk who beat their wives, are addicted to drugs and abuse their toddlers. It is a departure that will shock many fans."
I have read enough to know I won't want to read the whole book.

(2) Thompson, Judith and James O’Dea, Shift Issue 7, May 2005, “Social Healing for a Fractured World; a Summary Report to the Fetzer Institute.”

The picture is of Victoria Lilies at the Oxford Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Climate Change Awareness: Are we near the tipping point?

Here is a very thoughtful, well measured and well researched article on climate change from Colin Bell of Sustainability in Crisis that I want to share with all my readers.
I urge anyone to read this who has any care at all for our future and the future of our children/grandchildren/greatchildren. What future?! Time to WAKE UP!! What a shame that millions read eroticism for cheap entertainment (Fifty Shades etc) and only hundreds read the serious stuff on where we are at and where are we going and what can we do about it!!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Oh for A Still Small Voice of Calm

I was lucky enough to be in Mallorca a few months ago. It's the largest of the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean, and amongst other worthy tourist attractions it is known for its cathedral in the capital Palma.
And in the cathedral there is a magnificent rose window, all of 36ft or 11m in diameter, claimed to be the largest in the world.
So I had to take a day trip to Palma to see this for myself.

I love visiting churches and cathedrals. I love the atmosphere, the hushed sense that pilgrims galore have visited and prayed and worshipped and found in the building a communion with God or some other transcendent quality greater than themselves.

But oh dear I was sorely disappointed this time. The din was incredible. Even art galleries and museums usually manage to maintain some air of decorum and atmosphere. Here in the cathedral there was none of that. This great sacred monument was simply full of a massive noise - as dozens and dozens of parties were being shown around or making their own way, guidebook and camera at the ready, oblivious of any sacred space - simply anxious to take as many photos as they could to take back home, upload and forget! How sad! I left quickly, wondering if any one else was similarly affected. It seemed not.

More recently still I visited Florence. What a joy - a super abundance of sacred art and sacred spaces to surely affect even the most hardened non spiritual amongst us. But even here, in the amazing Duomo, pictured above, the noise level would have been unbearable if there hadn't been a pre recorded Sshhhhhhh ... relayed at regular intervals throughout the building. At least they were trying to maintain some sense of peace and awe so that all could enjoy brief snatches of the true atmosphere of this wonderful building.

We need quiet, and beauty, and atmosphere and positive energies. We need to nurture our sensitivities and our spirit. And this nourishment will come from beautiful things, from sacred spaces, from the wonders of nature and science, not from noise, whether it be loud "music" or mindless chatter. We need to be able to listen and hear that "still small voice of calm" in our lives.

I am reminded of what St Benedict said in Chapter 52 of his Holy Rules about the Oratory of the Monastery:

"1The oratory ought to be what it is called, and nothing else is to be done or stored there. 2After the Work of God, all should leave in complete silence and with reverence for God, 3so that a brother who may wish to pray alone will not be disturbed by the insensitivity of another. 4Moreover, if at other times someone chooses to pray privately, he may simply go in and pray, not in a loud voice, but with tears and heartfelt devotion. 5Accordingly, anyone who does not pray in this manner is not to remain in the oratory after the Work of God, as we have said; then he will not interfere with anyone else."

(In a commentary on this by Philip Lawrence OSB at the website of the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert, he writes:

"We hear right away that the Church must be a place of silence. Many Churches have lost this sense of silence in our own time. Always we need to work to keep the Church silent and still so that anyone who comes in at any time can pray in silence. We need to keep working on developing this atmosphere of silence and reverence for God throughout all of the monastery buildings, but especially in the Church of the monastery.") 

St Benedict clearly knew what I mean!!

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



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