Friday, 22 March 2019

A National Crisis ...

On the face of it yes, we are in the midst of a national crisis. For more reasons than the obvious.

If you are inclined to believe that the UK’s democracy, economic and social strengths are unconquerable, then I think you need to review your position. I looked with despair at the news last night and of the film of crowds of people in East Africa, following the disastrous consequences on human life of the ‘Idai‘ monsoon. Desperate for shelter, medical care and, above all, food, we saw in broad daylight people of that region fighting each other, tooth and nail, over a bag of flour. It is awful to see how desperate they are.

Who was it said that we are only ever two meals from a breakdown of law and order? In the United Kingdom of Great Britain, despite the words used in its title - notably ‘united’ and ‘great’, we are never as far from that situation as we’d like to think we are. In truth, no-one in the Western World is. It is because we are human animals. There’s nothing wrong with being an animal, only, as animals, we require certain things to maintain our lives, our livelihoods, our ego (in the true psychiatric meaning of that entity), in other words, our instinct for survival. We are never far from rioting, irrational behaviours, anti social activities brought on primarily by the threat of insecurity. And right now I believe this nation is feeling more insecure than at any time since the last World War or at the height of the Cold War. 

The schism that currently exists inside both major political parties and, therefore, in parliament seems to represent the division in the country as a whole, but it has become a crisis, driven by opposing ideologies. If the Prime Minister continues her totally unnecessary vilification of MPs, notably those that stand against her ‘deal’, then it can only get worse. Nothing so far was more publicly humiliating, more unnecessary, more quite frankly offensive, than the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday at the podium inside No.10 Downing Street, Her divisive, aggressive, coercive language aimed at parliamentarians, who stand between her and her deal, is seriously damaging. She seems to be on a kamikaze mission, attempting to destroy this country’s faith in parliamentary democracy and her own career. But why?

This may sound very controversial, but I suggest that she is either a dictator in waiting, or the puppet of dictators waiting in the wings. Someone else seems to be pulling her strings and she hasn’t got the mettle to face her conscience in the face of a potentially very sinister scenario. either that or she and her Cabinet believes that they are the light that is necessary to lead the ignorant proletariat to pastures new. She’s acting like monarchs of old, who didn’t want parliament to intervene in their agenda, but who required the financial support of the richest and most influential individuals in society (now commonly referred to as oligarchs). We should not forget that, after the referendum, she didn’t want to include parliament in negotiations in the first place. Rather, she wanted to make the government’s Brexit decisions behind the closed doors of Cabinet, until she was forced by parliament to do the right thing; to give the vote on the final deal to MPs.

She maintains her defensive rhetoric like a broken record ... remember “strong and stable”, a meme that became a comedic cliche allegedly designed for her campaign by a certain media magnate, in the 2017 general election, which, let’s not forget, took her government from a slim majority to a minority! Now we have “determined to deliver what the people want” ... I personally think those “people” are primarily members of the ‘ERG’ and on the extreme right wing of her party, who believe we should go back to that 'romantic' notion of life 150-200 years ago, when Britain ruled the Waves and much of the World; they still believe that Britain is a great World power, who can stand alone in a World overcrowded with far greater ‘powers’. Delusion personified. They may also  have vested interests in that section of the country’s economy, that holds a majority of the financial cards or their own party’s financial support. It is a view that may also be supported by sections of the electorate, who felt, or were made to feel threatened by the racist rhetoric and undeliverable promises of certain factions in the referendum campaign.

Party leaders need to stop playing party politics. This is not the time. We all need to wake up and smell the coffee. Address some common sense. Start thinking objectively and be thankful that parliamentary democracy is still holding strong .. just. Take action. Write to your local MP to let them know you are involved. Let them know what you feel and what you want. It’s your entitlement to be informed and to participate in democratic processes. It has never been more important to exercise your democratic rights, but between those distant occasions when we are required to put an X in a box on an electoral form. We need to be better informed between votes, so that our votes can be better informed and more meaningful. 

Reading through this again makes it sound like a preachy diatribe, but it is one of the few ways that I can vent my feelings and views; by which I can try to form a rational perspective and validate those views.

Feel free to comment, especially if you disagree with anything, but keep it polite. 

Thank you. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2019


I recently came across an interview with clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson, involving searing criticism of an earlier speech he made to a gathering of students. His defence is interesting, but the bit that interests me most is in the last eight minutes of the YouTube video that follows, which cuts to a speech made by him that focuses on what he refers to as human vulnerability, which I prefer to call insecurity. He speaks of the deepest of human vulnerabilities that cause us to do all the things we dislike or revile; he speaks of the individuality of human personality and most importantly, he speaks about the spectrum of political stations from the extreme left to the extreme right, in between which there sits a majority of ‘reasonable people’ who neither subscribe to nor should they be accused of adopting the extremes of politics. All of this reflects my own deepest thoughts on human individualtity. The threads of all this run through so much of my poetry and essays over the past eight years. But, as the man repeatedly says at the beginning of his talk, there are no surprises; it’s all very predictable ... well, at least, it probably is to a clinical psychologist who has carried out in depth studies of the most awful of human activities such as, and specifically the building of concentration camps and genocide.

You can watch and listen to it here :

The Spring edition of BeZine was published on 15th March. Perhaps a little early to be sure of this refreshing time of year, but then the birds and plants think it’s time to start nest building. They should know. I hope it isn’t another false Spring.

Anyway, there is a feast of thought provoking material, essays and poems; nourishment to feed hungry minds in this edition of The BeZine:

(My thoughts on human frailty ... ‘Insecurity‘ is here: )

Saturday, 29 September 2018

100,000 Poets (and Friends) for Change ...

"Poetry. It's better than war"
~ Michael Rothenberg (Co-founder with Terri Carrion of the 100 TPC)

Details of today's annual campaign for Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice is HERE ...

What 100 TPC is all about is explained HERE: ...

And I shall be reading poems to children and young people at this marvellous and magical local charity HERE: ...

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The BeZine ... a Whole Lot of Life

The September issue of the BeZine is packed with a powerful punch that makes the current ‘Resistance’ to the extremely right wing political landscape, stronger than ever. It’s beginning to become truly Zeitgeist ... you would do well to read this month’s editor, Michael Dickel’s introduction and the many excellent contributions from writers around the World ...

Let there be Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice

Friday, 22 June 2018

Crossing The Great Divide

Photo: John Anstie
In reading that word – sustainability – cradling the head of our current Guide Dog puppy in my hands, her deeply pleading eyes looking up at me, I am reminded that this word not only describes what I feel so many, many more people around the world – more commonly come to understand of its meaning.
I have hitherto thought of sustainability as the fundamental, physical process that needs to be implemented in order for the Earth to continue providing for all the life that inhabits it. Physical processes like recycling, up-cycling, ‘make-do-and-mend’, conservation of energy, switching off and simply to stop being so extravagant with the energy we use! We urgently need demonstrate the will to push harder for renewable energy in power generation. It also demands something else of us. It requires us to adopt a certain philosophy, to change our human habits; a need to behave differently. It expects a certain attitude and assumes that an essential ingredient to the achievement of a sustainable World is that the human beings, who inhabit the Earth, become determined to adopt a way of life that is … well, sustainable!
It is an unfortunate character of the human condition that it is not until we lose someone that we become much more conscious of their value to our own life. It seems, whilst they are still around, that we prefer to focus more on their faults and shortcomings than on their virtues and strengths. We are even more prepared to abuse or betray their trust, than to respect them. So too, our Mother Earth.
As I regularly drive the roads around us, particularly the lanes of the beautiful countryside that surrounds us here in Yorkshire, I am reminded also of one of those human faults, anxiety, and of all the consequences of that condition: stress, impatience, fear, anger, aggression, depression. All too often, when I glance in my rear view mirror, I see another car race up behind me and sit so close to my rear bumper that I can’t see their number plate; at speeds and in situations in which it would be lunacy to contemplate overtaking. It is as if they are tempting me to yield, give in, pull over into a ditch and let them pass … and claim me as another vanquished enemy! It isn’t necessarily that, I know, but it feels like that and, even in my advancing years, with the wisdom and insight of the road that I have gained in fifty years of driving and my lowered testosterone levels, I sometimes feel like retaliating … and we all know how that could turn out.
The Dalai Lama it was, who attributed anxiety or agitation as the root of all conflict in the World. There is no doubt that he is right. Yes, I hear the academics, anthropologists, psychologists and any number of other -ologists, state the obvious, that Darwinian principles of evolution and survival in the animal kingdoms, of which human is one, dictate this behaviour. Our base instincts are therefore not to respect any forms of life outside our own sphere, outside our immediate survival zone; to consider them a threat to our survival? Really?
But, we are beyond this, surely, aren’t we? Can’t we exert more control over our behaviours, or are we simply hopeless victims of our own psyche; our individual intractable personality. For many in the Western World, the need to survive, to subsist on what our local environment can provide us, has long since turned into higher and higher expectations. Each generation starts with more, but wants still more than the previous generation. Our survival instincts have turned into greed; at the expence of those on the margins of the overexploited third world. Are these expectations a consequence of some out of control unconscious driving forces within us, or could we re-educate ourselves. I believe the answer for some is ‘no’. For others it would be ‘yes’.
I contend that the World could continue to support all life, even with its currently burgeoning population (of humans). If we were able to overcome our greed and unreasonable expectations, there is one overriding benefit that could accrue, apart from vanquishing our own greed … we could begin to feel what it is like to live with less poverty in the world, and less debt. Less personal debt, less corporate debt, less national debt. Currently the only way Western governments can see to pay off the latter, is growth, economic growth, which has become the unquestioned Demi-God of economic and political policy objectives; growth is, I believe, a largely misunderstood, overused and abused tool of political campaigning. This is, unfortunately, a vicious circle. I’ve heard growth described as a means of servicing our national debt. Long term, this does not make economic sense and surely cannot be sustainable!
So, what are we to do? Save more? Conserve our resources, however modest they may be? Adjust our expectations and those of our children? Their generation and the ones that follow, will otherwise only continue this roller coaster of a suicidal ride into debt and debt slavery; a World in which the super wealthy few have more and more control over the increasingly debt-ridden many. Freedom from debt, however you achieve it, whatever the cost to your expectations, your dreams, has to provide the way to a more sustainable World; and…
It. Is. Liberating.
Otherwise, our greatest and only means of survival, our patient and beautiful Mother Earth, will expel us, rich and poor, forever, and no-one will inherit anything! Space exploration to find a new life sustaining planet somewhere out there in the vastness, is pure fantasy ... and vanity!
What can we do to reduce your anxiety? A starting point for me is to have a hug with your best friend, be they human … or puppy dog ...

Photo: Barbara Anstie. Creative edit: Dave Anstie

This essay was first published in the BeZine, on 15th June 2018, along with a poem, which has also been published in My Poetry Library