14 December 2007

Abortion: A Woman's Right to Choose?

Abortion. A word that seems to irritate and cause some people to foam at the mouth as they predict nasty painful experiences for those who 'commit such heinous crimes against humanity'.

Some Pro-Lifers enjoy harrassing abortion clinic staff - sometimes shooting them dead (the irony is somehow and for some reason lost on them).

No one likes abortion. No sane person decides to use abortion as a form of contraceptive - at least not in an environment where contraceptives are cheap and readily available. Pro-lifers tend to use graphic images of foetuses in the womb, sucking thumbs, to attempt to cause maximum distress to women who have had or are considering having an abortion. If you conducted a poll on those same Pro Lifers my guess is that a high proportion hardly bat an eyelid at the numbers of people killed in Iraq each day as a result, directly and indirectly, of the Big Nations occupation/invasion of that country. Those same people would not give two figs about the number of children dying around the world as a result, again directly and indirectly, of unfair trade policies, debt demands, impossibly high loan interest rates, financial aid provided with strings attached and many other examples. Those same people may object to 'foreigners flooding into our country', who will view them as slightly above vermin and treated as such.

I'm not saying that aborting a foetus in the 8th month of pregnancy is a good thing - obviously there has to be a cut-off point when abortions should not occur. So, how do we reduce the number of late abortions? We empower women to understand their bodies, to enable them to access support and information as early as possible, to have good quality health care available to all women, to engage with the partners of women within the services provided, to teach boys and girls about parental responsibilities from an early age, to remove religious and other forms of dogma from the arena of sex education and reproduction - to name a few.

It's not reasonable to care about unborn 'children' and yet ignore the thousands of preventable deaths each day of men, women and children globally.

I don't want to live today for a 'promised' unknown life, i.e. 'when I go to heaven'. I don't want to promote fiction and fear. I want people to choose how to live their lives for themselves.

If you want an abortion - I support you. If you want to carry the pregnancy full term - I support you. It is your choice.

09 December 2007

Black Homophobia and an Old Time Religion

A black relative of mine ran a boarding house a few years ago and one young 'respectable looking' young man rented a room from her. One day she arrived home and found this man sobbing loudly on the stairs and when asked why he was distressed, explained that his boyfriend didn't love him anymore. She said, trying her best to be understanding, 'Can't you stop?' He wiped his eyes, trying to understand her question and realised the real question was 'can't you stop being a homosexual?'
Most black people have been raised within an environment that respects the truth of the Christian bible. The leaders of the various denominations have provided many gruesome stories of the fate of those who 'lie down' with other men. It would not be fair to say that all churches and Christians are anti-gay but it was my experience that being gay was frowned upon and seen as in the top five things that were sure to get you a banishment from 'god'.

I know many black people who are either lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transexual and some who refuse to be categorised by their choice of partner at a particular time - things and people change. They all have horror stories of how they have been verbally and sometimes physically attacked (my ex's brother was so badly beaten whilst they were both attending a gay pride march, that he was hospitalised for several weeks), all sad reflections on a world where we criminalise people only because someone or some text has told us it is okay. Naturally the messages are confused because the text is confusing and contradictory. Love your neighbour as yourself, but moralise and stone to death those who don't conform to this other rule over here in this section. God loves you, but if you don't do this then you will burn in eternal fire.

I don't think someone should be victimised because of their 'choice' of who to have a relationship with or who they are attracted to. In fact, just like heterosexuals, gay people are not out having sex all the time. I think it is part of the fear factor that used to infect the tabloid press and silly afternoon soaps but which has seeped like poisoned gas under the noses of the majority without hardly being noticed. It's called dumbing down - the lowest common denominator. I see it when I watch the talk shows like Oprah, Dr Phil, Montel (what's with the Sylvia Browne thing?) and the rest. No-brainers. How-to-fill-your-brain-with-utter-nonsense-for-an-hour. Pap. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they help people, but in the long run I don't think they help people to THINK! To really think. Buy this book; lose weight and you will be happier; here's a celebrity you should admire who is also selling a book and I will mention the title 45 times in the next ten minutes; the worst mother in the world is here...next...; here's a celebrity who is a complete prat but I have to say really nice things about cos s/he has a new film coming out which is as boring as hell...; do you know which brand of lipstick Paris Hilton is wearing this week...
I could go on but you get my drift??!!! It's funny but more than sad.

So how does this connect with black homophobia? It is part of the bigger problem, people making money from ignorance. People becoming famous for spouting pseudo-science as hard cold facts. Which leads us back to the same tactics of some of those sending people memes of the visions of hell, the devil and the words written in the 'good book'. The pastors, the self-appointed leaders, the Al Sharptons, the Jesse Jacksons and the other rent-a-quotes seem to always pop up when there is a high profile case with a television crew in tow.
If you fill your head with candyfloss then you won't be interested in educating yourself, freeing your mind, making decisions for you and your family based on facts and your own experience. Live vicariously and all will be well. We'll tell you what to think.

It's like another form of self-medication - just like religion.

07 December 2007

'You're Black, ain't Ya?'

I have a question. Well, several actually.

In order to be considered 'black' do you have to be a theist? Does being categorised as a black person mean you are automatically assessed as being a believer of the supernatural?
The rhetorical question 'You're black, ain't ya?' was put to me in response to me saying to a black woman that I did not believe in any form of the supernatural. She was astounded that I do not profess any allegiance with any organised religion, do not believe in any spirits from the 'other side', ancestor worship, ancient texts, the power of prayer, etc.What she concluded was that there was something wrong with me. Everyone needs to believe in something. It was better to believe in a god, any god than not. She went on to talk about what happens after we are dead and how she had felt the energies from the ancestors, etc.
[Now I need to say here that everyone is entitled to their views. It is only through sharing and respecting our differences that we can hope to form human bonds which enable us to tear down barriers and recognise the global family we are all part of.]
But even further she cast doubt on my membership of the 'black' community. The inference was 'all black people are theists'. Period.

I have been pondering on this for a while. My conclusions are that I felt a moment of sadness that so many black people are indoctrinated into belief systems which are based on old written texts, inaccurate reports, political expedience and motives aimed at political and economic control of the masses - and yet at this point in human history, we not only believe it but partake in the further indoctrination of our children and adults. I'm not just talking about black people - all peoples. We somehow don't want to take responsibility for what happens in our lives. We leave it to a god or the gods. We praise and worship and when natural disaster occur (as they do and have done for millions of years) and thousands of bodies are washed away along with homes and livelihoods, we say it was god's will. Those who survive say they praise god for saving them, not realising the irony of such a cruel god to spare them yet kill hundreds of children.

I understand that for some people religion is a way of coping with the difficulties that life throws their way. I understand that life, most times, doesn't make sense.How did we get here? What does it all mean? Of course we must have come here for a purpose. There must be something, some entity bigger than us...isn't there?I don't believe so. I do believe we are a fantastic example of evolution. Just like crocodiles and cats and species that are yet to be discovered and given a name. We are animals. Our history is fascinating but not to be clouded by stories fashioned at a time when we as humans had little scientific advances available for us to understand the world around us.We don't need stories, we need facts, evidence, creative and rational thinking. We need experiments to understand the brain and how it works. We know very little of what there is to know so why cling onto old stories when we have evidence that they were wrong and are still wrong?
I am aware that some people who have suffered the loss of children have the hardest time thinking that they may never see them again, but that is what I believe.
When you are dead you are dead. Until we have information to the contrary, hard unshakeable evidence then I will not fill the gaps with ideas based on myths and legends and adulterated stories.Knowledge takes time and humans are by nature impatient.
Let's spend our time concentrating on not discriminating, not berating someone for their choices, not harming each other and allowing ourselves to just be. Let's foster and respect individuality and give children a good education based on what they want to know about the realities of the world and their place in it. Let's look forward and not backwards.

'You're black, ain't ya?' spoke volumes for me.

06 December 2007

Live in the Moment

It is so easy to take life for granted. I went into to town the other day and spoke with a chemist whose son had died a few months ago. She was distraught as she spoke about his death and her loss. Her appetite had gone, her zest for life had ebbed away to just going through the motions each day. Her son had committed suicide at home, in her house and the question running through her mind constantly, she said, was 'What did I do wrong?' Her pain was huge and my words of comfort seemed so pathetic that in the end I said, 'Nothing I say is going to make you feel better' and she agreed.
We can't turn back the clock and change events. I often think of the people that I have angered or been angry with and now just try and focus on the forgiveness of myself and of others. It really helps me to live a better life. I don't always succeed but I try.
This woman can't bring her son back, can't say the things she wanted to say to him but didn't. He's gone and life has to move on but it is difficult for her.

So today I am going to be glad to be alive. To be able to breathe freely and enjoy everything that comes my way today. 'Live in the Moment' is the mantra of some of the New Age 'gurus' whose messages I normally reject but this one resonates with me. Live in the Moment.

04 December 2007

What is the Point of Nationalism?

Please tell me.

I don't understand why someone can feel 'patriotic' - what does it mean anyway? How is it useful to homo sapiens?

I am not 'proud' to be anything - not my race, sexuality, gender, age, size, height - it just doesn't make sense to me.

Have we not moved beyond the borders? Maybe not. I suppose my views could be viewed as either myopic or utopic depending on your position. No, I will say it very loudly - patriotism is very negative for the world. It stops people looking at other people as part of 'us' and more as 'them' - just plain wrong in my eyes.

I don't ever look at people as being part of a nation but part of the global family. Having given this issue some thought over a long period of time, reading giants of philosophy and science: Charles Darwin, Bertrand Russell, Epicurus, Stephen Hawkin, to name a few - I have come to the conclusion that artificial divisions amongst humans are not for me. I don't wish to encourage them in my life.

Here comes the real Ogre...
...Religion. If we look in particular at the Abrahamic religions they encourage, support and promote divisions amongst peoples. Their orgins are suspect and based on ancient myths which should have no place in modern societies today.

So some of my readers will disagree - and that is good! - but I have removed religion and any form of the supernatural from my life and I am so much the better for it.

If I think about black people: we have been sold a line and bought it hook, line and sinker for a number of reasons. If we used reason, rationale and our intellect then we would question what we have been told over the centuries and focused on scientific innovation rather than how to pimp a vehicle, we would focus on changing the world by throwing away outdated traditions, eradicating vague and contradictory texts which were written when people were more ignorant and had less scientific advances available than they are now.

We have people going to the moon, isolated DNA, genetic advances, treatment and prevention programmes for diseases which wiped out populations years ago and yet we believe 'the bible'. We believe it because we have been told to believe it.

I don't want to hear another excuse about what happened to 'us' in slavery'. We are still enslaved now if we even begin to think that. I see too many people making a ton of money out of peddling the same thing peddled over the last 100 years. Enough. Stop, stop, stop!

In one of my future blogs I will give you my take on why people like Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Oprah Winfrey are not the way to go for black people. I'm not saying they have nothing valid to say, but please forge your own path, your own mode of thinking. I'll stop there and expand on this issue later.

Nationalism is part of the big problem. Your skin colour tells me nothing about you and equally the same thing should apply to your country of birth or residence. It is all part of making assumptions which limit people and humanity as a whole.

Come on People - stop the flag waving xenophobic behaviour. Nationalism is negative. Nationalism kills.

Stop maintaining the systemic barriers created to keep people from knowing and caring about each other.

These are real challenges for humans. What do you think?