Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Another Taliban Acid Bath

In the West, we can generally live freely, with a fair degree of democracy and our rights to think freely preserved. Christianity has been rendered largely spineless in its power to influence policy, and we are required to curtail it only rarely. Not so with Islam, or rather the fanatical sub section of it that continues its murderous rampage wherever it's tendrils gain traction. 132 children are now corpses thanks to the latest act of divine inspiration, and the world reels in shock in its wake. Only we shouldn't, because these bearded goons have been doing this for many years, and the only difference with yesterday is one of scale. Now I recognise that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, thoughtful, and fine people, yet theirs isn't the voice being heard. And I think this needs to change. I think the moderates need to step up, to influence the disenfranchised youths before they mutate into the genocidal monsters capable of walking into a school and carrying out these acts. I'm under no illusion that this is a simple fix, nor a quick one, but any change for the better will come from the inside out. Successive western governments have lit the touch paper through our own acts of aggression, and whilst on occasion these may have been justified no such policy could succeed in the long run. No, to change hearts and minds it needs to happen before these young men and women reach the point of no return, because once you pass that the fundamentalist is usually there for good. What also seems obvious is that we must not prejudice the good and kindly Muslims whilst we watch the story unfold, because that would be perhaps as destructive as any course we could take. I dislike Christianity, and I dislike Islam, but I have a lot of time and warmth for many who count among their number. But then perhaps this is the difference; the majority of us will critique the ideas, but would never seek to cause harm. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could live in a world where the free exchange of ideas came without running the risk of violent repercussion? Where all genders, all races, all creeds could settle alongside each other and just get by? Is it really such a big ask? So beyond the realm?
I hope not. I guess we can only live by positive example, rejecting violence and embracing those values which enable society to grow together. Nobody expects people to agree all the time, but surely we can foster a society that's better than the one we have today?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why I Won't Ever Strike

So, Police staff are being balloted for possible strike action. If you're tempted to buy into this idea you may want to consider the general success rates strike action yields. Clue; it's low. Abysmally, horribly, unnervingly low. Oh, but you want to make a point, I hear you say? Err no, that isn't going to work, either, by simple virtue of the fact that you're effectively punishing those with little or no power to change things for you. And let's get real, we are the Police; we are here to serve and protect. That's the prime directive, and I really don't see how we can do that when we're not actually doing the job. And let's go further and observe that if money is that important to you then a career in law and order probably wasn't the wisest career path you could have chosen. I accept that a 1% increase is miserly, and I accept that austerity has stripped us down to what some might argue are dangerous levels. We don't have a whole lot of resilience, and I think we could do a lot of things much better. But aside from the fact that strike action never works I really think those considering doing so need to ask what they are in this business for? Speaking personally, I like making peoples bad days a bit better. When I'm on form, and when those around me are engaged we really can make a positive difference. And for me that's a privilege, and despite being quite an immense arse for long periods I do genuinely feel that I have a duty of care. So with this thought foremost I have no intention of punishing the general public for the foibles of my elected government, and if there is a strike my arse will remain firmly in my seat, doing what I can, giving it my best. To close, punk rocker John Lydon, when asked on one occasion to described the Sex Pistols he referred to them crisply as, "Cunts trying"
I happen to think this describes me perfectly, and probably a few of my colleagues, too. So if the day comes when strike action occurs forgive me for not joining you on the picket line. I'll be at my desk, alone if I must, trying to do my job. For all my faults, this is what I choose to do, and under no circumstances will I risk the well being of others to make a political point.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Unlucky In Love?

Another day, another article on how people have unrealistic expectations of marriage. And once again, the key point is lost amidst a fog of inanity. I'm going to be blunt, how's about you, and yes I mean YOU spend more time trying the be "The One", and less time trying to find "The One", and see where that takes you?
I have seen so many lovely people flit from relationship to relationship entirely unaware that what they seek was probably achievable within the thing they left behind. And no, I'm not saying stay in a bad relationship, but I am suggesting that we expand our vision and see the potential with existing ones. You think I'm over simplifying? Think I'm being unkind? I'm really not, I'm just stating the tediously obvious fact that relationships have to be maintained and cultivated and pruned in order for them to be the best they can be. Why should it be otherwise? It's a living organism isn't it ? And have you seen what happens to living things when they aren't tended to? Well done Sherlock; they decay, they wither, and they die, and it's almost always ugly. How many times have I seen people wax lyrical about the amazing new partner they've met, and yet within weeks, or maybe months it's all down the plug hole and I hear them bemoan how the spark had gone, how the magic was lost.
Yes yes, I can feel your heckles rising. How dare I suggest that you could have done more. That you both could have done more. Or that you may just lack the vision to really kick on and make something astounding between each other. Yet it is possible, and I speak from experience. And I reached this understanding at the moment when I decided that in order to find the right partner I had to be the right partner. I had to develop a deep understanding of what causes my wife to feel loved and cherished and empowered. I had to commit to making a daily effort to ensure this was the rule rather than the exception. And here's what happened; my wife became happier, more fulfilled, and being the incredible and classy lady that she is she reciprocated, and our mutual commitment has taken us on a journey that has blown us both away. So I'm saying that a great relationship is perfectly achievable, but I'm equally certain that you won't achieve it without making every effort to find out what makes him or her tick. Will you still have challenging days? Oh yeah. Will life sometimes get in the way and put a spanner in the works? Certainly. But the crucial difference will be is that you've established an underlying commitment to wanting someone else's highest good, which I regard as love incarnate. Romantic feelings may ebb and flow along with sexual desire, but when two people both want to consistently discover knew things about each other I'm confident that we can take relationships to amazing places. And keep them there.
In the event you are feeling judged further to reading this, or a failure, I don't want to make an effort to appease you. You have to decide the kind of person you want to be, and if what you are now isn't bringing you contentment then it is for you to make the necessary changes. Sorry if you wanted softly softly, or for me to justify your lack of vision. But isn't that what made you dissatisfied in the first place?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Men From The Boys

Emma Watson is getting a lot of attention this week, and so she should. It isn't just that she's spoken out about feminism at the UN, but more to do with the style in which she did it. It was a virtuoso performance, full of humanity and common sense and devoid of the aggression that has so often blighted what has always been a worthy cause. Over the centuries women have been wronged by men. Horribly so. And men now have to recognise this and start acting like, well, frankly real men. And let's be blunt, there's a shortage of real men out there. You know, males who are self aware and capable of communicating and acting in ways that empower those around them rather than corrode. And believe it or not that last observation was gender neutral, because men have also been busy wronging other men. Many seem blighted by a form of insecurity that restricts them from being fully featured. By this I mean able to be strong and vulnerable and true to themselves as opposed to constantly seeking to conform to some vague stereotype. We've allowed ourselves to become conformist and bland, beholden to the macho bullshit that frankly the world could do without. Strength, and I mean real strength is about presence of mind, emotional intelligence. Dare I say it, about emotional availability. This is nothing to do with the idea of New Man, who to me seems frankly dour and insipid. No, I mean men able to bring all their positive qualities to bare on a world that has so often experienced only the worst. How much pointless violence, how much vengeful thirst have we been the cause of? How often have we forsaken reason for brute force? This isn't to say we cannot be masculine, and if you think that then you're missing the point, which is just to suggest that we are capable of so much more if we'd just allow ourselves to be vulnerable sometimes. If we'd allow our compassion to outweigh brute instinct. Men at our best are just bloody brilliant. Funny, hard working, creative, steadfast, and more. Yet we've denied ourselves access to our better selves, and in the process ridden roughshod over the opposite gender. Time to cut that out guys. Time to let women be amazing and to quit being threatened by that. As a man with two daughters and a wife whom I regard as my Queen I make no apology for wanting to see more women in the world empowered. We will all be the richer for it, which is why I encourage you all to sign up to the #HeforShe campaign, which Emma Watson so majestically bought to the attention of the United Nations last week. It's about mutual empowerment, shared self actualisation, about bringing the best of us to the party and seeing where together we roam. Be more, be real, and empower others to do similar. Do we not owe ourselves this?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Riding The Wave

When I abandoned religious belief I embarked upon something of a quest to figure out how the world really was. I wanted answers, a narrative, and some additional understanding as to how I had come to get things so wrong. It's probably fair to say that I launched myself into this project with equal zeal as I had when I first came to faith at the age of 24. To know me is to know someone who doesn't do half measures. I'm an in for a penny, in for a pound kind of guy. Passionate, often zealous in my convictions, and I go full pelt. It's just who I am, how I'm wired. Or rather, it's how I formerly was. Thing is I've come to realise that the trouble with going full pelt is that it's a bit like excess speed. Sure, you might pass milestones a bit quicker, but the view along the way can get blurred. So I reached a point where I had to let the screaming locomotive otherwise known as my brain slow down, allow it to decelerate to a speed that actually enabled me to enjoy the journey. And let's face it the journey is a one way ticket; we are careening towards a terminus and none of us know the day or the hour. So then, what to do in the bit beforehand? Well, taking into account the fact that I appear to be a slow learner I just kind of decided that I wanted to enjoy the ride. And like most journeys there's a balancing act to be struck. Too slow and boredom sets in, too fast and you miss a lot of good stuff. So for me I'm into pacing it now. I want to have have fun, be authentic, and play some small part in making the lives of others better. I have a job that enables me to do that, and days like today really ram this home. Whether I'm dealing with a victim of domestic violence, a kidnap victim, or a confused elderly person I'm acutely aware that if I function to capacity I get to play a teeny part in making a persons bad day a little better. And when I'm not at work the same principle applies. Occasionally I can be quite amusing to be around. Ok, so mostly annoying, but amusing too. I can make you laugh, I can prompt you to think, and I do appear to have a special ability to coax people out of their shell. There's no window dressing, no veil to pull back. It's just me, just Rob. No agenda. Well actually, I guess we all have something of an agenda, so if pressed I simply say that I want to make each hour, each minute interesting. I want to experience the thrill of being alive, to treasure what I have even on the tough days, aware that the clock ticks callously on. This minute, these seconds, by the time you've finished this sentence they'll have gone forever. We're onto the next thing, in constant flux, caught upon the tidal flow of existence.
At the end of day I want to flourish and to enable others for flourish, too. I have no desire to seek eternal salvation because I do not think that there's a saviour out there. I think it's us, just you and I swimming in the oceans of existence. So like Doreen from Finding Nemo I'm going to just keep on swimming. Just keep on swimming, exploring the coral, the denizens, and trying to squeeze as much living as I can into whatever time my genetic code allows. I do not mourn eternity, nor find myself angst ridden because I lack a personal faith.
I am. I am now. This is enough for me. And I am grateful that I got the chance to ride these waves at all.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Checking In

I've probably changed a bit in the last year or so. More relaxed, less interested in those big questions that kept me awake for more years than I care to remember. It's too easy to succumb to the flow of other people's opinions and I just needed to figure out what belonged to me versus that which I'd filched from elsewhere. In a sense, I wanted to take time to figure out where the world ended and I began. Now I guess these lines are blurred for all of us, but I've settled on a few simple principles that appear by and large to work. For starters I've succeeded in thinking less, analysing less, which has just given me more mental bandwidth to focus on positives. I wanted to be an engaging and attentive husband, an entertaining and available father. And the free time I have I want to spend enjoying the natural world, the simple joys of good food, and exploring the geek side to my nature that loves movies, technology, innovation. I'm not out to conquer but I am out to flourish, and to enable those around me to do likewise. Professionally, I'm just turning up and doing my best to serve the public, increasingly aware that my employees are sliding ever more quickly into a quagmire of denial and corporate incompetence. It's an odd thing to see smart people refusing to listen to reason and often brute facts. It is also a little demoralising, but I console myself with the knowledge that I'm really darn good at what I do, and that I have a certain ability to get alongside people under pressure and to steady them somewhat. For those of you who've followed my blog for the last three years and enjoyed my rants against religion I have to warn you that my angry days are behind me. I choose not engage with the whole sideshow, although I would admit that the latest bunch of bearded goons from IS do occasionally make my nostrils flare. They of course are perfectly designed for failure, and the only real question is how much harm they cause before 21st century weaponry comes to a desert near them in the not too distance future to settle the matter.
Yeah I know, I'm leaping from topic to topic like a cat on a hot tin roof, and there's no depth to any of it. This blog was always meant to be intellectual Kleenex, effective and disposable. To that end mission accomplished. If you want depth take a philosophy class or read Winnie The Poo.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

The question that no sane mane would ever ask. Or so goes the myth. Thing is, if you do happen to have an arse the size of a small African country wouldn’t you rather know? Or is denial preferable? You see I’m a big fan of honest communication, even though I’m only too aware that this will sometimes cause others pain or disappointment. In fact, spend long enough around me, well actually no more than 30 seconds then I can more or less promise to say or do something that will get your goat. Sorry people, but what I lack in airs and graces I more than make up for in genuineness. So whether you’ve an arse like a bouncy castle or an attitude that smacks of hypocrisy, double standard, or just plain nonsense then I think I owe it to you to be straight. For the record I can do sensitive, with sufficient written notice, but I’m not one for treading on eggshells nor patronising you. Why would I do that? More to the point why would you want me to do that? I don’t get it. Anyway, the point for me is just to ask how honest do we want our interactions to be? If you have a fat arse then perhaps you have to decide whether you’re comfortable with that. Or if there’s other issues you have been blind to, or perhaps just genuinely unaware of then isn’t it better that somebody at least ventures an opinion? I do have one last bitch fest to share, and this is my loathing of that particular brand of human best described as the Ostrich. You know what I mean, that poor soul who cannot face those tough encounters, who’d rather bury their head and see if it all goes away. Sorry, but I’m contemptuous of this position. Its cowardice, plain and simple. It merits no respect, and I for one don’t indulge or pander to it. Truth is, cowards come in all shapes and sizes, but over time you will figure out who falls into this category.
I know what you must be thinking. What side of bed did Rob get out of today? Well it’s the same side as always. It’s just today I feel like bleating about it. I guess I just like honesty and directness. I like to know where I stand. And I warm to those capable of handling that.