Monday, 17 December 2012
According to some, if God were allowed in US schools the mass shooting of children and teachers would not have occurred. Really? In 1938 a crazed bomber blew up 38 children in a school, long before any bans on prayer were in place. Once again we come face to face with the mental health illness more commonly referred to as religion. So confident and aloof, so quick to claim that if only we doffed our caps and bowed the knee to the divine our lives would somehow be on more solid ground. Like a parasite religious belief infects and curdles the brain, rendering it mushy and credulous, capable of justifying the obscene as well as ignoring the blatantly obvious. It saddens me how it's victims are often kindly and decent, just seeking to give meaning to lives that otherwise seem bereft of it. I understand the need for meaning and I understand our need to overcome mortality, yet I often wonder at what cost this comes? Let's just take a step back for a second. If we're allowing state sanctioned prayed for Christianity in schools, shouldn't we also offer the same privileges for Islam, for Hinduism, for Zoroastrianism, or any of the other world religions? Should we not recognise our multicultural society and just open the flood gates. No. If you want to pray then fine. Do it at home, or on the bus, or on the toilet, or frankly wherever you want. But don't demand that your religion be given special treatment, especially in an age when it's strength is in decline. I once said that I would gladly kick Christianity's fetid carcass into the nearest open grave, and on occasion I've wondered if this was too harsh. Truth is, wider society is already doing it without my help, as the latest census figures prove. At the end of the day believing in the unknowable isn't going to protect our children; this is lazy thinking and an abdication of personal responsibility. If we wish to make this world better, our lives richer, our legacy stronger, we have to do the thinking, the reasoning, and the hard graft. God cannot help you. God is imaginary. But we can help ourselves and each other, and I suggest this is a more productive use of our time.
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Those of you who read this blog will be aware that I am a big supporter of gay rights, and a fierce critic of religious fool who seek to curtail them. I suspect this has lead some to wonder whether I am somehow in denial over my own sexuality. Aside from the fact that such a question is tedious, and nobody's business but my own, I will take take this opportunity to clarify the matter. I am heterosexual. I have enough kinks and fetishes in this arena and fear that should I expand my repertoire further then I'd be mightily short of time to do anything else. The simple truth is, most of the gay people I have spent time with have just been decent and kind and interesting, which are qualities I admire in anyone regardless of sexual preference. I like easy company and good conversation, and I've rarely lacked this in their company. I also find the whole alpha male stereotype crazily dull, and I've endured too long in the company of male meatheads who have the communication skills of a zygote and the self awareness of a dung beetle. Put simply, I like interesting people, and most of the gay men I know are more interesting than many of the straight ones. So sorry for those whom were busy deciding that I'm in the closet and allowing my repressions to seep out through my blog. It isn't so. I'm not in the closet about anything; I'm my own man and I'm not seeking the approval of others. I've been candid in every blog I've ever penned. From my views on religion, social justice, morality, to my well chronicled sexual preferences. How you perceive me in light of this is really up to you, but lets not have any of this nonsense about me concealing my true nature. What you see is really what you get.
Monday, 10 December 2012
Mrs Saldhana killed herself. Let’s get that out of the way. Nobody forced her to do this. Nobody issued an instruction. She made a life choice, a terrible and final and utterly over the top one. Whilst many are rightly critical of our two young Australian half wits who engineered this prank, they are not responsible for her death, and they most certainly do not have blood on their hands. I spent three years working with the Samaritans back in my mid twenties. Suicide is a complicated thing, but please understand people who choose this path rarely do so purely on the basis of one incident. There are often contributory factors, a back story, additional material causing a person to make a final decisive choice. Here’s where I’m intrigued, though. I wonder what support Mrs Saldhana got from the hospital. Was she chastised by her bosses? Did the finger of blame point her way? I don’t know, and we probably won’t pre enquiry. But I know enough about public services to suspect that a blame culture can often cause the rank and file unnecessary distress. When things go wrong we often seek to apportion blame, and sometimes I fear we do this without a great deal of thought. Enquiries rumble, people are summoned into closed door meetings, everything is pored over in the greatest detail. Mrs Saldhana was duped by a prank call. She made a mistake. She probably could have done better. But that’s all. That’s it. She was a human who made a mistake. She isn’t the first. I do hope she wasn’t made to feel as if she’d done something worse than was actually the case. I hope her line managers weren’t too eager to discipline or play the heavy. Some people are more fragile than others, and to find herself at the centre of a media frenzy must have been an imposing terror for her. Anyway, to cut to the chase, this isn’t my attempt to cast people in the role of heroes or villains. It is simply an appeal that when things go wrong, when mistakes get made, we ease up on each other and are aware that our reactions have consequences we cannot always foresee. These daft antipodeans wouldn’t have made the call had they known the outcome, and the hospital would have clearly given Mrs Saldhana the utmost support had they any inkling of her fragility. Mistakes were made, lines were crossed, and the wheels came off. Welcome to planet earth.
Posted by Rob Barnes at 18:40