What Is An Ally?

Allies. They are everywhere! Celebrities proclaim their allyship to Black people, to trans people, to women. What do minorities think of allies?

Ayishat Akanbi recently said that a friend said to her that Akanbi waking up in the morning is a revolutionary act. Akanbi said that some people who have few troubles in life see themselves as being waged in a constant battle for survival. “Ally” is a word from war. Therefore people who see themselves are being locked in a daily struggle for survival will want allies, whereas Akanbi wants friends or acquaintances.

Akanbi also says allies think minorities are weak and fragile and so need the help of allies. Dr Debra Soh tweeted, “Allies pride themselves on treating minorities like we’d be incompetent without them.”

I have watched some youtubes on what it is to be an ally. They push the view that there is one way to be Black or gay etc and all Black people have the same thoughts, life experiences and way of living, the same for gay. It seems to be an ally is to swallow a stereotype of Black or gay people. It also seems to be a virtue signal or what used to be called “shining your halo”.

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I have come across the idea that all LGBT people are the same. The last incident was in February when a new friend said I don’t come across as gay. I said, “Because I’m not shouting ‘You’re denying my existence!'” And he said “Yes.”

Quite a big example of allyship, patronising behaviour and stereotyping came from a heterosexual friend at a music festival. I clearly was crazy for a woman and she appeared to be crazy for me. I think everyone in a 2 mile radius knew about it. I met my friend later that night, and he started telling me I should have a relationship with the woman. He also assumed I was in the closet simply because I had never mentioned being bi to him before. I was 30 years old. He started telling me I should get with her, to not hold back, to put on my facebook profile that I am LGBT.

I know he was coming from a good place. His sister is gay and in a long term relationship and she and her girlfriend have a child. He was coming from a good place but made assumptions about me, he put his sister’s experience of being gay on me instead of respecting me as an individual, he forgot anything else he knew about me from our previous two years of friendship, and he thought he needed to teach me how to be gay.

He was the good guy, trying to help me be liberated. He didn’t stop to let me speak, he didn’t ask me any questions about how I see the world, he just made assumptions that I must be in the closet and he was going to help me throw open the doors and come out.

The truth is I have never been in the closet. Being bi is as natural to me and as interesting as having dark hair. I was fully a part of a religious group for LGBT Christians, yet my friend assumed that my religion hindered my gayness.

I really did not need to hear the story of his toe dipping into the pool of gay. “It’s Ok, I’ve blown a guy.” Me and my other friend went, “Arrrrghhhhh!” and covered our ears. The ally then went on to say, “It’s OK, it was at an orgy!” Again, me and the other guy shouted, “Aarrrrghhhh!” Mind bleach was in order.

I do differ a lot from the mainstream view of LGBT people. I am Orthodox religious, meaning I am OK with same sex marriage for legal reasons, but not spiritually. I am not a leftist. I’m politically and socially a centrist. I worked for 20 years in hospitals and homeless people’s accommodations. I have done street patrols alongside the police, giving emergency first aid and saving lives. Like many LGBT people of my age, I have actually helped people and saved lives, unlike the social justice warriors who claim to help people and save lives by waving a placard and harassing people on twitter. I do believe in the need for LGBT spaces. I believe in the need to be real about the reasons why LGBT people have sky high levels of mental illness and emotional fragility and I am honest about the need for LGBT people to make themselves anti-fragile.

I do believe there is a need for LGBT spaces. Yes, there is a lot of acceptance in society now, but I was lucky to have had counselling by a gay woman at a gay centre. The counsellor totally respected my religion and my different choices, but she specialised in counselling LGBT people, so she was far more able to help me at that point in my life than a heterosexual counsellor because of the issues I faced at the time. The LGBT centres had homework rooms for any school pupil or college student who lived in a noisy environment at home, they had therapy sessions and groups for issues that are prevalent among LGBT people, activities groups and a library. There was always a member of staff who was a trained counsellor on shift if anyone walked in off the street and needed a chat. LGBT centres can be great places, and they have been important places when I have needed mental health or emotional health help and support, and legal advice when facing yet more homophobia in the workplace.

However, LGBT centres have disappeared and LGBT bars and clubs have reduced in numbers. Going to a supposed LGBT venue on Teesside three times over a period of ten years was a negative experience every time. Heterosexuals who were bullies and homophobic came into the venue and made fun of the LGBT people there, behaved aggressively, one couple were on the floor doing BDSM things which really freaked me out and another time I was there, I was the only gay person there. Everyone else was heterosexual. I was upset because at the time I had no contact with other LGBT people, so I had gone out to have a gay night, I had looked forward to it, only to find myself surrounded by people who were not gay.

Another thing about allies is that we don’t vote them in. Anyone can declare themselves an ally and we just have to suck it up. In a previous post, I have said how shocked I was to hear about one famous UK TV personalitywas now my ally. I was shocked that a person who behaved in ways I certainly do not support was my spokesperson to the world. I did not want her to be! But I have no choice.

During Pride month, we have a barrage of corporations and companies backing Pride but giving zero help to LGBT people. One recruitment agency was celebrating Pride month by offering discounts on work related courses. Great! LGBT people in the UK, despite our nice sounding laws, face open discrimination in the workplace. Cut price courses for LGBT people to help us is a great way to celebrate Pride month. Only the cut price courses were for everyone, not just LGBT people. So a company was capitalising on LGBT people and our struggles without actually going any extra mile to help us. But this company can declare themselves an ally.

As Akanbi said, I don’t want allies. I want friends. I want genuine compassion, not pity. I want genuine connections with other people. I do not want to be patronised or stereotyped. I want to be seen as the unique human being I am; flawed, imperfect and special, different and equal.

I stretch out the hand of friendship.

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Robin Di Angelo’s Fragility

Robin Di Angelo states she is a racist. She says so throughout her book. She proclaims herself as a racist from the time she was in her mother’s womb to the present day. Therefore, the best thing to do with White Fragility and anything Di Angelo has to say on race is to ignore.

I have not bought the book, the tax man wants all my money, so what I have done is go one better; I have listened to Di Angelo talk about her book. She strikes me as someone obsessed, in the way that Professor Alfred Kinsey was obsessed about sexual experiences. Yes, Kinsey brought about several books that brought more tolerance to lgb people in society – goooood – but his methods were unscientific – he used paedophiles and men in prison as his test subjects, and he watched and filmed people masturbating. I’m sure there’s words for these actions. Kinsey’s own staff walked out on him, his family was torn apart and Kinsey himself became ill with exhaustion. This all culminated in Kinsey cutting his own penis when he read a letter from an abuse survivor who said that Kinsey had made what had happened to her “normal”. Kinsey saw the error of his ways and went back to studying gnats. So Di Angelo reminds me of Kinsey; she is obsessed, in her case with race.

Something else Di Angelo reminds me of when I watch her talking to a room full of women is an evangelical women’s conference leader. Nothing of substance in what she says, everything she says is based on her own personal experience which she then projects onto the lives of all white women. She leans on a lectern, she makes disparaging jokes about white women, she laughs at white women, she imagines the worst of white women. She is clearly playing to an audience of women who seem to be as obsessed with hating white women as she is. Like evangelical women speakers who say things like, “I hate it when my husband leaves wet towels on the bed, don’t we ladies?” Di Angelo race baits her audience and they laugh and agree with everything she says about the sins of white women. Like evangelical women’s leaders, Di Angelo is not clever. She shows no intellect and no ability to reason. She is driven purely by emotion.

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Everything Di Angelo thinks of white women is bad. She may well be depressed, hating herself and then projecting that self hatred onto others.

There is no data at all to back up any of Di Angelo’s claims. I watched Di Angelo interviewed by a Black woman. Di Angelo made several comments aimed at the interviewer, assuming racism the woman has experienced, and Di Angelo did not wait for the interviewer to say yes or no. The interviewer did ask Di Angelo to quote the data for the theories she is putting forward, and Di Angelo ignores this question and instead talks about another of her theories. In sum, Di Angelo treats a Black person as a prop and ignores their intellect.

Ben Shapiro, who graduated Harvard Law school, has done a youtube where he goes through every law Di Angelo quotes and he states that the laws Di Angelo quotes were not enacted as she says they were, there were other laws that ran beside them to ensure equity and Di Angelo’s knowledge of USA law is lacking.

It is interesting how Di Angelo constantly talks about the evils of white women, but not white men. Again, is she simply depressed and projecting?

Di Angelo says many things that reveal her belief that Black Americans are weak and feeble. For example, “I control Black people in my orbit”. Really? Or the assertion that white people think they have the right to touch Black bodies. I’m sure my friends would have something to say if I started touching their bodies.

The really telling part of the conference with an audience is when Di Angelo puts up a picture of men in a board meeting. She says how she would feel sexism and a “life time of entitlement exuding out of these men’s pores” if she were in that room, and how those men do not want women or Black people in that room because they do not value women or POC. She says, “I don’t know them, but I think they would feel contempt because they don’t see the perspectives of women or people of colour as valuable. I believe that to my core. I don’t know them, but I’m pretty damn sure.”

She then says, “What version of that is coming from my pores to people of colour?”

She hates herself. Let’s get this lady some help and stop reading the ramblings of what appears to be an emotionally unstable person as a blue print for society.

Personally, I doubt Di Angelo is a racist. Listening to her, I think she’s just not a nice person. She is unprofessional in the workplace, making fun of a Black colleague’s hair. Di Angelo goes on to say how this was a big learning curve for her and she was able to regain her colleague’s trust after Di Angelo had talked with a white friend and then the colleague she had made fun of. Just don’t make fun of colleagues. That is an easy thing to not do.

Another incident Di Angelo describes as her own racism surfacing was when she stepped over a homeless person on her way into a shop, and it was only after she had stepped over him that she realised he was Black. Maybe don’t step over anyone. Di Angelo may not be racist. She comes across as simply an entitled, unpleasant person.

Di Angelo expects that the rest of us are like her. What sort of people is Di Angelo surrounding herself with if she has such a low opinion of other human beings?

Di Angelo said, “I’m not interested in your intentions.” This is where she differs from evangelical women speakers. In Christianity, as well as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, intentions are hugely important. God sees the person’s heart. All our interactions with our friends and family and spouse or partner assumes the best intentions, and if our friend has not messaged us for a week but has been thinking about us, that is fine because we know everyone is busy and our friend has the best of intentions. We don’t throw the friendship away because intentions are not good enough.

Ten years ago, I worked in the NHS. In training, we were told about a nurse who called everyone “cheeky monkey”. “Cheeky monkey” is a normal phrase to use in England, especially with people you have a good relationship with. It means you think the person is nice and fun to be around. She called a male patient who was Black “cheeky monkey” and he reported her for racism. There was no racist intent on the part of the nurse, but the NHS decided her intentions did not matter, but the victim saw the comment as racist, and so the nurse was suspended from work.

As Jonathan Pie shouted over two years ago, “Who is this helping?” A nurse losing her job over an innocent comment helps no one. It took her three years to train, she invested a lot of money in training. Now she cannot work as a nurse and has “racist” hanging over her head for any future employer to see and prejudge her on. The world is one nurse short now. Did the man’s complaint cure his condition? No, but he lost a qualified nurse who liked him as a person. Everyone lost out.

Yes, complain about racism, sexism, homophobia or basic bad behaviour when it is real. The intent of the person is highly important.

White Fragility the book has been in schools and colleges in the USA for several years and it is coming to UK schools next. It is totally unsuitable for all the reasons I have quoted above. Teaching children to hate themselves runs counter to everything we know about good child development and mental wellbeing.

In the UK, there are even more problems with Di Angelo’s claims that white women have inherent privilege and power. Most of the UK is poor. White students are the group second least likely to go to university. Council housing areas are poor and are mainly inhabited by white families, especially in the north and midlands of England. Around the world, most people do not know about the rape gangs that are based in every town and city in the UK. They are mostly made up of men from Pakistani origin and they mainly target white girls to traffik and abuse. Some girls who have been gang raped on a weekly basis by older men were as young as 11. Many went to the police and social services. Most were told they were prostitutes and wanted the sex and the drugs and the alcohol. In the UK, it is illegal to have sex under the age of 16, a child is not deemed to be able to consent therefore all sexual activity below the age of 16 is statutory rape. Yet these girls were told they had chosen a lifestyle of prostitution and the police even arrested the girls, not the rapists. Some victims who were arrested had bruising and cuts to their bodies.

The former Home Secretary Jack Straw said some white girls “are seen as easy meat”. He was shouted down as racist against non-white people. He stopped trying to speak out about these horrendous crimes. However, everyone in the UK knows that working class white girls, especially girls from council estates, are seen as “slags”. Boys are seen as criminals and girls are seen as sexually promiscuous from a young age.

The police and social services did not want to be seen as racist, and the racial dynamic of this horrendous crime was so obvious – brown (often Muslim background) men raping white girls that they turned a blind eye. Tens of thousands of girls have been gang raped on a weekly basis, and this is still continuing because the police refuse to arrest the men the girls accuse. There have been several high profile court cases, but in many towns and cities across the UK, white girls are still targeted to be traffiked and raped every single weekend.

On top of this, there are few good jobs, the education offered in schools is rubbish and agendas are pushed and real issues are ignored. Jasvinder Sanghera runs a charity called Karma Nirvana. Sanghera is a Sikh, raised in England, and was married to a man in Asia she did not know and against her wishes. She managed to run away and now runs her charity for Asian girls who face being married against their will. She wrote to 150 schools in her area. Only one school let her in to speak to the students about forced marriage. The other schools refused her, most blanking her completely, but some answered her emails and said they couldn’t let her into their school to speak about child marriage and rape because they did not want to appear to be racist.

Who is this helping?

Children in the UK are rated as the most unhappy in Europe. Like American children, UK children have soaring rates of depression and anxiety. Bringing a book into schools that tells some children to hate themselves even more than they already do based on skin colour is not a recipe for healthy children or a healthy nation.

Who is this helping?

We need to stop buying copies of White Fragility. Like the work of Professor Kinsey, Di Angelo hopes to help. Like Professor Kinsey, her work is not based in reality, but unlike some of Professor Kinsey’s work, Di Angelo’s work will only harm people and nations and make us more fragile as individuals, and more fragile as nations. Professor Kinsey’s work set out to lift up a minority. That is the key difference. Di Angelo seeks to tear down one group. She does not seek to lift up anyone. She sees African Americans as weak and she ignores all other racial groups such as Chinese Americans and Indian Americans, and most strikingly of all, Native Americans. I cannot see any good coming from this book nor its philosophy of tearing down. It will only serve to make more people fragile.

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Blame Churches: Violence and Despair

In the year 2000, I attended a well known “Christian arts festival”. I have contacted the man in charge of the festival numerous times in the last few months and he has not responded. He was the acting festival co-ordinator in 2004 when I first contacted him.

I went to this “Christian” festival having heard many good things about it. In the three days of the festival, attending seminars and workshops throughout, I heard the Bible quoted once. Everything else that was offered to us, the audience, by the speakers was based purely on their feelings. For example, I went to the workshop on disability because I am disabled. The workshop concluded that because God does not have arms and legs that “God must be disabled”. A man of Afro-Caribbean descent said he grew up seeing Jesus depicted as “Swedish” – he meant with long blond hair and white skin – and so did not know how he was Jesus’ brother as per the Scriptures. He did not say anything about everyone depicting God as they themselves are. Chinese people have a Chinese Jesus. Coptic Christians have amazing art depicting a brown Jesus with big eyes and a high forehead wearing a crown and royal robes and sitting on his majestic throne.

This was the same festival and weekend when John Bell – the speaker who came out as gay two years ago after he has had a long, successful career making money from God – made fun of the Bible, referred to LGB people as “greys, thespians and bifocals”, gave a nervous giggle every time he mentioned us and seemed embarrassed to be talking about us. He made fun of the Bible several times during his talk, and we were all thankful – all 2000 of us – for the young man who stood up at the end and said he was gay, he was celibate because of his faith and God is worth so much more than the festival seemed to think. He got a standing ovation.

I went to a talk on sexuality in the “safe space”, the outside of which was enshrouded in a rainbow. The talk was led by a woman who calls herself Larry, and in her talk she said that getting drunk, sleeping around and taking illegal substances was totally fine for Christians to do. I asked why a Christian festival was teaching things that go against the Bible. The entire room erupted with people shouting at me, screaming about how their opposite sex marriage at the age of 16 didn’t work out, shouting at me about what a terrible person I am etcetera, etcetera. I was surrounded and threatened with physical violence. Remember, this room was called “Safe Space”.

For the two remaining days of the festival, people approached me to say they agreed with everything I had said and they wished they had spoken out, too, but they were “too scared”. People were scared for their physical safety at a “Christian festival”. One of these people was a Spring Harvest speaker.

It was only 4 years later that I even thought to contact the man who runs this festival because the festival kept sending me their promotional flyers and money off my next booking. So I emailed the festival co-ordinator and told him of my experience. His response was “of course” I had been threatened with violence because I am “evangelical”. He also said he could not guarantee my safety if I returned to the festival.

First, I am not evangelical. I am orthodox Celtic Christian. Second, I work at various non religious festivals and events and none would ever be OK with violence or threats of violence. They employ security guards and have 50-150 volunteers to ensure the well being of everyone. Third, a Christian festival says it cannot guarantee the physical safety of an attendee if they quote the Bible. There is a legal issue here. There is also the moral issue of a man is running an event in a remote location where he supports groups threatening a small disabled woman.

Of course I have not returned to this festival and I have spoken to bands who have been on the festival line ups about my experience. A Christian charity that works primarily with LGBT people and is run by LGBT Christians say their phone doesn’t stop ringing for days every single year after this festival has been on. The festival’s really unsound teaching has a negative affect on especially LGBT people. One year, this festival had speakers who taught that wives of bisexual men should bless their husbands having extra marital affairs. As a bisexual, I find this highly insulting. I have also been told that my experience of threats of violence for quoting the Bible “is not unique”.

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Fast forward 20 years, and Christianity in the UK is an utter mess. Some churches have lurched to the left, and like the festival, they base their church on next to no Bible teaching but base their church on feelings and whatever is fashionable to say and think. And other churches have lurched to the right, using the Bible as a weapon to control people and gain wealth and fame. Christian bookshops mirror these agendas. Either the books are completely unsound with crazy theories and even crazier language (including swear words in headings on pages and derogatory, sexualised language) or they stereotype men and women – women as mothers and sexual abuse victims and men as leaders, world builders who are saving us all. Very few books in Christian bookshops focus on the Scriptures but instead are based in modern life issues. Many are based on emotion with very few facts.

Like with people on the political left, people on the religious left are motivated by compassion. However, like with the political left, people on the religious left tend to not back up their beliefs with data or the Bible. They often hold beliefs that go in direct opposition to the Bible.

People on the religious right are motivated by keeping to the Scriptures and their original meaning. However, in many churches, Scriptures are used as a text to back up agendas and there is a distinct lack in genuine compassion and understanding of people. Data is skewed to back up arguments.

However, one important difference between the religious right and the political right is I am seeing much more compassion and love for people in the political right. It is the political right at the moment who are talking about freedom and also forgiveness.

I’m in the political centre and in the religious centre. I can see good in both the left and right, and I can see their failings.

What I can see is the mess of the UK church with both right and left wing churches following the fads of society (climate fear, intersectionality, metoo, statues being pulled down) instead of leading. Neither right nor left centres Jesus. They say they do but one glance at both right and left shows that they are desperate to be seen by people as good and virtuous. They are more concerned with virtue signalling than upholding their origins and raison d’être.

How can we expect people rioting in London or Portland to stop and talk sense when the churches spout the same nonsense and support the same aggressive or even violent behaviour? How can we expect people to find solace in religion when religion reflects the same attitudes and behaviour of the outside world?

When churches move away from Jesus, there is no reason for their existence. The church, according to the Bible, is supposed to be a beacon, a place of safety, a place where all are welcome and can find the help they need both from God and from other humans. Churches are supposed to be about uniting people into a family with the understanding that all are sacred and all are loved dearly by God. The church is supposed to lead and be the Kingdom of God and building the Kingdom of God here on Earth.

We need to get our heart back, and that is the heart of Christ. We need our hearts to beat in time with His.

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Blame Churches: The Rise of Control

Today, I am going to look at controlling behaviour. I believe we are seeing a lot of controlling behaviour in the movements around us today – especially when people get involved in protests on issues they know little about. I also believe churches and Evangelical Christianity has done a lot to make controlling behaviour acceptable.

Ten years ago, I emailed the Evangelical Alliance about a church I had just left that was more like a cult, and I listed the malevolent behaviours demonstrated towards me by the “leadership”. I got a reply that was a bitch fest between two workers saying things like, “What do we do with a rant like this?” followed by laughter signs. I forwarded my email and theirs back to them and said I was going to copy their response to all the church leaders I know across the UK. They responded with a more considerate email but still took no responsibility at all, nor any action against a church that bore the name of the Evangelical Alliance.

Church leaders and Christians across the UK call the church and the denomination I left a “cult”. Or “cultic”. It certainly operates as a cult and has key features of a cult.

From the moment you enter any organisation that wants to control you, you are “love bombed”. You are paid individual attention, which could seem to be a normal welcome into a church. You are then told of the big social programme the church has. The church had a socialising event on almost every night of the week. You get instant friends and a friendship group. You also get taken away from all other friendship groups, including other Christian friendship groups. The denomination I left deliberately sets up churches in university towns. Young adults are away from home for the first time. They are ripe for the picking.

Young adults/teenagers are very trusting. They have been brought up to trust adults. They think everyone who says they want to help them means it. They do not suspect that a person who seems very nice and says very nice things is actually out to control them and get money from them.

The main feature of a cult is the “leadership” – usually one or two or several men – and they are always right. They cannot be wrong. I got “into trouble” (hence left) for telling people to read the Bible themselves, or when I asked a question and I was told “ask leadership”, I asked the person why they could not tell me. This was always in response to the beliefs the church and members had that were not mainstream Christian beliefs. Despite church members constantly saying they were “Biblical”, they could not point to where in the Bible backed up their odd beliefs. So I was constantly told, “Ask leadership”.

In the protests of the last two years around issues of the environment and racial justice, if anyone says, “Some of the claims are not backed up by the data”, people go nuts at you. I have lost two “friendships” because I do not believe some of the claims of the organisation Black Lives Matter apply to the UK. Black Lives Matter was set up in the USA to deal with issues specific to the USA such as police brutality which is a very real issue in the USA. In the UK in 2019, 4 people were murdered by UK police. Two were white and two were BAME and they were killed while they were carrying out a terrorist attack in London. We do not face the same issues of police brutality in the UK. However, just saying that and quoting the data is enough for people to lose it with you. There is no logical explanation for this.

The leaders of the cultic “church” I went to kept talking about the “authority” they had in preaching and over the lives of everyone in the church. The church members talked often about authority and their leaders’ authority over them. In the Bible, “authority” is mentioned in three ways:

1) God’s awesomeness and kingliness.

2) Oppression from an evil source.

3) There is one verse in the Letters in the New Testament that mentions church leaders’ authority but there is no explanation of what this means.

So we can conclude from the Bible that church leaders should not be constantly talking about their “authority” in any way. The leaders of the church I went to interpreted “authority” to be “boss, and not a nice boss”. “Bully” would be a better description. The Bible does say we are to respect our leaders, but these guys did not want respect, they wanted full, unquestioning obedience. And money.

The two major protest movements of the last two years – Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter – have fund raising pages that have raised millions of pounds sterling. No local community has received any money from these fund raising pages. No Black person has been given better housing from this fund. No nature reserve has been better equipped. The British people are very generous. We are very kind and generous people. People give money in good faith, but there is no information of how the money given is spent. Both Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion raise serious issues. The problem is how we go about addressing those issues and how to do something that actually makes a difference.

Cults and many churches develop a “Them v Us” strategy to keep the church folk together, fighting against a common enemy. I have heard ridiculous things said about the people of Denmark being so liberal that children cannot be taught that taking illegal substances is wrong and there is no discussion allowed around same sex relationships. More recently, I heard church folk say there are evil forces out to get students drunk, when the reality is many students today look at the cost of their course and choose to study more and do extra curricula activities that look good on a CV such as film club or the debating society. Many students do get drunk, yes, but there is a nationwide movement among students to not get drunk now.

The polarisation of Left and Right, Republican and Democrates, Conservatives and Labour has divided the UK and the USA. Friendships and even families have been torn apart by this “Them v Us” attitude. People are so angry, and people seem like they want to be angry. This is not good for any of us and it keeps people apart, not unified.

Churches often have “missions”. The last church I was in picked a council estate in which to have their “mission”. There was no consultation with anyone who lived on the estate, but the church went into the school on the estate to lead lessons and worship, and set up numerous activities on the estate that were not well attended and the whole thing fell apart within months.

Pulling down statues and blocking off major roads in London may sound or feel good at the time, but who does it actually help? Has any BAME person felt their life improve dramatically since Edward Colston’s statue was felled? Has any tree been saved or ocean dredged of all its plastic since London Bridge was closed off by middle class people doing yoga and dancing? We have to ask what our actions really achieve. Are we really helping people or saving the Earth, or are we just back patting and getting caught up with emotion?

I have to say a church I went to in the past had successful ongoing work in the community around the church that I and several qualified people were involved with and that the people of the local area trusted. We provided cheap, nutritious meals, surplus from the Allotment Association, and a listening ear and any help needed with things like gas bills or debts.

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Cultic church leaders will speak from the front of church and say how evil the world is, how evil anyone not in their particular church building are, and they will even slate members of their own church behind their backs. When someone leaves a cultic church, the congregation are told that that person is evil and following the devil, and it is often suggested that people avoid them and break off all friendship ties with them. I have seen this happen to others and I pulled the church leader up on it – which didn’t win me brownie points – and it has happened to me. As soon as you leave a church, you lose most of your “friends”, meaning they were not really your friends. Most of the time, when people leave churches, it is not because they have suddenly become satanists, but they have been treated badly by the church.

Cultic church members are taught to think the worst of other humans, and even other church members. Behaviour and even thoughts are controlled. I remember a friend who worked for a church telling me his church mentor had said to him, “Next week, we are going to talk about your thought life.”

Most cultic churches are full of people with money or students whose career path will render them a lot of money. I remember looking around the cultic church and thinking, “There’s no smelly people here.” I was noticing the complete lack of homeless people or people with addiction issues in the church. One of the Black members of the church said to me that all the BAME church members were from wealthy backgrounds and were highly paid professionals. He said, “They’re not exactly asylum seekers.” Some cultic churches will have homeless people and asylum seekers and even a token disabled person who appear on all the church promotional information but in reality most of these people are ignored by most people in the church.

Why do these cultic churches and other current movements do so well? Because humans feel there is something bigger than us. Humans want to be involved in something that is bigger than themselves. Humans want to do good, and humans want to feel good. Humans want to be around other humans and have friends. Whether it’s cultic churches, a protest, a local group, people have a natural urge to do something and to belong to something.

I am ashamed of the UK Church. Some churches are good places, led by good people who delegate and expect their members to be self-sufficient in their faith and take responsibility for their life. Some church leaders are the best people to know. However, many are not. The Church in the UK could have led the nation in emotional, mental and spiritual health during lockdown. This opportunity was missed.

I am under the impression many church leaders do not believe the Christian message at all because they are too busy with being led by political movements than being led by a movement of the Holy Spirit. They seem to care little about Jesus and care very much about looking “good” in front of the “right” people – people with money and influence. In general, churches have taken part in controlling people rather than fight against control.

Religion is a relationship between the individual and God. The individual is free to read their holy book and seek to understand it themselves. Bible studies and online lectures and groups can help, but if that group or lecture seeks to control the person or gain money from them, it is probably a good idea to leave. A person is designed to relate to others but also be free. Free to think and feel and believe what they want, even if is something I do not agree with or others do not agree with. Our minds are our own, and our faith is our own.

We need to choose our friends well, as Amadou and Mariam advise us in Je Te Kiffe “Choisissez bien vos amis” Choose your friends well.

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Blame Churches: Hyper Emotional States

I left churches for good seven years ago. I have not looked back. I have my faith, I love my cultural background that interweaves with my religion, and no one can take that away from me.

In recent weeks with all the trouble we have seen in the UK and USA, I have been thinking again about how I started seeing very questionable behaviour in churches that I believe is linked to what is happening now.

Professor Gad Saad, the rapper Zuby and others call what we are seeing now with riots, statues being torn down and white people repenting their lack of melanin “emotional incontinence”. I think emotional incontinence is definitely at play here along with a lot of manipulation, people told they are good or evil and group think.

I don’t do group think which is why I was never popular in churches.

Around 2004, I started seeing “ministries” for women popping up in different churches and as movements in their own rights. Speakers like Joyce Meyer became very popular. Anyone can set up a ministry at the drop of a hat. I can set up a ministry right now. So can you. There are no qualifications nor standards required.

The “ministries” I saw that were aimed at women often focus on how different women are to men, which is true in many senses, but one result was these ministries kept women separated from men and some women members became quite resentful of men. Other “ministries” I saw were aimed at women who were mentally ill, often due to being survivors of child abuse or rape as adults. None of the “ministries” were led by nor staffed by women who even had a Level 2 in Counselling Skills. Joyce Meyer addresses abuse a lot in her many books. Joyce Meyer does not even have a basic counselling certificate. She has a degree in Divinity. That’s it. She hasn’t thought to put herself through the rigorous training and checks that a counselling certificate requires.

I actually went to four “ministries” as a weekend away with friends or an event with friends. I found very little Biblical basis for anything that went on in these meetings or retreats, but what I did see was the whipping up of emotions and getting women to see themselves as victims who needed help. All events were led by women with no qualifications in counselling, but they all seemed to be on an ego trip, talking about how many women they were “helping” and “freeing” from pain.

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I was in long term friendships with the women I went to these events with. None were helped by these events. None had any breakthrough emotionally or spiritually. These “ministry” events were a knees up, and expensive knees ups at that. I am partially trained as a counsellor. In counselling or helping in any sort of way, you should always ask “Who is benefitting?” Who benefits from the interaction: The person asking for help or the person giving the help?

I saw these ministries and at the time, around 2004 and 2005, the words “smoke screen” went through my head a lot whenever I thought about them. It is a smoke screen to keep women from genuinely experiencing the faith and from examining the Scriptures on their own. Keep women emotional and traumatised. To me, it looked like a deliberate plan. One “ministry” leader at my church was outraged that only two men wanted to go on one of her “ministry” weekends. She said “Obviously men don’t want to sort their lives out.” No, men had more sense. Men are naturally not as emotions-led as women. I think, like me, the men saw through this egotistical woman and her “ministry”. I think they also saw the same lack of results that I saw.

As I met more and more Christians, I found more and more people who found “emotional incontinence” in their own churches and movements, and it concerned them.

One experiment in 2002 separated a mix of Christians and non Christians into two groups. One group were played modern Christian music and the other group were played non-religious music that sounded similar. Both groups responded to the music in the exact same ways. Both groups started swaying in time to the music, they felt emotional and they wanted to lift their hands up. The Christians in the group with non-religious music were shocked and said it was just like being in church when the Holy Spirit was moving. This then caused them to question if the Holy Spirit really felt like they supposed it did and if they had really experienced the Holy Spirit. This is big for a Christian. The Holy Spirit is God living in our lives and doing good work on Earth.

Several years later, some of my Christian friends were talking about specific modern worship songs. Many of my friends and even speakers with big names criticises modern worship songs. Over 20 years ago, Mike Pilovachi called them the “Jesus Is My Girlfriend” songs and said we need to stop writing them and using them in churches. The songs were pure emotion, nothing more. However, Christian song writers kept writing more of these sorts of songs. One of my friends critiqued a specific song in which the lyrics were “I lift my hands”. These words are sung to music that elevates in pitch. He said every time that song is sung, almost everyone’s hands go up in the air.

Some modern worship songs are fantastic, but most are not a patch on the older hymns of our past that declare Biblical truths (quote Scripture) and put God at the centre of everything. There was a movement known as “muscular Christianity” which appealed to mostly men (men are very much missing from churches these days). Muscular Christianity was about a person being strong in themselves because they knew who they were in Christ and trusted in the teachings of the full Bible. It was about standing firm on the Rock.

Most modern worship songs put the singer in the centre of the faith and are based purely on emotions, but often not happiness or joy but emotions of weakness and neediness. Modern church services are a rollercoaster ride of emotions: happy to see your friends when you walk in, happy to hear all the news at the start of the service and then five loud, brash songs that make people jump around and dance. Then there is the sermon/the preaching which finishes with an altar call. This is when the preacher raises an issue that has been mentioned in the sermon, usually around lifestyle or emotional distress, and asks people to pray and respond. While this is happening, emotive music is played on a keyboard by the worship leader. As people go to the front of the church to be prayed for the music plays and eventually people start singing soft, emotional songs. This can last for around twenty minutes. There are usually two more songs that are happy songs, ensuring that everyone leaves the service on a high note, ready to go out into the streets with big smiles on their faces. It’s a formula, it is highly manipulative and it is very successful.

There is definitely times when people need others to pray for them and need an emotional release when singing praises to God, but the weekly diet of hyper emotion is just not healthy. One of my friends who went to a church that did not do emotion said that the emotional churches were just like going to a rock concert: you are elated during the gig and come crashing down the next day. Indeed, there is a phenomenon known as “Monday Blues”, which is when preachers’ emotions crash after the over excitement of Sunday services.

More and more, I found myself unable to worship God in churches because the songs were all about Me Me Me and emotion. I found myself just sitting through the song times and focussing on the sermon, although the sermons became less about God and more like a self help seminar with Me Me Me as the focus.

Leaving church was not a problem for me at all. I miss absolutely nothing about it and I’ve gained so much more – getting back to God, the Bible and prayer. I no longer have the emotional rollercoaster but instead I have the solid foundation of the Scriptures and the awe-inspiring traditional hymns that just burst out of me and I have to sing. For four weeks this year, I kept bursting into verses of the traditional song “When I Survey The Wonderous Cross” which is all about Jesus.

I now think back to the hyper emotional church services and the distinct message aimed at women that they were victims, they needed a lot of therapy, they needed special movements just for them and their needs, that served to separate women from men and keep women in a perpetual emotional state and neediness, and I see some of the foundations for what is currently gripping our nations with emotional incontinence and Me Me Me at the centre of everything. I do not think it is a coincidence that most “social justice warriors” are women – constantly emotional about their victimhood and other people’s victimhood – and that churches kept women constantly emotional and focussed on their victimhood in order to keep them in “their place”. I think there is a link.

As a Christian, I do think churches and the recent twenty years of evangelicalism have contributed to what we are seeing unfold on our streets and in our nations.

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The Wage Gap

The wage gap. The gender pay gap. The racial pay gap. Economists and feminists have said they don’t exist.

By and large, men and women of whatever background doing the same job are paid the same. The disparity in earnings come about because men put in more hours than women and they take more dangerous roles in the workplace. Simply put; men do more so they get paid more.

I used to be happy that lesbian and bisexual women earned 17% more than heterosexual women. However, I found out that this is over a lifetime, and it is because we tend to not take maternity leave, not because we are in better jobs than heterosexual women.

I was at university 20 years ago. I am from a poor working class background. I went to university and did a diploma in Advice Work and Law and then I took the third year of a social care degree. I got a 2:1 Honours. My diploma class mates did the final year of a law degree and they all got a 2:2. They all ended up in better jobs than me, earning more than me.

I decided to take the social care degree and not the law degree because I am more focussed on assisting people in need. I was not interested in the intricacies of the law nor of becoming a solicitor. And that was fine and I helped a lot of people. But I had nothing to show for it financially. After 20 years, I was poor and living in rented places that were in reality semi-squats.

I have health problems that prevented me from taking more stressful or demanding roles in management. Plus I faced a lot of discrimination as a gay/bisexual woman. A lot.

Looking back now, if I could go back in time, I would choose to do the law degree, or instead I would have chosen CAB training that some of my class mates did, that would have given me a job in CABs anywhere in the world. Now, with the interests I have, I might have chosen a different path completely and gone with Politics or Economics as a degree subject.

Ben Shapiro says to not expect a job on Wall Street with your degree in lesbian dance theory. Apparently, that is a degree you can do in the USA. I’m sure it’s entertaining, but there’s not much call among employers for lesbian dance theorists.

The degrees that yield the highest wages on graduation are medicine and dentistry (£46000), Economics (£40000) and Mathematics. The jobs that give the lowest wages on graduation are the Arts and Design degrees (£20000), Agriculture and Psychology. Guess which are the most popular degrees? Guess which degrees women tend to take? Women choose degrees that are softer subjects (emotions led) which guarantee a low income.

If you already have a degree or you cannot go to university – and these days I advise against going to university unless people really need to for your career, you can train as an electrician or plumber or plasterer, builder and so on. There are many companies willing to take on apprentices. I do know an older woman who is an electrician. I asked her if she trains women. She says she tries to but every female apprentice quits. Electricians can earn very good money. Women could earn money as an electrician but choose to not complete the course. I asked this lady if she thinks British women have an attitude problem when it comes to work and she said yes.

One place I worked was criticised in the Guardian newspaper for only having one female security guard – me. I was the only female who applied for the job. Employers cannot hire women if women do not want to do the jobs.

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I spoke to the female electrician, and I spoke about my experience living abroad, and how it was normal there to see female refuse collectors, road sweepers, park attendants, soldiers, security workers, and I asked her if she thinks UK women stereotype themselves and think that jobs where you roll your sleeves up are beneath them, and she said yes. Women want to be hair dressers and don’t want to get dirty. So again, women are choosing lower paid jobs.

University is not for everyone, and not everyone can take up an apprenticeship. However, there are night classes available in every town and city as well as online courses including the Open University.

You also have to ask yourself what lifestyle you want, what work environment you want, how much time you want to spend at work and how much you want to invest in your worklife.

Men tend to earn more than women because they tend to choose degrees that are more difficult and prepare them for demanding industries or sectors, men spend more time at work, men rarely take time off for their children’s births, men tend to be in more demanding roles, more dangerous roles and more stressful roles. This is why they are on general paid more.

If I could go back to university as an 18 year old now knowing what I know, I would take an Economics or Politics degree, have a well paid job as a result and volunteer in homeless people’s night shelters. That would be my advice to my younger self. I did well in Law class, which I did not expect. I could have done well in an Economics or Politics class.

Take my advice: aim high, and sometimes aim higher than you think you can achieve. You might surprise yourself.

Peace x

 

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Virtue Signallers

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Most of us have seen Forrest Gump. Jenny had a boyfriend who campaigned with her against the war in Vietnam. He was against violence. And he beat Jenny.

Those of us who have been to church and take the teachings of Jesus seriously know that most church attendees in the UK are virtue signallers. It’s the Middle Class Club or The Sunday Club as church leaders call these virtue signallers. They have no intention of forgetting self, picking up their cross and following Christ. They simply want to meet with other middle class people and look virtuous together while actually doing nothing of value.

I’ve seen this in activist circles. Activists say a lot and do very little. I shared a flat with an activist in mainland Europe. He was vegetarian, a white Muslim convert, queer, worked with asylum seekers and homeless people… At least that is what he said. He ate non-halal chicken if his mate had been skipping behind the supermarket and got a roast chicken from the skip. He didn’t pray five times per day nor on time. He didn’t read the Qur’an often. He didn’t work with asylum seekers or homeless people. He sat in his untidy bedroom smoking bongs and chatting with other “activists” online. He needed his union worker to find him a job, whereas I found three jobs within a month and without speaking much of the local language.

He kicked me out of the flat for having a seizure. Apparently, me having a seizure was me bullying him. So, him kicking me out for having a seizure flies in the face of Islam that teaches compassion for disabled people, and it flies in the face of his queer intersectionality. He talked it but he didn’t walk it.

I remember seeing this when I was at high school. We had a feminist speaker come to visit. She looked very nice but hadn’t actually done anything with her life other than write feminist theory books. The man who spoke used humour and reverse psychology to bring out all the students’ inner feminist, achieving far more for women’s rights in two sentences than the feminist speaker achieved in a ten minute long speech.

The American journalist/writer I love, Phillip Yancey, said that writers are people who stand on the sidelines of life.

I disagree. I am able to write fiction and fact on a range of issues because I was a frontline worker for 20 years. I have read research and worked alongside the top people in their fields. I have lived and worked abroad so I have seen cultural differences in how trust is very much there between pupils and teachers in Belgium but completely missing between pupils and teachers in the UK. I work for a foreign education company that has a very different attitude to workplace behaviour and conduct. I continue to volunteer and join different activities and groups. I’ll talk to anyone!

I have real life experiences – both my own and from others I have met and worked with – that I base my writing around, such as the young woman from Korea who had witnessed her parents’ murder or the month a colleague who had been in a southern African militia and I were taken off our jobs with transport and sent to locate possible murder victims and other dead bodies. I can write true stuff around murder and violent crime because it has been something I have dealt with for 25 years. My life has been anything but boring.

Ernest Hemmingway said “You can’t sit down to write if you haven’t stood up to live.”

I totally agree. Activists and writers need to actually have something to say. Most don’t. They do not have facts on their side, just emotion after being manipulated by the media.

It is also unfortunate that those who shout the loudest about human rights and freedom are often the ones quickest to take away other people’s human rights and freedom.

If you do actually care about what you say you care about, take action. Become a social worker, a fire fighter, a police officer, a mental health worker, a doctor, a nurse. These are the people who build our nations and change lives. Have an exciting life! Don’t be another virtue signaller.

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Civil War or Forgiveness?

I listen to a few different podcasts regularly and interviewers who have interesting guests. I listen a lot to Douglas Murray, which is obvious from my previous posts. Murray, and many others from different disciplines and other walks of life, keep coming back to one issue. One issue that is huge and no one is talking about how we actually do this. This issue is forgiveness.

We all know how crazy society is in the UK and USA at the moment. Things are crazy on social media. People are so angry, but also accusatory against their fellow human beings. How do we calm this down?

We know that once something is out there on social media, it is there for eternity. None of us are perfect people. We all make mistakes. We all have half-formed thoughts that we fully form when we talk them out with other people. We all say and so stupid things without thinking. Think about something you have said or done without thinking. Now think about that one instance being uploaded onto social media, and the whole world knowing about your mistake, but not just that. The whole world doesn’t just know about your mistake but they now base everything they think about you on that one mistake. Everything you do from now until you die is going to be worth nothing because everyone will refer back to that one mistake.

Or maybe whichever political “side” or social grouping “tribe” you are in will forgive you but the opposing “side” won’t. And the opposing side will forgive their members but they won’t forgive yours.

One clear example I can think of is the leftist newspaper columnists who still bring up racist or homophobic things said by our Prime Minister Boris Johnson over ten years ago. I am not a BoJo fan, but I can see the man is no longer racist nor homophobic. He has changed. He has appointed the two biggest roles in Cabinet to people from Asian backgrounds, and he has campaigned on LGBT issues and rights and leads a diverse party in which a member came out as gay just last week with no adverse reaction from Johnson nor anyone else as far as I am aware.

Boris Johnson has clearly changed, but this is not enough for anyone who opposes him. What is enough? Several commentators such as Rose of Dawn, a transwoman who vlogs on socio-political issues, says that nothing will ever be enough, and that the offender must always bend the knee (not a reference to current race relations) before the baying crowd and must always beg for the forgiveness they will never get. They know they will never be forgiven. Other commentators have said the only way to stay in good favour is to constantly self-flagelate verbally and constantly self re-educate. This has sinister tones. Murray recently said that Winston Smith finally declared in his heart that he loved Big Brother when the bullet went through the back of his head.

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What does unforgiveness do? It wraps people up in knots. It ruins lives. It creates bitterness and resentment between people. It creates shame and fear of others. We can agree these are not good things. Fear, resentment and anger between people and between groups is an excellent recipe for society to break down completely; for civil war to break out.

In the past, more people used religion as their way of finding forgiveness. In Christianity, we have Catholicism where the people talk individually to a priest. This has a therapeutic quality, talking something out with someone who can never repeat what you tell them. On top of that, there was the reassurance that God – the Being who holds the whole universe together – has forgiven you, the slate is wiped clean, and you can begin again afresh, anew, as though you had done nothing wrong. In Protestant Christianity, there is the direct link from person to God, and fellowship with other believers where trust and friendship flourish. The person is forgiven when they pray to God and turn away from their wrongful behaviour, and they are encouraged to live with different, more healthy behaviours by their fellow believers who have all misbehaved in some way and know the struggles and challenges their friends face.

Now, take away the priest, take away God, take away the friendship of believers and what are we left with? We are left with pent up emotions, no bigger power outside of ourselves, no trust and humility between people: This is the problem of our era; how do we find a process or mechanism for forgiveness in this modern era?

I heard about the “fuck it point” late last year. The “fuck it point” is a term in psychology. You tell someone they are for example racist. You are racist, you are racist, you are racist. The person – who is not racist – will gradually be worn down by years of false accusation until the day they say “fuck it, they say I’m racist so I’m going to be racist”.

Something similar to this happened to a friend of mine. He wondered why he was getting loads of homophobia behaviour from people he knew. He was not openly bisexual. He found out his wife had been telling everyone he was gay. Understandably, my friend ended his marriage. He also thought “Fuck it, if they say I’m gay, I’m going to show them how gay I am.” So this deeply religious man who had been totally faithful to his wife became someone who slept around with men and he also became a sex worker. I met him as he was starting to leave those behaviours behind and return to his faith. He went back to his previous profession and drove me around in the flash cars he could afford thanks to his non-sexual job paying, and he became freer as a person. When I first met him, he was closed down, didn’t trust anyone, and he always looked down and hardly spoke. The last time I saw him, he was laughing and joking and so full of joy and happiness having found forgiveness for himself, and having forgiven his ex wife, and having found two groups of believers he could trust and be open with.

Islam has the Night Of Destiny during Ramadan, Judaism has Yom Kippur that leads into the new spiritual year. The three biggest religions all have forgiveness woven right through their middle. We have daily prayers, we have ceremonies and celebrations centred around forgiveness.

How can we find forgiveness in this modern era where everything online is there forever and no one forgets or forgives what someone from the “opposing” tribe says or does?

I remember Brother Andreas of Taizé highlighting that when Jesus healed people of leprosy, He did not just heal them of their horrific, deforming and fatal  health condition, but He reunited them with humanity. In Bible times and lands, people with leprosy were not allowed to live in the city or village. They had to live outside, in the wilderness, alone or with other people with leprosy. When Jesus healed someone, that person was free to live in society again. Jesus united people with God and also the rest of humanity.

If we are to avoid civil war and wars between nations, we need to find a way of walking towards each other. We need to find a way of holding out our hands towards each other. We cannot try to spend our lives carrying the weight of our offences, however great or small, because we simply would not cope. We would not have fruitful or happy lives. We must find a way of walking towards each other and reuniting.

Peace x

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I’m Calling You Out

When did we get so judgmental?

Not a day goes by when we don’t hear about some C list celebrity being “called out” on a faux pas. They are wearing a coat made by the wrong sweat shop. They are not vegan. They are friends with the wrong people. Everyone wants to stand in judgment over their fellow human beings.

Several years back, calling someone out meant that you were advising them as a dear friend and helping them to leave a lifestyle or a decision that was harmful to them. Perhaps this term comes from the Bible, where it is said time and again that God called people out of the country they were in that oppressed them or a relationship or a decision they were living with. Calling someone out was an act of love. Calling someone out meant you were going to be there for them. You were going to walk by their side and help them until they no longer needed help.

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Today, calling someone out means to criticise them publicly, humiliate them and show everyone that you cannot possibly be friends with such a bigot. Such a sinner.

Which was the most loving approach? Which was the most productive? Which helped a person change? Which helped love flow?

I remember a line from a song – I can’t remember the song title nor the band – but I remember the line.

“When did I give up love to be proved right?”

Over the last three weeks especially, I have seen friendships torn apart, two people have unfriended me on social media due to my nuanced views that are definitely not “woke” and I have been treated horribly by someone I hope to be able to remain friends with because they are married to someone who has helped me in my life so much.

I would not be the person I am today if friends had not walked alongside me as I left lifestyles and decisions behind. I would be something very different if it were not for these friends, and very few people would have liked what I would have been without friends walking alongside me.

Over the last three weeks, I have seen several bi female friends tell me they are quitting social media due to all the stress that is on social media, all the arguing and people acting in the most unloving ways in order to prove themselves right. Bi people tend to have the worst mental health problems out of all groups, so I can see why several people I know have quit. They are also working class and don’t have a racist bone in their body, yet now they see their social media feed full of bullying and pressure to acknowledge their racism and white privilege and unconscious bias, and it really is too much to people who are just able to keep a roof above their heads and don’t want to racialise everyone they meet.

How to make enemies and alienate people in one easy lesson.

What can we do to unite people? Stop thinking the worst of others. That really helps! Stop telling people how bad they are. That also helps!

People are good. People overwhelmingly are good. We are created by a good God. You are good.

Let’s go on from here in friendship with each other. Let’s walk side by side with people who are being called out of lifestyles or decisions, and realise that other people are walking alongside us.

Peace x

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Slavery: What Can I Do?

Slavery has been in the news. Good. It is time we tackled this huge issue that affects millions of people around the world today.

While people are pulling down statues, they are not thinking of the people enslaved today.  I am involved with work in Haiti that prevents children from being sold as slaves. The child slaves of Haiti are called Restavek. I posted about them two years ago. Restaveks could still be living with their families when they go out to work or they could be homeless. When I talk about Restavek, I am talking about children as young as four years old.

You can help Restavek children through their non-profit organisation:

restavekfreedom.org

In Bangladesh, over 3.5 million people work in sweat shops, making cheap clothes for the Western market; mostly the USA market but also the UK market. If you are wearing clothes you bought very cheaply, it is likely they were made in sweat shops.

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85% sweat shop workers in Bangladesh are women. They earn the equivalent of £25 per month. The living wage for food, housing, water and amenities is £45 per month. Sweat shop workers in Bangladesh work 14-16 hour days, 7 days per week in cramped, unsafe conditions. There are injuries and fires, like the two that caught our media attention several years ago. The National Garment Workers’ Federation is the union based in Dhaka that is campaigning for workers’ rights. Please do look them up.

Slavery is rife all across the continent of Africa. There are 9.2 million Africans in slavery today. There is hereditary slavery – people born into slavery and are slaves for life – across central Africa. There are slaves used to mine diamonds in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Children are trafficked to fight as soldiers in Ghana, Togo and Nigeria.

However, most child labour in Africa is for the production of chocolate, specifically cutting the cacao beans from the trees. Children climb the trees and use machetes or big knives to cut the beans down from the trees. The children then have to cut the beans open to retrieve the cacao. Most of these children have deep wounds from where they have accidentally cut themselves with the knives. There are 1.8 million children in Ghana and Ivory Coast who work in the cacoa fields. 40% child labourers in Ivory Coast do not attend school.

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The firms who produce chocolate made via child labour are Hershey’s, Nestlé and Mars. You can campaign to these huge firms, you can buy chocolate with the fairtrade logo, you can sponsor children in these nations so that their families do not need to send them out to work.

I believe in child sponsorship. I believe in giving others a hand up. I have had plenty of hands up in my life. I believe in breaking the cycle of poverty and breaking the chains of slavery.

Do what you can to rescue someone from slavery today.

Compassion UK

Child SOS

Plan International

Action Aid

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