Saturday, 9 July 2016

My Place in the Sun

My Place in the Sun

A lot of people have taken me to task because I have suggested that the E.U. referendum in the UK was very xenophobic.  I do happen to think that in all areas both sides of the argument exaggerated and said things that were not true, but if you think sovereignty (whatever that is) economics, democracy  or any of the other things swung it in favour of exit I am not sure where you have been.  What swung it was we want to stop immigration.  As I said before not all people who vote exit are racist, but all racists will vote exit.  Sure some will have thought about the other arguments, though how anyone could cut through the noise to any factual knowledge I don’t know.

I said from day one, people will make their decision on this campaign emotionally.  That’s how people make decisions; perhaps they shouldn’t but realistically that what people do.  So what swung the vote were nasty racist posters, and we must control our borders.  We need to stop people coming into the UK.  It’s putting pressure on schools and housing.  I wonder why no one ever asks how much pressure divorce puts on housing. How can we possible think or say that a lot of this rhetoric, posters and advertising were not xenophobic?  I wish someone could explain that it was not a xenophobic campaign to my non UK friends, who work hard pay taxes, and were not allowed to vote but are quite afraid now; maybe sharing the fear of the two million plus UK citizens who live in other EU countries.

 It seems perhaps surprising, but perhaps it shouldn’t be that London, which has the highest number of immigrants, and my area very, very many yet we voted to stay in. May be we understand the benefit of immigration. What is also surprising, but probably should not surprise me is how many of my non birth UK citizens voted out. Kenyans, West Indians, Sri Lankans, Bulgarians, who have UK passports, friends of mine, but voted out.  It’s that yes I have my place in the Sun I have the sun bed and my towel is on it, say don’t you come in and touch it.

Let me tell you some stories which explain why I should not be surprised.  Some years back I remember being in Switzerland, I was there with refugees who years before had come to the country escaping war, and lived in really hard conditions.  But as is often with hard working, innovative, creative refugees they have done well.  I’m glad, nice houses, nice cars, prosperous.  I was aware that there were new wars at the time and new refugees coming into the country, so I asked my friends “how is the country coping with the new influx of refugees”.  Their response; ‘Our country needs to do something to stop these people coming in’! 

Story two, when we started helping refugees and asylum seekers in the UK we were advised to take some advice from an expert who was running a large half way house for people, not refugees but people with problems, we met the said gentleman, he was obviously from Asia and his turban sort of gave him away as not being of original English decent. His advice was most helpful, but then he asked what are you doing, my wife explained that we were setting up homes to help refugees and asylum seekers, his response to that was ‘we don’t want those people in our country’ my wife glanced up at the turban without saying anything, he obviously read her thoughts, and responded with ‘oh that, me I’m English’.

Story three, another friend of mine was running a youth club, arrived one day and asked the main worker where are all the young people today, they are not in the club, don’t know was the answer, looking out of the window he notice a whole load of young people kicking a football around, Oh he said I see lots outside, oh no came the reply they are not young people they are Polish.
I have all along during this campaign for in or out of the EU felt that the end decision was going to be made selfishly, we never once really asked will it hurt other Europeans, is it best for them if we leave, what do the immigrants hear in the UK feel about the anti foreigner rhetoric even the economic argument was always the selfish one.

Now, again not surprised, is to hear the Christians saying Gods will has been done, really?  Why do people always think Gods will has been done, what a funny idea, why does Jesus tell us to pray that God will, should be done, if it always is?  I am sure that often what happens is not God will at all.  So we may say as the Muslims do Inshalla or as Christians say D.V Deo volente, "God willing". God may be willing but that does not mean His will has been done.

Well now going back to that Brexit, was it what God wants.  I don’t know.  Personally to be non selfish, with all the wrong of the EU I felt it was better to stay in for lots of other peoples benefit, influence, the protections that the UK gave in negotiations to smaller countries.  I listened to others in Europe who worried that if the UK left it would hurt them, I did not want that to happen.  Am I sorry that I have said it was so badly racist influenced, no and sadly the post exit decision seems to have raised a terrible dragon of permission to be racist; with people shouting in the street go home, to various non UK people;   Sad.

So was God will done, I don’t think so, but I am not sad about that because I know God well enough to know he takes all situations to make himself known, and for those who love him He makes all things work together for Good.  So I am happy.
                                                                                                                                         
Adrian Hawkes
Adrianhawkes.Blogspot.com

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Socialism

Socialism

I think it's good we all get to know this stuff, but I am particularly thinking of my American Cousins as I write.  Particularly the Christian Right wing so called.
The term socialism was first introduced by Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), the French social theorist also credited with the advent of Christian socialism and what would later become labelled as "utopian socialism." The term itself refers to a collective mode of production and political economy.

Socialism's roots go far back beyond Marx's works. Church's actually led the first socialist movements. The US gave birth too many of Socialism's key concepts. 

The original Socialistic concepts date back to 1700s and influenced even the founding fathers of the US. You find many of them embedded in the Constitution and in laws passed over the years. Prisons for example were one of the first major socialist contributions to society. Before prisons came about, people generally were publicly punished with physical punishments, financially punished or executed. There was not much in between.

The first prisons date back many years. Socialists in the early 1800s made major penal reforms in the US which quickly spread to the rest of the world completely redefining crime and punishment. That is an example of early Socialism in the US and its predating Marx.

There are things that puzzle me about my American Cousins, and I love the USA. But from a Jesus Follower perspective, I want things that are good for people so I cannot understand why as a Jesus follower I would not want to promote Health Care for everyone at the point of deliver, I want people to be as healthy as possible, whether they can afford it or not.

Then again, another area, I want people to be housed, I don’t want them to be homeless, even if they cannot afford it. How can we help them?

Yes I know that when it comes to government enforcing these things that where the problems start, why is that, well much as people don’t like to hear it we are as people not intrinsically good, rather we are selfish, self-serving, and we tend to look after number one, us!

If you look at History when Christians are in control of the levers of government we have not done very well, but does that mean I should forget Biblical commands to Love Justice, (Matt 12:18 Luke 11:42 Gal 5:22:23.) If government of whatever ilk try’s to put in place things that do good, help people, give justice, welcomes strangers amongst us (Exd 22 and Exd 23.)  Surely as a follow of Jesus I would want to support such action.  

Likewise when people are being unjustly treated, marginalised, poor and denied the means to help themselves by government policy should I not cry out against such things?

The problem is we like to read the parts of Scripture that we like.  So we would like to put things on one side such as (Matt 19:24) concerning the rich man, or (Acts 4:34 on, having all thing in common) and I often hear Christians say such things as well that was then, this is now, you cannot do things like that now.  Why not, is that part of scripture we don’t like?

I often hear people say, why should we support free loaders, or as my Mother in law used to say why don’t those people get a job.  Sorry but that really is uneducated.

On frequent visits to Kenya, another country I love, I have often asked leaders what do you need.  They will say things like more crusades, more meetings, and more preachers. I look around and think no, what you need is more jobs. I see loads of people who want to work, need to work, would work hard, sitting waiting trying to find work, are they free loaders.  

We need to understand that often the way society is structured means that the opportunities you are given are not just or righteous, the poor are often not poor because they are lazy or free loaders, or unwilling.

Please there is a lot of other reasons way beyond their control that put them in such positions.  And if the follower of Jesus can change their position for the better be that by influencing government policy, or direct action to help, then God calls us to do it. To quote Jim Wallis – A Budget is a moral document.

And a bit more Wallis to end The Biblical prophets do hold their rulers, courts, judges, landowners and employer accountable to the values of fairness justice and even mercy, evil and sin is in the concentration of power, politics and economics need to be held accountable to Justice especially in the protection of the poor.

Fair outcomes not necessarily equality should be the goal of governments.

Socialist or whatever, let those who follow Jesus cry out for His values in His world.




Adrian Hawkes
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Saturday, 30 April 2016

WALLS

Walls

I have just read one of our Independent schools ‘A’ level student’s research paper on the Berlin wall.  It made me think about the whole subject of walls, particularly as, as I write walls and barbered wire are very much in the news.

Supposedly walls should keep us warm and safe, at least if you have  roof on your house as well, however as we look though history walls have also had other uses and somehow get into our psyche, and it seems to me many times ending up with negative connotation.    In fact it seems to me that each time you see walls, proposed walls, or building of walls there is the feeling of failure, loss, or the fact that our world is in a bad place.

I guess the biggest wall of all is the Great Wall of China, built to keep our others who might attack which are why all of the walls seemed to have been built, on the basis we are all right and we don’t want you in or out in some cases so let’s build a wall.  In a sense a great symbol of failure, as it demonstrates that you need to be controlled, either by being held in or kept out.  What it cannot  do is control thinking, though those that build the walls, I think, really would like to be able to do that.

So let me just site a few walls to show what I mean.  Berlin wall of course was built to keep East Germans from running away to West Berlin, and thus loosing it key workers and intelligencer;  So really a failure of an ideological way of thinking.   Then maybe Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans, surly that must represent the failure of the Romans to control the Scottish Nation, or to conquer it so a wall was built to keep the Picts as the Romans called them out. The last standing division or wall in Europe is in Cyprus showing us the failure of politics, religion and ethnicity to get on and work together for peoples best good.

The fact that walls are a strong sign of failure the world continues to build them, demonstrating to all who can see how useless we are at getting things right, so between  1950 and 2010 the world has built some 50 admissions of failure.  In such places as Israel, India, Pakistan, Georgia and South Ossetia, Mexico and the USA a fence at the moment, but listening to the politics of the USA in 2016 it seems as though this failure need to be reinforced by a proper wall!  Then there is India and Bangladesh, North and South Korea, Spain & Morocco even in Northern Ireland ‘Peace Walls’ still celebrate the fact that people fail to get on.  There is a sand wall built between in the Western Sahara to seal out Morocco.  Shall I go on?  These are just a selection of the world's walls. The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe is separated by an electrified fence. Malaysia and Thailand are separated by a wall, as are Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran and Iraq, and Kuwait and Iraq.

And now in 2016 European countries again want to put up walls of failure in Bulgaria, in Greece, certainly the UK has spent millions on its own wall of failure on French territory, to keep out those from the so called Calais Jungle. I would have thought that the world and its leaders would be embarrassed to keep using such high profile symbols of their failure, but it seems not.

It seems that the current Pope thinks that building Bridges is a much better idea than building walls, maybe he has a point.   I know that as a follower of Jesus that should makes us generous rather than selfish and if we want to build failure walls because we perceive people as our enemies, the Jesus instruction is to Love your enemies.  Walls don’t work.


Adrian Hawkes
Adrianhawkes.blogspot.com

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Friday, 25 March 2016

Sitting Down Inside

Sitting down inside

Funny to see recently on Face Book the fact that Richard Dawkins is wondering if we need Christianity as it is not blowing people up, or saying that those that do not believe should be killed.  Maybe he needs to take an even deeper look.

What really puzzles me Is why people think that a forced acceptance of something, means that I or anyone else has really accepted that premise, belief, thought.  What a silly idea.

It also puzzles me that people think that if you are not allowed to speak something different to their point of view, their perspective then that is fine, they must be right, again what nonsense.

Yet this is our world, people have views that I don’t agree with, lifestyles that I think are wrong, attitudes that I think that if followed by lots of people will lead to their destruction and sometime the destruction of lots of others too, however I am not allowed to say opposite to what is the P.C. position, my view must not be heard? Now does that mean that the argument, position, life style of the others is so wrong that they cannot bear to hear anything opposite to what they have chosen right or wrong?

I joined a political party once, just to go along to the meetings and understand how they thought and how it worked.  I tried to sit at the back and keep quite.  One day they announced that they had made a terrible mistake, they had invited someone to speak to the meeting, and discovered he was a member of another party. They said obviously they could not listen to him.  I being very naïve asked a question, this was my question, “Why are you afraid to listen to another point of view or perspective, is our own position, argument, perspective, so weak that we cannot possible listen to someone we might disagree with and disagreeing with him come to understand our position, thoughts are after all are better? He is not from our party was the answer! “yes but does that mean we cannot hear what he has to say”?  The answer again, “you don’t understand, he is not a member of our party and so he will say what we don’t agree with so we can’t hear that”?  I gave up!

So we live in a world where people are being killed because they disagree, don’t believe what you believe cannot possible hear even a view that is different from the party line.  So this year in Brunei, Somalia, Tajikistan all banned Christmas celebrations as it might damage the thinking of the rest of the population apparently it was because of fear that people would be led astray. I wonder how weak the thinking of those people is? 

I remember one of those stories, apparently a little boy was would not sit down at the meal table, he was only small and insisted on standing to eat, I think his opinion was that the food went down better that way.  His Father got really upset and kept trying to make him sit down remonstrating with him with many words.  The little boy refused, in the end the Father got fed up with discussion and arguments, and putting his hand on the little boys head pushed the little boy down until he was sitting.  The little boy looked at his Father and recognised that he definitely  was stronger than him, but then he said, “Dad, I know that you have got me sitting down at this table, but I want you to know I am actually standing up inside!

There is a lot of us around that are actually standing up inside!


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Adrian Hawkes.blogspot.com
Edited By Karen Allen


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Not the Normal Blog

Oh dear at least 4 months of listening to argument on the EU, every news time, multiple programmes, we could all go crazy. I am already very unimpressed with the rhetoric on both sides of the argument, why should I get excited about such selfish, small minded, wrong values; by that I mean this constant ‘ how will the UK benefit, how will I be better off, ME, ME, ME, ME, . Sorry I think we should be thinking how are others better off, how are my fellow beings in the rest of Europe benefitted, how will our negotiations help the poor, the disposed, the homeless, the refugees, the widows and the fatherless. Instead what we have, from both sides, the selfish, we are the most important beings in the world. Give me a break!

Friday, 11 December 2015

When Funny is Not Funny...

When Funny Is Not Funny…

Some years ago I was with a white friend who was marrying a black African girl, it was great fun. They had an English / African wedding which was full of dancing and laughter.
Later in conversation with the young man he asked, "Would you like to see what the African Elders have given me as a wedding present?" 
Of course I was interested; he showed me an ornate stick. 
"What is it?"  I asked. I could see it was a stick, but I didn't know what you were supposed to do with it.  
He laughed and said, "It’s presented to all young men who get married. It is a stick to beat your wife with to keep her in order." Then he laughed. I did not! 
He then said, "I of course would not use it, I just think it’s funny."  
I replied, "Well, personally I don’t think it’s funny at all. I cannot laugh at such a gift, such an action."
The problem with such an action is that it implies that in the culture, in the thinking that, although he thought it a bit of fun, it actually represents an attitude, a way of thinking, a cultural perspective that such an action could well be right, acceptable, and permissible.  I do not think that it is any of those things.  I think it is wrong thinking, wrong culturally, wrong humour, and in fact just plain wrong. It should not be given space.

More recently I listened to a conversation between a young couple. They were discussing the fact that a young African child had been taken into the UK care system. 
The young man, a white African asked, "Why has that happened?"  
"Well," was the response, "he has been badly abused, in fact often beaten."  The 2015 answer was, well that is normal, surely. He is black, that is the culture!  So, in that case it is not wrong?

I like culture. I have lectured degree students on it, have conducted courses with students as part of the Continual Professional development on the subject, and I have written a book on the topic. I love different cultural expressions, different food, fashion, greetings, ways of being, but sometimes we have to identify when people use the cultural get out like, 'this is just a cultural way that is different to yours.'  Sorry, but your culture needs to change, for that is morally wrong.  Personally, in those situations, your country of origin, your skin colour, your language group, your answers such as ‘in my culture we beat our wives’ are unacceptable.

On the same theme, some years ago I got talking with a Pastor of a particular ethnic group and we agreed to have coffee together. In the course of conversation he said, "I am having such problems with the people in my church, the husbands beat their wives too much." (By the way, maybe I need to say that here; the skin colour of this particular ethnic group was not black.)
 Anyway I said, "I don’t understand. What do you mean, 'they beat their wives too much'? Are you saying that it’s acceptable to beat them some, but not too much?" 
"Oh yes," he replied, "from where they come from it’s the culture (there is that word again) for men to beat their wives, but the village makes sure it is not too much. My fear here in the UK is they might kill their wives."
 I interrupted and said, "I’m sorry, but I think that beating your wife is unacceptable full stop. Any beating!"  
He got very angry with me and left, not even finishing his coffee. 
"How could you be so naive and narrow minded, and not pay attention to other peoples' culture?" he shouted over his shoulder as he walked out.

Frankly, I want to stay naïve and narrow minded, and I will do all in my power to make sure laws, and whatever else it takes to change such wrong-minded culture or otherwise thinking.  It is not funny, it is wrong. Can I say that any louder?

Adrian Hawkes
Edited by Kirsty de Paor

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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

You in your small corner and I in Mine

You in your small corner and I in Mine

When I was around 5 years old, I went to Sunday school.  I liked the people, I liked the other kids, but what I remember most is one song that they always sang. I guess I sang it too as I can still remember all the words; maybe you know it too. It starts off with, “Jesus Bids Us Shine” and ends with the line, “you in your small corner and I in Mine.”  I hated that line; I still don’t like it now.  I don’t think I liked corners and particularly not small ones; I certainly did not want to be in one.

When I was 11 years old I made my first trip, as the Brits say, “overseas”. I went to France with my school for a week. We travelled third class, as you could in those days, on a ferry across the channel to St Malo. Third class meant that you could not go inside the ferry; you had to stay on deck come rain or shine.  They did give you a blanket and you could snuggle up to the funnel to keep warm.

It was great fun in a hotel in Dinard with loads of school friends; however I remember thinking way back then how different France was, not just the scenery and the language but everyone seemed to be much more aware that there was a big world out there, other countries that spoke different languages, and many of the young people spoke French, Breton, and English.  Some it seemed spoke German and Dutch too.  It struck me then at 11 years old, that I lived on an island, and these people lived on a continent. In a sense, I was in a corner, and these people were more aware of the world than I.

Recently I have again been made aware of the small corner thinking that is around me. I talk to supposedly well educated people who, when asked, who is the new Labour leader of the opposition, in the Westminster parliament, they do not know.  I listened to my wife talking to a full hairdresser’s salon about the abduction of people by terrorists, and discovered she was the only one there who knew anything about it. They were shocked to discover from her that such terrible things are going on in our world.  Do they not have TV’s or ever see a newspaper, I ask myself.

What is it that makes us want to live in a corner? What is it that gives us this disinterest in the rest of the world?  Is it selfishness? Is it a complete lack of concern for our fellow human beings? Maybe we are just hard hearted?  Why do we not take an interest in our world?

As a follower of Jesus, and I know many people who read what I write say they are Christians. We need to know that Scripture commands us to do things in the world. He never told us to live in a corner, rather we are told to care for strangers.

So what is going on? We are not stupid, are we? Are we really that uninformed, could we really not care about how we are governed, or what is happening in the rest of the world?

Do we really not know that we, the world, are facing the largest displacement of human beings ever?  Do we not know that this will affect us all, do we have no response?

Do you live in your corner?  Do you like it there?
Adrian Hawkes
For adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
Edited by Kirsty de Paor

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