Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Nutty Newspaper Nonsense

Nutty Newspaper Nonsense

I reached the ultimate in surprise this week when I was asked if I knew that black people are able to receive a free oyster (bus and tube pass) if they live in London.  Come on all my black friends if you did not know this – get one – problem is I do not know where from.

The young lady who was telling me this story went on to tell me that the person who had told her this great piece of news, when told, “No, that is not true”, looked at her with that knowing look that says “Oh, that’s what you think”.

It really is nutty nonsense from people who read certain types of newspapers that come out with this stuff, and then when you tell them no it’s not true, prefer to believe their fairy tale rubbish rather than any real facts.
Some of the other apocryphal stories I have been told are as follows, usually by wide eyed people who when, like my friend who told me the story of free travel, are told “no, it’s nonsense”, look at you as though you are the stupid one.  Here are just some of them.  ‘Did you know that they now give foreigner’s free cars’ ‘It’s terrible that you can only get a house on the council if you are not English’  ‘Did you know that immigrants get £120.00 per week unemployment allowances’ and so on, I have heard lots more, I must admit that I had not heard the one about black people getting free travel until this weekend.  Nutty stuff or what?

Here are some of the real facts, problem is I guess, is that if you read certain newspapers so called, then even though you tell me you don’t believe everything you read in the press you will nevertheless not take note of these facts because it does not fit with what you want to think for whatever strange reason or ‘because you read it in the press’! But anyway:

A single adult asylum seeker receives £36.62 a week thats just £5.23 per day

A single unemployed UK citizen of the same age would receive £67.50, plus other benefits they may be able to receive.

Asylum seekers cannot claim mainstream benefits.

Asylum seekers do not qualify for council housing tenancy or housing benefit.

When questioned about what percentage of immigrants that go to make up the UK; people had wildly wrong numbers, usually way, way too high. In fact out of the 15.4 million refugees in the world currently, due to war, bad government and the like in 2012 the UK only had 193,510 of these people in the countries that go to make up the union and that represents just 0.33% of our population, did you know that? 

In 2011 UK did not feature in even the top ten of receiving countries for refugees, in fact the country that had the most in 2011 was surprisingly Pakistan . Jordan with its own population of around 6 million hosted something like 550,000. How does that compare with UK population of 70 million or thereabouts and the figure above?

Now my big problem concerning these nutty things, wrong as they are is not so much the people who put them into my face as though this was the truth about life and the universes, which is bad enough that people think these things, and fail to check it out.  I guess its worse that papers produce stories with very little fact around them, that beguiles such gullible people, and stirs them up, but the most frustrating thing of all is when government responses to this nonsense popularise by trying to pass legislation that says such things as we wont allow asylum seekers or refugees to get driving licences in this country, we wont allow them to get any health care for free, and of course we wont allow them to work. They already cannot.

 So then we put in that law of unforeseen consequences, what are desperate people to do, who have run away from danger in their own countries, have tried to feed their familys or themselves.  What should they now do, steal?  Become criminals?  Come on let us be reasonable and look again at those facts and figures.

*Most up to date good facts and figures can be obtained from: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk

Adrian Hawkes
Edited by Gena Areola
28th October 2013

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pick and Mix

Pick and Mix

Follower of Jesus

I am slightly puzzled by various people I meet up with of late, and some I hear speaking publically, who seem to want to stress to me that they are ‘people of faith’, that they ‘love God’, that they ‘are Christians’ or that they ‘are followers of Jesus’.  I suppose some of those statements could be understandable, but ‘follower of Jesus’, seems a bit harder for me to swallow.

Is it the Jesus who says ‘do whatever you like as I don’t mind’? I don’t know that one.  Is it the Jesus who says ‘whatever values you think fit you, that’s ok, as long as you say you are following me, that’s fine’?  I don’t know him either.  Is it the one who says ‘we are all going in the same direction and it does not matter what you believe’? I've never met him.

You see the Jesus I follow says ‘I am the way’. He says ‘take up your cross and follow me’. He says ‘if you love me then keep my commandments’. He is the one who says of some, especially those with power, and especially the religious; ‘Don’t expect that if they have hated me that they won't hate you because they will’.
We love the pick and mix that our culture wants to persuade us is the norm, a bit like the old Woolworths sweet model; ‘I would like to choose this but exclude that’.  It seems ok when we are choosing sweets, so why not when we say we are choosing to follow Jesus? ‘Oh I am happy to follow you down that path Jesus, but you want me to follow you down the next one too? Sorry I don’t like that direction so we will connect later’.  Is that how it works?

I don’t think so.  Becoming a follower of Jesus requires repentance first of all, and that word suggests a turnaround of direction.  In other words we go in a new direction, the Jesus direction if you will; and this new direction is very contrary to much of the world we live in.  It has a whole new set of values to start with, such as ‘love your enemies’ and ‘do good to those who use you badly’.  There are other things that give us problems too in this following, such as ‘deny yourself’.

 Oh dear, I thought my happiness and what I want, my emotions, my feelings, my particular leanings or desires, i.e. ME, was the most important thing in the world.  Well actually, following Jesus includes that difficult part of [dying to self and living to Him]. Oh dear, this pick and mix is such a problem, and this ‘I am a follower of Jesus’ is such a problem too.

 Let’s be honest, I like the idea of following Jesus, but not giving up on my wants, my personal desires, what I think is best for me, my choices; that’s a bit hard, maybe I will give it a miss and be a bit more honest in future and not say I am one of those people, maybe I will just say I like them but am not ‘following’.  A bit like some of those people right at the start 2,000 years ago; this is what happened then.

Acts 5:13 But even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them. On the other hand, those who put their trust in the Master were added right and left, men and women both.

Perhaps those admirers where just a bit more honest, what do you think?

Adrian Hawkes
For adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
12th January 2014
Edited by: