Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Babylon Two

 

Babylon Two

Alternative

 

Many must live in the Empire, that is obvious. There are no alternatives.  We are told that we should pray for a blessing on the Empire and build a house. In other words - live.

It is also true that we must compromise with Empire. We are instructed to do that.  We are aware from history that many from, “the Alternative”, end up being in positions of power, advising Empire, conducting Empire, being Empire supported persons. (See Joseph in Genesis, and Daniel)

The difficulty comes when the choice is made not to compromise and stand against the Empire. That, so it seems to me, is when Empire makes demands that are totally against the values and morals of the Jesus follower and, “the Alternative,” that we should be serving. It is on those occasions that we must take risks and to stand up and be counted even though we may be thrown into the fire, or to the lions. However, knowing that possibility, should we compromise.

Empire will also manipulate and have, “the Alternative,” use its power structures to achieve its ends; much as Empire does. That is a problem, because “the Alternative,” does not have the same value system, morals or ethics. The, “Alternative” should be servant thinking, not power thinking.

At the middle of the compromise, what takes place is an inability to see. The line has been crossed. “The Alternative,” then, has ceased to be, “the alternative.” Then, one starts to see what it is one might lose. And so, we have the famous phrase, “Do you not know that one man should die. If that does not happen, we will lose our nation, our privileges, our temple, our living.  Now, “the Alternative,” has simply become another aspect of Empire.

Empire is extremely attractive. We are so persuaded to believe its propaganda, and we know that it has, or so it seems, looked after us.  Empire also gives the impression that we cannot do without it. “It is our only source. It is the ultimate. It is the Greatest.”  It will also take a position that says, “I will even promote your God.”  The question there though is: Does it?  Possibly, yes. However, it will always be in second place to the god of the Empire.

It is interesting to note that when the Empire for its own reasons, and in other circumstances feels it will benefit, it releases “the Alternative”. In such a case many who would say that they are part of, “the Alternative,” choose to stay. Sometimes they are even permitted to rebuild a temple for their God, one that has been destroyed.

That is an interesting one.  I note that on that particular occasion in the Biblical narrative, the new temple was cheered by some. Others, however, cried because it was not as good as the one that had been destroyed a generation earlier.  A friend of mine noted, nevertheless, the glory of the one that did not seem as good as the first, ended up housing greater glory.  To understand that you must have eyes to see.

Another interesting thing to note about Empire, is that even when it is evident that its time is over, and it has become history, a new Empire (or Empires even) is now in the ascendency. Some hunger so hard after the past that they will still seek to recreate the old one.

Empire also will build its own imposing temples of worship. They will always seek to be bigger and better than anything anyone else has.  Think about the pyramids, Rhodes, The Colosseum, maybe even St Pancras railway station or the Twin Towers.

Recently I listened to an architect being interviewed on Radio. He was the architect in charge of one of the biggest shopping centres in my country. When asked the question, “What are you trying to create?” His answer was very telling.  He said, “All architects want to build Cathedrals. This is my Cathedral to our God.”  Maybe he had a good understanding.

So where are we. Are we having to live in the Empire? Are we part of “the alternative”? Were we part of “the Alternative” but now, recognise that to go against the Empire we will cost us so much? And let us be honest: We like the Empire lifestyle, even though we know that it is a high cost to others.

Adrian Hawkes

www.blogspot.co.uk

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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

 

Babylon One

There are those that I call ‘the alternative’ and they can be a nuisance to Empire because they have a different value system, and an allegiance to a different Kingdom. Yet they have no choice but to live in the Empire, but they need to see and understand the demands, values, and power that the Empire seeks to exert. So, let us look at Empire.

Empire

·         It demands conformity.

·         It has a materialistic value system.

·         Does not tolerate other powers.

·         Dominant language.

·         If conformity is not achieved, then it becomes aggressive.

·         It takes hold of Religion and uses it for control purposes.

·         Production is more important than human need.

·         Is Arrogant.

·         Is abusive.

·         Is Self-indulgent.

·         Is proud.

·         Is boastful.

·         Is without mercy.

·         It devours smaller powers.

·         Empire demands that it must be accommodated.

·         Empire seeks to have an ideological grip on all.

·         Empire taxes.

·         Empire Exploits.

·         Empire requires conformity.

·         Empire is strong on posturing.

·         Empire makes grandiose claims.

·         Empire seeks grandiose projects.

·         Empire’s fraudulent claims are kept alive only by propaganda.

·         Empire makes theological claims.

·         Empire exploits the oppressed.

·         Empire transfers wealth from the many to the few.

·         Who is it that passively accommodates the Empire?

·         Empire puts God in second place to use for its ends.

·         Many, perhaps the majority, want to always return to Empire rather than an alternative, after all, Empire has an adequate supply of Cucumbers, Leeks and Onions.

·         Empire always seeks to project the fact that it is GREAT.

·         Empire always seems to have one superior ethnic group.

 

It makes us think, I hope, and ask what and where we should be to be “alternative “and how difficult might that be. We need to also ask; “Have we been ‘taken in’ by Empire?”

*With thanks to Walter Brueggemann, and his Babylon.

Adrian Hawkes

www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

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Sunday, 17 January 2021

Caleb Versus the Minimum

 

Caleb Versus the Minimum.

I am always puzzled by people who lack vision, people who are content as to what they are and where they are. It is something I find hard to understand. Maybe I was dropped on my head!

Yet, it seems most people are just content with where they are.

“Please do not ask us to stretch further.”

“Please do not ask us to be world changers. We have come this far. Surely that is enough.”

They are, what I call, “Minimum people.”

“What is the least we can do just to get by?”

Maybe it’s that bump on my head why I find it hard to understand.

Yes, of course, there are entrepreneurs out there. Thank God for that! Unfortunately, they are not the majority. 

Many are like the people I started work with when I left school, working in a large company.  Finishing time was five o'clock and boy oh boy at two minutes to five, they were queuing at the clock out, card in hand, ready to punch it the moment that hand on the clock moved to five.  I found the work exciting and often stayed behind because I was in the middle of some company project. Every day they would shout, “Why are you doing that? It's nearly five o'clock!” I am sure they thought I was mad. I thought they were boring and lived in a microscopic world.

The problem is I see it today, and I am still struggling to understand that approach to life.  It irritates me in our school program when I have seen teachers say things like, “That is too hard for them!” or, “Oh dear! That is too much work for them.”

I prefer the words of Dr Donald Howard, also an educator, who used to say, "Most people can do more than they thought they could do because someone else thought they could do it."

It was a privilege to lecture, along with my wife, on the subject of, “Practical Leadership,” to some of the future leaders of our country. What did bother me though, was the personal question afterwards, these high flying youngsters, some with at least two degrees under their belts, said, "Please help me. I don't know what I want to do. I do not seem to have any vision for the future."

No vision for the future? Don't know where you are going? Find someone with vision, who does know where they are going - and join with them.  That is still my today answer.

Throughout most of my life, people have cried, concerning projects, “It cannot be done.” Often, the problem has been that I had already done it because I was too stupid to know it couldn't be done.

The other thing I hear a lot is, “Surely that is enough!”  My reply? “The worst enemy of better is very good. Of course, it is not enough!”

I like the words of Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford motor company in answer to, “It’s impossible!” “I refuse to recognize the existence of impossibilities. I don't know anyone who knows enough about any subject to be able to say that something is or is not impossible. If someone who takes himself for an expert and declares that such and such a thing is impossible, right away there's a horde of nincompoops who sing the chorus: 'It’s impossible…” Henry Ford.

I love the story of Caleb in the Old Testament part of the Bible. He must have been in his eighties when he went to the leaders and said, “I know I am getting on, but I want more. Give me this mountain, and I will take it.”  The leaders understood the vision and said, “Get on with it.” He did and took it.

 

Joshua 14:6-12 The Old Testament part of the Bible

The people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite spoke: "You’ll remember what God said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me back at Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of God sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land. And I brought back an honest and accurate report. My companions who went with me discouraged the people, but I stuck to my guns, totally with God, my God. That was the day that Moses solemnly promised, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance, you and your children’s, forever. Yes, you have lived totally for God.’ Now look at meGod has kept me alive, as he promised. It is now forty-five years since God spoke this word to Moses, years in which Israel wandered in the wilderness. And here I am today, eighty-five years old! I’m as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. I’m as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So, give me this hill country that God promised me. You yourself heard the report that the Anakim were there with their great fortress cities. If God goes with me, I will drive them out, just as God said.”

 

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Tuesday, 24 November 2020

 

Why Should the Government do it All?

 The first thing to say, of course, in response to the question posed by the heading is that they do not.  I am writing down these thoughts in answer to some who always complain that feeding the hungry, looking after children with free school meals and supporting people out of work should not be government’s responsibility.

 I have to say that I think this view, comes from a privileged position. It arises from people who have not by birth or by circumstance had to struggle with poverty, or to ever ask the question, “Where will the next meal come?”

 Power. Money. Government.

 Where do power and government come from? Who decides what shall and shall not be? If we look back on History, which, for this discussion is a good thing to do, rulers, powers, and if you like, government usually comes from the strongest, the most ruthless.  Maybe nowadays, in a democracy,  it comes from the ones who can tell the best stories in order to get voted in, be that truthful or not.

 Historically thinking, who is it that governs? It's the ones with the best swords, power and/or violence that ends up running the show.  We have to, at this point bring in the King James I perspective (1603 -1625) of his “Divine Right” to be King. One of the stipulations he placed on the translators was to make sure that such “Divine Right” was exhibited in the scriptures. It needs to be added that the translators did not heed his injunction in the translation. Of course, he was not the first to play that card.

 From 1066 onwards the King owned it all. That is evidenced in Domesday Book. From then onwards, the population ceased to be free citizens per se, but subjects owned by the King. (Domesday Book commonly pronounced as “Doomsday Book” was so named after the 12th century because its statements were reckoned as a final judgement on taxes – like the final judgement before god. Hence the evolved reference as “Doomsday Book”.

 In those days, “As with slaves, serfs could be bought, sold, or traded, with some limitations: they generally could be sold only together with the land, could be abused with no rights over their own bodies, could not leave the land they were bound to, and could marry only with their lord's permission. Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land. In return, they were entitled to protection, justice, and the right to cultivate specific fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. Serfs were often required not only to work on the lord's fields but also in his mines and forests and to labour to maintain roads. The manor formed the basic unit of feudal society and the lord of the manor and the villeins. To a certain extent, the serfs were bound legally: by taxation in the case of the former, and economically and socially in the latter.

 Societal Structures

 societal structure is the way society is organised. Let us remember who it is that decides or legalises those structures.  Who is it?  It is the people with levers of government, the levers of money, levers of control, levers of the controllers of business structures.  These are the people that hold societal power.

 These days, the media has revealed that these people who hold the levers of power are those who see cleaners, care workers, and the like as, “unskilled workers” and are thus deserving of a lower wage. That is a wage that means even if they are working a full week, they might still need free school meals for their children or have to use a food bank.

 I remember in the '60s working for a large company. The Directors called us in one day and said, “We are doing well! We are making a good profit; we want to give you all an increase in salary.” They then said, "However, we are prevented from doing so because the government says we cannot."

 There was a time, I think up until the late 30s, that government sought to hold down wage increase to even a living wage because “the lower class would waste such increase. They might have more children, and it would reduce them to being poor again.”

 So, when power, government and rulers assume to take over the lives of people, the answer is, “Yes!” They do become responsible by making sure that they are educated, fed, housed and clothed.  If you don't want this to remain as the case, then they must cease the power structure situation that makes those things necessary.

 

 

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Adrian Hawkes.

www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

 

 

 

Monday, 5 October 2020

The expectation of gratefulness and its difficulties

 

The expectation of gratefulness and its difficulties

Watching a section of the press and then the comments of others who have difficulties in understanding the problem of thankfulness and an inability to emphasise and walk in another's shoes lead me to write this piece.

Training people to become foster carers one of the things that I always emphasise is the fact that if you are expecting a foster child to be grateful, you are probably going to be disappointed.  I am sometimes wrong, and some are incredibly grateful, but we should not expect it.

Why should a child who has been taken away from birth parents be grateful? Instead, they might see you as the enemy.  Can you get into this paradigm and understand just how they feel and see you?

I was responsible for setting up housing in another part of the UK. Kindly offered to a house by a group on a rental basis.  After a short time,  offer withdrawn as placing people there, they decided that these asylum seekers were just not grateful, that recurring problem again.

Then there are those making it to the UK which then put into the Asylum-seeking group.  Should they be grateful for finding a safe place?  Sometimes discovering that place has itself been fraught with trauma by people who do not believe you, express racist attitudes towards you or regard you as an economic migrant. What do we mean by economic migrant? If you are starving and move somewhere to earn a living, are you an economic migrant? Maybe you had better die where you are.

Why should my expectations as an asylum seeker be ever so grateful?  Did I ask to be born in a country surrounded by war, did I pre-request that I will be placed in a country where food is short? Was I aware that despite my education, my degree there would be no work for me to earn a living, support myself and even a family and children?

Connecting with such people has been an enriching and educating experience.  Listing many times to heart-rending stories and very often thinking to myself, could I have gone through what you have gone through and If I had wouldn't, I be simply crazy mad?

Of course, many are suffering mental stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, acting in ways that seem to those who have not had the experience ungrateful, demanding unreasonable.

Then again, we argue about the cost of getting to the UK without any understanding of the shoes they walked in, and from whence they came. Several times in my experience, I have run into such people.  One young lady I regularly gave a lift to places in my car, a stranger in the UK, not demanding but looking for help.  One day I entered her home and was surprised to see pictures of her with many of the World Leaders, shocked, I asked how come that is you.  My Dad was the Prime Minister of so, and so country came the casual reply.

Another time with an asylum seeker who was surprised to find themselves in the UK, I asked where did you think you were, the reply was Belgium, and I could not understand the language here why are they not speaking French.

I asked another what they wanted to do and was told they planned to be the Minster of Health in the UK surprised at such ambition I wondered about the background.  Oh, my Father, who was killed in front of me was the Finance minister of my country they replied.  Why should we be surprised at their expectations of maybe meals and the like?

I have witnessed very bizarre reactions from such people, for which one should not be surprised considering their history and journeys.  Often with the increased pressure by a suspicious bureaucracy and cynical people.

One of our key workers pretended to by an asylum seeker, to try and understand the process, unbeknown to me until after the event I hasten to add.  Their report though was not encouraging, they felt badly treated, and belittled and was glad that they were born a UK citizen and did not have to face any more hostility.  I guess lots of us do not even want to try to empathise; we do not want to walk in anyone else shoes perhaps we prefer our ivory palace and its ignorance and who can blame you. I do not wish to risk my life on a rubber boat across the busiest shipping lane in the world. I would need to be significantly pushed to do that.

If you are going to stay in your corner; please do not become an armchair critic of people who are trying to survive, running away from persecution, war famine and just a terrible life.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Let Me Clarify


Let Me Clarify

I feel I need to state what I believe to be the whole problem with the points-based system and Illegal immigration.

Reasons why I have a problem:

1. Such a system is totally selfish.  It really does not take account of the needs of those who are wanting to come. A points-based system does not take account of the jobs and posts that need to be filled, which are usually not at the levels of income that is being offered by those who live within a silver spoon lifestyle assuming theirs is the average pay.

2.    2.  The usual cry that I hear from such a post as this is: “Are you going to allow everyone to come to the UK?”  This is such an argument of straw.  I feel it is really a waste of space replying. However, the current 70 million people displaced via war, famine, and mismanagement of their governments are not all trying to come to, or want to come to the UK. Why are we behaving as if they did? Why are we even having such a discussion?

3.    3.    Along with this argument goes the thought, “But they are illegal!” Doh! Unfortunately for me, I have this debate with Insurance Brokers who tell me that they cannot insure certain places that house refugees.

“Why not?” I ask.  
“Because you know that they are illegal.”
“Yes, I know that they are refugees,” I respond.
“ …and refugees are illegal,” they say.
“Really!” I say with a higher-pitched tone of voice.  “Do you know what a refugee is?” I ask frustratingly.
“Of course, we do!” they say. “You know that too!”
“OK then! Let me put the record straight once and for all. Refugees are NOT illegal!”

4.       4. Another issue about these disagreements is that most of the people I hear have got their figures wrong as to how many are here in the UK, how many come to Britain and how many leave the country! Even the government can’t get that figure right.  Surely it is not rocket science to computerise and be able to check people into the county and out of the country?

5.    5.    Usually, alongside the wrong numbers, goes the line that the UK is taking more than any other country. I will not bother to put the correct figures here, but just to say that it is total nonsense.

6.     6.  If we really wanted to do something about these terrible 7 million displaced people, running from danger, running from starvation, running from terrible unimaginable situations, we could do so. However that would take political will and a forceful, “we want to”. Unfortunately, we would rather spout about how “hard done” we are as a nation and what jobs we are losing. And we must not forget that our wages are going down and our schools are too full.  Most of these assumptions are incorrect. It would take working with the EU to do it.  However, certainly, it could be done. All that is required is the will and the care to do it.

7.     7.   As I said in the UN, “We can do these things, but we will need to get our hands dirty. And we do not want to do that.”

8.       At least I got some of these issues discussed in the House of Lords. However, talk still does not get it done. One has to do it.

Adrian Hawkes
www Blogspot.co.uk
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Thursday, 9 April 2020


Have You Allowed Your Training to Put You in a Box?

Don't get me wrong. I am very much in favour of training and I believe Dr Donald Howard’s comment that, “Education is life and you never finish learning.”

When I was in college, one of my German roommates, Gerhard, said to me one day, “You must not get frustrated about the machine that is producing these students.”  I was in training at the time when, in the UK, they were pushing the fact that “eggs are good for you”, and they had a little lion stamp which was put on each egg, to tell you they were excellent and fresh.  All done by the UK Egg Marketing Board.

So, my German friend said, "If these students all come out with a lion stamped on their production line exterior, all looking and saying the same, it will be because they cannot be anything other than that."

Sir Ken Robinson FRSA claims that, "Schools kill creativity," arguing that, "We don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it, or rather, we get educated out of it". ... "True creativity," he argues, "is based on knowledge, which, in turn is based on literacy".

The difficulty, it seems to me, is that when we read, listen to lectures, in all sorts of disciplines we assume that what is said, because the person is a teacher/expert/master of the subject, then it all must be correct. So, people read newspapers, which they say they don't believe, and then quote what the article stated, as if it is undeniable factual truth.

In one course I attended, the lecturer said something that has become my mantra; he said: "Believe nothing. Check everything".  Why is it when trained in any discipline, social work, teaching, pastoring, whatever - we disengage that valuable critical part of our brain and assume, “Now, if I follow this to the letter, I have all the answers.”

Many times, I come into conflict with people trained in various disciplines because I can think of another way, or even dare to question that what's told is not feasible or practical.  Then I suggest another way to do it. 

I was being trained at college to be a preacher. The Principal of the college, a great guy, first-class Principal but a boring preacher, was, I noted, being copied by all the students in delivery and content.
“Why?” I asked them.

"He's the principal," was the answer. “Therefore, that is the way it should be done!”

“But he is boring and bad at delivery,” I complained. “He maybe good at lots of other things I confess, but no, not that one please.” 

I guess they needed the lion stamping on their head; I am told I was dropped on mine.

Henry Ford, the motor car construction line inventor, was asked if he had asked people what they want. His reply was, “Why would I do that? I know what they would say; “faster horses”. I am, however, building cars that they have not yet seen.”

I want trained social workers, teachers, lawyers etc., but I really don't want the ones that have, at an early stage, cut out the critical part of their brain, and only believe that what they have been taught is the only way it should be done.  I am fed up with that approach; it is not enough and will not take us into the future. 

Rutger Bregman says it well: "If we want to change the world, we need to be unrealistic, unreasonable and impossible!"

I am a Jesus follower and He was raised from the dead. So, yes! I want to change the world, and do not want to be put in a box. For that reason, it seems to me that unrealistic, unreasonable and impossible is the way to go. They are words that people use who do not have box thinking.

Maybe, before I go on anymore, I should stop with some more Henry Ford:

“I cannot discover that anyone knows enough to say definitely what is and what is not possible.”

I refuse to recognize the existence of impossibilities. I don't know anyone who knows enough about any subject to be able to say that something is or is not impossible. If someone who takes himself for an expert and declares that such and such a thing is impossible, right away there's a horde of nincompoops who sing the chorus: “It's impossible…”

(Two quotes famously attributed to Henry Ford.)

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Adrian Hawkes
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