Saturday, 9 August 2014

I am not wrong

It's 5am and I have just woken to write this piece which is burning in my heart.

I AM NOT WRONG about Gaza and the land of Palestine

I have been told by 2 people I respect that I may be wrong with my view on the situation in Gaza.

Well I have woken up and I say loudly and clearly: I AM NOT WRONG

  • I AM NOT WRONG: Because if my status update is the final one seen by the Israeli government and our world as the one that stops them in their tracks from killing one more innocent life; one more child; then I tell you again: I AM NOT WRONG: It may be my status update or tweet that is the one that saves the life of that one child so I say again: I AM NOT WRONG
  • I AM NOT WRONG: I never knew that my hero the great freedom fighter from oppression and injustice and murder Nelson Mandela said;

"WE KNOW TOO WELL THAT OUR FREEDOM IS INCOMPLETE WITHOUT THE FREEDOM OF THE PALESTINIANS".

If Nelson Mandela knew this then I say again: I AM NOT WRONG.

  • I AM NOT WRONG: 2,000 years ago in a very obscure part of Palestine a young girl was told she would give birth to a baby and she should name him Jesus: because he was coming to save His people from their sins.

Jesus was quickly taken into Egypt to escape death by the powerful ruler Herod who was fearful of the birth of a new King: seen as a threat to his throne. Joseph had been warned in a dream that his life was in danger. It seems the world has always wanted to kill children for the hope that they can bring.

So I know that: I AM NOT WRONG, even today the killing and slaughter of innocents continues unabated; if we who know this and don't stand up and raise our collective voices and say together: THIS IS WRONG then we have failed the children.

Because one day Jesus had parents bring their children to him for him to bless them but his disciple had better ideas and they tried to stop them coming: but Jesus said these words in Matthew 19 v 13-15

"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

I will keep saying it because if I and my small insignificant voice can stop the death of one more innocent: one more child then truly it has been worth it.

I AM NOT WRONG

  • WE ARE NOT WRONG: when collectively we choose to be the voice for those with no voice.
  • We choose to post and keep the pressure on the Israeli government.
  • We choose to take time to sign the petitions to stop the bombing.
  • We choose to raise awareness of conditions in Palestine.
  • We choose to march in peaceful protests.
  • We choose to tell our government by how we vote that the sale of arms is wrong: but even more so when sold to a government that is using them to target innocents and children.

I AM NOT WRONG: I cannot bare to turn on my TV for many more nights and see the broken and mangled bodies of once healthy children.

400 deaths and rising: please let's not stop raising the awareness of the death of innocence.

Together we can help this to STOP.

For the sake of the children - how we treat one of these innocents is the mark of our humanity.

 

 

 

Friday, 8 August 2014

We cannot forget the children of Gaza

We have just had the centenary of the First World War: August 4th 2014. The first casualty recorded death from UK was John Parr aged 17 who had lied about his age to join the army, the first but not last tragic waste of a young life.

Wikipedia states 'The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.'

It was supposed to be the war to end all wars; tragically this has not been true.

The most recent catastrophe is the war in Gaza, it's received lots of headlines, lots of outrage (rightly so), lots of disputed information from both sides and cries of propaganda bias again from both sides.

Social media and the news at our fingertips has opened up what is happening in any conflict to almost immediate reporting. That was not the world I grew up in, certainly not the world that WW1 was a part of.

My information when I was younger came from those who I thought knew more than I did. From parents, to friends, school, higher education, generally most news channels and the daily newspapers. And finally for me the most important place was the church, the pastor, elder, youth leaders. They all in some way shaped my thinking especially my thinking about God and theology and ultimately how I was to assimilate information, which often meant through the bias of the teaching that I had received.

Fast forward to today and the way we receive our news and information via Facebook, Twitter, emails, news on line, often as it is happening, is a whole other world.

I say all this because I believe there is no excuse for not knowing certain things. Now I am aware of mis- information and propaganda, as I have said the news is full of 'biased reporting'. It is quite clear that whatever side you lean towards that thinking will be reinforced by what you watch and read.

I have been very vocal on my Facebook and twitter timelines raising awareness of the conflict in Gaza. I am pleased that collectively this has lead to a worldwide outrage at the actions of the Israeli army under instructions from their government.

Unfortunately this was not soon enough for the 1,800 dead and 10,000 terribly injured and maimed; plus a decimated and ruined infrastructure in this already occupied territory.

Over this time I have been acutely aware for the most part, of no condemnation of Israel from many in the Christian community at the indiscriminate killing of civilians; mostly women and children.

It's not that there has been nothing at all but most of my discourse has been with those who for some reason saw my raising the atrocity as anti-Israel.

I must confess to feeling increasingly frustrated with this unquestioning loyalty. If we are going to question anything I am not sure how standing up for peace can be questioned as the problem in this conflict.

From the conversations I have had online, I have received no satisfying answer about the children who are being killed daily and why we should not be raising our collective voices to let Israel know they have gone too far and need to stop this abhorrent action.

To combat the above I have read and heard on the news reports; 'Israeli people love their children more than Palestinians'- we know this because they use them as human shields. So goes this mantra.

Golda Meir said- 'Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us'. I have seen this on quite a few Christians status updates.

Of the 1,800 plus deaths- 400 were children and 80 % of these approximately said to be civilians. Many more terribly injured, children orphaned, whole family groups dead. I have seen so many photos and news stories of abject and utter misery that it is very clear this is just not true.

But what does it take to make your change your mind?

After all if your construct relies heavily on Israel being only ever for peace, this must be very difficult to equate with what you are seeing.

I can only assume for many they have chosen not to look at the information from another perspective or to dismiss any they have read.

If this information is available are we not beholden to read and search wider to see what it may mean, after all this is life and death for those involved.

The three monkeys of 'see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil': show that we cannot and should not look away, we must watch and listen wider than just our own selected group who only affirm what we want to see, speak and hear.

unfortunately evil still scurries around doing what it will. Our ignorance is no excuse, after all the information is there to view and read. Choosing to ignore the breadth of information is surely choosing to stay limited.

I stand dumbfounded with continued reading and 'you tube' links like this one by Dennis Prager- described as right wing conservative, saying that the conflict is very easy to understand ('one people- the Arabs, wants the other people, the Jews - dead) appearing with a very biased pro-Israel view on timelines of people who I know to be extremely warm and loving people. This story is a lot more complicated than he would suggest and to name this group of people Arabs is to take away their personhood as those who are Palestinian and had a land once that was forcefully taken away from them.

There are many independent organisation UNWRA, UNICEF, RED CROSS, OXFAM, who have spoken out against the disproportionate actions of the Israeli army. Only tonight on the news on Channel 4 at 7pm; a doctor with the Red Cross taking a child over the borders for urgent heart surgery, when asked the question about the targeting of hospitals and medical staff, answered a clear, YES.

This evening my husband Alan wrote of the biased reporting of the BBC coverage that showed nothing of the destruction in Gaza, but only the demonstration by pro- Hamas party. A comment on his update from a senior UK pastor " Wow saying BBC, yet to me they are completely anti- Semitic. And I have no drum to bang".

Really 'no drum to bang'? This is driven absolutely by a view that Israel are bring treated unfairly, and I would suggest to that Pastor at least be honest about your bias.

I raise this for my own personal reflection, I say to my shame I knew nothing of the last war in 2009 in Gaza. But this time I do; I have looked and read and studied the history of this region: and I will continue to do so.

I have seen with my own eyes the atrocity, the statistics of dead and injured speak for themselves.

This battle thousands of miles away brought into my life by the technology I use. I cannot now, not know, it matters that I act to raise awareness and to continue to speak out for peace to have the final word. Check out this link from American journalist Alison Weir on You Tube speaking about her time in Gaza in 2008 if you want to hear another side to this story.

For you, like me when you have heard and seen, the same rule applies. You cannot, not know, this information.

I would also ask my fellow Christians to think wisely before they post links that are obviously 'Anti-Muslim' I have seen some that I feel are more to insight violence and an 'us and them' mentality: than to bring peace. Please check the source for your links. I have seen one a photo of a middle aged man supposedly proclaiming his marriage to a very young girl. I checked out the source and it was an 'anti-Muslim' group who wanted ALL Muslims dead.

I know there is a battle waging in Iraq and Syria, it seems most have found it easier to defend the lives of their fellow Christians facing persecution. I know this because many have changed their photo on Facebook to this: a ن, the Arabic letter for N, which jihadists have been spray-painting on the homes of Christians in Mosul, thus identifying the families as "Nazarene" (the word for Christian in the Koran).

We have to be so careful to not place every peace loving Muslim in with the extremist groups waging civil war in these countries. If we are 'Christ followers' then let these words of Jesus guide us today:

Matthew 25:34-36

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me ."

And Jesus when speaking to the crowds said 'blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called, the children of God'.

Today I choose peace, following Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

In the past we have put our hope in a war to end all wars maybe now we now need to find a way to bring peace; ALL PEACE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Bombs - we are all culpable

Today a photograph appeared on my Facebook timeline. It shows an object ominously hovering in the sky. There is a man on a scooter and a man casually walking along. It's a frozen moment that belies the chaos that is about to unfold.

That object is a bomb; that bomb is about wreak havoc and possibly kill many caught in its vicinity.

I spoke about this photo with my husband who has worked in electronics and we chatted about the manufacturers that make these weapons.

Honestly I had never thought about this before, never imagined a place where brilliant minds invented and developed technology to kill people.

I then had this scenario playing out in my mind about the person/people working on that bomb hanging there in the sky that day.

I know they are just people like you and I. They have family, children, lives. They have names like Bev, Al, Tracy, Daniel and so on (insert names from your country in here). After all weapons are manufactured all over our globe.

Today is august Saturday 2nd of August 2014 the death toll in Gaza is 1,500. Bombs made by people just like you and I landed on their homes, in their neighbourhoods on their loved ones on them. They are now dead and others are terribly maimed. Some are now orphaned or childless. Their lives don't look like they did a mere few hours earlier. Their lives are now irrevocably changed.

Tomorrow all over all world people will get up and go to work in the multi-billion dollar arms industry: there are lots of different kinds of weapons that can cause terrible devastation to our very frail human bodies. Some genius worked out ways to be able that we could be more deadly and devastating in our capabilities to injure and kill.

They might not know if it was the bomb that they made that is caught in this particular picture: it could have come from any factory.

I don't want to lay the blame at the feet of the people who work in these factories. We are all culpable. The need for arms is created because we are all capable of waging war with each other. We can all find it easy to blame one another for the problems in our world. We hear it all the time on the news, in our newspapers. Whatever the problems it's 'their' fault. The 'their' are those who typically don't look like us or vote like us, or share our beliefs.

Look around the world is at war: many blame religion, and I understand why, but honestly I think more often than not we really are fighting 'for a cause that is long forgotten'.

The commonwealth games are on at the moment and what we could so easily forget is this group of nations exists because at one time or another the 'British' conquered each of these places.

The French, Portuguese, Spanish and so on, all conquered various corners of our world and made their mark one way or another to this day.

There are many conflicts at the moment: 39 areas are categorised as having conflict and many more smaller internal battles. Coming from the West our biggest culpability is not only the manufacturing of these arms but that we sell them to all of these countries we may be in conflict with right now - how insane is that???

Alan wrote a great blog about how those with most power are the ones who are those with the greatest responsibility to create peace: in reality we are the ones who tend to sell and buy most of the arms.

I think our so called advanced society still has much to learn. When I look at this photo and I think of the so called lesson after the Second World War 'The war to end all wars', I am filled with sadness that this has not been true. In fact the decision by most western nations was to keep producing these weapons and bombs and for some bizarre reason selling them to anyone who could pay. Even if those nations could one day use said weapons on them. It truly makes no sense to me, the madness of all this.

For the people in this photo, frozen for this moment, it is worse than madness, it's is life and death. If we could ask them what would they like for our world right then, I think their answers would be different than a few seconds earlier. Because at that moment when your life is going to be snuffed out by a bomb whose last screw was put in by a worker called Beverley at the factory in the UK or elsewhere in the world, the wastefulness of your destruction and your absolute desire to live out your life in peace would seem the most sensible option.

I pray, rather than waiting, we would all be those who strive, and call, and march, and protest: whatever it takes to stop war.

There are no winners not even for those who manufacturer these weapons. After all one day you may be the one caught in a photograph with a bomb that you invented or made hovering over the place where you are; ready to cause mayhem and destruction in your life and the ones of those you love.

Praying for all involved in conflict across our world

Bev x

 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The hunger games

I once had a conversation with an old Polish gentleman he spoke about his time in a Russian concentration camp during the Second World War. There were 1000's of prisoners and very few guards. He said that they kept us subdued by starving. 'When all you can think about is bread, you have nothing in you to fight', I remember feeling so moved that in his younger years he had seen such atrocity and had lived through such dreadful times.

Hunger must be a terrible thing.

The ongoing conflict in Palestine between the Israeli people and the Palestinians has simmered and ignited several times over the last 70 years. The recent assault on Gaza by the Israeli government has led to well over a 1000 dead and many 1000's injured and maimed.

It still continues.

I learned when reading about this long conflict that Gaza is basically an open prison where 1.8 million people live in a land approximately 149 in size. The most densely populated area of land on earth.

Israel control the borders of this country including the coastal waters. They are effectively locked in an open air jail.

Their water, electricity and communication is under the control of the Israeli government.

What shocked me (and believe me so much has shocked and astounded me about the life of these people and their treatment) is that the food sent into Gaza from Israel is rationed.

Rationed - just think about that for a moment. One people group had decided what another 1.8 million people need to eat.

Their is a trilogy of books written by novelist Suzanne Collins named the 'Hunger Games'. When asked where she found the idea for the book she states "One night, I was lying in bed, and I was channel surfing between reality TV programs and actual war coverage. On one channel, there’s a group of young people competing for I don’t even know; and on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting in an actual war. I was really tired, and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic North America, it is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games.

To punish the people in each district, and as a reminder of their power, Capitol make each district yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory. The games are broadcast through the Capitol and to the twelve districts to entertain and intimidate the population.

One of their tools to repress is through keeping the people hungry.

The hunger games.

Is that how you subdue a nation? You place a limit on what they can have to eat?

Because I have to say I am not sure how a whole people group should feel if treated this way?

During this conflict there has been TV footage of some Israeli people sat on settees overlooking the landscape of Palestine watching the bombing and the shocking thing to see was they were cheering.

Cheering.

Sometimes the lines between reality and fiction become so blurred.

I am not sure how this current conflict will end.

I pray it will end with a real peace coming to this ancient land.

The names on our TV all so familiar to me from my faith as a Christian.

The name of Israel such a special name many believing that this land was meant to be the home for the Jewish nation, theirs by right.

I have had lots of debate with many on social networking who refuse to hear anything negative said about what is currently happening.

Only in the last few years have I become aware of the real history of this land.

A land called Palestine stolen from a nation who had lived there for the previous 2,000 years.

I cannot blame the Jewish people they were dispersed throughout the world often terribly treated in the nations they lived.

A people group who at the hands of the German Nazi party in WW11 were subjected to unmentionable horrors in the holocaust.

The likes of the USA and UK felt the guilt of having let this people group down terribly.

So their gift was another's nation.

It does seem unbelievable that this could happen but then add to that the Christians who believed this land had been prophetically meant to be their home.

I have just watched Schindlers List, the story of Oscar Schindler a black market entrepreneur in Nazi Germany who found ways to rescue Jews from the concentration camps.

These camps dehumanised everyone and one of the main tool of subjugation was to keep the prisoners hungry.

Hunger so raw that the prisoners although they outnumbered their captors by the thousands could not fight back.

They were led to the gas chambers in their thousands.

6 million dead.

Hunger in Gaza

1.8 million people and they are rationed and I am sure at times hungry. But now most of the routes for foods are cut off after the bombing.

And that hunger must be growing.

I wonder how this conflict will end but I think I know how.

If you are hungry maybe the battle is already over for you?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

How many lives ?

I sit here in my beautiful garden the sun is shining down and life feels good.

But reading and hearing the news that is unfolding in the Middle East where yet again the conflict that simmers quietly all the time as erupted again to be in the national news. This commenced after the death of 3 young Israeli boys tragically kidnapped and murdered supposedly by the Palestinian group Hamas.

The tragedy of such loss cannot be underplayed, but now we see the increasing tragedy is that of increased retaliation by Israel.

So the question is How many dead Palestinians will make up for the loss of 3 teenagers?

I don't fully understand the complexities of the Middle East ( brief history here) to hopefully help. I have just had a discussion on social media with a friend from my youth who is staunchly pro-Israel and then continued on with some of his friends who live there.

They speak of the fear of listening to the incoming rockets and fleeing into bomb shelters, I can't even imagine this sat where I am today the only sound is that of the wind in the trees and the occasionally car passing by.

They speak with a bias we all have when we defend our own truth, or tell our own story. They are living it what do I know ?

But this war this conflict started many years ago with 2 peoples claiming ownership of a piece of land not much bigger than the country of Wales here in UK. ( to note here most living there were Palestinians the land was known as Palestine) there was also some Jews still living in the land.

It is extremely hard to unravel the truth of this the propaganda machine is high on both sides, just google the conflict.

What I do know for sure is that if you check this map, Palestine only a few decades ago was the nation who held most of the territory although like all colonialism was ruled by Great Britain who in 1948 in discussion with other nations, gave the territory to the decimated and cruelly treated Jewish people, many who were recovering from their time under Nazi rule in concentration camps.

This people group so sorely treated by many nations before, during and after World War Two had seen great atrocities and were recognised as a nation for the first time in many years in fact 100's of years.

And so the conflict began and we now sit here in the West in 2014 and our news tells us that the Israeli army have now gone in to Gaza a strip of land 139 miles wide to subdue the firing of rockets into Israel, which I must stress again I do not condone.

Here though is what I do know

As it stands 159 Palestinians are dead 23 children possibly more in this number.

Over 1000 casualties

Israel 3 (the teenagers that inflamed the latest conflict) and 0 casualties

So I ask again how many Palestinians dead will be enough pay back for the murdered 3 Israeli teenagers?

So I sit here today pro- peace this situation needs to be resolved but tanks and planes and rockets only decimate and destroy.

As this conflict reaches it 60th decade here is a prayer I found today on the internet.

God of all the centuries

We long to see an end to the lines that divide:

The lines that scar families,

The line that deface religions,

The lines that embattle nations.

May you, O God,

Who crossed the line between heaven and earth,

Work a miracle in the hearts of humans and in the destinies of our countries enduring war.

Amen


 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Noblesse oblige

I would recommend reading this passage through a few times it takes some working through, I have just tried to share a few of my thoughts culminating with the main theme of this blog post.

Luke 12:34-48 .Watchfulness "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. "The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. …I have been thinking about this verse in Luke's gospel for the past few years in the context of my faith journey: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

I then heard the phrase 'Noblesse oblige', and I was not fully sure what it meant, the definition is; it's a French phrase literally meaning "nobility obliges". It is the concept that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person with such status to fulfil social responsibilities, particularly in leadership roles.

I feel that I am someone who has been given much, not because I am anyone special in anyway or in anything I have done. But I was privileged to be born into a loving home, loved and cared for growing up, by an attentive mother and father. Never ever knowing what hunger is, protected from any kind of abuse either physical, mental or sexual. Educated to a good standard, enough to be blessed to qualify as a nurse and midwife. Marrying a loving man, raising a family. Yes I have known ups and downs and felt the pain of loss, but privileged I surely am.This passage in Luke's gospel has the theme of being 'watchful', ready, with our lamps burning, dressed ready to serve the master has he returns from a wedding. The master/Lord then dresses himself to serve, which is a twist in this story paralleled in the passage in John' gospel 13:11-17

'When Jesus had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."The story continues, the master could come at any hour and if they knew when a thief was coming to steal, they would not have allowed their homes to be broken into. Reminding them again - this must be important to note, the Son of man could come again at the most unexpected time.Peter asks Jesus is this for us personally or for everyone? No answer is given but a statement about the faithful and wise manager who is charged with making sure his servants have sufficient food. The wise manager is then referred to as the servant who when his master finds him doing this will be put in charge of all of the masters possessions. But if this servant stops being watchful for the masters return and he beats his male and female servants and practices gluttony he will be cut to pieces and assigned a place with the unbelievers.It seems the master/servant who knows what he is doing but is not caring and careful will be beaten with many blows. Those who equally do these wicked things but do not know to be watchful will equally receive punishment but it will be less than those who know.

So we are then led to this key thought everyone given much- much is required.So this brings me to 'Noblesse oblige' privilege entails responsibility.

"Privilege as defined by the Oxford dictionary is ' A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group

How do I check my privilege and become aware of my responsibility to others?

Short answer I think is to learn treat others well, we are told clearly the way to serve others is to pick up a towel and if not literally ( thank goodness) it is figuratively to wash their feet.

This very action places you in the role of one who is serving without judgement. It is the action of love poured out on the 'other' with the intention of giving and not receiving.

One of my favourite books and thought comes from ― Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird'."You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

We need to recognise our privilege and our advantages and then realise this places upon us a responsibility to serve others appropriately.Bill Gates: founder of Microsoft said "My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here-never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: From those to whom much is given, much is expected. - Harvard University, 2007

Recognising privilege is vitally important, just this week I encountered a young man extolling his view of complementarianism at a university conference Missio Dei. I commented firstly on my sadness that this hierarchical view is still a preferences in some churches. When you reach the age of 53 in the year 2014 you really hope and have prayed a lot that equality of men and women would be the order of the day in church. I pointed out his 'white male privilege' to which he mentioned some areas he felt were a disadvantage to him. I raise this here to clarify why we need to see 'our much', it's different for all of us. But it really is essential to know what your advantages are. Being male and white is a clear privilege that holds many advantages. This can be seen in the views held about women and their sexuality by prominent press reporters. Recently in the Washington Post, columnist George Will, wrote about campus rape, claiming that being a victim in college has become "a coveted status that confers privileges", and that "victims proliferate" because of all these so-called benefits. A rebuttal of this from Jessica Valentine who wrote in the Guardian states

"Rape victims get called a lot of things. Sometimes it's "slut". For the 11-year-old gang rape victim in Texas, it was that she was a "spider" luring men into her web. It's not all bad, though - thanks to anti-violence activists, those who have been attacked also get called "survivors" and "brave". The last word I ever expected to hear to describe a rape victim is "privileged".

Another recent piece I read by Princeton University freshman Tal Fortgang has been told repeatedly to "check his privilege" - to be aware of how his socio-economic and cultural background shapes his views - and he was not happy about it. "The phrase," he writes, "handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung."(Weltanschauung means "worldview".

Anthony Zurcher states 'I had to look it up. But then, I didn't go to Princeton') Fortgang in the Time magazine, condemns those who paint him with the "privileged" label for "diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive".

This is an object lesson in really not being aware of privilege. This as the above examples show is clearly not like Harper Lee suggests 'climbing into someone's skin'. I cannot separate privilege from the 'much we have been given'. Our starting point should be to know ourselves to acknowledge, count our blessings. We should then address areas we can find to serve others in from the advantages we have been given. I cannot answer for you what that will look like but certainly writing this bog has challenged me to realise there is so much I need to address in my own life.If we need any other indicators that we may be privileged with much, these 2 links show some shocking statistics in poverty and domestic violence.

Here are some shocking statistics about those who obviously lack privilege

Poverty

  1. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they "die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.
  2. Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. Based on enrolment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers
  4. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  5. Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  6. Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.
  7. Water problems affect half of humanity: Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation

Violence against women

  1. On average, two women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner.This constitutes nearly 40% of all female murder victims.
  2. An analysis of 10 separate domestic violence prevalence studies found consistent findings: 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and between 6-10% of women suffer domestic violence in a given year

Check out these very funny photos displaying male privilege not many years ago.

White privilege

Another privilege we see is that of 'White privilege' it is defined by a set of 'societal privileges that white people benefit from beyond those commonly experienced by people of colour.The term denotes obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages the white person may not know/ recognise they have.'I was born in 1960 and I find it shocking that the 'Jim Crow laws' on racial segregation lasted from 1876-1965, 5 years after my birth it's premise was 'separate but equal for African Americans'.

When my eldest daughter took Psychology for her A levels she came home and we discussed the incredible "blue-eyes/brown-eyes" lesson in discrimination by a teacher Jane Ellison to her class of third graders.On any normal weekday morning, She looked forward to getting to her classroom at the Riceville, Iowa, Community Elementary School and to the teaching job she loved. It was 'National brotherhood week and she asked her class what this meant? She received replies like 'be kind to your brothers', 'treat others like you would like to be treated'.

She then asks the children is there anyone they do not treat that way, the reply - 'black people,Indians'.There response to seeing them was to think they were dumb and their treatment was to make them feel not part of this world- to make them 'other'.

She then asks, "Do you think you would know how it would feel to be judged by the colour of your skin?"

Children - yes, I don't think you so she replies.She then asks, " Would you like to see how it feels?"

Children - yes, Sounds like fun doesn't it ?

Blue eyes on top first.

Quickly into this - she states blue eyed people are smarter than brown eyed in this room. She starts by challenging Brian who wants to say this isn't true. She mentions the story he had told of his father kicking him- his dad has brown eyes. All the blue eyed dads wouldn't do that.

She then gives the blue eyes treats, extra recess time, but the brown eyes can't use the drinking fountain and she places a blue collar on them to mark them out as 'other, less than'.

The children quickly use 'brown eyes' as a put down, these 2 words as speaking to an inferior person.

Jane Elliot says"I watched what had been marvellous cooperative wonderful thoughtful children turn into nasty vicious discriminating people in the space of 15 minutes.

When the experiment was completed and she asked the children how they felt their response was to explain the 'collars' had labelled them and they Knew they couldn't function under the conditions laid down by the experiment.

So it got me thinking maybe our job is to help remove the marks of slavery- the virtual collars ?

The sometimes very real 'Star of David' placed upon someone marking them out.

This tribalism and the way it leads us to think and act is what we need to learn to overcome in ourselves and then for 'others'. We have no excuse - the passage tells us when we know these things, recognise our 'much' we are accountable for our actions.

The Gospel suggests we are not only to love but called to clothe ourselves with actions.

In John 13:34 Jesus states "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

And in. Matthew 5::9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God"

At the root of the word peacemaker is the verb 'to practice' I would like to suggest that it could be a good thing to go out and do some of that with those we meet.

Our privilege or 'Noblesse oblige', requires that fulfil our social responsibilities, to those we meet, possibly more so to those who are not as privileged.

Just some final thoughts on privilege.

  • You cannot apologise for your privilege or change it but you can and should be aware of it.


  • With this in mind we should be ready to help out of our identified 'much'.


  • The most important thing to note is 'You are not special' there is a price to this much you have received. The parable clearly illustrates this point


From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

'Like a girl'

This morning just before my long awaited holiday to Nice in France I watched a great advert that showed how the term 'like a girl' had had such a negative affect on most females. I had to quickly write my thoughts I felt so angry with how this had impacted so many. Will update with links later.

'Like a girl' when did this become such a negative term?
I am a girl, well now a middle aged one but still I once was a 'girl'. I had no choice about my sex I was born into this body. It's served me well thank goodness. But my abilities and strengths like a man are based upon my ability, not comparing myself to another person of my gender and certainly not comparing myself to a 'male counterpart'.
My very 'meness' (I don't care if this is made up) is bound up with my sex.

Now this is not to negate the battle those people who are transgendered and have to fight to be who they feel they are. But this is to ask seriously why is 'like a girl' such a derogatory term?

I have probably heard it used this way most of my earlier life but I remember the first significant use in the context of a fundamentalist church from Australia in a preach that fuelled me with immense anger.
The preacher scolded the males in the congregation for thinking and acting 'like a girl', the derogatory terms were also used for 'Gay people', we were 'lumped together' under this umbrella of 'not quite good enough' in fact for some, being female/Gay was to be despised by these 'men'.

Fast forward 20 years and approximately 2 years ago I hear a teaching from pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Seattle ( I was hoping to hear Rob Bell, but downloaded wrong Mars Hill) and guess what?
Yep Pastor Mark had a whole bunch of expletives and vitriol for his male counterparts and a number were using 'like a girl' or female imagery to display his disgust at those he felt were getting it wrong. Yep we females are just Wrong!!

Never mind the fact that it's the female who gave birth to every male that has ever taken a breath.

So I would ask everyone both male and female to think before you use this sentence.
Everyone to not label yourself with limits that are defined by your sex. You are you, your strengths and weaknesses are no one else's business.

Let's abandon this negative term for the sake of all future generations of  girls/women, for the sake of my amazing granddaughter Chloe.

For my wonderful grandsons Malakai and Jack, who will learn why this term is not acceptable and hopefully by their example teach others this also.

Love Bev