Friday, 8 August 2014

Conflict and Proportionate blame.

Something happened a few weeks ago which has really got me thinking on another level or it has more accurately got me explaining on another level!  During a recent discourse via Social media I became aware of the difficulty of trying to see matters of conflict in an impartial way.  When we look at conflict we instinctively begin siding with or opposing the sides according to our own particular frame of thinking.  This is Universal and it is probably the thing that hinders our development the most.  Unless both sides in a Conflict are willing to let go then the conflict will never end.  This difficulty that I have come up against is very common and I see it very simply as being a part of the reason why the issue of ‘Conflict’ remains unresolved.

I have found it very difficult to speak about conflict in a general way without offending someone on either side.  I had a Republican like my poetry page a while back and he then quickly unliked it when I wrote a post which outlined how the Loyalist Culture was treated after the Flag protests.  This is how Cultural Tribalism works.  People cannot say anything good about the enemy and they cannot take even the most measured criticism about their own side.  The old “yes…but” argument kicks in all the time.  When you try to draw measured and intelligent conclusions someone always has another answer and it is usually based upon one sidedness.  I do this myself quite a lot but although much less than I did in the past. 

Humanity has reached this very dangerous moral region where it is completely impossible to use any intelligent discourse because emotional and instinctive matters drive others to refute even the most measured of conclusions. 

My ongoing study of Conflict

I had already been trying to envisage new methods of thinking surrounding Conflict and this personal process has been ongoing for a few decades.  I have been studying Conflict for most of my life, at the beginning without even realising that that’s what I was doing.  Obviously  many people will think it is absurd that I could consider that my studying began in Childhood but it really did.   My Mother really set my studying mode in motion by beginning to order and get me a series by Orbis called World War II.  This was a comprehensive weekly guide to every single aspect of that Conflict and I would have been about 12 when she began getting them for me.  Without even realising it I was being locked into something that would never leave me and that is my thirst for knowledge.  Over the years I have looked at many conflicts.  I can remember when the events in Bosnia and Rwanda occurred back in the early 1990’s I would be watch the BBC news which was on all during the night and I followed everything happening there with great interest.  I am not sure if it was morbid fascination or what it was exactly that made me want to learn about these things but it doesn’t matter because I have ended up with an extremely well versed base of knowledge when it comes to the History of Warfare and the nature of the sides during conflict and the Societies involved.

Before the internet I loved getting factual books.  I looked very closely at The Romans, The Greeks, Ancient Egypt, Persia, The American Civil War, Ireland, The Napoleonic Wars as well as the creation of Israel and many others.  My study is ongoing.  The internet has given me the opportunity to continue and I have watched countless documentaries and read so much about individual conflicts and conflict generally.  I also think the fact that I was born and raised during a conflict did increase my level of understanding but I always get this sense of other peoples understanding of conflict generally and it seems many people simply fail to fully fathom the intricacies of conflict. 

When I state that I have been studying Conflict what exactly do I mean by that?  I don’t see conflict the same anymore.  One of the main things I have noticed about people when they look at conflicts is that they find it very easy to take a side and begin assigning blame.

I think an inability to understand conflict has two main barriers:

1.  If you have taken a side in any particular conflict, even if only as a sympathiser, you will be unable to understand both sides and this will effect your ability to see conflict as a whole.

2.  Many people simply fail to understand the use of such destructive force by Humans against Humans.  They find violence so abhorrent that they simply dismiss any use of violence as wrong and their disgust stops them from getting any deeper.

I know categorically that it is these two aspects which allow conflict to continue.  A combination of a lack of understanding by the vast majority of people and continuing anger by others make conflict possible.  Lets look at each in more depth.

One sidedness

The proportion of blame that each side deserves and receives during conflict is due mainly to the amount of outward aggression they display.  This usually has something to do with the numbers of dead on each side and the types and volume of weapons being used.  These principles can only really be measured mainly from the point of view of those who are not sympathisers though.  What I mean by that is that there are people who are simply disgusted by a high proportion of killing from one side in particular that they end up taking a side based the huge difference in the death toll from one side to the other.

In any Conflict though matters can get very complicated and unfortunately people can begin ‘supporting’ a side due to similarities to their own conflict.  In Northern Ireland during the late 1990’s a degree of support emerged among the Republican community for the Palestinian side in their struggle with Israel and Palestinian flags began being flown in Republican areas. This was not particularly surprising because Republicans had often fostered links with organisations similar to their own around the world.  The Loyalist side though then began to support Israel and Israeli flags began appearing in Loyalist districts.  This was slightly different than basic support though and a kind of hypocrisy became evident because Loyalist groups had long been aligned with Right Wing English and British groups who idolised Hitler and the Third Reich.  This shows the lack of any real regard among groups whose central premises are hatred.  The old Cliché my enemies enemy is my friend comes to mind.

Those involved in any conflict CANNOT understand conflict as a whole.  The reason for this is simple.  A conflict needs both sides to be engaged in hatred of the other side for it to continue and the act of engagement in hatred stops each side from recognising the other as having any relevance whatsoever.  The enemy is always wrong.  This polarised view keeps the two sides firmly apart and all you will ever hear from either side is criticism of the other and excuses as to why they do what they do.  Each side have seemingly rational and understandable reasons for their own barbaric acts while they demonise the other side for similar acts. 

I have looked at this in great detail.  I have gone as far as to view multiple conflicts for this but the most interesting thing that I have found is that we are completely unable to have absolute understanding of these matters due to our inherent need to explain things from a singular point of view.  I have tried to remain impartial but found it impossible because how we see and explain things has a wider effect in our relations with others.

Peoples feelings are often dictated by matters surrounding close personal connections or through an identification of closeness to particular groups.   An example of this can be seen clearly within the Republican community and how it fosters links with Basques and Palestinians due to their perceived  similarities.  Like I have said before War is what is wrong not the sides in the war.  Conflict creates confusion and causes people to make bad decisions based upon extreme emotions.  When we become emotionally affected we do not think straight and this is a prime example of how conflict causes more of the same negative energy to continue circulating and hurting ALL OF US.

If we are ever to overcome conflict the principle of blaming either side must be overcome.  Can you ever see that happening?  I mean as soon as I personally hear about conflict I almost instantly begin trying to figure out a way of proportioning blame!  Conflict does that, it is our nature, ALL OF US.  We’re all prone to this effect and I am beginning to think that we will have wiped ourselves out before we overcome this. 

The sides in any conflict don’t see that they may well be destroying their own species, as far as they’re concerned they’re only killing a dangerous enemy.  Having looked  at many conflicts it is obvious that the complete annihilation of a people is not possible unless means as yet unused in our History are implemented.  I think the future may hold worse horrors than we can imagine but for now we are stuck in this repeating loop of strike and counter strike. 

Violence is unacceptable

There are many people who simply do not agree with violence but I am sorry that I have to say that we all support violence  however indirectly.  If you are living in a country which is at war then you are part of that conflict.  People don’t like being told that but it is true.  If a government uses the national fund to wage war then those who contribute to that fund are at least fractionally responsible.

Our society is made up of mostly peaceful people but we are not collectively peaceful.  We had two Wars recently in Iraq and Afghanistan and whether you all like it or not WE were part of those conflicts.  There are so many people who are Christian and god fearing and yet they support War simply by living.  This is not a criticism of people it is merely an out lining of the facts.  You can agree or disagree but the economics of conflict are plain.  The general population has been lead to a point where it doesn’t matter what we do, it doesn’t matter that we protest, it makes no difference that we know the truth, we cannot stop the powers that be waging War and that is more a reflection of those powers than it is of us.

By failing to look at violence we are merely allowing it to continue.  Conflict needs to be understood from the perspective of both sides, not from either side, from both sides.  Forgetting what one side is doing while focusing on what another side is doing will not help.  We are all guilty of this but the only way.


All news is Propaganda and I am not sure what else to say about that.  If all news is propaganda how can we ever know the truth?  I fear we are in the middle of a very destructive phase of our development and I am not sure things are going to improve anytime soon.  Those who are in charge seem intent on conquest through warfare but they are lying to us while they continue to wage war in order to further their own collective interests.  I keep seeing rational and loving individuals eventually succumb to the forces of negativity and take sides based upon their own personal point of view.  I myself do this also, we all do it.  We take information from certain quarters and we use that to make conclusions based upon our feelings.  This is very dangerous and widespread.  I have heard people argue that one side is being driven by propaganda and that one side is inherently evil while defending and trying to absolve their chosen or given side as being blameless.

I am writing this and you know what? It doesn’t even matter.  I just went through a few days of formulating and trying to think this through very objectively but what difference will it really make?

Powerful men with lots of money are going to continue killing innocent people all over this planet and we will not be able to stop them because if we take them out the next regime will continue to do more of the same and we will support them because this is OUR way.  This is how WE do things.  WE have been doing this for thousands of years and WE will continue.

We’re fucked. It’s only a matter of time.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Why I don’t agree with spending millions and billions on Peace and Trauma centres.

Mike Nesbitt has proposed that we build a ‘Trauma Centre’ as an alternative to the Maze peace centre.

I don’t think we should be building either a peace centre or a trauma centre.  This is a very good example of how people look at the surface of society and start clutching at proverbial straws in their attempts to make things better.  They throw a few billion at the problem and hope it’ll go away.  Well it won’t away until we get real with what the problems here are.

We are not very deep collectively.  We see things in a narrow-minded and shallow manner and I really don’t blame people for seeing things this way anymore.  Over successive generations we have not been taught about the importance of emotions and the society we know have is a result of that.  People don’t like looking too much for solutions because we are very immediately minded.  We scan the surface, pick up on the first things we notice and make knee-jerk decisions based upon what little we know.

When people look at society they always end up blaming other people and one another for the problems we have.  This then creates a world where everyone is blaming everyone and few people stop and say “hang on, we need to start looking at Human Nature here and how our emotions and instincts are causing ALL these difficulties.  When we look at our difficulties we always relate them to worldly matters but I know for a fact that ALL of our difficulties lie in Human Nature, in instincts and emotions.

Because people don’t want to accept that their own instincts and emotions could be somehow flawed they take short cuts and try to fix our problems by focusing on surface matters.  This never works because much deeper down the same problems are left and they continue hindering us without us ever admitting what they are. Looking at History clearly shows our constant repeating of past mistakes and this is because we’re refusing to look at things in greater depth.  We’re refusing to accept that it is our nature that is flawed and petty squabbling about who started it and who said and what will not suffice, because it didn’t work in the past did it?  So it isn’t going to work now either.

So why would I not agree with a trauma centre or peace centre?

A Peace centre would presumably be to promote peace wouldn’t it?  I don’t think it is necessarily the thought or sentiment that’s the problem here, they have that in abundance, I think the problem is their methods and the fact that they’re not looking at something very important and that is the social structure. 

When we got ‘Peace’ back in the 1990’s what did we do thereafter?  We had a great time of it.  We got Tesco and Sainsburys and Asda and all them big firms who would not invest here due to the troubles and we got loads of jobs for the young people and we partied and said “Yes, this is the life!” 

So while all this was going on what did we not do?  We didn’t go and look at the Loyalist and Republican communities.  We just pushed them off to their respective sides and tried to make a little oasis of happy, fun loving people between them!  We acted like they weren’t there, that we’d somehow grown beyond all that nonsense, like we had arrived! We got complacent!  In each of those communities though the same issues existed and still exist and what happened as a result of that?  The rise of dissident Republicanism on one side and continued protesting on the other. 

So what does that mean? It means that if you fail to address the problems within a society the problems remain and they will keep coming back unless we go and make those communities more productive and more emotionally aware of their HUMAN IDENTITY, rather that their National and Religious identities.  Rates of unemployment and alcohol and drug misuse are widespread and where this occurs in large communities you will have thousands of people who will be more likely to be miserable and hopeless and thus extremist views will be more easily accepted.

This is depth.  I am not just looking at people and calling them scumbags because of their behaviour I am looking at the sociological matters that exist within the communities where these people live and I am using Human Nature to show how people will end up behaving as a result of that.  I know a lot of people will disagree and this is because the very same factors of immediate thinking and intolerance are currently aeffecting most of the population here.  Rather than look into why things are the way they are we pick a group of people and start demonising them.  These demonised people then realise that everyone hates them so they stop caring and start attacking.

A trauma centre would be to look at mental health wouldn’t it?  I think more does need to be done about this but if we keep just looking at the surface of mental health we will only be treating those with mental health issues rather than going deeper and trying to find out why people have these issues.

Again back to those communities and community in general here.  Our society has huge alcohol and drug issues.  When people take alcohol and drugs for prolonged periods of time they become mentally and emotionally unfit and they have difficulty integrating and having normal relations with others.  Add to that high numbers of unemployed and people who simply have no hope you get large numbers of individuals living among us who are more likely to be anti social, they’ll be more likely to turn to crime and they’ll be les likely to be productive.  These people get bored easily and their lives end up being based on simply getting through each day as it comes.  People who smoke cannabis and drink regularly end up having a ‘don’t give a fuck’ mentality and so they cannot understand normal things that the rest of us take for granted.

When a community has a combination of drug and alcohol and hopelessness over successive generations you get people who were not reared properly bring up children and after about four or five generations you end up with individuals who simply have no idea about what life is all about and on top of that they don’t give a fuck.

Right now, all over this city another generation of children are growing up to become future drug and alcohol users and a percentage of these children have already zero chance of being productive members of society.  Employers won’t give them the breaks that need and the rest of us mock them and laugh at them.  Stand up comedians go on stage and call them spides and everyone thinks it’s hilarious and these kids become more and more despondent and many of them will die young.  

This society is deeply disproportionate.  The playing field is not level and that is why things are the way they are.  It is not right and some of us have too much while others don’t have enough.  We have lost the ability to cooperate with one another and to see where the problems lie.  Human Nature is driving us further and further apart due to our apathy and our suspicion.

If you have whole communities who are without the basics you will never have a stable society because those people will continually attack society because they are angry and see that some people are being treated better than others.  If this disparity continues so will our social and emotional and mental difficulties.

So what can we do about it?  It won’t be easy and it won’t be achieved in my lifetime but each of us and that means YOU must look at ourselves and our attitudes towards other human beings.  How do you think and speak about others? Do you think people are scumbags?  If you do you’re partially responsible for the way that this world is.

The money they are proposing to spend on these projects should be put into cross community and community rebuilding ventures and each of us should commit a little bit of time to going out and doing a bit of work for no money and no reward in our communities.  We have gotten selfish and complacent and we all need to take a good look at this in more depth before we start pointing the finger at groups of people who are already so far down the ladder that we’ve lost a lot of them before they’re had a chance to know what it means to be human.


Look at how Human Nature is aeffecting us all. 

Think about how people end up behaving how they do rather than focusing on mocking them for their behaviour. 

Peace and Love.

Feed the Monkey

What happens surrounding sports is often a good indication of other unrelated aspects of society.  I wrote something not too long ago about Tottenham fans use of the word Yid and the subsequent backlash it caused.

Last Tuesday England were playing their last World Cup Qualifier against Poland and something came out about what the England manager, Roy Hodgson, said during his half time team talk.

Hodgson told a joke about a man and monkey being sent into space.  The joke is shite, I only read it once but can’t remember it exactly and now I can’t find it again!  Basically the man keeps asking NASA what they want him to do while he’s in space and they keep saying about what the monkey is doing until at the end the man is told ‘Feed the monkey.”

Hodgson was attempting to use the joke as an analogy to say that they needed to ‘feed’ Tottenham midfielder Andros Townsend who is currently in scintillating form.  One of the players subsequently leaked details of the joke to the press anonymously and everyone started accusing Roy of Racism.  I checked the squad for that game and 6 of the 22 players are of African origin so one of those players obviously took offence.  Andros Townsend however , the player who was being referred to as the Monkey took it as a compliment!

So lets break this shit down.  An old white man tells a shit joke and one of the players (presumably one of African Origin) takes it the wrong way. 

Firstly why did the player do it anonymously?  I mean if he was offended and he genuinely thought Hodgson was being Racist why did he not go on record?

Secondly Townsend is of African Origin and he was the one being talked about but he took it as a compliment and later went public about saying he had no idea what all the fuss was about.

I think matters like this highlight the Human ability to find offence sometimes where no offence was intended.  I abhor Racism and all forms of intolerance but incidents such as this make it difficult to highlight where the real problems are because they create a very unsure world where someone may or may not be behaving inappropriately but who knows?  I think this incident has more to do with the sensitivities of the person who decided to leak the information.  Again why anonymously?

We must all be very mindful of ourselves and how we see things before we go making accusations against people who we see as being intolerant.  If we are too sensitive we will end up finding offence were there is none to be found and then we will end up accusing people who have done nothing wrong.  We must be very careful about this type of thing.

Another matter which I know most people don’t get is that if anyone chooses to call you something which they know is derogatory and you then get visibly upset by it you are merely encouraging them.  When anyone goes out of their way to upset you and you react you are giving them the emotional stimulation they need to continue.  Sticks and Stones.  If you go around allowing people to upset you you will be making your own life difficult by the simple fact that it is YOU who is getting upset.  We all need to control our emotions better to stop allowing idiots to get us riled up.

People who feel the need to go around offending others are obviously socially unwell and probably pretty miserable about their own lives.  The fact that they want to cause others hurt is a clear indication of this.  You should avoid and ignore people such as this rather than get angry at them.  Racism is not something that is going to end, so long as there are people who are ignorant and miserable they will always look for a way to vent their bile and they normally choose obvious surface aspects of others or the vulnerable.

It seems to already have reached the point that it is unacceptable to say the word ‘Monkey’ when a black person is around for fear of offending them?  What sort of world does this create?  I remember that people were calling Gareth Bale a Monkey due to his appearance when he rose to prominence at Tottenham but he’s Welsh and European!  Where do we draw the line here people, seriously?

I think it is wrong for anyone to go around calling people names due to their heritage or appearance but I think it is equally wrong that some of us are sensitive to the point of distraction.  We all need to be a little tougher when dealing with people who are intolerant and realise that they are not at all well.  They are dangerously childish and deserve our pity rather than our anger. 

If you get angry with people who are miserable you’re only giving them the energy to continue.  These people have nothing going on in their lives and they need any form of emotion just so they can feel something because they’re obviously pretty shallow.  If they know they’re causing a stir they will continue because that is exactly how wind ups work fro ma psychological point of view.

Toughen up and ignore the hatred.  Work on your own sense of yourself because if you feel settled and happy with who you are it doesn’t matter what other people say about you so long as you know and the people you love know what the craic is.

Peace and Love.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

One mans Terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

Unionists really need to stop being so hypocritical when it comes to how they approach what Republicans and Nationalists choose to do in regard of their Culture.  This week they’re complaining about what names are given to GAA clubs after a club in Dungiven was named after Kevin Lynch who was a member of the club as well as a member of the INLA and an ex hunger striker.  This sort of thing happens all the time, Unionists moaning about what Republicans do Culturally. And in the interests of parity, Republicans do a right bit of complaining themselves!

Unionists need to realise three things.

1.  The Conflict here played a part in the life of both communities therefore all subsequent commemorations are a result of that.

2  If it is acceptable for the Protestant community to celebrate their part in the conflict then it is equally acceptable for Catholics to do the same.

3.  It is none of anyone’s business how any given group choose to express their Culture.

Out of interest I don’t think any of them should be celebrating the past the way they are, with flags and marches, because it is not only divisive it is dangerous for future peace but out of tolerance I am holding back and saying we should allow people the space to celebrate their culture how they see fit.  We need to accept each others right to grieve collectively.

I don’t know of any examples off hand and I can’t be bothered going digging but I am damn sure that Northern Ireland as a state has named many things including probably buildings and roads after people who were not exactly Godly in their treatment of other Human beings.  Just because the state is legal and the mighty British Empire says something is alright that does not make it acceptable that Protestants are allowed to commemorate their dead and Catholics are not.

Unionists constantly play the Terrorist card well whether they like it or not ‘One mans Terrorist is another mans freedom fighter’.  You can look at this anyway you wish but you cannot go partitioning blame.  The British dead are commemorated every year as heroes well I have news for you all, some of those Soldiers murdered children.  Do you think that is acceptable?  Do you think it is inoffensive to the living relatives of those innocents who died?  Or is it different when a Soldier murders someone?  Anyone who thinks it is alright to commemorate one sides dead while refusing others the right to commemorate theirs is a bigot and a hypocrite. 

Republicans, Loyalists, The Army and The Police all did a lot of damage in regard of causing murder and mayhem.  YOU CANNOT PARTITION BLAME.  All sides did damage and depending on who you speak to they all probably saved some lives as well.  It doesn’t matter who started it or who thinks they’re more righteous, WAR IS WRONG.

There were Soldiers on both sides and BOTH sides really need to start accepting that each community respects its dead the same as the other.  The reason why we continually have War and Conflict is because of this complete one sidedness when it comes to how each side sees the enemy.  Even if you think they are crazed fanatical heathens there is support of them somewhere among their own people and this principle transcends time and country of origin. 

I am not saying your enemy is right, I am saying both you and your enemy are WRONG.

Unionists need to take a good look at themselves because there are a lot of hate mongers among them disguised as law abiding citizens.  Yes Republicans see their dead as heroes just as Unionists praise their own so can we draw a line under that and do some work that doesn’t involve talking about the past.  Why don’t they start looking for ways to improve our collective society instead of taking everything that the other side does personally all the time?

As well as that if any of YOU be you prod or taig or muslim or jew or whatever you THINK your identity is believe that it is acceptable to go around praising the dead you are sick and you are holding us all back.  To die violently is a horrible thing and you are all glorifying it with your nauseating little ceremonies.  War is WRONG and if you commemorate and glorify it in ANY WAY you are WRONG.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

A shared society begins with each of us reviewing our own attitudes and that means YOU.

I wrote something quite a while back about people in the BBC who had a twisted idea that Northern Ireland can be sort of example to Colombia with our peace ‘achievement’.  I highlighted in that essay that we have yet to actually achieve anything and so we are hardly an example to anyone.  Most of what I am saying here I have said before but I will keep saying it.  The truth is readily available but you must change your perspective to see it.  It is and has been there the whole time the thing that stops you from recognising it is your own sheltered and intransigent mind and your social stubbornness!

The more I look the more I can see the problem here and I can see it very clearly.  People don’t understand how things are working collectively because they’re all looking at things solely from their own points of view and they’re then extrapolating from that model.  This is a completely unrealistic version of our society, things need to be looked at more collectively, I cannot stress that enough.  If you are either Republican or Loyalist and you look at our troubles here from either of those perspectives you end up seeing your own unbalanced version of events which always has the other side as the aggressors and your own side as being somehow oppressed.  THIS IS TRIBALISM and your minds will be twisted into believing things that are simply not true.  Similarly if you are a law abiding citizen you will look at both the Republican and Loyalist communities and use their anger and hatred as an example to make them the ones who are at fault all your doing is failing to recognise how the conflict has aeffected those communities and how human nature will do that to people given the right (or wrong!) set of circumstances.

I must mention something here though and that is that there have been injustices in this country.  There has been a lot of damage done BY BOTH SIDES TO BOTH SIDES and a whole lot of innocents who got caught up in that.  I am not saying there has not been disparity but constantly looking at the past and bringing up what happened during the conflict is not helpful and it will do none of us any good.  I wrote that if one side can march and use the trappings of militarism during commemorations of their dead then the other side should be able to as well.  I didn’t say that because I necessarily agree with it, I merely said it because that is evidently what people are doing and I think they should be allowed to get their collective grief out of their systems.  People need to revisit the past to find closure and the more traumatic and hate filled the past the more time and space those people need to do that but they cannot do it if everyone else is pointing and mocking and calling them scum.  We must all accept the past otherwise we’ll just end up repeating it.   Tolerance is a two way street you cannot ask others to be tolerant while you’re being intolerant.

I had a Republican who I have known since childhood like my page a few weeks back but he quickly unliked it when I wrote two articles about Northern Ireland.  One article in particular probably done the damage, it was about how WE as a Society demonise Loyalists.  This is symptomatic of the problem here, if something doesn’t fit our own version of events then we simply don’t consider it and will either simply laugh it off as nonsense or act aggressively to try and make it seem the wrong kind of incredible.   So each side only listens to people who they’re connected with through Culture and everyone is just waiting for them un’s to do something stupid so we can point at them and mock them and laugh at how stupid they are.  None of this does anything for the collective good, it all just allows the merry go round of shame and hatred continue in the name of having a laugh.  Our collective childishness and inability to take our History and indeed our present seriously is damaging our ability to move on and have a more inclusive society.

Most of us who are not directly involved in the conflict don’t see ourselves as having anything to do with it but we all live here.  Tribalism does not only aeffect those who are involved in the conflict though.  Tribalism has changed and still aeffects those of us who are not Warlike.  Think of Tribalism as being like a shared set of social circumstances.  Those among us who work hard and socialise together are a tribe of sorts as well.  We work, shop, eat out, go to gigs and concerts, we watch Football and Rugby, use social networks, go to watch movies etc.  This is still Tribal behaviour.  When large groups of people support various social undertakings it is Tribalism because they do it with a shared sense of themselves, a connection that brings them all together.  The modern age means that we are all involved in many tribes simultaneously and it can get confusing but it is important to remember that the same human rules apply no matter how detached you believe yourself to be.

When people look at Society what do they see?  Well The Foreigners are coming over here and taking all our jobs.  The Loyalists are rioting and ruing our economy.  The Orange Order are inciting hatred. The Republicans are dangerous dissidents who are out to wreck anything which is even remotely British.  The Alcoholics and Addicts are just scumbags who are not pulling their weight.  Then we have The Rich, Christians, Gays, The Poor.  Can you think of anyone else?  Who else has their mucky hands in the downfall of civilisation?  The Goths maybe or them Hipsters, they’re up to no good that lot, pretending to be intelligent!  Who do they think they are? ;)

What about you and your abject apathy?  Could you not be playing a part?  What about all of us?

It’s interesting how Tribalism works.  People always use groups of others either that they don’t know or that they have no social involvement with as scapegoats for all our wrongs.  This needs to start being looked at more even headedly and with less negativity to get a balanced view.  When everyone spends their time singling out all of the above groups of others what you end up with is a free for all of hatred.  Everyone ends up being angry and they all just throw their anger around without any constructive thought as to who they’re aiming that anger at.  This anger then builds up and builds up until it gets so intense that it has to come out somewhere and it usually ends up being directed at the Police because they’re the ones who must be at the front line of civil disorder.  People who are not involved with the conflict also see civil disorder as being somehow out of sync, they don’t look at it concurrently.  They look at those rioting and say “Everything’s alright what are they complaining about?”  but they are of course looking at their own lives when they say it’s alright and the lives of those around them and they’re using that as a model for the whole of society, again this is unrealistic. Because they are neither involved with  nor care about the community who’s venting their anger they simply disregard them as scumbags who are just born bad!  People who are angry are hurt and they don’t know any better than to pass to that hurt on, it’s human nature but the rest of us who are doing alright simply dismiss it as bad people doing what they always do.  This inability to understand anger means that anger never gets addressed and so angry people will always be there and they will always attack society because society doesn’t try to understand them.

While you’re all sitting at home watching Coronation Street sighing at how wonderful your lives are you’re not doing anything for your society.  People who work hard think that they are somehow contributing to the social order but work is merely giving you the means to live your life how you see fit.  I am not criticising people who work I am merely saying it like it is. A lot of young people who work spend most of their time when they’re not working socialising and drinking and that is all well and good and great craic altogether, I know I partied very hard!  But I am seeing things different now and I can see that this social model does not work.  What we have here is a very fragmented social order where everyone basically just does what they want to do and then they hurry off into their respective corners to work hard and complain hard about where it’s all going wrong.  We need to take a more active role in our communities for there to be change.

The article I am talking about on Colombia surprised me at the time.  I was slightly shocked that right thinking people within the establishment here could be so insensitive to our on going troubles that they would tout us as peace givers to the rest of the world.  I can see what the problems are and where they lie.  I have looked extensively at both History and Sociology and when you take these two subjects and combine them with current affairs you end up with a working model of ANY country at ANY time, it’s common sense once you know the rules.

From the point of view of human nature we need to be more understanding of people and how they work.  Anger is a deep interpretation of pain linked to depression which comes from fear.  If any of you have ever felt fear you should remember that we all suffer from it and when whole communities suffer from fear the results are usually an attack on society.  Fear and anger cause people to think irrationally and can cause them to speak and act in a negative way.  This is interesting when you think for example about those who hate Foreigners, they do so due to perceived wrongs and they simply end up being just as wrong as those they are attacking.  So they attack the Foreigners and the Foreigners attack them and everyone forgets that it is Tribalism which is causing it all in the first place.  This is how fear and anger work because they are completely negative so no good will ever come from trying to use those emotions in a positive way.  Similarly with Northern Ireland while the two sides are attacking one another everyone else can see clearly that they are both being as bad as each other but each side of course is busy blaming the other side so they justify their wrongs as being  result of what ‘Them’un’s’ did! But an old cliché which is very true states ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right!”

If you go back to earlier when I wrote a list particular groups and look at those groups individually and do some common sense thinking you will be able to come up with reasons for why the more extreme thinkers within each group do as they do and it usually has something to do with fear.  Imagine if you were a Foreigner coming to a strange country to find work and the people within that country already hated you without even knowing you.  How would that make you feel?  Some of the rhetoric that Racists use to demonise Foreigners is that they only mix with their own kind and that they don’t learn the language.  Well if the natives in the country you lived in already hated you for no reason why would want to go mixing with them and using their language? 

Imagine if you were a Christian who believed in a God of love and you looked at the world and all you seen was people who were in pain and were hurting each other you would want to tell them about that God wouldn’t you and then of course you would be called a bible basher.  Not all Christians are bible bashers and not all Christians hate Gays.  I know a lot of very tolerant Christians who are simply good people who believe in love and acceptance.  You cannot go around saying that groups of people who you have never met and have no understanding of are this, that or the other thing because all you’re doing is spreading lies and negativity.

Not all of the people in those groups behave the same way but when we think about and look at any of those given groups we have a kind of social model in our minds for how each of them works and things that we perceive them as doing but most of these perceptions are WRONG! You cannot judge hundreds or thousands of people based upon often outdated perceptions which completely ignore peoples humanity. Think about it, it’s common sense! 

Each group of people that I have highlighted will keep themselves to others like them because that’s what people do in order to be comfortable and to feel accepted.  Fear of the unknown and fear of ridicule stops people from mixing outside their own kind but what this does in the long term is create a society where everyone becomes entrenched in their respective groups.  We all do this to some degree we have the comfort of our family and friend circles and we tend to not go too much outside of that because we already have all the support and love that we need.  This is human nature of course but when you start dealing in numbers in the hundreds of thousands and millions you get this group dynamic occurring and clear social lines get drawn as to what certain groups believe about how others act.  It is like we’re exaggerating and summarising in order that we can understand something which is difficult to fathom but it is dangerous to see some people as being somehow better or worse than others. 

Being able to understand our species in higher numbers rather than just from singular perspectives is essential but most people never do this. People tend to either look at things either from a completely personal or a very general point of view but what we really need to do is use both these models together to get a wider understanding of Humanity. We have this aversion to knowledge, for most of us Sociology is some boring subject that we hated at school.  Indeed much of what we do at school gets left there when we move into adulthood but study is essential for all of us all the time because how the world works is not necessarily how your mind tells you it works.

People are of course busy and that’s understandable.  I am not slating anyone here, I admire people who can raise children and work hard but aside from all the good you’re doing on a personal level you really need to find time to think about your species and the bigger picture.  Another thing you should know is that you don’t actually deserve any credit for taking care of your children, that’s your duty.  Too much of us expect praise for what we’re doing right but we really don’t deserve it.  Life is not about heaping praise upon one another it’s just about doing what needs to be done.  People who most of us end up ridiculing don’t deserve all the flack they’re getting either, it needs to be more balanced. 

We cannot keep running a society that is based on making particular people look bad while at the same time making others look good, this creates an unbalanced collective where we always wind up drawing unfair lines in the sand.  A lot of us are selfish by default, out of complete necessity, but what if you turned the television off for a couple for hours every now and then and actually thought about how human nature works rather than just blindly accepting your surface thoughts on the matter.  We all know people who are intolerant, why can we not speak to these people and accept that they have fears and insecurities and maybe we can all learn about ourselves and each other collectively?  If you have children and you’re constantly being negative and shouting at the television about the state of the world and who’s at fault you will be responsible when those children grow up to be angry and negative.

I have said much of this before and if I am still here in ten years I’ll be saying it all again.  We’re all responsible for the way of the world.  Lets fucking try a bit harder folks because we will be leaving the next generation with same mess to sort out without giving them the means to make sense of it if we continue the way we’re going.

Be good to yourselves and each other.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Past: Always looking back

Politicians reckon Northern Irelands past will be a ‘tougher issue to resolve’.  I really have to laugh to myself sometimes when I hear people talking about ‘The Past’ because the issue is not The Past at all and THAT is the issue.  The problem here is that we’re always looking back and the major stumbling block we all face is that WE CANNOT ACCEPT THE PAST.  Humans don’t like change therefore the transition between the present and the future is turned into a place which is fraught with difficulty because we’re simply not accepting the fact that The Past DOESN’T EXIST.  The future doesn’t exist either there is only this moment and if we don’t start focusing on NOW we’re doomed to constantly repeat our mistakes and we’re doing just that, RIGHT NOW.

I have been saying for years that we need to just allow each other to be and accept that we have different traditions and cultural quirks, we each simply are, and therefore they should be allowed, the traditions I mean.  I grew up in a Nationalist/Republican tradition but I abandoned Republicanism in my late teens because I started studying History and I began to see major flaws in the ethos of Republicanism.  I think Craigavon helped immensely with this because I was growing up with Catholics and Protestants and this meant I stopped noticing differences pretty early on and by the time I got to an age were I was ready to learn to I could see that the two communities here were not studying History in its entirety they were and are in fact studying versions of History.

I remember when the whole Drumcree thing was going on back in the mid nineties.  I had not long come back from England at that time and I fell in with a couple of groups of people all of whom I knew from School and from growing up from before I had went over to England.  Sometimes I would drink with the guys over at Drumbeg and at other times I would be over at Drumgor and Westacres.  I didn’t realise what was happening at the time but I really got a sense of how people felt in a much fuller way by being in contact with both Loyalists and Republicans at that time.

I was working in Moypark and on a few occasions we would have to be sent home early due to threats of road closures and civil disorder because Moypark was close to Portadown.  I remember saying to Catholics I was friends with and was working with that we should just let the Orange Order march and go indoors and wait until they had passed on and I got some really strange looks like I was crazy or something!  The people who lived on the Garvaghy Road had and probably still have a very besieged mentality when it comes to matters of contentious marches and some of them would say things like “You have no idea what it’s like living here!” which more or less meant that I wasn’t entitled to have an opinion on an issue that I wasn’t directly aeffected by but I obviously was being effected by it just like everyone else in he area was.  People were murdered during that time and it was horrible but I still kept finding myself back at the same conclusion and that was that if we get upset about something it is not just the thing which upsets that is the problem it is THE FACT THAT WE’RE ALLOWING IT TO UPSET US.

Both Traditions here use Marches and Commemorations to celebrate their History.  The Protestants use the Poppy to remember their dead and the Republicans use the Easter Lily, I have worn both over the years out of principle but I wear neither now because I know something important about how those emblems are being used to keep an already deeply divided population further entrenched.   Recently there was a lot of controversy about a Republican march in Castlederg and I thought exactly the same thing about that that I think about Orange Order Marches.  Let them walk.

All sides in any conflict have the right to commemorate their dead in any way they see fit so long as they do it with dignity.  If one side can use military trappings and flags and banners to do so then it should be that all sides can do this. If people within any organisations are complaining about what the other side is doing then they cannot be seen as trying to resolve the issues surrounding the conflict, rather they are looking for ways to continue it.

Peace and reconciliation is about giving those who were once your enemy the rights that your own combatants have in life after conflict and in death. No one side has a monopoly on grief and all sides have lost people. If you disagree with this you’re either a bigot or you haven’t grieved effectively…

You can look at this any way you wish but whether you like it or not the facts surrounding any conflict are very simple and easily explained:

It takes two groups of people to make a conflict so by reacting you are allowing the conflict to continue.  People of a more extreme mindset will disagree with that because they will always blame the other side and that is a result of their mind being constantly in conflict mode.  These people exist on both sides and there are many people here who go to church and preach peace and reconciliation but do not practice those sentiments.  There are a lot of people here who are not outwardly angry or negative but their vitriolic words give away the fact that while they may not be violent they certainly keep things just as they are by being stubborn and deeply nasty with their thoughts and language.

If you cannot allow the other side to be you are responsible for deaths in the future and for allowing future generations to grow up in a land filled with hate and bitterness.  This is almost like a form of generational child neglect because you will be helping the children of the future not to have a future with your hatred and inability to be tolerant.  This does not just go for prods and taigs by the way.  Any intolerance will be passed onto the next generation and if the next generation is angry and have issues with their emotions it is the fault of ALL OF US, NOW.  Future suicide rates and drinking and drug problems and criminal activity are being forged here and NOW.

The only way to move forward here is to come to the very clear conclusion that THE PAST IS GONE and THE FUTURE WILL BE A RESULT OF YOUR ACTIONS NOW!  NOW!  If Republicans want to march and wear Easter Lilys they should be allowed to.  Orange Order marches should be allowed to pass off peacefully and the rest of us should give both those Traditions the time and space to Commemorate their dead, because it is like a collective grieving process and they haven’t grieved properly.  Either side should stop holding counter demonstrations and just go home and do something constructive until the roads have been cleared.

People have died let them rest with dignity and stop using them as tools for hatred.  If you can not accept a personal death then you should think about going and talking to someone who is trained to deal with bereavement.  If there are injustices we must trust that the law will do its job and sort those things out but if the law fails, and it sometimes does, we must let go and realise that if something is beyond our realm of control we must simply let it be and hope things will improve in the future.  If you have anger and hatred towards anyone for any reason it is not their fault, it is your fault that you are allowing your emotions to grow out of your control.  If you think hate and anger are acceptable then you will destroy your happiness and the happiness of those around you and your life will be miserable and unbearable. 

If you find yourself being negative find something positive to do.  Work for no money in your community and expect no reward or praise.  Do it only because it’s the right thing to do. 

Love and hate are merely interpretations of energy but the energy is the same so it is up to you which way that energy is used.  If you have difficulty doing the right thing, you’re not trying hard enough.  Try harder.

If you cannot Accept and respect the traditions of other people then you are just as responsible for the continuing intransigence as the other side are.  In any conflict the reaction of one side to the other is what allows the whole thing to continue.  It takes a lot of courage to swallow your pride but if you can do it you will simply halt the difficulties before they even begin.  If the other side continue to be angry after you have failed to respond it will not take long for them to show themselves up for what they are without your encouragement.

The problem here is not the past, IT IS THE PRESENT.  The Past does not exist, the future does not exist there is only the present. 

The key here is very simple.  EVERYONE of us has got to ACCEPT that we’re all part of the problem.  If the next person either won’t or can’t ACCEPT then that has nothing to do with you, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.  Stop looking at what other people are doing and focus on yourself and your own community.  Stop the deeply judgemental thoughts about how others should behave and focus on the only thing that you can change, YOURSELF.  You must take personal responsibility and let others either take or abandon their personal responsibility.  If other people continue to do wrong it will become much more obvious, much quicker that they’re not pulling their weight in a world were most of the rest of us are living life the way it should be lived.  It is none of your business what other people do or say even if they’re talking about you. 

Let them go and focus on what you can work with.

Look after yourselves and one another.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Cultural Warfare

Ever since the Flag protests last year there has been a concentrated effort online to continually mock Loyalists and their Culture.  I can’t say this with any degree of certainty but I would surmise that most the people that are doing it are either Catholic or Republican or maybe a combination of both.  It is all done in the name of a joke of course but being able to pass bitter nastiness off as a joke is something that we in Northern Ireland do particularly well. 

These Catholics have short memories or maybe their memories are perfectly fine and what they are currently engaged in is in fact a form of Cultural Warfare via modern Technology.  I was only a child in the early seventies when my family were being burned out of our home in Ardoyne but my mother still tells me about their experiences back then, about the daily terror of being targeted by roaming gangs of drunk Loyalists while the Police and Army stood by saying they couldn’t do anything about it.

It seems these days the proverbial boot is on the other foot and Catholics are now in a position to get themselves some payback on the Loyalist Culture which they perceive as having done so much wrong in the past.  Young Catholics nowadays didn’t experience the Troubles but their parents have obviously passed their hatred onto them and the old adage of ‘them uns’ having started it and being responsible and therefore it is acceptable to mock them because they’re bad people and they deserve it! 

I would urge people here to be very careful about how they approach what they see as being deserved behaviour.  If retribution is acceptable then we create a world where disharmony and nastiness is second nature.  This means that it is alright to behave this way because we can say that the people who we’re getting revenge upon deserve it.  The difficulty with this model begins when those who are taking their revenge start assigning blame to those who apparently deserve it and they start blaming people who are innocent.  I mean where exactly do we draw the line here?

People need to take a deep breath and look at how the events over the course of the troubles played out and what has happened to our struggling Cultures as a result of that.  Mocking a whole Culture merely ostracises them further and causes them to get more bitter and twisted.  Loyalists and Republicans both are currently very confused because they feel that they are being played by the other side, this is a result of the conflict which has not yet ended by the way.

Either side may say things like “Yes, but they’re behaving like animals and they’re ruining our economy!” but the confusion being felt is a result of the fall out from our Cultural differences and lack of emotional security in this age of deep disharmony.

If the current trend of Mocking Loyalists continues what will happen is that another Generation of young Loyalists will grow up feeling like victims and ultimately they will simply not be able to be integrated into our Society.  What this does is exactly the same as what it did before.  When Catholics were mocked and treated like less than human they became angry and bitter and they attacked and what we had as result was the troubles.  We need to start looking at the long term implications of how victimising a whole Culture will cause serious consequences for our collective society long into the future and in 50 or 60 years time the tables will turn again and the other side will get their chance to get their revenge, again, and thus the Sociological cycle of pain and hate will continue.

Many of those doing the mocking probably don’t even associate with their Religion and Culture half as much as the previous generation did so they may not look at it the same but the result will undoubtedly be no different.  Much of the hatred and anger is not even Religiously based it is based mostly on image and level of intellect. You see so many comments about how ‘Stupid’ the Loyalists are and about how they dress.  Since modern technology is being used Spelling mistakes are picked up on and used as a means to show how these people are uneducated and somehow subhuman.  

Making people feel bad about their image and about their intelligence will cause them to become insecure and self conscious, it’s like a form of Cultural bullying and it will only result in those people feeling worthless and create a ‘nothing to lose’ ethic within their ranks, this will mean that as they continue to protest and cause disorder in the future it will get worse and worse and then of course the goading will continue to rise and SOMEONE WILL GET KILLED AND EVERYONE WITHIN THIS CURRENT SCENARIO WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THOSE DEATHS WHEN THEY HAPPEN. 

The Individual who throws one petrol bomb is not isolated and is not wholly responsible for that individual action.  They are part of wider community and country and everything that happens within that community and country is playing a part in ALL the actions and words of ALL involved.  

If a whole group of people feel their Culture is under threat the last thing they need is for that Culture to be attacked further.  If they choose to carry out acts of violence then the law will sort that out it is not up to the rest of us to point and mock and make people feel like shit.  Do not forget that while all this is going on dissident Republicanism is on the rise and just as the Loyalists feel threatened so do those Republicans.  This place is bitter brew of discontent and anger and we could easily find ourselves back to how it was during the dark days of the past.

How people feel in terms of their patriotism and pride toward their Religion and National identity is none of my business and it’s nobody else's business either.  The rest of us should just carry on living our lives in the best way we can and be mindful of the deep Cultural and Religious differences that have always been here and will be here long into the future.  Their needs to be tolerance from those of us with sound minds and an understanding that both the Republican and Loyalist communities are suffering from a type of Cultural trauma which is a result of having had a long protracted conflict lasting hundreds of years.  While the rest of us may have woken up and seen sense long ago it is not that easy for people who only know bitterness and pain.

If you choose to make inflammatory statements via social media or support these pages which are carrying out these Cultural attacks then you will be partially responsible for our conflict continuing into the next century and beyond.  Violent actions and words may appear to be different but the differences therein are merely by degrees.  Be mindful that you may be prone to do and say things via Social media which you could regret.  People feel somehow protected by the anonymity of the internet but it is not so and your hateful opinions are not merely words on a screen they are the voice of a generation, your generation.

I am not saying that civil disorder or lawlessness is acceptable I am merely stating how the social mechanics work and History is testament.  What happened in the past will repeat in the future if we continue using retribution as a means of venting our anger.

If you mock and hate people who mock and hate you are being no better than them and are merely justifying what they do by emulating it.

This is not a joke.  We lost a lot of lives here to hatred and intolerance and if you choose the route of mocking peoples Cultural and Religious identities you will be partially responsible for deaths when they occur.

Take care of yourselves and one another.