"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Incredible Edibles Campaign

I hope all my readers have had a good Christmas and I wish them all a Happy New Year.
Here is another of those posts that overlaps my blogs, so I make no apology for posting it here as well as on my allotment blog.
I've just come across a fantastic idea - one that started in the UK but is gathering interest from other parts of the world. I was listening to BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme today and pricked up my ears when I heard mention of food sustainability. Vegetables are being grown in a graveyard, I heard, and then came another snippet; that our food production accounts for 23% of our carbon footprint. So I stopped my noisy food processor and started to listen properly.
Todmorden is a an old Victorian mill town on the Lancashire/West Yorkshire border. 3 years ago it set out to be the first town to become self sufficient in food, with a target set for 2018. They call it the Incredible Edible campaign. And whilst the founders do not feel that the target date is totally achievable, nevertheless they are doing well - and they have a wonderful website to prove it, full of amazing resources to support those already in the loop, and to encourage others to start in their own localities.
The idea is that veggies and edibles are grown in public and unused spaces for the common plate, and it is now being put into practice in Wilmslow for example, and in Totnes, the original Transition Town.
And it's not just about growing fruit and vegetables - at least in Todmorden. It's also about educating residents on what to look for in sustainable meat supplies, and in how to pickle and bottle summer surpluses for winter consumption.
Now here's something I could start rolling in our own town! Just give me a little time! We've already started encouraging our local school to grow vegetables, for example, and we have a community orchard, but this is one huge step further. If there are any hints and tips out there as to how to start (in addition to the online resources mentioned), I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

What would you do?

Imagine the scene. All the family is at home with you for Christmas. You are having a lovely party time – all is merriment and joy. Suddenly your child lunges out at his cousin with the toy sword you gave him from Santa. Blood is drawn and your son shows no sign of stopping. What do you do? You stop him, take away the sword, tend the wounds of the cousin, apologize profusely to the mother and impose punishment or sanctions or both on your son. Of course you do. You do most or all of these things, and peace is restored, a lesson has been learned. You may even think twice about the choice of present another year. You can take some responsibility.You can make a difference.

Now imagine the party scene again, only this time there is a fracas outside your house, in the street. A youth is beating up another and it looks violent. Do you just ignore it? Of course you don’t. If there are enough big strong men in your party they may go out and separate the lads, restore peace: although the police frown upon this vigilante approach, and sadly the good guys may suffer at the hands of the lads. So at the very least you call the police. Don’t you? Of course you do. And if you have any sense of social responsibility at all you would not, should not, resent paying appropriate taxes or rates to fund agents of law and order to keep your home, street, town, county, state or country safe.

Now imagine the party scene one more time – only you have turned on the TV news, just in time to see scenes of appalling rioting, violence and arson on the streets of the town a few miles away.

Or you see scenes of appalling rioting, violence and arson, or murder, or torture, or any dreadful abuse of human rights a little further afield - just across the border, in the next State, County, Country, even in another Continent…global news reaches our front room so quickly and graphically in this digital age.

What do you do?

You may be getting the idea.
Where do we draw the line, the boundaries.
What can we do to relieve suffering elsewhere. Does suffering matter less to us the further away it is, the more remote it is from our own circle of family and friends?
What is our government doing about global suffering? Is it enough? Do we campaign enough? Can we help financially? Can we influence with our vote?

We all tend to live in our own bubble. But not caring about our fellow human beings wherever they live, whoever they are, diminishes us as humans.

Surfing the internet, I came upon the following story told by Amital Etzioni in his blog (July 27, 2007) in connection with his book Spirit of Community.

Five shoppers at a Witchita, Kansas convenience store simply stepped over the body of 27 year-old LaShanda Calloway who lay on the floor bleeding severely. None stopped to ask if she was in need of assistance. None even bothered to call 911. Ms. Calloway died later that day at a Witchita hospital of injuries the result of a stabbing; she had been an innocent bystander, wounded in someone else’s fight.

What can you do to help heal this world?

Let’s bring compassion and empathy back into our lives.
Let’s bring Christ back into Christmas.

I'm taking a few days out from blogging - and I wish all my readers a very happy Christmas. May we all work in 2012 towards a more compassionate World.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

More about the Occupy protests

I am leaving the photos of Occupy…up on my blog for the time being because I support much of what their protest is all about. So much so in fact that I visited the tent city in London outside St Paul’s Cathedral to chat to some of the occupiers and to see for myself what they are doing and the way they are thinking. I even left a copy of my book at their library, because it addresses the issues with which they have so much concern. This is not just about "fat cats" and bankers bonuses, although these do signal a malaise in our society. This protest is about sustainable living, looking after the environment, and justice for all.
Perhaps we really are now in a slow paradigm shift, when realization is at last dawning that we simply cannot carry on the way we have done to date.
Three quotes I have come across in my reading over the last few days sum it up neatly I think:

“People have had enough of the current economic model. The current political system has failed to deliver on its promise of prosperity for all.”
Richard Murphy founder of The Tax Justice Network

“…people are being persuaded to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about.”
Tim Jackson Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prosperity-without-Growth-Economics-Finite/dp/1849713235/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324478109&sr=1-1

“Money is not wealth; real wealth is land, forest, rivers, animals and people…Let us respect the generous Earth and wild Nature, the eternal source of wellbeing and prosperity. If we take care of people and Nature, then the economy will take care of itself…Some people might say that this is too idealistic; but what have the realists done? They have made a complete mess of the world economy…”
Satish Kumar Resurgence

Richard Murphy in The Courageous State calls for governments and courageous politicians to deliver real transformation in people’s lives. I agree to an extent, but they cannot do it alone. They can only change things so far. Real change for a better world needs us to change our own hearts and minds as well, something I explore in some detail in Healing…, not only in connection with our failed economy, but in many other facets of life as well where we have current concerns.

It’s only because Gandhi was so right that he is quoted so often:

We must be the change we want to see in the world.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

angels from the realms of glory!

Aren't they lovely!!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Big Society part 2

Synchronicity is an amazing thing! It never fails to amaze me. Just as I had posted yesterday's blog on the Big Society a blog I follow Apprentice2Jesus came up with this link to a brilliant piece by Michael Hyatt on Five Ways you can become an Absolute Hero
It really has to be read - we all need this kind of reminder more often. 

The photo is in La Gomera

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

“No one knows what the “big society” is, say MPs

I just cannot help feeling people are being na├»ve about UK Prime Minister Cameron’s “The Big Society.” I think I call it Real Community, and that is a term more readily understood across the world.
“No one knows what the “big society” is, say MPs.” That is the headline in today’s newspaper.
In the same paper I read that “Paris bans beggars from top tourist and shopping spots,” as these vagrants upset and offend the shoppers. The poor and homeless begging in shop doorways and at entrances to the metro or underground whether in Paris or London are not part of a “big society.”And the only offence we should feel is that in 21st Century Europe there is any need at all for begging.
Kids roaming the streets out of boredom, getting involved in gangs and drugs; that’s not part of a “big society.” Over 1 million unemployed youngsters in the UK; that’s not “big society.” The filth and litter all over our streets; that’s not part of a “big society.” The elderly who are lonely and isolated at home, or abused and bullied in care homes; that’s not “big society.” The young family struggling to bring up their disabled children on insufficient income who don’t even know their neighbors, who wouldn’t know where they could knock on a door to get help or support in an emergency. The rogues stealing metal plaques from gravestones and war memorials because scrap metal dealers will pay good prices now for them; that most certainly is not “big society.”
Perhaps it is easier to say what a “big society” is NOT than what it is.

The people selling the Big Issue on the streets – now that IS part of a bigger society! At least they are aspiring for a better life and doing something about it. But they receive support, both from the Big Issue operation itself, and from those of us who stop and talk to them, get to know them, buy their magazine (fantastic value and cheaper than that hyper- caloried drink you have just bought), even on occasions buy them a hot drink (OK call me a softie). But little things like that, being nice to other people, helping them on their way, all help to make the world a little bit better and ARE one step towards a “big society”.

Real community starts in the streets where we live. It starts with our own families, with our neighbors and friends, and extends to friends at work, in our church, in our club or society. But it should never ever exclude others around us who share our “space.” We are all human beings, with the same needs and vulnerabilities, and even finding just a little time to help others is time very well spent in the huge scheme of things.
Of course we cannot personally solve all the seamier problems of our broken society. We will sometimes need help and support from local and national government, and from other agencies, whether this comes through regulation or from practical resources. Of course we cannot solve housing problems on our own, for example, or the gangs on “sink” estates. But Gandhi did say: “YOU must be the change you want to see in the world.” And for that change to come about we all have to start small. Start in our own back yard. And that way we WILL start to build a “Big Society.”

Jonathan Sacks wrote somewhere that  
‘A community is where they know your name and where they miss you if you are not there [Sacks’ italics] Community is society with a human face.’ 
In other words, Big Society.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


It is in our gift to stop harming our planet.

There is now widespread scientific agreement on the parlous state of the environment, in spite of the cynics and skeptics who would love to believe that the earth will always be able to sustain the profligate Western lifestyle as it spreads across the whole world. Earth has finite resources and is groaning under the strain.
In any event, many of us are beginning to feel unease with the current materialist and consumerist culture of the West; we hold visions of a simpler, more satisfying and “better” way of life, more connected at a spiritual level with our fellow beings, with nature and the cosmos.

An Environment Agency survey in 2007 of 25 leading scientists and environmentalists asked them for their ideas on the 50 most important things that will save the planet. Some of the suggestions require input at organizational, national, governmental or global level. Some require clever science. But there are many ideas we can take on board individually or locally as a community, by changing the way we behave; and many of these will actually save us money. So here are the behavioural items, in order of priority:

· Power down, use less energy and say goodbye to standby. There are some very good inexpensive gadgets on the market to help here.
· Consider generating your own renewable energy using currently available schemes see http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy
· Fly less.
· Buy less, buy better. Buy secondhand not new, on need not greed. Support the charity shops.
· Use the local Freecycle scheme where possible to dispose of your unwanted stuff. http://uk.freecycle.org/
· Make your home as eco-friendly as possible with water and energy saving devices and adequate insulation.
· Stop seeing money as the one big indicator of success!
· Stop buying wood products from unsustainable sources.
· Support Fairtrade and fair-trade – think about where goods come from.
· Is your car journey really necessary?
· Grow your own.
· Ditch the decking and the patio heater.
· Think community – think local.
· Wake up to wildlife and biodiversity.
· Use pedal power or even “shanks’s pony” wherever possible.
· Know your own carbon footprint and reduce it! See tools at http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/ and http://www.decc.gov.uk
· Support stuff that lasts and can be repaired.
· Use the internet creatively – e.g. the U.S. led site http://www.treehugger.com/
· Shun unnecessary packaging whenever you shop.
· Wear more layers and cut down on heating bills.

The full list and the detail can all be found at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/ (and search for “The 50 Things”).
High up on the full list at number 2, after “standby,” was the vital role that religious and faith leaders can collectively play. “Religious leaders need to make the planet their priority,” the report concludes: “The world’s faith groups have been silent for too long on the environment…” I agree wholeheartedly and I discuss at some length in my own book some of the faith initiatives that are already in hand. They need our support and prayer.

So let’s all work to reduce our carbon footprint. We need to tread more gently on our earth.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Common Word between Us and You - a dialogue between Islam and Christianity

Occasionally I repeat an article across my blogs. I make no apology for this if I believe it to be so important that I want it to reach as wide an audience as possible. So here is one such repeat.

"Arguably one of the most important books of our time. All Christians and Muslims should know about this initiative."

That was how I ended the blog the other day over on my other site Wisdom of Tolerance about A Common Word, the Muslim initiative addressed to Christians, prompted by the Islamic furore provoked in many Muslim countries by part of the Pope’s 2005 Regensburg address.
And the response is said to have been phenomenal. Quoting from the Cambridge Interfaith Programme site, “A Common Word has been the subject of major international conferences at Yale University, the University of Cambridge - facilitated by CIP, Lambeth Palace and Georgetown University, over 600 Articles—carried by thousands of press outlets—have been written about A Common Word in English alone, over 200,000 people have visited the Official Website of A Common Word (and) over 6000 people have ‘fully endorsed’ A Common Word online alone.”

But in the grand scale of things, although these together make for a very promising start, they are but “a drop in the ocean.” As the book so rightly reminds us, there needs to be a trickle down effect to reach the masses, and the learned conferences and articles are but a stage towards that goal. There is a significant proportion of the population that can only be reached by people of influence: by Imams, priests, teachers, lecturers, youth leaders etc. They’re not going to read conference reports and educated commentary. We need that trickle down effect to start working in a big way to reach beyond the intellectual and the well educated, to reach out to the masses, many of whom do not read very widely if at all and may harbour plenty of prejudice born of ignorance and fear. And we need plenty of responsible media reporting and press officers in organizations who can push for that responsible reporting to reach out as far and wide as possible. Because not only can the media be hugely influential in that trickle down effect; They also have the networks to become tentacles reaching out laterally as far and wide into crevices of public ignorance and prejudice as possible. And if we continue the water metaphors, we need Ripples of Hope, because as Robert Kennedy said all those many years ago, in Cape Town in 1966:

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

When I think of what needs to be done to promote tolerance and peace, I am reminded of Tariq Jahan, the hero in the Birmingham riots earlier this year after his son Haroon had been killed in the violence. ‘I lost my son.” He said to the angry crowd, “Blacks, Asians, whites, we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home – please.”
Now if every person of influence at grass roots level where there is a choice between violence and anger or dialogue and calm could step forward and speak up for peace between us all in the same dignified way that Tariq did back in August, couldn’t we begin to build a better world for us all?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Parque Maritime Playa Vallehermosa, La Gomera

Parque Maritime at Playa de Vallehermosa La Gomera.
Last time I went I had a lovely meal there and it was a cultural centre, museum, gift shop and a pleasant place to be. Now it is all shut up, the road half washed away and looking very sad and sorry for itself. Anyone know what has happened?

Monday, 5 December 2011

La Gomera up in the clouds

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Woodvale Challenge - start postponed

Sadly the wind increased yesterday and by this morning the organisers decided to postpone the start for 24 hours - sad for those all psyched up to start today - and for families whose nerves are already fairly frayed and especially for those who have flights booked to go home tomorrow and may not be able to see the start after all. It is hard for everyone.
So we went up to the north of La Gomera to look at the seas - and the swell was certainly quite awesome - but nothing I guess to what the lads and lasses will have to contend with in mid Atlantic in due course!!
Again Good Luck to you all!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Woodvale Challenge - Good luck to you all


2550 nautical miles

Sets off this Sunday 4th December

Good luck to you all!!

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


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