"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.




Monday, 31 December 2012

How ethical are you?

Would you eat meat, or use cosmetics, if you were actually made to watch the animal cruelty that brought the meat to your plate, the makeup to your face? Perhaps you do unwittingly. Is your pension fund invested ethically? Or do you unwittingly support businesses that you really don't want to? 
But how do you sort out the vast array of information around, often conflicting? How do you find out whether your own purchases and investments are ethical?
Perhaps Ethical Consumer is the answer for you. It's a brilliant magazine, which can be subscribed for as a hard copy magazine that plops through the post, or as an online information source. And either way it's brilliant!
And at the moment they are running a campaign against Amazon, urging us all to boycott it until it pays its fair share of tax.  
But what is the alternative? Of course I love people to buy my books, and Amazon is such an easy way to do it! But I am pleased to see that Ethical Consumer does suggest alternative suppliers for all the stuff that Amazon sells - and for books they suggest News From Nowhere. Its homepage describes itself as 
Liverpool's Radical & Community Bookshop
not-for-profit · a worker's co-operative · committed to social change

Now that's my kind of book shop, 

and I'm thrilled to see that it includes my own first book in its listings!! 

OK it's a shameless plug, but I did plug Ethical Consumer first!!

I wish all my readers a very Happy New Year for 2013

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Why we shouldn't create money out of nothing!

So pleased to see that something I have written about in some detail over the years - and forming a chapter  of Healing This Wounded Earth - that is, the flaws in our economy and in particular the dangers of creating money out of nothing - is now part of a campaign which is gathering some momentum - thank you Positive Money for bringing this to a wider audience:

"Positive Money believes that the root cause of many of our current social, economic and environmental problems lies in the way that we allow money to be created.

YES!! Good luck with your continuing campaign.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

American Gun Laws, bad guys and good guys

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein's words nowhere seem more appropriate at the moment than in connection with the awful Sandy Hook gun crime last week.

 

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Can Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association really and sincerely believe his own words?

 
I was interested to hear a replay from the BBC archive today of Alastair Cook in one of his famous Letters from America on the subject of American gun law. Quite a bit of common sense in there, as one would expect from Alastair Cook.
 
At the end of the day, no one ever solved any problem by throwing more of the same at the problem. Unless anyone can give me any examples?
 
I wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas and New Year. For those who have found 2012 a difficult year for any reason may 2013 bring you more joy and peace.
 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Holistic education, biodiversity and ecotourism


One of the joys of holidays away from the daily routine is the chance it gives me to read beyond my usual genres. Especially I love the opportunity to browse the second hand books so often left on the bookshelves of hostelries by travellers who have passed that way before me. It's like a lucky dip! Their choices and preferences open up new worlds for me. And yet there is so often an enormous sense of serendipity as well.
It always amazes me how often I find titles that provide me with new inspiration, or open up new lines of enquiry within my current project, broaden the scope of my research. It can be very exciting!
I've been in La Gomera, where to be honest a little part of my heart resides. Here is paradise on earth, one of the Canary Islands where time hasn't exactly stood still, but where the powers that be are determined to preserve the ancient traditions and wonderful biodiversity of the natural environment by ensuring that future development is sustainable - to this end ecotourism is encouraged, but high rise hotels and nightclubs you will never find. That is its charm. People flock here for the stunning scenery, the walking and the bird watching, and the rather special laurel rainforest (laurisilva) of the Garajonay National Park, a Unesco World heritage site since 1986.
But I digress.
From one of those said lucky dip bookshelves I picked up a book with a rather under-whelming grey cover. But it was the title that caught my eye: La Coume Across the Years: A School that Discovered how to Live. Authors Y Grangeon and C Haller, 1993, English text J W Stubbs 1997. La Coume in Catalan, the back cover informed me, means a blind alley, having no exit at the upper end, like a combe or coomb in English. And La Coume in the book is situated in the Pyrenees - Orientales in France. An unlikely book to pick up in one of the Spanish Canary Islands, at a holiday venue. Intrigued, I opened the book to read on. The book is charmingly illustrated with many line drawings from pupils themselves, and it soon became apparent that the "blind alley" was certainly not the best of metaphors for the institution described in the book. Pitt Kruger was a political refugee from Nazi Germany. With his wife Yves Kruger this amazing German couple together found themselves in 1933 in a decrepit farmhouse high up in the valley above Mosset in this beautiful part of France near the Spanish border. The property had been provided for them through the Quaker movement and under the direction of the Krugers it quickly established itself as an educational community providing accommodation for young people, "a centre offering friendship, solidarity and a welcome" whether as a refuge for more German political refugees, a Youth Hostel, a Country Centre for Education, a school, an International Reception Centre…but always with the same aim in mind; to help children and young people develop harmoniously in all areas of life, not only physically, intellectually and artistically, but also in the moral, spiritual and social spheres.
The Krugers brought their education background and experience, their sharp intellects and their energy and conviction face to face with the harsh realities of everyday survival tactics and built a rather special community based always on co-operation rather than competition, an ethos of shared and individual responsibilities, and an appeal to spiritual rather than material values. In this respect they were way ahead of their time, true visionaries long before our very recent realization that our materialist way of life is not serving us so well. Their geographical isolation and lack or funds enforced the need for thriftiness and avoidance of waste, but this became a virtue out of necessity and a fundamental part of the ethos which continues at the Centre to this day.
Towards the end of the 1970s, with the Krugers aging, it was recognized that the Centre was nearing the end of an era and would have to reinvent itself. There was increasingly a tension with the "life of modern times, surging and turbulent, with unrest in the inner city, invasion by the media, excessive consumerism, and a conspicuous sagging in the sense of responsibility among parents…(and the)…seductiveness of a civilization of comfort and convenience." How could La Coume hold its own, its "pastoral" holistic way of life, against this tide of change?
But it has reinvented itself, and under the guidance and support of the Kruger Foundation established in 1972, it continues to this day as a centre where those values established by the initial vision of the Krugers live on. 

And I do wonder as I read this wonderful account of such a visionary community, and the values that it espouses, whether La Gomera will be able to hold its own and its ambitions against the " seductiveness of a civilization of comfort and convenience" as a generation grows up and wants to leave the island for the material world just 25 or so kilometres away across the sea in Tenerife. Because the two Canary Islands could be in different worlds, the contrasts are so great. Long may La Gomera preserve its own world unravaged by the societal ills that are all too apparent not so very far away. As long as it manages to do that, some part of my own heart will continue to beat there.

  

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Reasons to love La Gomera

Just look at the uncrowded beach, uncrowded car park, uncrowded beach bar. And it's biodiverse with a wonderful climate all year round. 


Apparently La Gomera holds the European record for the most endemic species per square kilometre.
Now that's a genuine biodiversity sanctuary



The island prides itself on encouraging and supporting only sustainable development carrying on an age old tradition of its people living in perfect symbiosis with their environment. 

They are determined that they do not mortgage their future for the sake of today's touristic pleasures. They are determined to encourage eco-tourism above all else, and the island is a walkers' and birdwatchers' paradise.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Insanity


"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results."

Albert Einstein


So why do we keep on striving for growth in our economy as if it will solve the ills of the growth economy that has failed us so badly?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Why do we need Growth?

There is a beautifully sustainable cycle within nature.
Dead bodies provide food for living creatures, plants photosynthesize and produce oxygen from carbon dioxide and animals use that oxygen in their respiration of which the by-product is carbon dioxide.
At school we learnt all about this and called it the Carbon Cycle, little suspecting that 50 years later this would have such a fundamental significance for the future of the world!
If we can see the Earth as a single living entity involving complex interrelationships and a finely tuned balance of all life, as envisioned for example by James Lovelock, should it not be logical for a sustainable economy to mimic that natural world, indeed be a part of that world, where everything is recycled, everything has a further use elsewhere. We would then be able to build a system that is totally cyclical and sustainable and environmentally sound. Evolution biologist and futurist Elisabet Sahtouris once posed the question: doesn’t it seem crazy and so obviously illogical that our household finances and the study of how we make a living (or economy) should be so totally divorced from the study of how other species make a living (or ecology)? Satish Kumar often says the same thing.

This seems so simple and obvious but we cannot see it!
Neither a borrower nor a lender be; 
For loan oft loses both itself and friend, 
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
Thus said Lord Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet, in 1603.
One of the greatest flaws in our flawed "growth" economy is that loans for interest are made out of fiat money. In other words, money is created out of nothing. Yes, money is created by bank debt against the payment of interest. It is fiat money. This is not widely understood by the general public outside the banking world and usually comes as a surprise. Someone, I believe a Canadian journalist, has estimated that only one person in a thousand really understands how money is made! It is certainly not something that is widely publicized. What is more each bank also has what it calls its Reserve Ratio. This means the proportion of cash invested into its bank deposit accounts that the bank estimates it needs to retain in case the customer wishes to withdraw again against their deposit. If for example £1000 is put on deposit with the bank and they calculate their Reserve Ratio to be 10%, then they reserve £100 and the remaining 90% of the deposit or £900 is available for the bank to lend on. And it does. The bank sets up a loan of £900 to another customer for interest, neatly increasing the supply of money available in the economy by a simple accounting entry in its books. The bank has not only made money out of nothing but it is also making an interest profit on that money that it has created out of nothing. And the bank almost certainly charged a fee for arranging the loan as well. The more times the same money can be recycled and recreated in this way the greater the arrangement fees and the interest profit that the bank can make, all from the creation of illusory money out of nothing. What is more, the amount borrowed by the customer is likely to be placed on deposit again elsewhere and the creation of further debt out of nothing can continue in another bank. The multiplier effect of this exponential increase in debt is astounding and very dangerous. Money has to continue to grow to maintain this system and to avoid financial collapse, even though actual standards of living may remain stagnant. With consumer spending the lifeblood of the economy and a personal consumption now nearing 75% of GDP, which truthful and brave politician will urge us to spend less? It is not hard to see that the system is unjust and unsustainable.

A government can and does make money out of nothing also, but this is only to the extent of new notes and coins it issues. As long ago as 1939 American President Abraham Lincoln was clear in his warnings: “The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of consumers. By the adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest,” he said. (1) But fiat money is still issued by banks.

I was shocked when I read that something like 98% of the trillions of dollars changing hands in the foreign exchange markets each day is purely speculative and has nothing to do with wealth creation. Only the remaining 2% relates to real goods and services. As Edward Cahn observes: “Money has taken on a life of its own: its function is to produce for the sake of reproducing – regardless of the impact on the health of the human community … increasingly what we are witnessing in the world’s money markets looks more and more like cancer.” (2)
Now cancer is dangerous and often fatal, requiring unpleasant treatments along the way.
In such loan systems there is an impersonal relationship between the borrower and the lender with a minimal flow of information needed between them. Such loans are therefore cheaper to administer. In addition the tax system favors such business fund raising by allowing tax relief on the related interest. Because such loans are not linked to the success or otherwise of the business, there is no reward to the lender if the business is successful and conversely the lender can foreclose on an ailing business that can no longer afford to repay. This makes the problems of the business worse and it may need to curtail its production and make efficiencies of staff by laying-off, with all the inherent human and social consequences that then arise. This is of course harmful to the economic cycle, and means that interest based economies have exaggerated cycles of “boom and bust.” One of the most harmful aspects of this interest on loans is that it is almost invariably charged by compounding year on year. Typically a home “owner” with a mortgage will pay way over the amount of the original loan before the mortgage is fully paid off. Our debts on credit cards have also reached massive amounts and many regularly pay double figure interest rates on their cards each year. A significant number of college students and undergraduates have credit cards and amass debt on these as well as on their other student loans. This encourages an extravagant attitude of spending among students who no longer need to budget expenditure within their means. When I first wrote of these imperfections in our debt system a few years ago I was saying that alarm bells should ring. I was far from alone. In 2001 Bernard Lietaer predicted a 50:50 chance of a global money meltdown within 5-10 years unless steps were taken to heal what he called the global foreign exchange casino (3). He was pretty much right, wasn't he? 

Unfortunately those in charge of our finances do not appear to consider alternative economic models. They want us to spend and consume our way out of recession. They're stuck in the idea that a growth economy is the only way out of our problems. But the problems and dangers of debt, at personal, corporate, national and international levels, are the cause of huge social disease. Such debt involves the transfer of wealth from the poor to those who are already wealthy. The system does not reflect the skill or the labor of the participant and encourages short termism. Indeed it has been shown that interest based economies cause unemployment, social violence and pollution. Indeed it seems clear to me that compound interest is for the monetary system what excessive carbon dioxide is for the earth’s atmosphere: it is man-made and unsustainable. For an up to the minute campaign on promoting an alternative and workable economy see for example positive money and http://projects.exeter.ac.uk/RDavies/arian/local.html for many resources on alternative monetary systems.

1. Senate Document 23, 1939
2. Edgar S Cahn, 2004 No More Throw-Away People: The Co-Production Imperative Washington D.C.: Essential Books, 2000, p. 68.
3. Bernard Lietaer, The Future of Money – Creating New Wealth, Work and a Wiser World (2001)

From an original idea in Healing This Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope, where a chapter puts all this and much more into the context of compassion and healing and relationship.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Corporate social responsibility or profit with purpose?

What difference does your company make to the world? This is the title of a great article written for The Times a few weeks ago by Dr Naftali Brawar, chief executive of Spiritual Capital Foundation; it is posted up in that website.
The point being made is a good one. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) dates back to the Nineties when companies looked towards bearing greater responsibility to society, to the environment, and to the next generation. Noble aims indeed. But care needs to be taken, the author writes, that CSR doesn't become just another marketing tool without reflecting, without being underpinned by, a genuine commitment to all that CSR implies.
Brawar proposes a new model, called Profit with Purpose. If your company or business were to cease to exist tomorrow, what difference would it make to the world; an important existential question, linked by Brawar to God's question to Adam in the Garden of Eden - Where are you? - interpreted here as "Where are you heading in life?"
It's worth checking out the article and indeed the whole website of the Spiritual Capital Foundation, especially their ideas on Spiritual Capital, an idea very dear to my own heart.

Friday, 9 November 2012

So should we give up hope?


So many people feel daunted and depressed when they read about the seemingly intractable issues facing our world around Climate Change, water shortages, food shortages etc. This is sad, because I'm sure that most of us are already doing our own things even if only in a small way, trying to change our eating and spending habits for example, recycling where we can, etc. etc. And every little action helps and we should all congratulate ourselves for those. But what if we all tried to change our behaviors in just one more small way - we could all start Ripples of Hope for a better world!

I think it is really a case of finding what appeals to each one of us - we all have different skills, all have things we couldn't possibly do. That doesn't matter. I can think and I can write (at least I think so!) but I'm not hot on the organizing side - some people are quite the opposite - don't ask me to organize a coffee morning or a play group - some would relish it!! 

So rather than focusing on the big picture issues of climate change, population growth, energy and water depletion, all a bit daunting and depressing to some, let's look at other simpler yet powerful ways to do our little bit to help and the simplest thing we can all do is to connect more closely with the food we eat, the choices we make about our life-styles, and the realities of materialism and consumerism and its consequences. Here are a few links to follow up:

The concept of the Transition Town started in the UK in Totnes, but it is now worldwide and gaining significant ground in the US. But this can seem too big and daunting for some, especially if there is no action going on local to your home.

So there is Incredible Edible, which has specifically identified food as a simple yet effective way of contributing to a better world. It started again in the UK, and I am not sure if it has reached the US yet, but on its well developed website it gives lots of ideas and inspiration and encouragement relevant to anyone who has the concern of the world at heart, wherever you live.
For example how about having a meat free day each week? This is something all the non veggies could do once a week - a good start!! - and there's loads of other items and blogs on the site full of ideas for us all.

We vote three times a day when we decide what we eat! Organic? Local? Meat? fair trade? (in sense of ethical trading, not necessarily FairTrade).
You could try the fairtradeusa (every purchase matters) site for a start.

Then for those affiliated to any church or other place of worship are you only using fairly traded tea, coffee, biscuits, wine etc? I have just given a presentation to our own Parochial Church Council Meeting in our church to move this along, and I'm giving a training session in 3 weeks time to a local church group here on making ethical shopping decisions. 
Some Dioceses have already declared themselves FairTrade dioceses.

And there's EcoCongregation - sponsored by A Rocha, to encourage churches to lead by example by becoming "greener" and more eco friendly. Energy efficiency, and so on. Eco-congregation is a tool to help churches begin to address environmental issues in all that they do. It is suitable for all kinds of churches to use, and it has developed across the USA and the UK. 

So there really is plenty we can all get on and do in our own small ways: small things, one step at a time, and don't let yourself be depressed by the seemingly hopeless situation. It is not hopeless at all - but urgent yes!

Finally there are loads of sites on the Internet where if we don't think we can do anything else, we can at least sign petitions! Avaaz is a good place to start.

There you have it. Just a few ideas to start the ball rolling!
Please tell me of your own favorites.  

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Today is Edgar Mitchell Day

Well done Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell for being honored by Petaluma Mayor David Glass for his lifetime achievements by proclaiming today October 27, 2012 as "Edgar Mitchell Day."

I quote from the IONS site, of which Mitchell was the founder:

Dr. Mitchell is one of 12 individuals in the history of the world to walk on the surface of the moon, a Korean War Veteran and recipient of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Inspired by his expedition to the Moon and back, Dr. Mitchell was moved to found IONS and devote his life to two essential areas he believes are intrinsically interconnected: human consciousness and the focus on the environmental balance of our fragile planet. We celebrate and honor the accomplishments of Edgar, and are proud to support his vision and legacy for a conscious, humanitarian, and sustainable world."

When Mitchell saw the cosmos and the earth for the first time from space he wrote: “My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity… we went to the moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians.” ** He was thus inspired to found the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Many astronauts, all highly trained scientists or technicians and dependent on the latest most complex technology for their missions, have, like Mitchell, found a spiritual awakening or deepened their particular religious faith when in awe and reverence they have seen the earth from a different perspective, from space.

My interest in IONS is the  leading-edge research it conducts and sponsors into the potentials and powers of consciousness, including perceptions, beliefs, attention, intention, and intuition. The Institute explores phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models, while maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor. For example it conducts its own studies on distance healing and the relationship between consciousness and healing, matters dear to my own heart and discussed by me in detail elsewhere.

All started by Mitchell - a man well worth honoring for his services to mankind.

**from The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut’s Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds, New Page Books; Revised edition (February 15, 2008).

Friday, 19 October 2012

Monday, 15 October 2012

National Ethical Investment Week

I've just had a wonderful holiday in Sri Lanka. It's a beautiful country, with much to see and enjoy, the culture and history, and not least the fabulous weather.
But not all is good in Sri Lanka - literally "beautiful island". The gulf between the rich and the poor is all too apparent. Here is a group of tea pickers who cheerfully posed for us in one of the tea plantations. These ladies were so friendly and cheerful, and yet they are amongst the poorest paid workers in the island. And their work is hard and back breaking, with the constant risk of bites from dangerous snakes.
Why am I telling you this story?
Because this week is National Ethical Investment Week.
Are there any similar things going on in the USA I wonder, as this particular initiative seems to be just for the UK?
But this should not matter - wherever you live, please read on…
Because our money gives us “spending power.”
It has been said that we cast a vote three times every day, by what we choose to eat and drink. By choosing how we spend our money, we can influence how shops stock their shelves, what goods are manufactured, the conditions in which they are manufactured. Our money can be a very powerful influence in all manner of ways that can affect our environment either directly or indirectly, for good or evil, when we have money available to spend.
Supermarkets will justify their actions in stocking inappropriate products that we know to be environmentally unfriendly, or harmful in some other way, with the excuse that they are simply giving us what as consumers we demand. If we buy them they will continue to stock them. It really is that simple!
Are our spending patterns encouraging animal cruelty or slave labor in garment “sweat shops”or in the tea plantations?
Appalling working conditions, child labor and poor pay still exist and we could be encouraging these without even realizing it. The most effective and immediate impact we can all make could be through changing our spending patterns. We are all in control of how we save, invest and spend, whether we choose ethical products, buy fairtrade and traidcraft products, or perhaps give generously to aid agencies where we can be sure our money provides rapid relief. We can and must fight to bring ethical trading in from the bottom up. We can enquire where our goods are produced and in what conditions and avoid all unreasonably cheap goods where we suspect that unethical working practices are present. If the information is not available, demand it. We should support local enterprise. The local farmers markets promote respect for land and food. We could pay more for quality and eat less. Why not get back in touch with the seasons and eat foods at the right time of year when they are available locally. I am aware of the controversies over air miles versus the need to support foreign enterprise to help other communities; many of these stories must be considered on their own merits. Some of these choices may seem more expensive. But are they when balanced against the alternative predictions for our world?
Does the suffering of fellow beings and the future of our planet matter so little to us that we are not prepared to change our habits today? 
 Many of us own company stock, some of us perhaps without even knowing it, or at least thinking about it, because it is out of sight in our pension funds (although the turmoil on world financial markets at the end of the first decade of the new millennium, and the ongoing deep recession have brought such funds sharply into focus for many). Businesses know that they must now be more accountable for their green credentials. But what about those companies that still operate unethical work practices. Those holding pension funds delegate full powers of investment to the fund managers who will be motivated and driven by the need to maximize profits and growth for the funds in their charge. As major shareholders these funds have enormous powers and are not likely to consider the ethical views of the individual pensioners against the overall drive for growth. It may seem that the individual does not have a voice. But we can have our say; we can influence others. All it needs is knowledge and courage and the support of other like - minded people. It can be done. Have you ever questioned your pension fund managers on this? Does the small shareholder really know or even care how the company operates as long as he receives his regular dividend income? Can he possibly understand the full implications of the company’s business, how it treats its employees, how it deals with its waste, how it invests its own money. So many shareholders make their investments motivated solely by profit, without any regard for the ethical considerations. This is no less true of buying shares than buying consumer goods. The implications of all this are enormous. As individuals we may unwittingly be helping to fuel warfare, for example, by carelessly investing or allowing our pension funds or banks or investment funds or unit trusts to invest in any company involved along the way with the production of weapons. I pray for there to be a shift in attitude. When I was in practice as a Chartered Accountant and Independent Financial Adviser I had a particular interest in ethical investment funds for my clients. One bank without my knowledge or consultation transferred the ethical funds of one of my most principled clients into its own funds, declaring in the process that they would never take ethical considerations into account in their investment choices, only investment performance. This was some time ago. I hope the bank has reviewed its policies. Individuals who would think of themselves as ethical and feel aghast at the mess we are in have had their conscience swayed by the profit promise in this way. Have you checked the ethics of your own bank? There is plenty of information now available to check this out. Do you care? Even the employees of a company who individually may think of themselves as honest and decent can be remote from the realities of the company’s business and the adverse environmental or social effects it may be initiating in its drive to make profits. Do you know what your employer really does? Not just at the superficial level of your daily employment, but at grass roots? Are you absolutely comfortable with the company’s trading practices, its markets and its environmental footprint? And if not, what are you doing about it?

These are not comfortable questions. They challenge us. But with privilege comes responsibility, and there cannot be sustainable peace for all until injustices are tackled across the world. So let's look again with a critical eye at how we spend our money.

Adapted from an idea that is explored in some more depth in Healing this Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope.

© Eleanor Stoneham 2012

Friday, 28 September 2012

J K Rowling's own Shades of Grey

Do women lack the confidence to make their points of view known in meetings and radio phone-ins? It would seem so. Driving over to see my sister yesterday there was a piece on the radio, describing this imbalance between male and female voices where opinions are sought - something like 70% male to 30% females. And it seems much of this is down to a lack of confidence in the fairer sex. Why? Because we are afraid we have nothing important to say; that we will be ridiculed; that we will not be given a fair hearing. I confess -

I have suffered from this to some extent all my life, around the meal table, in meetings, at conferences! Victorian children were "seen and not heard." It is only relatively recently that children have all been encouraged to be opinionated and their comments heard and indeed respected for what they are worth. 

Now I feel I must voice my own strong opinion on something. Many will not agree but I don't care. This has to be said. 

 J. K. Rowling is worth upward of £500 million, much of her fortune reaped from the pocket money and birthday money of our youngsters. So why, hot on the heels of the Fifty Shades trilogy, does she feel the need to produce her own version of something much darker than the Harry Potter books knew how to be. (1) My concern is that I am sure this book, The Casual Vacancy, will be bought by those same youngsters and young adults who were introduced to reading by Harry Potter and his friends.One million have been pre-ordered already.

OK, we writers have a creative urge - many of us feel compelled to write. I understand that. But to write stuff which in places is frankly disgusting, disturbing, brutal, and unnecessarily explicit, in bad ways? Don't writers have some kind of social responsibility, especially where our young people are concerned?

I'm not a prude. But we are not going to become better people by reading books such as these. Rather we need to celebrate the beautiful and the wonderful ways of our world.

Why is this important? Because, as well as our inherited physical characteristics, it is widely believed that we pick up mental wounds from the collective experiences of our ancestors.

The unhealed wounds of mankind inflicted through millennia of evolution by strife and violence and disaster mean therefore that hundreds of millions of people are psychologically, emotionally and physically scarred and wounded and in need of healing. It has even been suggested by some psychologists that “human culture as a whole has been saturated by unhealed wounding, which, if unchecked, will continue on a downward spiral toward inevitable disintegration.” (2)

Surely we should be doing all we can to heal wounds, not perpetuate them? How can we hope to heal the world when so many of us have such mental and spiritual wounds? And books like Fifty Shades of Grey and The Casual Vacancy simply do not help the quest to heal an already overly evil world.

Come on Jo. I hear that you give plenty of your dosh to good charitable causes. Perhaps you should be diverting your creative writing energies into something altogether more healing.

But then I put this forward diffidently with little confidence and I don't suppose any one will agree. I await the ridicule with trepidation.

Adapted from an idea that is explored in some more depth in Healing this Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope.

© Eleanor Stoneham 2012

(1) see the Daily Telegraph September 27 2012 - "Oh Jo, What will the children think?" Re J K Rowling's latest book, The Casual Vacancy, Comment by Allison Pearson who writes - and I quote: "J K Rowling's first adult novel is an everyday story of country folk who beat their wives, are addicted to drugs and abuse their toddlers. It is a departure that will shock many fans."
I have read enough to know I won't want to read the whole book.

(2) Thompson, Judith and James O’Dea, Shift Issue 7, May 2005, “Social Healing for a Fractured World; a Summary Report to the Fetzer Institute.”

The picture is of Victoria Lilies at the Oxford Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Climate Change Awareness: Are we near the tipping point?

Here is a very thoughtful, well measured and well researched article on climate change from Colin Bell of Sustainability in Crisis that I want to share with all my readers.
I urge anyone to read this who has any care at all for our future and the future of our children/grandchildren/greatchildren. What future?! Time to WAKE UP!! What a shame that millions read eroticism for cheap entertainment (Fifty Shades etc) and only hundreds read the serious stuff on where we are at and where are we going and what can we do about it!!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Oh for A Still Small Voice of Calm



I was lucky enough to be in Mallorca a few months ago. It's the largest of the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean, and amongst other worthy tourist attractions it is known for its cathedral in the capital Palma.
And in the cathedral there is a magnificent rose window, all of 36ft or 11m in diameter, claimed to be the largest in the world.
So I had to take a day trip to Palma to see this for myself.



I love visiting churches and cathedrals. I love the atmosphere, the hushed sense that pilgrims galore have visited and prayed and worshipped and found in the building a communion with God or some other transcendent quality greater than themselves.


But oh dear I was sorely disappointed this time. The din was incredible. Even art galleries and museums usually manage to maintain some air of decorum and atmosphere. Here in the cathedral there was none of that. This great sacred monument was simply full of a massive noise - as dozens and dozens of parties were being shown around or making their own way, guidebook and camera at the ready, oblivious of any sacred space - simply anxious to take as many photos as they could to take back home, upload and forget! How sad! I left quickly, wondering if any one else was similarly affected. It seemed not.

More recently still I visited Florence. What a joy - a super abundance of sacred art and sacred spaces to surely affect even the most hardened non spiritual amongst us. But even here, in the amazing Duomo, pictured above, the noise level would have been unbearable if there hadn't been a pre recorded Sshhhhhhh ... relayed at regular intervals throughout the building. At least they were trying to maintain some sense of peace and awe so that all could enjoy brief snatches of the true atmosphere of this wonderful building.

We need quiet, and beauty, and atmosphere and positive energies. We need to nurture our sensitivities and our spirit. And this nourishment will come from beautiful things, from sacred spaces, from the wonders of nature and science, not from noise, whether it be loud "music" or mindless chatter. We need to be able to listen and hear that "still small voice of calm" in our lives.

I am reminded of what St Benedict said in Chapter 52 of his Holy Rules about the Oratory of the Monastery:

"1The oratory ought to be what it is called, and nothing else is to be done or stored there. 2After the Work of God, all should leave in complete silence and with reverence for God, 3so that a brother who may wish to pray alone will not be disturbed by the insensitivity of another. 4Moreover, if at other times someone chooses to pray privately, he may simply go in and pray, not in a loud voice, but with tears and heartfelt devotion. 5Accordingly, anyone who does not pray in this manner is not to remain in the oratory after the Work of God, as we have said; then he will not interfere with anyone else."

(In a commentary on this by Philip Lawrence OSB at the website of the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert, he writes:

"We hear right away that the Church must be a place of silence. Many Churches have lost this sense of silence in our own time. Always we need to work to keep the Church silent and still so that anyone who comes in at any time can pray in silence. We need to keep working on developing this atmosphere of silence and reverence for God throughout all of the monastery buildings, but especially in the Church of the monastery.") 

St Benedict clearly knew what I mean!!




Thursday, 30 August 2012

Don't worry, there's plenty of oil

"We can fall for the oil industry hype and keep ourselves chained to a resource that's depleting and comes with ever increasing economic and environmental costs, or we can recognize that the days of cheap and abundant oil (not to mention coal and natural gas) are over."
That's the clear message from the Energy Bulletin article August 28, 2012 from the post carbon institute.
And this isn't just something affecting Americans. It affects us all, globally. 

Don't Worry, There's Plenty of Oil
by Richard Heinberg

Please go on over there and watch the video.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Sunflowers in Tuscany


Leaving no Change Behind

We worry at the moment about the world's fiscal problems
...of course we do. But…"to fix our broken world we need more than profits. We need prophets - faithful, fearless people, willing to invest in social change through prophetic proclamation in word and deed." This is the message of Brad R. Braxton, founding senior pastor of The Open Church, a cross cultural, radically inclusive congregation in Baltimore, in an important article he has written "Leave no Change Behind" in the August 2012 edition of Sojourners: a Christian magazine dedicated to Faith in Action for Social Change. Braxton's article is really directed at the preacher, but there are lessons for us all in this message.

Responsibility for the changes needed in this world must start from the bottom up, from ourselves. And for this to happen, Braxton urges us to be concerned about the "balances in our moral accounts, lest insufficient funds lead to bankruptcy of our souls and foreclosure on the common good."

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

I love synchronicity


Don't you just love synchronicity?

Today in church at our mid-week Eucharist we celebrated and remembered the Blessed Virgin Mary, called to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And she accepted her role with humility and obedience. We were asked to reflect on what our own personal callings were, how we might ourselves make a difference in this world, shining the Gospel and the light of Christ around the world for the benefit of all.

It so happens that I have just completed and posted a review on Amazon of a fascinating book by Reiki Master Deborah Lloyd, Believe and it is True. The review speaks for itself, but what I found so interesting is her different approach to the idea that healing ourselves can heal our world, from that taken in my own first book, Healing This Wounded Earth. True we both had deep wounds that needed healing, true we both come from conventional Christian backgrounds (mine Anglican, hers Catholic), but there the similarities more or less end. Her wounds came with polio at the age of three, mine came much later in life through breakdown. And her physical healing seems much more miraculous than any of my own experiences. But we both found strength in our weakness, and we both were called to make a difference in the world, and whilst Deborah does not articulate the concept of the Wounded Healer as such, it is there between the lines of her later chapters.

I think we both understand our own calling. In our own different ways we hope we can make a difference in the world. With the help of God we will.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Cows are not autos!

I was shouting at the radio - how can you be so heartless?


Cows are not autos!! 

There's much debate at the moment about milk prices and whether dairy farmers are getting a fair price for their milk. Some are protesting at the moment in the UK - (but this is an American issue as well) - even pouring the milk down the drain to make a point. Others are simply selling up their farms, no longer able to make a living at something which is our heritage.

And then some economist came into the discussion on the radio and starting saying that it is a fact of life now - whether in auto manufacture or farming, the economics demands mass production and paring down labor to a minimum to achieve massive economies of scale and product prices that the consumer will pay. What is wrong with us? Are we really happy for cows to become machines? Are we really happy that cows should be housed indoors in mega farms, never being able to graze in outdoor pastures? Are we happy that so many male calves are killed at a few days old and the cows forced back into pregnancy as soon as possible to keep the milk cycle going? It's all about money, money, money. What about animal husbandry? Are we really happy that so many animals suffer so that we can get food ever cheaper? Doesn't the quality of our food matter any more? Doesn't the welfare of our animals matter any more? Our celebrity chef Rick Stein summed it up wonderfully:


"We need to eat less, moan less and value what we eat."

YES!!!!! Well said Rick.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Why I don't like sport

Have you ever tried to imagine what it must be like to be the tiniest, weakest member of a pack? The tiniest kitten, puppy, wolf, whatever - struggling to survive to get food, warmth, comfort - jostling all the time against bigger stronger siblings just to survive? In farming terms these poor creatures are unkindly called the runt of the litter, and they often don't survive! When sport plays such a vital role on the world stage, when basket ball and football seem to be almost religions and the celebrity players mini-gods, and as Olympic fever hits the UK, why, I ask myself, am I so uninterested in sport? I'll tell you why, if you'll just read on - it won't take long. And all those who are trying to encourage sport in school should understand this. I was the runt of the class! I was tiny at school. Can you once more try to imagine the scene? At netball, I was so overpowered by the big bully girls that I stood no chance at all of ever defending my team against the monster beside me, let alone scoring. So I was ridiculed and bullied by my team. Hockey was no better. As I watched the ball approaching me I would cringe and run away from the terrifying clash of sticks wielded by such huge opponents - so they got their way. And again I was ridiculed and bullied. Tennis? I was too weak to get the ball anywhere near the net, let alone over it! Hurdling? No chance. Running? No chance. And so on... No wonder I hated sport. But I loved gymnastics - I could weave in and out of the bars and climb to the very top of the ropes faster than anyone. But what happened? Whenever the weather was half decent outside the bully monster girls would clamour to have games outside instead of gym, so I rarely had a chance to show off and hone what few physical skills I had. So that's why I have no interest in sport. I was totally discouraged, my own physical interests were not nurtured and I was continually made to feel a complete failure! I am listening to the radio as I write this and in one of those wonderful moments of synchronicity they are just now discussing bullying at school and the harm it can do! Someone said to me recently that they were so sorry I did not like sport - I missed out on such a lot. Really? I don't think so. I love gardening - it counts as physical exercise and I do far far more than the two and a half hours a week recently given as the bare minimum exercise we should all do to keep healthy and fit and keep obesity at bay. I do twice that in a day sometimes! So don't feel sorry for me. But do encourage sport. In that same radio program, I heard that girls who are involved in plenty of physical activity at school are far less likely to have teenage pregnancies. Now that is reason enough for getting all girls at school to fully participate in a sports curriculum. And if the Olympic Games serve to motivate much more good honest sport amongst our youngsters then that will be payback enough in my eyes.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


With recent stories about the behavior of bankers in the LIBOR scandal, and debates on when legal tax avoidance becomes morally repugnant, are we not seeing the effects of a rampant materialism that seems to have careered out of control in our society? In the Bible we are told that: "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." This is an ancient wisdom that seems to be coming to fruition all around us.

Aristotle made the distinction between essential and therefore laudable expenditure for the daily needs of food, shelter and clothing, and the acquisition of money for acquisition’s sake by profit associated with retail trade. The latter he censured:
"…because the gain in which it results is not naturally made, but is made at the expense of other men. The trade of the petty usurer is hated with most reason: it makes a profit from currency itself, instead of making it from the process which currency was meant to serve. Currency came into existence merely as a means of exchange; usury tries to make it increase."

Then again Augustine saw that the State which looked after only its own interests rather than pursuing a justice for all was no more than an organized band of robbers.

And what happened to the Commandment "Thou shalt not steal"? Why not substitute State with 'bankers' in Augustine's vision, or indeed why only pick on bankers? Sometimes I think that we are all in danger of becoming like that band of robbers - indeed perhaps we are already there. We forget at our peril that we are now profoundly connected as humans across the world, because we often tend to be guilty of a kind of group egotism, loving only our own kind and conveniently forgetting the plight of those who are perhaps less fortunate than ourselves, and remote from our own sheltered existences.

In my first book, Healing… I devoted a chapter to "The Hope of a Healed Economy: In Pursuit of Social Justice," writing of the dangers ahead, drawing on the inspiration we can find in ancient wisdoms, and looking at our own individual responsibilities and choices. Because we all need to make a connection between the way we use money and our moral beliefs. I don’t like to say now that "I told you so," but I will! 

Aristotle (1998) Politics, translated by Ernest Barker, revised R.F. Stalley, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1.9 1258a 35 p. 30.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Simon Bolivar, El Sistema, Sistema Scotland and the London 2012 Festival.

Tonight the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra kicks off the London 2012 Festival in the shadow of Stirling Castle, joined by local children from Sistema Scotland. By way of introduction and background to this music phenomenon, read on...

Art and the young I am told that Venezuela is a stunning country, with its Andean peaks, its Caribbean coastline, its tranquil offshore islands, its wetlands teeming with life, the steamy Amazon and its rolling savanna towered over by the flat-topped mountains called tepuis. But perhaps it has more than its fair share of unemployment, slums, poverty and a youth in need of a focus away from the temptations of crime and drugs. Venezuelan Jose Antonia Abreo is a trained economist. He is also a talented pianist and a visionary activist. In 1975 he founded an educational system for the youth of Venezuela based on the teaching of music as a basis for intellectual growth. This innovative idea was to use music as the focus of education, provide children with free musical instruments and teach them to play in an orchestra. Abreo saw this as a way to give children of all ages a meaningful purpose and self esteem, a means for social and intellectual improvement that would rescue them from the harmful alternatives around them in their otherwise deprived lives. His organization is now known as El Sistema. The vision and energy of this one man has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of deprived children. The flagship orchestra of El Sistema, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, has played in Carnegie Hall, at the London Proms and elsewhere, always to widespread acclaim. The idea has been so successful that it is finding outlets across the world, for example in other Latin American countries, in Spain and across the United States. The concept is also being developed in England and in Stirling, Scotland, where youth disaffection is seen to be a real problem. In his acceptance speech for the B'nai B'rith Human Rights Award in 2008, Abreu succinctly summarized the goal of El Sistema and of his life's work by saying; ‘In the struggle for Human Rights, let us vigorously incorporate children’s sublime right to music, in whose bosom shines Beingness in its splendor and its ineffable mystery. Let us reveal to our children the beauty of music and music shall reveal to our children the beauty of life.’ It seems so obvious to remind ourselves yet again that our children and our youth are our future. How many of us outside the realms of school and family, however, spend any time by example or action to encourage their positive and wholesome development through the medium of music?

Excerpt from Healing This Wounded Earth © Eleanor Stoneham 2011

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Back in February 2011 I wrote about the rape of our hedgerows. It is bad enough to hack away at our hedges in February - but to do it in May when the bushes will be supporting the nests of many of our song birds, containing eggs or even baby birds preparing to fledge. As if our birds are not having a hard enough time struggling to survive.
There is a beautiful lane near us, lined on each side by high hedges of rhododendron bushes. At this time of year they are in full flower, a beautiful sight! Imagine my horror when we drove out this afternoon to visit a garden under the National Garden Scheme. and found a scene of utter massacre along that lane. The hedge had been massacred - raped - totally despoiled - obviously using mechanical cutters that had bitten deep into the hedges on both sides, taking away all the leafy branches and flower buds, and goodness alone knows how many of those nests. Why do this? And at this time of year? Am I the only one upset by such wanton destruction?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Egg cases and nature tables

When I was a little girl I used to love playing on the beach - looking for shells, seaweeds, pretty stones, and any thing else deposited by the sea on its daily tides.
I'm on holiday this week. Strolling along the beach enjoying the fresh air and the wide open expanse of sand and sea I watched a huge posse of children with their teachers rushing along the promenade above me and pour into the expensive and very artificial sea life museum - you know the kind of thing - seals and otters, turtles and sharks - OK there is rescue and conservation work going on as well - but also the inevitable gift shop - huge - through which one has to exit - and of course the kids clamour to buy stuff they don't need that will be tomorrow's land fill.


There is a place for this kind of entertainment, especially on a wet day! But I hope those kids have also been on the beach, beach combing. There had been some wild weather over the previous few days and loads of interesting stuff had been washed up that would grace any nature table back at school - and it is FREE! Or don't they have nature tables any more? 

Here's an empty skate egg case - like a purse! There were loads of them. And at least two different seaweeds to identify here.

And here's another skate egg purse alongside a whelk egg case and half a mussel shell, on a bed of seaweed. 


But what's this? A plastic mobile phone case - the top bit! Not good. 

Further along the beach I came to this starfish - shame about the plastic pot alongside!

Perhaps if children could see for themselves the richness of our fauna and flora in its natural habitat there might - just might - be greater respect for nature and less thoughtless and ugly litter?

I had a lovely walk. Should I feel sorry for those kids?


Friday, 4 May 2012

Protecting our children from internet porn - and our personal responsibilities

Surely most parents are concerned at what their children may be able to access on the Internet? 

But it seems that we may be moving towards an Internet where parents have to opt in to "adult content" to receive it, when they sign up for a broadband contract, otherwise it will be blocked. The situation is complicated and varies from country to country, and in the US from State to State. But this is what the UK government want to do. At the moment they have the reverse situation - it is up to parents to block what their children can access on the Internet, otherwise everything is available. But it seems that 4 out of 10 parents are not protecting their children from this content - therefore, the argument goes, it is better to have an "opt in" system instead.
Then we have the inevitable debates about who should hold the responsibility here and people start grumbling about "nanny states."

In an ideal world, individuals should take personal responsibility - of course they should. But it seems they don't. And as I know from discussions around my own first book, which urges us all to take responsibility for this world before it is too late, people don't seem very good at taking that responsibility for what is "right." What is more they don't like receiving any advice, however well meant, on what perhaps they should be doing; how they should be behaving.

So it seems we need the State to protect us from ourselves. Is that right? Overzealous legislation can be dangerous in itself. It can take away from us our individual sense of ethical, spiritual and social responsibility.

We have personal responsibilities towards ourselves, towards each other, towards our communities, our nations and ultimately to our living planet earth Gaia. And of course legislation fails to address our underlying behavioral problems, our selfishness and aggression, our greed and our envy, the seemingly prevalent albeit petty dishonesty among so many of us. Such behavior can cause even the normally law-abiding citizens among us to sometimes ignore the rules and regulations. Simple examples are the widely disregarded restrictions on speeding and the use of a hand held cellular while driving. Such behavior is obviously selfish. It exposes our fellow road users, pedestrians, cyclists, horses, pets, wild life and other vehicles to mortal danger. Why do we do it? Would we change our driving behavior if we knew that every other user on the roads around us was a cherished friend or relation? Of course we would! At least I hope we would! If we always drove with consideration and care and indeed love for every other person sharing the road with us, traffic regulations would not be needed at all. How totally unrealistic given human nature!

 ‘What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility,’ said President Obama in his inauguration speech, ‘a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. 

Viktor Frankl observed that ‘Being human means being conscious and being responsible.’ He was writing about the very core of our being, our human conscience, and our personal integrity.

The state of being responsible is to be ‘liable to be called to account,’ or to render satisfaction, or to be answerable to someone for something. Isn't it now time for each and every one of us to realize that we must bear our own share of responsibility in the shaping of our world, and then turn that realization into action?

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama emphasized that responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. 


The next day in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture he elaborated on the theme: "The realisation that we are all basically the same human beings, who seek happiness and try to avoid suffering, is very helpful in developing a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood; a warm feeling of love and compassion for others. This, in turn, is essential if we are to survive in this ever shrinking world we live in. For if we each selfishly pursue only what we believe to be in our own interest, without caring about the needs of others, we not only may end up harming others but also ourselves. This fact has become very clear during the course of this century. We know that to wage a nuclear war today, for example, would be a form of suicide; or that by polluting the air or the oceans, in order to achieve some short-term benefit, we are destroying the very basis for our survival. As interdependents, therefore, we have no other choice than to develop what I call a sense of universal responsibility."

 And what about the people who create the porn? 

American eco-poet and Zen Buddhist Gary Snyder once wrote that no matter whom we are and what we do in our lives, we need to

‘Find [our] place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.’ 

So let's do it!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Do we need economic growth?

An old friend of mine, in both senses of the word, told me a story the other day. When she was a little girl, many decades ago, her family was hugely privileged to own an automobile. When she was only a few years old, seeing the potential for overcrowded roads and with great foresight, she asked her father "what will happen if everyone gets to own an auto." What indeed!
Another friend came in with her own similar story. Working in a factory on a production line of, let's say, widgets, she became increasingly concerned that all of these widgets would ultimately end up on rubbish dumps where they would stay for ever. No recycling, no decomposing, just permanent ugly rubbish!

Cancer is a horrible disease. Cells begin to run amok, uncontrolled, and eventually kill not only their host but also themselves in the process. Our Earth has cancer.

In answer to a question from the floor, the Governor of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King in his Today Lecture last night hoped that we would soon be able to return to a position of economic growth. That is clearly seen as a "Good Thing."
And as I write this I have the radio on and once again someone has just mentioned the urgent need for growth.

But what happens ultimately to all this growth? Where does it end? Where do all the widgets go? Where do all the resources come from? Our footprint on this earth is too large already. We are already living beyond our means. 
Someone has just said - I missed her name but will happily put this right and give her credit if someone can identify her -

"Nature does not do bailouts. We are too big to fail."

We are told we must spend our way out of the current economic crisis - to carry on over-consuming! That is so counter intuitive! But sadly now is not a good time to be challenging the need that is firmly entrenched in our mindset, when we are back in recession and massive unemployment and when so many families are worried about where the next meal will come from, and how to keep roofs over their heads.

But whilst relief must get to such families, don't we also need to get over the psychological barrier that always tells us growth is good? Don't we actually need a “degrowth” movement worldwide, where small once more becomes beautiful, as E F Schumacher told us? Last week was International Downshifting Week. and there are lots of resources out there to help us all downshift. 

It is clear that we need to write a better story around the benefits of doing this, of more sustainable living, with visions of a more attractive and happier lifestyle available from simpler life styles.


Let's all start writing those stories.

 Anyone wishing to read more about the wounds and flaws in our economy and how we can leave smaller footprints on the earth will find that I explore this whole issue in my first book, but from a unique angle never before attempted - from the perspective of the Wounded Healer.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Mea Culpa
Followers will know that I have been quieter than usual on this site over the last few weeks. The truth is I've had my head down polishing a manuscript for my next book, on Why Religions Work, that is due at the publishers very soon - hopefully for pre Christmas publication if all goes well. I am also preparing three different talks for three very different groups, to be presented over the next month or so. Add to that the fact that this is the busiest period in the garden, sowing seeds and keeping on top of the weeds so that I can maintain my record of vegetable self sufficiency. And I have just come back from a splendid conference organised by the Scientific and Medical Network on The Mystery of Consciousness and Western Meditation Traditions - all great stuff, presented by a panel of great experts in their own fields. I'll be writing about that elsewhere as soon as time allows - meanwhile I need to get my head down again to meet these looming deadlines.
So Mea Culpa.
I'll be back again soon.  
Meanwhile how about this for a Bee Home!!
The picture of the poster - below - explains all.


Monday, 16 April 2012

Bananarama!

This is so exciting - just look at all these bananas forming. I wonder how many there will be in total?
Every leaf that unfurls from the downward pointing spike displays another little bunch!
I have fed the plant with some tomato feed - designed to swell tomatoes once formed - guess it must be good for bananas as well!

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

Many reasons to love La Gomera

Madeira

Sunset

Sunset
with vapor trails

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