Friday, 25 June 2021

How child abuse happens

 The elephant in the room with recent statements made by the Catholic Archbishop of NZ is the structure which underpins abuse by clergy. I've just finished watching Heaven and Hell, the Centrepoint story. It's sad viewing, because the structures which allowed abuse to take place there were the same as in the Catholic church, the Salvation army, Gloriavale, some cultures and on into the sunset. Namely, a power imbalance where hierarchies exist and children (and often women) have little power and protection.

 I watched a very supportive, if not saccharine, documentary on Gloriavale last night and quite franky I'm worried. A woman survivor of Centrepoint said that the adults there did not fit her idea of what abusers would be like: that abusers would be nasty angry men. She said "and these people were loving people." I also have a researched conviction that these people who stood by either consciously or involved themselves were victims, at one point in their lives, of such powerlessness. In short, they were unable to recognize abuse in front of their faces because their own abuse was as yet  unhealed. People keep saying ridiculously stupid statements like it's never going to happen again. 

As long as structures exist where (people) children are powerless, you will create an abusive environment able to ferment scenarios the like of which we have witnessed in global media and our own inquiries in Aotearoa. 

And so I'm worried when I see a  documentary series full of wonderful people who refer to love and Jesus and so on. I'm worried when I see cultures where children have no say, no ability to direct their own lives, no say when something doesn't feel right, to express their innate needs and values. 

Churches and state care institutions seem to have missed the opportunity to restructure their organisations, instead of dwelling on the criminal misdemeanors of errant men and giving heartfelt and anguished apologies. The Catholic church has brought in a new set of rules which say what they going to do with abusing clergy. Deafening absence of attention to the structure which allows it in the first place. And so have set up a climate for repeats. The only mitigating factor being mainstream church's decline: in which case their power is considerably reduced as they simply don't have the power they used to have. They no longer wield unquestioned pastoral authority on a daily basis. 

Ah but wait; the younger churches that align themselves with the moment at Pentecost where the 'spirit' of Christ was handed to them; the ones that claim literal truth for the Bible (or any book). And usually pyramidal in organization ie supreme power at the apex and subservience at the base. That's how you build pyramids though! 

They are the ones to watch. Places where the group has a kind of fervour about the 'good of the group' and everything being subservient to the group- that's where you'll also find abuse. So have a look around at the groups you know. Let them know you're watching them. Let the powerless ones know that you care, by speaking out and showing you care. These structures, whether business, cultural or clubs are around us and possibly always will be. We need to challenge their existence and can do so using our skills talents, resources and sphere of influence. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Sledgehammers to kill ants-over reaction in human responses to perceived wrong doing

A woman's house is raided by a squadron of uniformed police brandishing weapons. The woman, dressed still in her dressing gown, who organised peaceful protest is handcuffed and taken away under arrest. This is not Saudi Arabia or China, but Australia.

Police shoot dead an out-of-control 13 year old autistic child whose mother has rung police asking for assistance.

The top seed of a tennis tournament is thrown out because a ball he swipes to the backline accidentally hits a court official.These are some of the stories I've heard over the past few weeks in the media

A student is put on detention for saying the word "gimp" and describing its meaning when asked by another student-I witnessed this as a trainee teacher.

In the 'western' world today I notice an increasing intolerance of other points of view and mistakes; partnered with an increasing severity of response . I'm guessing this is to do with fear and our belief that we all need to do whats best for 'our country' and 'our planet'; and the anger when we go against this. I observe the maintenance of a punitive culture, which believes at its centre that punishment makes us, the victims, feel better, and will make changes in the perpetrator. There seems to be alot more at stake in making what is perceived to be 'right' choices and not making mistakes. This cause us to contract. I believe it's not healthy to live under such pressures.

I would like to say that we could develop a sense of compassion for our humanity and its frailty and incongruity and patchiness in behaviours we sometimes exhibit. From where does compassion and empathy arise? I would like to explore that in a essay in the future.What I do notice though, through my extensive reading and using myself as an experiment is what happens in its absence; that if you have had this done to you ie if you were colonised, abused, not held and rocked as a baby, or any trauma relating to your sense of security and trust in others you are likely to be the ones for maintaining systems and behaviours which are intolerant of difference and punitive in nature.

Quite a few years back, when I was a secondary school teacher I had a couple of students come to me and tell me, over the course of a couple of weeks, about a teacher who was ridiculing them in front of the class.In effect they had had jokes made about their friendship being a gay one. I knew the students well and felt they had confided in me something which was very painful to them. I listened without judgement.  I asked them what would they like done about it . They didn't know but they wanted something to change. So in my professional capacity I took what they said and thought, the best thing I can do is to talk to the teacher, and get her perspective. So I rang her and this began a cascade of defense, denial, tears, statements that I was 'on their side'-this was all despite my best made plans to explain why I was ringing.  It wasn't the conversation I'd hoped for. 

For me if I have a problem, the best thing to do is to talk with the person directly. Its far to easy to take the route of talking behind their back, building resentment, spreading stories, or going straight to management, or as we see commonly at the moment, phoning the police. Now, I'm no feisty scrapper. I avoid confrontation. I'm scared of it. And I love peace and harmony. But I'm true to my values of fairness, openness, honesty and  communication. This conflict of authenticity versus keeping the peace does leave me frequently in a bind! But in saying that, speaking up has brought me some amazing results and partly because of that I'm going to continue to respond that way. Sometimes it has brought me closer the the person i had a conflict with. In contrast, reaching for the sledge hammer has left me sometimes abandoning a relationship altogether, or alot of work to do to repair damage done by bringing in the heavies.

You know yourself that when  the big boss or a cop visits you over something minor you feel shocked and disappointed that they (the other party) didn't approach you. You thought that it could have been easily resolved- usually you didn't even know there was an issue!

The point I'm getting to is that in my community and beyond, its becoming common to reach for the authorities and management before you've talked to the person you have a problem with. This reduces my ability to actually connect with that person in the future. Usually we want to connect and for something to change. We seem to have developed the point of view that talking something through as old fashioned, weak and ineffective.

Talking and listening are powerful. Beware of detractors from this truism! They are powerful when the artform (because it seems to fit the concept of an art; being something to practice and master and being in essence, beautiful) of communication is skillfully enacted. When we stop looking for winners and start to perceive the beauty in the other and their requirements for living a good life as the same as mine. We need good training. We can learn theses skills. I believe they are not innate or intrinsic. They were passed on just as mothering and fathering were once passed on.

My story ended up with the deputy principal reprimanding me for not having gone straight to the top. Although she was, on the surface, sympathetic, she asked me that, in the future would I come straight to senior management. I felt angry that I wasn't supported and I was unrepentant and told her that I would do the same thing again. Sadly, the story had an even worse outcome for the young men involved. I won't go into that, but suffice to say it led me to an even speedier exit from the state secondary school system.For the young men, it was a lesson in unfairness and the broken nature of our connections and trust. I remember saying this to them, and the feeling of sadness in the room at that time.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Essential day

 Flocks of birds, no longer afraid, swirl before the bonnet

So I ride with them centre line

I take my attention off the road to this haiku turned sonnet as I

pass silently and alone over newly completed structures until 

signs tell me to reduce speed and I do insanely and immediately

Young men barely boys help their father build a fence on a roadside property,

how sad the adjacent empty compounds we knew as schools

There are shops with no one to shop and cops with no one to cop

But there’s one cop on the highway verge he’s pulled up a mobility scooter

With a man aboard who is breaking loneliness and heading for the city 

And his flouting will not be tolerated

The New World delivery

van is trying to save time,

the time we need to make a new world.

Things have reversed up like lion oil

We stop the scan for saviours, with eyes that search for the edible

 no longer concerned with Elon Musk and the incredible because 

you've remembered what it takes to make a loaf and a swindle.

Somehow the sky looks clearer and more still; 

how it does when you've caught up on sleep

Hordes of youth are yet to mount utes and go find food and gas and guns

And I go from a Ghandian response

Take my pumpkins!

to my sniper lair on the hill overlooking my place

Take my pumpkins?.

Red earth signals a finality,

paints us all in unity as the slipped disc of sun, 

who has done her bit, sets into her hide

Who are my people, my people?

I want to be with

my people my people

Later when I dropped off the possum trap I recall the neighbour predicting the future and then I joined in on that

My mate Dean said on the phone the reality is, 

we have never known tomorrow

Global fear pandemic

This morning I, along with the rest of my country, was rudely awakened by an alarm-the kind of sound I expect to hear before a tsunami or something truly threatening. I am feeling pretty irate. The government has invaded my cell phone server. There is no tsunami.There is no bushfire. There is the flu and, people are getting sick, yes. Some people are dying yes. A long way from my place! This is influenza, not bubonic plague. A quite virulent form from what I can make out. There was no siren or national radio broadcast when my grandmother died of complications due to influenza. My neighbour just called by and said, "where is the alarm system saying 8,500 children* (quite alot anyway, since around 9 million die yearly globally from this 'preventable' disease) died yesterday due to malnutrituion". Last year she did not receive a violent sound of an alert on her phone telling me of spreading influenza. Or smoking. Or malnutrition. Do you know how many people died of influenza last year in NZ? Around 500. Why weren't these people highlighted in the media? You and I probably had that particular virus.

People die. Sick people and old people die more easily of illness.The media are falling down on their job and escalating fear by not providing this relevant information when reciting daily death facts.On National Radio I get daily updates by class monitor Ashley Bloomfield telling us the numbers .It is relevant and important to know that someone had cancer or diabetes. Our fears would be lessened.Unless I were old or sick. or they were my loved ones. Then I would be fearful. But we have perfectly healthy people almost paralysed by fear. I know some of them

 I would really like to understand the conditions that make this global pandemic of fear possible in our communities. Why, for example, do we suspend critical questioning around our government and its lockdown practices? This baffles me. I need to understand this tendency because its potentially dangerous behaviour. You could argue that in times of political instability this same action by world governments would be called 'tyranny' or 'autocracy' or communism or something. And to question you are hassled, abused and dobbed in. Indeed you can be considered a traitor. A friend was recently writing messages in chalk on a pavement in a town near here which encouraged people to think for themselves around Covid 19. He was assaulted and verbally abused by passers by. When he told them he was simply exercising his democratic right to peacefully protest and to exercise freedom of speech, and that they didnt have to agree, they ignored this and in one case he was shoved several times by a bystander. During lockdown I did this cartoon to warn of the dangers of following without question.

My neighbour who came over this morning as I was writing this and said this pandemic behaviour is a kind of virus in itself, ie a spreadable thought pattern that we resonate with and then catch. The world is full of anxiety.I notice it in the harried faces on the street. In the interactions I observe between people and quickly run away from before they escalate. Is it around death? I wonder about our powerlessness in the face of suffering. The ultimate failure of our death defying culture is that we will die........  Are we avoiding the fact that one day we will die? How are we living in this moment? How do we connect with each other? How do we recognise others and be recognised for who we are and what we have to offer? Not by social media; reminders of our need to matter to someone, to have something to live for and by, to be able to participate. These things bring feelings of well being, ease; of peace and equilibrium and togetherness. To make it banal, but speaking in Sciencespeak,  when you have these things, nice chemicals are released in your body such as oxytocin and endocannabanoids.   However these are the values we have expended at the expense of  the Holy Grail of Independence and, Freedom.  Values which, I would argue, have brought about war, genocide and global environmental destruction. Do we fear our collective impending doom? If so, can we act with courage on those fears, instead of silo-ing them inside a virus?  

Our hallowed social structures are clearly no longer serving us. They only ever served a small group of white people, but now the writing is on the proverbial wall. Covid 19 has highlighted what we do want and what we don't want. What we don't want-industrial schooling, economic tyranny (capitalism) and mechanistic medical worldview. What we do want? As Ive said I think we want connection, community and a sense of belonging, mattering to someone, participation including access to money and leisure and above all, to quote the psychologist and creator of Compassionate Communication, Marshall Rosenberg, to mutually contribute to one anothers' wellbeing. 

 Furthermore, mortality statistics given to us are also fueling our fears. Now, I'm no mathematician, but I can count. If you have a group of 100 people, all of whom get ill, and one of them dies of something then you have 1% mortality right? If , on the other hand, only 30 go to the doctor and the doctor says hmmm, 1 person in 30 then your mortality rate is closer to 4%. That is what we are being told right now; the rate of death against the number of people testing positive.  

I do have questions on our fear. I understand anxiety and its twin brother depression very well-ive struggled with it for a good part of my life. The global pandemic is surely a pandemic of fear. Its not facts driving it but rather the well- intentioned frothing media and their bosses in government. Otherwise, as Ive said earlier, we would break out in a sweat every year in flu season or when we get in a car.   

The last thing I want is for people to dismiss this essay as the work of a  'conspiracy theorist' or 'wacko' or 'hippy' or something. What can help you to at least listen for a minute? Before you put me in a box to further allay your escalating fears.And you don't have to agree. I'm just asking you to question assumptions and decisions made on your behalf.

The cabal who advised government were, I'm guessing, medical fundamentalists. Nowhere was a Zach Bush, or a Bruce Lipton or someone with a metaview or what used to be called wisdom. By the way look up these guys. They are not cranking up a conspiracy. Not that it matters to me but it may matter in terms of mainstream credibility - they both have a medical background.They use  evidence-based science.  Bruce Lipton is an immunologist and Zach Bush a doctor. Bruce talks about the effect of fear on immunity. It does have an effect to the extent that we may be creating the situation that we fear! 

I wont go as far as saying there is an underlying sinister force at work manipulating us for its own dark ends, eg the child eating pedophile lizard race. Anyway, the only conspiracy I see is the conspiracy of  control and what the cabal views as 'right action'. I'm not questioning our government's integrity, but we do need another type of voice. All we get is microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles who, despite her radical appearance is a medico with a conservative materialistic world view ie the world is made of stuff. and it just bumps around in the universe. This world view, which we take for granted, was developed in the eighteenth century and says that the world (and us) is simply matter. We are like a car. You get worn parts, you need new tyres; your battery is low etc They actually use that metaphor frequently! Its predictable and the forces that act on it are measurable.   In this current paradigm Germ Theory states that there are germs out there and then they come inside you and you get sick. That doesn't explain how and why some people dont get sick, or why groups of people under duress, such as colonisation get more sick and die younger than their white counterparts in the same society. But there are other stories out there-hard as it is to wade through the sheer volume of propaganda going out as 'news', and the more extreme view that wants to link this event with every other event from Princess Diana's death to 5 G networks. You aren't going to discover them on mainstream media; they have too much invested in promoting the status quo  which the government has deemed 'correct' and 'safe' and 'kind'.

Have a look at a video on Wim Hoff, the Ice Man who holds the world record for staying over 2 hours immersed in ice. He derails Germ Theory in an experiment supervised by science researchers which is recorded in the video. He and others resist the effects of bacteria directly injected into their bodies. 

The virus is helping us to challenge our very world view; that is,our current disembodied compartmentalised view of the world which is present in all our institutions and the big three religions. And implicitly its accompanying value system.. For that we can choose to be grateful. Or we can see it as a threat, and using our tools of force which we use for everything we don't want, we can try to eliminate it. I say good luck there;it ain't going to work using the current medical toolbox.  More about our current world view and the one that needs to replace it in the blog I've mentioned before by Charles Eisenstein:

Charles Eisenstein-author, writer social commentator, philosopher

Bruce Lipton- epigeneticist and immunologist

Zach Bush- MD writer and speaker

Wim Hoff-'Ice Man' and endurance athlete

*Around 3 million children globally are estimated to die each year of hunger. Source: Unicef 2018

Friday, 1 May 2020

Turning and turning

In an email Dave asks me and Two Others
would I write a poem;
One that has influenced me,
and pass it on
But I don’t remember any and I’m
a bit embarrassed,
picture myself being told by my family that I only like my own art
But there Keats was,
turning and turning in a widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer
Which I thought a vivid thing
That’s when Brother Arnold
Killed my love of poetry by
making us analyse it for exams
when I just wanted to write it

And then I’m out on the road
thinking of my friends
saying nothing much has changed
for them
and I thought that’s not true I’ve never seen you on this piece of road
and you don’t normally spend time with your kids

I didn’t get to pass on the poem to Two Others
I understand his intention was to uplift us at this time
On wings and airs
No longer hearing the falconer’s cries
Remembering the wilds, feeling space

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Charles Eisenstein essay: the Coronation

Oh my godness, if there is one essay to read (or better still to listen to Charles Eisenstein reading it) before tomorrow its gotta be this.
After listening I feel like I've been to a church where the sermon is relevant,intelligent, compassionate, wise, researched, poetic, lyrical, prophetic, vital, hopeful and courageous. That is I feel uplifted, hopeful, energised