Something different – we never know what is going to happen from day to day in our lives nor with whom we are going to interact. So I see our lives as tapestries woven afresh each day, laying down new patterns for the future and incorporating the gifts which interaction with family, friends, strangers and nature all bring us.
I’ve been thinking for some time about free speech and political correctness. The latter, it seems to me, is simply a matter of courtesy: you can no longer with impunity make comments that are offensive to women, people with disability, LGBT people, people of colour, people of different religions. You cannot, these days, go around making offensive comments and think it’s okay. It’s not. Hate speech is so often a part of patriarchy and patriarchy is starting to crumble. I won’t say it’s over, because obviously it’s not – witness the last throes and thrashing around in the Trump administration.
Free speech, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. Yes, you have a right to put your views BUT the same applies as it does to political correctness: you do not have the right to be horribly offensive or make comments which incite violence or hatred towards particular groups of people who are not white.
Because when you look at those who are loudest about free speech, all too often they are the ones who say it’s okay to make homophobic comments; to make racist jokes about minority groups; to vilify the religious beliefs of Jewish and Muslim people; to cheer when Donald Trump advocates violence against people who don’t support him; to sneer at people with disabilities; to deny the Holocaust of World War 2 never happened. Why? Because they go beyond the bounds of decency, tolerance and kindness.
And when it comes to the mainstream media, the idea of free speech really is a bit of a joke. You, me and the average person on the street do not have ready access for free speech in the highly influential corporate media (although that hold is abating somewhat with the rise of social media). But magnates like Rupert Murdoch and those in the UK who are super-wealthy and own the like so the Daily Telegraph or Daily Express do have the right to say what they like whether it’s the truth or not. And if they are, on the very rare occasion, found to have overstepped the mark, you’ll find an apology in small print buried towards the back of the publication.
Frankly, I think it’s time to draw a line in the sand when it comes to the so-called free speech of the extreme right, the white nationalists, the self-appointed militia, the KKK, the racists because of the impact it has on sections of society who find themselves faced with discrimination, violence, death threats, arson, bullying, terror and hate. The people who demand free speech for themselves to advocate discrimination are not the ones on the receiving end of the violence their “free speech” invokes. They are not the children who are scared they’ll be pulled out of school and deported. They are not the undocumented migrants who work hard to support themselves and their families with honest toil. They are not Aboriginal, Native American, African-American, Middle Eastern people who face discrimination because they aren’t white. They aren’t non-white people being abused on the streets.
Free speech requires a degree of self-governance – that we are respectful, polite, kind, tolerant and compassionate. And if you can’t abide by those guidelines, then just stay quiet and don’t show yourself up to be a lesser human being.
Something different today: Today I happened to open a book called “Writing as a Sacred Path” by Jill Jepson, at the section on shamanism and our connection to nature. It prompted me to return to a simple photo of an olive tree trunk with the Besparmak Mountains in the background and do some fiddling with PicMonkey, the first ever photo editing programme I came across on-line.
The olive tree is just a trunk as it has died, but in front of it are fresh grasses to remind us that we are born onto a living planet and if we don’t take care of it, the planet will survive very well without us. Hopefully people’s action will preserve Mother Earth for future generations to enjoy as we are enjoying her support today.
I’ve had an interesting couple of days: I felt the urge to create a wrap for a Pink Danburite stone I’ve had for ages in my crystal collection and it’s helped clear the fog head I’ve had from fibromyalgia as well as get clear about my present direction.
Added to this, a friend commented that when I was taking things quietly due to the fibro fog head (it feels like you’ve got cotton wool in your head when you get this flare-up, a condition common with fibromyalgia) I was extremely creative and knocking out art like there was no tomorrow.
So I’ve been reassessing my priorities: to slow down, enjoy my art, and focus on a few areas to share what I create. For years I’ve religiously posted art pieces on FineArt America and Artflakes Europe, with no results whatsoever. There are so many artists posting on these sites that people finding your art is like finding a needle in a haystack. So I’ve decided to focus on just sharing my art on my Facebook timeline, my Facebook page and Instagram. Far less pressure.
But in reachng this decision, I’ve also been thinking about the current upheavals we are facing in our societies – Trump in the US and white nationalism/KKK revival; Brexit in the UK and a rise in racist attacks; extreme right-wing groups sticking their heads up in Europe; rise of anti-refugee sentiment – and wondering if there’s another perspective other than fear and resistance.
When you think about it, we are living in a time where huge changes are taking place in Western society. The contradiction between the growing poverty of the great majority while a small elite gets ever richer can’t be camouflaged any more. More people are getting even more poor, while a very few are hogging the wealth produced by the majority. Wages are being driven down, working conditions are going backwards at a rate of knots, and job security is being ditched as short-term contracts with lousy conditions and zero-hours contracts are booming. With the right-wing governments in the UK, the US and Australia, political leaders are pushing tax cuts for huge conglomerates and super-wealth individuals, dismantling health facilities for the great majority, while prattling on about raising taxes or cutting social programmes for ordinary folk.
What is interesting is that out of all this turmoil are signs of the changes which can herald in new types of participatory communities because people are being compelled to take up action on their own behalf. You see it in town hall meetings; in community groups meeting to support refugees and asylum seekers; people helping the homeless and disadvantaged; co-operative ventures; and mutual support rather than the focus on the individual leading to divide and rule by the corporate elite.
It’s a far cry from when we used to go and vote, dust our hands, and congratulate ourselves on having voiced an opinion at the ballot box. EXCEPT: corporate parties rely on this lack of action between elections to usher through legislation which greases the road for big business and not the rest of us. So it’s time to grow up – to realise that the ballot box is not the saviour of the people, taking independent action is.
If you look back through history you’ll see that changes in the means of production – moving from an agrarian to industrial economy in our own immediate history – have led to hardship for working people as new ways of production inevitably lead to job losses and upheaval. Such changes have always been met with resistance as workers have fought to defend working conditions.
But what would happen if we seize the initiative, recognise that new technology is revolutionising our lives, and actively work to make these changes benefit us instead of trying to hold back technological progress and still dishing up more profits for the already super-wealthy billionaire class?
It seems to me that subversion is the name of the game. If you try to fight on the battlefield established by the corporate elite, you are facing an uphill battle because they have politicians in their pockets and legislation which effectively enforces the rule of the billionaire class while screwing the rest of us. We can develop boycotts as a strategic weapon; support each other by building more community organisations; look to working less hours but with income which meets our needs; building creative outlets so that, as people have more leisure, they can access those outlets; establishing home businesses; supporting local businesses.
This of course is just a wish list because things come into being as people learn, organise and RISE UP!
But just to keep you with a smile on your face, here’s a list posted on Facebook – enjoy:
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:
1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.
3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone’s forgotten he’s kind of a jerk.
5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.
7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining.
9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance.
10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.
12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.
13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6)
14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act.
15. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Night” finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today’s Jon Stewart.
16. “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
17. Trump has succeeded where thousands of history teachers failed – now everybody knows who Frederick Douglass was.
18. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy.
19. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
20. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.
21. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians.
22. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists.
23. People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.)
24. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important.
25. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone.”
I have been sitting creating digital art with my tablet, about all my brain was fit for so over the next few days I’ll post the images I had fun playing with.
Today, however, I created the above image after reading about the intention of the Trump administration to gut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
It brings to mind the book-burning of the fascists in Nazi Germany and underpins the ethos of the new administration – money/profits at all costs and contempt for the artistic heritage and enrichment of the nation.
It’s easy to feel depressed when you read of this savagery and barbarity, but nevertheless across the US there’s a ground swell of opposition to the actions of the Trump administration which give hope for a resistance movement to a potentially fascist and ignorant bunch of blowhards.
With this in mind, I remembered the Fleetwood Mac song, World Turning, which inspired the above piece of digital art, and below is the band singing this number.
Remember: Onwards. Upwards. Resist. Create a new community!
And just for your information, here’s the foundation art for the final image:
Here’s a little ditty for Spring:
Spring is sprung
The grass is riz.
I wonder where the birdies iz!
I wandered around our garden and parking area today and got the following photos, showing that Spring is popping its lovely head up as it’s now quite mild here in North Cyprus, thank goodness.