This started out quite differently – a quite bright blue – but along the way it softened until this final image emerged. I looked at it and felt it represented the grace of kindness among us as I’ve seen a couple of examples of kindness from strangers in the past couple of days. One image was of people hugging someone who was suicidal on a bridge for an hour until help arrived to lift him over and back to safety. Then I saw a video of a cat fight where one cat fell into the water and a complete stranger rushed over, fished the cat out (the ungrateful moggy stalked off!) and then casually walk away. When you open your eyes, kindness is all around us – something to remember and console and hearts and souls given all the negativity which gets so much attention.
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.
My friend, Dawn, who sells crystals in North Cyprus, brought back a rare, new stone from her recent trip to Istanbul. It’s called Zultanite, I’ve been wearing it over my thymus centre and found it has encouraged focus, creativity, calmness, spiritual centring and self-care.
Zultanite is so rare it is only found in Anatolia, Turkey.The name pays homage to the sultans of the Ottoman Empire in the late 13th century, laying the foundation for modern day Turkey. Zultanite is an intriguing stone because it can display a whole range of colours. Mine is generally colourless to a light grey-green, but at the base has a lovely rainbow and you can see flashes of deep pink. This piece is framed by marcasite.
As I’ve been working with Zultanite, I felt the urge to create a sacred sanctuary space on the verandah just outside my study. It’s a very special space, has lattice around it to give it privacy, and has lovely views to the north of the Besparmak Mountains, to the Mediterranean in the south, and across a very lush paddock to the west, the lushness due to the heavy rains we’ve had here in Cyprus this past winter and spring. It connects me with nature which really feeds my soul and spirit.
Below are photos of my new sacred space – actually encouraged by the fact that the cold weather has gone and we have really hit spring: 32C (90F) tomorrow. As we get strong winds blowing across the paddock from the west in winter, this space is really only comfortable when the days warm up.
This image is based on a photo a friend took of an amazing mass of cobwebs, then layered onto various images of cobwebs I created with Pixlr gizmos. Again – the web of light links all of us and perhaps this is an era when we can start repairing the broken threads between us all with grace, love and light hearts and souls.
Here’s the original image, aren’t the cobwebs amazing?
Jesus was a bit of a lad, you know.
Liked the poor, loved kids, kicked the crap out of moneylenders,
told the truth, hobnobbed with prostitutes,
fed to five thousand people fishes and loaves
(ever thought that without the “a” loaves becomes “loves”?)
and never asked if anyone was on food stamps, slept rough,
had to access food banks, had ID, wore shoes, was mentally ill
or happened to be a different colour.
So bearing witness to His deeds
(which many seem to have forgotten, these days)
I want to sing a hymn of praise to
toilet cleaners/road sweepers/refuse collectors/
construction workers/wait staff/bus drivers/
railway workers/teachers/kindergarten staff
and anyone doing so-called lowly work
whom I may have forgotten.
I do so because these unsung heroes & heroines
serve our lives in small (but great) ways,
often overlooked in the worship of Mamon
for these days if you aren’t a Kardashion/Hilton/
or other parasitical celebrity or brash billionaire
your life is overlooked.
I quite think that Jesus would have taught
that the real wealth lies with those who toil unnoticed
but make our lives better.
I think he might not look too kindly on
those who sell their soul to the almighty dollar,
who take pride in denying right wages/right livelihoods/
right opportunities to good, hardworking people,
while lining their own pockets with bribes, corruption, corporate welfare
and who have forgotten (or ignored) true service:
to the soul, to Grace, to the sacred,
to the light of Divinity within humanity
(including the poor, downtrodden, homeless and starving)
to respect for the true spirit of a simple man, Jesus Christ.
We come into this life dancing
with love in our hearts, joyfulness, curiosity, laughing gleefully,
playing in mud and glitter.
And then society
to love possessions/things
And to turn away from the humanity shadowing
the less fortunate, the poor, the homeless sitting
on the streets and begging.
Begging! How awful to spoil our nice, neat, tidy streets
with the reminder that not all of us have things
like house and possessions.
But all of us possess hearts, the power of love
and the knowledge that
hey, babe, you’re only a
whisker away from your seat on the street.
Lose your job/make a mistake/miss your mortgage payment/
damage your car and can’t afford the repair to get to
a low-paid, slave-conditions job/
bounce a cheque due to bank fees and the bank
will charge you for that bounced cheque
and send you into penury.
Look at that guy/gal on the street begging.
Open your eyes to their humanity.
Unzip your heart, know that people not possessions are the real
wealth of our world.
Give them a dollar or more, or a coffee, or a meal, or clothes, or
yourself offering help,
Because there –
but for the grace of God –
Be humble. Show love. Be generous.
Open your heart and shine your soul!
i created this image with a canvas of sky images I created a while back and didn’t use, with a photo superimposed of a Tibouchina flower which grew in our garden in Bowraville, on the mid-north coast of Australia. Then I tweaked it a bit with the gizmos on BeFunkyl.
It’s a bit of a departure for me as usually I create an image and then wait for the title to emerge, but this time I felt the need to create an image for “Silence”. The word just kept ringing in my ears. Years ago I couldn’t bear to live in silence. As soon as I woke up I’d have local radio on with news and music. During the day I’d listen avidly to news broadcasts or I’d play music (pretty loud music, to be honest), and in the evenings I’d watch TV or videos (as it was in those pre-DVD days).
Now I very seldom have radio, TV or music on. I love the sound of silence. I am quite happy with a lack of noise. I enjoy sitting in my study with the door open, beside a big, open field, with the only sound occasional birdsong. I find inspiration because I’ve learned to be happy with my inner world. Mind you, I don’t mind playing music or watching TV when I feel like it, but it’s not a compulsion any more.
What amazed me when I was back in the UK in 2012 and 2013 is that silence is scarcely heard any more. People had their noses stuck in iPads or smart phones, social interaction between humans was the exception rather than the rule, and everywhere there was some sort of music, as if the sound of silence had to be drowned out (if that makes sense). And so often when you visited people, the TV was playing which was incredibly distracting.
I was thinking of this with Paul Simon’s song and how so much creativity must be going down the drain because people don’t listen to their inner voice any more, it’s drowned out by social media. You read that people are addicted to texting, have to check their e-mails constantly and sleep with their smartphones under their pillow. I’ll be very honest and say I’m glad I was in the generation before iPhones, iPads and other smart phones and tablets came into existence because I started creating art when I was in an isolated rural village and I may not have accessed my inner sacred self if I’d been drowned in social media.
So this piece of digital art celebrates the peace of silence and tuning in to our inner voices. I did, of course, include Paul Simon’s “The Sound of Silence” because there’s another aspect to silence: not speaking up in the face of injustice, wrongdoing, repression and the silencing of people’s voices. And I also included a lovely video of the Soweto Gospel Choir singing “Amazing Grace” because grace is ours when we listen to our inner voice of integrity, inspiration, courage and creativity.
And just to wind up, I was playing “The Sound of Silence” back in the days when I was working in London when my flatmate casually announced that she used to be a member of a folk club in Kent where Paul Simon would turn up and play when he was living in London. I absolutely gaped at her, how lucky was that, but she was amazingly laid back about his presence at the folk club, whereas I was deeply envious I’d missed such an experience!