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Recently, I was discussing my academic interest with an acquaintance from my elementary school days. On revealing that I have researched and written about the Rastafarian movement, I was greeted with a look of incredulity. He followed this look with a question: “How has Rastafari assisted anyone to progress in life?” My friend assured me he was aware that prominent and accomplished Rastas exist in Jamaica, however he was convinced that Rastafari did not contribute to the social and economic mobility of most of its adherents. Sensing that my friend was espousing a notion of progress based on rising social status and increasing economic resources — reflecting his own journey from a peasant farming family to an elementary school teacher to a highly regarded principal of a number of schools to an educational officer at present — I pointed out that Rastafari rejects this conventional notion of progress, especially when it is for a few at the exclusion of the many. Pointing out that I had no understanding of Rastafari until I started researching it, I left hoping that next time he engages in a conversation on Rastafari, he will do so with greater understanding and appreciation.
Unfortunately, my acquaintance’s attitude towards Rastafari is widely shared by those who judge progress and personal worth by social mobility and increasing material resources within a Western cultural framework. Conversely, Rastafari has articulated a trenchant critique of Western values and institutions, asserting that they are based on exploitation and oppression of both humans and the environment. Western values and institutions have sown seeds of discord, distrust, and conflict that translate into social disharmony and all the social ills that plague contemporary societies. The rapacious exploitation of natural resources in pursuit of profit have violated sound ecological principles and will ultimately trigger an ecological backlash (are we already experiencing this in changing weather patterns?). In this respect, Rastafari is an implicit call for us to examine the foundation on which our political, economic, and cultural institutions and values are constructed. Are they designed to cater to the interest of the whole human family or the interest of those who monopolize and manipulate power? Are they informed by a desire to live in harmony with other humans and nature or by a desire to dominate both?
But Rastafari is much more than a critique of Western society; it is a fashioning of an identity grounded in a sense of the human relationship to the Divine and to the African heritage of most of its adherents. Thus for Rastas, the Divine is not just some transcendent, ethereal being, but an essential essence in all humans and a cosmic presence that pervades the universe. To be Rasta is to be awakened to one’s innate divine essence and to strive to live one’s life in harmony with the divine principles that govern the world, instead of living like “baldheads” (non-Rastas) who are sometimes driven to excess in their pursuit of ego-satisfaction. On a more cultural level, Rastafari seeks to cultivate for its adherents an identity and a lifestyle based on a re-appropriation on an African past. Rejecting the slave and post-slavery identity foisted upon them by colonial powers, early Rastas and their successors turned to their African heritage to reconstitute their cultural selves. Despite the derogation of Africa and the denigration of Africans in colonial discourse, Rastas proudly affirm themselves as Africans and posit that an African sense of spirituality that embraces communality and living in harmony with the forces of nature is not only in line with divine principles, but also makes for a more harmonious relationship among humans and a more sustainable future for the earth.
Many of us approach Rastafari from a sense of curiosity inspired by the dramatic imagery that dreadlocks present, rumours we have heard about the copious use of ganja (marijuana) by its adherents, or the realization that the enchanting rhythms and conscious lyrics of reggae are Rasta-inspired. However, a closer look will make us realize that Rastafari presents us with a perspective that can help us ask questions about the mainstream values and institutions of Western society and beyond. Do these values and institutions promote freedom, justice, harmony, opportunity, and sustainability? Long before the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement, Rastafari has been criticizing the “downpression,” inequities, and unsustainability of the political and economic structures of the world. How about how we regard our human selves? Are we just cogs in the wheel of an economic machine? Or do we have intrinsic value that is enhanced by living in harmony with other humans and our natural environment? You need not embrace Rastafari to appreciate Marley’s lyrics from “Survival”:
Ennis B. Edmonds is Assistant Professor of African-American Religions and American Religions at Kenyon College, Ohio. His areas of expertise are African Diaspora Religions, Religion in America, and Sociology of Religion. His research has focused primarily on Rastafari, leading to Rastafari: From Outcasts to Culture Bearers and Rastafari: A Very Short Introduction.
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The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.
In the “Good old days” A cell phone was the phone you got your free phone call from when you went to jail …
Throughout the history of the United States, equality for all people has been fought for and won time and time again. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence ”that all men are created equal,” and over time equal rights have been gradually extended to different groups of people. However, equality has never been achieved without heated debate, despite our country’s founding principle that all people are created equal in the first place.
The language used to seek equality has remained familiar over time. Posters demanding equal rights (pictured) contain messages we have all seen or heard. One of my theories is that since the human life span is finite, the message of equality has to be relearned by each generation as it comes to realize that more work needs to be done.
If humans lived longer, would full equality across racial and gender lines have been acquired by now? Ask yourself: Would women suffragists from the 1920s, who so vehemently demanded the right to vote, think it was fine for African Americans to be denied this same right? It depends. My theory also includes the caveat that empathy for others does not always translate into citizens banding together for the greater good. Then again, the social evolution of the United States is progressing. This progression is the reason the language and message of equality remains relevant.
Equality is a shared goal that not everyone enjoys. Racial intolerance for one group is no different than bigotry for another. Denying equality for a particular group plays into the kind of discriminatory trap that makes no sense if one applies the very same principles of equality indiscriminately. All people are created equal, period.
The Declaration of Independence was written with the hope of possibility. Think about it—the signers of this document were declaring a new and independent country! Jefferson’s words made a statement about human rights that became the foundation for a country unlike any other in the world. The signers never anticipated that their vision would eventually embrace so many different kinds of people, but that is the beauty of it. The Declaration was groundbreaking because it provided a foundation of principles and moral standards that have endured to modern times and that accommodate human evolution and its capacity for acceptance.
Stepping back and viewing all these posters as a whole, one could come to two conclusions. First: the human race does not learn from history. Second: humans repeat the same mistakes over and over. However, I believe that the preservation and repurposing of the messages of protest in all their different forms are evidence that we do learn from history, and that we apply these tactics when the moment calls for them.
Similar to my previous posts on Race-Based Comedy and Race in Advertising, this post is a small glimpse into a bigger topic that welcomes further discussion. These subjects would be commonplace in a college syllabus, but is there any reason why we shouldn’t introduce dialogue about such issues into our daily lives? At the dinner table, instead of asking your kids how their day was at school and receiving a one-word answer, try bringingAdd a Comment
For many people the terms Ulster, Northern Ireland, and ‘the North’ conjure up images of communal conflict, sectarianism, and peace processes of indefinite duration. More than 3,500 people were killed in the national, communal and sectarian conflict that engulfed Northern Ireland between 1969 and Easter 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Tens of thousands were injured or maimed, while sporadic acts of political violence persist to this day.
The near-present is a powerful influence on how we view the past. Yet, in many respects, these blood-spattered years serve to distort our understanding of the lived experience of people in Ulster from 1700 onwards. True enough, this was an ethnically-divided society, but one characterised by complexities, ambiguities, contrariness and the unexpected. Above all, it is necessary to appreciate that violence was not the dominant motif in most time periods in recent centuries.
In 1600, Ulster was a thinly populated, economically backward region. By 1900, without the benefit of local coal or iron, the Belfast region had emerged as a significant industrial and commercial centre in western Europe. This social and economic dynamism was based, first, on linen textiles and later on shipbuilding and engineering. Elsewhere in Ulster, more traditional but vigorous small-farming enterprises predominated.
The story of Ulster since 1600 is one of dramatic transformation, in which immigrant entrepreneurs and workers played a vital role. Moreover, in terms of economic geography and social networks, east Ulster was well placed to benefit from the English and Scottish industrial revolutions. In fact, the north east of Ireland was the only part of the island of Ireland to experience modern industrialisation and urbanisation on a major scale. By the time of political independence in ‘southern’ Ireland, Belfast stood out as Ireland’s only industrial city.
But here is one of the many paradoxes. Despite these modernising tendencies, Belfast and the lesser towns of Ulster incubated and perpetuated forms of politico-religious conflict that have outlived similar tendencies that were once characteristic of many parts of western Europe.
There are other paradoxes. The economic trajectory of Ulster in the eighteenth century, though marred by periodic crises, was generally upwards. Yet the province of Ulster experienced higher levels of emigration, particularly to North America, than any of the other Irish provinces. These emigrants, Presbyterians in the main, went on to forge other lives in the New World. A disproportionate number were involved on the insurgents’ side in the American war of independence. At home, a minority of Presbyterians were active in the radical United Irishmen, seeking reform of the Anglican and landlord-dominated Irish political system.
Presbyterian radicalism took a new turn in the following century, focusing on reform of the landlord and tenant system and local government, but within the framework of the Union of Britain and Ireland. The industrial success of east Ulster in turn served to solidify support for the Union, among Protestant workers as well as captains of industry, aided by a resurgent Orange Order. The comparative underdevelopment of the south and west of Ireland provided ideological justification for emerging Irish nationalist and Catholic opposition to the Union. It is significant, though, that members of the Catholic working class in Belfast, Derry and Newry were not swayed by economic arguments. In conjunction with their co-religionists, they sought Home Rule and later political independence for all of Ireland.
The partition of the island in 1920-21, with six of the original nine Ulster counties forming the new statelet of Northern Ireland, was a major source of grievance to Irish nationalists, North and South. Yet much of social and cultural life proceeded as before – arguably the continuities were as important as the discontinuities – though the heat and invective of political partisanship was sometimes imported into activities as diverse as sport, schooling and language revival.
The formative phase in the making of modern Ulster was undoubtedly during the Plantation of Ulster. But maybe Ulster was a place apart, even before then, as Estyn Evans has suggested? Indeed has the distinctiveness of Ulster in recent centuries been overstated, as some others have suggested? These, and many other questions, find at least partial answers within the pages of Ulster Since 1600.
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Philip Ollerenshaw is Reader in History at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He is the author or editor of several books on economic, financial, and urban history, including Ulster since 1600: Politics, Economy, and Society (co-edited with Liam Kennedy; OUP, 2012) .
One of the critical skills of any student of politics — professors, journalists, public servants, writers, politicians and interested members of the public included — is to somehow look beyond or beneath the bigger headlines and instead focus on those peripheral stories that may in fact tell us far more about the changing nature of society. It was in exactly this sense that I was drawn recently not to the ‘War in Whitehall’ or Cameron’s speech on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union but to a story about the launch of a ‘smart fork’. The ‘smart’ feature being the existence of a shrill alarm which would inform its user if they were eating too quickly. This, I have quickly realized, is just the latest in a long stream of innovations that seek to nudge individuals towards making better choices about the way they lead their lives (eat less, save more, drive more slowly, etc.). And so it turns out that the ‘smart fork’ is just one of a great series of new innovations that seeks to deliver a form of liberal-paternalism by somehow reconciling individual freedom and choice with an emphasis on collective responsibility and well-being. My favorite amongst these innovations was the ‘smart trolley’: a supermarket trolley with sensors that beeped (and flashed) at the errant shopper who succumbed to the temptation to place a high-fat product in their trolley.
There was something about the idea of a smart fork, however, that I found particularly disturbing (or should I say ‘hard to swallow’, ‘stuck in my gullet’, ‘left a bad taste in my mouth’, etc.?). My mind jumped back to Michael Sandel’s argument that ‘the problem with our politics is not too much moral argument but too little…Our politics is over-heated because it is mostly vacant’. My concern with the launch of the ‘smart fork’ is that it arguably reflects an unwillingness to deal with the moral arguments that underlie the obesity endemic in large parts of the developed world. If Sandel’s concern about the imposition of market values is that it could ‘crowd out of virtue’ then my own concern is that behavioral economics revolution risks ‘crowding out thought’ in the sense that new technologies may provide little more than an excuse or displacement activity for not accepting responsibility for one’s actions. In the twenty-first century do we really need a computerized fork or shopping trolley in order to tell us to eat less food more slowly, or to buy less high-fat food and exercise more?
The smart fork therefore forms little more than a metaphor for a society that appears to have lost a sense of self-control and personal responsibility. This, in turn, pushes us back to broader arguments concerning the emptiness of modern political debate and to the relative value of the public and private sectors. As Alain de Botton argued in Citizen Ethics in a Time of Crisis, we could ask whether individual freedom has really served us so well as the leitmotif of modern life. ‘In the chaos of the liberal free market we tend to lack not so much freedom [but] the chance to use it well’ de Botton writes; ‘We lack guidance, self-understanding, self-control….being left alone to ruin our lives as we please is not a liberty worth revering’. Slavoj Žižek paints a similar argument across a broader canvas in his provocative work Living in the End Times . ‘The people wanted to have their cake and eat it’, Žižek argues; ‘they wanted capitalist democratic freedom and material abundance but without paying the full price’. He uses an advert on American TV for a chocolate laxative—‘Do you have constipation? Eat more of this chocolate’—to mock the modern public’s constant demand for results without ever having to suffer unpleasant side effects.
Although hidden far beneath the front-page headlines, the story of the launch of the smart fork (in Las Vegas — need I say more) highlights the existence of an underlying problem in the sense that most politicians appear either unwilling or unable (possibly both) to tackle the issue head-on. Between 1980 and 2000 obesity rates doubled in the United States to the extent that one in three adults (around sixty million people) are now clinically obese, with levels growing particularly amongst children and adolescents. In this context it may well be that individuals require — even want — not a nudge but a shove or a push towards a healthier lifestyle? If this is true, it is possible that we need to revisit certain baseline assumptions about the market and the state and not simply define the role of the latter as an inherently illegitimate, intrusive, and undesirable one. To make this point is not to trump the heavy hand of the state or to seek to promote some modern version of the enlightened dictator, but it is to inject a little balance into the debate about the individual and society. Is it possible that we ‘hate’ politics simply because, unlike those unfeasibly self-contained, sane, and reasonable grown-ups that we are assumed to be by liberal politicians, most of us still behave like disturbed children (or political infants) who simply don’t want to take responsibility for our actions or how they impact on the world around us? Or — to put the same point slightly differently — if the best response we have to the obesity crisis is an electric fork then in the long term we’re all forked.
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Matthew Flinders is Professor of Parliamentary Government & Governance at the University of Sheffield. He was awarded the Political Communicator of the Year Award in 2012. Author of Defending Politics (2012), he is also co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of British Politics and author of Multi-Level Governance and Democratic Drift. Read more of Matthew Flinders’s blog posts and find him on Twitter @PoliticalSpike.
Once during a time before this time there was an advanced group of people living on what is now called earth. They were advanced enough to be in the beginnings of off world flight and living for extended ages in the quite of space. These people had several colonies on outer planets and were mining comets for iron to build fantastic ships that would support large colonies for ages in flight to other galaxies.
By the time they had 3 expeditions launched the earth was pretty depleted of those who were capable of living off planet even with their work in the nano-health sciences making the remaining population live longer and healthier, the greatest of their minds had opted for the grand travel in search of new worlds and higher learning.
As the last, as it turned out, star ship was leaving the galactic boundaries it learned of a catastrophe about to send solar debris toward earth in a massive wave that was more than the inhabitants could overcome and an almost complete annihilation of life on earth would happen but because they would be drawn in and also destroyed if they tried to reverse course to help, they stayed their course and the ships leader General Odessa Davis sent word to the other outbound vessels of the destruction and that he and his crew would go into dormancy except for the AI and robots who could carry out advanced scientific studies that could be fed into the human bodies as they rested in stasis and would come out after a period of time when it was again safe to venture back to help what ever was left of society in the solar system.
After many eons Davis was awakened, fully rejuvenated by the internal bot-medics, his DNA advanced and most known human physical problems dealt with. His crew as well had been resurrected to a much advanced state of physical ability. The AI was far advanced but still willing to be part of “The new humanity”.
On returning to Earth they found all the outposts along the way had suffered total annihilation and only Earth was left with life but not human in nature. Only larger land animals and ocean creatures lived well but were in an altered state from the creatures who the space dwellers had left behind before the destruction of the planets they knew as home.
The land masses had turned under in the violence and no sign of the former intelligence was in evidence beyond things that were rusting beyond recognition or were soon to be abducted under the volcanic eruptions still roiling upon the surface.
General Odessa Davis’ crew was small compared to the other colony ships human cargo but it had wide diversity in genetic standing. It was agreed that a new human society was to be created on this “New” Earth and their ship would explore the outer reaches of this galaxy while it naturally built itself with no artificial intelligence help.
Science Administrator Thomas Alvin Nester was assigned to find suitable earth hosts for DNA from the ships ancient cold storage to start the new humans on the planet. A few examples where gathered from warm blooded species that could simulate human form though not so close as to copy human form as it was in the past and the most dangerous animals that would be a hazard to these prototype “New lifers” would be eliminated using low tech asteroid bombardment which would also rearrange the world to have more water segregated continents for the experiment to give more chances one would work in favor of a new society that would eventually be allowed to carry on the work of the ancients in outer space while giving diversity to the human body form.
S.A.Thomas A. Nester or as his suit tag read S.A.T.A.N. was told to give the subjects only pure original DNA because G. O. Davis wanted Independent natural growth before any advanced knowledge was invested in this new human experiment. But Nester thought he knew more about science and what should be the new form of things than the General and allowed advanced knowledge to be aAdd a Comment
Life…A fun attempt to mess with your parent’s sanity.
Death…An opposite and, as far as we know, equal reaction to taxes.
Heaven…The merging of life,death and your local coffee shop.
I had a crow bar once but couldn’t get crows to drink whiskey so sold it to some up-coming crooks who had a better run with it no doubt.
I look deeply into my Dog’s eyes and wonder “if we really knew the others thoughts beyond what we do now, would we really like each other?” I suspect I would still like his character very much but believe he may reevaluate me.
The world needs to be on a 24 hour time schedule, the same time anywhere in the world. That way no matter where you are in the world, day or night it will be the same time in New York, London, Moscow, you name it. If I tell you my business is open from 08:30 to 14:30 you will know exactly when that is where you are. There will be no daylight savings time either, if your boss wants to save daylight at his factory he will put out a memo that everyone will come in an hour earlier or later and the time will remain the same for everyone.
This ones for all you scientist types out there, especially physicists, I learned string theory as a very young child and it goes like this, Very easy to get it!, When you are about 5 or 6 years old your mom sends you to the store to get some bread, milk and an avocado. As you travel through time ( it’s a long way to the store, perhaps 2 blocks) you look at your finger where your mom tied that string so you would remember the milk, avocado and something that started with a B, must have been bubble gum. As you pass through space you are getting bored so use the string to tie on a cat’s tail so she will remember to go home, this causes almost immediate warp drive on the part of the cat at least and a ton of amusement and wonder for you. Now you find that you have passed the store and lost a bunch of time (Time warp is discovered) but you turn your self around and make it to the store and pick up Bubble gum, malt and an Abazaba and head for home. You find that it is taking way too much of your time so you look for a black hole (Convenient alley will do with a hole in the fence, yet another scientific find) as you arrive you find your mother pacing and an argument ensues as to what the string theory meant and no one agrees (just like modern science!).
You have to start with what you believe is the force that is the creator of this life I believe.
Some think of GOD as a human type creature in who’s image we are created, with long flowing hair, robes to make him modest though he needs to hide nothing from his creations as I see it, and a celestial kingdom where he, or she in some cases, sits reining judgement down upon the works he designed and gave free will to.
I can not see that which created me in such limited form. I can not even envelope the concept of never ending or forever just because I am temporary in this form at least. I do however believe I was created from and by the “GOD” that has no limits and this is exactly why I think I am made in it’s likeness, BUT not in it’s totality, there are things missing if I am separate FROM God, God did not make me GOD, God, or even god, GOD made me human, GOD made everything else what it is too I believe but I think, like one atom in my body or even smaller than that, to infinity small, that part is still a part of GOD though never “GOD”, only a part, that the smallest part of me is still me, I am made in the likeness of and from GOD, I am alive, that smallest part of me is alive, GOD must also be alive if we are all part of everlasting life.
Conclusion; Life never begins, it is never ended, It IS!
Consciousness in itself does not prove to me that I am not alive.
The fact that when sperm and egg combine and the DNA messages combine to spark cell multiplication (The spark of life if you will) and a plan is put into affect to form a body which will make a human or any other living thing would seem to be life to me.
BUT it was life even before that! The EGG and the SPERM were also alive, donated by the life forms of at least two separate beings, who were made in the image of GOD, who is also alive.
GOD talks to all of us in GOD’s own way. Some hear “Him” like “He” was talking in their language and sitting having tea I suppose. Others see the “Great Spirit” manifest as all that surrounds us and all that can not be seen or even heard but that still is. I am more from that camp I suppose but still believe all is possible.
The right to life for me is hard to conceive when I believe that life is never ending. The right to life is not for me to tell you, you may or may not have though if you threaten my life I will not hesitate to use what ever is at my disposal to protect mine and stop yours!
The question to me is more the quality of the life you give rather than just letting all life happen. If all in creation is from GOD then even the worst of it is sacred and the Jaines may be correct and may have more in line with current Christian values than most think. But if we do not take into account what we offer, if a human is brought into this world through violent action that threatens the life that brings it who is the killer here? The mother who was raped or is too young and will surely die from the birth or the entity being born who would kill it’s mother, most assuredly it would be the rapist but can we take his life either? I would say it is not my place to judge any of these unless they are me. I WILL FIGHT FOR MY LIFE! But a Mother must make the call of giving herself for another in my view. It may seem selfish or unjust but it must be hers with as much help and support from all sides as she can get. Advise and support but not Judgement and in the end her decision as final carrier of that which will always be alive to enter into this world.
If you believe in eternal life you will not be sad for the soul who returns to it’s maker but wish it return another timeDisplay Comments Add a Comment
With apologies to my ancestors, My interpretation of Skibbereen and post script.
They say it tis a lovely place, where in a saint might dwell,
so why did you abandon it father dear, the reason to me tell?
Oh son I loved my native land, with energy and much pride
‘Til a blight came over on my prats, my sheep and cattle died,
The rent and taxes were so high, I could not them redeem,
And that’s the true cruel reason why, I left dear old Skibbereen.
Oh, It’s sure I do remember, that bleak December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive us all away
They set my roof afire, with their cursed yellow english spleen
And that’s another reason why, I left dear old Skibbereen.
Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on that snowy ground,
She fainted in her anguish, seeing the desolation laid all round.
She never rose, but passed away, from life to imortal dream,
She found a quiet grave, my boy, in dear old Skibbereen.
And you were only a wee young lad, and feeble was your frame,
I could not leave you with your friends, for you bore your father’s name,
I wrapped you in my overcoat , in the dead of night unseen
I heaved a sigh, and said goodbye, to dear old Skibbereen
o’ father dear, the day will come, when answer to the call
all Irish men of Freedom Stern, will rally one and all
ill be the man to lead the band, beneath the flag of green
loud and clear, well raise a cheer , remember Skibbereen
PS on St. Patrick’s day
The plight of the Irish immigrants who flooded the world in the time of potato famine
was caused as much by greed and prejudice as any lack of simple peasant food.
The poor Irish were driven from land by invaders, monetary greed, by taxes and starvation,
demonized like any culture the powerful wish to wash away so they may consolidate their power.
If scattered, the poor could not rise up, if not fed they would parish and be no threat.
Drunkenness is not the legacy my father gave to me, pride in my name and ancestory
of a race that will never give up or in until death takes me kicking to what lays beyond.
That is what my Father sang to me as his Father did to him.
I’ll be moderating Sue Coe’s lecture at the SI this Wednesday. As I’m sure EVERYONE knows here, she’s a brilliant mind in our field and I can’t wait to meet her in person and hear what she has to say.
Hope you can make it!
FernandaDisplay Comments Add a Comment
The phrase ‘Broken Britain’ is well known to British newspaper readers; it’s a phrase commonly used across the media to describe society’s problems. In the blog post below historian John Welshman, author of Churchill’s Children, traces this identification of a broken society back to around the time of the Second World War, and argues that the real answer is – and was then – to address society’s inequalities rather than ‘Big Society’ and a retreat from state involvement.
The mantra of ‘Broken Britain’ has been a potent theme for the Conservative Party, its definition effortlessly broadening to encompass whatever appears to be the anxiety of the moment. Iain Duncan Smith has produced an analysis of social breakdown that has five main strands: first, anxiety that a ‘problem’ exists; second, a focus on ‘pathways’ to poverty, covering family breakdown, economic dependency, educational failure, addiction, and personal indebtedness; third, an emphasis that this is ‘lifestyle’ poverty, and not just about money; fourth, a belief in the responsibilities of parents and on the family as the foundation of policy; and fifth, the claim that people themselves, and the voluntary sector, hold the solution. Similarly, the Party’s manifesto argues that a new approach is needed to tackle the causes of poverty and inequality, focusing on social responsibility rather than state control, and on the ‘Big Society’ rather than big government. Only in this way, it is claimed, can ‘shattered communities’ be rebuilt, and the ‘torn fabric’ of society be repaired.
But the identification of a broken society, and these solutions, while current, are nothing new. For exactly the same themes were the subject of debate during the Second World War. In September 1939, carefully-laid plans were put into action, and 1.5m adults and children were evacuated from Britain’s cities to the countryside. If those mothers and children evacuated privately are added to the total numbers, some 3.5 to 3.75m people moved altogether. Those evacuated from England in September 1939 comprised 764,900 unaccompanied schoolchildren; 426,500 mothers and accompanied children; 12,300 expectant mothers; and 5,270 blind people, people with disabilities and other ‘special classes’. The largest Evacuation Areas for unaccompanied schoolchildren (apart from London) were Manchester (84,343); Liverpool (60,795); Newcastle (28,300); Birmingham (25,241); Salford (18,043); Leeds (18,935); Portsmouth (11,970); Southampton (11,175); Gateshead (10,598); Birkenhead (9,350); Sunderland (8,289); Bradford (7,484); and Sheffield (5,338). In Scotland, the largest Evacuation Areas, in terms of accompanied children, were Glasgow (71,393); Edinburgh (18,451); Dundee (10,260); Clydebank (2,993); and Rosyth (540). Given this emphasis upon place, unsurprisingly the evacuation was followed by an outpouring of debate about the state of urban Britain.
It is true that the revolution that took places in English fields and villages seventy years ago was a quiet one. There were much continuity, for instance, in policy between the 1930s and 1940s. Even after the evacuation, civil servants still clung to entrenched attitudes, and continued to put their faith in education, so that Government circulars still tended to emphasise the responsibilities of parents, and to rely on the resources of voluntary organisations. Moreover the pathologising of families remained part of the discourAdd a Comment
As we are busy blaming “BP” for messing up the Gulf of mexico I would suggest a solution for oil barriers along the beautiful beaches there and in fact all along our coastlines. First I will direct you to search floating “debris in the gulf of Mexico”.
There are enough objects floating there that if gathered and strung along the beaches could cover all the coastlines of our country I believe. It is floating so we would not have to buy new floating barriers, all we need is nets, which could be made from shredding more of the junk out in the ocean. “BP” didn’t put it there, it came from the cities along the waterways that feed into the gulf.
Though much of it is oil byproducts washed out from storm drains, a lot came from the “Beautiful” beaches and those “Valuable tourists” that are so afraid of getting a tar ball on their tootsies visited and left behind. They should come back and volunteer to help clean it if they really care!
I also propose instead of dredging sand that will destroy animal habitat we build berms of the garbage that came from those beaches in the first place. It may be ugly, to say the least, but it would do more for the fish and birds in the region that get trapped in it than any other thing I can think of, just cover it with a small portion of sand from the tourist beaches.
The wild life doesn’t want it and it’s only fare that the people that made it take it back and recycle it or something. They need to pay for every bit of the pollution just like “BP”, all of us who let that junk float out to sea should pay for it to be cleaned up!
If an honest look at what is in the ocean was taken “BP” would look like small potatoes or in this case oil byproduct pollution.
A father, a Son, a Husband, a quick mind, a funny person, a passionate helper of the less fortunate, a defender of what is right, a giver to all and most important A friend !
Like some Japanese pine, I think heavy weights have been placed on some of my thoughts to try and bend them into “Correct” shape but my acid personality, I fear, probably has eaten away the wires that holds them in place and I keep going astray ”c)~
It was an ordinary enough London winter’s evening: chilly, damp, and churning with crowds. I’d arranged to meet a friend at the Curzon Mayfair cinema, and after my packed tube had been held up between stations – ten sweaty minutes during which my fellow passengers had fumed silently, tutted audibly, and in one or two cases struck up tentative conversations with the person whose shopping was digging into their shins – I was late. Coming out of the entrance to the station, I nimbly side-stepped a beggar with a cardboard sign – sorry, bit of a rush, direct debit to Shelter, can’t stop – and hurried on my way to the cinema.
The film was Slumdog Millionaire: a nerve-shredding if ultimately cheering investigation into the hidden lives of the Indian slums. Coming out of the cinema, though, it was impossible to avoid the realiszation that equally vivid stories lay much closer to home. I retraced my steps to the tube station, and this time instead of brushing the beggar off I listened to what he had to say. It was a sadly familiar account of alcohol, a broken marriage, and homelessness, but as he told it the events took on a vividly personal colouring that was new and strange. He made me look again at what I thought I already knew.
The idea that what takes place under our noses can be hard to see clearly is hardly an original one; indeed, anyone who lives in a city soon learns to recognize the sensation of life being jolted out of its familiar routines, and assumptions being rearranged by new experiences. However, this idea took on a new resonance a few weeks later, when I was asked to edit a new selection of London Labour and the London Poor, Henry Mayhew’s mammoth set of interviews with the street-sellers, beggars, entertainers, prostitutes, thieves, and all the rest of the human flotsam and jetsam that had washed up in the capital during the 1840s and 1850s.
Ask most readers – and not a few critics – who Henry Mayhew was, and the result is likely to be at best a puzzled stare. Though his voice pops up occasionally in recent work, from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Deceptions’ to novels such as Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, for the most part he has become the Invisible Man of Victorian culture. And like H. G. Wells’s hero, usually he is detectable only by the movements of his surroundings, from Charles Kingsley’s jeremiad against the exploitation of cheap tailors in Alton Locke, to the strange echoes of his interview subjects in characters like Jo in Dickens’s Bleak House.
In some ways these literary aftershocks and offshoots of London Labour and the London Poor accurately reflect the work’s own generic hybridity. Opening Mayhew’s pages, it is hard to escape the feeling that you are encountering a writer who has one foot in the world of fact, one foot in the world of fiction, and hops between them with a curious mixture of uncertainty and glee. Sober tables of research are interrupted by facts of the strange-but-true variety: ‘Total quantity of rain falling yearly in the metropolis, 10,686,132,230,400 cubic inches’, or ‘The drainage of London is about equal in length to the diameter of the earth itself’. Even cigar-ends don’t escape his myth-making tendencies. Not content with calculating the number thrown away each week (30,000) and guessing at the proportion picked up by theAdd a Comment
The place is abandoned, they’ve all gone south. I feel like doing that myself some days but stop short, remembering the swollen freeways instead of peaceful mornings listening to the crazy birds, like me, who stay the winter through, the ones who are too young or old and slow to make it that far. We like each other I suspect because there is never a shortage of them at my winter feeder to squabble a hello in the frosty mornings air. I hope they stick around and white wash my grave stone or scatter my bleached out bones when it’s the time for me to head south for the last flight to eternity!
I know some people, not to mention names, who are like old teasel.
They grumble and rumble and sometimes grumble about their rumble.
At times their age shows in the form of sharp barbs and spotted faces.
But I would not trade them for any other because you see they are still beautiful to me.
They are still like that quick young person I knew when they get sassy and say things that others may fear to say.
But now they don’t whisper it and come right out loud and say it to my face.
When they put on a new hat they are still handsome, though in a more dignified way even if some of them don’t pick the best look, they never did then either.
Yup! they may be old and slow and have weaker eyes to see all my imperfections with but I still got um and maybe my barbs are showing a bit more too.
I think all those young and brash weeds I knew may not be young in the eyes of the world but I still see them fresh and green with high hopes.
I try to listen more to what they have to say too because the older I get the more there is to know.
Young weeds tell me what they think is right, and where they think I should go and how I should go because they read it in a book but old thistles tell me from experience what’s really in store for me because they wrote the book.
Tired of politics as usual? …
We caught up with the author to find out how she landed an agent for her young adult manuscript–straight from the slush pile. We also found out what it takes to write dystopian fiction for a YA audience. Highlights from the interview follow below.
Q: How did you find your agent?
A: I sent out queries to agents who represented young adult fiction. I found their names online at agentquery.com and then researched them at Publishers’ Marketplace and online to make sure they would be a good fit (i.e., I wasn’t sending young adult fiction to those who didn’t represent it!). A friend clued me in to all of these websites—things had changed a bit since I originally queried my first book in 2004!
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