Categories
blame women

Who’s Fault?

Icelandic geyser. Hot steam coming from a fault line. Taken by myself Sept 2016

I am reading a fascinating novella by Claire Keegan called Small Things Like These and have learned the scary fact that the Magdalen Laundries, those places where unmarried mothers were sent to have their babies which were then sent off for adoption, did not all close until 1996. In learning more I discovered they were set up by the Irish Free State in 1922 to keep promiscuous girls “safe”. This is not just an Irish/Catholic thing. I remember volunteering for a old people’s mental health hospital and they had just found the old records as to why the people had been placed in there. For one woman she had been incarcerated there when she was 16 because she was pregnant. When I volunteered there she was in her 70’s and fully institutionalised.

This got me think about how is to blame for these women being there? The nuns who mistreated them? The State for setting up the institutions? The Church? The families of these girls? The men who had slept with them? The moral compass of the time? Fear? Probably all those things. But who gets punished? The girls. The women. The babies.

Were these girls totally innocent? I’m sure some were and some weren’t. Were they promiscuous? I’m sure some where and some weren’t. Did they willingly sleep with these boys and men? I’m sure some did and some were raped. But whatever it is the girls and the women who were punished.

Velveteen Rabbi has just written a moving blog called Choice in which she looks at again how it is the women who are being punished for being pregnant with these new laws being implemented in the US. Do try and find the time to read it all. And do not think that because it has happened in the US it will not happen over here. I think it might have been one of the Tory leadership candidates who said they did not think abortion should be included in the UK’s bill of human rights.

I did a binge watch of Liar last night and I mentioned it in a previous post. [spoiler alert] Her case has been dropped because of lack of evidence, which in reality is saying that when it is “his word against hers” it will always be his word that wins through. By not prosecuting he will not have a criminal record so will be innocent. She will always know she has been raped and it will effect future relationships. She will be the one punished.

So whether is it old Christian ways of looking at the world, Magdalen laundries, State institutions, human rights charters, the laws of government in a country, Police prosecution systems, or sometimes just the way we look at people and the things we say …. “she deserved it” amongst other things …. it is always the woman who is punished, who is to blame for being pregnant, for wanting to abort her child, for wanting more to life than parenting.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

It is evil when a group of people take the blame and are then punished for something that it is not solely their fault. What are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? What am I going to do about it?

I hope that by writing about it I can open a conversation. Hopefully it will be a start. But also I can change my ways of looking at other women; by what I say, how I support, what I allow in my thinking. One starfish at a time I can change my corner of the world.

Categories
accepting humble Talent

Talents

A photo of a boot print in soft sand with a piece of seaweed nearby. photographed by Diane Woodrow
Taken by myself on Conwy Beach in September 2021

This post is really a follow on from my post on 7th Oct about Sharing One’s Achievements. It’s taking it one step further and unpacking it more

My poem was one of the top 7 poems pick from hundreds and hundreds – so many in fact that they needed to extend the decision date – from the Science Museum’s National poetry competition. You can find it here – https://www.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/blog/celebrating-national-poetry-day/

Of course I was very pleased and have been moving into sharing my achievements rather than keeping quiet about them and hoping others just happen to come across them, which is what I used to do. Then I would get upset that friends and family didn’t know what I’d done. But of course I hadn’t told them. So I shared far and wide, and my mum and others shared onwards too. A comment from one of my Mum’s friends was “What a clever lady, just to look at an object like that and then give it a voice” My response was to say that I “found it a natural thing to give the pot personality. I do it with all sorts of random objects.” But it got me thinking about how my Mum’s friend and others don’t do that sort of thing. And yes I do do it was all sorts of things.

It got me wondering about how many things we can just do we take for granted rather than celebrate. For instance my seeing inanimate objects with personalities, being able to cook up an amazing meal from random ingredients, people being comfortable sharing their stories with me. And I am sure there are things about me that others see which again I just think that’s “normal”.

My husband retains facts and is a whizz at University Challenge, complicated maths equations, learning new things on the IT/engineering front that I can’t tell you about because I don’t understand them. He takes it as obvious and will say something really sciencey and then say to me “isn’t it?” and I just have to look back dumbly. But also he can’t remember where he left his keys or his phone!!!

But I need to not be upset that I don’t know all these techy, clevery sciencey things the same as he should not be upset that he can’t do somethings too. We all need to celebrate who we are and what we can do.

I did a post ages about about being humble, which I can’t find, and explored how when we are told in the Bible, or elsewhere, to “be humble” it isn’t about being self-effacing but it is about honouring our achievements. It is ok to boast and say “I’m good at putting character to intimated objects” or “I’m good at learning technical things”. The same as it is good to say “I don’t get technical things and often think it is working in the dark arts” or “I really don’t see how you can give a pot a personality”.

So my suggestion today is to look at what comes naturally to you, realise this is a talent that you have, then tell yourself how amazing you are to be able to that. Then if bold enough tell others that you can do X and realise however small it is a talent. Remember the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30. Everyone had a different number of talents and the only reason the person with one got in trouble was because they didn’t use that one talent.

So get out there boast about that talent, share that talent and who knows we could start a talent revolution, changing the world one confident step at a time.

Categories
9/11 change let go of fear

9/11 Remembered

New York pre 9/11 with sun rising behind it
Photo by Thomas Svensson on Pexels.com

Post written by myself

Originally published on https://godspacelight.com/2021/09/11/9-11-remembered/ and https://spiritualgatheringusa.com/9-11-remembered-godspacelight/

The 11th September 2001 is a day that everyone over about 25 can say where they were and how those around them reacted. Yes, it was a day that changed the world. Iconic? That depends on how you use the word. From the destruction of the Twin Towers and the other plane attacks, terrorism came to America. From that one day, major government decisions were put in place which has led to the culmination of millions of Afghans now needing to be housed in safer parts of the world. 

Terrorism was not a new thing. Many countries had endured it for centuries. Here in the UK, we had learned to live with the uncertainties of bombings by the IRA in our city centres. But I think it was the cunningness, the planning, the audacity, determination, tenacity, single focus, and utter belief in their cause that shocked so many. These men learned to pilot those specific planes with that specific airline so that on their maiden flight they took not only their own lives but the lives of many, many others. 

For Christians, we talk of living for a higher purpose but, especially in the West, how often do we? We may get reprimanded for praying in our schools, hospitals, etc, which we moan about, put a post on social media, but are very rarely willing to, or even asked to, die for. Suddenly on 11th September 2001, we were confronted by a group of radical people who not only talked that talk but walked it too. Here were a people group who would literally stop at nothing, including the loss of their own lives, to achieve what they saw as a higher goal. 

Twenty years on, we are still reeling from it. Still feeling the effects of it. I believe it is because of the Western government’s decisions back in September 2001 which has led to the collective need in the West to help the refugees from Afghanistan. A need unlike anything that has been felt for those fleeing African countries, South American countries, Middle Eastern countries. Very much like when the Twin Towers were hit people were shocked at the numbers who died but more died in poverty across the world, from AIDS-related illnesses, from abuse, on that one day than in the Twin Towers attack, and yet the focus was on the terrorists rather than the things that we could help with. 

Over these last 18 months, we have had to face another unseen enemy – the coronavirus. We are not sure where it is or how it moves. We neither see it nor feel it until it is too late. Also, as with many issues in the rest of the world,  if it doesn’t affect us and those we are close to then we want to pretend it does not exist and to be able to carry on as normal and let “them” deal with it. We only react then when it touches one of those we love when it hits home. This was the same twenty years ago. Terror attacks across the world did get a mention in the media but not for a prolonged period and did not have the same gut reaction as the Twin Towers. They were acts that happened “over there” not on our doorstep. We would only really hear of events if there was a Western person, someone of our nationality, affected by it. So like we are now with Covid-19. 

To me with these two unseen things – terrorists who are willing to die for their cause and the coronavirus that keeps morphing so it can live – we have learned so little about ourselves. We are still only focused on what changes the lives of those we love and those we care for. 

I remember one of the things said by the media after 9/11 was that the planes were aimed at the Twin Towers because they represented Western economy. I think God was trying to tell us all something then about our greed and fears, and how we view our resources, what we in the West saw as “enough”. I think with this pandemic, God has once again highlighted our global economy and how much is lacking in our care for others – something the group involved with the 9/11 atrocity felt a dramatic need to highlight. It has been the less developed nations that have lost most during this pandemic and yet it has been in the West that people have bemoaned many things we have got used to seeing a right not a privilege

The questions arise again and again – are we willing to change? Are we willing to love all people whether they hurt us or not? Godspace’s focus at the moment is about the “new season.” Are we willing to move into a new season in how we view the world and realise how connected we are? My spending decisions affect someone in the Taliban as much as it affects someone in London, New York, the Philippines, etc. 

So my prayers today, 11th September 2021, are that as we remember the loss of life at Ground Zero, and in the other attacks, we remember the immense bravery of the emergency services that day and the days following, the lives and livelihoods lost by so many connected with 9/11. I will also pray that we remember the loss of life – and livelihoods – of those from Covid-19, and also the immense bravery of the health services and other emergency services and support workers around the world over this time. I also pray that all of us, including myself, realise how much is “enough” and let go of our fears of sharing our “more than enough” with others – whether that be time, money, resources, but most especially our love and understanding. As one of my Youthshedz young people said, we cannot meet shame with shame. We cannot meet fear with fear and as Jesus said we cannot meet violence with violence. 

So I pray we will let go of our fear of others and our fears of not having enough and share and share and share. And that with our sharing we can bring peace to a hurting world. 

Categories
2020 vision change Change the world Listening racism sexism

Do You REALLY Want To Know Someone Else’s Truth?

looking out to see from Ynys Llanddwyn listening to what the island is saying
Ynys Llanddwyn taken by myself June 2017

“When we don’t know someone’s truth, we project our own assumptions, prejudices and insecurities onto them.”

Sarah, Jo & Team WHQ www.writershq.co.uk

I feel this quote is very appropriate after listening to Prince William’s response to Harry&Meghan’s interview – Meghan felt there were racist comments made to her and William says that the royal family aren’t racist. But also the mix of comments following the death of Sarah Everard in which women are saying they feel unsafe at night and men saying that they are overreacting. In each case it is people not wanting to hear someone else’s truth because they are projecting their own assumptions on to the situation. I know I’ve said this before but we need to be listening to each other not talking over each other. I do not believe we will ever deal with racism, sexism, gender issues, etc, etc unless we start wanting to hear someone else’s truth rather than projecting our assumptions on to them.

One of my daughter’s friends put a post on her family’s WhatApp group about feeling sad about a incident that had happened to her and a friend by a man and that it hurt her more because it was on International Women’s Day, but mum and her brother responded with their own thoughts rather than listening to how she had felt.

If I feel unsafe at night it is how I feel. It is not up to someone else to tell me I don’t feel safe. If someone feels that someone has made a racist slur against them that is how they feel and it is not up to someone else to tell them they don’t feel that way. But if we are too busy talking and not listening then we are not going to hear how someone really feels.

As a middle aged woman who was a teenager in the 70s lots of things my daughter now says are misogynistic I grew up with being told were just how it was. It would be easy for me to tell my daughter that this is just how men are but I instead I am starting to listen, and in listening I am learning.

As with all these issues that are still being brought into 2020 vision in 2021 it is listening to those who are hurt that is important, listening to those who feel disadvantage, but also listening to those who feel they are being blamed. Why did William have to say the Royal family weren’t racist? Why couldn’t he just say he was sorry that Meghan had felt hurt and ask how things could have been done differently? Why can’t men say they are sorry women don’t feel safe and then ask what they can do to change that?

Also let us start having the conversation about why some people have to jump in to defend their position rather than listening. They are having to deal with hurts and insecurities too. As Pádraig Ó Tuama of Poetry Unbound said over a situation a friend challenged him about – “Full of fear as I was, I was capable of being an agent of fear too”. Let us all admit to our fears, listen to each other and stop being an agent of fear. Start listening and then asking what we can do to help change things rather than behaving in a stance of fearfully defending our status quo.