Monthly Archives: April 2017

Angry poem

Dear readers,

I felt angry about someone. No. Not my wife. Just someone. They’ll remain anonymous. It’s not the best poem. Just a way of letting off steam and moving on.

Why?

Where do you come from? Where do you go?

Why do you say things, always gun-ho?

Why attack the messenger, trying to do his job?

Why do you eradicate him, by putting words in his gob?

Why are you full of insecurity? Do you think people can’t see it?

Why not evaluate yourself a little, and cast an eye on your own habits?

Do you like to bully the weak? Does it make you feel big?

Who is your tormenter, by the way? Do they stand over you like a tree to a twig?

Why do I keep asking you these questions? Are you smart enough to reply?

Send your answers on the back of a postcard, or even better, fuck off and say goodbye.


Abortion in Honduras

Dear readers,

An easy topic for peaceful reading, this is not. It’s polemical and heated (caused by the burning desires of the devil, one side of the argument might say), causing arguments, fights, riots, friendship loss and ill-feeling. This has very much been the case in Honduras in the past week, after Congress announced it is considering legalizing abortion in certain circumstances, such as rape. This, as you can imagine in a predominately Catholic country, has hit a nerve.

Pro-abortion activists will claim it’s progression and maybe point out ‘about time’. Personally I am surprised Congress is even considering the bill, especially with the influence the church holds over political issues. In some areas of the press it’s being framed as a militant feminist movement or a Western idea, while others view it as common sense and Honduras is catching up with the rest of the world. You decide.

Pro-life supporters, which are predominately more connected to the church, Catholic, Evangelical and other groups, as you might expect. Not necessarily older people, nor just machismo, but many young people, girls included, who have taken to the streets and social media with banners and all, to oppose the bill.

It’s polemical, like I said, and I often find I’m at loggerheads with myself on the issue. You see, when I was young, I was kind of pro-life, without being at all militant or religious about it. I believed that, as naïve as many of you might think, when the egg is fertilized, it is the beginning of life and we should protect it. As people, we should take responsibility for our actions. Then again, I was never that opposed to abortion. More to the point, I didn’t really understand the issue nor the fuss. 

Then, before I came to Honduras, I was probably more pro-abortion, but again, without being militant about it. It wasn’t really society I was influenced by, but more my former job at the Refugee Council. I remember reading a case about on Angolan woman who had been gang raped by seven soldiers. She was made pregnant and suffered trauma and didn’t want to keep it. The Angolan authorities forbade it so she had the baby. She came to the UK with her baby, but had it taken away after she was found to be mistreating it, in what the courts decided was a result of trauma. There’s a lot to take from the case, but it certainly moved me, as I was working with many women who had been violated and had suffered similar traumas. Of course, in these cases I empathised why a woman would want an abortion in such circumstances. As well as when a woman’s life could be in danger due to having the baby. And I felt the church should be more forgiving too.

It wasn’t until I became Catholic that I began to understand the other side again. Understanding that life is sacred. It should be given a chance, but still being sensitive too woman who have been abused or raped. As a female friend in the church said, a woman could still have the baby regardless of being raped. 

Easier said than done was my reply.

“But life still deserves a chance,” was her reply. “There are orphanages and people who want to adopt. Just because a woman doesn’t want a baby doesn’t mean she has to kill it. A human being can still live a successful life. It’s a gift from God.”

Again, something I can empathise with. She was short of labelling abortion as murder, but it was sitting on her tongue.

Back to the Honduras of making abortion legal, I still feel uneasy to give a straight answer. Machismo is an issue here. Girls and women are raped, and some men do go around having sex with women then run off without dealing with the consequences, and therefore leaving the girl stranded. This can lead to them trying to abort the baby illegally, which is dangerous and can be life-threatening. On this argument, I understand and empathise. When a woman (or couple for that matter) wants to abort because it’s not convenient to her (or them), well, this is where the sex education books have to come out and underline the consequences of having sex. The Catholic faith teaches judging others is a sin. But … we must all take responsibility, men and women alike. 

Now, females reading this might be thinking, “my body, my decision”, and I do feel women are at an unfair disadvantage in this regards, one which men will never quite fully understand. Still though, I feel it is a joint decision.

I am going to finish there. Mainly because it’s 3am. It’s a very big issue and I am sure I am missing a few points. Very free to share your views in the comments below.

Next topic of conversation … puppies.


Rant – Why has the term “refugee” become a “dirty word?”

Dear readers,

This is a rant. Slightly political. But mostly humane.

From 2008 to 2010, I worked for the British Refugee Council in Birmingham. I look back very fondly working alongside so many extraordinary people, many of whom were refugees and had experienced loss, fear and pain (emotional and physical) on a level that I still have problems comprehending today. My role wasn’t high up or major, but my experience was certainly character building and it opened my eyes to the real issues, but also racism. Not in the charity, mind, but on the streets. To the colleagues though, I will always be grateful for what they did for me personally. There is no price on “a real life education.”

Before I worked there, I always remember the term “asylum seeker” being a “dirty word”. By that I mean a term used by the right wing press in a general way to describe refugees. I didn’t really understand the technical meaning until I began working the Refugee Council, as well as the different forms of permissions to stay once a refugee gains asylum status. It was confusing then. I have no idea how it is now. I also had no idea how hard life was as an asylum seeker, especially a failed asylum seeker. 

When telling people that I worked for the Refugee Council, it would always be a lottery of reactions, inevitably, from “That’s commendable work” to “Send them home” and “Fuck off out my shop”. Many had built their ideason what they read in the press, and it was the same old thing, about them taking jobs (despite them not having permission to work) or earning more in welfare than native people (simply not true). Some people remained stubborn against argument, while others would listen and learn. But back then, I remember their faces would turn sour at the sound of the term “asylum seeker” but would lighten their mood at the word “refugee”.

Now, I understand the political landscapes in the UK and US have taken huge side steps to the right in recent months, which has had an impact on the environment and mood around the world. I also comprehend that times change, so does language change, and I haven’t been back in the UK since 2014. However, how we have arrived at a time that the word refugee conjures negative images in the mainstream press really saddens me. But also, it makes very embarrassing to label myself British. As a Brummie, I am proud of the city’s diverse mix of cultures and, on the most part, our welcoming nature, despite our droning accents which suggests otherwise. But the lack of tolerance (or in many cases outright hate) I read and hear in the British press, especially about refugees, people in the most need of help, does not sit well with me. In fact, it’s very uncomfortable.

What makes it worst is Britain’s involvement in recent conflicts, and its refusal to take in our fair share of the refugees. I try to defend my country, especially as I live abroad, but knowing this makes it difficult.

If we have arrived at an age where it’s okay to portray those in desperate need of help as dirty, I really am worried about the state of society. 

How do we fix it?