Archive for the ‘comment’ Category

Comment: social media and religious communities are not competitors for our beliefs.

February 9, 2019

A Church of England bishop in England has said that it is a ‘delusion’ that social media can replace religious communities. This was in response to the news that more people have been shown to use social media (including Facebook) than those who are Christians. (Yet again, this information was presented in the press as a sensational headline, designed to create controversy.)

What is stopping those who use social media as well as their Christian connections to socialise and gain a sense of communal support? How many of the numbers collected are both users of social media AND members of a religious community?

I am not the one to lecture on what social media and religion does for everyone, I can only comment personally, just as the bishop above may have done.  We are all members of the one race. Few would say that we do not need others’ help. In nearly everything we do we need support in the form of sympathy, understanding and moral guidance. We need to have faith in our lives; we need to believe that there is hope for a better world than the one we have now and both social media and a religious community can have a role to play.

In both forms of communication, there are the goodies and the baddies. This is a fact of life. On social media there are people who say unkind things, who always complain and find fault. In many religious communities there appear to be many people who claim to be true Christians, for example, which we assume means that they love others as much as they love themselves, but by their actions they seem to be far from Christian. History has demonstrated that over the centuries religion has been no more than an excuse for violence.

On the other hand a quick comment on a social media platform asking for help and advice is often answered quickly with very helpful and supportive comments. With a decent website, and within a close community of believers, a religion can also offer the same. The more support we feel we are getting, whether from social media or a religious community, the more we can develop a strong faith, beit in ourselves, our world and our world of the future or in a supreme being.

Perhaps there is one way in which religious communities may be said to be better than social media and this is the close personal contact with other people offered and the spiritual bond that may develop. We all know how frustrating it is when the internet suddenly goes slow and the meaningful conversation we are trying to have with our loved ones is interrupted.

Whatever the case, what really matters, is on how we integrate with others, whether on social media or in a religious community.  Numbers have little to do with it.

 

 

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comment Combatting our dark side

February 9, 2019

Recently a famous actor revealed a dark time in his life when he found out that a friend of his had been raped by a ‘black man’. He admitted that for about a week he spent his time wandering the streets ready to seek revenge by attacking and even killing the first black man to antagonize him. He did not care who the man was, where he came from and his circumstances. He had an overwhelming feeling of destruction. Fortunately after a time, he suddenly realized how wrong it was and asked himself what on earth he was doing. He stopped himself in time.

This has horrified many people who have immediately railed against him as an out and out racist. While this reaction is understandable, note should be taken that this brave human being has had the courage to speak out openly about a time of his life when he wrongly wished harm on others. He had not thought the situation through; he had not applied common sense. He declares that he is not a racist, for if a white man had raped his friend, he would have sort out a white man on whom he would administer his revenge.

We all have moments that, in hind sight; we have behaved in a manner of which we are ashamed. Most of us will not have had an experience like this actor’s, but there are few people who have never made a mistake or had a dark moment.

It is time we calmly and sensibly looked at the darker side of these mistakes, even though some may be horrific, and use the information to help us understand the ghastly events that still occur. For example, we learn of people being attacked by a stranger in the street for no apparent reason. We need to understand and deal with it, not blindly decry the person and situation without thought. Doing this displays our own lack of wisdom.  The more we understand what causes the ills of today, the more we can alleviate them.

There is much talk of the lack of support for people who have mental illness. A number of mentally ill people have been known to attack others. They are not thinking straight. It is a mental health doctor or nurse they need, not a riotous population cursing them. This is not condoning their actions, it is simply stating that they need to be incarcerated for their own good and we need to establish many more ways of dealing with these people. Leaving them to their own devices and leaving the society he or she lives in to deal with the problem is not the answer but unfortunately that seems to be the way these days. It is time for change.

Comment: Flags should be signs of support, nothing more.

September 22, 2018

There has been a lot of fuss about a piece of cloth: a flag flown over Ely Cathedral recently. It was a rainbow coloured flag to represent support for the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) community for Ely and Cambridge Pride. This happened because a Pride celebration was held in the city. What is wrong with that?  The flag was not put up to say that Ely Cathedral was announcing that it was one of the community in question, it was merely a gesture of goodwill.

While flags can be important for what they represent, it is the purpose intended in flying them that matters. There is surely nothing wrong with a flag showing goodwill to an organization that does no harm. It is only flags that represent aggression or injustice that should be condemned. Even then, on more than one occasion I have seen ‘The Jolly Roger’ a pirate flag flown in the district. These pirate flags were obviously harmless – they were not put up as a cry for us to support piracy, a criminal act if ever there was one, but as part of children’s play. When children play they fantasize and through their play they need to be able to have ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ to explore the problems of good and evil in our lives, just as so many TV dramas do.

Unfortunately for some, flags represent unreasonable and extreme beliefs about a subject.  It seems to be particularly noticeable in the UK that flags are seen as antagonistic signs. There are many people who feel that even the Union Jack has been adopted by some extremists and so the feelings the flag engenders in the population can be mixed. We do not see households simply flying the Union Jack as a symbol of their appreciation and support for their country, certainly not in the way that they do in Spain where it is quite common to see the Spanish flag flown from balconies or from shop windows.

It is time for the ordinary people of our country, to re-adopt our flag and fly it with pride. The Scouts and Guides were once taught the significance of the flag and how it is constructed and how it could be used as a sign of distress by flying the flag upside down. Few people seem to be aware of this these days so if they were to do so it is very doubtful that any help would come. Our own government has been known to slip up on one occasion and when the flag was accidentally flown upside down on a government building, fortunately there were a few informed people who contacted the BBC immediately!