Monthly Archives: May 2018

Ireland’s Holocaust heroine

“Mary Elmes – Corkwoman, humanitarian and Ireland’s forgotten Holocaust heroine.” The line, “Lest we Forget” applies here. A self-explanatory piece of history which I picked up on from Frank Parker’s reblog. Thanks Frank. (Shameless plug: Since we’re talking about Ireland, Frank Parker is the author of “A Purgatory of Misery” available on Amazon or other book sellers. The book is non-fiction and deals in part with the so-called “potato famine” in Ireland.)

historywithatwist

The great events of our past – the wars and the genocides – are just a series of small steps strung together… steps that when looked back upon appear to be a seamless, momentous journey.

And because of that, we tend to overlook many of those very people who created the events that make history so extraordinary.

The name Mary Elmes is not one that conjures up any special memory to most people, and that’s probably just the way the Corkwoman would have wanted it.

Look at her photo and words like ‘refined’, delicate’ and ladylike’ spring to mind. Mary Elmes was all those things and more besides. She was also fearless, iron-willed and relentless in her cause – to bring help and succour to frightened, dispossessed people in fear for their lives. Were it not for Mary, hundreds of children would have died at the hands of the Nazis…

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What’s your Story?

[a short story by Sha’Tara]

I think we should observe one-another more; and without judgment. Not much of a starting line to a story, but where to start anyway? With the obvious, I suppose.

I normally work around the town of Abbotsford. It’s there that I noticed him last year. At first I paid no heed, but as he kept appearing along the streets I normally drive, I began to wonder about him. He was in his early forties I’d say, of normal height, that is, about my size; dressed clean, not expensive. Jeans, sweat shirt, jacket, on if it was cool or off on warmer days and slipped in the lower straps of the pack he carried. He was usually clean shaven, but sometimes he’s sport a short beard and mustache. He had reddish hair, curly and cut fairly short, complemented by that cheap Irish skin, you know the freckly kind that loves to turn bright red and peel at the mention of sunshine. He always wore a bone-head hat and I figured it was so the extended visor would keep the sun off his nose. He wore glasses, carried a faded dark blue back-pack and unless it was raining, he had a spiral bound notebook and a pen in his hands. And that completes my description of his general mien.

I’d see him at the intersection of Gladwin and South Fraser Way, then down by the Real Canadian Super Store or further down, past the Shell Station at the George Ferguson Way and Gladwin crossroads. Sometimes he’d show up further east, by the Chevron and McDonalds at Bourquin Crescent and South Fraser Way.

It wasn’t that he was usually at the crosswalks that intrigued me, but that he’d walk up to people, it didn’t seem to matter what age or gender, or whether there was but one person or several, and he’d say something, holding out his spiral-bound notebook and pen. The response was always the same: some kind of gesture, or words I couldn’t make out and he’d move on to someone else.

One day, I think it was a Wednesday if I remember correctly, as I waited for the lights to change on South Fraser Way I saw him approach an elderly man by the Toronto Dominion bank. I quickly rolled down the window of my service van hoping to hear what he was saying to these people. What I heard was unforgettable.

In a voice that carried well he asked: “What’s your story, sir? Would you tell me your story?” The elderly gentleman turns out not to be so gentlemanly after all. “Fuck off jerk or I’ll call the cops.” And to emphasize the point, he pulls a cell phone from his pocket. The spiral notebook guy backs off, turns away slowly, notices the lights have changed and proceeds across Gladwin to talk to a couple of young mothers with baby carriages. Again the gestures and the angry looks. Next he approaches three Middle School age young girls. They laugh in his face, say something and scamper across Gladwin as the walk light comes on.

I watch him put his notebook away and walk towards the next intersection. I remember it started to rain then and the wind was picking up. By the time I’d turned down Trethewey for the Husky station I’d forgotten about him. Slush machine issues require “Geek” level concentration and that particular Husky gas bar has three of them.

A few days later I remembered him again. I remembered suddenly that after months of his presence on the periphery of my life I had not seen him since the Friday of the week before. Well, you know what that’s like. You get used to something or someone just being there and take it for granted until suddenly they are not there and an empty feeling forms in your heart. I wondered what had happened to him. I knew he was well known in the neighbourhood so I asked the manager at the computer shop in the corner strip mall if he knew anything about him.

“Oh yeah, that idiot. The cops finally picked him up last Saturday. I guess someone had had enough of him going to people and asking for their story. Certifiable, if you ask me. You’d think they’d have places for people like that. Who needs that kind of crap around town?” Ok, so not the most compassionate person in the world here, but I’m trying to remain neutral. This is not my town, I just work here. I mostly just drive by on the streets so I don’t know what I’d done if the Note Book Man had come up to me and asked for “my” story.

I wonder. Do I have a story to tell that would be worth someone else’s time to write down? Would I ever get that chance? I did. My Note Book friend came back a month later. At first I wasn’t sure it was him. He was sitting on a bus bench, his back-pack lying next to him. On top was the spiral-bound note book. He was not accosting people, but holding his head in his hands, looking at the sidewalk. I had an idea. It was close enough to lunch time so I turned into West Oaks mall and parked by the Tim Horton’s in the corner there. I took my wallet, locked up, alarmed the vehicle and quickly strode to the sidewalk. I’d have to cross two lights to get to the Note Book Man. A bus came by and my heart sunk, but he did not get on. I made the lights and came to the bus stop.

“Hi!” I said. Not very original but one must start somewhere neutral with people. “Hi!” is usually safe. There was no response. I sad down beside the back-pack and looked at the note book. “Mind if I look at your notes?” I asked. He moved his head towards me, looking at my leg, I guess, then pointed to the notebook. I picked it up and opened it. I read the contents.

“What’s Your Story?” – an interview by Eugene Proulx.

I thumbed through the rest of the pages. They were all blank, except for those nice straight blue lines, like artificial veins under too thin and too white a skin. There was no story. There were no stories. No one had ever taken the time to give him one… or no one had thought that maybe they had one to give.

I felt a terrible surge of compassion for this man.

“I’ll tell you my story, if you want to write down some notes.” I said to him.

He looked up, not to my face, but as high as my shirt pockets this time. Then he took the note book, closed it softly, put it in his back-pack and closed that, slipping one strap over a slumping shoulder. I reached to him and put my hand lightly on his arm.

“I meant it.” I said.

This time he looked right into my eyes. Tears were welling up and rolling from his eyes. He stood up, turned and walked away.

The Search for Besties and Soulmates

This article by Dr. Gerald Stein, well, I could not properly introduce it as it is, in itself, an introduction to what I’d call ‘the fulfilled life’. Enjoy this wonderful read.

Dr. Gerald Stein

An old Groucho Marx joke tells us, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member.” Indeed, we often find ourselves hoping for an acceptance hard to come by, from just the right one; from a group or person who recognizes we are special: special in terms of our best qualities on our best day. The “other” uncovers us and discovers us as we’d like to be seen. When the connection clicks, we discover he has the characteristics we desire, as well.

Yes, we want a fitting kind of recognition: the key to our lock. True, we pursue enough money to live comfortably. Respect is sought for our good work, too. But lots of people accomplish those goals, even receive applause, yet don’t obtain understanding of their best inner self, the self they want to be appreciated.

Isaiah Berlin touches on this…

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Price Less – monbiot.com

The following, by George Monbiot, is well worth reading and pondering as it demonstrates how another nail in civilization’s coffin is going to be driven in.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post in which I said, and quote:

“In order to continue legitimizing a system that no longer makes any sense, the Powers that rule man’s world and mind have exponentially increased their oppression of all life on earth. Everything has been given a monetary value and put on the auction block. Every drop of water, every ounce of mineral, every blade of grass and every sentient life-form has been graded and categorized as either valuable to the System or expendable.

What has value is being squeezed like a lemon until the very pips squeak. What is expendable is being systematically hunted down, collected, burned, poisoned, slaughtered. This is how a civilization ends and make no mistake, this civilization is ending.”

Examples of such surround us to the point of embarrassment, that is, if we still possessed the sense to be embarrassed about stupidity, folly and gargantuan avarice. Sadly, we no longer have that. We left it in a throw away paper cup at the stadium or on the floor at Burger King.

While thinking on these things, one could also watch this feature length documentary on our eating habits, and the consequences:

H.O.P.E. What You Eat Matters
H.O.P.E. What You Eat Matters
If you want to change the world, look no further than your dinner plate. According to the stirring feature-length documentary “H.O.P.E. What You Eat Matters”, that’s where the potential for meaningful transformation lies within reach for all of us. The film tackles…
Watch now →

Price Less – monbiot.com


Price Less

Posted: 17 May 2018 10:49 PM PDT

The “natural capital” agenda is morally wrong, intellectually vacuous, and most of all counter-productive

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 15th May 2018

Never mind that the new environmental watchdog will have no teeth. Never mind that the government plans to remove protection from local wildlife sites. Never mind that its 25-year environment plan is all talk and no action. We don’t need rules any more. We have a pouch of magic powder we can sprinkle on any problem to make it disappear.

This powder is the monetary valuation of the natural world. Through the magic of the markets, we can avoid conflict and hard choices, laws and policies, by replacing political decisions with economic calculations.

Almost all official documents on environmental issues are now peppered with references to “natural capital” and to the Natural Capital Committee, the Laputian body the government has created to price the living world and develop a set of “national natural capital accounts”. The government admits that “at present we cannot robustly value everything we wish to in economic terms; wildlife being a particular challenge.” Hopefully, such gaps can soon be filled, so we’ll know exactly how much a primrose is worth.

The government argues that without a price, the living world is accorded no value, so irrational decisions are made. By costing nature, you ensure that it commands the investment and protection that other forms of capital attract.

This thinking is based on a series of extraordinary misconceptions. Even the name reveals a confusion: natural capital is a contradiction in terms. Capital is properly understood as the human-made segment of wealth that is deployed in production to create further financial returns. Concepts such as natural capital, human capital or social capital can be used as metaphors or analogies, though even these are misleading. But the 25-year plan defines natural capital as “the air, water, soil and ecosystems that support all forms of life”. In other words, nature is capital. In reality, natural wealth and human-made capital are neither comparable nor interchangeable. If the soil is washed off the land, we cannot grow crops on a bed of derivatives.

A similar fallacy applies to price. Unless something is redeemable for money, a pound or dollar sign placed in front of it is senseless: price represents an expectation of payment, in accordance with market rates. In pricing a river, a landscape or an ecosystem, either you are lining it up for sale, in which case the exercise is sinister, or you are not, in which case it is meaningless.

Still more deluded is the expectation that we can defend the living world through the mindset that’s destroying it. The notions that nature exists to serve us; that its value consists of the instrumental benefits we can extract; that this value can be measured in cash terms; and that what can’t be measured does not matter have proved lethal to the rest of life on Earth. The way we name things and think about them – in other words the mental frames we use – helps determine the way we treat them.

As the cognitive linguist George Lakoff points out, when you use the frames and language of your opponents, you don’t persuade them to adopt your point of view. Instead you adopt theirs, while strengthening their resistance to your objectives. Lakoff argues that the key to political success is to promote your own values, rather than appease the mindset you contest.

The natural capital agenda reinforces the notion that nature has no value unless you can extract cash from it. Dieter Helm, who chairs the government’s preposterous committee, makes this point explicit: the idea that nature has intrinsic value, independent of what humans can take from it, he says, is “dangerous”. But this dangerous idea has been the motivating force of all successful environmental campaigns.

The commonest response to the case I’m making is that we can use both intrinsic and extrinsic arguments for protecting nature. The natural capital agenda, its defenders say, is “an additional weapon in the fight to protect the countryside”. But it does not add, it subtracts. As the philosopher Michael Sandel argues in What Money Can’t Buy, market values crowd out non-market values. Markets change the meaning of the things we discuss, replacing moral obligations with commercial relationships. This process corrupts and degrades our intrinsic values and empties public life of moral argument.

It is also, his examples show, counterproductive: financial incentives undermine our motivation to act for the public good. “Altruism, generosity, solidarity and civic spirit are … like muscles that develop and grow stronger with exercise. One of the defects of the market-driven society is it lets these virtues languish.”

So who will resist this parched, destructive mindset? Not, it seems, the big conservation groups. In this month’s BBC Wildlife magazine, Tony Juniper – who in other respects is an admirable defender of the living world – reveals that he will use his new post as head of campaigns at WWF to promote the natural capital agenda.

Perhaps he is unaware that in 2014 WWF commissioned research to test this approach. It showed that when people were reminded of the intrinsic value of nature, they were more likely to defend the living planet and support WWF than when they were exposed to instrumental and financial arguments. It also discovered that using both arguments together produced the same result as using the financial argument alone: the natural capital agenda, in other words, undermined people’s intrinsic motivation.

Has this been forgotten? Sometimes I wonder whether anything is learnt in conservation, or whether the big NGOs are forever destined to follow a circular track, endlessly repeating their mistakes. Rather than contributing to the alienation and disenchantment the commercial mindset fosters, they should help to enrich our relationship with the living world.

The natural capital agenda is the definitive expression of our disengagement from the living world. First we lose our wildlife and natural wonders. Then we lose our connections with what remains of life on Earth. Then we lose the words that described what we once knew. Then we call it capital and give it a price. This approach is morally wrong, intellectually vacuous, emotionally alienating and self-defeating.

Those of us who are motivated by love for the living planet should not hesitate to say so. Never underestimate the power of intrinsic values. They inspire every struggle for a better world.

http://www.monbiot.com

Oh, Do Grow Up

[Otherworldly information from ~burning woman~ ]

If I were an oracle and told to speak a vital message of no more than three words to the entire race of people on earth, my words would be simple and to the point: Do Grow Up!

The pseudo-human race of earth is not at all what it thinks itself to be. Nor is their world. Let me try to explain in as simple a way as I can.

Start with climate change. There is no unanimous agreement on what climate change so-called actually is, and there never will be simply because that is a false flag.

Earth is not going through a climate change, neither minor nor major. Earth is experiencing a mutation. It’s that simple, and that terrible for all of life on it.

Earthians, being equipped with a somewhat advanced type of intelligence can sense this change in their world but driven by their psychopathic and sociopathic leaders they choose to ignore their “gut feeling” on the matter, instead hanging on to words of experts and the pronouncements from their media whores.

That self-imposed ignorance isn’t going to change facts, nor affect the results. If Earth has chosen, or perhaps has no choice in the matter, to mutate into a “New Earth” because it’s time, then all of life on the planet must also join in this mutation or be left behind, i.e., it will self-destruct.

Therefore Homo Sapiens must join the process of mutation in order to survive as a species. That part has no choice in it. Some choice however exists in how this process is entered into.

It begins with deliberate and systematic destruction. Mankind’s current civilization is a stagnant product from a time past that is no longer relevant to today’s reality. In order to continue legitimizing a system that no longer makes any sense, the Powers that rule man’s world and mind have exponentially increased their oppression of all life on earth. Everything has been given a monetary value and put on the auction block. Every drop of water, every ounce of mineral, every blade of grass and every sentient life-form has been graded and categorized as either valuable to the System or expendable.

What has value is being squeezed like a lemon until the very pips squeak. What is expendable is being systematically hunted down, collected, burned, poisoned, slaughtered. This is how a civilization ends and make no mistake, this civilization is ending. That which has supported it in its rapacious viciousness, enslaving and destroying multitudes to give short-lived, meaningless pleasures to the few, is being transformed in Earth’s mutation.

If the people want to live through and beyond this “end time” or as Frank Herbert would call it, “Kralizek” then the people must choose to mutate. What does that mean?

Not rocket science. “Do Grow Up” means exactly that. Stop doing what your civilization has been demanding of you. Stop sacrificing yourselves on an increasingly gory altar to dying gods and take charge of your own lives. You don’t need leaders, it’s just illusion and brainwashing. What you need is to take responsibility for all aspects of your own life; to become self-empowered beings who, knowing right from wrong, always choose to do right. That’s right: Always Choose to do Right.

Is that difficult? Not when memories are awakened to the truth about what a human being is. To discover that, all that is required if for the self-empowered to choose the path of compassion. No more enslavement to lying preachers, teachers or leaders. Compassion will expose every lie, however smooth, subtle or partial. It will also prevent any new lies from being born.

Man’s (never Woman’s) civilization was built and maintained from endless lies. Those lies have been sustained by slavery, misogyny, racism, persecution of minorities, incomprehensible and reprehensible endless wars and genocides. They rely on suppression and extortion.

Earth’s mutation is putting an end to this System. The wise will recognize the truth of this and accept it as inevitable and necessary. The results, for Homo Sapiens, will demonstrate who was wise, who wasn’t.

 

 

 

 

Dancing in Paris

[a poem by   ~burning woman~  ]

I’m dancing, really dancing
only I don’t quite dare know
who this girl is, dancing so freely,
with such uninhibited abandon.

Behind her looms that steely landmark,
the Eiffel tower.
She spins and laughs, closes her eyes,
it appears, disappears
now covered in lights,
now wreathed in fog:
the clouds seem to frown
and she shivers and trembles
thinking, “Such daring!” Is this me?

It’s her happiness, you see.
The mighty Olympians are confused.
Perhaps even angry
for they’d swore she would never
taste happiness in this life.
The man in whose arms she swims:
who is he? She can’t remember–
Is she dreaming again, lost again?

She doesn’t know what time this is.
How long has the Eiffel being?
This must be a recent time,
a modern time, so says her dress.
This time, this one time
it has to be real,
not just some pointless vision:
one more of countless.
This time she beat the odds–
she-did-it. I-did-it… me!

I’ve dreamed to be here,
to possess this experience.

But it was always just a dream,
one after the other:
dreams, I have survived on.
From dream to dream weaving
the plain web of my simple life
in my very own make-believe tower,
a prisoner of fate and of fear
until the day I die
to enter that final dream.

But here I am,
dancing in Paris.

No other city looks like this;
no other feels like this.
The world is my home town
but Paris, ah, Paris
is the front door to my heart
and it lies wide open!

Be angry, Olympians, hate me if you will,
it matters to me no longer:
your lying mirror lies on the floor
in a thousand shattered pieces!
If I die now, then I die.
You were powerless to deny me

this one moment when the taste of happiness
touched my lips.  I am laughing!

The Warrior’s Fire

[an allegory by    ~burning woman~   ]

After the dark night of the soul, when the battle is won, morning comes. But the sun does not shine that day.

You’ve won the battle, you know this, but all around you are the bodies of friend and foe alike and in this twilight you can no longer tell the difference, nor care who the dead are, except that they are dead and so are you.

In your own eyes; in your feelings, you’re not the great winner; the hero; the one who took the day. You’re the survivor while the best things of your life lie dead at your feet.

You don’t know what to do. You feel blood on your hands; on your body. Though most of it isn’t yours, yet you well know it is an indelible mark that will never wash away. You remember. You’ve been here before.

Do you blame others for putting you in this place because you were known to be a warrior and they expected it of you? They are all dead, what good would blame do? Would it ease your broken heart that continues to beat though your broken sword lies at your feet, it too washed in the blood of strangers?

You ask, though tired beyond the cure of sleep, did I not choose this path? This action?

Then you look within to the time before the battle, for is it not of supreme importance now to know what feelings; what moods; what emotions; pushed you to lead your small troop over that hill and confront the invader?

What was your motivation, you ask? Was it fear? Anger? Rage? Lust for revenge? Was it purely the sense of duty and did you move under the banner of simple courage? Was it just habit?

Does it matter now? Step after bloody step I made it from the top to the bottom of that Hill. Yes, from the top to the bottom. Perhaps that is what would qualify me as a hero, were there any left to do the qualifying. History will keep no record of this day and if it did, I would not be reading it.

Now, though I sincerely wish I were one of those blessed and cursed dead lying on the hillside, there remains but the fire burning within, unquenchable. I don’t know what I am in this moment of deadly quiet before the scavengers of the night and the tombs claims the bodies that mark my passage, but whatever I am, my fire within made me.

That fire, it will re-forge both sword and heart and continue to drive me relentlessly against every foe to the ends of the universe and of time; a wild fire that burns under sun and moon, burrows under the peat bogs below the snows until the sun draws it out again come the raging passion of spring and mad lusts of summer.

“There is no rest for the wicked” saith the Lord. If I cannot rest, what then, does that make me?