I’m glad that, amongst rampant greed and selfishness, there remains good hearted human beings who choose to work in professions of care and compassion irrespective of the financial rewards… irrespective of having to go to a fucking food bank.
I’d like all human beings to live in material security… none of us need struggle to survive anymore, even Africans, bless ’em. But whilst we do, it is very heart-warming to know that my fellow human beings continue to choose a life of material struggle simply because their empathy and compassion is so strong that they cannot not help those suffering.
Khuram Shazad Butt was a lost and pathetic human being who, of his own free will, chose to use the precious gift of his life to murder his fellow human beings. Not because of anger or vengeance against those particular victims, but because of certain beliefs that existed in his head. There can be little more insane and senseless in the scope of all human experience, and, yet, this insanity has run rampant through human history.
Indeed, Khuram Shazad Butt was a victim of warped ideologies. But it was Khuram Shazad Butt who allowed these warped ideologies to warp his own mind and heart. Let it never be forgotten that this was a man with choices, and, that, in a realm of almost endless possibilities, for both good and bad, this is what he chose to do. How ridiculous, how bizarre, how devastatingly futile.
He was born innocent and pure. As a child he played and he loved. He brought joy to all those around him. He was born with talents and potentials that could have been used for the good of mankind. Without doubt he did good in his life. He will have been loving and caring with his family. Maybe he had a niece he rolled around the floor with, making her laugh, making her feel loved. Perhaps he performed acts of kindness on perfect strangers.
All of this is important, because his life did not have to end this way. He could have chosen otherwise. He had the same capacity for goodness that we all have. His actions were monstrous, but he was not a monster. And, if humanity is to have any kind of reasonable future, then it is vital that we hold on to this truth.
We cannot afford to create unstoppable evil monsters. It is a convenient headline and a helpful line in for politicians itching for control and war, but it is simply untrue. This is not how Khuram Shazad Butt had to live his life. This did not have to be his fate. We must remember this and draw hope from it if we are ever to end this dreadful cycle of hatred and violence. Put simply, this is not how it needs to be.
His actions are not just a stain on his soul, but reflect a wider stain that permeates the whole of humanity. None of us live in a vacuum. Everything has causes. And he was, at first, the victim of, and then the villain in, a species that seems utterly unwilling to – not only embrace peace – but to even give it short thrift… kindness and compassion have become a punch line, a sneer.
How desperately, desperately sad for us all. This violence is not going to end on the terms of violence. Only peace in our own hearts and minds can bring peace into our world.
At first glance this does look bad, but, actually, all that happened was that this Iraqi soldier had his vehicle fire-bombed by allied forces, and what this picture shows is his attempt to get out of the burning vehicle whilst being on fire himself.
You can see from his grimace that he was making a valiant attempt, and, in some ways, this can be seen as more of a celebration of the human spirit and its determination than anything particularly desperate or tragic.
What he didn’t know at the time was that, actually, the whole area surrounding his vehicle was ablaze, so even if he’d managed to escape this particular vehicle, he would have found himself burning to death anyway. Which is a shame in many ways, but, hey, that’s war for ya!
When rich, famous and successful celebrities kill themselves it exposes, in the most brutal and ultimate form, the utterly abhorrent hollowness of our greed soaked materialistic culture… a culture that encourages and celebrates the very things that even those who attain them don’t end up caring about.
No wonder we are so devastatingly fucked and falling apart.
It is a very odd and – somehow – opaquely obvious dilemma we all exist in. We are raised with the idea that succeeding in life will make us happy and fulfilled, and, that, if you can have great wealth and fame too, then, well, you’ve hit the jackpot. It’s odd because, we have all experienced some relative success in life, and we’ve all attained a material desire… but we have all also witnessed first hand how quickly the pleasure of that success or attainment disappears. And, yet, rather than question this compulsion to fulfil our desires over and over and over, we merely set about the pursuit of the next goal, attainment (or not), and its corresponding fading of fulfilment.
Such oddness is further compounded because, if this ideology was indeed correct and worthwhile then, the logical outcome would be that the millionaires, billionaires, rock stars and Hollywood elite should be overflowing with endless, unbound joy and bliss. After all, they won the game of pinnacle success and bank balance… these are the ones who have ‘everything’ that – it seems – almost every other human being on the planet is drooling and raping for… and, yet, they are so obviously not any happier than any of us. We see their faces everywhere – lives lived as bacteria under microscope – and, whilst they may not struggle to pay the bills, we don’t have to walk past a newsstand with our parents to see our fat arse – caught in a moment of perfect wobble – splattered across the front of a magazine.
Now, my arse has decent proportions and remains firm into my thirties, but I’d still rather be counting my pennies and buying second hand underpants than know that my rear-end is the spectacle and amusement of the millions. And, when a rich, successful, famous so and so kills themselves – even though they have EVERYTHING that most of the world are clamouring for – it exposes (in theory) the complete and utter depraved sham of it all.
Death is not a tragedy. Death is a very normal and natural occurrence, including brutal deaths and including deaths ‘before their time’. Since life began on this planet, every single moment since has been marked by death. There is never a moment that passes where a living being does not die. We are all already dead. We are born to die. Our lives are but a fleeting process of decay. We all know this, and yet cling so, so tightly to these little stories of ours.
I don’t know what bigger picture we all belong to… if there even is one. But I know that I’d rather live 30 worthwhile years making a difference to the world and helping my fellow human beings than live for 80 years in vapid self interest. I know that I’d rather belong to a vast mosaic of human evolution where every piece of the puzzle has its value and purpose than struggle as an aborting island.
It seems futile to bemoan what has happened and what is inevitable to happen. Death will continue with its merry method, and I’d rather make sense of the senseless – even if that means creating meaning through magical thinking – by recognising how each moment and each event can, if perceived, contribute to a higher and wider good than boo and sob my way through – what is and can only be in this world – a myriad of un-savouries.
In this sense, and from this perspective, I can be glad for all and everything, knowing that, at least within myself, all and everything can be used for the benefit and evolution of humanity as a species, including the suicides of people who are heroes and inspirations to me.
So, as brutal as it is for those around them to suffer the loss of a loved one, it’s not overall a bad thing. However, what is overall a bad thing are ideologies and cultures. Look at what materialism has done to our planet and to our species. We will literally go to war and kill each other to have more and better material things. We will literally destroy the very environment we need just to make garden furniture. And that’s just the big things.
The trickle down effect from these cultural ideas is insidious and deeply harmful in the most subtle ways and yet on a colossal scale. If exposing this nonsense requires that a few figureheads and winners kill themselves, then so be it. If a superstar celebrity killing themselves – or just generally being unhappy – makes people question and think about ideas that impact billions rather than a few immediate family members, then crack on, please. We can call it collateral damage, or a noble sacrifice, but it will be worth it if it helps end this madness.
Cos if you think your anger and scorn and derision works then look who the president of the USA is.
The position of the left is dumb and self-defeating. All they do is piss people off. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong… it doesn’t even matter how hateful and racist and violent these people are. What matters is finding a solution. ‘Solutions’ that make the problem worse are – strangely – not solutions.
Let’s find where we unite rather than differ. No human being is beyond talking to. No human being is beyond compromise or reason. None of us want to live our lives under threat or fear. No human being is without fallibility, delusion or ignorance. We all have a lot to learn. There is room for growth in us all.
What are we, fucking nuts?! We must be. One species on one planet. Some in seven star hotels (no, really), others camping for iPhones (you should be embarrassed), and, well, some starving to death. Some with so little, others with so fucking much… so, so, fucking much. That’s us, but we still complain and want and greed and crave and must-have. One palace is never enough. Oh, and poverty will kill 22,000 children under the age of five today. And tomorrow. Just like yesterday.
I don’t know how to put that number into perspective. I suppose if we imagined the difference between having one chocolate bar and having 22,000 chocolate bars then that might give us a sense of how significant of a number that is. I suppose we could find a sports stadium of comparable size and visually witness what 22,000 people looks like. I don’t know. I don’t think i’ve ever had 22,000 of some thing. Unless there’s, like, 22,000 Coco-Pops in the family box or something.
Anyway, the daily deaths of 22,000 children provides the context for everything else that follows here. If it ever seems some words ring a little bit harsh, a little bit confrontational, a little bit stab in the gut, just think about those 22,000 children. And, if it ever seems like we are taking ourselves a little bit too seriously… well, it’s because our situation is serious.
Those 22,000 children will die today for no good reason. They will die whilst we bitch about the slow waiter. They will die whilst we scrape half a plate into the bin. They will die whilst we fret for our holiday plans. They will die as we return our ‘this isn’t a gingerbread latte’. And, guess what, as nice and charitable as we think we are, they will die even as we give to the homeless man and weekend volunteer with a spastic.
They will die, and for all our avoidance and delusion, we are not even happy. If we were, then maybe in some cruel Darwinian logic then that would be okay-ish. You know, if all that suffering at least allowed millions of others, i.e. us, to be happy. But we’re not, and our complaining and our whining mocks those empty stomachs and wasted lives. We are miserable, they are miserable, and the only difference is that we are fat and clog hearted and they are, well, dead.
22,000 children will die today, just as they have been dying every other day, and we will let it happen. None of us want them to die, of course not, but very few of us seem willing to do anything about it. Certainly, very few of us seem willing to sacrifice our own indulgences to help them. ‘Oh, but, but, but…’ There’s always an excuse. It has been said that we must speak truth to power. Well, we must also speak truth to our selves.
Of course, you have the freedom to ignore this. You have the luxury of being immune to certain realities. You can even roll your eyes and mutter a ‘here we go again’. But those children will still be dying, those children will still not need to die, you will still be able to do something about it, and you will still not be doing anything about it.
Yet, we know all about the shock-horror when a neglected child is found in a home in the UK. It holds front pages for weeks and ripples out as grim legislative reminders for years. Discussed in parliament, heads on sticks, and we all mutter and hack our righteous slices… I mean, the horror, how could such a thing happen in this day and age etc. etc. And all that outrage would be right. Yet, 22,000 children under the age of five will die today because of poverty, and again tomorrow, and again for weeks and months and years to come until… well, what? What will it take?
It’s not real to us. The images seem tired, almost clichéd. The ‘Starving African Child’. The images are now emptied of emotion and void of their reality. It’s just another envelope asking for money. Those charities insist, and those images stare out at us – they want to look into our souls, they want to stir something in us, but we know we are being manipulated, so we dim the lights that bit more.
It’s all very sad, very serious, and much, much more dangerous with the lights on. We have to make it real again. We all remember when it beat in our hearts and charged up our minds, and we came together, and we were so determined, and we made such an effort. It was so momentous, so real… it was our true humanity. I don’t know why those surges came to so little, but next time around we have to make it count. Not one of those 22,000 children who will die today will have needed to die. It’s already on our shoulders, it’s already in our hearts, now it’s time we put it in our hands.
The universe did not explode into infinite existence 13 billion years ago for you to sit behind that desk… not getting paid.
A culture has taken root / is in full bloom where many employees are now expected to work outside of work hours… for free! And, well, we do it! We agree to this. We work hour after hour, cutting into evenings and weekends — not watching our children grow up, not spending quality time with our partners, not relaxing… let alone actually growing as a human being or reflecting on our life and its quality or meaning. We’ve become like blinkered horses seeing nothing of anything but what we are told we must focus on. Our lives drift by, our relationships crumble, we get old and bored, and our only hope of a nugget of happiness sits on a beach six months away. And we don’t even get paid.
Why? Why have we allowed ourselves to be bullied and manipulated and frightened into becoming such willing, compliant slaves? We do not exist to make money for other people. I know all of this seems normal, but it’s fucking not! Staring into computers, late nights in the office, weekends at work, heart-attacks in the post… none of this was the norm for our other few million years of evolution. It’s an aberration. And a very, very recent and peculiar one at that. So, if someone is insisting that I take on extra loads for their benefit then they need to be paying me. There is no other reason for going to work. We work to earn money, so, no money = no work. That is fair, that is reasonable, that should easily be acceptable for all concerned. What is not fair is:
‘Would you come into work for the weekend and do more work for me, please?’
‘Yes, okay, will that be at quadruple time because, you know, kids etc.?’
‘No, i’m going to pay you nothing at all because *cough* job security *cough*.’
‘Oh… well, er, okay then!’
Huh? Why is this okay? We have ZERO obligation to our employer other than to work to the best of our ability whilst we are being paid to work. That and not being a criminal. Which is ironic, because, in effect, they are thieves. Fucking thieves. When we agree to work for free then we choose our own exploitation. And, when we justify this exploitation (oh i’m just glad to have a job) and submit to it then we endorse it, we compound it, and, we establish a precedent that our pay-masters will not pass up on. You know that. As they do too.
Such pitiful compliance makes us the master to our own slavery. We put the shackles on, we turn the lock, we throw away the key, and then we — just because we’re audacious like this — bitch about being over-worked and never seeing our families! People wonder why aliens haven’t landed yet, but I just think they’re up their enjoying the show. We are the comedy planet of the universe. A proper hoot, we are. But, like, one of those tragic hoots. Maybe a hoot with a moral.
And, you know, there isn’t even that much work that needs to be done. Most work done by human beings nowadays is just to make and sell products and services that none of us need, few of us truly want, and that we have survived without for millions of years. If you want to know how pointless a product is, then look at its marketing and advertising budget. Why are there no adverts for apples (the fruit)? Because we all naturally want apples (the fruit). We are slaving ourselves towards misery and mindfulness meditation apps for the sake of utter and total rubbish. I think you know that too. Or, maybe not. We’ll see how much debt is accumulated this Christmas.
Is there an easy solution to all of this? Not really. It is a particularly well-tangled web, that is true. But can we come up with some solutions? Yeah, of course we can. We put a man on the moon / filmed it in a studio (love conspiracies) and we’ve developed bombs that can kill hundreds of thousands of human beings in a matter of seconds… We are amazing! There is no need for things to be this way. It’s probably all just been designed to keep us docile and locked down so our governments can tip-toe us to tyranny (really love conspiracies). I know that the ways things are seems to have us trapped, but we can undo it…
Oh God. What if we can’t? What if I have to work in a call-centre? What if I have to work overtime in a call-centre… UNPAID! Lord have mercy.
Only joking. Of absolute course we can change this. I’d rather die than work in a call-centre (again). And, the reason we can change this is because we — little old we — have all the power. Let me repeat that. We have all the power. Let me repeat that again. We have all the power. And, one more for good luck. We have all the power. We have the numbers, we have the intelligence (sort of), we have the resources, we have the communication networks… we have everything that we need to organise and co-ordinate a mass response and rejection of this system of modern slavery.
It is in our hands. It always has been and always will be. But if there is to be change then we need to change. I know that everyone thinks that they are right, that they are amazing, and it’s just the world and everyone in it who needs to change, not them, but really, we all need to change. We have to stop the back-stabbing, we have to stop this ravenous race up the corporate ladder (so ugly), and we have to stop trampling over each other to get a pittance of power and status just so we can maintain an erection. These things divide us and they keep us in competition instead of us working together for common goals and shared benefits. It’s stupid and it’s embarrassing, and it’s utterly self-defeating.
We need to pause. We need to remember that we breath. Look at the stars. Comprehend — you can’t, but do try — the vastness of the universe. Reflect on the mind-bending expanses of existence. Consider that, one day, you will be gone from this planet, and that that day could be tomorrow. You, all your loved ones, all your striving, all your ambition, all your craving, all your clinging, all your pennies of power, all your wealth, all your status… gone. I know we like to think that we are important, but one day it will be as if we never even existed. For real.
So, ask yourself… What is all of this — this horrid tangled up mess — worth to you? What are you doing it for? To survive? Do you think all of this is what is needed to survive? Check how much overtime a ladybird clocks in this month. Her and the other 8.7 million species surviving just fine (well, sans humans) on this planet. Why are you missing out on your children growing up? What do you think the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow can compensate? There’s no time machine, you know. There’s no skip-back to re-experience the things that mattered. It’s here and it’s now or it’s not at all. Your choice.
It’s time for a re-think. There is nothing to be afraid of. If we want a different way then we can have a different way. That are so many of us, and so few of the reptilian overlords from the lower astral planes of the fourth dimension (arh, conspiracies). In unity we have endless strength and endless potential. Whatever world — or even just work situation — we want then, together, we can create it. So, stand tall with your colleagues. Organise yourselves. Fight back. What are they going to do… sack you all? Numbers! Use your numbers! And, also, your spine. That’s important, by the way, because life — real life — requires courage. You can solve this problem — wecan solve this problem. We are not slaves, and we must stop living / dying like we are.
In making a stand against an opposing force that, on the surface, appears more powerful and better equipped than ourselves, we need to be intelligent in the use of our armoury.
For instance, when engaging with an opposing force we should only utilise of ourselves that which is needed to achieve our immediate aims and to make progress in that moment. We should keep as much of our hand concealed for as long as possible, to the degree whereby it would be ideal that much of our capacity remains unknown to others, even to our grave.
It is the folly of arrogance to say ‘here, look at me, look at what I can do’ because, in doing so, you expose both your weakness (your attitude) and your strengths (your armoury) and thus allow your opponent to study you and defeat you.
In times of great struggle, when your opponent seems mighty, it is better to act so as to undermine your credibility and your threat. To give nothing away, to be seen and regarded as a non-threat, to be overlooked – even dismissed – is the ideal position to hold.
I do not want you to know what I can do, and you will not know until it is needed for me to show you.
We should maintain the upmost humility within to remain unseen without. At each stage, if our hand has been revealed, our capacity seen, and victory attained, then we should feign surprise and act as if nothing but good fortune could account for such achievements. This will keep our opponents weak in a false and deceptive superior mindset.
Did you know that 58% of over 65’s voted for the Conservatives in the most recent general election, rising to 69% for the over 70’s? That is, 69% of the population who have only a few years left to live took a look at the current dreadful state of the world and decided, ‘fuck this, fuck the young, and fuck the future, I’m going to make sure that MY last few years are as good as possible for ME’.
It is absurd in the extreme that human beings, many of whom will be dead within 10 / 20 years, are allowed to have their personal selfish desires and (frequently) outdated and wrong ideas determine what kind of world the younger generations will inherit.
These are the same older generations responsible (either through compliance or apathy) for rampant environmental destruction, ongoing poverty and inequality, and numerous ongoing conflicts around the world that have killed and maimed countless fellow human beings. So, any notion that these older generations are somehow older and wiser is an utter nonsense… although, in fairness, it is quite smart to set up a system that allows you to live the good life for your whole life, only to die just before you experience the dire consequences of said system.
The future of the country and the planet exists in the minds of the young, and it is the role of the older generations to nurture the ideas and minds of the young, to help them to refine and understand their instincts and thoughts, and to contribute nuance and insight that is only gained through life experience and on-going education… it is not the role of the older generations to determine what future the young will have by voting for their own selfish, destructive wants and desires.
What we need now from the older generations is sacrifice. You’ve had your fun and you’ve fucked us over, but, before you go rot in red felt, why not put aside what is good for you (you can live and die without the holiday in the Cotswold, but we will let you keep the heating on… unless you’re already old and poor, of course, in which case, keep calm and carry on!)and use whatever useful attributes you have to help the young create a better world?
The fact is that, the young cannot do this alone. Ideas and attitudes are not enough. The passion of the young for a better world is wonderful, but it must be reinforced and tempered by an understanding of just how complex and difficult the world is… this is not to rebuke their enthusiasm and knock them down, but to refine it into something potent, profound, and truly world changing.
The young are, of course, naïve, ill-informed, and, frequently, embarrassingly dumb (well, at least I was, and perhaps still am)… but they CARE – I care – and that care is what the world needs so, so, so fucking badly. It is your job to help to turn that care into true compassion, and meaningful, effective action. Because, otherwise, we really, really could be done for as a species.
I know you’re nearly dead and all, but, do you really want to merrily skip off this mortal coil leaving this world behind for your children? If, in this world, and, if, in this general election, you are voting for what is good for you (Vote Tory!), then so much better that you die than inflict your petty, selfish and harmful want for shinier, faster things and comfier perches onto the shoulders of generations yet to even be born.
If, however, you are 65+ and you do care – and I know that there are many, including, of course, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders etc. – then don’t vote for your pension and your holiday budget, but, rather, for what is good for all. And, most importantly, vote for what is good for all those with their whole lives ahead of them. And, even more importantly, help the young. They / we (I’m 34 so I’m not sure I count.. it’s a weird age, I’m sure I’m old but I’m reassured that I’m not quite there yet) need what you have, and that is the appreciation and experience of nuance that runs through every facet of life that, otherwise, can only be appreciated and understood by getting old… Educate us!
So, please, share! Help! But share to help refine their ideas, not to inflict your own, because – now soak this up good – the young do not care what you think. And do you know why? Because the young see the world afresh. The young are not conditioned and surrendered to the bullshit yet. And the young – inexperienced and naïve as they might be – know full well that the bullshit that is rampant is the bullshit of your making.
So, share and be humble. Don’t even begin to pretend you’ve seen it all and you know best, because, one brief glimpse of the world as it is, is enough for all the young minds to explicitly know that you had no idea what the fuck you were doing, and no amount of old age, life experience and respect for your elders has done anything to save you, your children, or our planet, from the looming disasters of your ignorance and your greed.