Sunday, 12 August 2012

We will go on...

We will not go back, tomorrow when the Olympics is over and in the effort to drive a sensational story the media try to tell us that the legacy is not going to happen and politicians try to score points off the whole process by telling us the way they propose to do things is the best.

We have an opportunity to stand up and say, We will go on.  We respect what GB athletes have achieved and what The London Olympics has tried to achieve and we commit to The Legacy.  Because it is US who are the legacy.  It is is us who can get out into our communities and lead sport, it is us who can encourage our children to try something new, it is us who can personally donate to sports bodies who are generally charities.  It is US who can take hold of this moment and take our first steps to 2016. It is now that we can start to become a new sort of Games Maker.

Games Makers UK for 2016 will not let the inspirational efforts of 541 athletes get ignored in a media rating war or a political debate.  They will start taking steps now to ensure that 2016 sees us take Home Advantage on the road.  What does the Games Maker UK for 2016 look like?

If you are able then compete!

If you can fund them...then fund them!

If you can stand in the torrential rain watching them compete in a dreary corner of the UK ....then support them!

If you see a dream....... feed it, with anything you can!

If you see them stumble....send them encouragement!

If you have time ...... give it - to coach, to make the teas, to man the gates, to sweep the track, mark the lanes, whatever it takes.

If you can do nothing else take a piece of A4 and write four numbers on it  2-0-1-6 and place it in your window; send a message to your road, your neighbourhood, your town, to the young adults that make noise at 4 am that if they will commit to greatness you will back them because together as a nation we can make 2016 glorious.

Whatever it takes 2016

........Just a thought........

"reproduced without the permission of anyone"

Friday, 29 June 2012

OBAMACARE.....deconflicting rights and responsibilities.

As a professional logistician I spend a lot of time deconflicting things.  Deconflicting doesn't even register in spellcheck but it is an important word in my armoury.  Deconflicting logistical effort means not trying to receive 40 containers of stock on the day you conduct your automated resupply.

"Obamacare" is upheld by the Supreme Court and so a basic human right to healthcare is upheld.  Now part of me would like to get into the assumptions that a "basic right to healthcare" assumes.  It assumes a healthcare system perhaps a basic human right to health is a better phrase to alleviate the assumption.

Instead I want to head back to rights and responsibilities.  It would be crazy to suggest that universal healthcare is a bad thing.  The right to health is a good one and certainly in a religious and philosophical context most see the value of helping the sick.  So with the right to health comes the responsibility on society (not necessarily government) to safe guard that.  Whether society chooses to translate that responsibility onto its government is a thing for society to decide.   These rights and responsibilities don't really conflict though; but there is a responsibility that is hugely at odds with Obamacare, the responsibility to act with financial prudence.

The more I read about the US budget deficit the more I realise there is no clear picture; people within one report run between 15 and 16 trillion.....but it is the same area as the US' gross domestic product and that leads me not to Adam Smith, Keynes or the great economists but to the great literary figure of Charles Dickens, creator of Mr Micawber.

Micawber the lay economist is famed for his observation to David Copperfield:

“annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”   

What happens when your 19 pounds 19 and 6 does not meet your human responsibility to protect the health of others?  Do you borrow?  Surely there is an equal responsibility to keep good accounts?  There is a real risk that to continue to spend 20 pounds 0 and 6 will bankrupt you and render you unable to care for anyone.

So here is my quandary when looking at the Obamacare debate from the outside.....the debate is off centre.  I can't see that this is a debate of right or wrong it is surely more a debate on how to reconcile two conflicting responsibilities.  In such a debate there is a less confrontational air and both republicans and democrats can come together and look at how to better meet the responsibility society has to look after its own and to keep their accounts "in the black".  Wiser minds than mine must look at these problems and thrash out a way forward rather than enter the tiring treadmill of confrontation and flip flop legislation.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A missing "eous"

These are just thoughts, I am not going to edit them or polish them but they have been in my head a while and I want to put them down somewhere.

I have a question...

Where did the gospel of right come from?

Not righteous but rightness.

Too many times I see or hear division because people are asserting their rightness.

If you encounter a blind man in the street walking into things, you reach out to help him... you walk beside him.  If you enquired as to his blindness and he claimed he was not you wouldn't push the issue because what is the point, if a man walking into things who can't see doesn't want to admit he is blind no words from your mouth will convince him otherwise.

But put this in a spiritual context and people spend a lot of time telling folk how blind they are.  My only conclusion is that the only way to assure you own rightness is to convince everyone of their wrongness...and people are scared of wrongness because it brings punishment.....but what if the outcome isn't as important as the process what if being right is not as important as being righteous.

What if when you encounter a Mormon and he declares that he has the most up to date  revelation from God, you get excited for him and said I am so glad you have that revelation but I haven't been given it, let's pray together that God will open our eyes, what if you did that with Islam?  What if you had the confidence in your own belief to say I am open that I may be wrong about the doctrine I hang on to but let's go before God with prayer and fasting until he shows us who he is in this?

What if we chose love and relationship ahead of right?

What if we gave up our right to be right?

What if?

Friday, 9 March 2012


Is it a good thing I feel I have to have an opinion on #Kony2012 and I use the hashtag advisedly because this is a media event.  I have always had an opinion on Joseph Kony since 2004 and working in Sudan an area into which Kony made several visits - welcome and unwelcome. #Kony2012 is a different phenomena.

I don't like having to fall a hate Kony2012 or a hate Kony2012 cynicism camp - there is a bigger diversity of opinion available.

I don't think the filmmakers of #Kony2012 are vain or narcissitic - a criticism which is levelled at them often.  I don't think they over dramatised what has been going on.  I don't think the world knowing about Joseph Kony is a bad thing. So what do I think.

I do think that leveraging a media fearful global colonial power to come and correct the errors of the last global colonial power is perhaps unwise.  My own country created the north south divide of Uganda; is the US the best authority to clear it up?

I do think that the film will aid Joseph Kony to perpetuate his own myth in much the same way Mugabe did with hate media.

I do think it is good people are looking at world issues and I would like to think they will go beyond #Kony2012 and see that Uganda has needs that kill as many children as Joseph Kony.

I do think it is interesting to look at Joseph Kony's spiritual views: a man who believes he blessed by a water witch, is immortal, can breathe under water and never leaves his "safe territory".

I do think more needs to be understood about his support base that allows him to continue.

I do think Joseph Kony is an exceptional military leader and will not be beaten militarily, and that the Uganda government need to look at alternatives to military action.

I do think this is a civil war and not an international one.

Yesterday I blogged about human responsibilities so what is my human responsibility. Thank you #Kony2012 for making me question this.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Rights vs Responsibilities (a bit of a rant)

I want to show you 2 screen shots of Google searches:

The first is a Google of Human Rights

The second is a Google of Human Responsibilities

Do you note any distinct differences? If you take just a cursory view there are no adverts about human responsibilities, it would appear that they don’t sell. There are no sponsored links either. Look a little closer and you will see that human rights attract the attention of governments and the UN but human responsibilities don’t.

From working in aid work I know that a ‘rights based approach’ is a common way of assessing humanitarian interventions. I know from my sister that all schoolchildren are clear on their rights. What we all seem to be less clear on are our responsibilities. Where is the UN charter on Human Responsibilities? Surely we need a document exhorting us to the highest possible standards of living? I realise there is an industry around protecting, policing and promoting human rights that I think would collapse if we could put just half the effort into promoting human responsibilities. For every right that is claimed surely there must be a corresponding human responsibility. People generally like to have responsibility; people like to feel they have a grip on marshalling their own future. Surely we can aspire to attaining greater levels of responsibility; everyone who has worked knows that you want more responsibility because with it come greater rewards.

A great philosopher, Danny Lee Silk, when asked by one of his children if they “had” to do something told them “no, you get to do it”. What if we switched how we looked at the world and started to think that we get to look after those less fortunate than us. They became a privilege in our realms of responsibility. What if we aspired to greater levels of human responsibility how would the world look? The interesting thing it is almost impossible to have your human responsibilities stolen from you, yet we give them away. We give away our responsibility to look out for each other, to protect the environment, to engender peace where there is discord. I am not even talking of global politics what if in your work place you decided to quench gossip, to help the guy who doesn’t get how the new print management system works, to support your boss in making better decisions rather than criticising their bad ones. What if we stopped looking at our right to employment and looked to our responsibility to work; would our economy look very different.

I think we GET to be humanly responsible rather than HAVE to be and it feels good.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Taking Down The High Places

A friend recently asked me to engage in their problem. They felt that they were hitting a glass ceiling in their journey with God . This is someone that is way further down the line than me so I took time to hang out with God and ask him what he thought about the problem. 2 Kings 12 & 14 I felt I heard clearly. The thing is I have never been a big reader of Kings, so I dived into 12 leapt over 13 and on into 14. It is the story of Joash and Amaziah, father and son kings of Judah. Their stories are reasonably unremarkable, the get involved in wars and squabbles, do some politicking and then get assassinated after either giving away or losing the Temple gold and silver. OK so maybe not such quiet lives but within 2 chapters both have come and gone.
Their ancestor David dominates a huge section of the bible and even in their story he is referred to, and I think it is in these references that we see why.
2 Kings 12:2-3
Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
2 Kings 14:1-4
In the second year of Jehoash[a] son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash. 4 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
Niether of these Kings removed the high places, the high places being the traditional worship sites of the Canaanites to Asherah. It is thought that sometimes Israelites would go and worship God there too but the inference is that them being left up was bad. David however pulled down all the high places and destroyed the altars and had his chief priest teach the people the law. He did also have a man killed, commit adultery and eat the sacred bread from the Temple….so not flawless but few of the Bible’s heroes are.
So what does tearing down the high places look like in a modern setting. Some might say we worship the cult of celebrity or sport and whilst in part I guess that is true I am not sure that is what God was saying to me. It played out in my head more like this……
I was a reasaonable rugby player, I got county caps, played at a premiership club, coached a national students side but generally underachieved. My rugby career was a picture of talent squandered on mediocrity. There were things to me that were more important or rather things that had their hooks in me to drag me away…..girlfriends….fear of missing out on what was going on with my buddies…… the search for adventure…..the occasional beer fuelled evening. These were my high places these were the things that kept me from fulfilling my potential.

In a faith journey I don’t think it is so different, there is plenty to drag you back from a relationship with God and you can live a good life and do good things and be pleasing in God’s sight but never tear down those high places and live in mediocrity for the rest of your time. Yet it is the tearing down of those high places that made David a name recognised down the ages and Joash and Amazaiah a couple of chapters in Kings. Our high places are different, perhaps judgement, perhaps immorality perhaps overworking but until we get to grips with them and throw them down we are perhaps likely to remain just below that glass ceiling.

NB some details in this story have been changed to protect the innocent, I do not claim to be right I am just thinking about potentially being right and I may even be wrong about that but if it makes you think, then I am alright with that……right?