Saturday, 16 May 2009

If you go down to the woods today...'re in for a big surprise!

Just imagine....

You're out in the middle of the woods at night, when you see the glow from a fire up ahead of you. As you get closer you begin to hear voices, lots of voices. So you creep up to a point where you can see what's going on, without being seen yourself. The sight that greets you makes you recoil in horror. There, in the middle of a large clearing, stands a burning cross. Gathered around this cross are about 40-50 figures, dressed completely in white robes with pointy white hoods covering their heads. Yes, you've guessed it, this ain't no teddy bear's picnic. This is the Klan having a little campout in the woods. And they're not telling each other ghost stories either, they're chanting racist slogans and such like.

Then an amazing thing happens. You can't believe your eyes as, all at once, every single pointy hood disappears into thin air. The chanting stops. The figures all start spinning around, trying to figure out what the hell's going on. Who's just pulled their hoods off. Fingers are pointing everywhere. Accusations and curses are flying about the clearing like moths around the burning cross. Who? How? Where? When? Why?

Then reality slowly begins to dawn on them. Somehow, someone has unmasked them, all at the same time. They stand round, gawping at each other in total disbelief.

You see their naked faces in the firelight. There's Burt, from the Sheriff's office; Charlie, who owns the grocery store in town; George, the school teacher who teaches your little boy Billy in 4th grade; Chris, your neighbour's son, on leave from his 2nd tour in Iraq; Jerry, the paramedic you were having a beer with last night. And there's, no, it can't be, it is, it's Pastor Phillips. What's he, of all people, doing here? But the fun's not over yet.

You suddenly have to hold your hands up to your eyes as the night explodes in a thousand flashes. You blink to clear your vision, and as the blurriness fades away you see them. Hundreds of paparazzi are coming out of the woods and into the clearing. The guys in white robes are running everywhere like headless chickens. Microphones are being stuffed in their faces as they try and cover them up, desperately searching for their nice little pointy hoods, but they're nowhere to be seen. You spin to your left as a white SUV roars onto the scene. People jump out and start setting up transmitting dishes. The guys in white robes stop running, there's nowhere for them to go. They're trapped; frozen in the media circus which surrounds them, like deer caught in headlights. It all goes quiet, then the shouting starts. More cursing, only this time they're screaming about human rights and threatening law suits and other things.

I'm going to pause the action at this point, and hand over control to you. I'm also going to give you a few things. First I'm going to hand you the remote control that has allowed me to stop time in this little scenario. Then I'm going to give you a big pile of pointy white hoods and all the rolls of film from the paparazzis' cameras, plus a jerry can full of kerosene and a zippo lighter.

Now you have a choice.

1)You can burn all the film and put the pointy hoods back on the guys in the white robes, then hit the button to re-start the action - allowing the pointy hoods to run off into the night as if nothing had happened. Or...

2)You can burn all the hoods, put the film back in the cameras, then throw the guys in the white robes to the wolves by hitting the button.

No I'm not crazy. On the 18th November 2008, someone posted on the internet, the full membership list of the British National Party (BNP). It included the names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and, in some cases, the occupations of over 12,000 members of the BNP. For those of you outside the UK, the BNP is a far right and whites only British political party, whose roots lie in the British Union of Fascists. They are openly racist and membership of the BNP is forbidden for police officers and carries certain restrictions for other occupations. Among the list of members are at least one serving police officer (who has been suspended pending further investigations), armed forces personnel, a solicitor, teachers, healthcare workers and even members of the clergy. The list was taken down from the site where it was originally posted but not before going viral. I'm not going to give you any links to it, you can find it for yourselves with a simple search.

Since being unmasked, BNP members have been screaming human rights violations - though they have actively campaigned against such legislation. They have threatened legal action through the data protection act, but the information is now well and truly in the public domain. It appears that whilst some of their membership are unconcerned about this, others are not at all happy with their dark little secret being dragged out into the open for everyone to see.

Now before you make your choice there are a few things to consider. You do have a major dilemma here. On the one hand there are human rights issues e.g. the right to believe in anything you wish to and freedom of speech. On the other, these people are racists and don't like it to be known that they are. One of them may be teaching your children. One could be holding his hypocritical head up in church on Sunday, telling you to treat all people as equal. And how would you like to be Mr Patel, lying on one side of the ambulance with a white man on the other, while Jerry the paramedic is responsible for saving both your lives. I'm sure you can all imagine hundreds of other possible scenarios.

So now I'm going to hand you the button

What are you going to do?

It's your call


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The Empire Diaries - part 1

"My friends and I have a dream. We wish to rule the world. Yes, there have been Kings and Princes before us who have aspired to conquer all before them; small men with limited vision, too easily satisfied with trinkets and baubles. We want nothing less than all there is, and all there will ever be. We seek not to toil and slave, but to let others do this for us. We shall be Emperors of this world, while all others are forced to do our bidding.

Not an easy task, you may say, but neither is it an impossible one. We know that this prize will not be won within our lifetime, but our blood will run through all of history in the veins of our children. They, like us, shall be bold and steadfast in their purpose. Never shall they waver. Neither mercy nor compassion shall halt their advance. Neither pity nor remorse shall dog their footsteps to make them turn from their path because, though today may not be theirs, tomorrow will always belong to them.

Yes, my friend, I see the question forming in your eyes. How can we, who number less than the digits on three hands, hope to overcome an enemy who can be counted as grains in a field of corn? I say this to you: Though each grain be tightly bound to the next, and each ear be within whispering distance of six others, who, in turn, can lean and touch six more, the gentlest of breezes can separate stalk from stalk. And should that breeze rise to a wind, then it shall blow across the field and part grain from grain. Then all shall be as dust in the wind.

Thus we shall be. The mildest of summer breezes, gently wafting over growing heads of corn. But we shall build upon this breeze until we are a gale that not one lonely grain, out of touch with its fellows, can withstand. This we must do because if ever the ears reached out to each other and entwined their stalks, then we would be powerless against their interwoven mass. And if each grain should ever realise exactly what it contains within - everything that is and has ever been, the fullness of life itself - then we would be lost, we would be as chaff, blowing in the wind.

So how are we to become this wind of change? We are few amongst many, so we must keep our own counsel and hide in the shadows. We must not let ourselves be seen, but remain forever behind the curtain; allowing the audience to see only the monkeys, dancing on their strings. We must slowly separate grain from grain. Only if we divide our enemy into opposing camps, fighting each other, can we hope for victory.

There are many ways in which we can do this. First, we must move our Empires around so that the enemy thinks we have been defeated and banished into dusty history. Then we will rise from the ashes, under a new name, and continue our march to Imperial Destiny. We will move from these dry, desert lands, to the cooler northern climes where the white skinned peoples abound. There we will build again, using all that we have plundered so far. We will appear to be generous in our gifts to mankind. We will give them many things. But here we shall begin to waft our gentle breeze. Here, in the lands of the white skinned peoples, we will create our first separation. We will make the white skinned peoples believe that they are superior to their darker brothers and sisters whose lands lie behind us. Because of our gifts to them, they will think that they are far more clever than the primitive people living in the deserts and jungles of the south. We will demonise these dark skinned people and call them savages, so as to increase the fear within the minds of the white skinned people; while at the same time, we will endeavour to keep the darker ones in poverty, so they in turn will grow in their resentment of their white brothers and sisters. As long as this situation is maintained, then conflict will remain for hundreds, if not thousands of years. We will be able to plunder the rich resources of the southern lands, and all the time, the fear within the white peoples and the hatred within the darker peoples will spiral into perpetual conflict.

Now, as you can see my friend, we have split the world in half; things will become a little easier now. But we cannot rest upon our laurels, half a world is still too large a foe for us to defeat. So now we must further divide the peoples of the world. As we have advanced the white skinned races of the north and given them a little civilisation, we must be more careful in our approach, lest they begin to think too much. What we must now do is take them a step backwards and begin to play upon their fears. The greatest fear of mankind is that of the unknown. The biggest unknown in life is what happens when life ends and death begins. Much like their ancestors feared the darkness of night until the sun rose up and brought light into the world again; mankind fears the great darkness of death. In the past, all peoples have worshipped the sun, seeing its life giving properties as the seasons roll by and their crops grow to fruition. We shall now take this a step further and tell them that there is nothing to fear after death, that there is an afterlife; a heaven, where all is sweetness and light, and where they will be reunited with their departed loved ones. Who amongst them could resist such a shining vision? With such reassurance dangled before them they will be like wet clay in the hands of our priests. And, of course, should they reject this belief, there will always be the alternative of an eternity of hell, where fiery demons prowl and prod the lost souls with their pitchforks. They will only too gladly seek salvation in the arms of our priests and prophets. We shall give them many gods and make them believe that only their god is the one and only true god. Now we have not only pitted black against white, but god against god. It will be only too easy to persuade people to fight and kill each other in the name of their god. More conflict, more separation; a more confused enemy, lost in internecine struggles.

I see the smugness beginning to slip a little from your smile my friend. Do you still think that our goal is unobtainable? We have much further to go and time marches on but the game is only just beginning. Now that we have divided and confused, it is time to make people believe that they can unite in common cause. Amid such confusion it is easy to persuade people to gather together against a common enemy. Now we can separate things a little further. As "civilisation" grows and large communities begin to build, we can unite and divide at the same time; a clever little trick, don't you think? How can we do this? Well, it isn't as difficult as you may think. We shall persuade them that they should band together in the lands where they live and speak a common tongue. These we shall call countries and each country shall have a little emblem or flag that all from those lands can identify with, and rally behind. We have created conflict between much larger groups than these as I have already told you, so now things will get much, much easier. Not only will we have conflict between black and white, god and god, but also between flag and flag. War will cover the face of the earth while we remain behind the scenes; quietly going about our business. We can even allow countries to become powerful, to the point where they actually believe that Empire is theirs. Such irony does not fail to amuse us. They will fight and die in the name of their little flag, but the glory and the spoils shall be ours.

As grains of corn multiply with each harvest, so shall mankind multiply, until they cover the face of this earth. There is room aplenty for many, should they wish to sow and reap, toil and harvest for their simple needs. But we shall persuade them that they are far better than this; that they can achieve greater glory by building cities whose roof tops stretch to the sky. We shall herd them like cattle into dark, hovel lined streets, under the shadows of their great cathedrals, built to the glory of the gods which we gave them. There they will have no choice but to give up their ploughshares and their open fields with the sky above them; and turn to other ways to feed their miserable kin.

Now shall a new age begin. Mankind shall still have needs, but no longer be able to fulfil them by his previous labours. We shall give him many desires, which we will turn into needs. Man is such a weak being, easily yielding to temptations placed before him. Thus shall we sow the seeds that will grow into what he will come to call trade, and industry. And all the time he will believe that he has trod the path of his natural ascendancy, whereas, he has never really shaken off his yoke of slavery.

I see you still doubt me my friend. Well, we have many plans for this new age, but they are not mine to deliver. I leave that to our children. Perhaps they will be able to report on our progress when their time comes. For now, I bid you farewell. My friends and I have much work to do…"

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A view from the stake

"Come, come my friends! Come and see me burn!
For I shall be a candle, to enlighten as you learn
To question all your Gods, your prophets and your priests.
For only truth can set you free, and give eternal peace.
I am a heretic, dismiss me if you will.
But ask your Gods this question.
Why do they have to kill?"

- Lines from "The Heretic"
(a work in progress)

Yes, that's right, I'm a heretic. I question all gods, idols, priests and prophets. I don't care whether the deity which you worship is God, Allah, Yahweh, Alex Jones, Richard Dawkins, Charles Darwin or Einstein. It's all the same to me. I have no respect for dogma or doctrine. I will treat all your Holy Books and sacred texts equally. You may put your faith in the Bible, New Scientist or, but I will question all if I believe them to be lacking. I will question everything. It is up to you what you choose to believe; I only ask you to think. I make no apologies for my words, and like any heretic worthy of his stake, I will not recant. And I think I'm in pretty good company - Socrates, Plato, Galileo, Copernicus et al. Remember, if it wasn't for the heretics of this world, we'd all be living on a flat earth with the sun spinning round us 24/7; angels above, demons below.

Questions, questions, questions…

I see far too many people accept ideas, concepts, theories, rules and laws; without ever once questioning them. Why are people satisfied with second-hand information from third-hand sources? Why live in a hand-me-down reality, imprisoned by someone else's thoughts? Have we lost all our critical faculties? Simple questions, but hard answers.

We live in a cyberverse, with an amazing array of information at our fingertips. A few mouse clicks, and we can gain access to more data sources than the Library of Alexandria could ever have hoped to contain upon it's shelves - even with a couple of annexes. Admittedly, we may never see some of the more esoteric works that legend has were housed there; but you see my point. The world of information and opinion has opened up to us. Every academic paper written - with a few buried exceptions - can be found somewhere. We can open up the Washington Post editorial in one window and view the sports pages of the Sarawak Tribune in another! It's all there; so why don't we use it? The truth, or at least something approaching it, is out there. Have we lost our thirst for it? No, it has been taken from us; replaced by "Knowledge."

"Knowledge is power" runs the old adage. This is true, but this simple saying is an ironic twist on it's conventionally accepted meaning. We are led to believe that the "knowledge" we can attain, through the education system, will make us more powerful, and will in turn, empower us to be more successful in our lives and careers. While this may be true for some of us, it is a false promise for most of us. That same knowledge that empowers a few, enslaves many more. How so you ask? By deference to authority.

Deference to authority is a basic psychological trait, common to all species of higher life forms, not just Homo sapiens. It is an essential aid to survival for newly born infants. Our parents are our first teachers. They are the ones who tell us what is good to eat, and what will make us ill. Such implicit trust is necessary if we are to get through those first faltering steps of life, for there will be times when our parents are not there to help us, and we must rely upon their guidance and advice to steer us safely on our path.

But when we are grown, what then? We must now use our own minds to judge what is good, and what is bad. We must acquire discernment, to sift the seeds of truth from the chaff of lies. Cui bono? must be our motto when examining the actions of men, especially those who make the laws; those who shape the world around us; those who make the decisions, which decide our lives for us.

One would think that once released from our parent's hands, into the education system, that such critical faculties as discernment and cynicism would be encouraged and nurtured. Alas, they are not. Instead, the first links in the shackles of knowledge are busily being forged. Our teachers pour "knowledge" from their heads into ours, and we in turn regurgitate it at exam time. We are never taught to question any of it, but to accept it blindly. Why? Because teachers have the knowledge and we haven't. This system perpetuates itself as pupils become teachers, and hand down that same knowledge to others ad nauseum. Yes, I know there are teachers who encourage their pupils to question and learn for themselves, but they are few and far between; diamonds in a seam of coal. I left the education system in the second year of A levels, tired of the bullshit and being channelled down a production line, filled with knowledge, to be popped out of a University course that someone else thought I was suited for; another brick in the wall.

So what becomes of all those little bricks, filled with their precious knowledge? Why, they go off to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, vets, scientists, accountants and all manner of professional little bricks.

The wall gets higher…

Of course, they don't see themselves as bricks. They are professionals. They have the knowledge that we don't. Their knowledge gives them status in society. It also gives them power, not the power to free, but the power to enslave the rest of us who don't have their knowledge. How do they do this? Well, have you ever spoken to one of these little bricks, and questioned any of their pronouncements? Were you one of the lucky ones who got a "Hmmm, you might have something there." Or did you get the standard supercilious glare that says "Just who does this slob think he is? What does he know? I have the knowledge, not him. How dare he question my authority?" How dare we indeed, after all, this little brick is educated, it's been to University. It talks in text book language with long words that we don't understand. It must know what it's talking about. The trouble is, most of the little bricks really believe in the power of their knowledge. They never questioned it when it was given to them.

And you think you're so clever and classless and free…

As we all know, when you build a wall, there will be places where you need to put smaller bricks. These smaller bricks don't have the knowledge that the bigger, professional bricks have. So the masons who build the wall give them uniforms, then people will know that they too, have authority.

The wall gets thicker…

And most of us, with our hard wired tendency to defer to figures of authority, go along with everything the little bricks tell us. And there we have the mortar that holds the whole wall of authority together; an essential early survival tool which has been cunningly and ruthlessly exploited by those who hide behind this stone curtain. The Masters of Power who shape our world.

So what is it to be? Are we content to remain a race of sheep, nibbling at the grass in front of us for all our lives, then blindly offer up our throats to the slaughterer's blade? Or have we the courage to question, question, question?

Welcome to the stake; where the questions burn brightly and fiercely.

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