the Spartan child

Protect the Spartan child on the mount

Bring him down the mount and back to health

Defend the warrior, enveloped in battle

Covertly, surreptitiously, by stealth

 

Be Provedore to the unprotected

Without they do not go nor suffer yet

Support the weak, coerced, from shame, deflected

Allow those outside, known, within to come

 

Destine the poor to rise again

Challenge, be it feted, to their station

To those less fortune, a lender be

From those less fortune, a debt repay

 

Challenge the strong, brave to be

The weak have mercy, ever thus

Open oneself to the child within

Altruism lends itself in times like these

 

Be not the one who turns away

Who turns his back to others left

Be not the one who shies, defrays

When the challenge rises, prey, be deft.


			

sweet sunshine

A moonlit shadow appeared that dark night,
Bright as ever was the sunburnt day.
Hail sweet sunshine, with a smile.
Dark, grey cloud, suspend, delay.

Serendipitous was the chance encounter,
Surreptitiously he left.
Hark at the raindrops, softly, sweetly.
Awaken, she did, surprised, bereft.

Raindrops developed into thunder,
Lightning followed a partner's twist.
Sweet sunshine, smile, now asunder,
Replaced with frown, between, betwixt.

'Arise from melancholia,' the lover said,
'Never again alone you'll be.
My love is boundless, no need to dread.
Sweet thing please have mercy on me.'

Lightning, thunder, fade away,
Raindrops, with sunshine, now re-traced.
My heart and your heart, one and the same -
Be still my sweetheart, always remain.

True to oneself, true together,
Beyond the moonlit shadow, we disappear.
Doubt gone, certainty returned -
Love me forever. I shed a tear.

Neville Chamberlain or Charlie Wilson?

Recently my very own Prime Minister declared the need for “restraint” in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris and Mali. According to some sources, there have been 291 terror attacks in the course of the 2015 calendar year thus far, (to the 26th November). Restraint may be seen by some to be a mature, tolerant, and decent policy to follow in the wake of the death of innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists. But there is only a small likelihood restraint will be seen as the most efficient way to counter a terror threat.

In 1938, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, signed the Munich Agreement, which ceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. Arriving home to declare “peace for our time,” Chamberlain declared;

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

Taking into account the circumstances surrounding Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement and the British aversion to another armed conflict, “peace for our time” would have appeared to be a calming statement at a time of uncertainty. Yet the Polish would not thank him a year later when their nation was invaded from the north, south and west by Germany.

Do you think appeasement would work today with ISIL? Diplomacy and tolerance may be the first step in any potential conflict, but what chance is there for western leaders to negotiate their way out of the existing conflict? We seem to be in ‘no-man’s land’ as far as our response to the continuing tragedies we face, almost daily, are concerned. No war, no peace, no diplomacy, no covert operations.

Associated Press reported yesterday that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said her country “would do more in the global fight against [ISIL].” Germany currently provides weapons and training for Kurds in Iraq.

Her ‘commitment’ must be anything but re-assuring to Francois Hollande, who has declared war against ISIL for their terror attack and brutal killing of 130 people in Paris on November 13th.

A poll taken five days ago by ABC-Washington Post claims that sixty percent of American respondents favoured more ground troops in the fight against ISIL and almost three in four back more military action in general. It seems the time for talking around the wood-panelled table is well and truly over.

So, are we at war?

War is defined by Merriam-Webster as;

: a state or period of fighting between countries or groups
: a situation in which people or groups compete with or fight against each other
: an organized effort by a government or other large organization to stop or defeat something that is viewed as dangerous or bad

By definition, it appears we are. But is this what’s done when western governments need their constituents to see that they are doing something to counter risk and fear? Or is this what’s done when western governments want to defeat an enemy and make the world a safer place for all?

It appears we are going to continue to get more of the same, with the French upper house having just voted 325 – 0 to continue French air strikes in Syria beyond early January 2016.

Perhaps we need a little of Charlie Wilson right about now. Charlie Wilson served twelve terms in the Congress for the Texas 2nd Congressional District. A Democrat, and a colorful representative to boot, he was responsible for promoting Operation Cyclone, which saw the Afghan rebels, known as the Mujahedeen, receive billions of dollars in military equipment used to fight off the Soviets during the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980’s.

As a member of the Defense Appropriations Sub-committee, he was able to increase the ‘budget’ from a few million dollars to over $700 million a year by the end of the decade. The movie Charlie Wilson’s War, with Tom Hanks starring as Charlie Wilson, describes the events of this time in stunning visual imagery.

Is Charlie Wilson a man of his time or a man for our time? Food for thought as the West contemplates the best way forward in a time of fear and uncertainty.

oxymoronically-speaking

Never before, once again

Away, at home, forever

Sincerely dishonest, as was before

Always, maybe, never

 

An honest liar, stubborn tolerance

To liberally legislate

Hedonistic stoicism

Accepting of difference and irate

 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Out of sight means you’re out of mind

Forgetful of those not in our sight

What you see is all there is to find

 

Energetically sedentary,

A soldier of poverty I found

Giving to the wealthy, taxing the poor

Cruel to be kind, such thoughts abound

 

Do unto to others before they do unto you

Treat others as you’d treat yourself

Parental supervisory neglect

A librarian who leaves books on the shelf

 

A serious joke, an honest thief

Pain is required for pleasure

Happily sad, alone together

Sun proves we’re in for nasty weather

 

My day was busy doing nothing

We were ridiculously sublime

Clearly confused, alone together

Oxymoronically defined

 

at the crossroads

Australian newspapers this weekend had but one issue in their ‘Commentary’ section(s) – Paris. For once I read everyone’s opinions.

By the time I post this, at least nineteen people have died in Mali. For once, media coverage was all over the hostage crisis, and our hearts go out to the families of those that died, as well as to those injured in the attack.

This past week has brought it home to me how truly lucky I am. I live in one of the safest countries on earth – Australia. We have never had a war on our shores, although we have lost many young lives contributing to them. We are one of the most reliable supporters of liberal western democracy and its ongoing place in the world. It could be said we ‘punch above our weight.’

Yet the very freedoms we take for granted are not supported in our Constitution. It does not protect our right to freedom of speech. However, Section 18(c) of our Racial Discrimination Act specifically says;

It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people.

To many of you reading this you may think this is reasonable, some may think it necessary. However, in a country such as mine which values the very freedoms we are not explicitly given, it serves to pare back from the classically liberal philosophy upon which nations such as mine were established.

Classical liberalism is a philosophy that assisted the Founding Fathers when they were writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson being a scholar. It espouses that individual members of society will have the right to go about their daily lives, conducting themselves in accordance with the rule of law, insofar as they will be able to speak, write, live, freely, so long as they cause no harm to others in the process. This leads to the primacy of individual thought, and government playing the role of protector of individuals against each other.

However, countries such as Great Britain, Australia and, to a lesser extent, the United States, have shied away from espousing the importance of classical liberalism as the basic tenet upon which free society was founded, erring in favor of a social construct that has led to government playing a far greater role in the lives of the individual than John Locke or Thomas Jefferson ever imagined.

This has moved individual thought from a sense of the need for self-reliance to a sense of the need for government regulation, a move from enlightenment to entitlement weakening the very framework of western civilization.

The further we shy away from classical liberalism, the weaker our free societies will become. The weaker we are the less the ability to effectively fight those that believe in anything but freedom. And if they believe in freedom at all, they believe in the freedom to think how they think, the freedom to believe what they believe, the freedom to do as they do, the freedom to say what they say.

In the West, the trend towards the espousal of political correctness as a basic paradigm can be seen as one example of our trend toward government reliance and a regulatory societal shift. The Learner’s (Merriam-Webster) Dictionary defines ‘politically correct’ as;

agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.

This can be seen to be an attack on individual rights to freedom of expression. Taken to its logical conclusion, the politically correct can shut down discussion and/or argument in free society about issues of import and opinion on those issues that does not comply with the politically corrects point-of-view.

This is one reason why the West has been at pains not to mention the word ‘Islam’ in public speech relating to terrorist activity by terror groups such as ISIL and Boko Haram.

Political correctness has now graduated to the stage where it can be seen to be the ‘macro’ definition of what’s right and wrong. There’s a new word in town – ‘micro-aggression.’

Frank Furedi explained this very well in his excellent article of 21st November in The Weekend Australian, entitled ‘Whatever you say is highly offensive.’ Let me give you an example. I’m in a lift and say to the person across the way; “Hi, how are you? Where are you from?” That is a form of micro-aggression, for if they are from, say, the Sudan, and I’m from Australia, my comment could affect their sense of self-worth, for what I’m (apparently) really telling them is:

You’re a lesser person than me because you’re from Africa and you’re black.

The fact is, I just like having a chat to ‘break the ice’ in what’s almost always an awkward situation.

Go to http://www.microaggressions.com and you’ll see what I mean.

In essence, I welcome open conversation, disagreement, argument on issues of importance to us all in our day-to-day lives. The extreme left are trying to de-value those discussions by telling the rest of us there is only one way to think, one way to act, one way to speak.

These ‘trends’ in liberal, western, democratic society weaken our ability to fight for what most of us truly hold dear – the very freedoms upon which philosophers like John Locke and statesman like Thomas Jefferson built reputations and declarations.

Classical liberalism was the basic tenet upon which free society was created. It will be the basic tenet upon which free society will succeed. Let’s not put in doubt the freedoms our forefathers fought so hard to provide by over-riding those freedoms with regulatory restraints designed to reign in the free expression we hold so very dear.

Amour

A butterfly fluttering in the breeze,

A raindrop on a sunny day,

A rainbow bringing colour,

Telling rain to ‘go away.’

A long-awaited but stifling summer,

Of beachfront and of sand,

Of coral sea, of vacation,

Of time spent hand in hand.

Vintage wineries in the south of France,

Vineyards in Burgundy, and how?

Two romantic lust-struck lovers,

Living life for here and now.

Amour is the French word for ‘love,’

Irresistable, for sure.

Amour is the word that sends hearts aflutter,

‘I love you now, forever more.’

Peas and carrots

Peas, pod,

Carrots, bowl,

Sliced, boiled, life

 

Bread, toaster,

Toasted, plate,

Butter spread by knife

 

Water, kettle,

Boiled, mug,

Sugar. Milk or cream?

 

Coffee, tea

Decaf, black

Earl grey, breakfast, green

 

Never before

Forgot, remind

Twenty-four seven, time

 

Bomb, detonate,

Self-harm. Relate?

TV, Facebook. Mine

 

Broadcast, air

Surprise, unfair

Comprehend. Believe

 

Black, white,

Shades of gray,

Nothing’s certain. Grieve.

 

Lest we forget

I took my choc lab down the beach this morning. She loves to play with the other dogs and chase the ball while I talk to the ‘locals,’ a little community all their own.

Our sense of safety and security never occurred to us. We all waded our feet in the water and walked on the sandy beach, lapping up the warm sunshine that the morning had brought to us. How fortunate we all were? The photo that goes with this piece is of my choc lab, Kahlua. How lucky I am to have her? Her sense of living for the moment is ever-present.

Recent events have brought home to me my feeling of fortune and privilege. As we think of those loved ones left behind and those less fortunate who lost their lives in Paris on November 13th, let’s also save a thought for those innocent civilians in Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Chad, and other nations, who were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Liberal western democracies tend to empathise with liberal, western democracies. The attack in Paris at Charlie Hebdo’s office was seen as an attack on our very own freedom of speech. Our empathy was made clearer by the sense that Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine.

Yet around the same time over a hundred civilians were murdered in Baga, Nigeria, by Boko Haram, an Islamist terror group. The number of fatalities cannot be confirmed, some reporting as many as 2,000.

Reading up about Boko Haram and Nigeria’s troubles, there is good reason why terror attacks in liberal democracies gain more traction.

1. Access – freedom of movement in and around the attack(s) is easier to achieve
2. Familiarity with the fallen – the greater the ‘likeness’ between the fallen and the empathetic, the greater the empathy
3. Media coverage – the more we hear about something the greater its impact on our ‘sensibilities.’

There will be much said about what occurred in Paris. But let us not forget that (using Wikipedia as my guide), there have been 289 terror attacks up to November 13th, in 2015 alone.

These include:-

• A suicide bombing in Nigeria, October 2nd, killing 18
• A car bombing in Iraq, October 5th, killing 57
• Suicide bombings in Turkey, October 10th, killing 102
• Suicide bombings the same day, in Chad, killing 38
• A suicide bombing in Nigeria 4 days later, killing 42
• Bombings in Nigeria, October 23rd, killing 27
• A suicide bombing in Pakistan the same day, killing 22
• A suspected bombing in Egypt, October 31st, killing 224 (Metrojet Flight 9268)

So let’s value our freedom and fight for it at every turn. Let’s never take it for granted. Let’s realize that it isn’t given lightly and can easily be taken away. And let’s bring into our circle of empathy innocent civilians who so happen to live in societies that don’t yet have the privilege of being liberal, western, or democratic.

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