I’m looking at the man in the mirror

sea of loneliness263
I went to see the Wim Wenders film about Pope Francis last week and the main thing I’ve been pondering since is…

Why do we find it so hard to see the ways in which we do the same sorts of things that we give others a complete kicking about?

Or in other words. Do we look in the mirror enough to see if we’re guilty of the same sort of failings?

I think that we’re pretty good at pointing out the speck in other people’s eye but bad at noticing the plank in our own. Or even pointing out the large plank in other peoples eye because I don’t want to create the impression that the stuff that someone else has done isn’t important or horrible or deadly serious. Maybe every body has a plank in their eye?

It’s just that a lot of people who hate the Roman Catholic church in Ireland for failing to protect children don’t seem to be as good as recognising their own failings when it comes to protecting children.

I’ve been thinking about it every time I read something about how the present Pope has been a complete failure in tackling clerical child abuse and the cover up. People are angry that he hasn’t done anything about it and has failed after seeming to be a different type of Pope at the start.

I have no idea the amount of pain and suffering this has caused and I’m not trying to defend the church, especially as I don’t consider myself a member of the Roman Catholic church. I in no way want to belittle it.

At the same time I get frustrated that we don’t seem to get that we are continually making conscious decisions that are causing children to suffer and destroying their lives right now.
In numbers that will dwarf anything the RC church has done or could ever do. Because we’re upholding a system that abuses the planet that we all depend on to live healthy, fruitful lives. It doesn’t matter what religion you are or if you don’t have a religion, it involves us all. And future generations.

I don’t think that is hyperbole to say that. We don’t seem to get how serious it is and just keep doing the things we’re doing as if it doesn’t matter.I personally think that we’re just as likely to turn a blind eye to suffering children and make excuses for the perpetrators as some bishop did in 1950’s Ireland.

So we point out the sins of the priest and how they had a system that destroyed the lives of children and locked them away and how it was a national disgrace. And yes it was and is.

Yet last week you had children sleeping in a Garda station or you’ve 1500 kids bundled into direct provision centres. We could change that by demanding that our politicians do something about it. Do we? No, many people turn a blind eye or are happy that they’re treated like that as it might mean their parents decide to go back home to where they are from or somewhere else.apart from Ireland.

They’re happy that kids are being robbed of a decent childhood and support it.

I think that when we don’t care about tackling climate change we’re turning a blind eye and not doing enough to stop children being harmed or having their lives wrecked.
We are deciding on a course of action that wrecks lives and families and tears their world apart. Do people care about that?

Do we care that if glaciers melt more children will suffer and die through flooding, crops and homes being destroyed, diseases spreading?
Do we care that air pollution will kill more kids if we keep burn fossil fuels?

No, many people are happy to protect the system of a high consuming, wasteful, greedy lifestyle and want it to flourish.
They want more things and bigger cars even though our planet can’t support that sort of lifestyle.
People are happy to be rich and live in luxury while 100’s of millions of children don’t even have access to clean water or enough to eat.

Kids are the ones who have done least to wreck the planet yet they are the ones who will have to bear the brunt of our decisions and lack of action. We have been warned about the consequences of inaction yet are happy to stick our fingers in the ear and ignore the cries of the poor. So does that make you better than members of a church who did nothing about abuse when they heard whispers about it?

They will die and suffer because we have decided to live our lives in certain ways, because we’ve made decisions that forced them into becoming refugees and made them flee on boats across the Mediterranean. Then when the turn up seeking refuge from some war zone our governments (who we vote for) won’t allow them across our borders.
We’ll stick them in some sort of refugee camp.
That’s if they make it alive across a frightening boat journey.

I watched the documentary of Pope Francis knowing that some film critics felt that he didn’t say enough about the issue of clerical child abuse. He did answer a question and said that there should be zero tolerance for it. To me he seemed genuinely angry about the fact that it has happened.But it also seemed to me that he was trying to tackle an issue that was too much for an 81 yr old man to be expected to handle. Which doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been trying to tackle the horrors of systematic abuse in the church, just that he is an 81yr old man.

To me this is man who knows that he won’t have that long as Pope,
who knows that the world is on the edge of environmental meltdown and that it will lead to many children and people suffering. More children unnecessarily suffering than at any period in history actually. He knows that this is the most important issue of our time and that he wants to do something about it to stop children suffering now and in the future in the short time he will have.

I can understand why some people feel like he has been a complete failure with regards to the horrors of the church and child abuse. I just wonder if we look in the mirror enough and consider the ways in which we might be using our power to deprive children of their fundamental rights and dignity?

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‘Global Warming is’ autocomplete

climate change

Global warming is a lie, a hoax, a myths, a natural cycle.
Global warming is bullshit, bad, BS, beneficial.
Global warming is caused by humans, caused by human activity, caused by the sun.
Global warming is dead, defined as, dangerous.

Global warming is eroding glacial ice, exaggerated, expected to result in…
Global warming is fake, false, fake proof, fake facts.
Global warming is good, getting worse, good for us, good for the planet.
Global warming is happening, human caused, hoax.

Global warming…is it real? it happening? it our fault? inevitable?
Global warming is just a natural cycle, just the tip of the iceberg, just a myth, junk science.
Global warming is killing polar bear, killing animals, real Koch brothers.
Global warming is leaving many homeless, lie, likely to harm us, too late to stop.

Global warming is manmade, myth, most pronounced at the, man made essay.
Global warming is not happening, natural, not real, not caused by humans.
Global warming is over, our fault, occurring, over exaggerated.
Global warming is part of a natural cycle, produced by the greenhouse effect, problem, propaganda

Global warming is fake quotes, natural quotes, bullshit quotes.
Global warming is real, rubbish, real proof, real article.
Global warming is slowing, slowing down, stupid, serious
Global warming is the rise in temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. thought to be caused by the, the result of.

Global warming is  unequivocal, undeniable unstoppable, untrue
Global warming is very real.
Global warming is wrong, when the earth heats up, worse than we thought.
Global warming is fake yahoo, real yahoo, natural yahoo
Global warming is zealots, zombies.

industrial fishing

I found this  sitting in a bookshop  a few weeks back and have been dipping into it ever since (the orange book that is, not the vegetable peelings..)

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I skipped some chapters  as they didn’t seem to be that relevant to the world I live in.

When it was written in the mid 60s we didn’t have mobile phones and Twitter, instant digital communication in our pockets, ATMs, debit cards, Ryanair etc.  The population of the earth was 3.3 billion, now there are 4 billion extra people and growing.

It is a pretty good reminder of things I’ve been taught over the years,  from talks as a student to chats with people I know.
Reading it  now it doesn’t seem to engage with the world much outside the UK, which is was maybe to be expected. Perhaps before the computer revolution the world was less linked. I don’t know if the right term is globalization, but now we’re maybe more linked to people over the planet and not just those in the UK or Ireland.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by thinking about who is my neighbour and how am I to love them?
Assuming that everyone is my neighbour on the planet right now I don’t really know how to live wisely.
Do we have to make a sort of league table of things we care about a lot and then other things we relegate to near the bottom?

The problem is maybe praying those lines in the Lords Prayer of ‘on earth as in heaven’. The earth is so big! It is tiring trying to work it out. How do I change my actions in a globalized world to make it more like heaven?

An example of the sort of line which I would have accepted as being true when  I was student but now I am not so sure about is:-

‘The bounty of nature is there to be used and there is enough for all if only we have energy enough to lay claim to it’

I am not sure if there is enough for all, or at least enough for all living a typical Western diet with hunks of meat and driving cars.
There are 4 billion extra people in those 50 yrs since he wrote this book.  Does the planet have enough bounty to allow everyone to live even a modest western style lifestyle?

In some cases is there is even a bounty of nature left for people to use?
An example of that would be the collapse of the cod fishery in Newfoundland.
Around the  60s when this book was written vast quantities of fish where being taken on an industrial scale and then the bounty disappeared.

dominion over hake

There is a verse in the opening chapter of the bible that has been bothering me.

“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

It is this command to subdue the earth and have dominion over other creatures that troubles me as it seems to legitimize treating other creatures as natural resources to be exploited for our enjoyment.

I was looking at the words on the STEP Bible software :-

Subdue =to subject, subdue, force, keep under, bring into bondage
Dominion =
to rule, have dominion, dominate, tread down

The idea of subjecting, forcing, keeping under, bringing into bondage seem like aggressive even violent words, especially since they are words given before the fall of man.

Similarly the idea of having dominion, dominating, treading down don’t seem to be words that are in tune with the idea of the lion lying down with the lamb. It seems like a rough way of living with little affection.

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On Sunday  night a kind lady popped around  with fish  that had just been landed from the North Atlantic.
She kindly gave us a big white box of some type of fish and some prawns.
The box was unmarked but checking a book I reckon it was probably hake. Reading on book then said:-

‘We all have our weaknesses, certain things – like roulette, scrumpy or chocolate – we can’t quite  trust ourselves to be around. The Spanish tend to lose their heads over fish, and none more so than hake. Merzula, as they call it, is their fish of choice, bordering on a national obsession – and now bordering on an international ecological disaster… much of it is caught by Spain’s extensive deepwater fleet, the biggest and most heavily subsidised in the European Union. Few species apart from cod and bluefin tuna are under more pressure”
The River Cottage Fish Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher

The verse in Genesis with the idea of dominating and treading down doesn’t seem to fit easily with the idea that we should fish gently and carefully.

And that was a command in the Garden of Eden before sin had entered the world. Now that sin has entered how much more aggressive and violent is mankind?See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out.

Vessel_Finder_-_Free_AIS_Ship_Tracking_of_Marine_Traffic_-_2014-01-23_13

wasters

ImageWe’ve just received a letter from Galway City Council saying that they are discontinuing their bin collection service. Our bins will shortly be collected  by a private company instead. This has made me unhappy.

When we first moved to Galway  I knew that a number of different private bin companies in the area collected rubbish and these bin services may well be slightly cheaper  and come more frequently  etc. However I still preferred the idea of the council doing  it as it seemed to me to be more of a community effort. In my eyes a private bin company would exist mainly for profit and making money (while providing an essential service)

I was thinking about this yesterday at my compost bin.
By composting my vegetable waste and reducing the weight of my brown bin over the year it means that I will be charged less by the bin company as the bin will have to be collected less often.
If everyone in the area started doing this and the number of brown bins being collected reduced it would be bad for a business that makes profit by collecting your rubbish.
I don’t think that a private bin company has any reason to encourage people to stop putting waste and rubbish out. In fact, it is better for business if people put out more rubbish. More rubbish bins means more money for the company.

I realize that councils are far from perfect either but I think that there is more chance of householders/businesses in Galway being encouraged to reduce the amount of waste they put out for collection if the council is having to deal with it.  There is a section on their website for example that tells us

‘Waste prevention should always be the first step in waste management. Rather than thinking ‘what bin should I put this item in?’, think ‘did I really need this item in the first place?’.

By not generating waste, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste. We can also avoid having to pay for these services. So next time you shop, think about the waste that you are not only paying for once, but twice as you pay for its disposal later.’

If you are a private bin company then ‘eliminating the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste‘ is the last thing you’d want to do!

raspberries and rare earth metals

Hidden away among the undergrowth of the manse/house/home  I found a few raspberry canes.
So the past few weeks I’ve been picking them, raspberry by raspberry, setting them on a tray in the freezer and bagging them to see what weight of fruit I can harvest from this piece of land in the garden. (can we reach 500g?)

These canes have been completely neglected and in my excitement I’ve probably been over eager to pick them. They could maybe have been left a few more days to plump up a little. But I was excited to get them picked.

The thing that I am trying to get into my head and visualize is the amount of land that is needed to grow x amount of raspberries. An area of land about 0.5 m sq has so far yield about enough berries to make a pudding. How much land is needed to grow all the pots of raspberry jam that are going mouldy in cupboards all over Ireland?

This is something that is nearly impossible for us to do being disconnected from the land as we are, especially those of us who live in cities or towns. To picture a piece of land somewhere in the world where our raspberries are grown might take a bit of effort.
The same for our wheat, our rice, our potatoes. When we lift a bag in Dunnes Stores we have little reason to think about where the beans for our baked beans are grown or where the sugar for our Coca Cola was grown. But they have been grown and harvested somewhere,in some other community and piece of land.
The metals in that enamel milk jug where dug up somewhere. The rare earth materials in our electronic gadgets came from somewhere.

Thinking about rare metals seems to be something that we need not concern ourselves with and it wasn’t really something I had considered that much until this morning after church when I got chatting to a gentleman from Malaysia who starting talking about a rare earth refining plant in his home town. Our demand for electronics will have consequences for the area he is from.  For him the big concern wasn’t so much the radiation from the processing plant  but the acidification of water from the refining process.  What will people do when trees start dying from the change in acidity? How will the water be neutralized when it costs so much?


He had also mentioned that when you fly into Malaysia you now see unending palm tree plantations to supply the world with palm oil. To plant the palm trees that go into cosmetics and other consumer products the native forests had to be cleared and burnt.  That bar of soap in the bathroom might have come from his neck of the woods and if not it came from someone else part of the world. How many neglected, unused bars of soap are sitting in bathrooms around the UK?

I think talking to this gentleman from this particular part of the world reminded me that buying a new smart phone or coconut milk in Poundland has consequences for real people, not abstract, ghost-like phantoms who’ll just be alright.

copper mining and stuff – Ilo Copper Smelter, Peru

‘the copper smelter near Ilo (southern Peru) produced poisonous airborne plumes that affected vegetation and lungs for miles around…The Ilo smelter opened in 1960, and within four years farmers up to 200 kilometers away had organized a lawsuit seeking compensation for crop damage’

John McNeill, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the twentieth Century