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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lost in a cloud

I’ve just finished reading ‘What You Really Need to Know about the Internet’ by John Naughton and the main thought ringing in my ears is about the physicality of the internet, especially with regards to cloud computing and what that might mean for the environment.

Naughton writes
‘if you had an idea of cloud computing as something engagingly wispy and ethereal, think again: this is an industry with a heavy, industrial-scale environmental footprint’

I suppose that is the thing that I don’t often appreciate when I’m blogging or fooling about on the internet.
Whenever we upload a picture to Facebook or a video to Youtube that video/picture has to be saved in some physical loaction somewhere in the world.
Or whenever I write this blog and post it, it will be saved (as well as the autosave versions, any pictures etc.)in some physical location somewhere in the world.

The picture I have in my head is of a giant PC box hundreds and hundreds of feet wide (like a mega version of the one I can see in front of me right now) in various physical locations throughout the world. It is something that has escaped my attention as I’ve blogged, sold stuff online, Facebook’d, digitized so much of my life and uploaded it. I haven’t just been using my computer at home or the library computer with the energy demands of using those, but using data farms in different mysterious locations throughout the world.

For example Facebook are building a huge server farm 60 miles south of the Artic Circle in Sweden.
The reason? To be close to a large hydroelectric electricity source and because the Artic temperature is ideal for keeping the building cool. So it’s not just a case of me plucking stuff beautifully from the cloud and using it, it’s not just a case of it being clean, easy and quick. No, there are hidden mounted racks in vast warehouses that had to be extracted from the materials of the earth using dirty fossil fuels and then powered (and kept cool in many locations) by vast amounts of energy (and how much of that is renewable?).

As our mobile devices seem to get more beautiful and powerful we can be seduced into thinking that there is no dirt and cost involved. But the cost is there, it’s just hidden behind the cloud.

Surprisingly (well at least to me) Ireland has quite a few of these data centres. Google are building a major one in Dublin, Amazon and Microsoft have ones already and are looking to expand them.
The last time I checked Ireland wasn’t exactly a renewable energy hub, but maybe things have changed in the three years I’ve lived up here.
Perhaps these huge data centres are using Airtricity or something, but I’d be surprised if they are or even could. And that means the more people put stuff on Youtube or use Google+, the more pollution is released into the atmosphere and the more we contribute to global warming. Which means that even as I finish this post about how we contribute to global warming I’ve juist contributed to global warming. Time to think.

a prayer for the mid-week break

I’m in Mayo, on the beach at Keel, Achill Island with the curlew. The sky is blue  but soon the rain clouds will roll in.
I’m blue – but it’s nice to have a break from here.  I want this to be a nice break for us, to feel a tiny bit restored when we return. We’re both weary and tired, a bit fed up sometimes but I want this to be a nice break in Mayo for a couple of days.  We’re both a tiny bit blue.