“Genie, you’re free..”

Suicide is for cowards”

I have no respect for anyone who takes their own life”

Sitting at work after the news of Robin Williams death, these were not the reactions I expected. Amongst the pain stricken declarations of sorrow at this shocking and devastating news, were dabbles or idiotic naivety. “How could someone take their own life?” I heard above the usual office chit-chatter.

How could someone have never even considered the possibility? How could such an idea be absolutely foreign? How easy it could be just to end everything, how could that not even be tempting? I envy anyone who has never even thought of and cannot even comprehend the concept of dabbling in what is deemed the extremely ‘taboo’. In a society where our whole lives seem predetermined by society, politics and the media freedom is an illusion to many. At times, the only decision one can take a hold of is ending ones life; is it really surprising that people choose to take the one decision which is truly ours?

But it’s selfish” reply the masses of naïve, narrowed minded people. Even so, how hard must things get for someone to think that their death will be less of a burden than their life has been on their friends and family. Mental illness is not a decision, it is no more chosen than people who are diagnosed with MS or Cancer, although many would agree that euthanasia or assisted-suicide for the latter is more ‘socially acceptable’ than a mentally ill person committing suicide despite the great resonance between terminal illness and depression.

What’s with the stigma associated with depression? Why is it that people say the word with an instant roll of their eyes? As if it’s not a ‘real’ illness. And of course, a rich person definitely can’t have depression (one says in that aggravating, drawling know-it-all voice whilst rolling their fucking eyes) because at the end of the day rich people get sad and they “go buy a Lamborghini”. I’m sure it works like that. Rich person feels lonely they just “call one of their celebrity friends over”. Wow. When did money start to arbitrate happiness? It’s a duly taught nod to modern culture that the societal obsession with money and fame have indoctrinated many into believing that celebrities and the like have it all. Invincible super-beings. If only.

I wish so too, as much as I’d love to believe that one can reach such a stage of invincibility no one is immune from the hankering beast that is mental illness; who’s victims lay far and wide. It’s part of human nature to be vulnerable, to suffer, worsened so by the unkindness and narrow-mindedness of these other’s who feel that suicide or depression is ‘beneath them’. I applaud your prognosis. I hope to god you’re right.

Written for Cub Magazine: http://cubmagazine.co.uk/2014/08/the-suicide-debate/

Rule, Britannia?

‘I am proud to be British’ they announce.

As if Britishness had become a foreign concept- as if it something elitist to say ‘I am British’. What does that even mean? To me it’s just a nationality, written on a passport, attempting to define me. It really doesn’t.

The raucous claims of Britishness, the people behind the noise, are mesmerised by the call to restore what is ‘Great’ about Britain ricocheting between the mouths of each party leader. Is it only those with a general understanding of the history of the last 100 years who understand that this plea to national identity is the most obvious form of propaganda? Can our modern day politicians find nothing better to string us along with? Are we no more developed or intelligent that our 1930s Russian and German counterparts? Build a common enemy- reinforce patriotism- embed nationality in education. Surely it’s not just me who can see the undeniable parallels?

A common enemy: immigrants, haven’t they always been. Clearly nothing changes, or no politician is imaginative enough to change anything. What about the tax evaders- are they a not more worthy enemy? But, of course, they deliver such important ‘services’ to the U.K that their criminality can go unnoticed. (Did the Queen forget to remind you to pay your taxes whilst she was knighting you Gazza?)

How many times have we heard a politician serenading Britain with constant reminders of her greatness? Their faces begin to merge into one grotesque mask: Cameron, Farage, Miliband (and the other, useless one, what’s his name?) a super-beast of political inadequacy. With ease this gusto infiltrates education: a heinous announcement to make the study of English in schools wholly British in an attempt to indoctrinate the young- what a load of bullshit. Michael Gove can go shove that where the sun doesn’t shine (his conservative arse). How can one study English without understanding its roots and links with other countries. It’s disgusting enough that African literature doesn’t even get a word in let alone American literature being banished as well. But of course, the English language is heralded as one of the mighty triumphs of the British. I am in utter despair. Perhaps History should have a more prominent place on the curriculum?

If only plagiarism was to the student as stealing past political tactics was to the politician- if only.

 

Measurements

There’s no peace,
Not in this life
Defined by body types
and whether you have a gap between your thighs

Success, written in the curvature
of your arse – or chest –
Measure me?
Be my fucking guest.

Do I meet the requirements?
Have I passed the test?
Too large, Doesn’t fit the mould
they said

Nonetheless, bodies reduce to bones
a skeleton: equal in the end
No evidence is left
What did you expect?

So, how big is your coffin when you die?
How many attendees at your funeral,
what did you leave behind?
A bank balance

-That’s nice

 

I Have a Dream

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

-Martin Luther King, 28th August 1963

We’re in 1960s America. The jubilation is ecstatic. Waves of triumph electrify those once deadened eyes of the segregated race: black Americans. Safety is reassured as the laws that tortured them for centuries are undone. Years of countless campaigning has paid off. It has all been for something. By law, segregation and racially motivated violence has ended. By law.

Revolution doesn’t follow. Racism continues. Discrimination in the workplace continues. The ‘equal but different’ philosophy of the 1800’s Jim Crow Laws continues. A change in law cannot establish a change in lifestyle.The resounding problem is that of unfaltering opinion rooted in centuries of the same narrow-minded, uneducated drivel; opinions concocted by the elite and powerful and fed through society over centuries. Stories and myths about what is ‘right’ and what is apparently ‘wrong’. So the overturning of state-school segregation by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, in no way made it easier for Black Americans to be accepted by their white peers and similarly the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not disparage all racism from the workplace either. Reaching ‘true equality’ is an ongoing battle for the majority of us even in the 21st Century.

_________________________________________________________________________________

It’s the 26th of February 2012. I was walking home from my local convenience store. I’d visited this place a few times but it was still interesting to look around at the buildings as I walked back to my Dad’s fiancée’s house. My pockets were weighed down with a can of ice tea and some skittles, it was getting a lot darker. I knew my Dad would worry about me, the area wasn’t a particularly good one to be walking around in this late at night, and more than anything I knew he was anticipating the arrival of the skittles. My slow wander turned into a run back to Dad. I didn’t want to worry him. The slamming of a car door nearby made me uneasy. I quickened my pace. I could hear footsteps fastly approaching behind me. I was being followed. I turned abruptly catching the guys nose with my fist. I knew I shouldn’t have wandered back from the store. The guy continued towards me, he must’ve been about 30 years old. He didn’t match the description my Dad gave me of the kids who’d been causing trouble around the retreat. I realised too late that I did. Someone please help me I thought over and over. I tried to force the guy away from me yelling ‘help’ as loudly as I could hoping that someone would hear me. ‘Help’ I shouted, my mouth becoming dry and coarse as the word resonated against the walls, fell against them, reaching no ears. No one came to save me.

Before I knew it a gunshot had been fired. I fell to the ground. -I had been murdered.

No, that’s not my account. But if it was, is there anyway that you would doubt that I had been murdered? Shot to the chest by a 28 year old male, armed only with a can of ice tea and a bag of skittles. Pursued by that male, against police instruction (on calling the police whilst in the car they advised him to remain in there and told him not to pursue the ‘suspicious’ person). Yes I defended myself but since when did a broken nose equal a gunshot? Is it only murder because I’m white? because I’m female? Does race or sex really come into the equation? If I were a 17 year old black male by the name of Trayvon Martin I wasn’t murdered. This was just self defence under the ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law.

“A stand-your-ground law is a type of self defence that gives individuals the right to use reasonable force without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation”

George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges of second degree murder and manslaughter on the 13th of July 2013 by a jury made up of 5 white, and one black woman. Zimmerman pleaded self defence against a 17 year old black male whom he had racially profiled as ‘suspicious’ and ‘dangerous’. Why 45 years after discrimination based upon race, gender and religion, is a teenager murdered for belonging to a certain race and therefore fitting into a certain narrow-minded stereotype?

Is the loss of a black man’s life not worth punishment?

Since when did being black make someone a threat? When does pursuing and then shooting someone, regardless of being suspicious of them, not account to either murder or manslaughter? When is a gunshot reasonable force against a can of drink and a bag of skittles? How does a teenager running create a ‘dangerous’ situation? What about this teenager arouses suspicion or any essence of danger?

And we ask; what if Trayvon Martin was white? What difference would that have made?

The fact that Trayvon Martin’s race is a factor in all of this is just wrong. Whether Trayvon Martin was murdered or not, is not reliant on whether he was black or white. His life was taken on unreasonable grounds, and it is more than disrespectful to leave this case without justice for Trayvon and his family- justice for Black Americans. 58 years since Emmett Till became the martyr for equality, we have a new martyr: Trayvon Martin.

“I have a dream today…” – Martin Luther King, 28th of August 1963

… that equality will be a reality and not just legislatory, that opinions will change and people will be accepting and understanding of people regardless of race, religion, gender and sexuality. It’s unrealistic, I know.

 

Fairwell to the Fairground

Life isn’t about fun and games, those ideals spoon fed to us as children, as teenagers, are nothing more than  candy floss coloured, E numbered up, sugar coated lies. “Eat up it’s good for you” the smarter of us are reassured whilst we hold these spoon-fed lies in our mouths reluctant to swallow it down like the rest. Eventually it starts sticking in your throat, the sugar coating isn’t sweet enough, not convincing enough and the cheap taste of polystyrene seeps through. Bland, phoney, unappetising- that’s what it’s really like. And once you uncover that bland plastic taste underneath all the sugar coating, it’ll never go away.

We compete to have the best, the most convincing sugar coating over our bland lives of polystyrene. Trying to forget that we ever tasted the bitterness- the truth behind it all. Everything becomes a competition, not doing something because you want it but because someone else does. Scrambling around on your hands and knees for the last scraps of sugar to coat the bitterness, engorging yourself into obesity just to escape reality.

It makes you feel fucking sick, sick to the stomach. Sick because there’s no cure for it.

 

Freedom Is An Illusion

Sometimes it’d just be easier to eradicate the necessity of decision making. Remove freedom. Wipe the slate clean of guilt and second guessing and those formidable ‘what ifs?’. To be pre-programmed, wired, robotic; emotionless. To drift through life carefree. Robotic-robust-mundane.

”Robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes”

– Richard Dawkins

I’d condemn this as being painfully and poisonously cynical, but really are we anything more than robots? Does freedom even exist in reality or is it just an idyllic concept?

What even is freedom?

To summarise the Oxford Dictionary, freedom is:

  1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants- absence of subjection, independent of fate or necessity
  2. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved
  3. Freedom from the state

The absence of restriction: does that really equate to ‘freedom’? How can absence correlate to things that we have been granted, for instance; the right to vote? It’s logically impossible for absence to equate to something: the absence of sadness does not revel the subject into happiness.  ‘You can’t prove a negative’ (James Randi) so can a negative be ‘something’?

Freedom from the state: can you call a society that is so heavily stipulated by money, and the media, free? Why if we are free to do as we please do we all aspire to such similar ideals, why do we follow the same path and conform to the same standardised expectations? Complete freedom from the state would entail a society whereby aspirations were based purely on happiness rather than social, political or economic factors. Where people had the opportunity to do whatever they wanted to do rather than being pigeon holed, spoon fed and indoctrinated into a ‘career’ prescribed to them by their socio-economic status- and nothing else. Why do we feel obliged to do things that we don’t want to do? It still feels like we need to break free from the constrictive chains of society, the cyclical 9-5 ominous clock ticking lifestyle- if that’s the sentiment how can this adhere to ‘freedom from the state’?

But do we even want to be free?



All we seem to do is restrict ourselves. Walking the same paths over and over again although there’s nothing stopping us from wandering off in another direction. It’s as if we all know we’re free but there’s some mental incapability to allow ourselves to fully embrace the freedom that we’ve been granted or to overturn the constraints of society. We enjoy being comfortable, not having to worry, eradicating decision making is so much easier- but then nothing seems worthwhile. We can’t have it all.

Are we free by nature but extrinsically restricted by our own surroundings?

Intrinsically free- extrinsically constrained.

Vaingloriousness


“There’s nothing wrong with an enlarged gap between rich and poor”

Said a privately educated middle class university student.  An enlarged gap between rich and poor is evidence of the failings of society, politics and economics. The fucking failings of mankind. The urge to retaliate to this imbecility is insatiable, to name and shame, out this idiot for his close minded naive opinions; but he’s not the only one.

I, for one, didn’t realise we were living in 1920s America where economic prosperity was stipulated by narrow minded money obsessed bankers with no understanding of the poor such as Andrew Mellon. I didn’t realise it was every man for himself. I thought we’d evolved somewhat past that point.

Do milestones such as the Great Depression and the Financial Crisis not signify that the ‘every man for himself’, hierarchical, money obsessed economy model doesn’t work? We’re still in a deficit, there are still people living below the breadline. Really- what is the point?

But we’ve got out own Andrew Mellon, our own big money-big business-crush the poor chancellor of the exchequer: George Osborne, who fails to understand over half of the population.

In light of the public shock facing the Philpott case Osborne claims:

“The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the welfare state, and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

It isn’t a fucking lifestyle issue. It’s an issue of evil. Society can produce ‘bad’ people. But not evil. It’s intrinsic. It’s not due to the benefits system and the welfare state that Philpott to murdered his children- it’s because he was intrinsically evil- anyone would have to be to do that. Nature not nurture: fucking naivety. Maybe rather than looking at reforming the welfare state it is the judiciary system that needs to be analysed; because really, is his ‘life’ sentence good enough?

Society is unjust. Rather than punishing Philpott adequately for his crimes, MPs are calling for the welfare system to be analysed and thus punishing the poor. It’s blatant stereotyping and it’s completely uncalled for. As it stand only 3% of the total cost of welfare goes to the unemployed including the Philpott family and 40% is spent on the elderly- how does it seem right then to claim that the welfare state needs reforming due to this case? A reform that would simply widen the gap between rich and poor, desecrate equality and destroy lives. Statistics and figures should have no prevalence over people’s quality of life. Money should mean nothing but it consumes fucking everything.

In a society based on logic the concepts of ‘underprivileged’ and ‘deprived’ would not exist and people would not be perceived as either rich or poor

-but simply people.

 

Welcome to the Jungle

The mistreatment of animals is a daily occurrence: something that is necessary to continue our selfishly homogeneous lifestyles. Animals are used on a daily basis for our own benefit: food, clothing, medicine, souvenirs and most of all for monetary profit. Basically the exploitation of animals aids our filthily greedy capitalist society. This ‘profit’ currently exceeds $10 billion annually. Is it worth it? This includes 26.4 tons of ivory hacked from 2760 elephants. 2760 lives destroyed. In no way is that justifiable. In no way can ‘profit’ be worth a life… of any species. I can not stress enough how money is a symbol of nothing but our own HUMAN greed. Why should animals suffer at the hands of our selfishness? For what? So some egotistical human with more money than sense can own a nice rug, a trinket, a souvenir. Degrading a corpse- or part of one- basically. Animals are not disposable.


The WWF campaign speaks for itself -literally: ‘I am not medicine’, ‘I am not a trinket’, ‘I am not a rug’. This is either personification or fucking true. If you reject animal rights, then you must reject the idea of animals as a ‘conscious thinking thing’ (John Locke), otherwise this is genocide. The use of speech in the campaign hardly raises an eyebrow on first view, however it is clear that to reject these claims one must interpret the advertisement as purely anthropomorphising animals and giving them attributes, such as thought and speech, that are not applicable to them. In contrast, by accepting the opinions and voices of these animals as advertised, one is accepting the fact that animals are in fact a ‘conscious thinking thing’ in the same way as humans, and thus, should be treated equally.


How is there any hope, though, for equality between species if there’s not even equality within species?


Our monetarist, capitalist society, is devoid of any concept of equality; women are still fighting for equal rights across the globe, racism and discrimination are still prevalent in every sector and ageism is illustrated daily by government policy. Of course, if we can’t even respect our fellows then we are going to exploit other species. 


In both evolutionary and religious terms animal rights are prominent. In evolutionary terms, the human race is derived from animals, the history of animals including us is an intricate interlaced web of development- should we abuse our ancestors? Materialistically, without a psyche, there is nothing to distinguish the human race from animals other than an alleged ‘higher intelligence’ and this is no justifiable reason to exploit and abuse: we don’t mistreat mentally disabled humans as they have a lower intelligence, do we? – rather we care for them more. Religiously, animals were created by God and therefore hold the same sacred attributes as us with the idea of stewardship also being highlighted in the Bible: 

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals”- Proverbs 12:10


Although there is a sense of ownership here, it is still clear that animals have certain rights that should be respected and this is our responsibility. Arguably, this is rather outdated as the Bible usually is on the topic of equality and rights; even so the general message completely conflicts with the current treatment of animals in our society. It seems evident also that the mistreatment of animals correlates with morality- ‘righteous’– the mistreatment is morally wrong. This raises the question: where does the current mistreatment of animals derive from if not from science or religion? 


Our ravenously selfish vaingloriousness. 


We’re the brutes, the beasts, the animals- it’s not fun and games.

Survival of the Fittest

Love is no happy ever after
No fairytale, no perfect ending.
It’s settling for what you can put up with
Ease and comfort founding the equation

There’s no love at first sight,
It’s impersonal
Infused upon reciprocation
A mutual business transaction-
Evolutionary.

Romance is purely passing the time
Sex: two animals coming together
And love just a myth
A survival mechanism
Memetic.

So don’t fucking talk to me about love,
It’s only genetics
You’re just saying “you’ll aid my survival”
Not “I’m in love with you”.

The Dawkins Delusion

Extract from Chapter 9 of The God Delusion (2006) by Richard Dawkins

Once, in the question time after a lecture in Dublin, I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland. I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.

I strongly dislike Richard Dawkins. Not because of his close-,minded atheism but because of his assertion that teaching children about hell and damnation has the same impact on their lives as sexual abuse.

First of all, the man is a fool, devoting his life to ridiculing people’s beliefs, ridiculing something that he doesn’t even believe in; logically he is ridiculing non-existence, and therefore nothing. Dawkins cites his own experience of ‘sexual abuse’ as a ‘mild feeling-up’, lucky for him that he can describe his experience so lightly. But what Dawkins disregards with his naive comment is that such abuse is subjectively experienced, and many are not as fortunate as him. Dawkins agrees that sexual abuse is ‘horrible’, but this term seems rather feeble in describing the horrendous physical and emotional abuse entailed by sexual abuse and that ever pressing question: ‘why did it happen to me?’.

What ever ‘abuse’ Dawkins thinks that bringing up children catholic inflicts, at the end of the day, there’s always someone there to reassure them that it’s not real, it’s fictional. There’s a whole scientific movement against it: it’s called evolution. Surely the scale of this opposition is enough to convince one who has suffered ‘the long-term physical damage’ of Catholicism that what they fear, such as the depictions of death and purgatory, are fictional?

Unfortunately there is not a worldwide movement pleading the case that sexual abuse is fictional and that it can’t hurt you any more. Sexual abuse is in no way comparable to the telling of a scary story. It will always be real.