Not another shooting blog

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These two are dead and the gunman is too.

Does it matter where it happened or why? Do we need to see all the images on social media sites and news channels about it? Is it pointless to shout out in desperation?

I’ve blogged about this issue several times over the last few years and I have nothing new to say about the US and its obsession with guns and the ludicrous gun laws and lobbies in the US. For me it is the responsibility of anyone who has the ability to stop the problem now. The rest of the world will always look on in a dumbfounded silence at the actions of those who claim to be in the land of the free but continually fail to do anything about the ongoing death tolls that mount each year.

We can easily drag out all the statistics about the number of deaths caused each year by guns – school kids and their teachers in massacres, kids “playing” with weapons as one toddler shoots another in the head, another cinema shooting in a place we’ve never heard of. Why should we care anymore? The Americans don’t seem to.

Every policy maker, politician, member of the US Administration is guilty of not doing enough. Every gun lobbyist, defenders of the “right to bear arms”, and the NRA have blood on their hands with each innocent killed by a weapon. So do the general public in the US. The public are not speaking with one voice on this – there are not huge marches on the capital to stop any of the issues surrounding gun laws in America. Even the President, for all his wise and comforting words has not done anything to curb the deaths.

Unless the people of America truly want a change, then the status quo will continue and idiots will get hold of weapons and carry out the kind of attack we have seen today. It’s not that I don’t care – I have huge sympathy for the victims – but me caring on the other side of the Atlantic with no influence makes no difference at all. If you want guns in society you will always have these tragedies.

There is a very simple solution to all of this, but no politician will take the action required because money talks, lobbyists have too much power and the middle and right of US politics would not even consider it. And it’s not impossible – just look at what Australia did in 1996 by massively restricting the ownership and use of guns after the Port Arthur massacre. Deaths by these weapons has all but vanished and there has not been one mass shooting in the last 19 years.

If you don’t want gun crime, ban guns. If you don’t understand that I can’t help you.

JD

Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants

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Italian navy rescue asylum seekers

Groups of people are fleeing Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Israel and many other countries around the north of Africa and across the middle east. Giving up their lives and life savings to strangers to escape persecution and warfare. Our response? Not our problem.

Consider that it is our (the West’s) actions that have caused much of the unrest in this area and you have to wonder why people are tuning their back on these people. Specifically the UK. Germany, France, Sweden and others are welcoming these individuals into their countries but we refuse to help and instead would rather piss around with policy at the Euro Tunnel instead.

I am aware that the influx of “foreigners” is not going down well everywhere – Greece and Germany are facing riots and demonstrations – but overall it is the continuation of decades of living in a continent that is all about people joining ad leaving it everyday.

ISIS, or whatever they are called this week, are creating confusion across the Middle East and thousands are fleeing for their lives. The UK is responsible for the existence of ISIS in the first place. Along with its allies it marched into Afghanistan and Iraq and did untold damage to the infrastructure and then left a free for all for US & UK companies to divvy up the spoils afterwards. This unrest spread and the Taliban mutated and became a new and less peaceful creature.

We now sit here in the UK tsking and tutting our way through the news reports, but whether you were pro or anti the wars we were involved with we need to do something. Forget the terms Refugees or Immigrants or Asylum Seekers and lets call them what they really are – people, our fellow human beings, families running away from danger and death.

Let’s frame the situation this way – without labels or countries or religion involved:

People are being killed, raped and tortured by an enemy who will stop at nothing to get their way and steal land and belongings of others. They sweep through countries and rip out anything of value to help them. The indigenous populations are grabbing all they can and escaping this knocking on their neighbours’ doors to find shelter. Their neighbours lock the doors and ignore the noise outside. 

If everyone took their fair share and ignored the Daily Mail/Right Wing/UKIP rhetoric and actually looked at the images of young children crying as their parents try to find passage to safety with their kids on their shoulders to avoid them being crushed then perhaps we’d see it differently.

We need to confront ISIS. Why are we largely ignoring this wave of hatred across a huge swathe of the planet? There needs to be a more focussed and collaborative approach – especially from those who were happy to march in over a decade ago and cause the issues in the first place.

The UN has to intervene and organise passage for those arriving in Malta, Greece, Macedonia and other countries and have a fair sharing out of people. Stop putting all the pressure on a few countries and look how best we could solve this human travesty.

Finally we in the UK need to stop being so blinkered. Immigration to this country is not massive. And the laugh is that we wonder about all across the globe, living in other countries and retiring across Europe – but still we make the most noise about incomers when we’re one of the worst for emigration.

Until we see those faces on the news as our neighbours and fellow humans struggling to survive this problem will not go away.

JD

Hello, Am I speaking to Mr Joan Dookan?

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Hello person in India or Pakistan or some other foreign land please stop calling me and pretending that you only want to ask a few questions, when instead you are wasting many minutes of my life. I don’t give a flying fuck that you have chosen a western name to try to ingratiate yourself to me, but I highly doubt that your name is actually Sean or Justin. I might suffer from mental illness but I’m not fucking stupid.

And stop telling me you “Aren’t selling me anything”, because I’m more than aware that you are selling me to other companies through data capture. Do you really think I’m going to tell you my household income or any other personal details over the phone to a complete stranger? Get a grip! The ambiance of the cattle shed of liars behind you gives you away after the initial four and increasingly annoyed “Hellos” from me. I know you are only trying to a job in an overcrowded country with limited opportunities, but I’m sitting down trying to relax and I have no interest in your small talk.

Tell you how I am? I’ll happily tell you how I am if you really want to know, but I can guarantee you the answer would involve many words that are not on your script you have to follow. And the sad thing is it’s not you who I am actually pissed off with – it’s the company who employs you to waste my time four or five times a day. Yes call ID is available but with most companies blocking their numbers now you have to take the chance and answer – furthermore Barclaycard’s operatives have the same accent as “Tim” so I need to see who it is.

The fact that you don’t know my address, have no idea how to say my name and the inability to recognise a “pissed off” or “sarcastic” tone suggests that you and I will not really hit it off. On one occasion I decided to do the questionnaire – I know it was stupid, and maybe that’s why they are still calling – but I made it clear they had to remove me from their list, which I was told they would. They didn’t. Who saw that coming?

Then there are the pre-recorded interruption phone calls that inform you in a 1950s BBC RP voice that you have PPI to claim, or a scrappage scheme to benefit from. Stop it you audial Autons! No I haven’t been in an accident, but you will be if I ever meet you face to face. Even though you are faceless in every sense of the phrase. I’m speaking to someone, watch some TV after a day at work, perhaps driving along and I pull over to check it’s not important. All for fuck all.

I already have three interruption machines at home – they are called children. They pipe up when you least want them to, mispronounce most words they attempt and are impossible to get rid of when you need space to yourself. Add in a wife who works by the remote control – ie as soon as you press play on your favourite programme you’ve recorded on your Sky+ box she decides it’s time to speak to you. I don’t need your interruptions – I have my own.

So here’s what’s going to happen, from now on I’ll pass the phone to one of my children and leave it up to them to piss you off instead – and the more you phone, the lower down the chain you’ll fall until you end up with the grumpy, whiny, crying one (add in your own joke here please otherwise I’ll get a punching…)

JD

Still in the depths

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Depression is like Dante’s Circles of Hell – you know you’re only visiting, but it doesn’t make that journey any easier. Each experience is slightly different – it could be just depression, or it could be Super sized because of the circumstances you have in your life. You also see the world in a different way – focus on the negatives more because that is all you can see.

This is the longest down period that I’ve had for about a year. Usually it’s a couple of weeks, with a week either side to fall into and crawl out of it – but this has been four or five weeks in the pit this time.

The work I’ve been doing for the last few weeks certainly hasn’t helped. Speaking with partners who have just lost their other half either because they have passed away or because they have had to go into a nursing home, is not a good place for a manic-depressive to be. I struggle to keep myself going never mind the old man who tells you he doesn’t know how to cope without his wife of fifty years or the middle-aged man who just three hours ago lost his wife to cancer.

I’ve said before that the mind of the depressed tend towards mortality at the best of times – both yours and of those around you. This daily reinforcement has not helped my mind-set. Having actually sat in he driving seat and seriously considered my own mortality ten years ago when I was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, you come to realise that it doesn’t actually matter to you if or when it happens – only to those you leave behind. Death is the end for you, especially if like me you’re not religious, but life carries on for those around you.

I think that’s why so many take their own lives when depressed. The logic is that you end your pain and suffering; take away the ongoing battle that one day you decide that you don’t want to fight anymore. I understand that position entirely, but I also accept it is a massively selfish thing to do. Sadly I’ve known a few who have taken the quick route out and can see both sides of the coin from their perspective and of their friends and families. The big issue is how do you hold up the mirror for the other side to understand the though processes? The one who takes their life doesn’t think they are harming their loved ones – the exact opposite is probably true.

So many have spoken, emailed or contacted me since I started blogging about being Bipolar and the effects on my life, and the recurring comment from those who live with someone who has a mental illness is that until you have that connection and experience it in your life, it is hard to understand it or even process it. The feelings of helplessness and frustration are felt by both the sufferer and their loved ones but in different ways. We try to think of new and innovative ways to communicate our feelings and feel like we’re being heard but the simple ways are the best.

If you live with someone who struggles with mood swings, depression or other diagnoses then you just need to be there for them. They will open up to you when they need to and remove themselves when they have to be alone – don’t ever think you can do more than that because from my experience that is all you need. Sometimes the illness takes over and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Unless the person living with it takes themselves to the doctor or to their specialist you are not to blame for any of their feelings or actions.

I can almost guarantee you that if you ask someone how they are they will say “Fine” or something similar because they are trying to “fit in” and feel “normal”. If they say anything else then sit down and listen to them. Don’t try to solve the problems for them, they don’t want that – all they need is someone they talk to if their head is in the right place. I’m so lucky to have friends and family that have said to me that they are there any time I need to talk to them and for me that’s enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

The sad thing is that for most people there is someone out there that will listen – even at the worst point of depression. From your partner to relatives, friends to strangers on a helpline there is an ear available to every one. Use it – there is nothing weak or cowardly about holding up your hands and admitting you need help. The opposite is true.

I know I’ll come out the other side of this low period in the coming weeks – be it the next few days or even a few more weeks – and I’ll have survived another on. That’s what keeps me going; the knowledge that I have made it through everything my head has thrown at me so far and I have so much to live for that I won’t let this illness stop me from fighting for those things.

JD