Which is scarier?

Which is scarier?
The constant flair
for incompetence
or the daring contempt
and wilful, cold neglect?
Is it the hair-raising
ineptitude or uptight
laissez-faire of greed
and glaring disrespect?

Whichever –
Do we either care or
neither never spare
forgiveness nor forget?

‘British Values’?

What would you have us value, then?
What passes for these British traits?
Is it the wilful diminution of democracy
That separates the people from the state?
Or maybe our incessantly insistent view
That what we do is “help” the world for its
Own sake?

No, wait! I think I’ve got it: it’s that fair play
Code we think we own! How righteously
Polite we are! Perhaps we should commission
Us a global honour mission thus we won’t feel
So alone.

So, is it in our famous law and order you’ve
Translated into money talks? Our world
Anointed tolerance that shadow-stalks the
Local masses? Could it be the age-old
Choreography between the economic classes?
Is it in our quaint ability to wait in lines? The
Neoliberal culture of I’ll only pay for mine?

Oh, wait! Don’t tell me! Let me guess: you mean
Like how you cherish our belovèd NHS?

Is it the non-complaining strategy that manifestly
Rhymes with passive-born aggression?
Or perhaps it’s that amazing, self-congratulating
Way we tend to trip out on our history’s lessons?

Oh, hang on!

Could it even be our undeniable capacity to finger
Point with swinging lead and buried heads? Or,
Might it be our deep, rich, grass-root, time-was Cool
Britannia, now, by Cowell’s ilk and cynical palaver,
Handled into operatic lather? Is it in the way we gush
And gift a nobody to unreserved celebrity and rush to
Make pariahs of the stars beyond our knowing? Yes!
It surely has to be the Press with all its freedom to
Impress?

Or is it how we toe the line when Lord America decides
We might be useful hand-tools, after all? Is it our poodle
Disposition or our sniffy exhibition that defines our island
Character?

Do Britain’s expositions make her values truly worthy
Or perfidious and small?

Well?
What the hell and where the heck are all these dandy
‘British values’? Is it in the way you treat the NEETs?
The homeless, sleeping on the streets? The single
Parent? The disabled? Every worker like a serf?

Is it how you’re transfixed by everybody’s patriotic worth?

Perhaps you’d like our babies stamped at birth, like eggs,
With redly roaring lions? Then, once they are schooled and
Duly cloned, be branded with a standard – maybe tractors
Backed by Union Flags to make their British value known?

Putting ‘faith’ in Education

I dislike faith-based schools of any religion. To me, that is what the Temple is for. Anyone who reads me regularly knows I have strong and particular views on matters regarding orthodox religion in the context of ‘god’ and politics but also that I believe in the Universe as being divine and all things therein, as sacred. I take a secularist position when I picture the society I want to live in but I’m not an atheist.

My disapproval is not of any specific religion, religious people, themselves or religious teaching, per se. I also think the current ‘extremism’ angle is rather loaded, politically expedient scaremongering. It does not motivate this post, anyway. What does, is my general disapproval of any ideological segregation and indoctrination, particularly in the education system and especially when it is so rigid as to deny swathes of commonly accepted science, philosophical difference and equality of ethnicity, gender and sexuality.

One of the first things we should ask is who is funding Education, who should be funding it and who has and should have influence over a curriculum and teaching materials. It should not be determined by politically ideological officials, rich and powerful commercial lobbyists and religious organisations. We wouldn’t want any other politically ideological group, like, say, UKip or a commercial interest such as Tesco to run a school, would we? No, because everything would risk being weighted to that group’s group-mind to the point where it would diminish balance and undermine all else.

I know that while we have this ridiculous mix of state, private, academy, free, home and faith schools (did I miss any out?), control over the quality of education is bound to be risky, arbitrary and overly complex. I think Society is best served by a secular education. Personally, I’d phase out public funding of any school that is not within the state system and I’d endeavour to make every local state school so damned good that only a rich or fundamentalist fool would pay extra to send their children elsewhere. But I think the least we could do for now is form/re-establish the (local as well as national) authority and ability to oversee the adherence, in every school, to an agreed educational standard; withdraw taxpayer funding and charitable status immediately from faith (and any other) schools who are intentionally and narrowly selective about admissions, curricula (particularly science and PHSE), teaching materials, etc; put in place a base-line national curriculum that every school would be legally required to teach, irrespective of its status: private/public/ or this bizarre mix of both.

A lot of schooling is obviously about learning fact/evidence-based information but, if education is to do its job properly, a young mind also needs (I’d even say mostly needs) its brain space respected and encouraged as the vital tool it is for creative and critical thought.

Faith and spiritual practice are not evil. It is manipulation and enforced conformity – ideological indoctrination that is wicked. Introduction to systems of belief and open exploration are not. They are, in fact, like all the Arts: contextualising tools for understanding so much about the ‘Human Condition’ and, therefore, the world and the Self.

So, whilst recognising the detrimental effect of segregation on a community, this does not mean that Religion has no place in school, at all. Ignoring a concept that still governs over half the planet’s populace is futile, reckless and perpetuates the very problems that the remainder of the populace recognises and complains about. Understanding the orthodox religions is an important part of cultural awareness and enrichment. Communicating their literature, interpretation, historical, cultural, social and political influences on the world should be part of a good education and can be very well facilitated under the umbrellas of other subjects such as Philosophy. To me, this is Religion’s best home when it comes to the education and stretching of young minds. It can also easily be explored further through the Arts – in literature, drama, history, etc; outings, cooking, even.. Neither is there anything to stop schools incorporating from the myriad range of sacred/festival days, commemorative events and celebrations. Many good schools are already doing this, aren’t they?

If we truly value free speech then we surely must value the ability to feel, think and believe freely? Compulsory education should encourage confidence in the young to do this with teaching that is not inhibited by fear, a sense of superiority and narrowing bias. Children won’t come out the other end with the same personal understandings or opinions – that’s kind of the point – but they should all have the same access to the same platforms and vehicles of information from which their foundational views and experiences are going to be so substantively derived. This is the right of any child in a society that aspires to be open and just and an absolute need for those children who might otherwise be provided with little counter-balance to their lives outside the school gates (and not just in the context of religious belief, either). People tend to want to know that they at least know the same things as their peers and, children, who are just younger people, even more so.

“For a certainty, the man who can see all creatures in himself, himself in all creatures, knows no sorrow.” ~ Isa Upanishad

Insidious

I actually detest Right versus Left;
this furious cleft that separates the
warp
and weft
and
orchestrates derision between
North
and South
and East
and West.

I’m sick to death of hearing our politicos
push Britain’s countries, regions, counties
to collision, pitting citizens to competition
with each other, smothering our solidarity
and keeping everyone too busy to
unite and fight
the enemies of progress.

I can’t stand
the underhandedness of journalists
who think they are the Management;
who relish sowing spite and discontent
and growing blame.

I hate this go-comparing game that curdles
pleasant differences that weave the seams
of richness in emergent culture;
cleaves our sameness on the altar of hysteria
and immaturing whims.

I can’t abide the class divide creating bookends
for the snide deriding, moral chiding platforms
of disunity that undermine Community;
the clichéd phrasing
idol-praising
people-hazing
bullshit stinking, all guns blazing,
specious-thinking, double-speaking
pestilential,
power seeking,
puerile
piss-take
puss.

It is insidious.

Cast-on Cast-offs

Hand-me-down opinions
And a placid population
Gives complacency dominion
Over reasoned contemplation

Check and balance looks in
Askance at mendacity’s audacity
To twist a pre-owned, worn out
Myth and pitch it as veracity

Capacity has reached the stage
Where cast-on cast-offs dress
The age and, even when a lie’s
Discerned, just scoffs and writes
Another page

Leftovers weave conceit without
A second’s doubt in its deceit

And still there is so little rage at
At how this utter shitty farce has
Been allowed to come to pass
And not been duly cut adrift and
Left to nurse a sore, smacked arse.

With this in mind, do check out Jayne Linney’s and Debbie Sayer’s latest Campaign for the Truth and Statistics & Stop MPs Spinning Stats [#ImpeachDWP & #NOWPetition]

Push on

It will be alright.
It will. We will.

It is written so
by poets, hopeful that,
for all the battles gone
and all the bloody conflict
still to come,
yet so it is:
the war is won.

Some way to go,
at times with faintest light
but, even so,
the foes that we must fight
grow static
in the face of human might
once fixed upon its Grace

for it shall cast the night aflame
with Dignity and Honour named
in place of shame and shamelessness.

Tides turn.
Push on,
for, short; for long,
Time runs or rests
at our behest.