Drawing a line in the sand with Donald Trump and the Republican Party

Featured image by CAHIER D’ART on Istagram

The piece of art above helped me to have a clearer mind on where I stand with respect to Donald Trump and how it should shape my activism.

At the heart of everything, I believe in individuals’ right to have their opinions and I indeed I appreciate having good discussions on any number of topics with people who have different points of view than me.

However, in certain situations, you just have to draw a line. This is one of those situations. It’s not just that I disagree with Donald Trump and his supporters on so many issues. It’s that he’s objectively a terrible human being, who puts his own interests above those of others, while turning a blind eye to the damage that his racist, sexist, self-centered remarks and actions have.

How to say sorry

“I’m sorry” is one of the most common phrases in the English language, but probably one of the most misused.

Before I got married, I didn’t understand any of the art of how to apologise. I thought you did something, you recognised that it was wrong, you said sorry and you perhaps asked for forgiveness. I was missing out on huge swathes of psychology, intricacy and emotion behind the phrase.

Since getting married and learning both by experience and by reading, I have learned that there is so much more to apologising and I was certainly doing it incorrectly in the past. A quick rundown of some of the things that you’re probably doing wrong when you try to apologise:

Brexit: an autopsy

It’s been about 6 weeks since Britons went to the polls and narrowly decided that they wanted to leave the European Union. I had some thoughts on the matter the day after the result, but perhaps the best autopsy on the result that I have seen thus far has been from Alexander Betts in a TED talk he gave just days after the result.

Alexander is a social scientist and works specifically in the field of migration and refugees. No matter which side of the fence you are on, it’s hard to deny the validity of Alexander’s arguments.

A common sense approach to prosecutions

You’d be hard pushed to deny that there’s an issue with America’s justice system. Prisons are overloaded with young, petty, minority offenders and it’s costing us a lot of money. John Oliver has made a few videos now highlighting various issues within the system:

Social services suck, but we can fix them AND save money

This TED talk from an entrepreneurial front-line social worker in the UK gives a very considered and honest discussion of how the modern welfare state was created (in 1940s Britain) and how it simply isn’t a model for today.

Rather than just bash the system, as we all love to do, Hilary Cottam has come up with a radical new approach to social services in which resources are spent directly on helping people rather than on a system which manages said people. In fact, by spending far less, she’s been able to make significant positive changes in the lives of many people in South London who are all now helping one another.

Privilege is invisible to those who have it

In a recent TED talk by Michael Kimmel he talks about how he came to see the world from the point of view of minorities such as women or black people. In a discussion with some of his peers he came to the conclusion that

Privilege is invisible to those who have it

He was talking about how as a white middle-class man, he was about as privileged as he could be, but he didn’t see the world that way because he saw how opportunities were being provided to women and racial minorities all around him. The experience of women and black people was different however, who still saw the world around them as it oppressed them.

Pope Francis: a fresh face for the Catholic church

I was raised as a Roman Catholic, though I gravitated towards atheism in my teen years and more recently back towards Christianity. Catholicism never particularly struck a chord with me as it features rituals, works and doctrines more heavily than I see necessary.

As such, I’ve often viewed Catholicism in a negative light as it seems to bind people up for the sake of tradition and money, rather than allowing people to be truly free.

Catholicism doesn’t exactly have a rosy image. It is seen as a money-hoarding, elitist, trust-breaking, abusive system stuck in the 1500s that has little care for humanity. And one can hardly blame the world for feeling that way given the stories that have come out of the organisation in the past 30 years.

Going hand-in-hand with Catholicism is the Pope himself. I’ve never thought much of the papacy but the election of Pope Francis in 2013 has changed my view of his office considerably.

Why we’re always apologising to our children

I think that most people would agree that it’s important for them to feel safe in their relationships by knowing that they will be treated with dignity and respect and that any wrong can be reconciled amicably. This is chiefly seen in marriages and close friendships and I don’t know why we don’t treat our children the same way.

Most people seem to think that using phrases like “because I said so” are normal and acceptable, but I question that. Such phrases imply that there’s a servant and a master, rather than a level playing field. As for me and my wife, we think that our children are little humans with feelings and ideas. While we have a responsibility to protect them from the dangers that they may face, they can make their own decisions and we try to allow them to do so at every opportunity possible. We empower them to be responsible for and to themselves.

The irony of “love wins”

I kind of love how the gay community took to using the term “Love wins” to celebrate their victory in the Supreme Court a couple of weeks ago allowing them to marry in the United States in the same way that heterosexual couples can get married.

The gay community was using the term to express that the act, existence and expression has won out as a result of the decision and that millions of people can now love equally in the eyes of the United States government.

For a long time, “love wins” has been used by Christians to indicate how the teachings of Jesus (of love, not hate) reign supreme and should govern their actions. In fact, if you’ll notice, it’s part of my tagline on this very website. I believe that Christians ought to be known by their acts of love, rather than their bible bashing, vindication or bullhorn ministry.

The Human Podcast: deep discussions that provoke thought and change

A few months ago, my wife sent me a link to a podcast episode, because it featured a guest that I knew and she thought I might enjoy it. His name was Justin Stumvoll and he and the two hosts Wes and Ryan spoke intelligently for an hour about men, our sexuality, the fact that we’re emotional creatures and that real masculinity is not found in bravado, but in your confidence and humility.

It was an excellent episode that really engaged me, got me thinking and more importantly wasn’t a dull repeat of oft-repeated clichés: it was out-of-the-box thinking that challenged the status quo, dared to ask the questions that people shy away from and invited discussion, disagreement and debate.

It took me listening to this episode to realise how much I miss conversation like this. I’ve discussed previously how objectivity is so absent in America and how dearly I miss it.