The Audacity of Faith

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I started this blog on Oct 11 2009.  I’d wanted to do it for ages, needing to speak out.  I was computer illiterate, didn’t have internet connection, and internet cafes terrified me.  Everything terrified me, mind you.

But the pressure of needing to speak out got so great that one day I just did it.  I had thought the whole thing would be impossibly  difficult, but it was pretty much the same as when I first used an electric drill.  I was scared of this

I was so scared of doing something wrong that I deleted my post by mistake, so my very first post was lost to the world.  Alas.  I couldn’t remember what I had said, either.  Something about that I had spent 6 years not wanting to be in the world, wanting to hide from it, after going bankrupt.

Not wanting people in my life.  Stay away from me.  But life beckoned though my fear, and I succeeded with my second post, heart thudding, hands shaking!  It was a most amazing feeling of release.  I didn’t know how I was going to let people know that I and my blog were alive, but I felt certain that my days of being so alone in the world were drawing to a close.

It was a small but somehow also giant step.  I have been isolated a lot in my life and especially in the preceding year.   I hadn’t wanted to be around people, just wanted to be safe from anyone being able to hurt me ever again.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with the world.  Didn’t watch current movies, didn’t participate in anything.

I could feel myself slam all my doors shut if anybody got too close.  It felt as if my life was shutting down piece by piece.  It was really scary in some ways, feeling that my life was over.  It wasn’t, though, and starting my blog, the first risk I had taken in a long time, was like some part of me responding to the stirrings of spring.

From that point on, even though my financial situation was probably the worst it had ever been (and would get worse before it got better), and my heart had been misbehaving, sometimes quite painfully, somehow I felt sure that things would work out.   The audacity of faith.   Obama used the term The Audacity of Hope.  But I think when hope is audacious it has become faith.

And mine, even though sometimes I wasn’t conscious of it, was very audacious.  Biding its time.


Richard Quest In Davos With Bob Diamond The Unapologetic Banker

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There was a time when I thought that anybody running a country or a company or organisation was in that position because of extraordinary ability.  I know now that it isn’t true but some part of me is still reluctant to accept it.  For example I just can’t get my head around bankers who have ruined whole economies and got away with it – in fact who still get monumental bonuses.

Richard Quest has interviewed a few of bankers in Davos over the last week, and it’s mind boggling how they rationalize their behavior and that of their kind.  Remorse?  You must be kidding.  Mr. Bob  Diamond of Barclays (sounds like a Charles Dickens character) became chief executive at the beginning of 2011.  In 2010 he was head of Barclays Capital.  That year he got a £6.5m bonus, on top of his annual salary of £250,000, and a long-term incentive award of £2.25m contingent on future performance.  £9m in all.  His staff shared £2.5m.  It’s obscene.

He has said before that he thinks the time for remorse and apology from bankers is over.  What remorse and apology?  The world is still waiting.  When speaking to Richard Quest, he also said that it’s important to take emotion out of the equation.  And he said it with a serious face.  He’s feeling very virtuous as he accepted a much smaller bonus this year – £1.8m in shares and a deferred award of £4.7m in shares and contingent capital – bonds that convert into shares.  It’s still obscene.

And now of course he’s staunchly backing bankers’ rights to be paid well for performance.  But here’s the thing, what do these guys think their salaries are about?  Well, Bob and his kind can carry on living in their bubble but it’s going to burst eventually.  I wonder how any of them would cope if somebody destroyed their private little economies with recklessness and greed.  I doubt it would be by suggesting the guy who anihilated them be paid an obscene bonus.

Richard Quest didn’t ask very pressing questions in his interview, but his attitude to Diamond was sober, fairly disapproving and clearly critical.  Water off a duck’s back, though.  That’s some pretty over-permissive entitlement Mr. Diamond has.  In some ways I envy it.  Survival of the fittest, grab what you can.  I could certainly do with a bit more entitlement than I’ve got.  But his is out of balance, I think, so he’s got to be paying a price at some level.  He doesn’t look like a happy man.

These bankers, even though they don’t behave like it, are still human and are subject to the same laws of cause and effect as we all are.   Greed at some level is fear-driven.  And I hold onto the idea that somewhere inside every greedy, fear-driven bully beats a lonely heart.

Dickens at the Blacking Warehouse. Charles Dic...

Michael Jackson and Conrad Murray Trial

Jury’s out.   I’ve watched this trial a lot and enjoyed how David Walgren has prosecuted.  He did a pretty good job and he had great witnesses.  His intelligence and the way he conducted himself was satisfying to watch.  Conrad Murray’s attorneys on the other hand were pathetic, as were their star witnesses.   They tried to bend the facts and failed miserably.

Strangely the defense’s closing was passionate and appealing.  Whereas Walgren’s was quite boring.  He’s not as good an actor as Ed Chernoff.  It would be ironic if the jury come to their verdict because of something so arbitrary as temporary charisma.  Temporary because none of the defense attorneys have had an ounce of it throughout the trial, but somehow Chernoff pulled it out of his hat in his closing.

It seems pretty obvious that Murray was horrifyingly negligent and is going to have to face the consequences of that.  But I don’t think he’s an evil man.  More likely he was a man in debt who was sucked into the orbit of a superstar who knew how to get what he wanted.  I find it hard to believe that Jackson wasn’t the one who insisted Murray give him all that Propofol.

Whatever Murray did or didn’t do, he’s been punished already – his life is in pieces, his professional credibility shot.  Whatever part Michael Jackson played in being irresponsible towards himself will probably never see the light of day.  Murray will pay for it all.  Somehow that doesn’t seem entirely fair to me.

Jackson’s family are allegedly going to take out a civil suit against Murray after this, which won’t achieve a thing because he hasn’t got any money.  He’s already a broken man. Do they want to grind him into the dust?  Plus is it likely they didn’t know their son and brother was getting massive doses of Propofol every night?  Why didn’t they intervene then?

There’s something twisted about all of this.  It seems more than a family’s grief.  I wonder if it’s what Michael Jackson would have wanted?

Blood In The Water – The Bigger The Injury, The Better The Healing

The guy in this photo has been stuffed and all his top teeth removed.  Which is how I think sharks should be.  But this post isn’t really about them, it’s about blood in the water.  It draws sharks but they aren’t the only predators that find victims.  Human predators do too.  Blood in the water also refers to children – and the adults they become – who have been sexually abused.  They carry a kind of stain, a mark, which has a feel to it.  Just as sharks get attracted to the blood, so predators get drawn to that stain.  It’s often not visible to people who haven’t been abused.

A victim can carry it around for years in adulthood – sometimes even their whole life – without being aware of it, and never realize that all the people in their world are predators.   It doesn’t just draw predators, though, it also makes the victim a target for bullies at many levels. One member of a family can have been abused and have the stain, and the rest of the family can never have known.  But they treat that member differently.  They can gang up on and make him/her the scapegoat.  Without realizing it.

It seems like a harsh life experience to have to go through; first being abused then being rejected and bullied and abused some more until you learn about the stain you carry.  And it is harsh.  Big wounds need a lot of healing, and life can be pretty much interrupted while that’s happening.  Plus the people you don’t want in your world – predators – are drawn to you and the ones you do want turn away, because it’s scary dealing with somebody who’s been victimized and hasn’t found their power yet.

But here’s the thing.  When it’s that brutal and challenging and you feel like you’re in the wilderness and you’ve got nothing, your craving for true unconditional love is raw and fierce. So you go in search of real high quality love and you don’t settle until you find somebody who wants to give it.  It’s about being allowed to speak and express; being heard and appreciated.  Having all my questions answered intelligently.  Never being dismissed, never  judged.

Being taught how to listen to and express emotions safely all the time, how to set boundaries.  Always being taken seriously, being celebrated, applauded, congratulated.  Being enjoyed,  remembered, defended, getting sane teaching about how life and people work.  Learning the different parts of my own mind, and how they operate.   The experience of that kind of quality input really does something to your self esteem and entitlement, let me tell you.

I tried changing my self esteem and lousy entitlement with just getting my head around the theory, but all I did was get clever.  My thinking brain didn’t enable me in any real way.  My heart did, through that very consistent experience of love over more than ten years.  It created a solid knowledge of my value and rights which I can act on, and which nobody can take from me.  You can know it intellectually but still not be able to stop people trampling all over you.  Know it in your heart and your life changes.

Blood in the water.   With a big injury the healing always takes you way, way beyond where you were when you were injured.  I’ve heard it said love your enemy because they bring you your greatest opportunity.   I never want to hear it while I’m wrestling with a challenge, but once I’m through it I can see, it’s true.  I have more knowledge and understanding of myself and people and life now than I could ever have had if I hadn’t been abused.  Weird, huh.

Lisa Marie Presley Asks Oprah Why Am I Having This Experience Again?

Imagine being Elvis Presley’s daughter.  He was a phenomenal man with a charisma that seemed unearthly, but I wonder what it was like for Lisa Marie growing up in the shadow of that out-of-control ego.  In an interview with Oprah she said when he shone his light on her, her whole world lit up.  Trouble is, he could switch it off, too, so she grew up knowing the intoxication of his attention, but never knowing the kind of real unconditional love that a child needs from its parent so that it can grow up knowing its own worth.

Then she married Michael Jackson.  And he was exactly the same kind of person, with almost inhuman capacity to seduce people with his brand of charisma.  So Lisa had the same experience, all over again.  She spoke of how incredibly high she got when he lavished attention on her.  But the other side of the coin was that if you didn’t give him what he wanted he iced you out.  You were gone.  So she was completely dispensible.  Just as she was for her father.

Somehow, though, she found strength to leave him and she went through a period of massive anger and refusing to speak to him.  Probably the healthiest thing she’d ever done in her life.  But when he died guilt got to her, and in the interview with Oprah she spoke about how she felt she let him down, and she made all sorts of excuses for him, for the way he behaved towards her.  I hate it when women do this.  I understand it, because I’ve done it myself.  Haven’t we all.

But the thing is, it’s not healthy, it’s the same dynamic that pulled us into the relationship in the first place.  Putting him first, at the expense of ourselves.  If we do that, we’ll never get out.  And our partner may die or we may divorce, separate, but if we haven’t learned how to put ourselves first, we’ll find ourselves back in a similar situation.  Lisa Marie said to Oprah, why have I had to go through this twice?  What do I have to learn that I’m not learning?

So many women think that the lesson is about forgiving their partner, or their father, or whoever has hurt them, but it isn’t that.  It’s about learning to put yourself first, demand respect, walk away when you don’t get.  It’s about refusing to comply with the rules of that game called I’m going to ice you out if you don’t please me.  It’s about understanding why you let yourself be so vulnerable, and forgiving yourself.

Until we learn that lesson, nothing is going to change.  Because we’ll keep giving our power away.  And when you’re in that place, it’s unfortunate but true that you don’t give it away to decent, balanced, healthy partners.  You give it away to partners who need yours because they don’t have enough of their own, who live by sucking the life force out of others.  Who exploit and control and don’t care who they hurt.

Life is a stern task-master / mistress.  Speaking for myself, it’s never let me get away with not taking care of myself adequately.  It’s kept shoving that awful, painful experience of being used and exploited in my face until the experience got so unbearable that I started saying I don’t ever want to be back here again. That’s when I started facing the unfortunate truth that I was the one letting myself be used.  So I had to learn how not to, how to  pay attention to the cry that comes from my heart what about me?  How to take it seriously and say I hear you and from now on I’ll listen to you first. 

The lesson isn’t about loving them more.  It’s about loving me more.

Violence And Discontented Youth

Who says the British aren’t emotional and passionate?  The other day I saw and man interviewed on BBC whose restaurant had been destroyed by out-of-control kids.  I really felt for him; he had ploughed his everything into that restaurant and now he had nothing.  He was so angry, and who could blame him?  He’d always worked hard, taking responsibility for himself and for the people he employed.  He deserved his success.  My heart went out to him.

There’s never any justification for this kind of seemingly senseless and vicious looting.  The bunch of hoodies who approached that young boy who was wounded, pretending to help him while they picked his pocket – it revolts everything in me.  The thing is, looking for or denying justification is absolutely useless, it doesn’t help anybody.

This explosion of violence happened and nothing ever happens without a reason.  To just pin it on reckless, irresponsible youth who just want something for nothing and to say this isn’t about poverty or disenfranchisement is so short-sighted.  Of course it’s about disenfranchisement and what it does to the core of a person over generations.  You can’t know unless you’ve experienced it what it is to be disempowered.

And so often people who come from a middle-class or better social set-up don’t realize how much inner strength that’s given them.  How can they?  They’ve got no personal experience to compare it to.  All the rational explanations about being responsible that people from this sector of society love to apply to criminals’ behavior don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Disempowerment creates ravaged self-esteem.  Combine that with over-permissive entitlement and the frustration of not being able to go anywhere with your life and your dreams;  add the deep anger that results from not being loved and cared for and given opportunities and you’ve got combustion waiting to happen.  Surely the pot has been simmering for a long time and everybody’s been hoping it would somehow remain “not my business”.

I’ve appreciated how both BBC and CNN have interviewed people who have depth of insight into the problem and understand that there’s no quick fix and that moralizing isn’t going to help anybody.   I think a society has the right to require its citizens to behave with integrity towards each other and to respect each other’s property, and I also think those kids have to face the reality of how much they’ve hurt people and to take responsibility for their actions.

It’s a harsh lesson for a child to have to learn, though.  They already have so little within themselves.  What they really need is love and protection and care and the kind of discipline that comes from nurturing, not punishment.  I think about all the money that gets spent on arms and warfare by Britain.  If that was spent on the disenfranchised children, within a generation England  would be a totally different place.

As adults we neglect the children of our world and then we expect them to be responsible.  Why should they?  We aren’t.

Terrorist Attack In Norway

Yesterday I was bothered about my fear of hurting people.  Maybe in today’s world it’s not such a bad thing, though.  It’s definitely better to be on that side of the fence than on the side terrorists occupy.  It was so horribly distressing to see the news about the bomb in Oslo, and then to have it followed up by the shootings at the camp.  87 people killed because of one man’s neurosis.

BBC news reported last night that Norwegians were saying they weren’t prepared to speculate on  who was responsible for the bomb, whether it was a lone wolf gone crazy or Muslim fundamentalism.   Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the fact that the suspect is a blond Norwegian man makes it very important to let the police do their work before jumping to conclusions.  He added that we’ve seen European politicians making decisions before investigations were complete and they didn’t want to make the same mistake.

Good for him.  A news commentator did mention, though, that this could be a reprisal for the Lars Vilks cartoon about Muhammad which was published in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.  It has been reported that fundamentalists are seeking more outlying targets.  Perhaps because security has got too tight in their normal target areas.  That’s such a scary thought.   Well, it’s possible that this is a fundamentalist plot, but only time and good investigation will reveal the truth.

This mass murderer could have been on some kind of narcissistic, psychopathic rampage.  Not that the end result is any different.  I guess it just means that the level of fear amongst the public will either settle down or soar out of control as it did in the US.  Somehow I don’t think that will happen in Norway.  For one they don’t have Fox News or George Bush or a bunch of greedy Republicans who want to preserve their status quo no matter what the cost to the rest of the country.

I believe Norwegians will stay sane.  But what’s so alarming about something like this is that there are so many people in the world who have lost their way and they can now can so easily wreak such havoc.  It doesn’t even take that much organization.  And it just takes one person.  The breakdown of Western Civilization. I feel for Norwegians.  Even for those not directly or indirectly hurt the shock must have been horrific.  This is the first terrorist attack in Norway ever.  May they never have another.