A thought

It’s raining outside. Thunder can be heard rumbling in the distance. Cars swoosh by on the nearby main road, like little pods of safety, carrying their desperate denizens to their eventual destination – flailing wipers and all.

I huddle up in my comfy bed and thank my lucky stars I’m not outside in that climatic morass. I can wake in the morning, catch a train to the city and wend my weary way to work.

But it isn’t all bad, none of it is bad.

The rain outside is water, not ammunition, the thunder – just noise I can ignore, not exploding shells that I can’t. The cars going by are not tanks, or armoured vehicles and when I wake in the morning, it won’t be to a room of 30 relatives in squalor, I’ll be able to catch a train to a city, to work. I won’t wander through a devastated husk of the place I used to live, with nowhere to go.

The storm has fallen silent for now, I’m hoping for good weather from here onwards. I’m thankful for those who have had to lie down forever for their storms to end and I hope that those still awake will take heed.

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I’m back!

OK so it’s been a while! But I wanted to talk about something that I’ve happened across this week, what it is and the effect it has. It’s kind of ironic in fact that as a result of thinking about this, I’ve been driven to post.

What I’m referring to of course is a phenomenon, one that some have come to refer to as ‘bragbook’.

A close friend de-activated their Facebook profile this week, citing the “bragbook” factor as one of the main reasons they felt they could no longer go on putting up with their news feeds.

Essentially bragbook is the latter-day equivalent of forcing someone to look at your holiday snaps on your return home, only it’s rolled out across your entire life and disseminated amongst anyone and everyone you have in your ‘network’, whether near or far.

It can be as simple and obvious as someone buying a new car and posting pictures of it, or more subtle, a series of posts over a sustained period, where one might post a glowing assessment of oneself on a variety of issues or activities. The point is that slowly all people seem to hear from you is how well you’re doing and how nice your life is. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this in principle, too much of it can easily be taken for smugness and bragging, perhaps even exaggeration and narcissism. Too much of that and the poster could be considered to be living a fantasy life, posting in service of their own need for reassurance that they are in fact as awesome as they appear.

So, is this turning people off Facebook? It did to my friend, but I’m not convinced it will upset people enough to cause them to leave en-masse. It is however oddly illustrative of the way our society has evolved. So many of us seem to need to be seen to be doing good, being wealthy or having everything, we need to hide any and all of our weaknesses in increasing degrees of intensity. Perhaps in embracing social networking as a means of bringing everyone closer together, we have in fact never been further apart.

I’m making an effort in my statuses to avoid bragging! You never know who’s nose your ascending!

Bye for now, oh and if you do get a new car, maybe only one selfie leaning on it wearing a posh suit eh?!

The big one about the big guy

The big one about the big guy

OK so having eased myself in to life as a blogger, I feel the need to digress once again from my usual subject matter.

This is a touchy subject and I want to be clear from the start that whatever my own views are, I firmly believe in the right of an individual to hold whatever beliefs he/she wishes to, so long as they don’t harm anyone else. Nothing I go into here is intended to cause any upset or offence to anyone. I suppose if anything, in writing this I’m examining my own stance on this issue.

I’ve been watching a number of short programmes and debates online recently and doing a fair bit of reading in-between. The subject? Is there a god or not (nothing major then). Many of these involved the prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, who talks an awful lot of sense, even if I am a little concerned by his status as something of a celebrity atheist, there’s no denying the logic behind a lot of what he has to say.

I was raised as quite a strict Catholic. I’ll summarise this simply by saying we were taught that God was good and all good things were his doing, we had to go to confession and mass each week and observe all customs and holy days of obligation (fasting an hour before communion and only one meal on a Good Friday, preferably fish) as a child I’ll freely admit I found this a complete pain. But it was only late into my teens that I began to truly question what it was I was doing each Sunday and that has developed into a much deeper consideration of what, if anything, is out there.

I’ve been through some tough times in the past and there’ve certainly been moments where I feel I’ve leaned on religion, hoping there was something out there looking out for me. That I’ve come through those, how much is thanks to religion and how much simple chance?

My Dad has a saying when he can’t find something, let’s use the example of a screwdriver that has gone missing right before a job. “If I can’t find it when I need it, I may as well not have it”, can this be applied to a deity? If we ask for help and it never comes, why do we go on asking? There are many out in the world who pray each day for basic needs, safety and freedom from awful situations, yet their plights are seemingly ignored and there continues to be suffering in the world. And yet these people don’t all lose faith en-masse.

It might be argued that whilst religion would have us believe mankind is a godly construct, in a modern secular world, god is a man-made construct, in that god is something there is no evidence for and that man is approaching other men asking them to believe in this god they know about through word of mouth and man-authored scripture. There is literally nothing else in the world that so many are prepared to believe in with so little evidence.

At my core, I wish and hope there is a god, that there is something after this life and that I’m not just writing this as worm food in-waiting, I find it profoundly disappointing that it seems less and less likely as I get older, so I suppose you could say what I’m becoming is a reluctant atheist. An involuntary realist.

What do you think when reading this? Do we owe it to ourselves to examine our consciences as to how it was we feel we got here and where it is we are going? I may write more on this in future, I want to do a piece on war too, so more light reading on the way!

A Human Patchwork Quilt in the Rain

Each day I learn a little bit more about my fellow man. We’re creatures of habit and nowhere is this more apparent, than on the daily (rainy) commute.

There are the two ‘lads’ that stand in the same place at the bus stop, the man who sort-of-cuts in line in front of you (to the furthest extent socially-acceptable), before scuttling to the same seat each day, the girl who gets on, huffs and puffs then gets her phone out before feverishly texting,.

Oh, and the girl so caked in makeup she’s turned orange and looks like her last bus came from St. Tropez – who sits toward the front of the bus, sort of reluctantly poised on the edge of the seat with her earphones in, feeling sort of trapped between wanting to sit down and not wanting to sit next to the sweaty bloke who is already there.

Each one steps into the comfy slippers that is their daily routine, never flinching or deviating from it, even momentarily. All the while, the windows of the bus gradually steam up, more and more and more, until the outside world is no longer visible, save for the occasional glimpse of the windscreen, caught between the mass of heads and bodies standing in the gangway.

It struck me that for me to notice all of this, I must have a daily routine myself, which is watching these people. Who knows, maybe someone on the bus is watching me too?

I felt I should do something, so I reached up and wiped away the steam on my window. What I saw was that it had stopped raining. The sun was shining and I at once knew where I was. I was fixated and I stared through the window for the remainder of the journey, watching all the outside world go about their business. There was a lot more routine going on outside the bus, than in.

Now I don’t intend to write modern-day cheesy parables (in fact I don’t really know what I DO intend to write about), but it strikes me as a metaphor for all of us. Perhaps we should reach up, wipe away the steam on our own personal bus windows and in doing so, broaden our horizons and see the world outside, there’s a lot more going on worthy of our attention, than our own little ruts of routine.