Do Not Close Those Gates

I shouldn’t have to inform you of what happened on the 13th November 2015, certainly at least, not what happened in Paris. In Paris alone 128 killed and many more injured in a series of shootings and bombings in various locations across the city. Of course, that same day; a tsunami hit Japan, there was a day of mourning following the death of over 40 people in suicide bombing attacks in Lebanon and a bomber killed 18 people by blowing themselves up at a funeral. ISIS has claimed the responsibility for all these attacks (excluding the obvious tsunami which was caused by an earthquake) believed to have been motivated by the news that Jihadi John, a figurehead of their establishment, was revealed by a mole in his inner circle and soon after, killed.

I’m not here to say any of these tragedies are more deserving of recognition than the others as all of these attacks are carried out by the same people for the same reason, hatred and vengeance. However, I am here to address what we should do in the wake of these events, as some of us have responded to it with blind anger and prejudice, playing right into the hands of the terrorists that seek the destruction of our way of life.

Let me get this out there, I hold no sympathy for ISIS, they represent their faith just as well as the KKK represents the white man or Westboro Baptist Church represents Christianity, they are a splinter group of radicals, willing to sacrifice moral integrity and the blood of the innocent to satiate their thirst for vengeance against the world. You might want to pin the blame on Muslims, calling it a religion of violence but that’s simply untrue – there are over a billion Muslims in the world, if they wanted the destruction of the human race, they’re already in a good enough position to bring it about, truth is, less than 1% (0.003% to be precise) of the global population of Islam is actually interested in terrorism, you’re more likely to die falling down the stairs or getting hit by a bus than a crazy bastard running at you with a bomb strapped to his chest. The awful generalisation of the Muslim faith as violent extremists is inexcusable ignorance spewed from the mouths of those who do not care enough to learn the truth. To this end, let me further state my outrage at some of the genuine responses I saw to this news.

Firstly, there is a petition gaining ground in my home country of England to ban all immigration to this country after what happened in Paris, claiming that until the world is a safe one to live in, Britain should have no part in its affairs and as such, welcome nobody from outside our isles. This is ridiculous, you do realise the people turning up on our shores are running away from the same people we all hate right? ISIS isn’t politely queuing to get in, it’s not as if those refugees are sat waiting in airports like “Gee, I sure hope I get to blow up something significant. I was thinking like maybe I could blow up a bus station or whatever”. No. Closing the doors to the outside world means turning a cold shoulder to those who are suffering and whilst you might be callous enough to look the other way as a recently widowed mother and her baby die at the end of an assault rifle, I cannot and I urge our country not to adopt this “Not my problem attitude”. It is our problem, it is a problem the world must band together to face because it affects us all and turning away from it won’t excuse us from the wrath of these terrorists, they won’t give us a break, if they want to get into this country they will – people have snuck in and out of this country, recruits get out, extremists get in, they didn’t all have clever disguises and paperwork to do that – so closing the door will only shut out people with legitimate reasons to come here such as, say, their home was blown to smithereens.

Secondly, some of us have now become suspicious of those different to us in our own community and to that end, if that’s you, looking at every man in a turban with a stink-eyed glare and never trusting a man who introduces himself as Achmed, then the terrorists won against you. Terrorism isn’t just blowing stuff up, it’s scaring people into extreme paranoia and prejudice so they destroy themselves and make irrational decisions based on that. Muslims are as much a part of our community as Christians, Atheists, Sikhs and all other faiths, they have every right to exist and they are not somehow responsible for what happened – they probably watched the news just like you did and looked on in horror and just as your local vicar won’t say “Good lads those Westboro lot, kill all gays I reckon!”, your Muslim taxi driver or shop clerk won’t approve of what ISIS did. We need to cast aside prejudice, fearing of others and treating them with suspicion and hatred won’t fix this because hatred doesn’t defeat hatred, it fuels it and supplies it. You want revenge on some Muslims for what happened? ISIS wanted revenge for what happened to them, which we did to them because of what they did first, do you notice a pattern here? Hatred begets hatred, you want to end that hatred then you stand against it with understanding and care and solidarity.

Nationality and countries and defending your borders needs to stop, each nation needs to stop prioritising keeping their own safe because what ISIS is doing is a tragedy against humanity – they aren’t simply picking on one country or one creed of people, they attack without discrimination and they hate all that are not like them. Our anger at Jihadi John was for what he did but more than that, some people were furious it was the fact he was British and killing British people. WHY? British people kill British people, people kill people, national identity should not come into it. We’ve always wanted a clear cut conflict since World War Two, the last war in which there were good guys and bad guys, since then it’s been a murky shit-show of suspicion and here we are, a common enemy in ISIS for the world to band together against and yet we still prioritise selfishness over the desperate plight our planet faces. Enough is enough, you will not rescue anyone by cowering away from strangers and treating them with disdain, they want us scared and angry, scared angry people are stupid and easy to kill. If you want someone to hate, don’t say “Those fucking Muslims” or “Don’t trust those refugees”, hate ISIS, hate those that do not flinch at killing innocent people, hate such injustice and take that hatred and channel it into doing what is right and helping your fellow man. Humanity, I beg of you, stand together, realise that this is a problem that affects the whole world and do not let it be what divides us any longer.

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Chains Of Avarice

Trigger Warnings – None

Christmas is coming, unless you’re Australian, it already came, or you don’t celebrate Christmas in which case I apologise, this article probably won’t interest you. As I was, Christmas is coming, it’s almost here for us here in the UK and so in honour of that occasion, I plan to do two little Christmassy posts, today and tomorrow. Yes, I am that dedicated to you my readers that I will be giving you all the gift of two festive posts, I hope it beats another ugly tie or pair of socks. Granted, your feet will be no warmer but perhaps your mind will be a little more open.

Right off the bat, I’m going to assume we all know the story of the Christmas Carol, if not then you either REALLY don’t celebrate Christmas to the point of not acknowledging it even exists or when someone mentions fiction, you look confused like “People write stuff that’s not true? I thought that was just The Sun?”. Zinger, I know. Anyway, as a brief recap the Christmas Carol is the story of a greedy businessman called Scrooge being visited by the ghost of his dead friend Jacob telling him to change his ways or spend eternity bound in the chains of his greed and so Scrooge is visited by spirits that show him visions of his past, present and future which upset, disturb and enlighten the old miser so that come Christmas morning, he becomes a jolly philanthropist like none other. I’ve sometimes questioned if Scrooge actually changed or if he was just scared straight, certainly in the actual novel he has a hellish time of it meeting his unwanted daughters, seeing his own gravestone and realising that everyone who has ever been important to his life resents him, but he keeps the spirit of the season well and being scared into good will by visions of chains is much akin to having the moral imperative of virtuous behaviour for fear of fire and torture in eternity.

Erhem, pretentious musings aside, I love the Christmas Carol story, it’s one thing I have always wanted to act in but never have (Incidentally, as either Scrooge himself or Bob Cratchit), my acting career has never really existed beyond some dynamic reading and a bit part in a school play. My favourite interpretation of the story you ask? Well, I love the one filmed in Shrewsbury but I most commonly watch the Muppet version, I like how it brings forward the core message of the story in a way children and parents can watch, it’s devoted to the story but not too seriously and it’s much more visually pleasing with colourful puppets and impressive acting than say, plain old animated versions for kids – we all know kids engage more with anthropomorphic characters than emulated realism. I bring up the Christmas Carol because I feel there’s an important part of the message people forget and that is just why Scrooge needed to change his ways. You’ll probably shrug and say “Come on Jake, he was greedy, all he cared about was money and he was a bitter old man ignoring those in need, that’s a bad guy, the story is his redemption”. Key point there, he was greedy, the story is about how his GREED is a curse, not his money. Greed has a much broader definition than a lust for gold and silver.

I often get called Scrooge for not being festive out the wazoo as I don no antlers, wear no silly jumpers and don’t constantly burst with excitement, nor do I sing along to any carol or song but I think a modern Scrooge would actually take part in those things, Scrooge is not a caricature as simple as “Don’t like wreaths of holly? You grinch!”, give Dickens more credit than that, Scrooge is a man made bitter by years of isolation and he lusts for money because money doesn’t betray people, money makes sense, money can be understood in ways you can’t apply to people. So why would a modern Scrooge enjoy Christmas? The focus of greed has changed in the past few years, money is something we all yearn for, even those who have it, so judge someone by their drive for financial success is plain hypocrisy but what is truer now than it was in Dickens’ time is a greed for consumerism, a desire for receiving gifts and getting what we want, ensuring our Christmas is the best it can be, a modern Scrooge is the guy who has a clear cut Christmas list you can’t deviate from or he’ll begrudge, a man who doesn’t always return kind gestures at this time of year, a man who complains when he receives the accursed wrong gift. I’m looking at you entitled children of the world, your parents got you the wrong make of iPhone? You’re the Scrooge now, your selfish greed will be your undoing.

At this time of year, some of us go overboard, in particular parents wanting to spoil their children rotten with brilliant presents, which can present a problem. I saw a Facebook post recently that made me think, parents shouldn’t label games consoles and bikes as being gifts from Santa because then less fortunate children might question as to why Santa got them some new jumpers and a couple of action figures whilst his best friend Timmy got an XBOX One and an iPad. Maybe this is the poor boy in me speaking but I resent such spoilt children and people who do so, it is excessive and only fuels this greed in the child, who will expect more and more as the years go on. I got games consoles at Christmas, sure, but it wasn’t mine, it was a shared gift and even then Dad would tell us “If you want something so big for Christmas, Santa will have to bring you less gifts to make room!”, which we agreed to, even by needy child logic that seemed fair. Do not make your children slaves to greed and if you must buy them big gifts, tell them it was you that bought it, not Santa, make it fair and help your child realise that the gift is not just a reward for good behaviour, but a sacrifice and an investment made by those that love them and should be revered as such. If you say Santa gets them everything, their love is for Santa that day, not the parent and they feel they deserve everything they get in life, which is a terrible lesson to teach because it’s not true – good work can go unrewarded.

Greed and impatience are cornerstones of our society really, aren’t they? That cannot be avoided but if it could, this is the time of year for it. We all neglect certain people in our lives, mostly those that are strangers to us, but let us not forget that it was greed that doomed Scrooge, not money, Scrooge didn’t find salvation in throwing every shilling he had into a lake, he found it in selflessness – buying a feast for his loyal clerk, rekindling the love lost in his relationship with his nephew, donating to charity – money in itself can be used as a force for good if the person that holds it knows to keep the spirit of selflessness in their heart

As always readers, thanks for your time and a Merry Christmas to you all! Please, spread the word, let us remember what this time of year is all about! Remember to like, comment and follow me on Facebook at my official page, call it a gift to me from you!

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