Like the majority of Americans, I am watching our presidential race with interest or should I say bated breath? It is beginning to be a one horse race with the majority of any reportage focussing on Donald Trump. Love him or hate him he is not only the candidate. I recently read an article stating that a star condemns Donald Trump for his anti Muslim stance, but no article is completely bias free, and unfortunately there was no counter argument, there never seems to be when the reference is Donald Trump. I do not want to be overly political but concerns do abound in our group about what would happen if he wins – would we even have a role in our democracy? To another highly contentious subject and one those following us lately are familiar with, our gun laws. The horrendous loss of life this month, the racism and hate that accompanied it makes us all question what can be done, what is being done? I read a quote by a country and western singer saying that gun surrender was not effective, that terrorists and criminals would not surrender their guns. Of course they won’t – what a ridiculous comment! We have to start somewhere and using the deaths of these people for political platforming to undermine Obama is shameful. ( I am not going to go into Donald Trump’s reaction – he has had enough of my time and space today!) Whatever your views on the gun laws, we surely must all agree, we need to stop the infighting and work towards a solution, so no more parents, families and friends are subjected to the loss of loved ones. Show the world, who have demonstrated their sympathy and support, that we can do something about this.Read More
When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriages, the country took a huge step forward toward true equality for same sex couples. But is it the same for same sex divorce, and are divorce rules the same for all? If we have marriage equality, then we should also have divorce equality. The Supreme Court’s ruling has really made a lot of progress in that regard. Before that, if a couple moved to a state where their same sex marriage wasn’t recognized, they couldn’t get a divorce in that state. But now the rules for same sex divorce are more aligned with the rules for opposite sex divorce. Of course we are not condoning divorce in any way, especially if there are children involved – in that case it is especially important that a couple go see their faith-based counselor. But sometimes divorce is the very last resort for a couple who don’t see any other options. And in this case, it should not matter if the couple is gay or straight: the rules should be same for all.Read More
I feel like it’s become so common to have shootings in America that people don’t even pay attention anymore. For example, the latest shootings, which took place in regular places, were by really crazy people who were kind of “normal.” I mean, they weren’t terrorists or teens, just average people. I think it’s a huge problem in society that these people aren’t condemned more harshly. These people should be publicly shamed, and not just sent off to jail or whatever. Can’t we come up with some creative ways other than the death penalty to make sure these kinds of people think twice about something before they do it? My suggestion would be that the punishment for public shootings, like the latest shootings, be something like a lifetime of hard labor in a real prison camp. Even if that prison camp ends up having just one inmate, I bet others wouldn’t want to kill anybody if they knew how hopeless their lives would become.Read More
Hello there, the group have decided that this blog will be shared out between some of the members for them to write guest blogs so to speak. This is my first attempt so please bear with me. I thought it might be an opportune time to actually discuss what is religion, what we mean by it and how it applies to each individual.
This post is my introduction and if invited back to write I intend to develop it more; I would be very interested to hear your views and thoughts on this. If we want to know what is religion, the dictionary is the last place we would want to look. This is because the meaning given in a dictionary will invariably be that “it is a set of beliefs, rituals and practices”. That is not exactly what is meant by religion. To know what is religion we need to delve deeper. If we want to explain this complex thing in simple words, it is the way of communicating with god. Yes religion is the way to communicate with god, via the prayers. Nobody knows whether the prayers actually reach God, but we pray right.
Every religion of the world invariably works on the same principle to be able to communicate with God. Over a period of time this basic concept takes the form of rituals and practices. In fact rituals and practices are also ways to make your word reach God. Is it not?
Yes indeed, because religion is nothing but communicating with God. Religion is very personal as we have found out. It should be left with the person how he/she communicates with the almighty. But this is what is not allowed by most organised religions. Let us pledge to make this happen.Read More
Well interesting meeting! We were discussing our agenda for the year and who is remaining in the group and who is leaving. Only one of the team would be leaving due to leaving the area for work but he had already told us and brought in someone he thought could take his place. The lady is a lay preacher and from what we saw a very passionate speaker – meetings are going to get more interesting! One of the decisions on the table was charitable donations. We have some fund raisers through the year and the odd donation came in last year so we all agreed on the charity we would donate to thinking it better to make the decision for the year rather than every time we had some funds. Last year we had all agreed on Breast Cancer. Then the shock in May ’15 when the FTC -Federal Trade Confederation along with the Attorney General brought action against 4 Breast Cancer Charities. They had been investigated before and according to the FTC the donations that were suppose to be intended for cancer sufferers and research that in fact only 3% got to them and the other 97% funded expenses paid trips for chief executives and other personal use. Now 2 of those charities are being dissolved. Now that is in the hands of the law but the ramifications are widespread, the confidence in our charities being badly damaged even for such a small group such as ours. We had a lively discussion on how to decide on which charity was legitimate, how do we know? One of the member had already been thinking about it and he brought in some information he had researched, the outcome being a sub group was formed of which I am one, to look into some of the charities we have been thinking about and bring a protocol together for us for the future and one which is intended for us to share with other relevant parties. I thought the information would be of a value to others so I intend to share some on here. We also were also given notice even though it is our second year that we are getting requests for assistance which is not what we are about, so we need to explore how we present ourselves. I personally feel our fund raising grew more out of events planned to bring us together as a group rather than actual fundraising per se but they evolved into that without a lot of thought on our part and as such my view is we need to avoid going down that route again. I am not alone with this as a group we are about 50-50 so got my work to cut out to break that stalemate. What do others think?Read More
Well what do you think 2016 will be like? I have been reflecting on the past year, sat here with my coffee and some very nice cake musing on what to write. We have taken a three week break over the holidays next meeting 11/02/16 so not a lot to feedback. I am not a resolution making typing of person but I do like to reflect over the year and see what has been good and what has not; finding personal growth that I need to take with me into the new year or abandon as not helpful.
These holidays have been richer by the inclusion of the new friends I have made through the group, who over the past year have shared their culture and themselves with me and whom I have invited to our home to share our Christmas festivities. It has been wonderful, seeing my kids and theirs play together without doubts and fears – other than the normal kids bickering! The adults just enjoying each others company in a comfortable simplicity that is missing in the world today I think.
My mind wanders to the refuges across the world at this traditional time of peace, are there lives any better this year than last. I would hope so but in reality I do not think so. The closing of nations doors to these people in desperate need is the panic reaction of a frightened populace or their political representatives. Whichever way you look at it we are not only letting these people down we are letting ourselves down. Our nation is so many layers, each one fighting the other and too many people sitting on fences. I know about that because I have sat on one, in fact just got off it to back the responsible gun laws. This year has seen far too many tragedies brought about by the ownership and use of guns. We are suppose to be a civilised nation, leaders in the world but I am sorry to say I do not see that. In fact I am more inclined to support the view of the writers of The Newsroom and Will McAvoy’s statement on America not being the greatest nation. I love America and want to see it at its best but we need to take a long hard look at ourselves and stop being afraid to change and adapt. So my wish for the New Year of 2016 is to finally have people actually listening to what is being said and done, not just hearing it but listening to it fully, querying maybe not agreeing but actually really listening and then hopefully understanding and positive change will follow.
All the best to you and your families for 2016 lets make things happen this year rather than letting them happen to us.Read More
Hi there and I hope all of you have had a good Thanksgiving. We certainly did and I planned to write about it today but events seemed to have overtaken that. It just does not seem appropriate to ignore what again is happening, another shooting, 14 killed and no one really knows why. There is speculation of course, there is ISIS, problems the couple might have had, to be honest at this moment the whys do not really bother me. Its the fact yet again someone has taken a gun and shot a innocent group of people. Not acceptable!
Our group met today and the the agenda went out the window as the discussion on guns flew around the table. As a group we are getting to know our fellow members. We have made great strides in trying to cross cultures and understand each other. We have strengths and weaknesses, not all of them evident but in this we agreed we will support the action for more control over guns.
This is a huge decision for us, and one we have to take back to our communities, some of whom are still divided over this issue. Protecting ourselves with guns is not working, access to guns is too easy and the attitude that violence is the answer or solution to a problem is escalating. In a smaller scale we reflect the bigger picture, we have been reflecting about what our contribution into this arena should be and we erred on the side of prevaricating. Something our politicians are very good at. There is a strong group of folk who defend the right to own guns, to keep their liberty. What is liberty in a society that is turning a blind eye to its own spiralling destruction. I shared a commentary on gun violence that I found by Mike Joseph Stern who writes for the Slate. In it he questions what is the price we pay for liberty and that it is time to reevaluate. That people need to take action, make a stance. Full circle back to our group deciding not to decide in an attempt to not commit. That changed to today, for us this was decision time.
So now we have made the decision we want to see more control over guns where do we go next with it? Who do we talk to? Who do we communicate with? How do we help initiate these changes? We were a little stumped here, due in part I think to the emotional discussion that preceded the decision making, actually making a plan of action seemed anti climatic. Some discussion followed but will be picked up again at our next meeting; one idea floated, was to hold a community meeting to open out the discussion and our decision. I really do not know if it is the right time or not. What do others think, help us to represent you by sharing some of your thoughts and feelings.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the shootings in San Bernardino.Read More