Tag Archives: Education

It’s a Fine Line between Politeness and Progress

I am English so naturally I struggle with this fine line.

The problem I have is that, when erring on the side of politeness, there is always a little voice in my head shouting, “Hypocrite! You’re a bloody hypocrite! Don’t let them go away with that view unchallenged – whilst you’ll put yourself in a vulnerable position, how can you live with yourself knowing that person is going to loudly perpetuate that complete tosh to anyone who’ll listen???”

I’d really rather not get into debates with everyone I encounter… but then I find the most narrow-minded to be the ones who incite discussion on controversial subjects. As if to assert themselves from the start and strong-arm me into automatic concurrence.

I think it could be argued that they are spoiling for a fight.

Etiquette vs Education

Yesterday an older gentleman came round to tune the piano. Firstly, he denigrated digital keyboards as a replacement for instrumental pianos which, I must admit, I could wholeheartedly agree with… after all, digital has it’s place but is no replacement! But he “hates” it.

Then he spied my bottles on the side table… and began to harp on about how he doesn’t drink and that drink is terrible stuff and so on, and that he “hates” people who drink. Again, can’t massively argue with the negatives of the demon drink although I see no need to nobble someone in their own home. I can’t drink anyway so he was barking up the wrong tree… it’s there for my “terrible” friends!

Next it was smoking. Again, completely agree but decided at this point to say, “Actually i enjoy the occasional cigarette…”, to which he began harping on about how he hates” smokers and that he knew some old lady who had smoked like a chimney and how she was a bad person for that… and, “…she died! Ha!!” WTF??? I should have kept quiet but felt imposed upon in my own home by that point, which is just unreasonable. This conversation had only started after he had finished the job for goodness sake and my precious time was being wasted on ranting and it wasn’t constructive.

Next he mentioned a call he had to make to tune a piano, back in the 70’s. He had arrived to a group of people all smoking “that weed”. “It’s really bad that stuff – if you smoke it once it damages your brain for the rest of your life.” “You’re never the same again.” “It’s evil dangerous stuff people who smoke it are weird and bad.” “I’ve met them, there’s something wrong with them!” “It’s illegal too isn’t it?” “I hate people who do that.”

Now I have to admit that I am a defender of the medicinal properties of said weed.  I am all too aware of the issues – mainly restricted to teenage boys and folk with pre-existing conditions – but far more frequently, I have seen too many adult people benefit immeasurably to be able to accept alcohol as fine and cannabis as not. I’m yet to see anyone tangibly physiologically benefit from drinking alcohol. Relaxation and loss of inhibition don’t count.


I couldn’t bring myself to educate this man. However hard the little voice in my head tried, my mouth would not commit to the noose in that way. I find that the narrow minds of the loudly judgemental ignorant are what poison and destroy sense, free social discourse and progress. I mean, the guy had just told me in no uncertain terms that he hated me on 3 counts!

I find myself often in this dilemma: Educate or Assimilate?

You see this gentleman is completely entitled to his opinion and to voice it… I just feel that he should be in hand of actual facts and evidence before he makes his judgement and goes out proclaiming aggressively to anyone within earshot. I also think “hate” is a very strong word.

Progress, in my opinion, is not related to the obvious – building big shiny things, converting every daily task to technology, searching the universe… no, I believe progress only continues where folk are prepared to question daily what they have believed all their lives. We need to always question ourselves and everything around us… double check it makes sense and we’re not just regurgitating false information provided by another biased and fallible human.

He continued on, as I walked him to his car, “They are letting them in left right and centre, they are taking all the jobs they aren’t learning the language”…. If I’m honest, racism makes me mental and I didn’t want him to stay the length of time it would have taken to debate that subject and so distracted him with a bird sighting!

You would have thought that admiring native fauna would have softened him, but his finale, and I jest you not, was the following;

“Well and of course those nature shows, they really shouldn’t show any of those bits that are unpleasant. I think they should censor when animals kill other animals or when something dies, I hate it. We shouldn’t have to see that, it’s horrible and it’s not right. Not right at all.”

Goodness, we really do have a long way to go with rational thinking.

I must confess that with his final flourish he had induced a burning inferno within me that would not have allowed a rational response had I indulged it. I know I shouldn’t get so angry and frustrated but my first response (of 5 billion that were queuing up in my head) would have been – “So you’re a vegetarian then are you??????” (I know he wasn’t because he’d mentioned meat earlier.) Followed swiftly by, “Do you have any inkling of how fortunate you are to be able to hate so loudly, liberally and ignorantly???”

The problem is that all my responses become swathed in a mire of, “You bloody moron. How can a person live on this planet for over 60 years and come out with such utter drivel? Forget nature programmes, it’s folk like you who should be bloody censored – you’re a danger to a rational and reasonable society, a threat to the environment and a blockade in the way of progress!!”

Instead of course, I smiled through gritted teeth as I waved him off to spread his very assured lunacy-fuelled hatred elsewhere, where folk might actually listen and take it as fact. Scary.

When he’d left, I genuinely couldn’t get my head round what he’d said. I may seem just as judgemental but it’s been a while since I’ve met anyone so entirely closed-minded, shallow and quite so vehement with no provocation. There’s some really serious sh$* going on around the world at the moment and this guy felt he should take up an hour of my life spouting crap that doesn’t even make the scale. He left me feeling frustrated and flabbergasted, guilty and doom-laden. How can he have visited such a wide variety of homes, schools, venues and locations over the course of his entire working career and not realise that people are people, you can’t pigeon-hole them or condemn and if they’re not hurting you and yours then really what’s the problem? Where’s all this hate coming from?

Ignorance breeds Fear. Fear breeds Contempt. Contempt creates Division. Division becomes Factional. Factions just Fight.

I avoided the fight but I feel like a coward. Not only did I judge a book by it’s cover – nice old gentleman, lifelong local piano tuner, moderate and polite – I had also allowed him off my turf to perpetuate his unchallenged, ignorant dogma. The media is rife with tales of horrendous evil Muslims and BNP idiots inciting racial hatred but I would like to mention the insidious, irrational, fear-induced inciting of racial hatred that goes on in all sorts of unassuming places and can even seep into your own home if you’re not careful, leaving a bad taste and staining the view for a while.

It’s a good thing really that he came across as such a throwback – I guess the fewer and further between these dogmatic and hate-fuelled individuals become… the better for us all.

I dread his return in 6 months but I suppose I could be out… or fully prepared with a Power Point presentation and an hour to spare!

evil bug

evil bug (Photo credit: acidpix)

The Loop of Inevitability

Round and Round and Round we go

“Let people learn from their own mistakes”

And so the human race is put on loop, which turns to spiral… which leads down the plughole.

I feel ashamed of us a species

Excuses for everything. Blame. Expectations of others. No personal responsibility or self-determination. Complete reliance on others – from the government to the takeaway.

Why can’t we learn? We’re supposed to have these enormous brains and be so advanced and yet we now live in a world where self-indulgence is the only goal in life. Asserting ones own beliefs to the serious detriment of others. Factionalising every pissing thing.

I feel like a spider to clinging to the side of the drain… sorry… what happened to working hard? Giving to others? Being unselfish and considerate? Accepting difference without prejudice? Making a better future? Equality?? I don’t want to go down…

I’ve lived all over for the past 15 years and am now back home. I spend a lot of my time feeling guilty… you see I’m not just ranting at everyone else about this, I have been experiencing the problems in realtime macro this past few months: The bad habits I have picked up in the wider world are; unhealthy suspicion, constant fear of crime, unhealthy fear of men, constant expectation of petty conflict, silly hangups from self-consciousness, stress and unhealthy stress management, brusqueness, unnecessary hurriedness and a strong tendency to keep to myself… Yes, not great really!!!

It seeps into your fabric without you realising and before you know it you are everything you despise.

We all sign the petitions but are we actually living the ethos? Will your son grow up to disrespect or physically hurt a girlfriend? Will your daughter disrespect and double cross other females to get what she wants? Do your children understand the meanings of reasonable and unreasonable, acceptable and unacceptable, right and wrong? Or are you just indulging them to make sure you are number 1 popular parent…. to make life easier and sweeter for yourself, sod the future?

We need to get with the program people.

I wish I didn’t care but I do.

The most important issue of all is that of men and women. Whatever label you wish to give it is irrelevant, the fact remains that equality is more important than ever.

It is rare that I am completely furious and even rarer that I wish to write it down but this is one such time. I have read far too many accounts recently, by women (usually in the USA I’m afraid…that’s just the way it is) whinging about how some man wolf whistled at them or made a comment and they didn’t feel comfortable. **&^%*$*%$£^%£^£^

This attitude is akin to complaining in front of a man with no legs that you stubbed your toe. Women who are actually oppressed would give everything they have to be in a position to tell a man where to go without being heavily punished for it. Get some bloody perspective. You can avoid being raped by a random stranger, you can’t avoid being raped by half the local police force.

It may not be comfortable to have to speak up or shout back at builders or loudly embarass some loudmouth chauvinist in a shop but when did anyone say life was easy? Men get “started on” all the time for no reason and have to handle it well or face the consequences… I’m afraid we need to do the same. One of the first phrases I learn in any new country is one to shout at a man to shame him if he disrespects me. I very rarely get much trouble and if I do they know about it….as does everyone in the vicinity.

Laws don’t change things, people do.

Stand up for yourselves you spoiled inhumane bitches. You perpetuate the worst evil in the world by being so pathetic, reliant and ungrateful to your foresisters. If you can’t stand up for yourself in a coffee queue you need to go back and seriously understand where your freedoms came from. Grow a spine and contribute, it’s not like you’re staring down the barrel of an AK47.

Lead by example

Change starts at home…    you’d be surprised how many loud and proud feminists bring up indulged, nasty, violent little misogynists.

So as not to end on a rant, I must explain that it is empowering, ladies…and gents.

I am lucky in that I was always brought up to stick up for myself and others. I have NEVER been raped or had any violence perpetrated against me (ironically, other than by those closest to me) and have never yet received backlash from speaking up. There has been the odd moment of fear as a female in the city but the strange person seemingly following me could have been a drug addict, a youth or simply a weirdo… not necessarily a psycho woman-hater… however I am conditioned to expect violent rapists and fear that in everyone I encounter after dark. Did you know though that men are also in a predicament… I hear more and more that men don’t want to walk behind women in the dark, or if they are the only ones in a street, for fear of scaring them.

It is a sad old world we insist on perpetuating.

The good news is that there is definitely a light…. I see men all the time to whom I gave “what for” and most, if not all, of them have improved if not completely changed their ways. These are not just family, friends, acquaintances but also delivery drivers, farmers, cabbies, pub landlords… strangers. I’ve even brought bosses up on it… if you are worth your salt they’ll change their ways to keep you. You see, you gain respect if you stop someone in their well-worn tracks and make them think again… and that approach is not limited to the gender issues. Many folk don’t know any better until someone tells them and educates them.

Ignorance is not an offence but it is an affliction we can all help eradicate

Malala Speaks

Malala Yousafzai speech to United Nations, well worth a moment of your time if you haven’t already seen it. As subjects very close to my heart, Afghanistan and Malala were the subject of my first blog post. I am happy to see her so well, undeterred and so full of strength for the difficult road ahead. She is an example to us all.

Take heed



“No Manual” … Really???

Source: blog.rikhavinfotech.com

Source: blog.rikhavinfotech.com

I believe that the oft wailed, “…but there isn’t a manual”, is a load of codswallop.

This is contentious, I admit. I obviously do not include anomalies, disabilities and disorders in this. However, the vast majority of parents seem to be ignoring the fact that:

We have been conceiving, giving birth to and bringing up children for centuries.

Our whole existence is based upon this fundamental cycle.

How is it, then, that we are unable to learn from others that we admire or respect? Why don’t we note the aspects to parenting that folk who bring up ‘great’ kids employ?… learn from those around us who are successful at raising decent, honest, reasonable human beings? It’s only “Monkey See, Monkey Do”.

The fact is that there are thousands of bloody manuals. Professional, amateur, experience-based, medical, old skool, new skool, eastern culture, western culture… the list really does go on…. The Bible, the Quran and all the other holy scriptures. Our forefathers, the parents of our friends and acquaintances, the television, radio, magazines, newspapers, other bloggers etc etc etc. I don’t dispute that it is a minefield out there, nonetheless, ‘manuals’, exist.

I think it is an excuse. An excuse for not devoting the time, energy and battle to nurturing improved versions of ourselves. The consequences being much worse behaviours later on that develop, quite simply, through being doted upon and either feebly disciplined or completely unchallenged.

Too many parents want so desperately to be friends with their kids, yet that is not what the job description entails. It entails battles and repetition, consistency and reliability.

So many parents laugh unashamedly as they proclaim that their kids should, “Do as I say, don’t do as I do”. What kind of example is that to set?

My own personal bugbear is the tsunami of parents who have brought their little brats up with very little, other than a wardrobe full of designer labels and an unflinching belief that they are, by their very existence, individually superior to everyone else on the planet. Grrr.

I don’t believe that it can be entirely attributed to the break down of the nuclear family either. That’s usually the scapegoat. The most decent, sensible, unspoilt, grafting young adults I know, happen to have come from backgrounds that, on paper, would be deemed totally unacceptable circumstances. They may have witnessed drug taking from an early age, or been abused, or had psychologically damaged parents…. lived in squalor, broken homes or missed out on most of their education, but…. they have been consistently taught and most importantly shown how to be something solid in amongst all that chaos.

Leading by example is the most powerful and exemplary tool a parent has in their armoury

What I see in all the good folk around me – young and old – is a proper grounding, a moral foundation if you like. Simple and fundamental rules that one or both parents taught them and they live by throughout their lives. An unbreakable code that keeps them steady in the rough seas of life:

Do not Steal

Do not Lie

Money has to be earned with graft

Respect others as you wish to be respected… all folk are equal

Be disciplined

Be a contributor in life

Be reliable

Be kind

Clearly not the hardest guidelines in the world to live by but it would seem that many ‘responsible’ adults, parents and other role models, nowadays, seem to wholeheartedly believe that their desires should come first, regardless of offspring. Having children is a lifelong commitment and the hardest job in the world. Everyone knows that. Why then does noone actually believe it until it’s too late???

Substance is severely lacking in modern society and it isn’t, by any stretch, limited to the disenfranchised or less wealthy. In fact it is, more often than not, the so-called successful parents who are too busy, furthering or enjoying themselves, to instill some proper basics in their children. Just keep buying ’em stuff, that’ll keep ’em sweet till they’re off our hands.

Give them all the toys and they’ll fawn over you temporarily and insincerely… give them all the tools and they’ll be genuinely appreciative for life.

There is such thing as a good parent and a bad parent. It just isn’t as black and white as brain sludge such as the Daily Mail would have us believe. Our financial circumstances, societal status, type of car, quantity of friends, number of foreign holidays and designer labels will not make us wonderful parents. When you strip it back to basics, inner and outer strength, moral fibre and a work ethic are what will get a human being through anything, wherever they are born and raised, whether or not they are educated and whatever this crazy life throws at them.

Don’t we want our kids to be well-equipped for anything that might come their way? The material elements of life have become such a focus that young people aren’t prepared for the sacrifices and hardships of reality. A pampered child inevitably becomes a useless adult.

I’m sick and tired of hearing folk blame the government, the education system and anyone else they can pin it on… not to mention the apparent lack of bloody manuals! Your children are your responsibility and if they are little assholes then it is, almost always, your fault. How many of us are inadvertently furthering the downfall of society with our contribution to the next generation?

You are the Manual

Fallible accuracy or accurate fallacy

It was a fact that the Earth was flat and now it’s a fact that it’s round.

Have you ever considered the fallibility of all we herald as historical fact? All the books we laud as certainty and truth. All the artefacts and etchings that we decipher as actuality. The people who brought us the ‘truth’? The very ‘facts’ that we are educated in?

Since I was at school I have always read so-called factual books with niggling suspicion. After all, people make things up all the time….my brother was pathological as a child! Who really knows if all the diarists and letter writers, scientists and so on, didn’t embellish and exaggerate, spin and concoct. Facts seem only to be facts until someone proves that, in fact, they are not.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t a few undeniable facts – I don’t think we’re in the freefall of the complete unknown: I was definitely born, I’ll certainly die, and gravity seems to be holding me down (although I could get subjective on that)…..however, I sometimes feel that, nowadays, we spend an awful lot of time spraying around ‘facts’ like fire extinguisher foam. The only break up in that monotony of white noise, is the pompous conjecture and guestimation relating to ancient finds, historical documents and the natural world, usually by folk, yes humans, who have been holed up in the same room for, like seven years, studying only one microscopic aspect of the whole. I would feel a lot more comfortable if everything came under the grand heading, “A rough idea of how it might have been”. It’s the huge pronouncements that I find so confusing. Don’t get me wrong…..I completely value those dedicated folk who nail down into the details but then can’t overlook the fact that every detail belongs to a bigger picture, so there is a fine line in producing truths from that level, I think.

The simple, classic example is, of course, red wine: One week top scientists claim it’ll cure everything, the next week top scientists confirm that it’ll kill you.

When in Peshawar, immediately post 09/11, we watched as the “news” was being broadcast to the rest of the world….. the “facts on the ground”!! This place that we had spent so much time in. Blending in. Suddenly was overrun with loudmouthed, disrespectful, pushy journalists from all over the world. We watched in amusement as folk we knew from down the bazaar grabbed their Father’s Kalashnikov, wrapped a rug round them and went and got paid huge sums for being interviewed as Mujahideen!!  Nuff said there I think…

Some ‘facts’ seem to arise a bit like the miscommunication involved in the game Chinese Whispers. Once it’s gone through three or four people, the original message, or fact, has been adjusted or completely lost in transit. So why do we trust so much pre, like 1950?

“But we have the documents”, I hear you cry. Of course! I mean, no person has ever put fake information in a diary, recounted details in their own favour or pretended something never happened altogether. Humans, pre about 1950, all told the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth…. Yeah right.

“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt”   Bertrand Russell

We would do well to occasionally take an objective overview and allow our own brains to rationalise the ‘facts’ before us. Not just swallow them and purge over others like some sort of disorder. I am sick of hearing radio 4 repeated over and over again to me, verbatim, by different people – it is not the oracle!!!  ….not that they mention the source, it’s just fact, innit.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just one pernickety pain in the ass. I just can’t accept it and therefore gain no discernible enjoyment from hanging around with fact-sprayers. For a start it is confusing and I find the alternative, ignoring people, difficult too. So I end up wasting precious time considering all this gibber which turns out to be from the Daily Mail, Facebook or some equally reliable fact producer, and then I feel, first a dick for even considering it and second a numpty for giving it a second thought. I like to learn you see, and particularly enjoy learning from others. I’m sad to report that most folk will lie through their teeth in the hope that you won’t look it up, even folk in positions of informational responsibility. That seriously winds me up.

I find that a pinch of salt is a healthy addition to most ‘facts’, it can sometimes help draw out the seasoning of bullsh*t.

Here’s a thought….. how about accepting we don’t know everything……in fact we know very little about diddlysquat. We may never know quite a lot of things. Isn’t it incredibly exciting that there is a big, ever-changing world out there to be discovered individually, at a moment in time, by each one of us?

Don’t swallow the regurgitations of others…… go out and discover for yourself!

Sometimes the greatest experts and highest educated folk turn out to be the most narrow-minded on a subject and closed to the value of experience. Just because something is rare doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, or won’t become more frequent, or can’t change altogether. This planet and it’s inhabitants are constantly changing and evolving, there is very little ‘fact’ that doesn’t seem to change with time.