Free Speech?

Free Speech (noun): the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint

I have been noticing a lot of news pieces, events, and social media stories that relate to the notion of somebody’s free speech being threatened. The Charlie Hebdo attack for example.

The way I see it, it is a two pronged threat. On one side you have terrorists wanting the world under a dictatorship; a uniform human race with singular thoughts and actions. And on the other side you have people who demand apologies and refractions from others who have simply stated their personal opinion. And it is this second one that keeps recurring in my mind.

There is always something in the news about somebody making sexist, racist, or homophobic slurs, and whilst I in no way condone or endorse being mean to fellow human beings, I cannot help but feel amused at the hypocrisy of the people who demand apologies from the slur-makers.

Let’s say that some celebrity has made an off-the-cuff remark about disliking homosexuals; this then leads to an outcry from the public which basically states that said celebrity is ignorant and hate-filled and needs to recognise that people are entitled to live how they want and it is perfectly ok to be a homosexual should one so wish. It is their expression of self; a basic human right in the 21st century world we live in.

And this is where the hypocrisy comes in. Because in my thinking, isn’t it the right of the homophobic comment-maker to say such things? Or is free speech and opinion only reserved for certain people?

If someone wants to be homosexual then that is fine; and if someone has an opinion against homosexuals than surely that is fine too.

You can’t go around tooting on about human rights and freedom of speech etc. if you chastise somebody for exercising that right when you do not like what they have to say. Such double standards.

Freedom-of-Speech-united-states-of-america-21760995-960-720

 

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Goodbye 2014, It’s Been Great

Here we are again, another three hundred and sixty five days have been and are now gone.

And like Janus, a mythical God of Rome, who had one head to look upon the past, and another to look upon the future (and like a lot of other people) I am reflecting upon the days that have been, and making plans for the ones that lie ahead.

Janus

Looking back, I can honestly say to you that my 2014 was amazing.

My word for the year was progress, to keep up in moving forward in life, and I have achieved it. I’d love to tell you that I worked extremely hard for all of it, but in some cases I think I was just lucky.

My main goals for 2014 to aid in my mission to progress were, to get a house, to pass my driving test, and to get a new job. And all I can say is mission complete.

It really is quite satisfying knowing that I have achieved everything I wanted to this year. It feels like it has gone by so fast, but in other ways, it feels like an age ago that I was writing out my 2013 post, trying to fill myself up with some fighting spirit in order to face 2014, and actually gain something.

I also gained some things that I were not on my list, like getting a GCSE revision book published, oh, and a little thing called a fiancé too.

It truly has been a momentous year and I am currently feeling absolutely blessed. I know that you can’t always get what you want so I am considering myself very lucky, and I definitely won’t be resting on my laurels as 2015 commences.

Looking forward, I have been thinking about my objectives and dreams for this coming year and for my life in general, and I reckon that it is time I focused a little more on my writing. Writing all the ideas I have scribbled in notebooks, writing my idea for a novella, writing more blog posts; it is time I stopped dreaming of being a writer and actually become a writer. The excuses of a lack of time or a lack of ideas has to stop now if I ever want to make my dream a reality. Yes, I’ve made some progress in the area, but I want to make a much bigger mark.

I cannot rely on 2014’s lucky streak to last through into the next or future years, so now it’s all about putting the work in. I am a firm believer in putting in the effort to reap the rewards, but lately, my effort has been slacking, so, as is a customary feeling for most as January dawns, I am facing 2015 with a renewed sense of purpose and energy toward my aspirations.

Let’s hope it lasts longer than a week.

 

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Working on Christmas Eve

There is a peaceful kind of eeriness to working on Christmas Eve.

The sun rises slower; the usual chaos of the morning commute is suddenly silent; and a strange stillness envelopes the world; the quiet before the storm of last minute shoppers.

There is a shared sense of camaraderie with fellow Christmas Eve workers; everyone knowing that not much work will actually be done as the office winds down for the Christmas period but still not wanting to go.

As I arrive at my place of work, it feels like there is something imminent. The usual busy-ness has vanished and in its place a sense of something silently and cautiously approaching. In my head, it is something along the lines of Armageddon. That some time very soon, all things will cease to exist. And that idea seems much more interesting than reality and the fact that I am at work whilst the majority of the population are at home, probably still in bed, with nothing more to do but wrap presents and watch Christmas films; ample time to prepare for the following day’s festivities.

The apocalypse aftermath feeling soon subsides, however, when you get round to actually doing some work. The time passes much slower though, and you most certainly need a radio on if you are the only one in the office, something to counteract the suffocating sounds of silence from a phone that does not ring.

When finishing time does eventually tick along, the sense of freedom fills you up completely.  Your Christmas time is finally here, and ahead of you is a hectic but fun few hours spent wrapping those final pressies, prepping veggies, or visiting with family and friends. All before you fall asleep thinking of childhood Christmases that included you making sure that Santa and his reindeer were sufficiently fed and re-hydrated for the rest of their long trip to all of the world’s children.

Yes, working Christmas Eve may not be desirable, but it is not actually all that bad. You’ve just got to enjoy the peace.

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If Hatred Ceased to Exist

What would the world be like if hatred didn’t exist? If the feelings of anger and disgust just were not an option?

Would world peace actually be achievable?

There would be no terrorists preaching of hate towards anyone who is different. No wars, no bombings, no threats to innocent people.

Every war, past and present, would not have happened if hate did not exist. A lack of love and compassion towards our fellow human beings were the driving force, so without hate, they simply would not have happened. Without hate, history would pretty much be completely re-written.

People wouldn’t be scared. Those hostages in Sydney for example; they would not be emotionally traumatised by a hate-spewing gunman who cannot respect a person’s right to be different; if only hatred didn’t exist.

Jeremy Kyle would be out of work without hatred. His show which tries to resolve the issues of an arguing society would not be needed, as no-one would be hating their ex-lover/ siblings/ parents/ neighbours for what seems to be ridiculous reasons.

Hatred is such a useless emotion to have anyway. A simple dislike of something or someone is fine – you cannot like everything after all – but hatred is much stronger; it uses up energy and mind power to actively show others and yourself how you feel, in some cases leaving the person mentally drained and depressed, and in other cases, spurring a person on to commit such despicable acts like throwing acid in the face of an ex-lover, or murdering someone, or even spurring you on to cause destruction on a mass scale.

Unfortunately, hatred does exist. It is an emotion embedded in our history, and one most likely writing our future. Whilst I feel that one should not hate; that one should concentrate on themselves and not get involved in such negative emotions, other people do not feel the same way. For them, hatred spurs them on to achieve something; to achieve infamy.

A world without hatred is just a dream, an ideal.

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Death is

As I have grown up I have sort of developed a fascination with death. Morbid maybe, but it is the one thing you can be absolutely, 100%, positively sure of.

Death will happen.

It is life’s great equaliser. It doesn’t matter what your age is, your ethnicity, your social standing or your location upon this planet; death will find you and your loved ones.

I don’t think it shows an unhealthy or “weird” mind to be interested in such dark and joyless matters though. Death is an everyday occurrence. You cannot deny it so why push it aside and ignore it?

Whilst some individuals loathe death; strolling through their existence disregarding it until it strikes their lives, other people accept death, celebrate it, and have days in the calendar dedicated to it.

In western Christianity, we have All Soul’s Day, which is a day of prayer for the dead held on the 2nd of November and coincides with the commemoration of saints and martyrs on All Saint’s Day (1st November), although some Christian denominations honour the deceased several times throughout the year.

Latin Americans have the Day of the Dead, which transpires with All Soul’s day, occurring on the 31st October, and the 1st and 2nd of November. As well as offering prayers for deceased loved ones, they will also build private altars known as ofrendas, and upon these place food, drink, marigold flowers and other presents to leave on the gravestones of their dead.

In Poland, they have Zaduszki, where many people journey to visit the burial places of their beloved friends and relatives. If you were to be in Poland on the 1st November, you would witness streets filled with silent and solemn crowds, and cemeteries aglow with candlelight.

In New Orleans they don’t have a particular day dedicated to the departed, but they do have funeral marches. In the beginning they are slow and sombre, but after a burial or entombment and the family members have said their goodbyes, the music becomes upbeat and everybody dances and celebrates the life of the dead.

And these are just some of the occasions that occur throughout the world. These people do not hate death, or curse the god they believe in for letting it happen to somebody they love. They acknowledge and accept it, praying for the immortal souls of their beloved, and remembering the life they had on earth.

Death isn’t something to be scared of; or something not to talk about.

Death just is.

Day of the Dead Skull

 

 

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