Positive Messages

I have read with great sadness the outpouring of sentiment linked to the tragic events of Monday night.

Only those caught up in the events and the immediate tragedy can fully understand the impact. Yet we all have a part to play.

Synthetic Grief

We have to reality check ourselves because the media feeds us with the idea that everyone is feeling the same, we are all paralyzed or somehow traumatized by these events.

Somehow we must share in the public grief that follows every tragedy.

The idea that cards and messages, solidarity (whatever that means) is mandatory clouds the real issues and the power of collective consciousness.

Media driven grief isn’t real, a minutes silence in no way reminds anyone of the significance of the events. It is a contrived outpouring.

Hope and Power

After a very personal trauma a close friend sat with me and explained that “this too will pass – but not today or tomorrow for you”. The day things happened it was all too much to take in, months later when the help and support was really needed this friend was right by my side.

Almost 20 years later the trauma has diminished but only after a period of empowerment. Learning to have hope and start living.

Today the families need to begin the process of grieving, the authorities of trying to piece together how this “soft target” act could have been prevented, how to monitor those who pose a risk to society without robbing them of their civil liberties.

Empower others by letting them do their jobs without demanding answers to questions that will take time to assess. Without prying into the lives that have been lost and their family grief, show respect and care because we need to ask ourselves if I were in their shoes how would I feel about wall to wall coverage of events.

Life is precious

Children robbed of life always seems more tragic than adults and yet all life must be protected.

When we hide away, publicly appear frightened by these acts of terrorism it isn’t the healthy respect we need. The healthy respect is built on courage, vigilance and tenacity.

So as we think of the human impact of these and other tragic events remember its the powerless and the beaten you see immobile, paralyzed or running away. Remember more ran to the aid of the victims than ran away. That is the affirmation that life is precious – even the lives of people we do not know.

Yes it is the first rule of charity – give because you want to.

Let the media wail and moan, but remember at a time of disaster would you want some to record what was happening or help; to complain that little was being done or someone who mobilises their resources to meet the need; someone to ask questions of people who are really focused on other things.

Having prepared for press conferences in the past I know  from experience that a two minute statement and briefing is never just two minutes. So when a senior police officer comes out to speak to the media the officers involved in getting that together will have taken their focus off their roles for at 30 minutes. Ten officers in the chain you have lost 5 hours.

Look to the positive messages, help where practical and offer real support wherever you can.

My thoughts are with the families of those caught up in the tragic events.

Churches and The Charity Commission

Researching for a project it became necessary to look at how the Charity Commission regulates faith groups as a civil body.

Specific aspects of faith are not always as liberal or forgiving as the moral standards imposed upon the Charity community.

21st Century Faith Groups

The first issue that was highlighted in the research linked to the appointment of Trustees. The Charity Commission requires that everyone involved in the financial and policy decision making of the charity are formally accountable. They should be the Trustees.

However in many churches the systems and management just do not comply, this immediately creates governance issues.

The second issue followed the route of understanding the role of the confessional support for members who have broken civil or criminal law but not left the faith. Some churches view all confession as confidential and sacred. Therefore those who hear the confession will not breach their agreement.

However the legal imperative is to report all offending behaviour to the authorities rather than work with the offender so that they turn themselves over, find rehabilitation through faith. This is a real challenge.

Another issue, child protection and safeguarding vulnerable persons. The Charity Commission understand the role of the leaders of many faith groups as policing the membership. This is not the case.

Their role is pastoral. When they become aware of issues affecting vulnerable adults or young people they encourage the members to take action or not as the member decides. This is breaking the law because these leaders are aware of a criminal offence against a minor or vulnerable adult. However it is only hearsay and if the alleged perpetrator denies the act then how do they offer care and support to both parties.

Are they Charitable?

The benchmarks are philanthropy and benevolence, whilst bible education and relief work do meet that criteria the mainstream liberal charity sector are moving further are moving further away from religious mandates.

These charities argue that the moral imperatives no longer apply. The Charity Commission is a secular body, its governance follows that agenda therefore many faith groups are afraid to speak out on moral issues, find themselves distracted by using time to prop up things they don’t believe in.

So the way forward

Well the 21st Century liberal charity sector has no room for religious imperatives or personal expressions of faith in public. certainly no room to criticize moral and lifestyle choices of others based on the holy books.

The logical conclusion has to be that religious groups are going to find themselves investigated more frequently by the Charity Commission. Many will opt to step outside the legislative framework and become not for profit associations.

Tragically much of the great work done by faith groups will be lost and as we become less tolerant with the development of liberal attitudes – no room for critique –  religions will disappear.

Nationalism and self interest continue to replace these core spiritual values.

Just look at the Charity Commission investigations  and see for yourselves how faith groups are investigated.

The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse will use 21st Century standards to beat faith groups down for historical abuse.

We have to remember that things done in secret or without consent that damage, exploit or endanger children and vulnerable (that’s all of us) are unacceptable.

Fear for the future

There is a great deal to be said in favour of those who chose not to watch the news and media reports.

We see crazy decisions, hollow promises and economic risking taking on levels we have never experienced before.

In recent conversations with local people many expressed the view that the real fear has to be what we are storing up for our children and grandchildren.

The Legacy

100 years of incredible progress but society is no safer, no more tolerant, robust or resilient. In truth when we look at the whole picture it could appear very bleak.

However there is a legacy that does question whether this state of affairs is necessary. People can live in peace from the most diverse backgrounds, honesty prevails and individuals recognise that mistakes and accidents happen.

The catalyst for the change is more than reading Gods Word the Bible but doing what it says. I met someone who said that he believed in “do unto others as you would have them do to you”; believe it by all means but for it to be relevant we have to do it, no matter the personal cost.

How can you live without debt? Easy really, save until you can afford to buy or go without. A simple philosophy but clearly worth a great deal.

Jesus words in the sermon on the mount highlight the route to happiness, spirituality is the first step.

The Personal Issue

I like being different standing out from the crowd, so applying bible principles in my life enables me to do that.

For many that is the challenge – google news had an article today that stated those who believe in evolution are more intelligent. Oh how silly that is.

Intelligence is always measured by those who have something lacking in their lives. Intelligence doesn’t protect from poor decision making, bad judgement and things. It is seldom the answer because often the complexity of an issue created by intellectual application prevents anything from being achieved.

So should we fear for the future? Yes and No that is why the bible speaks of the “truth that sets you free”. Find out about this truth – read your bible and find out what it really teaches.

 

Microsoft – Cyber Update

Just watched the news in the UK and heard the report that the CEO of Microsoft somehow blames Governments for the issue.

Let’s get this right – Microsoft know there is a problem with the old technology OS, they know that because they won’t co-operate with Government Law enforcement bodies, the the law enforces are going to look for ways to get into the systems in the wake of 9/11.

Microsoft upgrade the OS repeatedly because there are flaws in most of their OS. The fact the wholes are found is somehow someone else’s fault because they have to look for them can’t be a serious defense.

Old cars

I buy older models of car (auto’s). Now a few years back I bought a model that was about two years old, kept it for around 4 years which meant the model shape had changed and the engine specification had changed.

Now just as I was about to replace the vehicle the manufacturer (because I had to register the vehicle) contacted me to say that there was a possibility that due to manufacturing problem the fuel tank could cause problems and potentially in the worst case scenario cause death.

They offered me a replacement fuel tank and software at no charge or discount on a replacement model.

The same applies to other equipment I have bought. The manufacturer accepts liability when there is a design fault or an issue because of a flaw that becomes apparent later.

Microsoft

As a windows 7 and 8 user I was offered a free upgrade to windows 10 but the XP and Vista OS that I had operating would have to be replaced with a new purchase. The problems weren’t with 7 & 8.

If you had been MS what would you have done? I’m certain it would have been different. Taking responsibility requires companies to own their mistakes however costly to them, sadly for Microsoft this could be the potential economic hit that has been looming for decades.

It is a lesson for Google with Android and other operating systems.

Inevitably criminals will exploit holes in systems because that’s what criminals do, much easier than robbing a bank these days.

So lets not get sucked into blaming anyone, all accept our responsibility and work to collectively prevent those vulnerable gateways from exploitation.

Who is to blame?

So Friday there is a massive Cyber Attack. The conspiracy theorists are jumping up and down with some plausible ideas about – Microsoft being behind the ransom ware and other major cyber traders.

Take responsibility

In 1991 the local authority employed a few of the staff to come up with a strategy as part of the business continuity plan for cyber security and data protection.

Now we looked at the issues and realised that the most vulnerable part of the system had to face the public and the threat primarily came from inappropriate use of software.

So our proposal to the elected members included the phrase cyber responsibility. Where information and machines touch external environments we are responsible for the security of the data and information we protect.

Today every device is a gateway and there lies the risk. Because in the interest of speed and efficiency we sacrifice security or employees can compromise that security.

So Who is to blame?

Truth – We all are! Microsoft knew that old technology would protect networks and machines. Software upgrades and patches rely on the skill or understanding of the few. Too few people understand how OS work and why this is the vulnerable element of the PC network.

We accept the MS operating systems are the most cost effective but truth they are the easiest and most vulnerable. There are many reasons why but the primary one is that one size fits all approach limits the security levels you can enable.

Strategic security

Two key principles:

If your OS is compromised ensure that you can switch to access data using an alternate OS.

Ensure that the OS and program files exist in a distinctly separate area of your network.

Confession Time

The network system I was responsible for was attacked a few years ago by ransom ware – I had reverted to an old PC with an old OS for temporary staff. This provided the gateway to the network so we were all locked out. Over 30 desktops, a number of laptops and mobile devices. Small numbers.

However within an hour everyone was back online and no data compromised. No ransom paid. Total work lost 40 minutes and zero data corrupted.

Have a contingency in place and deploy it immediately – do not try to fix the problem.

Remember we are the custodian or gatekeeper of information and learning how to create secure data separation will reduce down time and data loss.

The next big threat will be when ‘the cloud begins to rain’ the remote storage of data comes with real risks therefore the public cloud is not a safe place to store company data and personal information.

One of my colleagues asked if he could sue the hosting service for this type of event, or at least pass on liability. He didn’t like the answer, so use this weekend as a moment to review your practices and update your cyber security

 

Taking Time Out

Personal time and regeneration is important to us all. Therefore it is important that we plan to set time aside for these vital activities.

When I really needed to refresh the mind and hit the reset button I was always too busy. Thinking that by doing this I would somehow be creating more pressure or stress. Who was I trying to deceive?

Failing to make time for refreshing or resetting our thinking and emotional state is a reflection of either arrogance or a lack of confidence. Either way we set ourselves up for all the stress related impacts.

A bleed in the brain

In my mid-thirties my body reminded me that it needed to shut down now and again. Following 10 days intense work, on one occasion working 26 hours straight to hit a deadline. Everything stopped for three months following a minor bleed in the brain.

Many thought I would learn my lesson, you can’t work, play, raise children and volunteer without something or someone getting hurt.

It did scare me but I made a full recovery, started taking medication to prevent it happening again. Then to everyone’s shock I immersed myself deeper into the cycle.

My issue

Fear! which was based on a lack of self confidence. Personal achievement depended on the approval of anyone else. If there is a job to be done give it to a busy person, so the saying goes. I have modified it from my own experience – there is a job to be done give it to the most frightened person.

My Employers sensed the fear and used it; we achieved a great deal but there were some many costs.

The Down Time

Time not for myself but for the activities that rest the mind and reduce stress. Focusing on my needs has never been important, the mental health improvements and emotional strength gained from just accepting that we are all replaceable.

So the message in this post is not to think we have to be the ones that must do everything. Employers pay for skills and a limited amount of our time, once they have used up that time you are giving them something if you choose to work on.

One of my employees once said to me that they liked working for me because I dignified them, respecting their skills, personal life and the value of their time. It wasn’t altruistic but from experience I learned that you get more from a fresh and well rested employee than you do from someone stressed and in fear for their job.

Take your own time and use it effectively.

Two weeks in Tenerife at this time of year warms the bones and refreshes the brain so back to work and painting.

 

Unrealistic expectations challenged

Everyday we are told to expect things to get better, improve or progress. We measure achievement, share success and celebrate tiny steps. Humanity is tottering from one crisis point to the next.

With everything that is wrong with the world we are still told that this is the best time to have lived.

We treat those of the past as somehow inferior or intellectually ignorant, it isn’t true. Why did villages live by rivers and have a second source of water, digging wells into the water table all across the world? Because they knew that rivers carried disease. It was only when cities became unmanageable and the poor were forced to the live in inhuman conditions by the wealthy did we begin to see the development of modern poverty and deprivation.

Personally reading through the shared annuals of civilization it becomes clear that with the intellectual leadership the compassion for the individual has all but died.

SO as we grew up in an area of deprivation in the UK, where poverty was a real concern, some meals were just what could be added to the potato base or bread we learned that escape was down to us.

My brothers and I escaped the poverty, use education and hard work to our advantage and our children never experienced what we had. It wasn’t positive thinking that created a dream, it was hard graft. Positive thinking often leads to inaction or entropy so those cursed with it had to be brave.

We left them behind, we found ways to make our lives mean something to those who follow and where possible made a real difference through our compassion.

I met a couple of those early positive thinkers who had decided that by setting the goal and telling everyone around them somehow things would work out okay. To a degree they have but not the dreams or the outcomes they saw. Life is very different for them now, had they taken their positive thoughts and channeled the energy things may have been different.

I’m not against positive thinking but when it creates an unrealistic world it can only lead to personal and collective grief. So as I reach the age of the “grumpy old man” it is my goal to challenge unrealistic, blue skies or dream-based thinking.

The third law of thermodynamics reminds us that the entropy of a system approaches a constant value of zero. Humanity without a reality check is approaching our ZERO point.

It really doesn’t matter who we are or what we think to change the world is going to take far more power than we have at our disposal therefore we need some external help. Now is the time to look for hope and find our faith.

Fake News – who do you believe?

News has never had to be truth! That shocks a lot of people but governments rarely feed their own subjects and citizens the truth. Propaganda is the usual edifying material the masses are spoon fed.

In the UK we know that every year when the 30 year rule is followed, things we were told at that time turn out to be so untrue many are shocked by the revelation.

Trust the Media we’re told. But experience has taught those with inquisitive minds that there are always four sides to the story, the media, the victim, the perpetrator and then the truth is obscured in the corner.

So what is news? The definition should be altered to reflect that it is information that the masses will find acceptable. Something that placates them and offers very little in the way of substance.

Exceptions often occur when enquiring members of the public look for the reasons for specific actions, for example the Invasion of Iraq.

Is it acceptable for so many educated people to accept blindly what they are taught or told by those in power? Yes, history has shown us that in pursuit of freedom the masses follow the leaders, the questioning minds stand out as different and are attacked, decried as fools or gullible and potentially too stupid to be included.

I am critical and cynical but with excellent reason. Nothing heard from the mouth of another person should go unchallenged. Just because Isaac Newton put something forward it didn’t make it a fact. Science teaches us to test and challenge but scientists today now follow the sect of celebrity. Our lives and the future existence of the planet depend on the message finally getting through, the powerful and the intellectual are interested in only one thing – themselves!

Oh, couch things in good motivation but at the end of most actions it revolves around money.

I have little time for the modern NGO with the professional beggars fund raising for aid and higher salaries.

The “uneducated hoards” have found a voice recently and with the coming populist votes expected over the next few weeks it will be interesting to see how honest the media and the powerful really are.

As an amateur economist I did some number crunching after the announcement by the IFM yesterday and to balance the books globally the trading growth would need to see exponential rises for more than one generation, economies are now so in debt that if “the people” asked for their money back or value for money based on tax no government would stand, every bank would collapse. No truth is unpalatable.

So who will you believe? My suggestion is only those you know personally and those who have earned your trust.

A sad reflection on the reporting I have read this month. Nothing is as simple as it should be.

Christian Extremism In Russia

Yesterday the Russian Federations Supreme Court judged that non-combative, anti-violence and evangelical Christians could be banned as extremists.

Read the outcome of the case  The Russian Orthodox Church and the Government has decided that to claim that you have the true religion is incitement to civil unrest and discord. It is the same as membership of terrorist organisations and presents a real danger to the public.

The case presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses coherently demonstrated that the evidence was fabricated. However this judgement did not rely on evidence just the Ministry of Justice stating that this group and the 175,000 members should be criminalized.

Where was the support for religious freedom? “Well its only Jehovah’s Witnesses and they are annoying, so does it really matter?” That sentiment has been expressed by many religious people. Here in the UK some have welcomed the judgement and feel that religious freedoms should be curtailed.

This precedent enables the Russian Federation to label every religious group that fails the Ministry of Justice standard (a movable feast) to be banned. Even the Russian orthodox Church. When the President of Russia decides to step down the replacement could be even more draconian. We will wait to see.

The Political elements of this world are tiring of religious groups and their demands for representation when most countries have become democratic secular societies and as a consequence they are no longer a major voice in the country. Legislation like this exists to fight the war on terror but as Russia and Eritrea have already demonstrated it can be used to curtail religious freedom.

Think carefully about how much of a Christian you are prepared to be when it is a choice between freedom and loyalty to your faith. We know Jehovah’s Witnesses will remain loyal to their faith, their preaching will continue, they will go to prison and they will sacrifice their lives to remain loyal.

The price of true freedom can be your human rights. So Christians Jehovah’s Witnesses are now extremists in the Russian Federation so watch them grow, 200,000 dedicated witnesses is a small stride for this committed group of evangelists.

Watch out for the appeal it will be turned down and the ECHR rulings will be ignore but not one Jehovah’s Witness will fight the state, fail to pay taxes or fund terrorism.

 

Is Shunning Christian?

The primary question for many people is Why is shunning practiced? The social isolation of an individual who shares the same belief seems unkind, almost inhuman.

Is that really the case? This practice dates back to the first century Christians when the Apostle John made the point: (2 John 10, 11) 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. 11 For the one who says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.

The Apostle Paul described what things these ones could be engaged in at (1 Corinthians 5:11) 11 But now I am writing you to stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. . .

So it was an approved practice in the Christian congregation.

Now Paul also explained what we are to look for when a fellow Christian is found to practice things listed above, he is recorded as saying: (Acts 26:20) 20 but to those in Damascus first and then to those in Jerusalem, and over all the country of Ju·deʹa, and also to the nations, I was bringing the message that they should repent and turn to God by doing works that befit repentance. . .

So shunning doesn’t apply to everyone who commits sin, it is a practice reserved for two types of sinner the one who fails to repent, repentance is evidenced by their course of action. Secondly those who fail to accept the word of god and preach an alternative doctrine.

In the congregation it is often described as having their ears tickled or hearing words that satisfy them.

The Bible clearly lists the practices that are offensive to God and separate individuals from God. There isn’t a sense of ambiguity but it cause offence in the early Christian congregation and continues to cause offence to liberal society.

Shunning is a consequence of saying on the one hand “I am a Christian and dedicate myself to keep God’s standards” but in practice have been found to be hypocritical and unrepentant; therefore the statement is no longer true.

If I volunteer for a project and I am giving a role with responsibilities, when I decide to stop volunteering or fail to accept the responsibility does the organisation I say I volunteer for have any reason for keeping me on as volunteer? Not at all. In reality when volunteers fail to turn or fail to behave in an appropriate manner they are often told they are surplus to requirements. If they try to come back it is a harder road because they let the project down previously. Society naturally shuns people. Christians who practice this openly are really being honest with the person.

We can’t profess to be a Christian and associate with Christians if we are leading a false life. Think of the Bible account of Ananias in Acts chapter , his sin wasn’t public but was known to God. Although others would never have been aware of the deception he was judged.

Where we are aware of sin Christians are required to reach out to help the sinner but if they don’t want the help, they continue to live a life outside of Gods standards then shunning has to be the consequence.

No Christian I know that accepts shunning does so with a sense of joy.

So in answer to the question – Yes shunning is Christian because the aim is to restore that person to a good relationship with God whilst protecting the congregation of Christ.