Tag Archives: culture

Rave Up And Rave On

Ceremony

Buddy Holly, such a tragic early death (plane crash, 1959), was a bit of a raver, changing the tone of music, setting the scene for others to cut lose. Simple as it is, if you listen to his guitar solo on Peggy Sue, for that time it was progressive, it had momentarily, a hard edge – a sign of things to come in rock-n-roll.

‘Rave On’ was written by Norman Petty, Bill Tilghman, and Sunny West and charted in the US at 35 and in the UK at No. 5 (1957). In fact if you look at his discography the singles were, surprisingly,  more popular in the UK and Europe than in the US. Rave on was typical of Holly’s style. Holly had started out in country, but moved over to rock-n-roll, yet you can clearly hear the country style in the playing and the singing, it’s a wonderful blend, and it is his unique sound.

“Rave On’ is a short  (only 1.54 mins) simple (read, unsophisticated) and innocent song about love, a young man reeling in euphoria, standing on the threshold, breathless and adoring. It was the 1950s! The song conveys the energy of young love in its rhythm and beat. It’s about the young man desiring that his girlfriend rave on to him about her love for him, that she declare her passion passionately, enthusiastically because that would assure him.

What always intrigued me was the latter part of what constitutes the chorus:

Rave on, rave on and tell me
Tell me, not to be lonely
Tell me, you love me only
Rave on to me

It makes sense if you contextualise it to its period and cultural setting. Yet the song is clearly suggesting that love is connected to loneliness, it is an antidote to loneliness. Not only does this objectify the lover, the respondent woman, it objectifies love itself. Here love becomes a tool for one of the couple to avoid loneliness. That might be a good thing ordinarily (for some, not all, it can be intensely lonely without a partner), but is that about valuing the other unconditionally, because, isn’t that what love is about – being unconditional?

Perhaps I’m going a little too far out for some, stretching the connection, but I really do think the seeds of a society’s views are in the cultural material it produces, or uses to respond to existing practices. In my view the Harvey Weinsteins of this world are the product of a mantra that has objectified men and women, a mantra that has revolved around power.

To effect change in how we relate to each other, whether we are talking about heterosexual, transgendered, gay, or celibate people, we really must start valuing each other for who we are and not for what we believe (or have been lead to believe) we can get from the other. It is a shift in view, it requires a change in our thinking and language towards a mutuality, and an unconditional acceptance of the other.

I still really like the song, but I’m also aware that I don’t subscribe to the notion that I need another to complete me, not in that needs based way. So rave on to me about self-acceptance, value, unconditional love, mutuality …

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Daily Prompt: Assumption

via Daily Prompt: Assumption

dirty-windows.jpg

The assumptions we sometimes (perhaps often) hold become like a dirty film that encrusts our windows to the point we can no longer see out of them! In other words, our assumptions blind us, distort our view of people and life, the world.

How do we form assumptions? Well instead of observing what is going on around us in the world, instead of checking facts, instead of trying to understand another person’s view, we tend to bias our views on what is going on in our inner world. And so we base our views on our emotions, feelings, expectations, beliefs, preceptions, and even our desires and wishes. Our inner world, which can be so helpful and yet in extremis, so unhelpful, becomes, in assuming things, the controlling factor. In assumption there is no second voice, no check, no brake, no alternative canvassed, it is all in our mind. In assumption we are going solo, but we are also going mono. The problem is we begin to believe our own views to the exclusion of other voices and facts, and we become convinced that we are right, and we live into our own reality, our own version of the world.

Simple assumtions don’t really matter, but important ones really do.

One example would be the infamous bystander effect. Following the murder of Kitty Genovese in NY city in 1964, researchers Latane and Darley discovered that there were many witnesses, but all had assumed another would act or do something, hence their coined phrase The Bystander Effect (perceived diffusion of responsibility).

Another example would be the original 1968 Broken Window Theory where Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo was able to prove that when buildings, parked vehicles, and property in general are left unrepaired, some people assume they too can vandalise that property. Thus, one broken window becomes several broken windows on a factory. We assume no one cares.

In terms of people we often make assumptions. We have written off people with disability, we have been suspicious of the foreigner, the refugee, the person who is different by race, colour, belief, creed. Sometimes we cannot even see the person if they hold different political or religious views. we assume they are too different, not from our world, not of our kind. We assume they are dangerous. We just assume.

assumptions - hippie peace freaks.jpg

We must clean our windows! Alan Alda makes a good point when he said: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

Assumptions are costly in every way.

One of the greatest antidotes to assumption is dialogue, to simply sit with your neighbour, be that house, train, bus, walkway, beach, college, wherever, just get to know the person and not the assumption. Simple really, yet so little practiced. The other antidote is to check your internal view against what is going on around you, don’t just take self-reference as the expert view, or what I call the Facebook view of the world.

Talk and reflect – what do you see now?

All is now darkened
my mind has painted the glass
my ears will bring light

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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The Thin Place

via Daily Prompt: Thin

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Photo: My thin places are the bush: A walk trail near Bridgetown.

The ancient Celts believed that there were places one could go where people and the spirit world could touch. The Celtic influence on Christianity was such that this belief carried over, that the veil between heaven and earth was thin or transparent. The barrier between human and the divine were almost non-existent. For the ancient Celts these places were mostly forrest groves, but in other cultures they are rivers, billabongs, monoliths, mountain-tops, caves and more.

Not the same, but related in some aspects, the Australian Indigenous peoples created songlines, which trace the creation of the land, the fauna and lore, by ancestral spirits. Indigenous Australians used the songlines as navigation paths, for social connection, cultural knowledge – especially coming to know the flora and fauna, the availability of water, the types of seasons, and how it all came to be. Songlines are places to touch the past and the present.

My thin places are in the bush, these are liminal, threshold places, where the mind transcends the ordinary, where the soul is restored, where the heart is lifted, and the eyes are filled.

Thin places might be Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Uluru, Chartres Cathedral, the Pyramids, the Himalayas, the stars, meditation, music, art, and more, places or experiences of place that awaken the soul to something more, something outside the self, something veiled but near. Whether or not this is a spiritual experience or a transcendence of some other kind, thin places are restorative, they are places of contemplation, places of beauty, awe, play, rest, and renewal. We all need thin places, we will know them differently, but we will know them. They are treasures to fill the soul.

John O’Donohue wrote: “When you begin to sense that your imagination is the place where you are most divine, you feel called to clean out of your mind all the worn and shabby furniture of thought. You wish to refurbish yourself with living thought so that you can begin to see.”

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Treat

via Daily Prompt: Treat

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It’s hard to explain, but for me it was a treat to see ancient indigenous paintings at Uluru on two of our visits. There is something about the self encountering the work of a community from a different time. To think that hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago someone painted this story or series of stories for us to enjoy and learn from now, and into the future. It was real treat just to see it and experience th efact that this was ancient, this was created by a person so long ago, this was part of a meaning for a culture so long ago. A treat and a privilege. But it also made me wonder – what will I leave for future generations, what impression will I leave, what will they learn from me? What is my gift?

Paul,

pvacann.com

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Seeking Asylum (Part 4) How Many Come?

The way the Australian media report on refugees or asylum seekers is either by overstatement or the opposite, silence. But then you would only have to look at who owns the media to work that out, as Australian media is (with the exception of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and SBS) privately owned with bias towards the ownership (which is to be expected). However, you would think that journalism might actually be journalism and question government and anti-refugee rhetoric. There is precious little reporting in the mainstream commercial media that challenges the lies and myths surrounding those seeking asylum.

According to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (2012 data) “23,000 persons per day leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere – more than the total number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia in a year.” http://www.asrc.org.au

According to the UNHCR: 

As at December 2012 there were 45.2 million people displaced. of which there were 15.4 million refugees, of which there were 10.5 million (with 4.9 million Palestinians under UNRWA mandate) refugees in 2012. Of that number 1,638,500 were being hosted by Pakistan, 868,200 hosted by Iran, 589,700 hosted by Germany, 564,900 hosted by Kenya, 476,500 hosted by Syria, and 376,400 by Ethiopia.

Developing countries  hosted over 80% of the world’s refugees (compared to 70% ten years ago).

Pakistan hosted the highest number of refugees compared to its national economy – 552 refugees per 1 USD of GDP. Ethiopia was second (303), Kenya third (301), South Sudan fourth (209). Germany was the first developed country on the ranking placing it 31st, with 15 refugees per 1 USD of GDP. Australia hosted 0.7 refugees per USD of GDP ranking it 77th in the world!

Australia’s World Ranking by:

  • Total number of asylum claims 20th.
  • Compared to our population size (per capita) 29th
  • By hosting 77th
  • Compared to our national wealth GDP (PPP) per capita 52nd

Australia’s Ranking of 44 Industrialised Countries (2012):

  • by total number of asylum claims 12th
  • compared to our population size (per capita) 16th
  • compared to our national wealth GDP (PPP) per capita 14th

Note: PPP is purchasing power parity.

By asylum applications received in 2012:

  • Asylum applications received in 2012 out of a global total of 2 million applications globally was 29,610. Australia’s share – 1.47%; Australia’s ranking 20th.
  • Asylum seekers recognised as refugees in 2012 globally 1.3 million. Australia’s recognition 8,367. Australia’s share – 0.61%; Australia’s ranking 28th.

For further statistical resource see:

http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends/2012-GlobalTrends-annex-tables.zip

http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/r/stat-int.php

Although New Zealand (pop. 4.3 million; Australia 22.2 million) only takes small numbers of asylum seekers under the quota system (750 per annum – plus/minus 10%) and although in 2011/2012 there were 364 extra claims from others who arrived in New Zealand by various means, only 115 were validated, it is the way they handle it. For a small nation they have a very healthy attitude to reception, processing, and the integration of asylum seekers. It certainly puts Australia’s attitude and policy(s) in a poor light despite population difference.

So, whether we look at our ranking within the industrialised nations, or globally across all nations, or wether we look at per capita (thus in relative context) Australia is woeful at taking in refugees.

A correlative is migration (another sticking point in Australian politics). A recent article at blogs.worldbank.org “Can I get the bill, please? Are immigrants a burden or net contributors to the public purse?” by Jean christophe Dumont and Thomas Liebig asks a number of questions about migration. One significant question is “the current doxa about the fiscal impact of migration is indeed that immigrants contribute less in taxes than they receive in benefits …” It is an expectation an unfounded attitude but not a reality. the converse is also true as the article explores the question as to whether immigrants are a fiscal panacea, and they are not. However, the authors contend that immigrants are neither a burden nor a panacea, but rather that “immigrants have a positive net direct fiscal position in most countries …” in other words, they are not a drain on any society.

The official immigration impact on OECD countries, including Australia is negligible when considered over a period of fifty years of migration study, to the point that the fiscal impact is “close to zero, rarely exceeding 0.5% of GDP …”

The subject of asylum seekers also raises the doxa of negative fiscal impact but that is also not true. In Australia refugees cannot access Centrelink, do not get public housing, rarely are able to get transitional housing, a limited number are able to get the Red Cross Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (which is 89% of the New Start Scheme) for a short period of time. Refugees face higher rates of homelessness than other groups in Australia. Until a visa is granted they cannot access Medicare. They receive less than what it costs to pay rent and buy food let alone pay up-front for medical and dental costs.

There are many other myths surrounding asylum seekers. We need detention centres: well between 1948 – 1992 we successfully resettled 452,000 refugees, all processed directly within the community. There were no detention centres then and we more than coped. We must protect our borders: we do and have always done so, refugees by boat have always been checked and scrutinised no one is at risk in Australia from a boat arrival in spite of the government or media rhetoric (manufactured moral panic?)!

So, we are not being overrun, or flooded by refugees. We are not at risk. We take the least of many of our fellow industrialised nations. We are way behind developing nations in accepting refugees. They are neither a major drain on our economy nor a panacea (using the immigration ideal which is not radically different) as they have limited access to welfare or assistance.

So I’m wondering what the problem is?

I personally believe that it has a lot to do with the development of the nation and our beliefs about the ‘other’ the foreigner. With the reaction to the Chinese on the Victorian goldfields (1851), the fear of a Russian invasion (1885), the framing of the constitution to deliberately exclude non-whites and restrict non-english speaking peoples (Section 51, sub-sections 26 – 30), the treatment of German people during World War One, the riot in Kalgoorlie in 1934 against Italian migrants, the Imperial attitude to race and culture, all of these and more are contributing factors to an anxiety about the foreigner in Australia today.

I believe that the current fear is, as a direct result of ignorance, a fear of Islamic people, beliefs and culture (White Australia Policy again). Which is not dissimilar to how people reacted to the Chinese and the Germans and Italians in the past.

In addition, it has become popular in political circles to utilise this anxiety for political gain, so that people have become politicised and therefore dehumanised. There is a worrying connection with the insights of Georgio Agamben in his work ‘Homo Sacer’  and earlier, Hannah Arendt’s ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ which demonstrate how easy it is to create scapegoats, and to dehumanise and demonise a race or culture for political gain.

We are not overrun, we are not inundated, we would not be financially burdened in the extreme (especially if we used an integration process rather than a detention process – which is costing us dearly), so it must be (irrational) fear.

Only this past week, the U.N. has reprimanded Australia for reneging on its U.N. treaty obligations in regard to 46 refugees. We have descended from a nation of foreigners (excepting the indigenous Aboriginal peoples),risen to a nation that welcomed some foreigners after both World Wars, and then plummeted to a nation that resists foreigners. We have lost sight of our responsibilities as a nation on the world scene. We have lost our compassion in regard to asylum seekers. We are surely hypocritical to be sitting on the U.N. Security Council, sitting making decisions that affect other nations, sitting in judgement of other nations as we seek to reinforce U.N. treaties and conventions!

It is entirely possible to change this. Education about asylum seekers at all levels from school to parliament would help to restore a positive understanding of their plight and our responsibility to them, and the possibility of  their positive participation in our nation. To deconstruct the myths and distortions would help to re-humanise those who come to our shores by whatever means.

We need a new way forward on asylum seekers and refugees, one that will see them as people with inalienable rights, but also to see them as future Australians.

See:

epress.anu.edu.au/cw/mobile_devices/ch13s05.html  (chapter on the ‘White Australia Policy)

http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org  (reference to fear Russian  ship visiting Sydney)

“In Fear of Security: Australia’s Invasion Anxiety” Dr. Anthony Burke 2001

“U.N. castigates Australia for treatment of 46 refugees” Reuters, Geneva 22.8.2013

http://www.immigration.govt.nz  (refugee fact sheet)

Hannah Arendt ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich  1973

Georgio Agamben ‘Homo Sacer’ Stanford University Press, 1998

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The Land of the Free? Whose Freedom?

Am I alone in the world in that I think America is regressive, confused, and sliding into social chaos? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the collapse of American society (although never rule anything out), I’m talking about social justice and democratic process.

Under G.W. Bush with a cabinet of corporates, the corporates have increased their hold over politicians. Obama’s administration shows little interest in dealing with corporate influence over federal politics. In fact it was reported in 2009 that Obama had lifted the ban on lobbyists under pressure from – lobbyists! I’m wondering who runs the country?

The NRA and other gun lobbyists have successfully neutered any attempt by the Obama admin. to make sensible changes to gun ownership. I’m left wondering what was so difficult about imposing a background check? And why do ordinary Americans need military weapons?

But even at state level it is endemic. Only recently there was a report that stated California’s proposal to impose a plastic bag ban had been undermined and subsequently defeated by lobbyists for the plastics industry.

Thank goodness the Australian Government saw the problems, and in 1983 began with the Lobbying Registration Scheme, replaced in 1996 with the Lobbyists code of conduct, and strengthened in 1998. In 2011 a new code was enacted. It probably isn’t perfect, but it has an affect and it is backed by the criminal code.

There is the inability of the American nation to deliver justice in health care, and yes there are always pros and cons in any proposal, but why can’t the nation positively engage with the idea of health as a justice issue?

There has been much musing over American corporate control and gain through the invasion of Iraq, so that irrespective of the outcome of actual war and policing, the corporates have done very well. And there is concern over arms length dealings in developing nations where pressure is unscrupulously applied to overcome local feeling and process to accommodate corporate greed.

The status of women in America is, to my eyes and ears, wretched. The attitudes (and in many cases the sheer, and embarrassing, ignorance) of conservatives to issues like rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and the appalling attitude to abortion rights is just beyond logic.

The death industry has made a comeback in the States, Missouri is considering bring back the gas chamber (the mind boggles), and the culture of revenge plunges onwards (I can find no evidence of any reform process in the penal system in America).

The control of the media and the mind of the people, the continuing (though now deeply wounded) influence of Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson (if wives were spanked and disciplined the nation wouldn’t be in the mess it is in!!), the benign thinking of the Republican Party (GOP), are and should be a concern for everyone who values freedom and justice.

There are the usual constant reports about injustice; the homeless man arrested for using a flag to keep warm; two dogs shot by police for no substantive reason, and in one of the cases the owner arrested for filming the incident, the man who has been arrested because he chalked messages on the footpath out side the Bank of America critical of the bank, the arrest of a primary school aged girl for downloading music using torrents (older but pertinent news), a state (don’t recall which one) recently legislated to allow police to enter a home if the door was open (Why?), and so on.

Who remembers those seminal movies Silkwood and Erin Brockovich? What about Fair Game? For those of us outside America these have been movies of conscience, and alerted us to the quagmire of injustice and endemic corruption.

What about America and Global warming, the resistance to adopting climate measures and international treaties?

What about America and its corporate behaviour, Monsanto for example, and the way they treat farmers and their rights? Let alone the issues of greed through patent control and debt management.

And what about the NSA and spying?

Current issues are Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. And in regard to Snowden America then interferes by forcing down the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales because it thought Snowden was on the flight. What would have happened if that had been the President of France, or the Prime Minister of Australia? Why is it so difficult for the government of America to step back and reflect for a moment and consider the possibility that it is being called to take stock of its behaviour and to look to positive change? What gives America the right to behave inappropriately?

Why should it matter to non-Americans? Because, as recent history has shown, American (Mcdonaldization) decisions and values affect every nation (commerce and trade, war, cultural affect through media, spying, treaties, copyright issues, and bullying). America needs to learn to be a positive global player, and not a bully.

What would it take for America to stop, take stock and turn aside from its current behaviour? Am I alone in hoping it will one day be transformed for the better? Wouldn’t it be a relief to hear a President say, “we don’t like that we’ve been caught out, but we’re going to reflect on this and address our behaviour.” (Waiting for the pink elephant to fly past!).

Still, I live in hope, and I pray!

Paul

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