Freedom Of Speech?


Everyone has got something to say about how free their speech should be.

However, peoples beliefs, ideas and notions about freedom of speech seem to be in conflict with what it actually is.

Well, what exactly is freedom of speech?

To clarify the mystery let us look at the Wikipedia definition, just so we know we are all on the same page, so to speak:

“Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise.

The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.

Interesting. Interesting also to note I have emboldened certain parts of this text, to comment on obviously, as on the this humble piece of the blog-stratosphere, I have the freedom to speak my own opinions.

The first point to consider states that we have the right to; “Communicate one’s opinions and ideas….to anyone who is willing to receive them”. To me, this statement does not mean forcing your opinions or ideas upon those people, who frankly couldn’t care a less. As we all know, we all have our own ideas and opinions, and of course as is human nature, and the difference of being different, they all differ from time to time. What a shock!

Why then do some people think they have a right, or a duty, above and beyond us mere mortals, to shout their ideas and opinions loudest of all? Why do some people wish to drown everyone else out, and force others to shut up and concede to them? Where is the freedom of speech in that ethos? What makes one person, or people, think their ideas and opinions are superior, and are worth listening to more than anyone else’s? “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference”, that is what the definition states loud and clear. Perhaps then these people who wish to subdue everyone else, really ought to educate themselves on the premise of freedom of speech, before they speak!

In other words; if you have something to say then make it worthwhile, otherwise, please just shut up and leave other people alone! We’re not listening if we don’t want to, as per our right, according to freedom of speech!

“The right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations”. People often disagree with this, but then of course these people also don’t wish to hear or be informed about other people’s ideas and opinions either. Some people only really want to hear what they want to, and would indeed censor anyone who conflicted with their own ideas and opinions. So, once again, where is the freedom in that??

I would like to know, what is absolute freedom anyway?? Also, why do some people think that their freedom is more important than anyone else’s? Could it be that people claim there ought to absolute freedom when they themselves are censored, because they have something horrible, threatening, bullying and insidious to shout about? Maybe.

This leads me directly to what is censored, and why of course; “the exercise of these rights carries….. special duties and responsibilities………and may…..therefore be subject to certain restrictions……. when necessary……[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others….or…..[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”. Does this clause, that can limit the freedom of anyone’s speech seem reasonable??? For me, no.

Before people accuse me of having petty despot fantasies, hear me out; this is my freedom of speech after all!!

Consider what damage words can do to a person, their life, their reputation, their happiness and security. Many of us may indeed recall a school-yard bully, who didn’t resort to violence to inflict pain and rule with terror, but only words. The sort of words that are better off never being spoken. The type which are threatening, nasty, damaging and damn right insidious.

Extrapolate this example then into the wider-world, and imagine what damage words, uncontrolled and misdirected can do. The answer is, plenty of damage.

Shouldn’t we all then have a responsibility to edit our words? Consider the content, quality, quantity and intent before we fire the loaded weapon, and expect everyone to just sit back and be OK with it all? If we aren’t willing to allow other people’s words to just fly past our ears without response, then why should other people afford us such courtesy?

I think the moral of this tale is; choose your words carefully, and always, always, expect a response!

Advertisements

A New Year, A New Rant


How was New Years Eve?? Did you have fun and celebrate in style?? Then, when the clock struck 12:00 you beat yourself up for allowing you, and your life, to be such a failure during the past year?? Did you then vow to stick to your new year resolutions, the resolutions that would ensure that in 2014 you become a better person???

Oh dear.

I know New Years Eve can be a strange time. It can often spark melancholy, regret, reflecting on all kinds of good and bad experiences and emotions. We all reconsider what the past year brought us, and how we lived our lives. Can this reflection help us in the new year to come though??? Can regret ever be healthy?

I am not going to tell you to make resolutions or not make them. I’m not going say that 2014 will be your year, that you have the power to transform and achieve. Personally I don’t get all that. I see all of that as negative life assassination, and unnecessary pressure. It is assuming that with the new year we will suddenly all transform and morph into wonder women or men. In 2014 we will definitely be destined to become another person, a wonderful person, in fact a person you were probably never actually meant to be.

Resolutions are very like false promises.

Why is it we always allow ourselves to perceive that the previous year was a failure, a let down, we didn’t perform and weren’t good enough? Isn’t that really what the notion of resolutions allude to – we are all failures, and therefore are required to modify and rectify that at all cost? Why can’t we just be us, and not need to change a thing?

Isn’t the notion of changing, of morphing, of transforming just a little bit delusional?? Just because it is a new year doesn’t mean anything has fundamentally changed. We are still, by virtue of our genetics, who we were upon birth; we haven’t grown extra limbs or suddenly become impervious to disease. We can’t shrug off the past; we all have our individual life experiences, thoughts, ideas, desires and so on.

Why is it with a new year we then become washed clean??

Or, more importantly, why do we want to be??

Isn’t life, from one year to the next, merely about the experiences we have and share, the learning curve, the path we travel, the thoughts and desires, hopes and dreams we harbour?

Isn’t life about those things??

To say we can be transformed, and washed clean assumes that we can all be famous artists, discover the cure for cancer, travel into space, be elected to Government, be an Olympian or whatever else! We are, most of us, normal folk with normal lives – average wages, children, mortgages and wrinkles. No amount of new years will ever change that either!!! We will never really transform.

So, why torture ourselves with pie in the sky -‘this year will be different’ – NO IT WON’T BE!!!!

Sorry, I get that positive thinking and hope are a great combination to have on your side in life, and I do adopt their principles as much as I can. However, I am also a realist and a little sceptical. I wonder how much we can actually change, transform, morph, and wonder if we really want to? If we don’t achieve, create, progress, succeed, dominate and control (or whatever!!!!) why is it seen so negatively? Why is it we can’t be just satisfied with being us?

This year I’m not going to become a millionaire, a success or even a glamour model who adorns the covers of popular magazines. I know that isn’t going to be what 2014 has in store for me.

I know it’ll be more of the same; living day to day, trying to survive, building relationships, trying to maintain motivation, good health and keeping some faith in me and what I want; basically boring stuff, not very inspiring or exciting!!! So, doesn’t matter how much I wish for miracles, money, fame and whatever else, it doesn’t mean it will come to fruition!!

I can make a million resolutions, but it doesn’t mean I can or will fundamentally change!

I’m just trying to say; be real, be kind to yourself and stop applying the pressure to be what you’re not. ALSO, stop viewing you and your life as a failure thus far, see your life as experience and a journey (which won’t be over, until it is over, and your six foot under). Stop stalling with resolutions and waiting for another new year to come and go; live without military precision, live and have fun amassing experiences to reflect on, not to feel negative and guilty about!

Live your life now, while it is here, and see what it brings you! All the ups and downs are welcome, it is life and you can’t just pick and choose the best bits and edit the rest, it isn’t a script after all!

Let 2014 be what it will be – life as we know it!

Learning Gender Roles Via The BBC


The BBC have recently been accused of sexism with their remake of children’s classic Topsy and Tim.

It was claimed by parents that the BBC misinterpreted the original children stories, and chose instead to reinforce traditional gender stereotypes, which were being aimed at very young children. The charecter Tospy is a little girl who is seen baking princess cakes with her Mum, while her Brother Tim is informed baking is not for him. As a boy he can play outside on his bike or help his Dad with “mans work”.

I wondered, as I have on many occasions before, how do we learn our ‘gender roles’? Is it nature or nurture, and how can we be sure?

Thinking of my own childhood, I recall never being compelled by my parents to be particularly ‘girlie’, and naturally I wasn’t this way either. I was always encouraged to just be me, and perhaps by being a headstrong child who knew what I liked, pressures to be ‘girlie’ (if they existed), never affected me. I therefore feel surprised that in the 21st century children are still being encouraged to mimic, and reflect, what their own parents deem to be acceptable gender specific stereotypes. It just seems almost self defeating and rather odd.

Why would any parent force their child to be anything, and ruin their own child’s ability to blossom and develop naturally, free of preconceived ideals laid down throughout the eons?!

What is so terrible about girls playing with cars and bikes, and boys playing with kitchens and dolls? Surely having diverse skills and interests make for more rounded and capable future adults?

I know if I had children, I would indeed encourage them to be them; who else can they be after all!

Don’t get me wrong, their is nothing wrong with traditional gender roles, if those people performing those roles are happy enough to do so. Yet, there is nothing wrong with mixing it up either!

Living in Madrid I see many more examples of the conventional family unit than I do in the UK. The wife cooks, cleans, takes care of the house and kids, while the man works, is head of the household, applies the discipline and often the education of the kids. This is almost expected and seen as the social norm.

Now my household has never been quite like this, to the surprise of the people I meet in Spain. People are shocked that I am interested in politics, and also that my degree, career and writing all have a political grounding. I have actually been told how unusual it is for a girl! Obviously they haven’t heard of Emily Pankhurst, Simone de Beauvoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Naomi Wolf and Hilary Clinton; what about Eva Perón?

For me, applying any expectations upon a person, especially at a young and impressionable age, just becomes a simple case of the self fulfilling prophecy. You get what you expect. Women and men then become merely caricatures of their gender, nothing more than that! How can we then argue they are naturally as they should be?

Have women actually been able or allowed to genuinely break through that “glass ceiling”? Not if the 21st centuries depiction of gender is the reference point; a woman’s place is still at home, while the man still belongs to the world. This has to be true, the BBC even think so!

To be serious, in recent years it has been a giant step backwards for men and women alike. Adverts, marketing, media and society in general have peddled the over sexualisation of the younger generation. This has drip fed a generation with gender specific notions of beauty, relationships, sex and availability, youth, frivolousness, self obsession, celebrity culture, diets, gossip, fashion and materialism.

So, maybe reverting to the stereotypical gender roles is only the natural step forward from this re-education?

For me I feel it is difficult to distinguish, and therefore state concretely, how much of nature actually plays a part in a child’s socialisation, self perception and development. Especially with all the dross floating around their environment.

Think about how difficult it is for us as adults to really separate ourselves, and our choices from all the expectations applied upon us, what we have seen, learnt, experienced and absorbed into our psyche?

If it is so difficult for us as adults, the question then remains; how can a child?

Nature v’s nurture, for me there is no real contest to contest!

Jealousy Is The Biggest Compliment


I have been thinking recently about those people, I am sure we are all aquatinted with, who enjoy making little sly remarks, boasting about themselves, feel they have something more to say, enjoy gloating and generally revelling in making those around them feel bad about themselves.

They play a game, a very specific, but a harmful game. A game called jealousy.

Jealousy is destructive, obsessive, consuming and dangerous, but, it is also the biggest compliment anyone can pay you.

For someone to be jealous of you, they must deem you to be a threat, highly important and a person who makes them (the jealous people) feel inferior or appear inferior.

Is this your fault? No, this is their problem and not yours, but they want to aim their problem at you, to make you feel as badly about yourself and your life as they do about themselves and their lives.

If you play their game you will lose. To become embroiled in their inner turmoil you give them what they want, a reaction and ammunition to continue pulling your strings with. This game gives them and their lives some temporary meaning – harsh, but very true.

Many people feel intimidated by those who display jealousy, they often feel they cannot retaliate or they don’t even realise the person who is aggravating, upsetting and being nasty to them, are actually jealous of them.

Yet, 99% of the time, people who suffer bullying, nastiness, bitchiness, lies, back-stabbing and so on, are the victims of jealousy. Jealous causes most of the problems between people, jealousy drives people to do strange things to one another.

I have experienced people trying to hurt me because they have been jealous, and people can and will be jealous of anything! Of course I have also at times played the game of these jealous people, and sorely regretted it. Through this experience I see clearly what the outcome of such things will be, and I avoid those I see that jealousy resides within like the plague! It is difficult though, because sometimes regardless of how impartial, diplomatic, genuine or nice you are, you attract jealousy. Once these jealous people have you in their sights, they point blank refuse to let you go; well, not until they have attempted to wreak as much damage upon you as is possible.

I have experienced their damage too, and believe me, on some occasions the pure maliciousness of the jealousy aimed in my direction caused me great turmoil.

I am however a great believer in karma. What goes around does indeed come around. I have though been lucky enough to see the malignant and jealous individual fall, and was able to inform them I knew their game, jealousy.

Regardless of how much hate they muster, how much spite they spit, how much damage they claim to cause, these jealous people can never escape what they wish they could, themselves. They will always be stuck with them, long after you have been freed from their jealous radar, they will still be the vile creature they always have been. Again, this may seem harsh, but it is very, very true.

I have no qualms in feeling as I do about jealous people. I have no mercy for those who are jealous, because they have no mercy for anyone else. In fact, they take great delight in attempting to destroy people. They therefore deserve nothing more than pity, but not sympathy.

Jealousy I feel is useless though. It destroys, but not only the victim of the jealousy, but the perpetrator too. If only these people could understand that fact, and employ as much effort into changing what they feel bad about, instead of ploughing their energies into jealousy, things would be different.

When all is said and done though, it is only us who tolerate jealousy. In reality, jealousy needn’t have a place in our lives, just don’t tolerate it; call them out, name and shame, publicly humiliate them! Remember too that you are far better than those who seethe with jealousy, and also, karma is always a bitch!

The Real Deal


A few weeks prior I decided to join a meet-up group by the name of ‘Positive Thinking’. I was particularly drawn to this group, to the ethos of being positive, and what wonders awaited upon adopting such an affirmative outlook on life, self and the world.

I suppose with feeling that I myself had been, and was going through many changes, that this group came about at the right moment. It had something to offer me.

Coincidence, well it could be described as such, yet, I don’t think so. I don’t believe in such things, as for me, everything happens for a reason within your life.

Now learning that such things as ‘coincidences’ (not quite worded as such), actually have a place within the theory of positive thinking, added extra weight to the notion that everything does happen for a reason. This group perhaps had made itself known to me, because it had something that I was looking for.

‘The Laws Of Attraction’, ideas currently being utilised by Abraham Hicks, AKA Esther Hicks (the motivational speaker and author); explained such ‘coincidences’. Although, the actual ideas, and terminology had been conceived of long before Mrs Hicks began talking about them.

Now, until the Positve Thinking group, I knew nothing of Mrs Hicks or any of the theories surrounding being positive! Yet, having read, listened and watched more about the topic, I realise what they ‘preach’ are things I always suspected to be the truth about us and life. It seemed therefore, Hicks et al had hit the nail on the head, it was the real deal so to speak.

Perhaps what they are selling is merely a sort of sense? A sense we all have about us, our lives and our place in the world. It is perhaps a sort of order to the universe or us as energy.

Allowing ourselves, our perceptions, minds, hearts and whatever else to be open to ideas; to make decisions, to choose to know what it is we want from ourselves, and from others and our lives. This all helps to obviously point us in some direction. Yet, what makes things come to us just when we seem to need them the most?

Basically; like attracts like. We get what we give, or put out into the ‘vortex’ of energies surrounding us all. Our energy effects all energy around us.

I feel this is true.

What you expect will be confirmed; in a way it is similar to a self fulfilling prophecy (a sociological theory).

Now I see that Mrs Hicks has a real good, and dependable money spinner going on here. They never deviate from the message (like preaching), they repeat the same things (like indocrination), they never offer an exact solution (like therapists), it could be a placebo effect (like some medicines), and basically – it has all the whisltes and bows of any good self help mantra.

Yet in stating all of these things, if it works for some people then why not consider it? Why dismiss it all as hokum until you try it?

As I have mentioned already, most of it makes sense! The stuff being discussed are things you will indetify with, you will no doubt have thought about already.

The topics Mrs Hicks discusses actually pull some things together. For me it helped, as I reconsidered things in life from a different perspective. Or, more precisely, from a perspective I had all along (in some form – don’t necessarily buy into it all). Hearing the seminars, it gave some of what I had already been thinking credibility/acknowledgment. Don’t get me wrong here I am no new age guru follower, or converted disciple or trying to sell any one idea! I just find the concepts of positive thinking, and laws of attraction to be interesting, appealing and useful.

However, the BIG question surrounding all of these ideas/theories still remains unanswered. If everything we need is there for us, out there in the universe, and all we have to do is in effect ‘will’ it to us, why aren’t we all happy, healthy and wealthy?

I can’t provide one air tight, logical or rational explanation for this disparity in life. The best I can do is suggest that we, and our lives are all different; and as with any feel good therapy, I don’t have to explain myself more than that!

What I do know, from my own experience is; like or need attracts like or need, your connections in life are with those who connect to you, mind can win over matter, positive can help you overcome the worst situation, being open to new experience is far more rewarding than hiding away, being clear on your own desires helps you find ways to make those desires a reality, and knowing yourself is the best way to help yourself. All of this wisdom courtesy of little ol’ me, ummm, perhaps self help or life coaching should be my new life goal!

Seriously though, positive thinking is my new way forward. Of course I can’t be; doped up with a silly grin, not a care in the world and never angry, positive ALL of the time, every hour of day! Now that would be silly to expect. Yet, I am trying to increase the positive injections and decrease the negative ones! I hope this change in my internal balance will help readjust some stuff, and steer me clearer on a clearer path.

How about you give it a go too? Go on and do it, and see what, if anything, changes for you.

Not So Social, Social Groups


After the incident at the Skeptics Group, I found myself re-evaluating what the Hell these meet-up social groups are really about, and who are they for?

They cater for an idea of what constitutes a social gathering, that is true, but its not really my idea of what that should be.

I have, I think, been kidding myself by seeing these meet-up groups as the best way of locating new friends. These groups are sold as meetings to find friendship, so, it is this marketing that has deluded me.

I now see that this meet-up group set up, is akin to picking up a man/woman in a bar, and then expecting to get married and live happily ever after with them! These meet-up groups offer no real, connected or longevity relationship; nothing substantial can come from this setting. It is empty, self serving, shallow and based on no form of real identity or trust.

I am not looking for a sexual partner, don’t get my words twisted, I am looking for a friend or friends. These are what such meet-up groups are supposed to be about; friendship connections, fun and interesting people, yet, they aren’t. Why aren’t they?!

It is a BIG FAT CON!

So far there have been empty promises, cancelations, being used for english language practice, men and women trying their luck, bitchiness, arrogance, self importance and ‘intellectualism’ (but really it has been delusions of grandeur)!

Put people together in such phoney settings and see the worst surface in them.

Are there genuine, and decent people existing in cities such as Madrid? Or, are they all too wrapped up in themselves, and their lives to allow potential decent folk into their little bubbles? Are they afraid of change, of something new, of a challenge?

I never felt it was hard to make friends before, OK, not all of those I have been friends with remain my friends, but at least I had friends! Here, in Madrid, it seems an up-hill struggle.

I feel as though I am having to make all the effort to connect, and it peeves me! I think I have eventually met a potential friend, and then it begins, the same old; ‘I can’t do that’, ‘have to cancel that’, ‘sorry but,’, blah, blah, blah!

Perhaps it is me? Perhaps I come across as weird or something? Perhaps being talkative, listening, being friendly and polite is weird? Perhaps I should try being rude, aloof and obnoxious? Perhaps next time someone says, let’s arrange to go for coffee, I should reply, if you want a coffee with me then you get in touch with me first and then we shall see.

I wonder if they would get in touch, but I won’t wonder for long! The answer is going to be that 99.9% of people won’t bother to get in touch!

This makes me doubly peeved; if I was looking for no strings sex here in Madrid, I’d have no issue, sex is everywhere. Yet, finding decent friendships is like asking for the sun and the moon on a gold platter! I really don’t get it; empty and meaningless sexual encounters holds more place in people’s lives than decent, fulfilling, longevity and substantial friendships!

Friendships are important, they can encourage, improve and stabilise mental, and spiritual well-being.

It is really quite sad when you think about what this ‘sex culture’ has to say about people, and their priorities.

Confident? Who Can Tell?


I don’t want to dig at anyone else. I don’t want to say; ‘hey you are wrong’! Yet, I have to state, just for my won record, that I don’t necessarily agree on any one definition of confidence, or in fact how to spot confidence.

Until I know a person I refrain from making a sweeping judgement on them and their life history. Perhaps, because I spent my life being judged by others!!! I also don’t agree that by being confident it can make you a beautiful person, because confidence alone doesn’t make a person anything.

I also question whether any one person is 100% confident? I doubt they are, and doubt they are confident 100% of the time. Also, how often is confidence mistook for being arrogant, cocky, foolish, dismissive, spiteful, brash and so on and so on?

I too used to think, because I was actually told by people who said they were under confident; the reasons these people always bragged about themselves and their life, bullied others, acted up or had to be the comedian, talked too much and too loudly, was because they felt under confident. Perhaps this is true for some people, but not for everyone.

Now, I have never been 100% confident in me – NEVER! Yet, I am good at masking this, moving on, challenging myself and pushing myself to ensure I don’t hide away. I can appear confident no doubt, but not by bragging, talking too loudly or rambling on and on about me in conversation. Just by how I interact, what I am willing to do, even good eye contact and positive body language.

In fact, I learnt to not brag myself up or what I had or did from a young age. Bragging was believed to be crass, and discussing your personal life and wealth was too. Also hogging the conversation, talking too loudly about nonsense or personal matters, and acting like a complete fool to gain attention – all were deemed crass and a BIG no, no!

I was brought up to be modest, not to ‘blow my own horn’, to listen and then speak, to be mannerly and adhere to social etiquettes. In short, I was taught to not act as though I were too important, not to place myself above other people. Whether I was richer, more intelligent, more talented, artistic, or whatever; I had to just keep quiet about it all, and allow others to impart to me their life stories.

Being forced to be modest all of the time, and this sort of ‘social conditioning’, along with other issues, has actually contributed over the years to my own battle with under confidence. Another reason, one of THE most profound reasons for feeling bad about me in general, stems from being severely bullied from a young age up until I left school. This was actually because of who I was, and what others perceived of me. I know because some of these bullies actually admitted this to me at one point. They bullied me because they saw me as threat. I wouldn’t be like them, I didn’t want to be their friends, I refused to bow to what they wanted or act as though I wasn’t an individual with my own brain.

Yet, some people think that ALL bullies have confidence issues, well, my bullies may have had those issues, yet I do too and have NEVER bullied another.

So is it wrong to display a ‘false confidence’? Is it wrong to brag about you, to talk loudly, to perhaps not listen intently, to be the comedian (or whatever else)? Well consider this, how can anyone get anywhere unless they are willing to at least brag a little about themselves and their qualities? How do we become an employee, a student, a boss, an entrepreneur, how do we get a bank loan or find a partner? We display ourselves in the best possible light, and we talk about what we can offer, and often languish in a little self importance.

People may be or not be confident, BUT people being people WILL display this under confidence in many varying ways. There isn’t one type of anything. Confidence, like the weather, changes depending on what, who, where and how.

In my opinion any-way!!!

Related articles: from lifeonwry.com at WordPress
Can You Spot A Truly Confident Person?