On Being Open And Honest

HonestyWhen you find yourself in a situation where you have to decide what happens next, you must be completely honest, with everyone concerned, including yourself. When that decision is possibly not what others expect or want, you must be compassionate when you announce it.

Of course you can hurt others if when your decision is contrary to theirs, but you will hurt them more by delaying or by going along with them, just to go with the flow. Eventually, your feelings will show and the result will only be more angst for all.

So when you feel that you have to make a decision that will be difficult for others to accept, make it quickly, announce it gently but firmly, and reduce the pain, to you and those affected, to the minimum.

Having made the decision, you must stick to it. There can be no going back, and doing so only makes it worse for everyone concerned.

Asking The Difficult Questions

Asking The Difficult QuestionsGoing back over your own mistakes, asking yourself those painful questions and giving honest answers is a difficult, but cathartic experience.

We’ve all made mistakes in life, some more serious than others, but thinking them through, trying to explain why you made that decision at that point in time, makes you re-examine your own values. In my case, having changed through my Buddhist Practice, it also becomes clear that I would have made different decisions in many cases.

Our history is set in stone, we cannot go back and make those decisions anew. But we can try to make amends, apologise for any hurt we have caused, and, above all, be honest with ourselves and others.

The changes in myself, that I see and feel, the way I view life, and my responsibility for events affecting me and people around me, have come about through my Practice and my study of Nichiren Buddhism.

As I have said before, once you see things in a different light, you cannot undo that change. Nor would I want to, because even though I know I will make other mistakes in the future, I know that those mistakes will be made despite honourable intentions, and with a great deal more Wisdom, Courage and Compassion.

Hidden Truths?

Pope FrancisI was dismayed to hear this morning, that the Catholic Church in England are refusing to publish the results of a recent survey of  sexual ethics of such subjects as contraception, cohabitation and homosexuality.

The German Catholic Church have published their results, but it seems that their English colleagues are sticking to Pope Francis’ request that they are not to be released until after further discussions on October.

What are they scared of revealing?  That their flock are completely at odds with the thinking of the clergy? It’s 2014 not 1814, the Inquisition is a thing of the past, people are allowed to have their own views, and have those views heard, aren’t they?

It’s none of my business, if I’m honest. I’m not, nor have I ever been Catholic, but I do strongly believe that honesty and openness are the way forward. If you don’t want to know the answer to something, don’t ask the question. But once it’s asked, let everyone know the outcome. To do otherwise simply encourages supposition and criticism.

Gone, But Not Forgiven

Wolfie SmithThe news, this morning, that Maria Miller had finally taken the hint and resigned from her position as Culture Secretary was good news indeed.

In keeping with many other public servants who have abused their positions of privilege, she incurred the wrath of the public and media alike for her insincere apology in regard of the scandal surrounding her MP’s expenses.

She has resigned, but did she jump, or was she pushed? Even David Cameron, who prides himself on supporting his colleagues, could not have been comfortable with her actions, or lack thereof.

Amongst a stream of bleating excuses, she has finally gone because, as she said, the controversy “has become a distraction from the vital work this government is doing”. Never mind the controversy, you stole over £45,000 from the people of this country Miller.

So she has gone, albeit until her Parliamentary cronies feel the smoke has cleared and they can reintroduce her to their elite little club. Isn’t it about time the whole picture surrounding MPs was flipped on its head? They are supposed to be representing us, the electorate, in the mother of Parliament, not making as much money out of the role as they possibly can. Gone but not forgiven.

The MPs expenses scandal has really changed nothing. There must be an independent body to oversee all monies given to MPs, and one comprising a representative cross section of the UK society, not a bunch of toffee nosed knobs.

As Citizen Wolfie Smith, of the Tooting Popular Front used to say … “Power to the People”

Honesty – Always The Best Policy

Maria MillerWhen you find yourself in a situation where you have to decide what happens next, you must be completely honest, with everyone concerned, including yourself, no matter how painful that process may be.

And yes, this is aimed directly at you Maria Miller.

Are They Effin’ Serious?

Barclays BankThe UK banks, and Barclays in particular, seem to live on another planet. On the day they announce that between 10,000 and 12,000 jobs are to be cut, 7,000 of which are in the UK, they also trumpet the fact that they have increased their investment bank’s bonus pool by 10%.

Chief executive, Antony Jenkins, who to his credit has waived his own annual bonus, said that the bank “Had to be competitive on pay and had to pay for performance”. All this coming in the light of a 37% slump in pre-tax profits from the investment banking division. It begs the question, “What exactly are they paying bonuses for?”

Whilst we are all still holding our breath and hoping that the apparent ‘green shoots of recovery’ in the economy in general continue, it beggars belief to hear that the already obscenely overpaid investment bankers are going to get yet more in the way of undeserved bonuses. If they can’t ‘make do’ with the crazy amounts they get paid already, let them go, and get someone who will earn their bonus step in and take over the role.

Credit to Robert Peston, the BBC business editor, who seems to have summed up the gobsmacking incredulity felt by the general public, saying “There is blank incomprehension from those not in the industry that the going rate remains so high for people widely seen as being more than walk-ons in the epic near-destruction of global financial capitalism just a short while ago”

I think it is high time we as citizens, demanded a higher moral code from all the public bodies with whom we have to deal. Whether it is the banks, the utility companies, the government agencies, such as environment at this time, or the police and judiciary, we must demand to be treated fairly.

Those who have seen their salaries frozen or cut and those who have lost their jobs because of the cut-backs have made the greatest sacrifices. The government keeps telling us that we are all in this economic downturn together, but it most certainly doesn’t feel like it from where I stand.

Tax cuts for the rich, increased bonuses for the very people who got us into all this mess, coupled to further draconian cuts in social welfare for the poorest, weakest and most needy, where is the togetherness in all that?

The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing Like The Truth

Drug Trials - Release All ResultsWith the news that the government are calling for pharmaceutical companies to release all the data relating to their drug trials, rather than the ‘cherry picked’ good news that they currently do, I wonder how long it will be before they also expose the association between dietary advice and the drug and food corporations?

We all know that milk is good for us, right? Wrong! Apart from the fact that a growing number of people are, or are becoming lactose insensitive, the high levels of fat in milk tends to increase the level of cholesterol in the blood, increasing the chance of blocking the arteries and hence the chance of heart attack and stroke.

The drug companies are generally in the business of treating symptoms, rather than curing the causes of illness. As such, they have a vested interest in people getting ill. The meat and dairy industries depend on us eating their products, even though there is a body of evidence to show that animal fat and protein causes cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

Both industries spend huge amounts of money promoting their products, and not just in advertising, although that is the most visible channel for their message. They also sponsor education in areas from schools to medical colleges, so that their message is ingrained into our society across the board.

Now before someone jumps up and says, ‘hang on a minute, you were eating cheese and drinking milk not long ago’ I have to admit that was true, but I was one of the ‘brainwashed’ majority too, until fairly recently. Having discovered more of the ‘truth’ of late, I feel more and more irate about the way that we are misled.

Until we get some legal separation between government, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and the food corporations, we will never get the facts about such matters. The politicians are in the pockets of the people who run such organisations, so have little incentive to put things right. Scientists get paid to lend their names to unproven products, it is a huge web of lies.

It will be interesting to see how much effort they put behind opening up the drug trial data, but if you would like to learn more about things for yourself, you might start here.

What Is Love?

Two HeartsLoving, and being loved is really great isn’t it? There is little to compare with the feeling one gets from being part of a loving relationship, but there are two types of love, unconditional and conditional. Unconditional love is about giving without limits, about being happy for the happiness of others. Conditional love, on the other hand, can be painful for both parties. Elements of jealousy, or the need to be loved in order to love, can lead the way to a painful end of the relationship.

Buddhism defines love as an action. It is that force that motivates people to become better, to improve themselves in order to reach eternity and happiness. Love brings out the best in people, as when they love, the target is not themselves but the beloved one. This wish to serve the other is a reflection of an innate knowledge that everyone is connected through the same principle, and therefore, it is an illusion to believe that one can achieve true happiness while those around haven’t attained it . So, love is the action that makes people forego their own ego and concentrate their efforts on the other in a search for fulfilment.

Personally, I have been criticised for suggesting that, if my partner would be happier with someone else, that I would not stand in their path. That feeling, I believe, shows that I love them unconditionally and, arguably, more than someone who wants to control or confine them. It does not mean that I want them to go, just that I want them to be happy, and that my happiness is found through their happiness.

Achieving unconditional love is hard. So many people feel that they need to be loved to be happy. In fact, the most happiness comes from loving another, and the need to be loved is often a sign of insecurity. Loving unconditionally requires a totally unselfish attitude to the other. Being happy when they are happy, being happy for them when they succeed, rather than feeling jealous of their success. Keeping those negative feelings in check requires constant effort, but the happiness gained from so doing is unbounded.

So take a look at your motives next time you tell that special someone that you love them. Will you still love them if that love is not reciprocated? Are you happy for them when they find pleasure in something that is of no interest to you? Would you sacrifice the relationship if that added to their happiness? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then you are not loving unconditionally.

It is not the end of things if you are not, there is always time to change. Loving everyone, in the broadest sense of the word, is a very rewarding way to lead your life. Being concerned for the happiness of someone who clearly has no time for you is tough. Going the extra mile to ensure that the happiness of another at the expense of yourself is not necessarily a natural thing to do, but the rewards for doing so are great indeed.

So next time you say ‘I love you’ to someone, try mentally tagging on ‘no matter what’ to that phrase and see how that makes you feel inside. If you can honestly say that it makes no difference to you saying it, then you have reached the state of unconditional love and that will reward you every time you say it.

The Wrong Trousers!!!

The Wrong TrousersI think I must be getting cynical in my old age, but correct me if I am wrong here. John Hourican, the head of the Royal Bank of Scotland investment banking arm is stepping down from his post, despite having no managerial control over the people who rigged the LIBOR rate and who are costing RBS over £400 million in fines. Rather weird.

It seems that Mr Hourican, who earned £3.5m last year, is expected to lose his bonus for 2012 along with his position as head of RBS’s investment bank. He is also expected to forego £4m of bonuses from previous years. Are these guys for real?

It is true that there are on going criminal investigations into the whole LIBOR fiasco, and that the people who potentially cost every borrower in the UK money through their actions may yet be brought to book, it seems that John Hourican gets the role of scapegoat extraordinaire.

Whilst it is a little difficult to feel too sorry for a chap who is quite so well heeled, the principle behind the dismissal should not be forgotten. In my view, the people who defrauded the nation, nay the world, with their skulduggery should be held to account. Maybe the bosses of these people, maybe even the senior management who allowed the practices to go on, through their naivety or negligence, but not just some chap who happened to be passing at the time.

The current view of the banking business is that it is a corrupt world of murky practices, run by a bunch of money grabbing, socially bankrupt pseudo-criminals. Of course that view is skewed by the never-ending stream of stories about malpractice and fraudulent dealing that have gone on right under the noses of the FSA and other banking watchdogs, but judging by the evidence, it is not too far of the mark.

It is clear that there needs to be a firestorm of dismissals at the highest levels in the entire banking sector. The current sticking plaster approach will not get us back to the days when the bank manager was a revered member of the local community, or when your money was safer in the bank than under the mattress. But starting with some overpaid shmuck, with little or no connection to the problems will do no good whatsoever.

What is really needed, is a return to social values where honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and honour are held in higher esteem than the salary package or the annual bonus. While we measure people by what they earn and own, rather than the principles they hold, we will remain on this downward spiral into social turmoil.

They’ve sacked the wrong trousers Gommit, and we must not let them get away with it!!!

The Truth Will Out

The Scales Of JusticeWith the final admission today, by ex-MP Chris Huhne, that he has been attempting to pervert the course of justice by lying to police about a motoring offence that happened over ten years ago, we can see that the lack of honesty can bring about anyone’s downfall .

Lying, or even being economical with the truth can swiftly get badly out of control. One lie leads to another, to another and so on, as the purveyor of untruths attempts to cover each falsehood with the next. How much better would it be for all concerned, in the long run, if the truth were told from the outset?

We might feel a modicum of compassion for Huhne, given that he has been described by colleagues as a very hard working MP. However, I think it only right that he serve a custodial sentence, bearing in mind the position of responsibility he held at the time, the number of people he has let down by his attempted deceit and the length of time he has taken to admit to the offence.

The court will decide his fate shortly, but it has already been mooted that he will serve time inside one of Her Majesty’s prisons. Sadly, like many other of his parliamentary colleagues over the last few years, he has been found to be a downright dishonourable member. Oh how the mighty are fallen, hoist by their own petard.

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