Are You Looking?

Are You Looking For Your Path?We all have to find our own path to enlightenment. One person’s way may not be that of another, but we all have a path, if we take the time, and have the courage to find it.

Finding the right way is not an easy task, but you owe it to yourself to keep looking.

Everyone has the right to flower, to reveal his or her full potential as human beings and to fulfil their particular mission in this world. You have this right, as does everyone else.

This is the meaning of human rights. To scorn, violate and abuse people’s human rights destroys the natural order of things.

Valuing human rights and showing respect for other people are amongst our most important tasks in life.

Tolpuddle, A Name From History

Tolpuddle MarchToday has been a joyous celebration of a hugely important part of British, and arguably World history. In a rather unplanned manner, three of us set off to the historic Dorset village of Tolpuddle.

Now many of you may never have heard of Tolpuddle, but if you have ever been a member of a workers union, been on strike to register your opposition to a change in working conditions or in a demand for a rise in pay, Tolpuddle is inextricably linked to those actions. A group of six men from the village made history, and paid temporarily with their freedom, when they formed the first workers union. Wikipedia says this of them …

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as a trade-specific benefit society. But at the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what are now considered to be the predominant role of trade unions. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were subsequently sentenced to transportation to Australia.

Before 1824/25 the Combination Acts had outlawed “combining” or organising to gain better working conditions. In 1824/25 these Acts were repealed, so trade unions were no longer illegal. In 1832, the year of a Reform Act which extended the vote in England but did not grant universal suffrage, six men from Tolpuddle in Dorset founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest against the gradual lowering of agricultural wages in the 1830s caused by the surplus supply of labour in an era when mechanisation was beginning to have an impact on agricultural working practices for the first time. This was a particular problem in remote parts of southern England, such as Dorset, where farmers did not have to compete with the higher wages paid to workers in London and in the northern towns experiencing the Industrial Revolution. They refused to work for less than 10 shillings a week, although by this time wages had been reduced to seven shillings a week and were due to be further reduced to six shillings. The society, led by George Loveless, a Methodist local preacher, met in the house of Thomas Standfield.

In 1834 James Frampton, a local landowner, wrote to the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, to complain about the union, invoking an obscure law from 1797 prohibiting people from swearing oaths to each other, which the members of the Friendly Society had done. James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George’s brother James Loveless, George’s brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and Thomas’s son John Standfield were arrested, tried before Judge Baron John Williams in R v Lovelass and Others. They were found guilty, and transported to Australia.

When sentenced to seven years’ transportation, George Loveless wrote on a scrap of paper the following lines:

God is our guide! from field, from wave,
From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
We come, our country’s rights to save,
And speak a tyrant faction’s doom:
We raise the watch-word liberty;
We will, we will, we will be free!

They became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release. Their supporters organised a political march, one of the first successful marches in the UK, and all, except James Hammett (who had a previous criminal record for theft) were released in 1836, with the support of Lord John Russell, who had recently become Home Secretary. Four of the six returned to England, disembarking at Plymouth, a popular stopping point for transportation ships.

WP_20140720_16_51_39_ProMembers of unions from all over the country, as well as a large number of non-members, converge on the village each year, to commemorate the anniversary of the historic events, listen to speeches, enjoy music, and generally have fun. The impromptu manner of the day only further added to the enjoyment of the day. The commemorative march was remarkable, walking in the footsteps of some very famous people. The highlight, for me however, was a performance by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, previously of the band Beautiful South with the band playing some of the classics, a great day out had by all.

The Global Family

Global SocietyAs Globalisation proceeds, we enter an age in which everybody’s actions strongly influence everybody else.

If we realise this, we can then alter our mind-set and strive to build a global society of mutual coexistence and mutual prosperity.

This will be done by going beyond devotion to the interests of the individual or the  nation-state and devoting ourselves to the interests of all humanity.

As Dr Martin Luther King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.

The key to the solution is the imagination to care for others.

It is the empathising heart, or what Buddhists mean when they talk about mercy.

Seeking The Way

Still LookingWe all have to find our own path to enlightenment. One person’s way may not be that of another, but we all have a path, if we take the time, and have the courage to find it.

Everyone has the right to flower, to reveal his or her full potential as human beings and to fulfil their particular mission in this world. You have this right, as does everyone else.

This is the meaning of human rights. To scorn, violate and abuse people’s human rights destroys the natural order of things.

Valuing human rights and showing respect for other people are amongst our most important tasks in life.

Still Looking

Still LookingWe all have to find our own path to enlightenment. One person’s way may not be that of another, but we all have a path, if we take the time, and have the courage to find it.

Everyone has the right to flower, to reveal his or her full potential as human beings and to fulfil their particular mission in this world. You have this right, as does everyone else.

This is the meaning of human rights. To scorn, violate and abuse people’s human rights destroys the natural order of things.

Valuing human rights and showing respect for other people are amongst our most important tasks in life.

Doing The Right Thing

Justice For AllFurther developments in the Abu Qatada extradition story must be giving others the same troubled thoughts as I am having. Cleric Qatada is, without doubt, a dangerous man, extolling, as he does, acts of terrorism and killing on behalf of the mujahedeen. His release from Long Lartin jail in mid February caused outcry in the UK.

He has been accused of being one of the UK’s most dangerous extremist preachers as well as the spiritual head of the mujahedeen in Britain. Many, many people in this country would be very happy to see him sent back to Jordan, where he has been charged with terrorist activities in his absence.

But the fact that he is clearly a dangerous influence and potentially a risk to UK security does not give us carte blanche to put him on a plane and send him off to a country who make little effort to hide their use of torture to extract ‘evidence’ for legal cases.

We like to pride ourselves on our British characteristic of fair play, to extol the virtues of our democratic society and our belief that everyone is equal under British law. So it is beholding to us to extend those qualities to everyone, even if that person is undeniably an unsavoury and potentially dangerous character.

We must do, and be seen to do, the right thing by cleric Qatada. We must abide by the decisions made in the European Court of Human Rights regarding the terms and conditions of his extradition to Jordan. We must also make full use this high profile case, to exert pressure on Jordan to stop the use of torture under any circumstances and to press them to respect the United Nations Human Rights Treaty.

The reports today from Westminster, that Qatada can be removed from the UK ‘in full compliance of the law’ is meaningless if he is removed to a country that flouts international treaties and tortures confessions out of people. If we remove him in the wrong circumstances, we will bring more trouble upon ourselves in the future, so let’s get it right.

Every Life Is Sacred?

Human DNASurely the ultimate measure of a civilised society is the way it considers the sanctity of life itself. As civilised human beings we believe that the right to life of another person is beyond question, or do we? Two back to back news items, on the BBC tonight, tend to suggest that we do not, that the value of any two lives can be measured against each other, and ultimately be found to be different.

The first item of news was about a young student, Steven Grisales, who was stabbed to death by a 15 year old boy, after he confronted a group of youths who were throwing conkers at him. The second was the report of the acquittal of Cecil Coley after he had stabbed a 30 year old man who was robbing his shop. The man, Gary Mullings, later died of his wounds and Coley was charged with his murder.

So the two murders differ in their context, but a life has been lost in each one. Was one life that of an innocent victim, the other of a thug who ‘deserved’ what he got? I’m not sure, and I certainly do not know enough about the incidents to pontificate over the rights and wrongs.

I just found it amazing that the two stories were reported in such a different manner, and that the contrasts were so vivid. Read the stories for yourself, via the links above, and see what you think.

The Right Path

Moral CompassWe all have to find our own path to enlightenment. One person’s way may not be that of another, but we all have a path, if we take the time, and have the courage to find it.

Everyone has the right to flower, to reveal his or her full potential as human beings and to fulfil their particular mission in this world. You have this right, as does everyone else.

This is the meaning of human rights. To scorn, violate and abuse people’s human rights destroys the natural order of things. Valuing human rights and showing respect for other people are amongst our most important tasks.

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