New Year Wishes from Wales

I didn’t reblog this when I first read it this morning, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible, for David’s might just be the single best New Year’s message I’ve seen yet! Thank you, David … Cwtch


blwyddyn Newydd Dda to all my readers or to those who get here by accident. We have all undergone difficulties over the last few years of one form or another, so I hope this year starts with you in a mood of renewed hope and happiness. Do your best too make the World a better place, not just for yourself but for everyone no matter where they live. Maybe this is the year we can start to solve some of the problems of those less fortunate than us. Not just the droughts in Africa and the problems of babies born with cleft palates or degenerative eye disease that can be easily cured. But, maybe the bright sparks among you can find a way of ending the current wars of attrition still taking place around the globe. If we put our minds to it I'm sure solutions can be found. If…

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♫ Christmas 1914 ♫ (Annual Redux)

Some holiday songs just bear repeating year after year, and this is at the top of my list for an annual redux.  Both David and Clive have already played this one this year, but it remains a tradition here at Filosofa’s Word, and so I offer it up again.  The story behind the song is one that is timeless, a reminder of humanity, and one that never fails to stir the depth of my emotions.

On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire, but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops fighting in World War I sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. Some Germans lit Christmas trees around their trenches, and there was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer. German Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch recalled …

“How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.”

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

Mike Harding

Christmas Eve in 1914
Stars were burning, burning bright
And all along the Western Front
Guns were lying still and quiet.
Men lay dozing in the trenches,
In the cold and in the dark,
And far away behind the lines
A village dog began to bark.

Some lay thinking of their families,
Some sang songs while others were quiet
Rolling fags and playing brag
To while away that Christmas night.
But as they watched the German trenches
Something moved in No Man’s Land
And through the dark came a soldier
Carrying a white flag in his hand.

Then from both sides men came running,
Crossing into No Man’s Land,
Through the barbed-wire, mud and shell holes,
Shyly stood there shaking hands.
Fritz brought out cigars and brandy,
Tommy brought corned beef and fags,
Stood there talking, singing, laughing,
As the moon shone on No Man’s Land.

Christmas Day we all played football
In the mud of No Man’s Land;
Tommy brought some Christmas pudding,
Fritz brought out a German band.
When they beat us at football
We shared out all the grub and drink
And Fritz showed me a faded photo
Of a dark-haired girl back in Berlin.

For four days after no one fired,
Not one shot disturbed the night,
For old Fritz and Tommy Atkins
Both had lost the will to fight.
So they withdrew us from the trenches,
Sent us far behind the lines,
Sent fresh troops to take our places
And told the guns “Prepare to fire”.

And next night in 1914
Flares were burning, burning bright;
The message came along the trenches
Over the top we’re going tonight.
And the men stood waiting in the trenches,
Looking out across our football park,
And all along the Western Front
The Christmas guns began to bark.

A Few Thoughts From The Bouncing Mind — Again

These are some of the thoughts that have run barefoot through my mind today …

Bigotry in all its forms is a result of ignorance.  We fear that which we do not or cannot understand. Unfortunately, some people are weak and can be easily convinced to fear almost anything.  Politicians play on that weakness, hence you have people who are scared of immigrants, scared of LGBTQ+ people, scared of anyone basically who does not act, look, and think as they do.  If you are uncomfortable about immigrants, talk to some of them, learn about their culture, try their foods – you won’t regret it. Our neighbors moved here several years ago from Iraq and spoke only about 10 words of English.  We communicated through some signing, some Google Translate, laughter and compassion, the language that knows no boundaries.  Today, they are our best friends – we have learned a bit of Arabic, they have learned a LOT of English and all 5 family members passed their citizenship tests in 2020.  We share meals, laughter and love – I wouldn’t trade that experience for all the money in the world!  If you are frightened by LGBTQ+ people, get to know a few, try to understand that who they choose to love really isn’t your business.  About half of my friends are LGBTQ+ and they have enriched my life, my understanding, in too many ways to count.  But you have to open your minds and your hearts to understand people of other cultures, views and beliefs … if you don’t, you are the one missing out!

Life is what you make of it.  A reader commented yesterday that life on earth is hell.  Well, admittedly things around the globe are in a dark place right now, but … I don’t think that makes it a hell on earth.  That just means we all need to do our part to change things.  If you don’t like the stack of dirty laundry piled up in the hallway, you can get off your arse and wash/dry/fold it, or you can spend an equal amount of time sitting around whining about it.  Your choice.  Don’t like the way the country is being run?  Then vote the bastards out and vote in people who are possessed of a conscience, who care about people over profit.  Don’t like the price of fuel?  Drive less.  Wait it out … it will stabilize.  If you want to lay blame, put the blame where it belongs – on the oil companies who are raking in record profits.  The best thing we the consumers can do, seriously, is to drive less, therefore buying less fuel.  Law of supply and demand … when the supply exceeds demand, when oil companies are selling less fuel, miraculously the price will drop.  Turn the thermostat down, turn some lights off, and stay home more!

Politicians are like prostitutes … they sell themselves to the highest bidder.  They’ll still take your paltry $20 contribution, but you won’t get a damn thing in exchange, for you cannot compete with the millions of dollars they receive from the rich dudes.  So, don’t waste your money … give instead to organizations that help feed hungry children or house the homeless.  Give to environmental groups that are working toward saving the future of the planet for our children and grandchildren.

Some of the unlikeliest candidates on the ballot this year are puppets.  Take, for instance, Herschel Walker.  Mr. Walker knows very little outside the sports arena, as he’s shown us nearly every time he’s opened his mouth.  He lies, he has no policies, no values, but is saying he stands for whatever his handlers, the puppetmasters, are telling him to say he stands for.  What would he do if he won a seat in the U.S. Senate?  He would vote in whatever way his handlers told him to.  A vote for Herschel Walker is actually a vote for Mitch McConnell who would ‘advise’ Mr. Walker how to act/dress/vote in every circumstance.  The same can likely be said for a host of others on the ballot with an ‘R’ next to their name.  Whatever happened to the day when candidates had some relevant education and experience?

And finally … let’s remember we’re all on this planet together.  We share the same resources, and what happens to one happens to us all.  “America First” is nothing but exclusionary trash talk.  We need all people in all countries to work together to solve the biggest problems facing us all:  the environment and world-wide poverty.  There is no “them vs us” — we’re all people.  People with flaws, but most of whom care about others enough to change the world, if only we stop allowing ourselves to be ‘led’ by religious leaders and politicians who have their own agendas.  Choose peace over hatred & violence.  Your grandchildren will one day thank you for it.

Did Any of Us Notice?

It is with shame and regret that I had not heard of the 100 lives lost in Somalia. Are we becoming inured to such things? Are we, in fact, losing our humanity to technology? Or are humans simply becoming more self-focused, self-centered, and uncaring? Our friend Roger shares some of his thoughts that I think everyone should read. Thank you, Roger!

The World As It Is. Not As It Should Be

Mogadishu Bombing October 2022

Two days ago 100 people died in twin bombings in the capital of Somalia.

No, I did not notice at the time. I only read this by chance when checking the BBC newsfeed for an update on the latest antics of members of our government.

Point of note, excluding everything up ‘newsfeed’ that took up 16 words; the news item took 14 words. Despite the horror of that death and carnage, sitting here is my relatively stable and comfortable piece of the Western World I still end up devoting more words to UK ‘local’ comparatively transitory topics than the violent deaths of one hundred folk in a place, far away. And I might have heard the news about 500 deaths in the same place a few years back, but there’s no memory. There should have been, but we in our own locations flooded by input trivia and matters which…

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I Once Thought There Was Some Good In Everyone

Until quite recently, I believed that all humans were some combination of good and bad.  None of us are perfect … I sometimes have thoughts that I’m not proud of and in my 71 years on this earth, I’ve done things I now regret.  Some people have more good than bad, and vice versa, but I always believed that at the core, people were good.  I sit before you today to tell you that I no longer believe that.  I have finally been convinced that some people are just evil beings.  This realization is not a pleasant one, not one that encourages me to want to remain a part of the human species.

When there is at least a shred of decency in a person, that part of them can be coaxed, nourished, and encouraged until that person finds their conscience and realizes the error of their ways.  At least, that’s what I thought.  But, where there is not so much as a shred of kindness, of compassion within a person’s psyche, there is no foundation upon which to build.  Where the conscience should reside, there is only a dark hole.

Last Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband was brutally beaten by a thug seeking to kidnap Ms. Pelosi.  Paul Pelosi sustained a skull fracture and serious damage to his arm and hands.  Most of us felt a great deal of empathy and asked ourselves … WHY???  How have we come to this point?  But, shortly after news of the attack, some people thought it was appropriate to mock, to denigrate, and to make up cruel, nasty stories about Mr. Pelosi and the attack.  ANYBODY, in my book, who cannot even have a bit of compassion for the victim of such an attack, has zero conscience, not a grain of humanity.  Yes, that means you, Kari Lake, and you, Governor Youngkin, and all those fools on Twitter who are posting memes and such that mock the seriousness of this situation.  Those people are irredeemable, for they have no core upon which to build.

Last night, we learned that a former co-worker of my daughter had been arrested for beating her 4-month-old baby daughter to death.  My daughter was devastated, remembering the years she and this woman had worked side-by-side as nurses, people whose entire focus in life was to preserve life.  A 4-month-old baby!  What the hell can a 4-month-old baby do to make its own mother so angry that she would beat it to death???  Cry?  Spit up on the sofa?  This woman is another example of someone without a conscience, someone who cannot ever be mistaken for a human again!

Until the past week, I retained some hope for humanity to win out over cruelty.  My ‘good people’ posts on Wednesdays have always been an attempt to balance out the darkness of the daily news stories by shining a light on those people making a positive difference in people’s lives.  Tonight, I must honestly say that I don’t know if I can do a ‘good people’ post this week … or ever again.  Make no mistake … yes, I believe there ARE many good people out there, quietly going about the business of trying to make this world a better place for us all, but … they are overshadowed by those who would mock, denigrate, and do violence against others.

The world has many problems, and there are many good, intelligent people trying to resolve those problems such as climate change, poverty and hunger, racism, guns, violence, wealth inequality and more, but there seem to be equally as many foolish, uncaring, conscience-less people trying to keep them from repairing the damage caused by humans for the past few centuries.  Can good overcome evil?  Until the last few days, I thought it could and likely would.  Today, I am not so sure, and that is depressing.

Democracy – The Quantum Arrangement

Democracy, it is said, is the ideal form of government to which all nations should aspire. But, is it really so perfect? Or is it perfect only on paper, before humans get their hands on it? Listen to what our friend Roger has to say on the subject …

The World As It Is. Not As It Should Be

One Word. Guaranteed to start a fire

If there is one way to upset some folk who worry about Democracy it is to suggest they are living in one. I did this once on a UK Face Book and received stern lectures, warnings and downright abuse from opponents of the British Government, some of whom seemed to have taken the V for Vendetta film as a documentary and are living the freedom fighter fantasy.

The Nature(s) of Democracy

Democracy takes on similarities to some of the categories encountered in Quantum Physics and Mechanics; they are either a wave or a particle, or they exist until you look at them. Taking the analogy one step further the study of both often end up with something along the lines of  ‘Even if we can’t see it. There has to be This otherwise That wouldn’t happen’ 

The observation that there are multiple forms…

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Reflections and Perspective

I don’t know why, but a few things of late have made me do some thinking.  It started with Hurricane Ian and our friend Scottie’s post about the damage he and Ron had suffered.  Roger and I were chatting in comments about how insignificant our own problems suddenly seemed as compared to what the survivors of the hurricane were going through.

Earlier that day, I had been nattering because as I was trying to get something that was at the back of the refrigerator, my arm accidentally knocked a small tub of sauce off the fridge shelf and onto the floor, where the lid separated from the container and left a nice little puddle of sweet ‘n sour sauce for me to clean up.  I cursed a bit and pondered aloud why things couldn’t just go right.  And then … I caught my self … I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “Oh shit … I should be thankful that I have so much in my fridge that this could happen.  I should be grateful that I have a fridge and electricity to power it!  What the hell am I whining about???” 

We humans, it seems, are an insulated lot.  Sure, we (at least most of us) feel empathy for those who are in trying circumstances, but at the end of the day, we’re more concerned with our own convenience.  Last night, I popped into Facebook and saw a post by a friend bemoaning that her new living room furniture was supposed to have been delivered but there was a delay.  She was “not happy”, so her hubby took her out to her favourite restaurant as a consolation.  Most people commented with commiseration over her delayed furniture, or about how wonderful her hubby is (he really is a great guy), but my thoughts were … shouldn’t you just be thankful that you can afford new furniture when some people don’t even have furniture, old or new?  And then, I realized that I, too, would have been grouchy and whiny had I been in her shoes.  And it made me ashamed of myself.

Are we really so insular that we cannot see how petty most of our own problems are?  Does it matter that the cat knocked over the flowerpot, or grease spilled onto the stove burner, when compared to women in Iran being slaughtered for protesting an archaic, misogynistic dress code, or people in Ukraine being left homeless after Russian bombs destroyed their houses, or worse yet, mourning their child who was killed when a bomb hit?

Perspective.  I frequently diss on the wealthy, for they cannot see, will not see, how the rest of us live.  They live a life of luxury in their ivory towers while we commoners struggle to pay our bills and put food on the table.  But, in some sense, don’t we all do the same?  I live in a small rented townhouse that to me is a pain, because we have lived here for 24 years and have accumulated so much ‘stuff’ that we’ve basically outgrown it, but … how many people are sharing a makeshift shelter with a dozen other people tonight, hoping it doesn’t rain and wash their shelter downriver?  How many people are living in tents made of cardboard boxes under highway overpasses tonight?  I had chicken with veggies and rice for supper tonight … how many people had naught more than a scant bowl of rice or a piece of bread?

‘Wealth’ is relative … and relative to so many others, you and I are wealthy.  Yes, there are those who have far more than we do, but … there are more who have far less than we.  I’m not trying to sound ‘preachy’ at all … this is simply my own reflection of how much I have, how lucky I am, and how often I take it all for granted.  I think I need to learn a bit of humility, need to remember more often to reflect on what I have, need to put my everyday frustrations into perspective.  My needs are met, my ‘wants’ are mostly met … life will always be filled with minor frustrations, but that is exactly what they are … minor frustrations.

I shall try to do better.

♫ Imagine ♫

I tend to play this song when … well, when I need to … imagine.  When I need to imagine that there is hope for this world, when I need to believe that humans will eventually find their better side, will begin to care someday, care about others, care about the land, about all living creatures.  Today is the 21st anniversary of the horror that would become known as 9/11.  2,996 people died on that day, more than 400 of them police and firefighters.  Since then, hundreds more rescue workers have lost their lives as a result of the toxicity at Ground Zero. But, we lost more than human lives that day.  We lost … I think that was the day we all came to realize, though even today we would deny it, that “Peace on earth” is a myth that will never be realized.  We came to realize, I think, that … nothing would ever be quite the same again, and that no, it won’t all be okay.  But we want to still believe in hope … I think we must still believe, else … what is the point in it all?  And so, my friends, I give you John Lennon and his view of … a better world … again.

John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management

FDR Quotations

Just a short, but excellent one from Charles French tonight!

charles french words reading and writing

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”

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Good People Doing Good Things —

There almost was no ‘good people’ post today, for I am in one of those ‘moods’.  I went in search of, found some, nothing appealed, and I decided to just skip out on doing a post for this morning.  But, as I went about doing other things, it weighed on my mind.  This little invasive creature inside my head … he is my conscience and his name is “Barky” … kept saying, “But … don’t your friends and readers really count on you bringing them good news on Wednesday morn?  Don’t you always say that they need the reminders that all is not lost, that there are good people doing good things?”  I told Barky to shut up a couple of times, but he wouldn’t … that’s how he is, he’s a pain in the royal ass, but I’m so grateful that I have him – my conscience.  And so, at just after midnight, when I had decided to treat myself to a few hours to just read or listen to music, I resumed my search for good people.  Needless to say, I found some, for they are always out there … and here they are!

A meow from within …

Lindsay Russell, a Walmart employee in Morristown, Tennessee, was on her lunch break one day in late July when she heard meowing coming from one of the store’s vending machines.

“I tried all through my lunch and my last break to get her. I tried recruiting co-workers to help me get her, and none of us could do it.”

So, Lindsay called the Morristown Fire Department.  Firefighters responding to the call unplugged the vending machine and removed the back cover, but still could not see the crying kitten. Luckily, the firefighters found another opening where they could see the kitten and coaxed it out. The rescue mission took around 10 minutes.

Lindsay has a big heart, and she gave the kitten a forever home and a new, very apt, name:  Pepsi!  A small thing, I know, but still … how many people would have ignored those plaintive cries and gone on about their day?  Or how many people would have relegated the poor kitty to an animal shelter?  I have a soft spot for anyone who takes extra care of animals … and perhaps tonight more so than usual, for I just learned that my neighbor’s dog died.  His name was Rocky, he was a gigantic mixed breed mutt who loved everyone, and I loved him, so I am saddened to learn of his death.

Sign my yearbook … PLEASE?

You all remember that ‘end of the school year’ ritual where kids go around signing each other’s yearbooks with hand-drawn hearts, silly sayings & remembrances?  A fun time … silly, but fun.  At the end of this school year back in June, 12-year-old Brody Ridder came home with a long face … he had only two signatures, nothing more except one he wrote himself …

Brody’s yearbook — BEFORE

His mother, Cassandra, was heartbroken for her young son.  She said that over the past two years, he has struggled socially and has been repeatedly bullied, and this was just one more instance in the bullying … kids are capable of great cruelty.  Brody told his mum that when he asked his classmates to sign his yearbook …

“They told me no. It made me sad.”

Cassandra shared the above photo of her son’s yearbook note in a private Facebook group for parents at the school. She felt angry and helpless. Her primary objective in posting the photo, Ridder explained, was to encourage parents to talk to their children about bullying. She said she’s aware that some parents prefer to keep such matters private, but she thought that being forthright about it might help prevent her son and others from being targeted further.

Cassandra & Brody

She hoped people would sympathize with her son’s struggle, but she did not anticipate the outpouring of support that swiftly surfaced after her post — particularly from older students at the school. As dozens of compassionate comments poured in, several older students — none of whom previously knew Brody — heard about Ridder’s post from their parents. They stepped up to show their support.

Joanna Cooper, 17, received a text message from her mother with a screenshot of Ridder’s post. Right away, the 11th-grader decided, “I’m going to get people and we’re going to sign his yearbook. No kid deserves to feel like that.”

Cooper remembers being Brody’s age, and the intense pressure she felt to fit in. Having signatures in your yearbook wasn’t only a measure of popularity, she recalled, it also meant simply …

“… knowing that you have friends. Signing someone’s yearbook was all the rage. That people would tell him no and deny him a signature, it just hurt my heart.”

She contacted several friends and they coordinated to visit Brody’s homeroom class together the following day. Little did she know at the time, but many other students were hatching the same plan. When Simone Lightfoot, also an 11th-grader at the school, saw Ridder’s post, her first thought was: “I’ll get some of my friends and we’ll go sign it.” Lightfoot, 17, could relate to Brody’s plight …

“When I was younger, I was bullied a lot like him. If I could do one little thing to help this kid feel a little better, I’d be more than willing to.”

Maya Gregory, an eighth-grader at the school, felt likewise. She, too, was bullied at Brody’s age.

“No one helped me when I was in that situation. So I wanted to be there for him.”

She rounded up her friends, all of whom were eager to give Brody a confidence boost. The impromptu initiative spread throughout the school, and on May 25, the day after the yearbooks were distributed, a swarm of older students filed into Brody’s sixth-grade classroom, ready to sign his yearbook.

Although he felt shy at first, “it made me feel better,” said Brody, adding that he collected more than 100 signatures and messages of support in his yearbook that day. He also got some phone numbers and a gift bag.  Said Joanna Cooper …

“Just seeing him light up, it felt really good. It was a small thing, but it made him so happy.”

Brody’s yearbook – AFTER

Even actor Paul Rudd reached out to Brody after learning the boy was being alienated at his middle school.  Rudd, who plays Ant-Man in the Avengers franchise, turns out to be the young boy’s favorite superhero. When Rudd caught wind of what had happened, the actor reached out to the boy and his family and arranged a FaceTime call, following it up with a handwritten note and a signed Ant-Man helmet.

Sometimes maybe all it takes is for people to know when there’s a problem.  Sometimes maybe people are just waiting to see where they’re needed before they step up to the plate.  Maybe sometimes there’s a little bit of ‘good people’ in all of us.  Maybe.

And one more ‘good people’, or should I say ‘good kitty’ … critters can be ‘good people’ too, y’know?  This is one I saw back in April, bookmarked, and forgot to use, but tonight it seems apt as I have two kitties vying for my lap while I try to balance my computer on one knee!

Tammy York of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was watching movies and had fallen asleep (happens to the best of us, yes?).  Turns out that Tammy had candles burning and the wax had begun to drip on the carpet that started a fire.

“I remember the cat, Mandy, making strange noises and tugging on my nightgown. I never woke up. Then she pounced on my chest and slapped me in the face with her paws. I immediately woke up and began choking due to the heavy smoke in my house! Myself and Mandy were able to escape unharmed.”

On April 15th, the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department in Chattanooga presented a plaque Friday to Mandy the cat, whose bravery saved Tammy York’s life.