Nandyism Scotched

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Just read this (from Grouse Beater’s blog).

Grouse Beater

297Mark Frankland – frank by name, frank by nature

It is not often I publish another’s writing in full on this site, in fact, not at all, but I am delighted to make an exception for this letter that appeared in a blog written by Mark Frankland, a man with a conscience and a sharp eye for hypocrisy. As well as writing thrillers, he manages a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. “Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls.” 

Here he writes in answer to the slip-shod Labour leadership contender, Lisa Nandy. She blames the SNP and its supporters for her crassness in stating clearly on BBC’s Andrew Neill Show, that she detests nationalism in all its guises…

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How to avoid being party to a huge, vile, cruel injustice.

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Some excellent thoughts on what (and what not) to do/say in meetings when something is said which is plainly wrong.

Working Hypothesis

Of course I know, really I know, that the slow process of changing minds and warming hearts cannot be hurried. It is a matter of example and quiet words and funny stories. Sometimes, however, the bossy little girl who still lives within me gets the upper hand – and she finds the  warming hearts and telling funny stories unbearably slow. So, just for her, and based on this week’s news and eves-droppings, public and private, are some useful rules for living.

Never fear asking the idiot question. Others may be unsure of what is going on too. They may be afraid to ask. You will do everybody a favour by being the one prepared to look an idiot.

Never ever be afraid to stop a meeting by pointing out just what it is doing.  Stay polite to individuals, but point out in graphic detail just where they are going and…

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All of us first

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As children we have a sense of fairness:
it’s not right that someone should get something while others go without

As young people we have real sense of justice
(despite “whatever!”)

But what happens when we “grow up”?
Do we abandon the sense that we are all equal?

 

As we prepare for the referendum in September, we are challenged to think again about what we want for our country.

Is it right that 1,000 people own 60 per cent of Scottish land? (1)

Is it right that we have record-breaking levels of child poverty?

Is it right that the average lifespan in parts of Glasgow is 57?
i.e. were I from there I could already be dead

Another possibility

logo of the Common Weal: All of us first“All of us first” is the motto for the Common Weal project, set up by the Jimmy Reid Foundation, named after a man who worked tirelessly for social justice. As opposed to the “me first” of neoliberalism, as exemplified by the first-past-the-post pseudo-democracy of Westminster politics, “all of us first” is exploring ways to put these matters right.

These include:

Real equality,
not just some slogan
(Liz Lochhead for Common Weal)

1. Riddoch, Lesley (2013-08-26). Blossom: What Scotland Needs to Flourish (Viewpoints) (Kindle Locations 77-78). Luath Press Ltd. Kindle Edition

A new hope

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I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord,
plans for your welfare, not for woe!
plans to give you a future full of hope.

When you look for me, you will find me:
when you seek me with all your heart.

(Jeremiah 29:11,13 )

A story (or a parable) – whatever

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One upon a time there was a young musician – let’s call him Alex. As a teenager he became aware of another young musician – let’s call him Michael. Like Michael, Alex was a pianist and conductor, albeit a bit younger – unlike him, he was totally unknown and at an early stage of his career.

Michael became a role-model for Alex, who started going to as many of his concerts as possible and started his LP collection with many of Michael’s recordings.

Alex even played truant from school one day; brazenly walking through the Royal Albert Hall’s Artist’s Entrance, he made his way behind the stage, where Michael was rehearsing a world-famous orchestra in Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. He sat behind the timpanist to watch the rehearsal (Alex was also an orchestral percussionist), and observed Michael at work.

Some months later, Michael was giving a series of televised concerto concerts, and Alex attended one of the rehearsals.

After the rehearsal, when everybody else had gone, leaving Michael practising on his own, Alex went up to him, waited for him to finish and then politely but nervously asked Michael if he could help him with a section of a concerto he was learning. Michael responded angrily, “Go away! Can’t you see I’m practising?”
Alex left the building, devastated, and in deep shock that the one he had admired and emulated had treated him this way.

Many years later, Alex decided on how he would get his revenge. Being a law-abiding citizen, working in church music, and realising there was nothing realistic he could do to get at the now highly-regarded and successful musician, he got his own back in the privacy of his home, where his hi-fi and record collection had pride of place.

One quiet evening, Alex put on a record of piano and violin music, played by Michael and a friend and colleague, and listened intently to the sonata’s first movement.

Then, mid-way through the second movement, as the two master musicians were weaving magic with Brahms’ music, it happened, mid-phrase, mid-note: he deliberately lifted the stylus arm from the rotating turntable and disc. In a moment the music was gone… for ever. “Revenge is mine – at last”.

What a shallow victory. No-one knew of it, certainly not Michael. (Besides, this kind of thing happens millions of times every day when people turn off their radios and MP3 players mid-phrase.) But the difference is that Alex had caused a deliberate rupture; the music was cut off with savage intent (even if he had too much respect for his Linn LP12 turntable to wreak damage to that!). The music died in front of him, destroyed by his own hands.

Perhaps Michael had just been stressed that day. Perhaps he was fed up with seeing Alex in the background at his concerts. Perhaps, and more likely, even though he was everything to Alex, Alex was nothing to him, and he knew nothing and cared nothing about him. Why should he?

Perhaps Alex was just an impetuous youth: immature, if enthusiastic. Perhaps, like all young people it was important that he had a role model, one he could emulate – but not idolise. Perhaps he had been “a bit of a pain”.

These days, Michael is as highly-regarded as ever. His work for peace and reconciliation between opposing nations sharing common geo-political space is an example to us all.

Alex is still unknown! But he’s discovered that whilst revenge (apparently best served cold) is satisfying in that moment, ultimately, it’s pointless, fruitless, and a waste of energy that is better used in working for positive change. And that realisation, presumably, he shares with Michael.

Postscript

Brother Roger of Taizé spoke of the need for young people to be “violent for peace”: to use one’s anger at society’s injustices neither against another individual, nor against oneself, but instead to work tirelessly for justice, for change, for peace.

As I write this, and you read it, more lives are being savagely destroyed: in war, in gangland violence, in the drugs trade, in sex exploitation. The wish for vengeance is understandable; it’s natural – but utterly pointless.

“In the midst of conflict and division
it is you who who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.

“Your Spirit changes our hearts:
Enemies begin to speak to one another,
those who were estranged join hands in friendship,
and nations seek the way of peace together.

“Your Spirit is at work when understanding puts an end to strife,
and vengeance gives way to forgiveness.
For this we should never cease to thank and praise you.”

Roman Missal, Preface, 2nd Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation

(Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)

Comments welcome, as always!