Killing 52 (+4) Universes- The 7/7 bombings

Image result for big bang

The Torah is a remarkable book. It outlines a creation story, how the universe came to be, and that it all starts with nothing. There is no universe, it is null and void. And then God says ‘Let there be light’. Sounds a bit like the Big Bang; this sudden creation of something.

It took Copernicus another 2500 years to find out that the Earth goes round the Sun, not the other way round. In other words, the whole planet Earth on which we live is not in the centre of this solar system, let alone the universe. This means that humans are not the centre of the universe. They are not the founders of it and they are not the centre of it.

Image result for planet earth from space

As we humans are not the centre of the universe,  we might get to thinking that we are so insignificant that each one of us does not matter, we are disposable.

 

 

The Torah says all the living things on this planet are created from this planet Earth and that humans are created also from Earth. The name Adam means red, the red earth.  All things, including living things, are therefore material (matter) which means we are all chemical beings.

But all things also have what the Kabbalists (the mystics) would say, a spark of the divine. So all material things are chemical, but also have the sparks of creation (the Big Bang) in them.

When humans are created, we emanate from God, according to the Torah, so we too have those sparks in, the sparks of the Divine or the energy of the Big Bang, if you prefer.

However it says in the Torah, we humans are also created after ‘the likeness and in the shadow of God’.

Humans, have a lot of sparks of the divine, but not only the sparks, they are in a similar spirit to God, in the shadow and likeness. This makes humans very special, very dear to God.

The Rabbis say that to kill a human is to kill a universe. You are killing what they are, their life; and you are killing what they could become; their potential. You are cutting off the sparks and the spirit.

I say this as we have just commemorated the 7/7 bombings in London, which occurred on the 7th of July 2005, ten years ago.

Fifty two (+4) human lives were obliterated.

Fifty two (+4) universes wiped off the planet.

All things are precious.

All living things are very precious.

Humans are in the shadow and likeness of God.

Killing humans is killing the likeness of God.

That is blasphemy.

Adam and Eve did not belong to a religion or tribe or cult. That is the beauty of these passages in the Torah. They were not Jewish, Christian or Muslim or anything. They were ‘every-human’.

adam and eveAdam and Eve are the first humans. However they arose, by Creation or by Evolution, they are the parents of us all. That is what the Torah is saying. All human life descends from them, either because God created them or Evolution evolved them.

If you believe in Evolution, then each one of us is descended from our same ancestors. We are all related, one species. Killing any one of us is obscene. You are murdering your family members. Each and every one of us is related, regardless of tribe or belief. The Torah is saying the same thing.

If you believe that God created humans then killing their descendants, any one of us, is blasphemy. How dare you? How dare you say you believe in God and then try to kill God; to kill God’s spirit; to kill us humans? We are all in the shadow and likeness of God.

To kill a human is to kill a universe; a created or evolved universe, an emanation of the Divine or of Evolution, a descendant of God or of our common ancestors.  A spark of the Divine or of the Big Bang, whichever you prefer.

Each and every one of us came from the same place.

Each and every one of us is precious.

It is not for you, or for any one of us to think or to act otherwise.

 

Blame and blaming- owning your mistakes

I love fashion even though I do not look like a person that loves fashion. I have always looked at fashion magazines such as Vogue and love going through high end fashion shops. I do not want most of the clothes I see. I would look ridiculous in them. It would be a travesty of what the designer had in mind! I just love that humans come up with this stuff. I suppose it is to do with loving beauty.  I think the Taj Mahal is beautiful. I do not want to live there or own it or have my own place look like it. That would look terrible. So on Tuesday night two things conflated that brought me out to a talk. One was fashion and the other was Torah.

John Galliano, as you probably know, is a brilliant fashion designer. Now, unlike the TV programme ‘Dragon’s Den’, I do not think that because you are successful in one field you will be able to comment on other fields. In the TV programme people who are successful in their business advise others. However, most of the panel have also been very unsuccessful too. They have had ideas and businesses collapse. As my father used to say, ‘not every day is yom tov’ (Not every day is a great day/not everyday goes your way).

John Galliano is a brilliant fashion designer. He is not a brilliant person. I shan’t be asking him about philosophy or theology or science. He fell from grace quite publicly by having a drunken anti-Semitic rant in Paris a few years ago. It got recorded on a mobile phone. It was not his only anti-Semitic drunken rant. He was the head designer at Dior. Quite rightly, they sacked him. He is not above the law or separate from it.

Last night, three synagogues in central London had a talk about clothes and he was one of the speakers. Rabbi Marcus had been instrumental in his, shall we say, rehabilitation. The Rabbi and Galliano had been meeting and talking about Judaism and being a Jew, a complex set of issues that most Jews do not have a handle on, let alone a person who has anti-Semitic rants. So I went along to hear. Fashion and Torah. Some of my favourite things together. Fab.

It had been set up as some talks first and then a panel discussion with him, Galliano. I went to a talk by Maureen Kendler which was entitled ‘A Biblical what not to wear’. It was a great talk. She talked about how we use clothes either to show how we are feeling, to show our roles in society or to deceive. She used incidents in the Bible to illustrate this and how deceptive they can be. Clothes as signifiers. It was very funny and insightful. She said even when you say you are not interested in clothes, you just throw something on, that too is saying something about how you see clothing. Also, when people disguise themselves in stories, for instance the king dressing as a pauper and going out among his people, it always works! Nobody ever says in those stories ‘you remind me of the king’! Clothes as deception. Great stuff from a great speaker.

The panel discussions was less great. Rabbi Marcus gave a very good opening talk on forgiveness. It set a wonderful tone. Unfortunately, it was not kept up and a great opportunity for an insight into a creative mind was also not realised. I wanted to know what fuels his ideas, how much he reacts to what is around him, how he can change styles/houses from Dior to Maison Margiela, what clothes mean for him, how he decides what to wear,  and things of that nature. However, what has prompted me to write this post was to do with blame, rather than the fashion for which he is known and an expert.

Galliano spoke after the Rabbi. He said that he was an alcoholic and an addict. I think that he thought being an addict would excuse his behaviour. He said that after his on camera outburst he had been forced to withdraw (he was sacked from his job at Dior) and had time to reflect on his crazy work load and life. He had returned to God. I was intrigued by his move to a spiritual life and that he now realised he was not in charge, God was. But I found it a bit disingenuous. I don’t know if he had now decided it was all to do with God, that God was responsible for his choices. I think that may have been at the root of what he was saying. I thought that was very disingenuous, first addiction, now God.

You see, I didn’t hear an apology for being a racist. I heard an acceptance, by him and by the Rabbi, of his having said racist comments . But what really annoyed me was that he blamed the alcohol. Naughty wine. But the wine didn’t have those thoughts. The words didn’t come from the wine into his mouth. They can from his thoughts, his brain, into his mouth. The bottle did not make him believe in faries, or demons or that Jews are to blame. The wine merely reduced the filter, the barrier between what we thinks and what we says. The wine made him less inhibited. He said what he thought. Those thoughts were in him, not in the bottle. He blamed the wine. He needed to blame himself. Until you take responsibility for your own feelings and actions you cannot resolve them, you cannot grow up, you are stuck blaming others.

Many years ago I heard a scientist from Ghana talking about environmental issues. He said in Africa they are still blaming the West and slavery and that until Africa owned its own problems it would never grow up and deal with its issues and problems. I thought this a very brave statement. Of course what the West did was terrible. There is still slavery in Africa and the Africans need to own that. Britain has said sorry (Belgian and Spain haven’t). Terrible things were done. But you cannot live like that. A mere 60 years ago the Holocaust happened and the Germans (and others) were responsible. However, Jews and Israel are living now. They talk with Germany and Germans. They do not assume all Germans are Hitler. They have built new homes and wear new clothes and start new lives and new jobs. They do not say when a business fails or they fail an exam or a relationship breaks up  ‘it is the fault of the Nazis’. That would give Hitler more power than he should ever have. When you fail your exams it is you that failed or caused you to fail. Not the whites, Not the blacks, Not the Jews.

Galliano needs to look a lot deeper into himself to find out where his racist stupid comes from and stop blaming the wine. In vino veritas. He said what he thought. Why does he think so much stupid racist stuff in the first place? Where did he learn that? Surely that is where he should look? He tried to absolve himself of his addiction, it too was also not his fault. I wondered whether he was going to blame the Jews for that too. He tried to blame the press as if reporting something caused it ( a sort of cause-effect reversal in time; interesting physics, but I think not). He tried to blame his work load as if that was your fault. He tried to blame everything, like a child. But he had publicly blamed the Jews, while it was him that was being racist.

No Mr Galliano, you are a great designer, but you need to take the blame for your stupid racist remarks. You need to say sorry. The wine didn’t do it.

The British/English Election and Scotland

I really don’t understand the election that has just occurred in Britain.

We had a coalition government between Conservatives (Tories) and Liberal Democrats (LibDem). Many LibDem voters from the previous election were cross that their party went into a coaliton with the Conservatives to form a government. They felt that being with the Tories compromised their beliefs. So this time around, what did they do to change that? Vote LibDem? Vote Labour? No, they voted Conservative. What???? Most former LibDem seats went over to the Conservatives, the party with which the LibDem members said they did not want to be associated. Go figure.

Then we have the Scots and their nationalistic party. This all started with the Scottish Nationalist party saying they wanted to devolve from Britain. There were only about 4 million people eligible to vote for or against this out of a population in Britain of about 100 million. Of that about 1.5 million voted to devolve to a separate Scotland. So they lost. Come the election all of Scotland (a mere 4 million voters) voted for the Scottish Nationalist party (SNP). What???  Then they think they will get more powers from Westminster. Well, this mere 4 million get 56 seats in Westminster Parliament when there are only about 630 seats for the entire 100,000 million others. Now I know we don’t have proportional representation, for which I am thankful,  but that is a lot of seats for very few people. The rest of us have about 1.5 million voters per seat. They have about 50,000 voters per seat. Not really fair. Even a party called UKIP which got 4 million votes only got 1 seat and the whole of Wales which has about 3 million voters, only has a handful of seats,  so why has Scotland got 56 seats? And why did those people who did not want to devolve vote for a nationalistic party? The result is that they have put in the opposite of what SNP says it is, the Tories. Go figure.

By voting SNP they have given the Conservatives an overall majority, which means that if all the other parties got together they still can’t outvote the Tories.  Why would the Conservatives bother with the SNP now? Why would they concede anything? Why would they bother with Scotland, a country with too few people and too many seats except, perhaps, to redraw the election boundaries?

No, I really don’t get it.

I am not Charlie

What terrible events have occurred over the past few days all over the world as well as in Paris. Massacre upon massacre. What end to this killing? If we are all God’s children then the people doing the killing  were killing God.

That is blaspheme.

The Paris shootings have featured a lot in the media. I think these Paris shootings need some unpicking.

Firstly the Charlie Hebdo Shootings.

I do not condone the shootings. I can’t stand the loss of all those people. I thought the final shoot out with the brothers was inevitable and that it was more like a film script, or one of those dumb-ass dvd games, than real life. But real people died and real people had been killed. I think the brothers and many like them have been groomed in a way similar to the way that paedophile rings work. So, amazingly and perhaps because I am an adult, a grown up,  I felt sorry for them. Their lives sound like a car crash. That made them vulnerable to dodgy men with fascistic ideas. BUT, and the is a large BUT, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were insulting and racist.

I do not think the French are renowned for their sense of humour.. They may use satire, which is only a little up the humour scale from sarcasm, which is itself next to bitchiness.

I am pleased that countries such as Egypt have developed satirical magazines even though I personally loathe most satire. I find it not only offensive and in the UK  lavatorial, but childish. But if Egypt or France or Algeria have them and poke fun at their politicians that is fine. That is their right. It shows a mature, grown up politic that can stand being the butt of a joke.

If an Irish person tells an Irish joke that is ok. If a Nigerian tells a Nigerian joke that is ok. If a Muslim tells a Muslim joke that is ok. But if a French person tells a Muslim joke that is not ok. That crosses a line. So you can tell jokes against your own culture or race, but not against others. You can poke fun at nations, other nations then your own, but you need to be careful not to poke fun at ethnicities and cultures. The world has changed. It is not centred at Eton or Harrow. White Western Christian Males do not get to say what is and is not ok anymore. Time to grow up and get a perspective.

As to the butt of this particular joke, I think that there is oversensitivity here, but I understand it. However, I think that Muslims need to realise that a prophet is a man, not a God. There is only one God and that is not Mohammed. As Mohammed is not God, he cannot be blasphemed. I think that needs to be realised.

But it is insulting to make derogatory remarks about him by people of another culture. I think that the insult is felt even more keenly because the joke may not have been targeted only at the prophet, but also at his followers, what used to be called the Mohammedans and is now called Islam. If a Muslim made a rude cartoon about Christ I imagine there would be a huge outcry. I hope Christians would not be stupid enough to kill people over it, but some might and I think many people would feel insulted. The ‘Life of Brian’ film made by the Pythons was made by while Western Christian men. They got a lot of stick for it. Imagine if it had been made by Muslims.

I agree with Freedom of Speech, but what comes out of your mouths has an effect on people. You cannot shirk all responsibility for what you say. Of course we all need to temper the effect things have on us, how we feel about what people say. But we also need to edit what we say. Some things are insulting, hurtful or rude. All of these things you should try to avoid doing. Sometimes we are clumsy in what we say, But this was intentionally insulting people and Charlie Hebdo has to take some responsibility for being crass, insulting and rude.

I should add that recently we have had people making vile random remarks online at people- cyber bullying trolls. They have been prosecuted.

So while I completely condemn the Hebdo shootings I think the cartoonists should not make insulting cartoons about other people’s cultures.

Secondly The Kosher/Cacher Supermarket shootings.

I vividly remember after 9/11 many Muslim people saying that we should not blame all Muslims for the Twin Towers. So what was the Kosher supermarket? Are all Jews to blame? Not again this stupid. Surely it is somebody else’s turn? How about Fiji? I don’t know why Fiji, a random choice, but then racism is random and stupid.  I apologise to any Fijians out there who I hope have a sense of humour and get the point, but surely it is someone else’s turn?

The shootings at the supermarket were racist. Deeply, deeply racist. No excuse. Just racist. Stupid and racist. Got it? They were racist. The gunman was racist. Racism is stupid so the gunman was stupid. Fascist and stupid. Racist. Please do not dress it up as anything else. Please do not hide it in French rights or Palestinian rights or Fijian rights. It is Fascist, Racist Crap. End of.

And for any Muslim out there reading this:

If God chose the Israelites ( the same God, by the way, as the God that Mohammad proclaims) who are you to say He chose wrong? That is blaspheme.