National Poetry Day 2017 – On Freedom

‘Tongue-in-cheek’ poem inspired by the Poetry Day theme and my frustration with the extremist behaviour of the political far right and left.

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Free-Fighting

Nothing raises Progressive hackles

More than those in moral shackles

Making the choice to remain bereft

Of lessons in what’s right – that’s left.

Constitutionally, speech is free,

That’s if with eye to eye you see,

And even free-thinkers agree

With their ideal of democracy.

Be civil; move forth in peace and love,

Hawks in the feathers of a dove.

Cover heads, mouths, leave holes for an eye

For an eye. Be-masked, smile or die.

And fake it until you make it.

Make up news if the truth does not fit

Your own, when the narrative harms

The Cause: ‘Come into, take up our arms.’

Speak up, shout out so all will hear

This message of love haters fear.

In their faces bring them to their knees,

Drown the crackle of scorched olive trees.

The swamp will ever fail to drain

When many crocodile tears sustain

The rich rot, and gas, smoke and fire

Will keep them flowing into the mire.

Good news – if you go too far either way,

No Free World edges to fall over today;

You may go round in circles, imprisoned

In the orbit of your hard-rocky vision.

 

©PamelaTurton 2017

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How Good is Your Country?

 

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How Good is your country in the eyes of the world?

I want to live in a ‘Good’ country? Do you? While Ireland tops the list, fortunately Britain makes the top ten with a creditable 7th place on Simon Anholt’s ‘Good Country Index’. Here’s the Ted talk with his amusing and fascinating explanation of how and why he compiled it.

https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_anholt_which_country_does_the_most_good_for_the_world#

The full index:  http://www.goodcountry.org/category/prosperity-equality

For me, once I understood more of the criteria, this was a timely and encouraging development. The concept of the goodness of a country, measured in terms of not how it treats its own people, but how it is perceived by the rest of the world, provides a benchmark of progress in an era of globalisation. As Anholt points out, the speed and quantity of information that now reaches us from all around the world can be overwhelming and contribute to a feeling of helplessness in the face of the challenges it presents us with. These are the emotions I have struggled with this week, in trying to make sense of the Israeli actions in Gaza, in the devastating losses of life in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and elsewhere, and the responses of a world, that can seem to be going crazy, to the events.

With his Good Country Index, Anholt poses a solution; in changing our attitudes to other countries, by becoming more ‘telescopic and outward-looking rather’ than ‘microscopic’ and ‘inward-looking’ in our view of the world, he suggests we can find more creative and effective ways, by cooperation and mutual contribution, of dealing with our problems.

Why should we?

Countries, like people, like to be seen as good. The pay-off, Anholt says, is that countries with good reputations enjoy better economies as foreigners trust them more, want to visit and buy from them. He points out that apart from New Zealand, the ‘top ten’ countries are the wealthier Western European countries, although he says he is heartened by Kenya making the top twenty.  It is not about being a ‘Rich’ country or even a ‘Happy’ one; the measure is not in the moral sense of ‘good’; it is good in the sense of unselfish, how much a country cares and contributes to the rest of the world.

Good country quotes:

“This is my country, that is your country; these are the conceptions of narrow souls – to the liberal minded the whole world is a family.” ~ Virchand Gandhi

“To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.”  ~ Edmund Burke,  Reflections on the Revolution in France

“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” ~ Confucius

“The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones.”  ~ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

How can we use the Good Country Index to make things better for everyone?

Ask yourself these questions about your own country then apply them to your politicians and leaders, recommends Anholt:

“Is that the sort of country I want to come from?”

“Am I proud to come from this country? Can I hold my head up in the world?”

“Do I want my Government doing what it’s doing in my name?

As Mahatma Gandhi said,

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

And Nelson Mandela, whose birthday is celebrated today:

“There is still too much discord, hatred, division, conflict and violence in our world here at the beginning of the 21st century. A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of. … It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build. …” 

Happy International Mandela Day!