On My Soapbox

With countries taking polarized stances and tension escalating around the world I don’t think that any news outlet can be trusted to provide the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Now you might think that this is self-evident but have you done anything about it?  I would suggest reading news from more than one country to get some sort of balance.  It’s not particularly easy, given the language barriers, but there are quite a few news outlets that have output that is not in their native language. I’m thinking in particular of the Russian RT News outlet which I have found to be a great balance against Western media.  They often give prominent attention to events that the Western media have tried to downplay or ignore.  They also, obviously, have quite a different perspective on events in Syria, and so on.

If we don’t allow our media to stir us up into hatred then we are closer to finding solutions to world peace.  What do you think?  Do you have any links to non-western news outlets that you can share in the Comments section?


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Thank You Card

I try to do considerate things like giving people heading for the ticket machine my car park ticket if it has plenty of time left on it, buying the Big Issue, donating to charity shops, letting people in a rush go ahead of me in a queue, that kind of thing.  All of those things though have one thing in common.  The people on the receiving end can see me, and they usually thank me with a smile, and that makes me feel good.  My acts of kindness are thus not entirely altruistic – I get pleasure from cheering someone up plus my ego gets a bit of a stroke.  Next month’s topic on the Artists4Peace Blog is “Random Acts of Art and Kindness“.  When I saw this I decided to do something different.  I wrote an anonymous thank you card to someone whom I had only spent a few minutes with.  This is what I wrote:
Peacock decorative vase Louis Comfort Tiffany

When dealing with officialdom it is refreshing to come across a worker like yourself: someone pleasant and helpful who does what they say they will promptly and carefully.  You brightened my day so I wanted to brighten yours.  I hope this works.

Best wishes from a satisfied “customer”.

I wrote it on a nice card which had a picture of a stained glass panel by Tiffany.  (I’ve been a Tiffany fan ever since I saw the collection in the Haworth Art Gallery, U.K. as a child.  I went back a few years ago with my mother and daughter, and we had a lovely time.)  Now that it’s been a while since I sent it, I find that I’m worried about it.  Did she like it or did she think it was creepy?  I have no idea.  I can’t look in her eyes and know that I made a difference.  I’m not sorry I did it but I’ve found it to be a whole different experience from usual.  I expected that I wouldn’t feel so good but I didn’t expect to be worried.

Maybe my ego wants me to publish this for some more ego-stroking so please don’t say anything nice!  Feel free NOT to comment on this one!  I’m posting it a) because I found it interesting and b) because I want to make sure I have something to submit to the Artists4Peace blog (my muse is sleeping at the moment).  🙂


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Chain of Violence

I don’t often write political pieces (or comment on them) because I’m painfully aware of my ignorance in this arena.  However, this month on “Artists For Peace” the topic is “Against Violence” and I felt compelled to write.

I keep reading blog posts about how we should fight against injustice and violence, etc.  They seem to think that “turning the other cheek” is about ignoring the problem or about cowardice.  However, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing braver than to meet violence with nonviolent resistance.  You cannot fight fire with fire.  That just leads to escalation, and builds up more hatred, resentment and desire for revenge: a chain of violence.  There is nothing braver than to risk it all to stand up for your belief in peace; fight with the flames of your heart.  I can’t say whether I would be brave enough to do it myself because I haven’t been tested.  Maybe I would be brave enough if my children were fully grown and independent, I don’t know.


You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

Indira Gandhi

I know that if a nation were to give up its arms in today’s world it would be a suicidal and irresponsible thing to do.  If you live surrounded by people who bear arms then to practice non-violence is very risky.  However, I still believe that the right to not bear arms is something that we should work towards for nations and for individuals.


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Valerie’s Autograph


Valerie Hughes was my best friend when I was 10.  We weren’t able to be friends for very long but I never really found a better childhood friend.  I hope by some miracle that she sees this post and remembers me.  Here is what she put in my autograph book:


We were both mad about horses.  I still love them, I wonder if she does too.  Valerie’s family was in a circus and they had to move around a lot.  When Valerie left we wrote to each other a lot.  She sent me drawings, handmade puzzles, and all sorts of little gifts.  I can’t remember what I sent her.  I hope I was as nice to her as she was to me.  When Valerie knew me, everybody called me Sally, not Sarah.  They still do when I go back home. Here is a typical letter:


“mister Endresby [sic]” was our teacher in the final year of primary school.  Everybody was scared of him but, with hindsight, he was the best teacher I ever had.  Here is a photo which shows a portrait (near the centre of the photo) that Valerie drew of him:


Not very flattering!  His nickname was Bugsby, I can’t remember why.  You can also see some of the puzzles and games that she made for me.  I love the fact that she knew me so well that she created puzzles that I wanted to do – you can see the coloured pencil marks where I completed them.  Here are some photos of the little numbered circus caravans that she made for me:

circus numbers  circus caravansAnd here is Valerie’s self-portrait of her doing one of her circus tricks:

circuspicShe tried to teach me how to do the tricks but I wasn’t really bendy enough. 🙂


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