Friday, 20 October 2017

Prejudice - The Challenge

I am prejudiced, but aren’t we all, to a greater or lesser degree?
What a person thinks or believes on any matter, is not important to others, if their views or beliefs have not been expressed. What matters is that, in all things, in all ways and at all times, we strive to be equitable, always equally open and accepting of anyone and everyone, without distinction.
A question often asked of Christians, is whether or not they think homosexuality is sin. If I were to be asked such a question, should my answer not be along the following lines?: ‘With respect, what is more important to you, is not what I think or believe in relation to this question, but what you think or believe.’ To say otherwise is to be judgmental or partial – for me, that would be sin! For me, the same should be the answer for any question on a moral or social issue, other than for matters where there is almost universal agreement across the whole spectrum of humanity e.g. basic human rights:
1.               The right to liberty and freedom
2.                The right to the pursuit of happiness
3.               The right to live your life free of discrimination
4.               The right to control what happens to your own body and to make medical decisions for yourself.
The relevance of what a person believes when they ask themselves, whether or not they think homosexuality is sin, depends on whether what the Bible says is relevant to them, or not. If it is, then I believe THEIR conscience will give them THEIR answer. Even then, I cannot speculate or postulate on what THEIR answer could (certainly not, should) be! I can only answer that question for myself. Instead, I hope to be confident enough to ask, if what people think I believe, has ever adversely affected my attitude to anyone. I hope and pray it has not, for my desire is for unconditional acceptance of others rather than rejection, unity rather than division, peace rather than conflict, friendship rather than enmity, harmony rather than discord.
Is it being flippant to use the following illustration? I have an intense dislike (some may think akin to hatred) of beetroot. I am very happily married to someone who loves it! I cannot understand how anyone can like it BUT I am always happy to share my meals with anyone and everyone who does. I cannot think it will ever come to it, but I would be willing if necessary, to fight for the right of anyone to eat beetroot?

Gosh, I find that a challenging parable! Am I doing all I can for the right of everyone to enjoy liberty and freedom, the right to pursue happiness, the right to live life free of discrimination, the right to control what happens to their own body, and to make medical decisions for themselves? Am I doing enough to fight the injustice, the misfortunes and the inequality that blights our communities, our nation, let alone the rest of the world?

Look where you're going!



Living life without real purpose is like a novice sailing an ocean-going yacht without a rudder!
With no clearly defined purpose for our lives, our course and the progress we make, will be determined by the vagaries of circumstances or chance.
Far worst, we could find ourselves at the behest of another.
Real purpose in life is much more than career aspirations.
It exceeds ambitions for sporting, leisure, social or cultural achievement.
It is nobler than our hopes for an ideal relationship, a perfect family or a comfortable place to call home.
It is certainly more than a desire for the acquisition of wealth, or the so-called luxuries of life.
Neither is it the need for fame, nor the drive to be deserving of recognition.
Our purpose in life, our mission, is to decide (for ourselves), why we are alive, what we are living for.
It will be intrinsic, a deep-rooted desire to find contentment, fulfilment, meaning and satisfaction.
In this respect, selfish ambition is the most destructive of forces, which can never be satiated.
It drains the soul, creating an emptiness, a void of satisfaction, which can never be filled.
All we will be left with at the end of life, will be an abundance of regrets.
To discover our purpose for life, we first need to identify our core values.
In this way, we can ensure the purpose we decide on, is in line with what we believe is important about the way we live our lives.
If we settle for a purpose that is not aligned with our core values, it will create ambivalence and inner conflict.
Thus our determination to make the most of our lives, to maximise our potential for anything truly worthwhile, will be impoverished.
It is never too early or too late for us to decide what we are living for. What matters is that when we leave this life, we are content to know we have accomplished our purpose!

Socially Unacceptable

NOT WANTED

Having reached the great age I am, I realise more and more, I have so much to be thankful for. I am blessed by a super wife, who has put up with me for over forty years, plus five children and thirteen grandchildren, brothers and sisters and their families, as well as cousins (not to mention many wonderful people I can count as friends), all of whom accept me - warts and all!

Thinking about being accepted, being valued, being wanted, brought to mind a poem I wrote a number of years ago, about someone who I was able to help through Matthew Project (visit http://www.matthewproject.org  to learn more about the wonderful work this charity does and which I was so privileged to have been a part of for over twenty years).

It also made me think about the work of Care for Children who have helped thousands of orphaned and abandoned children in China, find acceptance in foster families, in China and other countries in the Orient (once again let me encourage you to visit http://www.careforchildren.com to learn more about what Rob Glover and his team have achieved over the past ten years or so). Incidentally, both the Matthew Project and Care for Children websites are the work of Raise Your Profile!

Anyway, back to the poem. Steve, the subject of the poem, was a young man who I met many times, when he came to see me at Matthew Project. I also met him, on some of the occasions I went into our local prison, to hold discussion groups in the Young Offenders Wing, where he sometimes resided! Steve had many problems, including drugs but he and I became real friends. I was truly saddened, when I learned that he had been found dead on the street in Norwich, early one morning. He died of a stab wound but it was never discovered ‘by whose hand he died’. However, for me, it was a tragedy but sadly there were few others who shed a tear.

His story inspired this poem, as I thought about the tragic lives so many live because basically, they are not wanted – dead or alive.

Not Wanted Dead Or Alive

Conceived without love, 
The offspring of lust.
A foetus of rejection, 
Carried in a reluctant womb. 
Emotionally aborted - I developed.

Brought forth with bitterness, 
Disowned and discounted. 
Expelled disinherited, 
Unwanted, unnoticed. 
Bastardised and bloody - I was born.

Fed with reluctance, 
On milk of indifference. 
Nurtured on nothingness, 
Deprived of affection, starved of attention. 
Weaned with neglect - I grew.

Cuddled for abuse, 
Played with and perverted. 
Fondled by depravity 
And embraced to defile. 
Terrified and toyed with - I was loved.

Drilled in dishonesty, 
Coached to resent. 
Schooled in disgrace, 
Whilst mastering deceit. 
Uncouth and illiterate - I was taught.

Confused, bruised and brutalised, 
Ripe for corruption.
Brazen, defiant, 
Inviting disdain. 
Contemptuous, rebellious - I matured.

Suddenly - desperate in loneliness, 
Crying out, dropping out,
Lost in the crowd. 
Drunken and drugged. 
Finally forgotten - I died.



©  Peter Farley

Written the morning of the day I died?



When I woke this morning, did I know today was special;
Did I realise this was the day I died?

When I reached the end of my days, were there words I should have said – words of comfort, of encouragement or praise; words of love, of grace or forgiveness?

When I reached the end of my days, were there deeds I should have done – deeds of kindness, of compassion or understanding; deeds of generosity, of unselfishness or service?

When I reached the end of my days, were there thoughts I should have considered – thoughts of goodness, of purity or humility; thoughts of gentleness, of patience or integrity?

They say, you can take nothing from this world but they are wrong – you can take regrets! As I walked out of this world into eternity, was I carrying a burden of what-might-have-beens? Was I weighed down with the remorse of unspoken words, undone deeds and stillborn thoughts?

But I didn’t know today was special.
I didn’t realise today was the day I died.

But then I didn’t need to know, I didn’t need to realise. All I needed to do, was pause at the start of the day and ask myself, what words could I say today – words of comfort, of encouragement or praise; words of love, of grace or forgiveness?

What deeds could I do today – deeds of kindness, of compassion or understanding; deeds of generosity, of unselfishness or service?

What thoughts should fill my mind today – thoughts of goodness, of purity or humility; thoughts of gentleness, of patience or integrity?

What a difference that would make, to my last day in this world.
I could have walked without regret into the life to come.
Unburdened, I could have run down the hill into eternity,
Rejoicing that in the darkness of the day of my death, I had given birth to words of comfort, of encouragement or praise; of love, of grace or forgiveness; deeds of kindness, of compassion or understanding; of generosity, of unselfishness or service; thoughts of goodness, of purity or humility; of gentleness, of patience or integrity – which brightened the day of those I met, on the last day of my life.

These words, these deeds, these thoughts, were my last gifts - to all those I loved, to all those I knew. Did my gifts bring them joy, consolation, contentment, pleasure or peace?
If so, I have no regrets, for living the way I did - on the day I died!



© Peter Farley 

Personal Morality

Personal Morality

Writing my first novel, Pandora’s Potential, was extremely cathartic. It gave me the opportunity to look at my past and particularly enabled me to explore, as I have many times before, the territory of my personal morality. Like the United Kingdom, in one’s Personal Morality, there are an amazing range of landscapes, so many contrasting areas. There are parts which are densely determined by people, past and present, where the underlying terrain is mostly hidden. Similarly, there are less populated places, where it’s easier to discern the nature of the countryside. Then, there are the wilderness areas, huge tracts of land where there are few if any signs of human habitation. Here, everything is determined by what nature has carved and moulded.

Some years ago, a survey revealed that when people went out by car into the countryside, the vast majority went no further than 100 yards from their car. Of the remainder, only a very small percentage went further than half a mile from their car. The overall picture is probably much the same today. Granted, there has been welcome rise in outdoor pursuits and mountain bikes (plus, perhaps more sadly, 4x4s), which have made the wilder parts more popular and accessible. So, the numbers of those venturing into unknown parts may well have increased but it still remains true that only a very small percentage of people strike out onto lesser travelled paths.

It could be argued that what happens in the physical world is in some ways mirrored in the moral realm. The majority never wander far from the metalled road, let only the beaten track. It is only the morally intrepid few who take the road less travelled. This minority will usually be the more divergent and non-conformist, who are willing to challenge the status quo and ask ‘why?’. Our education system doesn’t generally encourage its participants to ask questions. Education is after all, one of the means by which society inculcates its citizens and thereby makes them easier to control. This makes it less likely for the conformist to venture out into the wide open spaces and discover and enjoy new vistas, new ways of seeing and understanding the ethereal world — which lie within the reach of everyone.

In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, one of the characters says: All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts … In the prologue of Pandora’s Potential, the main characters, Idris and Emrys discuss this and Emrys comments: I have long been a student of human behaviour. To take the theatrical analogy a step further, what that study has shown me, is that most only know their role in part. It’s as though they understand the way they have to act but they don’t know why. They’ve read their part but have no idea of the plot, therefore they perform in a vacuum. Intuitively, you sense there’s more to life than just going through the motions but how few of your fellow players question things to this extent. The majority seem content to philosophically or spiritually piggy back on those they perceive to have the time, the intellect, the incentive or the interest, to think things through for themselves.

The most important lessons in life have to be learned rather than taught!

For me, traditionally, moral, ethical and spiritually matters have received far less attention than they ought to have, in schools. Although Religious Education or Religious Education held a privileged place on the curriculum, in days gone by, this was usually to teach children about Christianity. Nowadays, the syllabus better reflects our multi-faith, multicultural society. There has also been a welcome increase in teaching ethics and philosophy (including ‘British Values’). How much though, is this input geared to students passing exams, by discussing issues, using the views of recognised ethical and philosophical experts — rather than helping young people to form their own views and opinions?

Using the analogy of Personal Morality, as a land to be explored, is such an approach rather like giving someone a ‘Rough Guide to Personal Morality’ or the ‘Lonely Planet’ equivalent? Whilst a travel guide can be helpful in preparing to visit an area, it is no substitute for visiting the area and discovering things for oneself. Maybe this is what Emrys was referring to, when he talked about people who philosophically or spiritually piggy back on those they perceive to have the time, the intellect, the incentive or the interest, to think things through for themselves.

In Pandora’s Pontential, Idris sees What will IT be?, the software program he is given by Emrys, as a potential means of helping young (and not so young) people to work through moral and ethical situations. Are there ways that we could use technology to develop such tools? Are we as a society willing to allow people to really think for themselves? Perhaps Katniss in the Hunger Games and Tris in Divergent are the prophetic forerunners of a generation of young people who are willing to go with their instincts and discover the delights that an exploration of Personal Morality holds. Is there a place for books and films such the Hunger Games and the Divergent Trilogies to be used to start young people exploring for themselves?


If you would like to respond to anything I have written, please feel free to send it to me at peter@peterjfarley.org

Redeeming the Time, Counting the Days

Redeeming the Time, Counting the Days

The infant: Oblivious, ignorant of the years, let alone the days. No thought or concept of time.

The child: Simply enjoying the countless days of childhood – happy days, sad days, sometimes even bad days. Years marked by birthdays but having no awareness of the impact or import of days being passed. No time, or reason, to pause and notice their passing.

The adolescent: Counting the weeks, then days to birthdays, school holidays. Perhaps totting up the weeks of romantic relationship, days to exam results, hours to the end of the school day, minutes till the bell goes. Maybe pinning, penning the days to a diary, preserving them - for when, if ever? Never conscious though of days wasted – there’s plenty more to come! What matter if an hour, a day is fritted away, there are so many - just waiting for tomorrow, to take their place.

The adult: Allotting years to study, months to a project, days to an assignment, hours to a task. Clocking in, signing in and up for Time. Time: an entity to procrastinate over, prolong, anticipate, calculate, waste, discount, estimate, predict, postpone, delay, stretch out, forecast, vacillate, hazard, gamble with, crumple up and throw away, try to recoup, make up for.

The parent: Counting the months then weeks of pregnancy, wishing away the hours of confinement or the pangs of childbirth moments. Treasuring that first moment of taking your child into your arms, followed by concerns of the days, the months, the years, the lifetime that lie ahead of them - as they lie asleep, unconcerned and unaware, as you watch over them. In the coming days, you record and rejoice over key moments, delight in their happiness, celebrate their achievements, mourn their sorrow and pain – and wonder. What are they thinking? What are they aware of? Do they know the clock is ticking?

The middle-aged: Time begins to fly. Where’s the day gone? That’s an hour wasted! It’s taken me longer than it should have. The realisation that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die. The knowledge that: there is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

The senior citizen: A counting of days; regretting times; recalling events; resuscitating memories; revisiting days;, recapturing moments, dwelling on them, futilely trying to relive them. There is time to do this, all the time in the world for the time being, this moment, this instance. Questioning whether this time year next year, there will be the possibility to ponder, to appreciate. Next Spring, will there be the chance to ask: What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? Or, no time to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep or cows? A calling to mind of chances not taken, opportunities missed, possibilities carelessly disregarded, occasions lost - stillborn.
The departed: In your passing, others recount your days (and your ways), making mention of some they valued, maybe regretted, felt sad for. Years of dedication and commitment acknowledged, even venerated, honoured, esteemed, respected, valued, prized and praised. But then – days die, the weeks and months are forgotten, till eventually, even the years, lapse into oblivion.

Is there though a place beyond, outside of time, where deceased lives, years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and even seconds can be revived to live again? Is there some vast repository, where every moment, every action, every thought is eternally stored? Only time will tell!

© Peter J Farley – October 2017


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Would be



The other day, my wife Margaret and I, together with our good friend, Rachel, were trying to come up with catchy name for a website we want to develop. We weren't having much success, so we tried to hone  what we were looking for. We decided we needed something pithy- so ‘Pithy’ came into being.
Our decision was confirmed when we looked up the dictionary definition. I'd always thought 'pithy' just meant trivial, or something quite small but in fact, by definition, it's a more powerful word. Pithy: adj. brief, to the point, forceful, meaningful, full of vigour, succinct, concise, laconic, terse, compact, trenchant, sententious, expressive, cogent, finely honed, epigrammatic.
When I started up my blogspot a few days ago, I gave it the title: Pithy Pete because I wanted my blog to be ‘pithy’. Actually I’ve now decided that Pithy Pete is a misnomer. Why? I am by nature verbose. I could never be a man of few words - concise. If something can be said in five words, I will wax lyrical and use twenty. In that sense, Tweeting is proving a useful discipline, forcing me to be concise and reduce what I want to say to attract attention to 140 characters. Blogging on the other hand, gives me the space I need to express myself. I do however want what I write to make the biggest possible impact.
So, today, I decided I needed to make a change so that my blogspot name more accurately describes the content. Therefore, from now on (until further notice), I have decided to call it 'Would-be Pithy Peter'.

I haven’t finished quite yet! This got me thinking. What’s more important, who or what I’ve been, who or what I am OR who or what I would be? I regret knowing I’ve not been the person I should have been and I regret knowing I’m not the person I ought to be. But I don’t regret being the person I would be AND I’m really glad there’s Someone who accepts me as I am because of who I would be and because of who He is.