Before I Go Any Further…


I need your help. I’m at a crossroads in this blog already and would welcome your opinion and/or advice. 
My main problem with my blog is that I cannot decide what form its content should take. I write about things that I care about and that can lead me into the political, the spiritual,  humour and personal and so on.  Quite a mix. 

Should I create separate blogs for each topic? 

For example, originally I intended this blog to be inspirational but it hasn’t worked out that way.  So should I restrict this blog to, for example, inspiration, the interesting, wisdom, health ( mental and physical ), education, humour and the like and create another blog that deals with my politics and world affairs?
I’m not even sure if I should even delve into the personal, either.  And furthermore I don’t even know if:

  1. I’m actually doing anyone any good.
  2. I’m any good as a writer.

To cap it all I made a mistake in setting up the blog – it was originally meant to be “unconsciousperception” ( singular ), but at the same time I created the equivalent web page as “unconsciousperceptions.wordpress.com” ( plural ) and this mistake continually annoys the heck out of me.

So if you feel that you could impart advice and/or opinion, I should be very grateful.

Derek

PS: The photo ain’t me – it came care of metsmerizedonline.com lol

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Thank you.

Writing a blog is not easy. Some may think it is but personally, for me it’s not. I have humungous mental and emotional problems to overcome before I can even put my virtual pen to virtual paper.

One of the things that make life difficult is my memory. Or rather, lack of it. My memory is disfunctional. In practice this means that I don’t remember to read what you, my fellow bloggers have written. I even have difficulty remembering to read emails and texts, for crying out loud!

And this is a BIG loss because for the most part those of you who write, I believe, do so from the heart. And if it is from the heart then whatever you write will generally benefit me by edifying, encouraging and lifting my spirits.

But my loss is all the greater because, understandably, you probably assume that I am not interested in what you have to say.

And then of course, it is perfectly natural and understandable to not return the compliment: “if that person isn’t interested in my blog then I’m not gonna read his…”

But nothing could be farther from the truth.

I am constantly trying to devise ways to overcome this problem because forgetting to read truly is my loss and that loss is great.

So I want to encourage you all:
I want to say THANK YOU to you all for taking the time to write your blogs.

You might never really know the good that your writings do but rest assured they do matter.

Because, every blog that you write is a little bit of you.

Thank you.

Déjà Vu?

Today, as once again we witness ordinary people in London bear the brunt of yet another terrorist atrocity, there begins to emerge a growing feeling of Déjà Vu.

Like some fantastic story, it goes something like this…

  • Somewhere in Britain is a Group making plans for a terrorist attack. They know already from the reaction of the media, that attacks in Britain, as in France or the United States and such like, produces an inordinate amount of publicity for their cause. The media puts them on the map.
  • MI5 has been aware of this group for some time – in fact they have ‘moles’ or informants feeding them a regular stream of ‘intelligence.’
  • The police on the ground are also somewhat aware of the group, but orders have been handed down to “just keep an eye on them.”
  • Low priority.
  • Meanwhile, the Group, aware that they are being monitored, isn’t particularly worried: their plans are now in effect; targets have been chosen to gain maximum media coverage; volunteers have been vetted.
  • Some Group members are delegated to buy the components and ingredients that will ultimately go to make up a bomb, or “IED” in modern parlance.
  • Others are sent out to ‘scope’ or reconnoitre their potential targets.
  • They report in. The plans are advancing as per expectations.
  • Meanwhile over at the UK security services it’s business as usual. Police are busy with the daily mundane. Routine. MI5 are getting inundated with a welter of daily information, reports, suspicions – so much that they fail to effectively sift out that valuable scrap of information that would bust wide open the terror plot.
  • Things are quiet. GCHQ are listening for that all important cost-effective radio “chatter:” a giveaway that an attack may be imminent. It’s a shortcut.  Like their colleagues over at Spy Central, they have become somewhat ambivalent about terrorism. It’s a job. It’s routine. It’s not James Bond and it’s not all their fault – even so they struggle to succeed despite successive British governments (going back to beyond Thatcher) steadily and effectively reducing their budgets until they could no longer afford to employ enough  ‘assets’ on the ground. They depend upon technology instead, complete with bells and whistles.
  • And they’re not very big bells and whistles either – just the best that they could get with an already-reducing budget.
  • But even so maybe they get lucky – perhaps one clever analyst has uncovers the plot – time; date, even the location.
  • Word is sent up the chain-of-command. ALERT THE POLICE… ALERT THE SAS… ALERT THE AMERICANS… TELL THE WORLD!
  • Word comes back down: no action. Maybe the analyst stares in disbelief – a sickness taking hold as fear grows inside him. He feels like crying.
  • Unknown to the analyst though, are “valuable” assets placed within the terrorist network and they must be protected.
  • At all costs.
  • But… what’s this… the Government has reduced the threat level! Hooray – we can all relax. Manchester Arena is already a distant memory ( except for those directly affected, of course. ) Let’s roll out the barrel!! Have a holiday!! Party on…!! We’ve no worries – no-one’s going to spoil our fun – the Government says so. It’s looking out for us. We’re safe!
  • Aren’t we?
  • The terrorists deploy. Backpacks are on; wires going down inside the coat sleeve to the trigger mechanism in the hand. So simple. So deadly. So selfish: thinking of the glory that will supposedly await them upon their sacrifice.  All those virgins….
  • And today is a holiday. Which means crowds… Civilians… Children… Tourists… Americans…
  • The subway platform is packed.
  • The train arrives. The bomber steps aboard. 
  • The train moves off. Into the tunnel.
  • “Allah Akbar!!” The rest is history.
  • Well-drilled emergency services are filmed as they bravely move into action: firefighters; ambulance; doctors; nurses; police…
  • Victims are efficiently rescued: it’s been done so often now that it’s become routine. 
  • Media sees everything. Pictures and video flash around the world. It’s on Twitter! It’s on YouTube!!!
  • It’s yet more entertainment.
  • Yawn!!
  • But wait… an announcement is about to be made… all eyes are on Downing street. We’re going to hear a story and the storyteller is none other than the Right Honourable Theresa May!
  • “Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…”
  • Hold on though… we’ve heard that same story before, right after the previous attack.
  • And the one before that…
  • And the one before that…
  • And…

Merlin Rees, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland during The Troubles, once told it’s people that “although violence was not eradicated, losses were kept at an “acceptable” level.

An “acceptable level of violence.”

Predictably and rightly there was uproar at his remarks. And yet, as far as the British Government was concerned, he was being totally pragmatic.

A Government politician speaking the truth! Imagine.

And when the present incumbent of 10 Downing Street, Mrs Theresa May, begins her ( wholly predictable ) address with “enough is enough” does it not strike you that what she is really saying is that all the terrorist attacks ( on mainland Britain and in particular London ) so far have been part of that “acceptable level of violence” mantra and the killers have reached their quota, beyond which is now unacceptable.

Makes you wonder…

The Choice.

In the first of a series of articles on the Manchester Arena bombing of 22nd May 2017 we consider the implications of the motives behind the atrocity.

A couple of days ago, my son returned from a trip to Manchester. He and his mates had travelled from Northern Ireland to see the famous Manchester United football team play Crystal Palace.
The Red Devils beat The Eagles by two goals to nil.

My son and his friends had ‘a whale of a time’ as we say, and when he came home I truly felt a sense of relief. You see, while he was away it had occurred to me that a high profile football match like the one my son attended, with thousands of innocent fans densely-packed into the Old Trafford stadium, would be a perfect target for this new breed of vicious terrorist – and such an attack would reverberate around the globe giving publicity to the cause and bringing succour and encouragement to the many thousands of evil people that hate the United Kingdom and its citizens.

We could not stand to lose yet another child.

It was a fleeting thought, but it was one that left me cold.

We in Northern Ireland are no strangers to terrorism. For 32 years, the Irish Republican Army in its various forms brought terror to the streets and people of Northern Ireland.

Throughout The Troubles, literally thousands of bombs were exploded devastating families and property alike – the result of these heinous and cowardly actions reverberating to this day.

But The Troubles weren’t the sole preserve of Northern Ireland. Any place that the Republican movement identified British presence became a “legitimate target.”

And so it was that on a hot, sunny Saturday morning in 1996, with crowds of shoppers going about their normal Saturday business, a large white and red Ford Cargo lorry moved innocuously along Manchester City Centre’s Corporation Street in and came to a stop outside a Marks & Spencer store.

It was 9.20: 1 hour 57 minutes remaining.

After setting the hazard indicators flashing, two men wearing hooded jackets, baseball caps and sunglasses stepped out of the vehicle and walked away.

In due course, the lorry attracted the attention of a traffic warden who promptly issued a fixed penalty notice for parking on double-yellow lines and placed the parking ticket on the lorry windscreen.

It was now 9.23.

Then at 9.38, a man with an Irish accent began making telephone calls to several organisations which included a TV studio, a hospital and the Garda ( police ) headquarters in Dublin alerting them all to the presence of the truck and giving the precise location of its deadly cargo .

Then began one of the most remarkable operations ever undertaken by security forces – the evacuation of over 80,000 shoppers from a city centre on a busy shopping day. It is recorded that many, upon hearing of the ‘bomb scare’ were reluctant to leave the area, such was their hardiness, but by 11.10 the place was completely deserted; apart, that is, from a little tracked robot which trundled its way slowly towards the truck.

At 11.16 the bomb disposal robot remotely carried out a controlled explosion in an effort to defuse the device.

At 11.17 precisely 3,500lbs ( 1600kg ) of home-made explosive detonated in the truck, obliterating the robot and causing £1.2b ( $1.56b ) in today’s money, of damage to Manchester City Centre.

Remarkably there were no direct deaths. There were injuries, mainly from flying glass and debris, but no-one was killed on that day.

This morning I sat and considered this. 

What if that attack had been in the control of today’s Muslim extremists, I wondered, instead of Irish terrorists? Two things I felt were certain: there would have been NO warning and there would have been mass slaughter, perhaps as great as or exceeding that of 11th September 2001.

Of course in its time the IRA did carry out some of the most appalling atrocities ( LaMon, Abercorn, Bloody Friday, Hyde Park, Canary Wharf… ). And yet on June 15th, 1996 they phoned in a warning to several organisations that allowed the mass evacuation and which prevented mass slaughter. Their target was economic – the heart of Manchester city centre ; the shops and businesses.

Not human beings. It is an important distinction.

Last night’s suicide attack at Manchester Arena was different because it was aimed precisely at humans – an attack designed to slaughter as many innocents as possible. It made no difference that children were caught up in the blast – more likely from these terrorists’ point of view, the more children killed the better because that would have burned their hateful cause into the national consciousness like nothing else.

Ironically then, I think that the attack at the Manchester Arena was considerably more devastating and apalling than the terrorist attack of 1996 because of precisely that realisation.

And I also considered this: that even apparently with terrorism something in this world has changed and changed for worse.

It is as if the last shreds of respect for human life have now been blown away and every living being is now fair game.

We saw it building in how the Nazi regards the Jew. We witnessed it in Oklahoma City on April 19th, 1995 and we even now can see first hand how elitest governments expose the disabled and the vulnerable to systemic and authoritarian abuse.

And now we witness the depraved barbarity that is modern terrorism.

I suspect that the source of this change is to be found not in the material world but in the spiritual world – a world in which spiritual evil reigns supreme.

There are acts of barbarism now taking place regularly in the public arena ( thanks to the Internet ), that would have been unthinkable just 30 years ago.

And yet, I recall when I was younger, reading the following Scriptures and wondering what it all meant:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

To me, that Scripture from Ephesians 6, written thousands of years ago, gives me pause for thought in 2017. And I fear that with the rise of Islamic extremism, we are witnessing one facet of what Apostle Paul termed “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

And I’m beginning to think that we may have seen nothing yet!

Today we have been forcibly introduced to the concept of the modern-day martyr. Now it should be understood that in Islamic practice, a martyr is one that is killed in jihad and according to that practice he or she is entitled to special status in paradise and on Judgment Day.

A 2006 article by David Bukay for Middle East Forum has these chilling words: “By their ( the Islamic suicide-killers’ ) sacrifice, they obtain all the pleasures of paradise, be they spiritual – the close presence of God – or material. As an additional incentive, Muhammad promised those mujahideen who fight in a jihad war a reward of virgins in paradise.

Importantly, those conducting suicide bombings do not consider themselves dead but rather living with God. As sura 2:154 explains, ‘Do not think that those who are killed in the way of Allah are dead, for indeed they are alive, even though you are not aware.’

Therefore the prohibition on suicide need not apply to bus bombers or other kamikaze jihadists.

Martin Lings, a British scholar of Sufism, argues that this linkage between martyrdom and paradise was probably the most potent factor that Muhammad brought to the annals of warfare, for it transformed the odds of war by offering a promise of immortality.”¹

Personally, the thought that someone, anyone, being gifted an eternity of unrestrained pleasure for murdering another human being in such barbaric ways turns my stomach. It is as hideous as it is preposterous.

It makes no sense whatsoever.

And even the very thought that God: my God; the Holy, loving, Just God that I believe in and who is the foundation of my Christian faith, personally rewards these monsters for committing their evil deeds by permitting them to enter into His presence, is completely inconceivable.

Consider further the following verses of scripture:

“And there shall in no way enter into it  (Heaven) anything that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27.

Or this:

“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You.” Psalm 5:4.

The time is coming , and probably is already here when people can no longer sit on the fence in regard to this matter: Ultimately either God is behind what happened in Manchester last evening ( and all the other atrocities we have witnessed ) or He is exactly what the Holy Bible clearly tells us He is: a loving, Holy and righteous God that cannot have evil in His presence and that even sent his own Son, no less, to be the propitiation for sin itself.

We can’t have it both ways.

So either Salman Abedi, the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, is doing God’s work or he is an agent of Satan [2].

I know what I believe and as the world is dragged inexorably towards Armageddon, we would all do well to listen to what the Holy Bible is telling us.

Our very lives may depend upon it.

_______________________________

Footnote:

1. http://www.meforum.org/1003/the-religious-foundations-of-suicide-bombings
2. I make the distinction here by judging the bomber by his actions. I do not in any way associate Islam itself with Satan.

How To Defeat ‘Terrorism!’

Tuesday, April 25th. All was quiet. Lying on my bed listening to a James Bond audiobook. It was something I wanted to do rather than had to do.

Just finished a cup of tea, removed the ear-buds and put the empty cup on my nightstand ( or as we say: ‘bed-side cabinet.’ ) All was still – you could hear a pin drop.

And then…

At first I wasn’t sure: was this the real thing, I wondered? I wasn’t afraid. They weren’t strangers to me. I knew them. But I had thought at one point that I had finally gotten rid of them, but here they were again, this time advancing in full force:

The Anti-Confidence ‘Terrorists’!! ( A.C.T. )

“Not again” I thought, my feelings sinking as they advanced slowly and quietly; in the night.

By morning I knew that something had changed. I had been the victim of yet another attack: I’d lost interest; I couldn’t see the point – any point!; I was tired beyond belief; my energy levels had dissipated; I was alone; depressed: so depressed that I couldn’t even be annoyed; so depressed that I couldn’t even be bothered being depressed!

My physical health was taking a beating too – there really is only so much pain that one can tolerate, you know. Even when pain-killers were failing in their job!

So complete was the attack that later the next evening, listening to James Bond had now become something that I felt I had to do rather than wanted to do!

And it went from there…

Wednesday, May 10th. Beautiful day outside: warm; sunny; light breeze: perfect! To my amazement I’m writing this blog. Why?? How?? Who cares!! What does it matter!! I’m doing it and isn’t that what counts? And I’m beginning to realise that there’s more riding on this than mere words: perhaps it’s the beginning of…

Recovery? Rebuilding? Resumption? Reclamation? Resurrection? Any word as long as it began with ‘R?’

But wait… surely there are choices to be made. Always there’s choices!

Decision time.

Where do I begin? Cup of tea!! Yes… I’ll have a cup of tea! Never underestimate the rejuvenating* power of a good ol’ cuppa!!

And now to damage-assessment!:

  • I’ve lost 16 days that I will never see again.
  • I’m sixteen days older ( or sixteen days closer to my expiration date, whichever way you want to look at it! )
  • There may have been things that needed doing and they weren’t done.
  • Things may have moved on and left me behind.
  • People may have moved on and left me behind.

I ask myself: is there anything to be gained in mourning over the loss of time? Is there any value in grieving for it? Should I feel guilty? Regretful?* Angry? Sad? What should I feel? Should I even feel? What should I do?

And this is what I decided to do:

  1. Quickly come to terms with the situation.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Move forward.

And… what should I feel about it all? I’ll decide to feel nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G! I’ll pick myself up… take up where I left off and get stuck in!!

Feeling better already!

They often say that the way to defeat terrorism is to continue living as normal – demonstrate to the terrorists that their attack hasn’t made one iota of difference to your life – that they have not achieved their objective – that THEY. HAVE. FAILED!

For the first time, my personal Anti-Confidence ‘Terrorists’ have failed. I lost 16 days, but I think that they have lost much, much more!

VIVE LA RÉVOLUTION!!

_______________________________

* Yes, more ‘R’ words!

The Small Things…

As you may be aware, occasionally I publish extracts from the daily Bible Notes that I ( try to ) use. The following is such an extract. I hope that it gives you a lift as it did me.
Thank you.

The Small Things

By Anne Cetas

Please read: Psalm 116:1-9

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

“My friend Gloria called with excitement in her voice. She had not been able to leave her home except for doctors’ appointments. So I understood why she was so happy to tell me, “My son just attached new speakers to my computer, so now I can go to my church!” Now she could hear the live broadcast of her church’s worship service. She raved about God’s goodness and the “best gift my son could have given me!”

Gloria teaches me about having a thankful heart. Despite her many limitations, she’s thankful for the smallest of things – sunsets, helpful family and neighbors, quiet moments with God, the ability to remain in her own apartment. She’s had a lifetime of seeing God provide for her, and she talks about Him to anyone who visits or calls.

We don’t know what difficulties the author of Psalm 116 was encountering. Some Bible commentaries say it was probably sickness because he said, “the cords of death entangled me” ( Psalm 116:3. ) But he gave thanks to the Lord for being gracious and full of compassion when he was “brought low” ( Psalm 116:5-6. )

When we’re low, it can be hard to look up. Yet if we do, we see that God is the giver of all good gifts in our life – great and small – and we learn to give Him thanks.”

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? . . . I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving ( Psalm 116:12,17 esv. )

Praise to God comes naturally when you count your blessings.

Irish Joke…

 

nun

This fella is walking into a bar and standing outside is a nun. She looks at him and points her finger and cries out “BEFORE YE ENTER THIS DEN OF INIQUITY, TINK OF YER MOTHER AND YER FATHER!!”

He breaks down and tells the nun “Dey’re dead… dey’re dead, in heaven.”

She cries out again “TINK OF THE DAMAGE THE ALCOHOL WILL DO TO YOUR LIVER AND YOUR BRAIN!!”

And he says to the nun “Huh?What’re ye talkin about… have ye ever had a drink?

And the nun says “No.”

Annoyed he says to the nun “Well how de hell can ye stand there talkin about it and say “drink’ll do damage to yer brain” if ye’ve never had it??

So he tells her “Oi’ll tell ye what – Oi’ll go in, get ye a drink, bring it out, give it to ye. If ye don’t like it DEN ye can talk about it. But DON’T TALK ABOUT TINGS YE’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED. What’ll ye have…?

And the nun says “Oi don’t know – what do ladies generally drink?”

He says “Gin.”

She says “All right, oi’ll have a gin,” and she lowers her voice and says “but get it in a cup so nobody will notice!”

So the fella goes into the bar and says “give us a pint of beer and a double gin in a cup!”

And the bartender says “Is dat bloody nun out there again?”….