A few years ago, I was contacted by an organization that provides diversity training. Part of its mission was the following:
We seek to be an open, transparent, inclusive non-profit organisation, promoting diversity and equality. We also firmly believe that individuals should be treated equally regardless of disability, gender, ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation.
I met with its Chairperson, who asked me to take a look at the organization’s Articles.
I did that and found that they were (a slightly adapted version of) older standard Articles, even though the organization was set up more than half a year after the change in the standard Articles (28 April 2013).
Different in the newer version was that it no longer discriminated against mental health versus physical health. The Mental Health Discrimination Act 2013 had something to do with that.
This is the offending sub-clause in the articles up to 28 April 2013:
18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—
(e) by reason of that person’s mental health, a court makes an order which wholly or partly prevents that person from personally exercising any powers or rights which that person would otherwise have;
Compare it with sub-clause 18d, which is not discriminatory toward mental health relative to physical health:
18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—
(d) a registered medical practitioner who is treating that person gives a written opinion to the company stating that that person has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a director and may remain so for more than three months;
The newer version reads:
18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—
(e) [paragraph omitted pursuant to The Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013]
Even though the fact that the sub-clause in question (18e) was rendered invalid by the Mental Health Act because of its discriminatory nature, I felt that the organization should update its Articles.
It would reflect the organization’s stated values and objectives.
Unless the person was familiar with company law, whoever read that sub-clause might not know that it was invalid.
That particular restaurant got wiped out in a month after having been in business for about two decades. Just for fun. Because hackers didn’t like the restaurant owner. Maybe because the name of the restaurant.
In this video, it’s a hacker who says this. He says that hackers wiped out this business because they didn’t like the owner.
(He also says that there is something really fishy going on with Google’s business listings.)
It probably happens much more often than most people are aware of.
There are no illegal humans, for starters. How can it be illegal to be a human being?
The phrase “who don’t have the correct documents” is often used in all sort of documentation, such as this PDF by Global Justice Now, but there is no such thing as “having the correct documents” for foreigners and their descendants in Britain.
Also, in the past few years, the British government has changed the definition of “who are here legally” for EU citizens so many times, often retroactively, that I’ve lost count.
Most of the time in recent years, I didn’t know whether I was still here legally or had become an illegal. I have one letter that states that I am here legally but it contains various typos. Would that be accepted? The Home Office’s most recent announcements appear to indicate that I am currently seen again as being here legally and will also be allowed to stay after Brexit.
Thousands of people who had official “leave to remain” – that and the British nationality, I think, are the only “official documents” that in theory mean that you are not an illegal immigrant – have also been detained, deported, threatened with deportation or stopped from entering Britain, as have even a few people with British passports. Way too many EU citizens have too.
Every time I travel back to Britain, I don’t know whether I will be allowed into the country.
(Dutch people living in Holland who tell me that I will be allowed back into Britain – as after all, I am an EU citizen – in doing so only reveal their unfamiliarity with what is going on in Britain.)
The last time I travelled back, the French wanted me to open my suitcase because when they scanned it, they had seen that it contained a hard disk and they wanted to know what it was, make sure that all it was was a hard disk. Fine. No problem. They were, although in something of an urgent hurry, pleasant enough about it. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever.
The British customs officer, on the other hand, for a second pretended that he wanted to confiscate my passport. This would normally be simply a form of British humour, but he was not smiling and it came across as having been intended in a different way. But then again, British humour can be far from hilarious. So, what should I make of it, this odd gesture from this customs officer? I have no idea. “Nothing” is the most practical response.
Once Brexit has been in existence for three years or so, we may finally be able to prove that we really are here legally. Until then, it is going to remain a hit or miss thing. Whether you are here legally or illegally seems to depend on which person in power you run into, on whether that person hates you or likes you, or likes the current government or not.
It does not only pitch Brits against foreigners and indigenous Brits against ethnic Brits, the English against the Welsh (who are also occasionally told to go home now when they speak Welsh around English people) and the Scots, it also divides us as migrants and descendants of migrants.
A few days ago, I heard a Caribbean-African British woman dismiss everyone who is brown or black but has no Caribbean-African heritage – which applies to many people in Britain in view of its history – and not realize it at all. It wasn’t her intention at all. She was merely trying to build a strong wall around herself and stand up for herself and the people in her life.
(Nobody protested against it either because we weren’t there to dismiss each other’s feelings and opinions as valueless. We wanted to acknowledge and respect them, honour them, accept them instead of dismiss them.)
The way many people in Britain are being targeted and made to feel vulnerable by the British government makes us want to build high walls around ourselves to protect us. Because that is what you do when your own government milks you and plunges you into poverty, the way it does with millions and millions of indigenous Brits.
It can also be what you do after you have seen friends and relatives being ripped away from their PhDs, their families, their jobs and their businesses and being sent to a country they may never have even been to before, after first having been detained in a concentration facility.
Unlike what many people think, in itself, British intolerance is nothing new, though. It was certainly already in full swing when I arrived in Britain in 2004. Back then, it was still neither condoned nor imposed by the British government.
But vicious targeting of foreigners was already occasionally condoned and encouraged by British police, for instance in the case of, off the top of my head, an Iranian man who was vilified by police as a crazy nut case and later found not to have been a crazy nut case at all and the case of a French translator in Devon.
The mere fact that foreigners have different habits, customs and histories (or have a higher education because education is much more accessible in some other countries) does not make foreigners “crazy”, just like it does not make all Americans “daft” either and just like being British does not make all Brits wear bowler hats and Burberry coats, while swinging umbrellas or walking sticks.
In recent years, the British government has increasingly made intolerance mandatory and has now cranked it up so many notches that many people are scared and angry and emotional and no longer certain of anything in life.
Theresa May created this explosive mixture because the Tories needed something to help them beat, particularly, UKIP in elections. There is no other explanation for it, is there?
If you are British and would like to combat government-imposed hatred – or learn more about it – then here are a few links for you:
docsnotcops.co.uk (Health professionals and patients fighting to protect the NHS, its patients and health in Britain in general from the government and its attempts to push foreigners – including the UK’s 3.5 million or so EU citizens – away from healthcare)
This video by Bare Life Films:
Haringey Welcome, the London Haringey Borough initiative that quickly evolved from openly welcoming Syrian refugees and among other things managed to get its council to abolish the expensive (40,000 a year, I think) Home Office migration employee who was there to make the lives of foreigners as difficult as possible.
As every British voter voted for an MP, not a border guard who rats out foreigners to the Home Office to achieve their detention and deportation, most of you will want your MP to pledge “MPs not border guards” (by “migrants organise” and “Global Justice Now”)
Tuurlijk, “de” Brit bestaat niet. En er zijn ook massa’s Britten die ons helemaal niet haten. Maar Britten die ons wel haten, waar komt dat door? Ik heb het eens op een rijtje gezet.
Een rotsvast geloof dat andere EU landen arme lage-lonenlanden zijn waar productie naartoe is verhuisd waardoor Britse fabrieken moesten sluiten. (Men denkt ook dat uit de EU stappen betekent dat die fabrieken terugkeren.)
De overtuiging dat EU burgers naar het VK komen omdat ze denken dat ze daar meer kunnen verdienen maar er de lonen laag houden omdat ze voor minder geld werken dan Britten. (Men concludeert dus dat uit de EU stappen tot hogere lonen in het VK gaat leiden.)
Het idee dat de meeste EU burgers laag zijn opgeleid en hier banen inpikken die laag opgeleide Britten zouden moeten hebben. (Men concludeert dus dat uit de EU stappen betekent dat er in het VK meer banen vrij komen voor laag opgeleide Britten. In werkelijkheid is het niveau van de Britten zelf niet zo hoog en draaien veel faciliteiten hier op buitenlanders omdat de Britten het zonder die buitenlanders simpelweg niet zouden redden. Een vaak genoemd voorbeeld is de Britse gezondheidszorg. Zonder buitenlanders zou de National Health Service instorten en de uittocht van de nu al door Brexit verdreven buitenlanders heeft de problemen binnen de Britse gezondheidszorg nog veel groter gemaakt.)
Het idee dat de Britse gezondheidszorg van een dermate hoog niveau is dat buitenlanders in drommen naar het VK toe stromen omdat ze in het VK niet voor gezondheidszorg hoeven te betalen en dat dit de reden is dat de NHS in grote problemen verkeert. Health tourism. (Het gaat in werkelijkheid om 0.3% van het budget van de NHS. Het bestrijden van dit vermeende enorme misbruik kost veel meer dan het kan opleveren en leidt er soms ook toe dat Britse kankerpatiënten, zwangere vrouwen etc. de deur wordt gewezen. Dat lossen de Britten dan op met crowdfunding.)
Het in oktober 2017 en februari 2018 door James O’Shaughnessy (Health Minister) heel geniepig gesuggereerde idee dat buitenlanders in het VK geen belasting betalen. Helaas namen de media deze uitspraken klakkeloos over en gaven ze geen tegengas.
Het idee dat het onderwijs in alle andere landen veel slechter is dan in het VK.
De overtuiging dat buitenlanders er altijd op uit zijn om je een loer te draaien. (De Brit Richard Lewis, in When Cultures Collide, noemt dit “British insularity”.)
De overtuiging dat EU burgers naar het VK komen om hier te luieren en van uitkeringen te genieten. (Dit gaat volkomen voorbij aan het feit dat EU burgers niet meteen aanspraak kunnen maken op uitkeringen; je moet daarvoor al een tijd in het VK hebben gewoond en gewerkt en ook dan kun je minder rechten hebben dan Britten. In werkelijkheid dragen EU burgers bovendien gemiddeld 2 miljard per jaar bij aan het VK, en dat is netto.)
Soms ook de overtuiging dat sommige landen in het midden Oosten deel uitmaken van de EU en/of dat buitenlanders vaker terroristen zijn.
Omdat Theresa May mensen doet geloven dat dat is wat goede Britten doen. (Donald Trump gaat in de praktijk minder ver dan de Britse regering. Hij respecteert bovendien, voorzover mij bekend, de Amerikaanse wetten en de rechtbanken. De Britse regering doet dat beslist niet en lapt zowel de rechters als de wetten nogal eens aan de laars.)
Politici, de Britse overheid en media liegen hier aantoonbaar over en worden desondanks geloofd. Het is namelijk de emotionele respons die de overtoon speelt, niet de rationele.
Er is veel diepe armoede in het VK, dus veel angst, stress, onmacht en wanhoop.
Er is dus hoop nodig.
Het is voor veel Britten makkelijker om te geloven dat hun ellende door buitenlanders komt dan te accepteren dat hun eigen regering hen voortdurend uitmelkt en een poot uitdraait.
Dat leidt namelijk tot de hoop dat het ooit beter wordt.
Daar ligt dus de oplossing. Hoe voeg je hoop toe op een manier die de haat juist minder maakt? Niet door het rationeel aan te pakken maar door de emoties aan te spreken.
Dat zou bijvoorbeeld kunnen doordat buitenlanders met genoeg geld in de arme wijken Britse steden structureel (een keer per maand?) briefjes geld gaan verspreiden en er publiciteit aan wijden zodat de associatie tussen narigheid en buitenlanders wordt doorbroken.
Er is al iemand geweest die zoiets heeft gedaan, die in een stadsdeel her en der geld had verstopt.
Je zou vliegtuigjes kunnen laten overvliegen met een lange banner (“Holland/The EU/Poland/France/Italy/Spain/Germany/Denmark/… loves you!”) en van waaruit briefjes van 5, 10, 20 en 50 naar beneden dwarrelen.
Je kan ook vanuit het buitenland enveloppen met bijvoorbeeld een briefje van 20 pond erin anoniem gaan sturen aan adressen in arme Britse wijken met daarin bijvoorbeeld ook de tekst “The EU loves you!”.
Voedselpakketjes sturen mag natuurlijk ook.
(Voedsel vanuit vliegtuigjes droppen raad ik niet aan vanwege de eventuele schade.)
Het trieste van het bovenstaande is dat het Britse regeringsbeleid de mythes in realiteit aan het omzetten is. Door rijbewijzen en paspoorten in te nemen, mensen te pas en onpas op te pakken en voor onbepaalde tijd vast te zetten (en na vrijlating identiteitsbewijzen in beslag genomen te houden), het vinden van werk en woonruimte te blokkeren en Britten zeer hoge boetes te geven voor collaboratie met verdacht gemaakte buitenlanders (zoals het verhuren van kamers) en buitenlands gedrag te criminaliseren worden buitenlanders (maar ook soms ethnische Britten evenals Britten die een vreemde achternaam hebben of met een buitenlander zijn getrouwd) de ellende in gedreven.
Smell the flowers, feel the wind, go along on the ride. It is possible. And if it is possible, there are only lots of good reasons for all theme parks to put this into practice for attractions that are not accessible to people in wheelchairs.
I used to be quite fond of people in general, but I no longer like humans as much as I used to.
Humans have been on the planet only a short while, but no other species has managed to wreak even a fraction of the destruction that humans already have.
Humans also hunt and incarcerate each other, and sometimes kill each other, for no good reason. (Guantánamo, anyone? Migrant detention centres, anyone? 9/11 anyone? )
Humans approve of it when other humans want to build unhealthy concrete, plastic, steel and brick homes yet tend to object when other humans want to build homes made from branches and wood, or earth, or straw bales and adobe, or live in a hole excavated in the ground where they keep their books and the other kind of stuff that we all tend to have.
More and more humans, it looks like, gather and gather and gather, and steal, and build up reserves that would last them many lifetimes. It has a name, I believe. Consumerism.
So-called progress that happens for no more than the sake of the drive for bigger bigger bigger more more more has become the norm. (Third Heathrow runway, anyone?)
Sales for the sake of sales instead of the sake of contributing something worthwhile to the lives of others is still a major driver for many, as is the accumulation of monetary value, often to make up for feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.
“It’s amazing! I have X euros/dollars/pounds’ worth of merchandise in my shop right now!”
Even a so-called stupid bird brain of a quaker parrot knows that in times of plenty, all that matters is that you have food in your hands – not how much someone else has – and that you should start building up a little stack of reserves for yourself when you notice that food is scarce.
This spunky creature, a quaker parrot called Sioux, was part of my household for 21 years Her life and death have changed my life forever. She was still a youngster when she was brought to a wild-bird hospital in Florida where I was volunteering at the time. It was against the law to release her, and she was unable to fly, so she needed a home. I adopted her along with quaker parrot Mohawk. As I had noticed that these birds are never on their own in the wild, I wanted to adopt at least two of them, for increased well-being, and housed them together. Myiopsitta monachus.
Quaker parrots don’t round up other birds and their youngsters and put them in cages. They protect them, stand up for them (they stand up even for cats). In the wild, they share their amazing self-built homes that have separate spaces for various activities with other species, sometimes even predators. (Yet they are also highly territorial, protective of their homes.)
But many humans see them as “threats” and spread vile myths about them, mainly because their natural habitat was once limited to South-America.
Probably also because at some level, we humans feel threatened (challenged, made uncomfortable) by the intelligence and strong lively personalities of these birds. They can be highly opinionated.
Something similar goes for our city pigeons.
Birds have been on the planet so incredibly much longer than humans. They are highly aware of their own vulnerability (with to some degree the exception of birds of prey), so much that they will always try to hide it as well as they can. They don’t go around destroying their own habitat, and they tend to live quite peacefully with other species.
Humans are only one species. Homo sapiens.
We humans haven’t really learned a thing yet, have we?
These two embedded tweets below are supposed to show one image and one video.
While I do wonder what is being done to piglets in the name of academic research, the article makes valid points and I want to share it with you. We need to find a way of living that is much more balanced, not only for the planet, but also for ourselves.
Stress affects most of us to one degree or another, and that even includes animals. My lab studies early-life stress in pigs and how it impacts their health later in life, specifically in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Pigs, whose GI tracts are extremely similar to those of humans, may be one of the clearest windows we have into researching stress, disease, and new therapies and preventatives – both in livestock and people.
In my study of how stress makes humans and pigs vulnerable to disease, I have seen the profound impact that stress-related chemical substances, such as hormones and peptides, can have on a body’s tissues. I’m hopeful that our research in piglets could eventually lead to treatments for both people and animals designed to mitigate the adverse effects of stress on the GI health.
How stress can save your life
Not all stress is bad. When we perceive a threat, our hypothalamus – one of our most basic parts of the brain – kicks in to protect us by triggering what many recognize as the “fight or flight” response. It is a primal evolutionary response programmed in our brains to help us first survive and then restore us to a normal set point, or what feels like stability.
This stimulates the adrenal gland to release adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin and cortisol, two of the most well-known stress hormones, power our bodies to react during the fight or flight response. They can heighten our response time in a fight. They can pump blood to our extremities when we flee. They can boost our immune system to protect against pathogens. That stress response gives us what we need to resolve the situation.
How stress can harm your life
Fortunately for many of us, we don’t have to deal with life-threatening situations on a regular basis. However, we still experience stress. This stress can be chronic, due to a specific situation or overall lifestyle.
But, our stress response is meant for short-term resolvable conflict. So, in a way, the stress response is misplaced in today’s world of enduring stressors. Danger comes when we experience repeated elevations of these stress hormones, or when we are exposed to too much of these stress hormones at a young age. Instead of physical threats, many of us experience psychosocial stress, which triggers a similar stress response but is often not resolvable.
For example, stress in the workplace, such as feeling overworked or undervalued, could be perceived as a threat and in turn activate the stress response. However, in these situations, the survival aspects of the stress response, such as increased heart rate and immune activation, is not effective in resolving this threat.
This results in continued production and higher levels of these stress chemicals in the body. They bind to target receptors in many organs, which can have profound effects on physiology and function.
High levels of stress are also especially harmful when they occur at a young age, when many of the body’s important stress regulatory systems – for example, the brain and nervous systems – are still developing. Exposure to stress in early life can alter the normal development and physiology of many organ systems, resulting in increased sensitivity to stress and lifelong health risks in offspring.
Also, a mother’s stress during pregnancy can be “transmitted” to the fetus, resulting in permanent changes to the stress response system and health in offspring.
This early-life stress can fuel a constant stress response inside the body. This can include inflammation, or increased activity of the immune system, or immune suppression as its new “normal.”
Inflammation and immune suppression are unpredictable and can manifest in many parts of our body, with different consequences. For example, stress and inflammation near blood vessels can cause blood vessels to constrict. This causes elevated blood pressure, which can lead to a slew of other conditions like coronary artery disease and heart attack.
Immune suppression can reduce the body’s ability to heal wounds and make it more susceptible to other pathogens. Inflammation and immune suppression can affect anything, including our mental health. Chronic stress can traffic immune cells into the brain, where they can cause neuroinflammation, which can affect our mood and fuel diseases like depression and anxiety.
Your GI tract and you
The GI tract is our largest interface with the outside world. If you think about it, your GI system is “outside” your body; it experiences many of the pathogens and other foreign entities with which we come into contact. If you unfolded your entire GI system, it would cover a tennis court. The GI system also contains just as many neurons as your spinal cord and houses the largest collection of immune cells in the body. A system of that size is as powerful as it is susceptible.
Early-life stress is especially concerning; scientists only now are beginning to understand the long-term consequences. My research demonstrates the impacts of early-life stress on animal health and productivity, as well as human health. In pigs, this stress can result from early weaning and other management practices. In humans, it could be from physical or emotional trauma like abuse or neglect.
What we can learn from piglets
Pigs and humans have similar digestive tracts, making pigs an excellent model for human GI disease. My research team has demonstrated early stress in piglets results in GI symptoms (e.g. diarrhea, GI infections) that are remarkably similar to stress-related GI disorders in people: Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and food allergies are examples.
Through my lab’s research of piglets and early-life stress, we have been able to significantly lower the stress and GI disease that they experience through their life by eliminating individual early-life stressors.
Much of their stress is caused through early weaning, social change due to maternal separation and mixing with unfamiliar pigs. These pigs then experience a higher rate of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases, as well as reduced growth performance and feed efficiency into adulthood.
We also learned that a particular type of immune cell, called the mast cell, becomes highly activated during stress, which in turn causes much of the stress-associated GI disease. By focusing on animal welfare and implementing new management practices to eliminate individual stressors or intervene therapeutically with mast cell blockers, we can lower the overall threshold of stress that the piglets experience.
This basic research could result in future breakthroughs regarding how we combat stress in humans. Maybe with more fundamental research in animal models, we can develop a therapy to help lessen the impact of bad stress on our bodies.
In the meantime, those of us experiencing stress can take action. If you experience a lot of stress on a daily basis, focus on what you can and cannot control, and then apply your energy to the things within your control while taking care of your body by eating properly, getting enough sleep, and maintaining some level of physical activity. Then, learn to cope with the things you cannot control through therapy, meditation and other stress management practices.
Because we have been taught that something – whatever it is – is bad. If you let go of the idea that something is good or bad, you may feel a weight lift from your shoulders.
If you simply allow and observe the thing that is supposed to be bad, you may find that it is interesting – hence also good, right or even fun – all by itself.
Feeling depressed is bad, for instance. It is even considered a mental health problem these days. An illness. Feeling cheerful is good. Acting cheerful when you’re feeling depressed is good. Is it?
It can be, but there are times, after the death of a loved one for example, when we really have to allow feelings that are supposedly bad.
(Is mourning someone’s death truly “a mental health issue”? Or could it be a natural part of life?)
It is our resistance to “bad” feelings that often becomes the greater problem. As soon as you allow certain feelings and stop considering them bad, they can lose their power over you quickly.
And heck, even moping can be a heck of a lot of fun too.
What always comes to my mind when I say something like that is an image from the original Swedish Pippi Longstocking TV series.
Pippi is in a foul mood and goes around angrily stamping her feet, probably in puddles of water, powerfully indulging in her foul mood, full of energy. Acceptance. A foul mood is just a foul mood, not the end of the world.
Puddles of water? So it must have rained. Rain! Rain is bad.
I too have my personal good/bad hangups. Ideas that make me feel vulnerable or guilty or inadequate or unhappy. What are yours?
This video will change everything. For anyone who thinks that crawfish and other sea life don’t suffer, watch this crawfish sever their own claw to escape a boiling pot. So powerful. Please RT. 💔 pic.twitter.com/tNEYlvlSv2
Humans occur along vast ranges of characteristics and one of those ranges is the scale that has empaths and extreme altruists on one end and probably psychopaths on the other. They all have their pluses and minuses. Nothing is bad or good. Everything is both. There is good in bad and bad in good. Good and bad can’t even exist independently. They are expressed relative to each other, after all.
In my book “We need to talk about this“, I mention sadistic stalking, that is, I point out how difficult it is to tell that the target of such activities is not imagining things, is not mentally ill.
I give the example of the woman who was stalked for a long time and eventually found the excavated remains of her deceased husband dumped on her doorstep. She had a heart attack. In my book, I take you through a few scenarios that put you in such a woman’s shoes to show you various sides of what are in fact “mental health” prejudices. Continue reading →
There is no such thing as a dumb animal. Okay, with the possible exception of that one bee who currently keeps flying into my kitchen, again and again and again. But he always finds his way out again. Hm. Then maybe even this bee isn’t really that dumb… I haven’t figured out yet what smell on my windowsill could be attracting him. Or her.
Who is the joker who has been adding “What if you click but don’t collect” to the site stats, often as sole visit to the site and even when the site is offline, and for I don’t know how long now? (A year, at least, I think.)
And why is s/he doing this?
It sounds like “I am an obsessed maniac who is making strange claims, or threats.” Delusional stalker style.