What will Donald do next?

Every morning I turn on the radio and there’s more and more blah blah blah about Donald Trump.

I’m getting tired of the speculation – is he or is he not going to spark off World War III?

So far we’ve had reports of serious misogyny, racism (keeping out Muslims and Mexicans), allegations of election rigging, undoing the work of Obama, condoning torture, and all sorts of horrific policies too numerous to mention. It seems that Donald went to the bluster school of diplomacy. I think his idea is that if he comes out with a bold, outrageous and aggressive statement as his initial stance on an issue, he can then use that as an initial negotiating position and then row back from that to something only slightly less extreme in the belief that this will look reasonable by comparison.

Above all, Trump wants to appear strong, a character trait he shares with that other aggressive autocrat, Vladimir Putin, but instead he comes across as provocative, aggressive (and defensive at the same time), unstatesmanlike, insensitive and plain boorish.

Yes, plain speaking is unusual and refreshing in a politician, but Nelson Mandela managed to speak honestly without antagonising people. Attack might be the best form of defence, but I believe Trump is deluding himself if he thinks America is under attack. Of course there are threats and dangers (we can hardly forget 9/11), but most intelligent people would want to gather as many allies as possible under such circumstances. Trump’s way, unfortunately, inflames his opponents and creates even more enemies. And America, or any of us, needs more enemies right now like a fish needs a bicycle!

You may accuse me of exaggeration, but I don’t think I am over-egging the pudding or scaremongering when I say this is all horribly reminiscent of the rise of the Third Reich, Nazism and Hitler in the 1930’s, a time when the working people of Germany were convinced by a tinpot dictator-to-be that they were downtrodden and it was all the fault of the country’s ethnic minorities, and that the nasty little man rising to power would help them make Germany great again.

If you love democracy, with all its many faults, be very, very vigilant. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I’ll say this much: people of the Western World watch out…

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Build bridges not walls

Over the Christmas break the musical West Side Story was on the TV and last night I watched it, for the first time in years.

As you are probably aware it was a sad and shocking story of the violence that can happen when hatred and fear between two distinct ethnic communities, in this case white Americans and immigrants to New York from Puerto Rico, co-inhabit the same piece of turf and anger boils over and gets out of control. It also graphically demonstrates, through the character Maria, how easily love can turn to hate in the twinkling of an eye.

Does this ring a bell, Mr. Donald Trump, in your war against another Hispanic group, the Mexicans?

Can’t help feeling we would be far better employed were we building bridges, not walls.

Can you trust this guy?

The Americans, I am sure, are a people of above average intelligence, yet I have this niggley naggley fear that they could vote for Donald Trump as their next president. Surely, I say to myself, anyone can see through the bluster and bullshit of his aggressive, xenophobic and ruthless neanderthal behaviour and attitudes.

But I have to remind myself, these are the people who voted in George W. Bush – twice!

I have a feeling Trump’s popularity is in part a reaction to the Obama period. Obama is, after all, quite meek and mild in comparison, with a reputation, not justified in my opinion, for getting nothing done. But Obama has made silent progress on many issues, including getting gun control at least on the agenda. We must remember that deeply intractable issues such as that, and the reform of healthcare, may take several presidencies to properly achieve, as it was with the abolition of slavery.

I suspect the same is also true of Guantanamo Bay. With the best will in the world, it may take a long time to resolve that thorny issue too.

Usually I try to ignore matters I can’t influence or have any control over, as in this case (I have no vote in America), but I cannot help worrying about this guy. He’s volatile, impulsive, highly aggressive, bent on ego-aggrandisement and completely devoid of any diplomacy skills, and let’s not forget the US President is also Commander-in-Chief with his finger on the nuclear button. That makes him dangerous to the whole world.

Moreover, he has clearly demonstrated stongly racist beliefs and he appears to regard women with absolute contempt. He has to be one of the most unconscious and unempathic characters I have ever witnessed in the public arena. Would you trust him with your daughter?

As those of us who are old enough to remember the film Dr. Strangelove will realise, it would be all too easy for World War Three, and perhaps total annihilation, to be started “by accident” if we have a loose cannon in the White House.

I sincerely hope each American voter will think this through carefully before voting, and not just vote on a knee-jerk reaction or from generations of party loyalties. I suspect that’s what didn’t happen with Brexit here in the UK. Many of the voters didn’t think through the consequences before they voted.

You’ve done it! You’ve donated over £500 for Save the Children

AS you might be aware, we’ve been fundraising for Save the Children via our La Rochelle Challenge. I’m delighted to report that the good ship PRANA has donated the final 40 quid that takes us just over our target of £500! You can read the full story on www.justgiving.com/LaRochelleChallenge

To every one of our supporters: there will be many children (I don’t know who or where) who will be extremely grateful for your fantastic generosity. You will have certainly alleviated a lot of suffering and you may even have literally saved some lives. That’s what you have achieved through the spirit of giving from your heart. We’re declaring this year’s challenge over now and I promise I won’t be asking for money again until the next time (maybe next Summer) and this blog will from now on resume it’s role of posting pieces for people who want to live more consciously.

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We’re not done yet…

 

If we want a decent prospect for our children and grandchildren, that can’t happen if more than half of the forthcoming adult generation has been severely traumatised.

OK, we’ve done it. We’ve completed our La Rochelle Challenge. It was what you might call a fundraising holiday really, but we did get lots of support and we’ve raised just over £400 for Save the Children. So far…

But what did we learn from our six weeks of passage making aboard the good ship Prana?

Here’s what was revealed to me: we live such incredibly privileged lives and I am so grateful for that! Not only that, but we can easily use our gifts for the benefit of others. Actually, it’s easy to make a difference and here in this post is the evidence.

So what do I mean when I talk about living a life of privilege? I never went to a public school like Eton or Harrow and I never went to any university, let alone Oxford or Cambridge – that’s not the kind of privilege I’m talking about. I’m talking about the privilege of being able to make conscious choices in our lives.

My biggest stroke of luck was to be born into a decent middle class family with positive values, and parents who actually loved me to bits. My other immensely lucky break was being born in the UK, where the cult of the individual reigns supreme and being a bit eccentric is celebrated. Although it took me many years, I had absolute freedom to discover who I was and to express my creativity, and eventually I found a niche where I actually fit in.img_20160804_183229

This is not to be underestimated. When I was in school I never fitted in. I was always the last to be picked for a cricket or football team and anyway I hated those two sports because I couldn’t run fast enough. There were also many other ways I couldn’t fit in no matter how hard I tried and this caused me great angst until one day, long after leaving school, I realised it was a big advantage to be different from everyone else.

Woah! Freedom! I began to give myself permission to be who I was instead of trying to emulate others, to play to my strengths and develop my natural talents. As Dr. Wayne Dyer so eloquently pointed out, “when you follow the herd, guess what you end up standing in.” Much better to plough your own furrow.

Now let’s look at some of these unfortunate children we’ve been trying to support with our La Rochelle Challenge. The ones who come from war-torn Syria, for example. Many of them have been uprooted from their country, seen their homes destroyed, witnessed friends and members of their family being blown to pieces, tortured, persecuted, abused and cast adrift as refugees, many of them without parents or relatives to protect them. I heard on the news last night that a whopping 50% of refugees are children. This is horrendous and we can’t let it continue.

Many other children suffer malnutrition, ill health, abuse, homelessness and countless other traumas, and now we have the Zika virus to contend with in some parts of the world and heaven knows what suffering that will bring to the affected children and their parents.

If we want a decent prospect for our children and grandchildren, that can’t happen if more than half of the forthcoming adult generation has been severely traumatised.

I came up with the idea of the La Rochelle Challenge as an experiment really, to actually find out if I could make a difference and to see if I could inspire others to respond by supporting this venture. What I realise now is that not only did I make a difference, tiny though it is, but so did those who contributed money and those who supported us by helping to spread the word.

So you see, there are many ways in which we can all make a difference without disrupting our normal daily lives in the least. And I’m only talking about one way of doing so. The internet has made it so easy. It takes maybe three minutes to go online and donate to a good cause, and believe me, the money makes a huge difference.

And in case you think I’m fixated on money, I make no apology for that. Let me quote you a couple of sentences from a thank-you card I received today from someone called Jazmin and the fundraising team at the charity, Save the Children: “The support you have given means we can help children globally when they need us the most… The money you raised could buy 10 boxes of 150 sachets of ready to eat food which is high energy and suitable for the treatment of children with severe malnutrition.”

I do love tangible results! This is an amazing reality check, for that means 1,500 nutritious meals can be provided to children who are actually on the brink of a very unpleasant death. That’s fantastic! If you supported us, that’s what you have achieved!

But we’re not done yet…!

So far we have raised just over £400, but our target is £500. For that reason I’m going to leave our Just Giving page open for one more week so if you have not already done so, you can still make a donation to this worthy cause. I urge you to take this opportunity of actually helping to make a real difference to the lives of these children who are a lot less privileged than we are. Let’s see if we can raise that final £100 this week and save even more children’s lives. This is not an ego trip for me, this is about alleviating unnecessary pain, suffering and death. It’s not just an idealistic gesture, it’s about the cold, hard reality of trying to make this world a better place.

If you haven’t already done so but now you feel you want to, please visit www.justgiving.com and search for La Rochelle Challenge. Then follow the on-screen instructions to donate.

On behalf of desperate children everywhere, thank you so much.

Yesssss! We’ve done it!

Hey, we’ve done it! Our La Rochelle Challenge is now completed and we are back in a cold and drizzly London.

As you know if you read this blog I’ve spent the last few weeks sailing from Arzal in France, where I keep my boat, to La Rochelle and back and I had the idea of turning our summer holiday into a challenge to raise money for Save the Children. So far we have reached 80% of our target so we decided to keep our page on justgiving.com open for another week or two to see if we can make it 100%. All we need is £100 more.

For those who are interested there follows a list of the places we visited (many of them more than once). If you aren’t interested, please feel free to skip this last bit:

Arzal, La Roche Bernard, La Trinite sur Mer, Crouesty, Pornichet, Ile de Noirmoutier, Ile d’Yeu, St. Gilles Croix de Vie, Bourgenay, Les Sables d’Olone, La Rochelle, Ile de Re, Pornic. Total miles logged was 553.1.

Please don’t hesitate

We’re nearing the end now of our La Rochelle Challenge and because we’re a few days ahead of schedule we’ve taken the luxury of making a detour to have a wonderfully relaxing day off in La Trinite Sur Mer. There’s a great place nearby where my partner loves to take our dog for a walk along a wild, unspoiled beach, and the dog loves it too. It’s also a good place for a spot of retail therapy, which makes a nice change from sailing.

But for me the highlight is gazing at the incredible variety of yachts and boats here, ranging from small sailing dinghies to luxury cruising yachts and state-of-the-art hi tech racing catamarans with huge masts as high as sequoia trees. Indeed, this must be one of the only harbours in France where sailing vessels outnumber motor boats.

I had  wonderful surprise just a few minutes ago when I looked at our Just Giving page and discovered we are now about 55% of the way towards achieving our goal of raising £500 for Save the Children, thanks to yet more incredibly generous donations, for which we are so grateful.

More to the point, I am sure the children who’s suffering can be alleviated by the actions of this international charity organisation are equally grateful for the support they receive.

If you’ve been following our La Rochelle Challenge, or even if you haven’t, and you feel inspired to donate a little something but haven’t done so yet, please don’t hesitate to do it. It’s easy and you’ll feel great when you listen to the voice of your heart. Just go online and find http://www.justgiving.com and search for LaRochelleChallenge. One more click brings you to our page, then simply follow the on-screen instructions.

Thank you so much.