Tuesday, 12 August 2014

What on Earth is going on?

For those of you who have Facebook accounts, you'll remember the beginning, the first time you joined and signed up and did the mic test... testing, 1, 2, 3, is this thing on, what do I say?
And then we sort of got the hang of it...pictures, pokes, presents, status updates, check ins etc.  Videos of cute kittens, photos of my mates kids, news from around the globe - what a great way to keep in touch with people and the one liner update was acceptable because we knew where you'd been and what you'd done and I could 'share' the same with hundreds of people simultaneously...  we were staying connected virtually, we were sort of together.  But, lately, this cool little social media tool has become the most divisive instrument imaginable.    Never, ever, in my most vivid poorly conceived imagination could I even contemplate a portal that would show gruesome images and videos of death, savagery, destruction, war, complete and utter lack of respect for the dignity of others the very fabric of humanity that should theoretically unite our species

I give up.  I surrender. I don't understand, do you?
I look at beautiful Newbs, I stare into his big brown eyes and see NewbsMum.  My heart explodes when little Thomas laughs, his 7 tooth grin.  I am in awe as I become more conscious and aware of the phases of development and the innocence and purity of their young souls, endless energy and curiosity.  At the same time my very being becomes gripped with an anger, a fury and repulsive hate that I never knew resided within me.   This uncontrollable nauseating emotion is directed at those currently in the media who are carrying out the most abhorrent acts of cruelty. I am struggling to write the words, my hands tremble at the thought of a grown man beheading an innocent, angelic, naive child.  I've just erased a paragraph in an attempt to spare you, my dear gentle reader the unnecessary anguish of having to read about the atrocities going on right now, this moment.  Children, Mothers, Fathers... in a place far away but on our wonderful Earth.

For what?  A differing religious belief? An opinion? A perspective other than yours which if unchallenged would leave you free to live your life as you choose.  Who ordains individuals with the right to determine who shall live or die, how they should be brutally slaughtered or subjugated.   The tragic and glaringly obvious irony is that the very belief that is perpetrating these atrocities is by far the least enlightened of all religions... think about that for a second.... isn't religion supposed to personify and exemplify virtue, tolerance, acceptance and love while the reality is the radical minority is nothing more than savage animals demonstrating a complete lack of intelligence,dignity and compassion.  How can any creature profess to carry out actions in the name of an Omnipotent omniscient being when this results in the extinguishing of another life, an innocent precious soul.

Now please don't think for a moment that I am a devout religious person.  I come from a lineage of extremely observant and proud Jews.  But somewhere along my trajectory into the 21st century, my exposure to secular life and international travel led me to the most extraordinary realization.. people of other religions and beliefs can be good people too.  I fell madly in love with a beautiful person, who I married because of who she is, how she treats others, makes me feel and not only because she ticks certain boxes. What does that show?  Well I think it shows that we're people, that we are a common species, more than an archaic religion made up of second hand stories, diatribe and tales bound in a 'sacred' book.

We seem to be regressing.  Planes being shot out of the sky by missiles, war over land, medieval diseases returning, hate crimes, cruelty to animals & children, abject poverty, starvation, natural disasters, exhausting mineral resources... I could go on.  2014 - aren't we supposed to be at the pinnacle of existence, the very cutting edge of science, philosophy, consciousness and discovery...why then, as a species, as human (un)kind are we systematically destroying each other and clearly demonstrating our inferiority and inability to determine right from wrong, good from evil...the very defining difference that classifies humans from animals - conscience.

I can't help but think that somehow it has to do with our insecurities that is determining our inability to think. What one factor, what one intangible, inexplicable reason is the root cause of this totally incomprehensible behaviour?   Religion. pure and simple, belief that has been distorted into an unrecognisable manifestation.
Most of us remain grounded, sane, rational and reasonable...but it's those radical extremists that the world sees, those that are responsible for those horrific videos.  I should not look, I shouldn't watch the news or read the papers to protect my heart from exuding only love.   But I need to be aware of the damage that certain aspects of religion are doing to our moral fabric of society.

It just makes me sad. It makes me cry and makes my heart sore.  I know that we are resilient and the world will recover, we'll get through this.  But why should so many be hurt and have to suffer?

I am going upstairs right now and going to kiss my boys.  I am going to give my gorgeous wife a hug. And tomorrow I shall smile, be kind to others, do a good deed, help someone less fortunate than me and make a difference because those people, in that far away land cannot win... let's not let them get away with this.

What happened to just being nice to each other!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Where have I been?

Hello? Anybody there? I wouldn't blame you if you've finished your glass of wine, eaten the last smoked salmon and cream cheese brioche and made your way into the night wondering what this blog could have become...fear not, I do as well...

So, where have I been...time literally seems to have shifted to warp speed.  The first and major issue is not only huge, it also begs the question that threatens the very existence of this blog...no longer am I simply NewbsDad, I'm also Thomas's Dad...yes, NewbsMum gave birth to our wee bundle on 15 September ('13) ... so now, do I stay NewbsDad...or, ah well, for the sake of continuity let's push on!

So, I have two kids, I have two sons...I am the father of two children - no matter how I write this, it still seems like I'm talking about someone else...and then to his Newness's name...Thomas.  Well, Newbs started calling our little guy while in utero, Thomas Trampoline and while we had a few other names in the mix, we simply could not think of a better name than the one his brother had chosen. So, dear readers, I introduce you to...Thomas Arran Matthew.

So thanks for bearing with me but I'm sure you'll agree with my completely biased opinion that they are brilliantly cute....I am of course fiercely proud of NewbsMum and well, Newness'sMum...gosh, I'd better come up with something better.

I'll leave you now however I do endeavour to write or blog more often.  You'll never wish you had the peace and quiet back and I certainly won't write daily.  I will also gather my thoughts and compose a succinct, humourous, thought provoking, relevant and perhaps slightly esoteric blog rather than this rambling collection of overtired sentences...hey, at least you can look at the picture of my mini me's if this bored you.

Until then, I remain yours in apology, yawns and anticipation...


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Fall from Grace?

Newbs is fast asleep, I can hear him snoring softly upstairs as I type. The Mrs is feeling poorly and me, well, I can't help but feel let down. Let down by someone I didn't personally know but by someone I looked up to, admired, respected and considered a role model. None other than Lance Armstrong. What can one say about this man, this giant among men.

Outstanding athlete, a human being struck down by cancer yet his will, determination and character showed us 'mere mortals' an inner strength that caused us to gasp in awe and reverence. 7 Tour de France wins, a host of other races, books, a charity and foundation set up in his name to raise money and awareness to fight cancer, he was the face of Nike, the man young boys wanted to be like. Lance Armstrong epitomised determination, skill, hard work, training and dedication to his discipline to completely dominate the sport.

Until now, he's fallen from grace, parodied by Zapiro in one of his latest comic strips showing him beat Felix Baumgartner to ground in the epic free fall last week while on his bike. 
We all know the story of the recent scandal. Of how Armstrong has been found guilty of doping, stripped of his titles, lost his sponsors and tarnished his reputation and credibility for ever.  That's why I feel let down and betrayed....because I believed in him and wanted him to succeed and achieve.

I've been  been watching Tour de France for as long as I can remember. I would plead with my parents to allow me stay up late enough to actually push record as the delayed broadcast started....sometimes I was lucky enough to be able to watch the first few minutes before being threatened with having my own bike confiscated...I was only 9 and it was an 11pm show!

I idolised these men, these hero's on their bikes.  Delgado, Fignon, LeMond, Roche, Indurain, Hinault, Millar and so on.  These men represented everything pure and sporting about competition. Unprotected, you couldn't hide, just you, the bike, the pelaton, the breakaway, mountain stages, bunch sprints, time trials...Tour de France was like a 3 week adventure movie, I was addicted...so it seems were some of the riders.

I'll never forget the 1989 Tour. LeMond was 50 seconds behind Fignon going into the final time trial
 and he found 58 seconds. How does an athlete dig so deep, maintain an average speed over 50kph and ultimately beat a fellow great cyclist by 8 seconds on the final stage. 8 seconds in over 3000km's of riding in 21 days...now I took every lesson in life possible from that, every metaphor you can imagine:
Nothings impossible, never give up, keep fighting, give it all you've got, sweat and training and discipline and commitment will yield results....

I didn't need Superman or Batman or even 007....I had cycling legends that I looked up to, wanted to be like. But now, I wonder...I'm curious to know whether one man has ruined a beautiful sport for us. Whether he purposefully sought to deceive and cheat in order to have what he knew he could never win by simply being the best through hard work.

I find it difficult to look Newbs in the face and tell him that he can be all he wants to be, that he should try his hardest, work and sacrifice but never surrender his integrity in order to achieve his dreams.  How can I sit here and tell him that honour, trust, values and morals will be the greatest testament to his character when others can simply shoot up, pop a pill, cheat and dope to beat him. Clearly that victory would be temporary and cheaters never prevail, karma and all that...but it's still not a level laying field in the interim.

So where does this leave us.  Do we shake our heads and watch as a mans life falls apart, records will have to be rewritten and our core values challenged. All the while as he maintained his innocence (they tested him 500 times over a decade and didn't catch him nor could they prove his doping) 
The evidence is overwhelming. I am sad for him and angry with him at the same time.

Our very moral fabric has been torn. What's next, who's next? Can we trust anyone anymore, what of those sportsmen who've never succumbed to the pressures, who still believe in winning because they trained harder and sold out to their sport demonstrating total and absolute commitment but never crossing that line into cheating.

They say nobody remembers who comes second, winning is everything, being second is being the first loser. Now that Armstong has been disqualified and has had his titles revoked, we'll certainly need to remember those second place names as they've now finally won that coveted Tour de France trophy...we hope and pray, for the sake of our kids that they were clean otherwise we'll call on number 3...

So, Lance Armstrong, hero to zero, celebrity to notoriety....I respected you, I admired you, your grit and determination inspired me when I was climbing my own mountain stage.

The irony is that I will still be using your name, citing your achievements and failures when I teach Newbs about the human spirit and about doing and achieving anything you set your mind to except from now on....it will be about how not to emulate arguably one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen.