who is my father?

In my early Christian days we used to sing a song called ‘Father Abraham’. It spoke of us being his sons. Well Jewish people say they are descendants of Abraham too, maybe rightfully so. Christian, Muslim and Jewish people all appropriate their spiritual lineage from him. Maybe he was a good bloke, I don’t know. But I know that I don’t care too much for the heritage of ancient middle eastern men these days. Thankfully modern society has progressed far beyond that sort of thinking.

My father is Gordon Shaw. He was a boxer, brawler, WW2 sailor, hard headed drinking man, deep thinker, somewhat a comedian (in his own funny mind), a product of his generation and his tough Scottish/Irish tradition. He could be very difficult, was someone you didn’t mess with. He could also be loving at times but was often harsh. He fought and often succumbed to his own demons, we were often at odds but in our later years have somewhat reconciled. I never met Abraham. I only know Gordon.

Now in his late 80’s he suffers Alzheimer’s and is often lost in his own little world. I’ll stick to what I know, learn from him his mistakes, pick up his pieces of wisdom here and there, add to it then try to pass that on the my children. Religion is meaningless to me now. But life with those I love, my wife, my parents, my children, brothers and sisters… well, that really means something. 

 

hey you!

Hey you! You are gorgeous, handsome, amazing and beautiful! You have sometimes taken on negative ideas and narratives about you that are not true. Some crap from your past, wood, hay and stubble, rough stones all piled on, they weigh you down and make it hard to breathe. Things that gratify your false self. But that is not you. Keep chipping away at all that crappy stuff. The gold is not far below the surface. Your true self is about to shine like the sun. Breathe deep, revel in all that you are, all the goodness in its simplicity. Love passionately, take joy in the simple things. Love passionately. Did I say love passionately? Yes, love passionately. Passionately!

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11 reasons why new zealand is better than australia 

I am in New Zealand on a business trip. It is 7.45pm and I have finally finished tapping out a few work emails in my comfortable Auckland CBD hotel room. Upon reflection, I would say that our neighbours across the Tasman Sea impress me much. Here are some of my thoughts about our nearby mates from the land of the long white cloud:

1/ They are a bloody friendly bunch, much more-so than us Aussies. They seem less harsh in their mannerisms and generally more helpful.
2/ Many of their shopping centre carparks have double lines so there is a gap to enable you to open your door without worrying about hitting the car next to you. We have more land than them so we have no excuse for not following their brilliance and ingenuity in this regard. 
3/ I just saw an ad on TV telling people to sneeze into their elbow crease rather than into their hand. Very practical! Aussies take note, we would spread less germs and sickness by implementing this idea, but then I suppose there would be less excuses to call a “sickie” on Monday mornings. 
4/ They seem to have integrated European and Maori culture much better than we have done with Aboriginal civilisation in Australia. The Haka at sporting events is a case in point. This is also apparent by the many business meetings I’ve had with a substantial Maori representation in middle and senior management. Unfortunately it is rare to see indigenous Aboriginal representation in corporate Australia. 
5/ Maori people are strong but affectionate. Consider the hongi greeting. It is a traditional welcome expressed by the rubbing or touching of noses, something akin to the amiable French custom of double cheek kissing. It is much more intimate than the European, Aussie, U.S. and British (Western) custom of shaking hands (which originated by making sure the other person did not have a sword in their hand). It is probably more hygienic too, since we don’t wipe our bums with our nose. Sure, I know not everyone does it, (except maybe Prince Harry on his recent visit), but compare the hongi with the aggressive looking haka. It is like the stark contrast between the aggressive and tortured protagonist in Phantom Of The Opera and the sweet and beautiful Christine Daaé . Such a beautiful blend… I think you get the idea.

6/ Many New Zealanders are very practically minded and seem to have common sense smarts. They are resourceful and technically minded, many have superb mechanical aptitude – this is a good thing. Being so distanced from the rest of the world, I would say this has probably been born out of necessity. Watch the movie “The Worlds Fastest Indian” with Anthony Hopkins playing Bert Munro and you will see what I am talking about. Not sure that peeing on lemon trees will do them any good though. 

7/ They have good wine, food and coffee. What more could a person want? Did I say good coffee? I should have said excellent coffee, and the food and wine is to die for.

8/ They make better movies than us… well at least my children think so, Lord of The Rings a case in point. I can’t remember the last Blockbuster made in Australia…. and their comedians? Well let’s just admit upfront that Flight of the Conchords is way funnier than Paul Hogan and even Adam Hills. 
9/ The South Island is one of the most beautiful places to explore and visit in the whole entire world. My partner and I explored that wonderful paradise a few years ago, it was amazing and totally sublime. If it is not on your bucket list then it most certainly should be.
10/ I love how Maori New Zealanders call me “brother”. This resonates with my inner knowing of the oneness of all humankind.

11/ New Zealanders seem to have a stronger sense of social responsibility and accept minorities better than Australians and the rest of the world. In 1838 they became the first country to extend the vote to women. Then in 2013 same sex marriage became legalised.

Humankind can learn much from New Zealand. Let us observe their ways and follow their good example. I strongly believe that doing so will make the world a much more compassionate and accepting place to live.

we are not the good guys

I think it is a little strange that some of us who have shown compassion and support for the Australians recently executed in Bali have been criticised for not showing as much attention to the Anzacs. This happened to the songwriter/singer Guy Sebastian the other day when he wrote a song about those poor souls. I believe he wrote it from a heart full of compassion for his brothers. He actually did honour the Anzacs in his own humble way, he just didn’t advertise it.

My father fought in WW2 serving in the British Navy, his brother died as a Japanese POW worked and starved to death on the infamous Burma Railroad. His father served as a sniper in WW1 (killed many “nasty” Germans), my Scottish great grandfather was apparently some type of Boer war hero and is now buried at Stirling Castle. My maternal Grandfather was in the elite Welsh Guard storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, saw his best friend die with a bullet to the head and suffered much trauma and deprivation. He shared his personal accounts with this wide eyed young boy in the 1970’s. I cannot forget the look in Granddads eyes as he shared these harrowing tales as though they were still happening. 

I cannot take any pride in the war history of my ancestors, there is no badge of honour. I choose not to rise for an early morning dawn service or wear any of my Dads medals, that is my choice.
War is an abominable, treacherous beast and I don’t think we should ever celebrate it in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I know for most people it is about a respectful remembrance, I get that. But I also see signs of some who want celebrate and take pride in the the war history of their ancestors. 
My Father (now in his late 80’s and suffering Alzheimer’s Disease) certainly never marched or took part in any of these remembrance activities. I don’t recall my Grandfather did either. They all hated war. My Dad still talks about “the warmongers”. It’s true that there are those who seek war and prosper from it. Profiteering from war is one the worst of humanities sins against each-other. 
Please understand that I am not saying we should not honour the Anzacs, I certainly think there is a place for that. And as humans it gives us some comfort to honour the dead in various ways. It’s good to remember them,  but I think most importantly it is good to remember the futility of war. But don’t judge me because I don’t partake of these ceremonies the same way that you do.  
I fully agree that we should never forget the horrible injustice and suffering that happened in WW1 & WW2. It was an appalling unprecedented loss of life and suffering, such a horrible mess, but let us recognise the truth that it wasn’t just made by “the baddies”, it wasn’t all just good versus bad. It was made by us, yes US human beings.
We don’t want to talk about the millions of people killed by the English in India and Ireland or the mistreatment of Australian aborigines because that is just too uncomfortable. Australia is part of the British commonwealth and apparently we are the good guys. 
Not everyone will accept these truths, especially commonwealth people with a proud and superior ‘them and us’ separatist attitude. But the reality is that we can’t just blame The German Kaiser, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Mussolini, Hitler and the Japanese. WE! …all human beings need to own that horrible mess.
On the same day that Australians were storming the beaches of Gallipoli the Turks were implementing an appalling genocide of Armenian people that would total up to 1.5 million dead, yet we never talk about that because it didn’t directly affect us. Turkey has still not admitted its wrong doing in that terrible rape and butchering of innocent men women and children.
So. Let us remember the terrible suffering and loss of our brothers and sisters, the 8,100 Australians who died at Gallipoli, the 62,000 Australians who died in WW1, the 27,000 Aussies who died in WW2, these were appalling losses for a country with such a small population. But let us also remember the 2 million German women and children who were brutally raped by Russian soldiers (they were on our side), the 60 million who died under Stalin, the 6 million Jewish holocaust victims, the Armenians who were all but wiped out, the Poles who were on our side but we’re still enslaved for another ten years by our allies after WW2, the half a million refugees, men, women and children who were horribly killed by torturous incendiary  bombing raids in Germany by British and U.S. Bombers. The 300,000 Chinese people that were brutally butchered (mostly with bayonets) in Nanking (as well as 20,000 women and girls raped) by Japanese soldiers, 50 million who died under Chairman Mao, I could go on, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur et al. Such untold misery and appalling waste of precious life that happened from both sides. 
When I was in Edinburgh Scotland earlier this year my wife and I read a plaque on an old church wall that told the story of a 17 year old boy who was hung for blasphemy a few hundred years ago. When I read that I imagined living in those days and my son being executed for such a menial misdemeanour. Yes I imagined my beloved son Joshua or Jared being up on those gallows, just thinking about made my eyes well up in tears, I choked up a bit. That’s the loving heart of a father. I choked up because I realised that it actually happened to some poor parents. It happened in Edinburgh and many places multiple times all over the the world. 
The warmongers will count numbers of lost and feed more to their terrible fate, but the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and lovers will forever grieve the terrible loss of just one. Murder, execution, killing, genocide, annihilation, extermination, massacre and death. Us humans should never ever implement murder against our brothers and sisters. Not one, not hundreds, thousands or millions. Not even for two sorry lost souls who were executed in Bali earlier this week. It is all disgusting, horrible and appalling.

freedom, love, compassion and true equality

I believe in marriage equality. A lot of my friends do not, I do respect their right to hold these views. I’ve heard many arguments: “Let them live together but don’t call it marriage”. I have heard it said that if we allow gay people to marry it may open the door towards all sorts of horrible activities like bestiality and whatnot. That is an argument that is dehumanising and hard to respect. I don’t think anyone is planning to marry their dog or cat anytime soon. I really love my Winston but I’m not ready to take that step lol!

Let’s be serious, we are all human beings, in all our splendour and glory, we are all different, we all have crap that we carry, some twisted mindsets here and there. But we all carry an inner radiance that is sublime and divine. This is regardless of our choices and regardless of our sexual orientation. As human beings we all deserve the right to be equally and legally recognised in regard to the choice of our life partner. Religion might say otherwise but true love, acceptance and compassion contravenes this.

I know a multitude of good Christian men who love their wives deeply, I’ve also known some who have physically and verbally abused them. They did this at the same time as hypocritically having strong opinions towards those apparently sinful Gay people. Yes, those terrible ungodly people who are trying to steal the sacred institution of marriage away from them!

We all have our faults and misgivings. I know gay couples who have love towards each other no less than loving Christian couples I’ve met. Jesus rallied strongly against religious paradigms that separated and judged people they somehow considered less than them. In those days it was Samaritans, tax collectors and prostitutes. Maybe today amongst other things it is those seeking marriage equality. I believe the issue of marriage equality should have more to do with compassion towards our fellow human beings than trying to protect our so called Christian rights.

In 1958 Martin Luther King Jr declared,
“When any society says that I cannot marry a certain person, that society has cut off a segment of my freedom.”

I’m throwing my hat in the ring towards freedom, towards compassion, towards love and true equality for all of my fellow human beings.

i’m the only self i’ve got

Surrender my fears to the self of my dreams, flying over the voice in my head. Embrace the beast, play with him, he’s got nothing on me, it’s all just pretend. 

I kiss you, embrace you, but fuck off now, you’ve got nothing on me. I caress you, feel you, then away with your negative shit. I invite you into my heart, then strangle the breath out of you, you are my good friend, the one I use and truly despise. 

Love and hate wins me over, fear bound no more. Me, I’m just me, I can be my true self, the one my mother gave birth to, like floating in embryonic fluid, no guilt, no remorse, it’s heaven, not hell, I rest in my perfect self. 

I’ll cry for myself, then love to excess, so much crap, so much beauty here, my heart breaks then explodes, can’t keep it in, waves pound my body against the rocks, I scream in pain, close my eyes, float on the soothing water, soothe my soul, gives me peace, I rest in peace, I am peace. 

I’m not sorry for any of it, it doesn’t matter, accepting myself, everything I am, the good, the bad, the light, the dark, the indifference, the crazy, I’m good with it all, learning to know who I really am, soothes my soul, radiating love, I rest in love, I am love. 

Because I’m just me, no better than the best, no worse than the rest, I’m good at being me, proud of all I am, there’s no one else in here, I’m the only self I’ve got, soothing me, I am me, I rest in me. 

do you suffer anxiety, depression or mood swings?

Do you or anyone in your family suffer depression, anxiety or mood swings? Have you prayed to God for a solution to no avail? It’s not a weakness to admit that you suffer from any of these ailments.. and they do not in any way define you as a person. It’s a physical thing. You can show great strength by seeking help. This is the bravest of all steps you can take. It is most likely that certain chemicals are not being sufficiently produced in your brain, or maybe the neural pathways don’t work properly. There is absolutely no shame in this. These things can be fixed. I have a big family, and I’m very thankful to our local psychiatrist. Utilising medical science has been a great blessing to me and my family. Don’t wait until your life falls apart. Take the step now.