Hate Speech Bill – South Africa Commentary / Objection needed

Dear Mr T. Ross

RE: HATE CRIMES BILL – public comment

hatecrimes@justice.gov.za

Herewith my request with regards to the “Hate Crimes Bill” currently being processed in Parliament:

  • That the Bill be given far more time for scrutiny, evaluation and response by the public.
  • That the definition of “Hate Crimes” is too broad and is not going to link with the Constitution for Freedom of Speech and Democracy and freedom for all. This needs to be reworked.
  • The Christian Bible does not contain hate speech by way that any speech coming from a person’s mouth contains their personal choice of presentation and interpretation (as per Reader Response Theory academic studies), and any person receiving speech receives it in the tone and interpretation of their own choice. Neither the speaking, nor the interpreting, comes from an ‘inherent’ meaning in any written texts. The people speaking and hearing create their meaning, not the paper and ink.

Please address these points urgently,

Signed an EXTREMELY concerned South African citizen who wants to live in LOVE not the FEAR this “Bill” creates. We need to stop using the word “hate” and start using the word “love”. People’s hearts need to change, not more ‘crimes by law definition’ be created.

Shannan.

 

Yesterday, I received a WatsApp video from a dear Christian Friend. The clip was created by the Family Policy Institute www.familypolicyinstitutue.com. info@familyinstitutepolicy.com  In the video the gentleman asks people to send emails to the address above. He lists three things that we should email in regards to, but no instruction is given as to how we should word the email, or what we should say, or how the policy is being dealt with and what exactly the public need to contribute. I think that the policy would need to be downloaded and commented on from that perspective.

In this world of three minute media where all one does is watch and pass on via whatever social ‘feed’ is utilised, I can only pray that people will not be apathetic and think ‘someone else will do something’. Someone told me “Have faith in God, He will do something”… and all that is in my head is that that is like me saying to my class: “Right learners here is your task, please respond.”

And the class says to me: “No, Miss, we aren’t going to respond because you already know the answer and we will just wait for you to give it to us…” I don’t think that My Teacher would be very happy if I said: “Sorry God, I’ll just wait for You to do something for me.”

So, I am asking you to copy and paste the beginning of my blog and send it off to Mr T Ross. If you can work those copy and paste buttons😉 OR, even better, download the Bill and give it a full dissertation😉

Further to my opening, the following points have circumvented my mind a few times…

1) Have the other faiths been included? As the references to homosexuality are in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is shared by the Jews, Muslims and Christians, are all the faiths defending their Scriptures?

2) Reader Response Theory. Has this been consulted and dealt with? This is the academic way of thinking that has gone into the reasoning that no text within itself has any definitive meaning. The meaning is created by the people who use the text, through their own personal choices and applications of the text. In other words, a human’s personal experience will create the feelings, tones, individual means of expression and intonation patterns, based purely on themselves as individuals and not on a set of words in a book.

3) I’d like to extend my thanks to those with legal minds and legal training who are stepping up in defense of a Book that holds stories more than 2000 years old. In a world that is becoming more and more apathetic, it is indeed good news to know that they are out there making the difference that those of us in the other spheres of service can’t. Thank-you for your training, your proactive behaviour and for stepping out as missionaries in the field of law. God is Good.

I have been pondering the scenario and I would like to lift up this blog as a prayer to those fighting for the integrity and historical context of The Word of God. In no way should a 21st century law be able to condemn or twist or take out of its authentic context, a Book of Stories that is part of something from 2000 years ago, a provision of the only constant stability in a world that is becoming more unstable and inconstant by the day. Literally.

For those wanting to condemn 2000 year old words as hate speech, I would have to ask why? The Old Testament was around during the Ancient Greek and Roman times when there was even pottery created with pictures of gay men doing their thing on it. Promiscuity and homosexuality are things that have been around for as long as the Bible has been, yet never in 2000 years has any human law placed Christianity in the context of ‘hate speech’… so why would a ‘more secure’, ‘more modern’, ‘more open and accepting’ society take more offense and have less ability to accept what the generations before it created? It is not the words in the Bible that are the problem, but the people who choose how they use the words and/or interpret the words . . . One who is STABLE and SECURE in WHO THEY ARE and WHAT THEY BELIEVE will never be shaken by anything outside of themselves, because they are STABLE and SECURE. It’s an inner peace. I love my inner peace. God is Good.

In the modern 21st century people are seen to be more civilised and more educated. No-one is a gladiator anymore, the Dark Ages of Medieval Religious battles have been (sadly are not altogether gone) and the days of burning people at the stake didn’t last either, all for excellent reason; BUT the BIBLE has lasted, it has stayed, it has outlived violence, treachery, scandal, plagues and even Roman Empires where the words of the emperors, and their statues and buildings have not survived as impeccably as the Word of God, known as The Bible, has.

Still, as we are told, there will be persecutors, those who do not see and do not understand. I pray that those holding up The Word of God will be blessed with His Provision, His Words, His perfect timing and Perfect Inspiration in whatever way or form is needed to ensure that The Word survives just another bump in its eternal Road. I pray for all those involved, that The Light might be turned on inside them so that they can realise the necessity of The Word of God to bring people to Soul Peace and one-on-one interaction and engagement with a truly personal Father in Heaven. I pray that the Lord will insure that the integrity and awesomeness of His Text will not be discredited in any way that would stop potential followers from believing. I pray that all who are unhappy, insecure and broken in themselves find an AWESOME way within themselves to reach their balance, security and stability, and that they realise that this cannot and will not be affected, effected, created or broken by mere paper and ink.

I pray God’s Will Be Done and His Glory be once again Outstanding in the most incredible ways as His Story continues to unfold, and He continues to be victorious in every way.

I pray this in absolute faith that our Good God hears, knows and acts in Amazing Ways!

Amen!

In the Meantime, while you wait, join the Fellowship of Suffering

Herewith, my ponderings on the concept of the “Fellowship of Suffering” after watching Andy Stanley’s DVD on what to do “In the Meantime” whilst you are waiting for something, or are ‘stuck’ in a situation you can’t change. As God works in His AMAZING ways, I was reading “A Voice in the Wind” by Francine Rivers (a loan from a friend) at the same time as I was watching the Stanley series. The book is a fictional historical recapture of the Biblical times of Paul and the disciples, which Andy Stanley speaks about in the DVD series… unbelievable!

So I sit, living through what I am: a ghost visiting me and the knowing that a lawyer sued a priest for continually raping her in the ‘spiritual’ realm every night from when she was a child – “Fellowship of Suffering”; making my life easier, knowing that I am not the only one with such imaginings; knowing that I am not the only one going through an illogical and indescribably inexplicable experience. Thank-You LORD, that mine are born from what feels like an intense, kindly love now, and not a desire to have and control from pure frustration and human-created hell and demand with unGodly intent.

Another fellow in my ‘Fellowship of Suffering’:  Hadassah, a fictional character, who chooses God over love of the earthly kind… her reasons are as mine: Trusting God; an inability to deal with the guilt and consequences around not choosing God; a knowing in our souls that He is The Way and The Life, without Him there is no Hope, or Genuine Love, or Freedom from self-oppression. To choose an unGodly man would be insane, when there is a SOUL-BELIEF that The Best way forward is to be yoked with a Godly man, a man who lives, breathes and acts Biblical Principles for real (meaning that the Principles of Goodness aren’t only shown only as lip service but in reality; meaning that if he doesn’t act in a Biblical way then he feels the hypocrisy and the guilt and his conscious gnaws at his soul and he falls apart without God). A man who knows that putting God first, and not himself, is the only way to live without being in perpetual Darkness, turmoil and purposelessness.

My third current fellowship member: Marcus – of the book “Echo in the Darkness”, by Francine Rivers – and how everything on earth has lost its value to him: taste is no longer a sensual activity, life’s adventurous exhilarations no longer have an effect like they did before; and all because his eyes have been opened to truth, to LOVE in its true awesomeness. Even so, Marcus still holds onto the Darkness so he can ‘have his way’, ultimately denying, by choice, his own freedom, his own choice to know LOVE in the form of an INCREDIBLE GOD. The choice to know: ULTIMAT EPEACE. The choice to know God through the example of Jesus Christ and the suggested way of Living the Bible teaches. Once again I join Marcus in the ‘Fellowship of Suffering’ because he too hears a voice in the wind, a voice that literally matches the timbre of the voice of the person he fell completely and entirely in love with – body, mind and soul. I too hit that realisation nearly 6 years ago, when I met the man whose voice timbre matched the voice of ‘God in my head’… My experience was the reverse of Marcus’s; I heard ‘God’s voice’ first, then I heard the man’s voice that matched it. Marcus met the woman first and then heard her voice in his head afterwards. Either way: Fellowship of Suffering. Both of us will get through it somehow. I have yet to finishing reading the book, I bought it yesterday🙂

I know that there is no logical explanation for anything that I am going through. I know that God’s instruction to me over the last 6 years has been “wait”: Wait through melancholic depression. Wait through anxiety and post-traumatic-stress. Wait through physical ailments that have taken me away from my release, my third love: Dancing. Wait through the unhappy, embarrassing and socially-awkward biological state of gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance and crazy-horrible reactions to sugar and alcohol. Wait through the work stress that has not stopped mounting for years with unforeseeable circumstances and colleagues who ‘couldn’t cope’. Wait through financial struggles; wait through family conflicts, explosions and heart-breaking realisations that I would never, ever, have expected. Wait through recovery from accidents. Wait through a searing lonely, empty, separate-from-human-love incompleteness that defies all human rationale and understanding. Wait through the stress of transport hell and fear. Wait through the blood tests and medical trials. Wait through the chronic fatigue. Wait through the confusion and brokenness of being human in a broken world. Wait… that’s was I have been called to do, that’s what my being, my soul, my bones tell me… wait… and now, I have recently been reminded that the waiting, the “in the Meantime suffering”, is purposeful. That all I have been through and am going through in these hardships, purely by the strength and power of my most Awesome Father in Heaven, is my qualification and ability to be uniquely and precisely trained to help others and open the way for them to know that whatever they are going through, however many years it lasts, it will be ok. God is GOOD and you WILL survive, you WILL reap wonderful moments and be used in INCREDIBLE ways to comfort others as God has and IS comforting you. Your life has incredible purpose, if you choose to let it be so. I am choosing to let it be so. I am choosing to have purpose, to use the hell I have been living through to serve others, to be a ‘Hadassah’ and trust in kindness, goodness, truth, honesty, responsibility, accountability, love, purity and hope. I want to live a life I can be proud of, a life where I can stand in front of God, man, whoever, and genuinely say: “I gave my all, I did my best, I gave and I loved as best I could in my brokenness. I chose to have purpose.”

So; do I know for sure if the man with the voice really is “The One” God would like me to be with in person? No. Do I know if what I am waiting for will ever happen as I have imagined? No. Do I know if I am “psychologically” OK? No. Will I keep trusting and waiting? Yes. ABSOLUTELY; for my path is not my own, I am in a joint venture with God and He is a GOOD GOD. I know my conscience and I know what will ruin my story. What will ruin my story is taking the reins from God and trying to do things ‘my way’. What will ruin my desire to end my life with a good story is if I stop listening to the voice, from wherever it comes, and I force myself to go against my Soul-knowing; THAT would be a far, far worse way to live than anything else I can imagine; and I have one very explicit and capable imagination going on😉

May you choose your story wisely, and live it well. May you join in the “Fellowship of Suffering” to give yourself purpose and overflowing joy. May God’s peace and Love be with you in your journey, every step of the way. God Bless.

Resignation Letter to Learners from Dramatic Arts Teacher

Dear Learners,

RE: My resignation

Firstly, I would like to apologise for stepping into your classroom with my own agenda – to see if I would like / could teach within the private school system. I left the state syllabus as I had taught it for so long, I desired something new. I wanted to teach in a new environment and make sure I was accurate in my decision of where to settle for my last set of pension earning decades. I made the decision and accepted the post because I believed that God had firmly positioned everything, literally everything, for me to move over and be of service in a new school, with a new group of learners.

Now I sit in major doubt as to how I can serve.

I am well aware of your ability to adapt and adjust and get on with living and doing your tasks. I am sure that you would understand my situation and can carry on fairly unscathed by my actions. After all, I have taught you – in my brief few months here – not to let people who do so little for you, control so many of your emotions (courtesy of Mr Will Smith). And that is where I now find myself – as someone who can do very little for you in your context.

You see, your educative environment is purely ‘mark’ directed. All of you place your worth and your level of esteem and ability in the hands of your teachers and strangers who apply a letter to your efforts. I hate that. I hate that your efforts are compared and categorised when you are SUCH unique individuals with so many strengths and abilities that cannot and will never be ‘markable’; yet you don’t see it that way. You haven’t been trained to see it that way. You have been trained to take that chronological number that has been assigned to someone’s categories of worth, and you make that assumptive value your personal value. I hate that. You are not the value of some other human’s assessment and judgment of you. Your value is that of gold and silver, refined in THE Refiner’s Fire. Sculpted by THE Potter’s Hands and sealed in The Kiln of The Most Awesome Creator. Your abilities are limitless. Your talents span the width of your imagination, but therein lies the rub: educators, often people who don’t even believe in themselves, people who have suffered under the same marking system that you are suffering, are in control. I hate that. I hate that people who are not called to teaching, are teaching. They are inflicting their insecurities on you, and contorting you to bend to their whims and their rules and comfort zones by squashing you into the boxes created by random numbers, otherwise known as: Percentages. And you, in your innocence and ignorance as children, accept it. You accept the forces of control and irrationality, and the confines and restrictions the syllabus and system impose on you and brand into you. I hate it.

I sit in this moral conundrum. Who am I to judge? Isn’t it only God who should judge? Who am I to say this is worth an “A” when the learner has been lazy and then just uses God’s Given Talent at the last minute on stage? Who am I to say that the learner who has worked so hard, given everything and stretched themselves into empathy, passion and courage at the highest level, is only worth a “C” because she doesn’t have the acting technique that I prefer? A for Ass, C for Courageous… A for Arrogant, C for Committed… A for Algebra, C for Calculus? The marks assigned by strangers in Drama, for an Exam are meaningless to me, for such reasons. Yet, for you, for my learners, they mean everything. I find it absurd, absolutely absurd.

I find myself now in turmoil over what you expect, what your requirements are for a teacher – someone who will get you an “A”, when some of you are just not in possession of the “X-Factor”, you are not categorically, by the piece of paper and the blocks I have to tick, an “A”… but your parents, your family, your friends, your teachers who have you as their ‘pet’, are telling you that you are an “A”. Why do they say that? Because they love you and that is what they see, that is what they know. Because they don’t have assigned tick boxes. Because they have no idea what vocal characterisation is, or what it entails. They don’t have a clue about projection and body dynamic and the technical “have to have’s” for an “A” in a Drama Exam. They are right, God has created you as a potential “A” candidate, but that “A” is not in Dramatic Arts in the private school system. In the state system – yes, there you can get an “A” because your interpretation, your ability to stand cold on a stage and use only yourself to engage with an audience is considered “A” material. It is not so in the private system… and this is where the private system clashes with ME.

It clashes with my belief in all of you and your incredibly hard work being worth that “A”. It clashes with my belief in the examiner being open to everything s/he sees on stage. It clashes with my belief that an actor with nothing on stage is more powerful than an actor who needs the prop of a prop… I can see your soul, your integrity, your truth in the character when it is only you up there, when I am not distracted by a tea-towel in your hand or an item that you throw across the stage. I am not cut off from you when you have a table in front of you. I am not subjected to being an observer of your conversation with a statue on stage. I engage with you, you move my soul, I see your soul has moved, when you interact with me, the soul in the audience who is listening to your message, hearing your words and forming a soulful bond with the character you have taken on in order to take me on a journey. I cannot watch you giving soul on stage and place it in boxes. I cannot tell you that your everything is worth so little, when it is not. I cannot train you in my way, I cannot ask you to act to my style of laying your soul open on stage, when your external examiners want props, want set, want pure type-cast, stereotypical, by-the-book, copy-and-paste, done the same over and over, performances. I am not made that way. I can’t expect every 17/18 year old to contort their body into the assumption that a 50 year old has no strength and must change their body to be ‘old’! I can’t force you to assume that you know exactly what a playwright ‘made’ a character to be, and that anyone on the planet could recreate a stereotype of something someone else thinks. You are not parrots or monkeys. You are not made to ‘fakely’ copy another director’s perceptions or preferences. You are you, with your own ideas, your own interpretations, your own directorial perceptions, I cannot and will not force you to lose integrity with yourself to copy and paste your work to be that of someone else.

I am not made to follow man and fit into the whims of mans’ insecurities. I walk in the knowing, the absolute conviction, that God has placed me where He has in order to touch souls. In order to awaken the inner light that is so dull inside you, so that you can believe in yourselves, so that you can know the truth of what eternal is. So that you can walk away having experienced something ‘out of this world’, something that has allowed you a moment of ‘touching God’; and then gone a step further by giving you a stage, a platform, an audience, to help them touch a moment with God, with themselves and their truths and insecurities, to open their hearts and know that ‘it is ok’, ‘you are not alone’…

The problem comes in – I cannot get you the marks set by this system, this syllabus, purely because I don’t believe in the system or the syllabus. I don’t know how to dance to the tune of materialism and worldly judgment. I only want to dance to the tune of truth, of praise and worship, of love, honesty, sincerity, authenticity and all that is so hard to achieve in our current society.

I sit, disturbed at a very deep level. I sit and type this letter to you in confusion with regards to the rigidity and conformism that I have found is dictated into ART, into an EXPRESSIVE and PERSONAL TO THE CREATOR subject. I am not made in a capacity that can serve you in this ‘private school’ context. Its non-transparency, for very real reasons I am sure, as I have had to personally deal with you annihilating me for ticking boxes that you disagreed with. I have had your parents annihilate me for not giving you the “A” they “know” you deserve. I have seen teachers with unhealthy “preferences” and completely subjective “reasoning” sway examiners with nonsense to get marks “improved”. I know firsthand why non-transparency would be chosen… even so, non-transparency with only ONE examiner is not right or healthy. It is secretive and beyond subjective. The State system, with its full transparency, will have a minimum of two external examiners and then open discussions with teachers, thus often having four examiners deciding on a mark. This is healthy, this is objective, this eliminates personal preference and personal subjectivity. One examiner, on a bad day, could skew an entire set of marks. One examiner who does not like a particular style, or has his/her own agenda can completely whitewash a year to poor marks because s/he ‘didn’t like it’, or has ‘seen it done better’, ‘or preferred the movie’ or ‘was raped herself and that is not what it looks or feels like’, or ‘I haven’t studied dance, or danced myself (I’m not that talented) but I wouldn’t say that was good’… Sub-conscious jealousies, personal agendas, self-righteousness, lack of understanding of a piece; all of those can factor into a single ‘examiner’ and how s/he allocates his/her personal choice of marks… I don’t believe it is right or fair to have one solo adjudicator who bears the burden of allocating marks without confirmation from another, and who gets sole control over setting a judgment over another human being’s creative work.

I find myself despondent, at my wits end trying to work through this, trying to fathom how I can work in such an unfair and distorted system. This is why I am resigning my dear children. I don’t want to be aligning you with my dreams and goals and lighting your souls, when your goals are the marks given by one person, in one moment, making one judgment call on you. I am not in the business of teaching for marks, of teaching to make some single other person able to put you in a box, ‘the best box’; because I don’t believe in ‘boxing’ anyone’s creative efforts…

I have also now encountered a horror of truth in the examination assessment that I have had to live through. In the feedback I asked for help, because I had been told that I had to tell you what to do. . . a.k.a. “Direct you.” Me? That if you aren’t working, if you aren’t getting the interpretation that the examiner wants from you (bearing in mind that I am not even told what that interpretation or expectation is with regards to what marks they assign – so I am expected to orientate myself around some invisible ‘standard’ / ‘expectation’); then it is my ‘fault’ – so … this means that your exam mark, your ticked box has nothing to do with your performance and everything to do with MY directing! Who is the most important part of any play? “The Director”. Who is the cog in any show? “The Director”. Who gets nailed with the criticism and torn to pieces if a play is ‘bad’ (as dictated by some person ticking their own random preference boxes)? “The Director”.  It’s so completely twisted that I would be required to tell you how to act on stage and then MARK MYSELF! I am not into teaching practical Dramatic Arts to have myself come in and tell other people what to do. I did not go to University to become a Director; I studied my second qualification to TEACH. The goal of this teacher is to create INDEPENDENT, self-aware, capable to handle the real world learners, not DEPENDENT on me human beings… Yes, there are wiser people than ourselves out there, yes, we go to others for advice, yes, input from others is always advisable, but telling others what to do and how to do it? Surely not… What happens when my poor direction then reduces a learner to have lower marks because I didn’t notice something? Then, what about when you refuse to listen to my direction? When you do what you feel like and then I get slammed for it? Not fair, not ‘right’.

On top of all this, apparently, if learners don’t type up their programmes, then I must do it for them? What the? What on earth is that teaching any child? If you don’t do your work, it’s ok, someone else will do it for you and because that other person does it so well, you can get a great mark and call it “my mark”? How is that healthy? Helpful? Truthful? I am not employed to be a slave, or someone who is going to take on all responsibility for people who are apathetic and couldn’t care… I am not made to hide mistakes and flaws, I want them revealed, I want consequences for actions and behaviour to happen. I want learners to learn to be responsible for their own work, their own future, their own lives.

This in totality means, I do not fit the private school system. It means my values; my ethic and my purpose do not align with the methodology and learning system that you (and your parents) have chosen for your education. It means I am not fit to provide the service you are expecting or the mark alignment and mark affirmations that you crave and build your lives around. It means I am not fit to be your Dramatic Arts teacher.

You are amazing learners and the potential within you to become awesome adults is great. I truly wish and pray that you know it, see it, believe it and become proud of yourselves; and that you achieve in fabulous ways in all the years ahead… how you gauge and assess your level of achievement… well, I hope it is not by some tick box or the ratings of some “Body” that some humans have declared “important”. I hope that your assessment of yourselves lies purely in the depth of your Souls and how you engage with YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. In the darkest part of the night may you be able to say: “It is well”, “It is good”, “I am content, I am at peace, I have served a mighty purpose, and an amazing God in a loving, kind, true and eternally pleasing way today”. Amen.

Stay blessed and know you are Loved,

Sir.

Copy and Paste – Teacher’s Practical Exam Experience

My friend had his first experience of external grade 12 practical examinations in the private school system… the start of his email read: “Horrible”. He recently left a state school to teach at a private school… The state methodology of transparency is something that he told me he now rates as WAY better and WAY healthier than the set up that he had to live through. He emailed me frankly and mentioned these, amongst other points, to express why he was so bleak about the experience – some of his email:

  • You get ‘feedback’ that is general and offers no specific help or guidance in the way of the necessities. It is generic with ifs and buts and cannot be applied to every learner. On top of that, hints are made with regards to the performances that were shown and were not ‘of standard’.
  • That need to control… it kept resonating in me. That need to put across what they want done and how they want it done. This examiner was rigid, in that he believes there should be minimal learner interpretation and that they need to play the character only to the truth of the playwright. . . so therein comes a big problem – the playwright is dead. An 18 year old IS NOT 60 or 70 or 45 years old. An 18 year old does not have the life experience or background to tap into what someone decades older than themselves would be feeling or how their body would be shaped. This means that the examiner wanted the same OTT, type cast, non-interpreted soulless ‘acting’ that is merely ‘copy and paste’ from the original. I AM SICK TO DEATH of COPY AND PASTE! It’s plagiarism on a larger scale. They can’t plagiarise in their projects or exams, so why are they then having to on stage? UGH!
  • It’s not the learners being marked, it’s me! The teacher! The examiner said that there have even been times when he typed up the programmes FOR HIS LEARNERS! Saying ‘you have to do what you have to do’… so adults are making themselves sick with stress and working many unpaid hours of overtime. Losing time with their families and time with God, to do the work FOR lazy-ass learners who don’t feel like doing it for themselves?!?! Are you serious?? Yes, he was very serious. He will do the work FOR them! That is SUPER insane! Then the learner gets a mark for the work and it’s ACTUALLY the teacher’s work. That’s technically fraud! Putting someone else’s name on your work for an exam mark. How is that ethical or legal? When teachers send learners home to do their homework and the parent does the project instead, and the teachers get angry … Hypocrisy! How can you get angry at a parent doing a project for their children, when you type up entire programmes for your learners yourself?
  • No transparency – it blows my mind that one person and all their subjectivity and personal baggage, beliefs and preferences makes a decision on his own without knowledge of anything but a once off performance. It’s crazy. The exam system is crazy. One moment, one mark, here, take your box that is represented by a letter of the alphabet that someone, somewhere in history decided to apply to a number they decided to call a percent. There – that letter with a number, that’s what we are going to value you at for this moment, for the rest of your life… all gauged on a once off performance – – – why is humanity still doing this? Maybe learners have learnt the pointlessness of it. The meaninglessness of the mark for that moment. No wonder learners are apathetic these days. How can you motivate a group of soul-hungry, spirit-starved, technology-zombi’d learners with “here, come boy, come, get a mark”? Society and her boxes! It infuriates me so. Learners in the 21st century are more street smart, observant and exposed to hectic realities than any generation that has come before. Sex, drugs, rape, trauma, war, pollution, depression, divorce, immature parents, broken parents, broken homes, animals becoming extinct, technology, abusively orientated television, films and play stations… and examiners want them to roll out “cut and paste”… It’s like this idea of ‘growing’, of ‘engaging with your mind’, applying truth, is just a farce. Examiners still want the same repeated and regurgitated stuff they have always had. It’s like the same regurgitated stuff is the examiners’ comfort zone, what they understand, what they want to see, what they feel comfortable with.

My friend, I’m battling, I’m battling BIG time. I believe in Soul Journey, I believe in the Individual experience, I believe in Individual development into their Own Personal Story, not a generic ‘copy and paste’ reproduction of what someone else did. Not some warped twist to make things plagiarised ‘legally’. I believe in preparing learners for the difficulties that lie ahead in an unknown life that is moving faster than humanity has ever moved before. I believe in learners reaching into themselves to find their own strength, their own character, their own creativity through the tools blessed to them by amazing playwrights. I believe that learners are using the playwrights’ creations to explore the emotions and depths and context of the characters in their own exploratory ways, safely guiding themselves through empathy and depth, truth, authenticity and finding inner peace.

  • The examiner pointed out the strongest performer that he felt was the best in the one group, and I was shocked. The learner had little emotion, little truth, little ability to hold an audience, pronounce the words, or even use diction… the second piece was a whirlwind without technique or story or soul; it was ‘copy and paste’ sans emotion, sans truth, sans believability… The examiner liked the fake / acted / ‘copy and paste’. The bolshie, over-the-top reproduction of the mainstream original. Once again, HUGE conflict for me, huge inner turmoil. I believe performing should mean you have the audience in the palm of your hand; you take the audience on a beautiful journey. Once again, that is MY directing style, my choice, my way of making theatre a living experience that will move Souls and enlighten the Spirit of the Audience members… The examiner wants fake replications. Meaningless copy and pasted musical pieces. Seriously? How can I now continue to teach these learners, knowing that my agenda is not for them to go out and copy and paste, but to go out on a journey with themselves, a journey that goes deeper into themselves and moves their humanity to touch a place of integrity, empathy and wisdom?

I’m stuck in a system that I don’t believe in, but that the people around me have vested their everything into, their limited personal journeys of truth marking my learners’ in depth journeys with their truths… how does that work?

  • A talented actor can stand on the stage with nothing and make the audience feel everything. A talented actor doesn’t need props or costume to bring the stage to life and engage with the audience. A talented actor uses nothing but who they are and who they can become and the rawness of bare-naked truth, exposing themselves completely. . . But, you have to have an engaged, switched-on, open to interpretation, Spiritually activated and responsively intuitive examiner to ‘get’ the talent and efforts of the child, as I see them. You also need an examiner whose love language is words… An examiner who cares about the words and deeper meaning, not just the spectacle and entertainment that can be created by someone who can contort their face into various facial expressions to ‘keep an audience member’s visual attention’. If you look at the majority of the world’s population, they do not use over-the-top facial expressions. Most are so guarded in everything that they do that they don’t reveal anything in their facial expression… So if there is a learner whose facial expression doesn’t exude ‘ott’, then that learner is penalized for what they are physically unable to do… isn’t that discrimination?
  • 17 / 18 year old Drama students are NOT professional performers, so why are they being marked on a level that is expected from professionals? And aged professionals at that.
  • 17 / 18 year old Drama students are not taking Drama to go into the profession of performing arts, about 90% of the learners do not have the ‘X-Factor’, but they are giving a whole lot of heart and soul… Surely an academic subject should have different criteria to a professional performance?
  • I have to teach and direct to a performance standard that I have never seen and do not know. I’m required to play to the feedback of the one examiner who I hopefully will not have again next year; but the next examiner may have a completely different preference of style… how do I orientate myself and my learners around a continuously changing and unspecified set of criteria? This process really is pure lunacy. Humans trying to exam creativity, it is pure lunacy…

And puts me in the space of: What am I doing here? How can I help these learners achieve the marks they are so unhealthily desperate for, when I don’t believe in marks, I don’t believe in ‘awards’, I don’t believe in this human world setting the standard for life and creativity? How? If I believe in the beauty of every learner and every performance, how can I be in a system that doesn’t? If my style is facilitation towards learner independence and I am working in a system that believes in teacher control and learner dependence, how am I helping? This is a broken, hurting world, why are we teaching a ‘copy and paste’ work ethic when we need to teach a coping and healing life tools? Why are we teaching ‘reward’ instead of ‘altruism’? Why are we sticking to rigid controls and ‘black and white’ answers in a world where truth is based on perspective and experience and no-one’s interpretation will ever be identical to another’s?

I sit here, stuck. Caught between a knowing of what is truthful and real and what is constructed by people wanting things to be as they want… well aware that as I type, I am wanting things to be seen from ‘my perspective’ and I have no less right to be ‘right’ than anyone else. The boxing system, being applied to people who should be ‘out of the box’, ‘no box required’, is absurd. Drama was never made to be categorised and marked, it was made to explore humanity, reveal humanity to itself, expose truths that should not be kept secret, and open up life to be engaged with on all levels… I feel like the examination session was the antithesis of all I believe, with its secretive, non-transparent marking system, its grids and criteria, its list of boxes that need to be ticked… Dramatic Arts Examining is the Antithesis of the heart and soul of Dramatic Arts… What do I do when the system is opposed to my heart and soul, opposed to my knowing and everything I believe in…

Do I keep going and expose young minds and young lives to my truth, or bow out and let the system of boxes dictate their self-esteem and move their truth into the realm of ‘copy and paste’ for some marks?

Your Torch

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In my new context it feels like I have entered another world. In stark comparison to my upbringing, and how circumstances and context shaped me to be innovative and creative and make a plan in some incredibly challenging situations, I am now meeting more and more of the mindset “someone else must make a plan for me”. “Someone else must do the work”, “Someone else must provide the answers”, “Someone else must spoon-feed me whilst I do the least amount of work possible”, “The responsibility is not mine”, “Someone else is to blame”, “It was their fault, it is their fault, it is not my fault” (like passing the buck is going to solve anything or help anyone – so annoying!) … on and on and on it appears to be entering my space; especially in my teaching role where learners want marks for doing barely anything (for example: I’m talking about learners using a calculator to do their two times table!), people want more pay and rewards for doing less work, people want the system to change (often to help them to do less work), but want other people to action it and make it change whilst they just go on and on and on talking, moaning and grumbling about it… and physically doing to make change happen.

 

After much prayer in my frustration and lack of capacity to spoon feed the academic and practical needs of dozens and dozens of learners, God sent me a very practical image and when I went about demonstrating the vision to some of my learners, the effect was quite something: There were lights starting to twinkle in their understanding, if only for a moment. A seed of thought has at least been planted.

 

In case it may assist someone else, the image was of a torch.

 

I placed the torch on a classroom desk, pointing upwards.

I then asked the learners: “Right, is the desk giving the torch its light?” The response was “No.”

“Am I, the ‘important’ teacher, giving the torch the power to shine?” No, again.

“Is the learner closest to the torch giving it the power to shine?” No.

“Is all of your joint power giving the torch the power to shine?” No.

And so on with regards to sunlight, chairs, etc, depending on the level of the learners.

 

“Ok, so none of this is giving the torch the power to shine. So what is then?”

“Ah, ma’am, it’s the batteries! The batteries are giving it its power!”

“Correct! You are like this torch boys and girls. I am not going to make you shine, I can’t give you the power to shine, you have to do it on your own. Your parents can’t, your friends can’t, you have to choose to use your own batteries to shine. You have to find good things to charge your batteries with so that your light can shine bright and strong, no matter what darkness comes along.”

 

The voices were quiet, but the eyes showed me they got it, some seniors even let out a huge breath and gave a “Sh-oe”…

 

I carried on. I turned the torch off and asked them what was happening. “The light is off Ma’am.”

I turned it on, “And now?”

“It’s on Ma’am.”

I repeated this a few times.

Then I concluded with: “Some of you are walking around completely switched off, please stop it. Please choose to charge your batteries in good places, on good energy and turn your light on: be aware, find the joy inside you, find the creativity, responsibility and awesomeness that live inside you and please choose to let them shine out to light up your lives and the lives of others. Please choose to walk around switched on.”

Happy 5th Birthday !

Hard to believe that it was FIVE YEARS ago that I started this site and thought that it would be “strictly” for my book “Eish! London”.

Instead it has become more of a single positioned marker for my journey as a human being; observing all that goes on around me and making note of certain parts through writing about them. Opinions, thoughts, happy moments, sad moments, angry ones… all just moments, a bit of time represented through my eyes and words. Whilst at the same moment of time, everyone else belonging to the 7 billion plus people on planet earth, is experiencing something different in their own moment, in their own story, with their own characters, in their own setting…

I have often wondered if it is even worth journalling here, because it gets swallowed up amongst all the other ones and zeros that make up the millions of sites and articles all over the internet… it’s only my story, my moment in that moment; who would ever read it, or come back to it, or even remember it, except me?

Maybe, on some level, another has read it (a post of mine), related to it and felt more ok with themselves, who they are, why they are, what they are up to and why they are up to it, because of it. Maybe one of the entries has touched someone, somewhere and made them feel ok about what they are thinking and how they are feeling, and/or what they are going through…maybe, then again, maybe not.

Still, I feel it in me to keep this going, keep posting every now and then, to put a bit of me out into the vast nothingness of indefinable space and time, if for no-one else in the end, maybe just for me, just to mark the fact that I was here, that I lived and breathed and experienced too, and that my living created something… maybe even something good…

“Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could… so somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I”… hope I have done something good.

Stay blessed, Thanks for reading and HAPPY 5th Birthday to my site… for someone who has been told she doesn’t follow through with things, this birthday month is a significant one.

God bless!

This too shall pass

“This too shall pass”: so many meanings and levels to it; many dynamics and interpretations.

“Shall pass”, as in: be accepted by God and “pass” the test of life.

As in: It shall all end at some point, “pass” away.

As in: It shall all be traveled through / over, like the Drakensberg “Pass”, “Sani Pass” or any mountain “pass”.

Everything “this too” shall be celebrated as it is with “Pass” Over, all shall be taken care of and joyously remembered as the horrid “past” it was, for the purpose of creating gratitude for being saved and taken away from the horror, and for the sake of remembering to take nothing for granted.

As in: shall get a “Pass” book, and be able to step into the kingdom of Heaven, with the “Pass” stamped, with the “Pass” that says you are allowed into this area, you are allowed to enjoy.

As in: A Disneyland “Pass”, the ticket has been paid for, Jesus stepped in and paid for the ticket that offers a pass to Heaven, to joy, to Wonderland, to all that has been created for enjoyment…

“This too shall pass”… This Too, as in all that has happened before has “Passed”; it has achieved progression to the next level, it has “Passed”, lived in the past and survived, just as my ‘now’ shall become ‘passed’ and thus be in the past and I shall ‘too’ survive once again.

FASCINATING. I think that this is the reason that the Bible is a LIVING Word, Good News, The Way to connect to God, and applicable to every human in all their situations. Wherever you are, whoever you are, you can apply, interpret, understand and be part of the journey, the truth and the complexity of God’s awesomeness, God’s great Word Choice and HIS story, history.

This is also where I hum and ah, and sigh, and shake my head at those controlling individuals who stand up and expect The Bible to have one meaning alone for every scripture. Anyone who does that makes me skeptical about their belief system and whether or not it is about God and His glory, or about that man and his desire to have things his way to accommodate his ego. It makes me think that the scientists and people who say it must be black and white, it must be proven to be one way and not another, are missing the plot completely, they don’t ‘get it’. They don’t get it that God is BIGGER, MIGHTIER, SMARTER, SUPERIOR to ALL, and not something / someone who anyone can confine to a piece of paper, a blog, a sermon, a single meaning, a single dynamic. A single “right answer” or “correct way”.

God is a being, not a list of rules, not a concept that can be confined, defined, scribed into a single form or list. Bigger than us, greater than us and so much more awesome than anyone who fills their Instagram page with photos of themselves, believing that they are the only thing on the planet worth photographing. . .

And I like it that way, no, I LOVE it that way. I LOVE that my God is greater, bigger, smarter and more superior to all that is on earth. I LOVE it that it means I have the highest, most challenging goal in the WORLD to aspire to – The Greatest. I can never get there, achieve such greatness or be that incredible, but it means I will ALWAYS, without fail, have a goal to work towards, ALWAYS. I will always have a purpose to serve and a reason to be: “To step up to be a higher version of me.” I can also never be broken by the flaws of man, the brokenness, the lies, the gossip, and the worldly fences that force people into ‘boxes’, because I KNOW that it shall pass, I KNOW that God will reign, will let it end, will show me Disneyland, will open wonders for me beyond human understanding, and offer me peace beyond human understanding, because MY GOD is not human, and does not have human flaws and does not need ANYTHING to BE WHO HE IS… unlike humans, who need so very much…

I pray that all who read this yearn, desire and make the move to step out of the constructs of this limited world and jump into the limitless realms of the perpetual goal and purposeful living of being a higher version of themselves and living in peace beyond human understanding.