Teen Sexting - A Criminal Offence

02 Oct

This report states that both young men and women experience peer pressure to share sexual images of themselves in the phenomenon known as 'Sexting'. The study highlighted the pressure young people experienced from their peers to engage in sexting and the importance of their voice in developing ways to prevent and deal with the problem.  

Boys can be ostracised by their peers or called 'gay' if they fail to participate and show their friends images of girls on their phone or computer. Girls also feel under pressure to share images of themselves, especially if they have also viewed images of girls they know. A US survey found over 51% of girls had sent sexy images or messages as a result of pressure from a guy. 

However, this is not just harmless fun between teenagers. Some young people have been charged with child pornography (in 2007, 32 teens in Victoria, Aus were charged with child pornography offences) and placed on the sex offenders list for having explicit photos of young teens on their phone or computer. It is illegal to have a naked or semi-naked photo of someone under 18 on your phone or computer, to forward it to someone else and you can be charged even if the photo is of yourself and you agree to it being sent. Most young people are probably unaware of this and that a pressing 'send' could have devastating consequences for them and their lives. 

What may have started out as an exchange between two people can end up being shared between many at a school or even worse on the internet, with some even making their way onto porn sites. One girl's images ended up being shared around local schools and she was harassed, called names and bullied thereafter resulting in her commiting suicide. 

Young people are under pressure to fit in with the group, to do what their peers do so as they are not ostracised, excluded, teased, made fun of or laughed at etc. It can be a very powerful force that seems to make people do things against their better judgment and which if left to their own devices they may not choose to do. They may feel that it is not right for them, that they are not really comfortable with it and yet they feel forced or compelled to go along with it.

It takes a strong teenager to be able to say no to peer pressure, someone who has the self respect and self honouring to listen to what they truly feel and follow that - rather than the external pressure to conform. Perhaps the best thing we could teach young people would be to listen to what they really feel and to honour that, to be able to say no and stick with it. To know that even if that meant losing a few so called 'friends' that would not be the end of the world - for a true friend would respect your choice and not force you to do something against your will. 

There is of course more to the underlying reasons that young people engage in sexting. It is a way of seeking intimacy without actually forming an intimate relationship, without taking the risks that would potentially involve of being rejected or getting hurt. The desire to avoid being hurt or rejected can lead people into all sorts of difficulties when it comes to relationships - something perhaps many of us can relate to in one way or another.

However, imagine if we instead empowered young people to feel and know first not just that they are worth loving but that they are in fact love and to honour that by being self-loving, self-honouring, self-respecting. In that way they can feel for themselves the true harm of sexting and that it is coming from an emptiness and the seeking of love, affection and intimacy but in a way that is not true.  The more they realise, know and live that they are love, the more they will be open to forming an intimate relationship with another who is also self-respecting, self-honouring and self-loving. 

However, it is not just about teaching it but living it - not just talking the talk but walking the talk.  Thus a more powerful way for young people to learn from parents, teachers, relatives etc  is by how we treat them, how we are with them, by how we listen and respond to them, whether we truly see and 'meet' them, respect them or ignore them, dismiss them, talk down to them etc. It is for each of us to live in a self-loving, self-caring way ourselves and to offer that way of being to young people by reflection that they may choose it for themselves. 

Feel free to share your comments or insights re teen sexting.

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08 Feb

How do we as surgeons deal with our mistakes? ..

This blog was first published on KevinMD entitled "How do surgeons deal with their mistakes" and is re-published here as well. 

As surgeons we are privileged to have our hands work inside someone’s body with the intention of alleviating suffering, removing sources of pain, excising diseased organs, fixing this or that, ultimately to improve someone’s quality of life, prolong it or at times even save it.

Yet we also know that people can suffer complications from surgery, that in some cases are fatal, and where our good intentions seemingly backfire. Patient deaths and complications can be related to the quality of the body that the patient brings to the operating table, as well as technical factors that occur during an operation and errors of judgment or decision-making by the surgeon. The only way to totally avoid complications is to not operate – not a viable option for most surgeons or for the patients seeking help and where surgery is the mainstay of treatment!

Our intention is always to help, to care, to heal and never to harm patients – but how do we stay healthy when our healing intentions turn into actions that harm? We are all human, we are all fallible and we all make mistakes – but the price of our mistakes can be another person’s quality of life and even life itself.

People can and do die when we make mistakes.

How do we deal with these mistakes – both personally and professionally?

How do we make sense of them in the privacy of our own hearts and minds?

Do we internalise them and go on a feast of self-reproach, recrimination and judgment, punishing ourselves with our harsh words and thoughts, the long list of:

“I could have done this”

“I should have done that”

“What if I had or hadn’t done this or that?”

“How could you be so stupid?”

“What were you thinking?”

“You should have known that”

“You should have done better”

“You’re not good enough”

“Another surgeon would have done this or not done that”… and on and on the endless tirade can go. I know them all well.

Do we externalise them, deny we had anything to do with them and instead seek to blame anyone and everything outside of ourselves – the assistant, the scrub nurse, the suture material, the stapling gun, the blood transfusion, the instruments, the theatre temperature, the anaesthetic, the junior doctor, the nurse, the anaesthetist – you get the picture? Anything to not feel we may have had a part to play in someone’s surgical complication, or even his or her demise?

Do we bury them, suppress them and numb them with alcohol? A favourite drug of choice for many medical professionals (and one that I chose myself for many years)  – unless of course its grip takes hold and we spiral into the shameful cesspit of addiction – overflowing with the pain and hurts we have perceived but have had no idea how to address.

How many dead or harmed patients are swimming in the whirlpool minds of doctors who are addicted, and whose intentions were to help and heal; not maim, harm or kill?

Alcohol is just one such tool, but I could have used other drugs, food, sex, work, porn, exercise, gambling, over-achieving and on and on are the many forms and ways that we use to distract ourselves from feeling what is really going on inside ourselves, from feeling those things we don’t want to feel.

How we treat ourselves when such situations occur is reflected in how the system treats us. It is little wonder then that this translates into a culture of medicine that is equally harsh, punishing and blaming – even if it professes not to be! The professional bodies put their reputation over and above the humanity of the people they are in charge of teaching and regulating. They set curriculums devoid of care for the people they are supposedly training to care for others, and then wonder why there is a lack of compassion in the profession, when it has been absent from the culture of how the regulating bodies treat their subjects, how doctors treat doctors, how senior doctors treat junior doctors and how all grades of doctor treat medical students. And so the cycle continues.

Ask yourself this – has self-critique, judgment, reproach, recrimination, bashing, punishment ever worked?

Has it ever made you feel better about yourself or the situation?

Has it enhanced your level of acceptance of yourself or of the events that occurred?

If the answer is no – is it possible then that there is another way? A way that brings understanding, acceptance and healing to all concerned? A way whose voice is gentle, caring and loving, that understands there is a bigger picture to everything in life, that even though we may not know or be able to fully comprehend all the details, that ultimately there is an order, there is a reason for why things happen the way they do. A way where we can take a step back and begin to observe and have compassion for ourselves (and others) rather than judge, bash, and criticise ourselves (or anyone else).

For it is only when we start to nurture a more caring and compassionate way with ourselves that we will then grow, develop and nurture a culture of medicine that is equally so for all.  

We are all responsible for our choices and actions in any moment, but what if there are a host of seen and unseen factors that are influencing those choices and actions?

What if in any moment we are all doing the best we can, given our upbringing, our experiences, our culture, our religion, our education, our training, our relationships, our ideals and beliefs, our past hurts and traumas and so on?

And what if in the next moment we can always choose to be more caring, considerate, kind, compassionate and loving towards ourselves? In doing so, it then becomes a natural consequence that we will bring those same qualities to our patients and everyone else.

Why not give it a go and see what happens?

 As surgeons we do not intentionally kill or harm patients – but patients can die or their lives can be affected as a consequence of a complication of surgery that may be related to technical factors or errors of judgment or management by the surgeon. It goes with the territory; it’s part of the job, as any honest surgeon will tell you.

But what if there is much more to it, what if it’s not as simple and straightforward as we like to believe? What if there are other unseen factors at play that mean, although we are always responsible for doing the best we can to care for the patient in every way, we are not ultimately responsible for the trajectory of another’s life, including their death?

Staying healthy when I make mistakes – when my healing intentions are betrayed by technical complications or errors that may cause harm or even death ­– has required me to no longer deny, bury or suppress what I am feeling, but to feel it all and to understand that there is always a bigger picture than the one I see with my eyes, and that bigger picture has love and only love as its calling card for all.

 

02 Feb

Why Equality Legislature needs to Trump Discriminatory Religious Belief : the Gay Cake Case update..

I previously blogged on the ‘gay cake case’ as it is known – whereby a bakery in N.Ireland, Ashers, refused to bake a cake with the words ‘support gay marriage’ on it because of their Christian beliefs. They lost the court case and the judge ruled they had discriminated against the consumer who was gay.

Asher’s have decided to appeal the case, which starts this week. I read an interview with Daniel and Amy McArthur from Ashers bakery, in the Belfast Telegraph where they explain why they feel they have ‘done no wrong’. There is no doubt about their religious conviction and how they endeavour to live the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ as they understand and interpret them.

I agree with them that religion is not just for Sundays. Indeed a true religious way of being is something that permeates all aspects of life, including in particular how we treat all our fellow human beings on this planet - and the basis of that is to be with equalness and love - in recognition of the fact we are a one humanity, deeply interconnected and all Sons of God. A work in progress for sure for all of us but we ought not to lower the bar any less than that.

And this is a key point. Their defence is that it is a human right to express their (religious) beliefs at work – well, not if those beliefs result in discrimination against fellow human beings – for that is neither a right nor a belief, be it religious or not, that is worthy of upholding in any way, shape or form. So no, it is not a human right to express discriminatory beliefs of any kind at work, religious or otherwise. There is this arrogance that thinks just because it is a 'religious belief' that we have the right to express it even if it goes against our fellow man - well, no, we don't - that is just a fancy way of trying to justify that which in truth cannot be justifed - discrimination against another - which in this case is simply because of a different sexuality! 

Daniel and Amy McArthur sincerely believe that they are doing no wrong and that they are following the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. And there are many in this country, N.Ireland, who would agree with them and support their views. However, even should all ‘Christians’, even all people, agree with them – that does not mean it is ‘right’, or the way of God, or the way of Jesus Christ. The number of people who agree on something is not an arbiter of whether it is true or not. Indeed, paradoxically, whilst endeavouring to live the way of Christ, they are in this example doing the opposite, for it is in my view profoundly opposed to the way of God and Christ.

The way of God, the way of Christ is the way of love, inclusivity, equality and universality – there is no room for any form of judgment, discrimination, ‘them and us’ or any form of separation or holding others as lesser in any way in the heart of God or the Christ. Equality legislature needs to trump discriminatory  religious belief as it is founded upon the truth of the fact that we are all equal, a fact that is deeply religious and intimately entwined with the true way of God. Equality is foundational and a basic pre-requisite to the living way of God, to see and know and treat all others as equal – anything other than that definitely does not come from God.

The source of universal omnipotent love thankfully does not have the prejudicial and judgmental mind of men! And is definitely not so petty as to rule out a section of his Sons just because they love the same sex! No, the opposite is true – for all are held in and with love irrespective of sexuality, gender, race, nationality or indeed religion. Gay people who love each other and are loving of their fellow human beings are actually displaying more of the qualities of Christ than those who profess to be Christian but who hold beliefs which cause them to discriminate against and judge their fellow human being. 

Peter Tatchell, a well known pro equality and gay rights advocate writing in the Guardian explains how he has changed his mind on the gay cake case as he now feels the ruling infringes vital freedoms and he says:

“This raises the question: should Muslim printers be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed? Or Jewish ones publish the words of a Holocaust denier? Or gay bakers accept orders for cakes with homophobic slurs? If the Ashers verdict stands it could, for example, encourage far-right extremists to demand that bakeries and other service providers facilitate the promotion of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim opinions. It would leave businesses unable to refuse to decorate cakes or print posters with bigoted messages.”

However, this argument is fallacious and does not stand up to scrutiny. NONE of these examples are based on true equality, love and respect for fellow human beings. And in my view equality legislation should act to prevent all such forms of discrimination and to call people to live to a standard that at the very least recognizes our common humanity and is not disrespectful, disregarding or hateful to others. Freedom of speech does not mean to freedom to abuse – we should not support any form of discrimination or hateful speech.

It is a sad indictment on our society and interpersonal relationships as human beings that we need equality legislature to uphold such a basic tenet of human life.

And so rejecting the appeal by Ashers is the true way to proceed to maintain and ensure equality for all. If religious beliefs result in people being discriminated against in any way then those beliefs need to be challenged and not kowtowed to just because someone holds it as a ‘belief’ – no matter how sincere they are. If Ashers win the appeal then it opens the door to all kinds of religious discrimination based on ‘belief’ alone – and that would be a dangerous precedent. “No gays here” signs would surely follow in bed and breakfasts, hotels, bars, restaurants etc and potentially much, much worse. It opens the door to all kinds of evil acts against fellow human beings justfied on the grounds of 'religious belief'. 

This is an example, of where even so called well-meaning and sincere people can be side-tracked down an alley to believe something through a religious teaching that is actually deeply harmful and separative and has nothing to do with the way of love, the way of God or the Christ. An example of religion ( as it currently is) yet again getting in the way of love, the way of God. The real evil here is the bastardisation of religious teachings that perpetuate the ‘them and us’, the Christian and the non-Christian, the heterosexual and the gay person – when in my experience true religion does not separate at all, it is unifying, loving and caring for the whole and sees beyond all labels and outer identifiers to the true heart and soul of everyone.

So let us not be fooled by niceness or sincerity or politeness when they are used to sell a message that is deeply harming – it is easy to see the evil of horrid and vile acts like murder, rape, paedophila and so forth, but it is not always so easy to detect the harm that comes wrapped in well-meaning niceness and politeness but with a dark underbelly that sees fellow human beings in any way lesser, not worthy, not equal to the same rights as every other human being on the planet. Gay people are people first and foremost – equal to every other human being on the planet. Their sexuality does not in any way interfere with their right to live as equal human beings; free to love and marry the person of their choosing, if they so wish.

They have as a group been subject to and still are subject to some of the most vile slurs, abuse, bullying, discrimination, torture and in some cases even losing their lives either through being killed or killing themselves as a consequence of the abhorrent bullying and abuse they experience. I have no doubt that the true Christian response is to welcome them with open arms, to support gay marriage – a celebration of love between two people, in the knowing that they too are Sons of God, just like everyone else. Let us not allow false religious teachings to get in the way of love and equality any more – but to stand united by the true religion of our inner hearts where there is no room for any judgment or prejudice, only the fullness of love for all. 

Equality

"It is not always so easy to detect the harm that comes wrapped in well-meaning niceness and politeness but with a dark underbelly that sees fellow human beings in any way lesser, not worthy, not equal to the same rights as every other human being on the planet" This is absolutely true Eunice and cuts through issues of nationality, gender and class just like that. Awesomely written.

As one who has a same sex

As one who has a same sex partner, it is at one level amusing to observe that others can judge that the quality and expression of love is more or less deserving of public celebration and legitimisation because of different body parts! We are so much more than our bodies that we express through. We are all capable of touching the depths of our human frailty and power. When this is limited to our gender, we fall far short of and indeed constrict the possibility for humanity to feel the truth of our commonality and unite as one body. Discrimination is a distraction from going deeper within and connecting with the depth of our love and how it encompasses all, not compartmentalises because of physicality which we already know is so limiting....Love is love.

Wise words

Thank you for these wise words which bring sanity back to the table. Besides the fact that no true religion ever sanctions mistreating others, it is ludicrous to attempt to go against human decency and blame it on "my religion said so"! We have had enough attrocities thoughout history AND in modern time because of individuals choosing to re-interpret religious teachings into reflecting and sanctioning their personal issues and agendas. Enough is enough.

Equality for all

The essence of what Jesus expressed is that we should love one another. It is time we stopped this divide between people, the them/ us that seems to be rooted deep in all the religious institutions. Is it not time that we moved beyond this divisiveness and simply got on with loving each other?

Hear, hear, Eunice, I

Hear, hear, Eunice, I absolutely agree with every word you have written here. God's love is for all of us equally, with no discrimination. True religion embraces us all, whatever colour, race, sex, we are all absolutely equal. Discrimination is discrimination and is not what Jesus was teaching. I stand with you in all you have said here.
24 Jan

What is 'evidence'? ..

The modern day world of medicine and science seems to revolve around this one word ‘evidence’. We have for example, evidenced-based medicine, evidence-based practice, best-evidence medical education, evidence guided education and the question – “what is the evidence for that?” dominates the worlds of academia, research and clinical practice. 

There is a faction within science and medicine that is purporting that no treatments or modalities should be available unless they are supported by ‘evidence’.  This seems to be a reasonable and logical suggestion, so that people can be assured of the treatment they are receiving. 

But what if specific factions within medicine and science are more concerned with maintaining power and control over knowledge and thus support a narrow and restrictive view of what is ‘evidence’ in order to maintain their power and control, rather than being truly concerned with the welfare of mankind? 

What if there are other forms of evidence that are currently dismissed by those in science and academia not just because they do not fit into their narrow way of understanding evidence based on a hierarchy of study design, but because to accept them would mean they could no longer dominate the conversation, no longer have power and control over knowledge and evidence? 

And so the question arises – what is ‘evidence’? Given the demand for ‘evidence’ it is vital we explore and know what it is and consider the possibility that there is more to evidence than we have been led to believe.

The randomised double blind controlled trial (RCT) and subsequent meta-analyses of trial data is currently considered by many to be the ‘Gold standard’ when it comes to evidence and that unless treatments or modalities have this type of evidence they should not be supported or funded. Whilst this might be reasonably straightforward for a medication trial, it is clear that there are certain fields where such trials are just not feasible nor appropriate – and where different forms of evidence are called for (Thistlethwaite).  Different purposes call for different sources and types of evidence and it is important we do not restrict ‘evidence’ to a one form or definition only.

Increasingly people are questioning the validity of the RCT being the gold standard and realising it is definitely not the only form of valid evidence. Furthermore, the general adoption of the double blind RCT was itself based more on theory rather than a compelling body of data (or evidence) and indeed attempts to systematically investigate its assumed objectivity have been relatively scarce (Kaptchuk). How ironic that the Gold standard for ‘evidence’ is itself not supported by that same ‘evidence’? Giving the RCT a sanctified status within science research is misplaced – it is definitely not infallible ( Ioannaidis) nor is it as methodologically fullproof as it is assumed to be and in many instances it is simply not the correct method to use.

All evidence is context dependent, research data is inanimate until processed through a human mediator to give it action, agency and narrative. Research does not speak for itself and only becomes knowledge or evidence that provides meaning or motivation when activated by a human being, who themselves have a historicity that can influence and shape the way the data is portrayed. Without understanding the different influences on what is evidence – we can be easily fooled into thinking and believing it is black and white whereas it often has many shades of grey.

Historically in medicine ‘evidence’ for the efficacy of treatments accumulated through the practice of trial and observation – applying a treatment or operation and observing the outcome. Indeed research today is often informed by such observations – and we then use research to gather the data and the statistics to confirm what we have already observed! 

Indeed we use the power of observation in our own lives every day to make decisions based on the evidence we have received from our observations and Scriven makes the point that perhaps this is the true gold standard? 

The Body as Evidence

Ultimately, when we consider what is evidence we also need to ask what is the evidence for? What is our overall purpose within medicine in performing research, drug trials and so forth? Is it to enable people to live with a greater quality of life in their own bodies? To be healthy, vital and free of illness and disease or alleviated from the suffering associated with illness and disease? If this is so then would it not be reasonable to suggest that the body itself is a valid form and means of evidence? It is through the body that we know when we are in pain or unwell, it is through the body that we know when we feel vital, energetic and healthy. So this being the case, why then do we ignore the personal evidence of a person’s lived experience in their own body by calling it anecdote? 

Why do we only consider anecdotes valid when they are collected together to form a body of data we then call evidence? We had it driven into us at medical school that the key to understanding and knowing what is making a patient sick is in their history – the story they tell from their own bodies about what is happening in their own bodies. Why is that only considered valid when someone is sick? Why are we so quick to ignore and dismiss this ‘evidence’ when people report what happens when, for example, they adjust their lifestyle – their diet, sleep, emotional wellbeing and so forth?  If we valued and listened to the evidence of our body we would know with only one hangover, and no formal research required, that alcohol was harming for the body. A truth that many prefer to ignore and dismiss, so as not to relinquish their regular tipple or binge. A life without something to take the edge off it seems too scary a prospect for many. 

What if we accepted that everyone’s body is a valid form of evidence, indeed a 'body of evidence' that reveals the consequences of the choices of the life lived thus far?  What if we empowered people to know this for themselves so that they can learn how to read their own body, gather their own evidence so that they can make more healthy choices? 

Evidence is not gathered for an end in itself but is to be applied and actioned – every day we get to feel the evidence in our own bodies of how we have lived that day and by making different choices and feeling their consequences in our own bodies we become a living, breathing, walking experiment in action – continuously observing and feeling the consequences of our choices on our bodies and modifying the experiment accordingly. 

It is increasingly clear that there is more to evidence than the ‘evidence’ suggests. The RCT is not the only means of valid evidence and to persist in this misbelief is to deny the real benefits that can be derived by using other forms of evidence – including that obtained through the simple principle of detached observation.  

 

References 

Ioannidis JP, Why most published research findings are false. PLOS Med 2005 Aug 2 (8): e124

Kaptchuk TJ. The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial: gold standard or golden calf? J Clin Epidemiol. 2001 Jun;54(6):541-9.

Scriven M. A Summative Evaluation of RCT Methodology: And an Alternative Approach to Causal Research. Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, Vol 5, No 9 pp11-24 http://journals.sfu.ca/jmde/index.php/jmde_1/article/view/160/186

Thistlethwaite J, Davies H, Dornan T, Greenhalgh T, Hammick M, Scalese R. What is evidence? Reflections on the AMEE symposium, Vienna, August 2011. Medical Teacher 2012 1-4 Early online

Brilliantly written Eunice.

Brilliantly written Eunice. "Every day we get to feel the evidence in our own bodies of how we have lived that day" This turns the tables to show that a body of evidence begins with physical being and the story all of ours bodies collectively have to tell.

Evidence

I really like this paragraph Eunice, "Evidence is not gathered for an end in itself but is to be applied and actioned – every day we get to feel the evidence in our own bodies of how we have lived that day and by making different choices and feeling their consequences in our own bodies we become a living, breathing, walking experiment in action – continuously observing and feeling the consequences of our choices on our bodies and modifying the experiment accordingly" How awesome it would be if every'body'realised they were their own science project, a living, breathing, walking experiment. How rich and interesting the research to be done,and how much more purposeful life could become. We get presented every day with what works for us and what doesn't. Oftentimes we persist with what doesn't but the body in its infinite wisdom continues to offer us the evidence of our choices.

I really enjoyed your article

I really enjoyed your article Eunice it puts the evidence concept into perspective very clearly. What I have learnt about what foods my body best tolerates has come from my own observations/experiments. Which has proven to me that we are all very different when it comes to what is considered the right diet/food to eat.
01 Jan

Why do doctors have less sick leave? ..

 A recent paper in the BMJ1 reported on the fact that doctors take less sick leave than other healthcare professionals. Possible reasons for this include that doctors are maybe more healthy than the general population – they have discovered the secret of life and are keeping it all to themselves perhaps! Yet the figures for doctor health and wellbeing would not bear this out – given we have higher levels of addiction and suicide than the general population. The Practitoner Health Programme2 in London also reports ever-increasing numbers of doctors using their services and calls for more support for doctors.

It is indicative perhaps that we are more prone to hiding our ills and carrying on working with them, rather than not having them at all.

It could be that doctors feel under pressure to keep working despite being ill – turning up to work even when unwell – a condition known as presenteeism. The articles explain that this can be because they don’t want to let colleagues and/or patients down – who will see the 30 patients in the clinic if the Consultant or GP doesn’t turn up at short notice? Who will cover the rota, the on call, the shift of work, perform the operations or the list of endoscopy procedures that are booked in advance?

I have been guilty of this myself. As a trainee in general surgery, I developed severe lower back pain just as I was going off on Christmas holiday. I missed the early morning flight home from England to N.Ireland as it took me sooooo long to move and get ready due to the pain that was present when I woke up. I spent a week in agony at home and had some physiotherapy before leaving for the return journey. A Tens machine was applied but instead of relieving the pain it made it worse! I didn’t feel I could phone in sick when I had just been off on holiday so I hobbled into work and started doing a ward round with a bent back, swallowing pain killers as I went. The consultant took one look and sent me home!

If I ever had a cold or flu or sore throat /tonsillitis etc I just kept going, and attended work as usual – no matter how under the weather I felt.  I know I am not alone in that either. I prided myself on turning up for work when unwell!

As a Consultant I developed cellulitis at my ankle from an open wound on my foot and had it tracking up my leg on a Friday afternoon when I was on call for the weekend ahead (meaning on call Friday, Saturday and Sunday through to Monday for all general surgical emergencies). Not only that, but more worringly, there was a purplish-black discoloured patch indicative of a serious infection. Yet I stood operating on a difficult case for several hours, my leg becoming more swollen, more painful and inflamed as I did so. I had started antibiotics but changed them to stronger ones when the discoloured patch appeared, informed also with the swab result showing an aggressive infection and I had input from the microbiologist as well.

But I did not take the weekend off on sick leave. I continued to work throughout the weekend – limping along the ward, seeing patients and doing what was needed. Who was going to cover me for a weekend at short notice? I didn’t want to land my colleagues in it as inevitably one or two of them would have had to cover as unlikely to get a locum at such short notice. On top of that I had all kinds of thoughts and beliefs about what people would say or think that were not helpful. Taking sick leave on a Friday afternoon before a weekend on call is not the most popular call in the medical arena! Whilst that is understandable on one level, on another we must ask why is the caring profession so uncaring towards itself and its members? Why are we so hard on ourselves and each other?

If I had been advising a patient, I would have told them to stay off work and rest with the leg elevated at home whilst taking the antibiotics or I might even admit them to hospital for IV antibiotics given the seriousness of the infection. Another physician who saw me hobbling in the corridor suggested I should be in hospital on IV antibiotics! So why did I have one rule for patients and another for myself? Why did I ignore the words of my physician colleague? Why did I not give the same prescription to myself for rest, care and elevation – and instead did the exact opposite – kept working and standing for a prolonged period operating – intermittently checking how far the lymphangitis (inflammation in the lymphatics) was spreading up my leg! It’s crazy!

Yet this is all part of the medical culture that says we have to put others needs before our own, to always put patients first – I could not just walk out and abandon the wards of sick surgical patients. It is part of the medical culture to be strong, to not show any weakness, to see illness and disease as something that patients get but to which we think we are immune. Part of the medical culture that says there is one rule for you the patient, and another for me the doctor – as if we are a different species of human being. There is a sense of being indispensible – that if we don’t show up, the job won’t get done at all – and that may be true in some instances especially where the notice is short. The pressure to not let down patients who are on an operating list or attending a clinic is significant.

Of course if I had been in a road traffic accident and totally incapacitated with a broken leg or something equally serious there would be no option but to be on sick leave and the hospital would have to find cover and like it or not colleagues or a locum would have to cover. But such serious situations are worthy of sick leave – there is no choice in the matter. But where do we draw the bar for sick leave for conditions that do not require hospitalisation or that have us significantly incapacitated? What is acceptable to take off for sick leave and what is not? How sick do we have to be to feel worthy of sick leave?

The figures show that presenteeism is a costly business – people turning up for work when sick are not doing themselves or their employers any favours. We can think we are indispensible and yet this is far from true – a hospital will keep working, someone from somewhere will be found to fill our shoes. No-one is actually indispensible. In the worst case scenario of a sudden death – the work goes on, the hospital goes on, the shoes get filled in one way or another. That is the fact of the matter – even though of course we may feel that no-one can truly fill the literal shoes of another and the unique individual qualities that they bring to the work that they do. 

What I have come to see is that by continuing to work in these circumstances was actually a form of abuse – it definitely wasn’t the loving or caring option! It was abusive to my body to continue putting it in to situations that were more likely to exacerbate the ill rather than promote healing. If I had taken the weekend off the infection would have most likely cleared more quickly than it did and I would have been back to ‘normal’ earlier, not inhibited by the pain and inflammation.

Even though there can be these extraneous pressures of work demands and not wanting to ‘let the side down,’ so to speak, not wanting to put extra work or pressure on colleagues, not wanting to have lists of patients cancelled at short notice – what it really comes down to is how do I value myself, my body and my wellbeing. To be abusive to myself in this way, there has been a lack of true care and value for myself and my health – where I have put the needs of others first even though it has been detrimental to me. Had I truly valued myself, my body and my health then it would be a no-brainer that such circumstances warranted sick-leave.

Doctors are not a separate species of human being – we are subject to the same ills as the group of human beings we call patients. All doctors are potential patients and there needs to be greater acceptance of this fact by both doctors and patients. We are not infallible. We are human – we get sick – and we heal the same ways our patients heal….. and that can require time off work. There is no shame in that – it can simply be what is needed. 

More than that we can also see that getting sick as a message from our bodies that we may have been over doing it, perhaps working too hard, not taking enough care of ourselves – and the answer to that is not to continue working harder, doing more of the same that led us to be ill in the first place! There is the possibility instead of engendering a more responsible way to live – such that we can hopefully avoid such ills in the first place by realising that all our daily choices impact our health and wellbeing. By addressing our daily way of living we can be more healthy, more vital and potentially have less need for sick leave in the first place. Whilst there are issues with the system that are adding to the stress of working in the NHS currently and that need to be addressed, we should not underestimate the degree to which we can improve our own health and wellbeing by our daily way of living.

The culture of medicine needs to change – but it only will when those within it change and realise the ills we are casting upon the profession by perpetuating these out-dated myths. Doctors are human before they are doctors – a medical degree does not confer immunity from illness and disease. If we do not have compassion for ourselves and our colleagues when sick then what really is the quality of the compassion we profess to have for our patients?  It is a fallacy to think we can pick and choose who to turn on our compassion for. We cannot be selective when it comes to compassion – if we do not have compassion for ourselves then we cannot truly have compassion for another. Likewise, the more compassionate we are with ourselves, the more compassion and understanding we will have for all others – irrespective of the circumstances.

Like many things in life, rather than looking outwards and professing compassion for others, we need to first look within and have compassion for ourselves, to stop being so hard on ourselves and our colleagues – we do not know the full road another has travelled to be where they are today and that fact renders all judgment null and void. We have to dissolve such judgments against ourselves and others to be able to be truly compassionate and to provide a healing presence that allows another to be where they are, whilst knowing they are much more than the story or situation they find themselves in - whether they are a colleague or a patient - for we are all human beings first and foremost. 

The caring profession needs to start with caring for itself first if it truly wants to provide a caring service for all. 

 

Reference 

1) Why doctors don't take sick leave. K Oxtoby. BMJ Dec 2015;351:h6719

2)The Wounded Healer - why we need to rethink how we support doctors. C Gerada. BMJ careers July 2015 http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/The_wounded_healer—why_we_need_to_rethink_how_we_support_doctors

3) Why doctors need to resist 'presenteeism'. K Oxtoby. BMJ Careers Dec 2015 http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/Why_doctors_need_to_resist_“presenteeism”

08 Dec

Evil - in the name of God..

Just a few weeks ago we witnessed the horrific killings in Paris by those affiliated with the group known as Islamic State. Apparently the murderers cried ‘Allahu Akbar’ meaning ‘God is great’ before slaughtering those in front of them as well as suiciding themselves.

Whilst Islamic state is foremost in Western minds as a radical group of terrorists intent on killing those of a different religious persuasion as representatives of a Western world it perceives to be responsible for their oppression and ills – they are just the latest in a long line of groups that have killed in the name of God.

Throughout history man has killed man because of religious differences. The Christian crusades over 200 years annihilated hundreds of thousands of people and determined it was also the ‘will of God’.

Centuries have passed, the players have changed, the religions have swapped places – but the war cry is the same: man kills man and determines it is God’s will, and they kill in His name – whether that name is God or Allah or another matters not.

Such acts of terror are undoubtedly acts of evil, perpetrated through people who claim to be acting in God’s will or His name. This is the most absurd paradox whereby acts of evil are committed in the name of God – yet God himself is pure love. It is an extreme end of the spectrum and so makes the absurdity clear to see, feel and know – that God has nothing to do with initiating such atrocities that have arisen from the minds of men devoid of the love of God they claim to revere.

Indeed such acts have more do with God-less living than God-full living – for no-one who was truly connected to the source of love that lives within all could willingly choose to initiate and commit such acts against their fellow man. That said, it can at times be necessary to go to war to defend being attacked and to arrest the evil – for love says no to evil and does not give it free reign, but that is a reflection of how far we have strayed away from the love that we are that such an approach is necessary.

So what is going on? How is it possible for such evil acts to be committed in the name of God, in the name of the most stupendous pure divine love?

When I say those who commit such acts are devoid of the love of God – that is not quite true. They too have the love of God within them and they themselves are not in fact evil – but they are completely disconnected from that love and in that empty state evil can work through them to commit such acts. They do not live from that source of love and are oblivious to its presence. They of course are still responsible for the evil acts committed and are in no way excused from them – but if we are to understand what is occurring we have to look to a bigger picture than the small linear one that says ‘evil/bad people commit evil/bad acts.’

This goes back to the age-old question of whether people are innately good or bad/evil? I know some believe that there are people who are just evil through and through – and we can all think of the obvious names of those who have committed horrific crimes and atrocities.  At first glance it is perhaps understandable why some feel such despots are just innately bad or evil people given the nature of the atrocities committed. But to me this does not make sense – given we are all made by the same process and ultimately come from the one creator. It is impossible for a creator that is pure love to create something that is innately evil – for the creator lives in the created. We are all made of the same stuff as God, for we all come from Him – even atheists!  I have said it on this blog before, that every human being is an equal Son of God, every human being has an essence of Love, the Kingdom of God lives within every human being – every human being is innately divine, not evil.

We have to ask the question – what has happened to such a person or such people that they have become so hardened, so inured, so numb, so deadened to feeling, that they are able to casually annihilate themselves and others with impunity – and where those left behind revel in the aftermath of a perceived victory that resulted in the killing of fellow human beings?

Those who end up committing evil acts have at some point been deeply, deeply hurt, often abused in some form, be that mentally, physically, emotionally or sexually, and definitely not met or held with and in love and do not know there is a profound source of love within their own being. As they have not had that reflection of love, they often grow up with a distorted view of themselves and the world, holding beliefs about themselves that are far from loving, often full of self-hatred, self-loathing, anger, frustration and rage – at a world that did not meet and see them for who they truly are, all of which gets projected on to people who are not of their tribe, or religious affiliation, or nationality – which is then played out in scenes like those we saw in Paris recently.

Man’s inhumanity to man has nothing to do with God in Himself but has everything to do with all that is not God. By that I mean, all that is not love. Stop, consider and ponder how many ways we live that have nothing to do with love?

For example, when did you last get angry, frustrated, gossip, drink alcohol, watch porn, smoke cigarettes, take drugs, be jealous, arrogant, critical, dismissive, withdrawn, given up, depressed, anxious, bully someone, have an argument, fall out with someone, shout at someone or even be falsely nice – for all of the above have nothing to do with love! And that is only scratching the surface.

Most people would profess love for their family yet we have the odd situation where we will say things to our family in a way that we would never say to those at work or to friends! So who do we really love more? Arguing, shouting, name-calling, expressions of anger, frustration, rage, being dismissive, critical, judgemental, intimidation, abuse, controlling and more are commonplace in many homes – yet these are supposed to be the people we love – and all of those expressions have zero love in them. This lack of love in our homes, where anything goes, anything is acceptable because ‘it’s family’ is another form of evil, which hurts people and keeps them from knowing who they truly are.

I am using evil here to mean anything that keeps us in separation from who we truly are – anything that keeps us from knowing we are love. Such a definition means that what is considered evil goes far beyond vile atrocities to what are currently everyday accepted practices that occur in homes across the world – but we must begin to see that evil atrocities result as a consequence of what might be considered on the face of it lesser forms of evil that occur in homes every day but which lead to the deeply hurt individual who grows up empty of love, full of self-hatred, anger and rage that then gets turned on to the world with a pull of a trigger or the ignition of a bomb.

Of course this can be perpetuated further by the false religious teachings that abound – and which can be a vehicle for the expression of hatred towards another who is perceived to be different just because of a different belief. Any religion that does not teach that God is love and we too are that love is failing in its duty to be an ambassador or representative of God’s love in its most basic form. In my own country of N. Ireland for example, I know there are many who believe we are sinners, and who are told this week after week from pulpits across the country – yet again another form of evil designed to keep people from knowing the truth of who they are – equal Sons of God. Again, just as in the family home, no-one is killed and so on the face of it such teachings may be considered lesser forms of evil – as it appears that no-one is harmed. But that is simply not true. Telling people they are sinners, and having them believe it, is a form of crucifixion – it is nailing them to the Cross that says you are bad, you will never be good enough, you will never measure up, it fills them with guilt and crushes their hearts (no wonder heart disease is so rife in N.Ireland) – so that they never come to know and feel the truth of who they are as glorious divine beings of love. Now that is evil.

And what if it is these forms of evil in our homes and churches that are the initiators, the prime movers if you like, the first events that prevent us from knowing who we truly are and which in some instances then result down the line in the more visible evil atrocities that all recognise and agree are evil? Which then is the greater evil – that which is seen and known to be so and affects a limited number, or that which is accepted as 'normal' and occurs throughout homes and churches across the globe, affecting millions every day and which is the precursor for the more obvious acts of evil?

If we are to address the latter, then it is clear we must address the former. Evil acts do not come out of nowhere – there is always a history, a story, a life lived that is in some way devoid of true love. That story usually starts at home. What if it is the ‘wars’ at home that ultimately lead to the wars away?

We may feel helpless in the face of such violent acts and feel there is nothing we can do. But that is not true. We live in an interconnected world where everything we do, say and think affects the whole. It thus behoves us all to address the ways of evil in our own lives – the things that we do that keep us in separation to the love that we are. These ways may seem small but they all add up and they all contribute to the pool of lovelessness that abounds on this planet – whether it is over-eating, drinking alcohol, doing porn, taking drugs, being emotional (angry, sad, frustrated, rage, jealous, anxious etc) gossiping, arguing, bullying, being critical, judgemental, hard on ourselves and others – the ways are numerous that we live and express as less than the love we are. By consciously choosing to live in a way that is loving towards ourselves we will automatically be more loving towards others – for how we are with ourselves is how we are with others and how we are with others is how we are towards ourselves. The real enemy is within, not without.

To kill is evil, to kill in the name of God is evil – for it takes the name of the One who is pure love and endeavours to associate His name with acts that are not from Him. Having been an atheist in the past, and lived a life that was devoid of the love of God, I too have misrepresented Him from a place of ignorance and arrogance - yet today it hurts when I hear of evil acts being performed in the name of God. It hurts because I know the love that He is would never commit such acts and it feels as if the innocent have been tried and found guilty without being given any representation or voice in court – condemned in the eyes of the world with no recourse to a fair hearing. And furthermore where those who are on the fence, or in doubt, or questioning or uncertain are turned away from God as a consequence of the false associations, teachings and bastardisations of His love - as I once was, to live a God-less life. Therein lies the hurt, my own choice to live in separation to God for far too long and in the many ways of evil and lovelessness – to reject, resist, deny and dismiss the One who breathed me forth, who gave me life, who created me – whose love is so vast, so great, so stupendous that I have been forever held by Him even when I walked far away.

How grand is His love that all are forever held in his body of love, with the free will to walk far away and no matter how far they stray, no matter what evil acts have been committed, His love is there in full until the day all return and choose His love, to have every breath, every move, every word, every act come from His love which lives within All? 

So let us not pretend that all the problems or ways of evil are ‘out there’ somewhere, or just belong to a few radical groups or that it is God’s fault! The ways of evil abound, they are in every home, every workplace and every church – everywhere there is people. It’s not that we are evil – far from it, for we are all Sons of God – but if we do not consciously choose love then we can be vehicles for all that is not love. Let’s face it and be real - we all have ways of living that are less than loving, kind, gentle, tender and nurturing towards ourselves and the sooner we rectify those ways within ourselves, the sooner we will rectify the evil ‘out there’.  

Whilst evil has a reality in our lives, consider the sobering possibility that evil only has free reign and appears to be real because we do not choose love. Imagine what would happen if we all overnight chose love to be our living way in every moment of every day?  Each of us has the free will to choose love or that which is not love. Evil has no oxygen when God’s love is known and chosen and so not only do we have free will, we have the responsibility to choose love. May evil in the name of God be obliterated because we choose to say NO to all that is not loving and to make known his name through the expression and manifestation of the purity of His love alone in our daily ways of living and relating. 

God within our homes

Wow Eunice Minford, soulful doctor indeed, you are bringing God right back into our homes and place the responsibility to getting rid of evil into our own hands. Christmas happens to be a great time to put this into practice, where we just had to catch up with all these relatives, getting all the presents and meals organized. The way we handled that is a great reflection of how much love we actually live in our daily lives.

Evil - in the Name of God

Eunice, I love this new article, you have elucidated so much for me. "What if it is the ‘wars’ at home that ultimately lead to the wars away?" Now that sentence is one that should make us all really think. I agree with you that so many of those that we hear of who perpetrate terrible acts have a background of family violence, or even all the things that you have enumerated that go on behind closed doors in the family home. And yes, including the judgmentalism, back-biting, bitching, criticism, bullying and controlling which are usually seen as not so important. They are all important things that we take to heart and hurt us. I agree, anything that takes us and others away from the beautiful sons of God that we ALL truly are. So it makes sense to me that people can feel so hurt, lacking in self esteem, and all sorts of emotions, that can eventually lead to real violence done to others, even up to the terrible acts of atrocity that have been recently and for aeons been done by man to man.
20 Sep

Resilience - Friend or Foe?..

This blog was first published on Action for NHS Wellbeing site on 6th September 2015. Resilience is currently very topical so I felt to share it here as well. 

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Resilience is the latest buzz word and emotional resilience training is the new ‘must have’ for those who are trained to kill, fight and go to war as well as those who are trained to save lives, heal and care for sick.  Indeed, based on the fact that the Army now incorporates emotional resilience training before it goes to combat and war, the head of the GMC has decreed this is to be incorporated into medical training – before we go to battle in the NHS! Although it might feel like we are going to war or battle in the NHS, and thus need an armour to protect us, is the resilience training provided to those who are trained to shoot and kill really what is needed for those in a healing profession where compassion, care, gentleness and kindness are the qualities most sought after by patients?

Is it possible that we are missing something about what it is to be human, something that were it to be known would transform our whole understanding of resilience?

What is resilience?

Resilience has been defined as:

1)   the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: toughness

2)   the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity, flexibility, suppleness, springiness, give, durability, strength, sturdiness, toughness

3)   strength of character – strength, toughness, hardiness, adaptability, buoyancy, flexibility, ability to bounce back

4)   the power or ability to return to the original form, position etc after being compressed, bent, stretched; elasticity

5)   ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy.

Even within these definitions there appears to be an inherent flaw, a paradox within the qualities of what it is to be resilient that can create confusion, misunderstanding and a form of resilience that is not truly healthy. For example, I used to believe that by being strong and tough I was being resilient and could face anything that the world had to throw at me. I had my armour on and I went to battle and had no problems being argumentative, demanding, controlling, standing my ground, as it was all done in the name of providing good patient care. My outer toughness was mirrored by an inner hardness, where I was self-critical, inflexible and stubborn. I didn’t bounce back so much as bulldoze my way through life – protected as I thought by the mighty armour of protection I had built around me, not letting anyone in – in order to be sure I would not get hurt by anyone or anything.

This form of resilience, of being tough, strong and sucking up whatever life serves is not a true or healthy form of resilience – indeed it is deeply harming for our bodies, particularly our hearts. It is a false form of resilience that is built and established to protect us from being hurt in one way or another. By becoming tough and hard, I shut down my ability to truly feel and recognise what I was feeling and I used alcohol to numb myself as well!

The thing is that as human beings we are designed to FEEL everything, we cannot stop feeling everything even though we have a myriad of ways that we use to dull, deny, numb, block, dismiss, over-ride, ignore and disregard what we are feeling. We are in fact by nature highly sensitive beings – all of us – and we cannot stop that sensitivity. It is innate. Perhaps this is the missing ingredient that can transform our understanding of resilience? 

Consider the possibility that it is because we are so, so sensitive and feel everything, that we get hurt when young and because we don’t know nor have the skills to deal with those hurts effectively, we start to shut down our sensitivity, to toughen-up, harden, put on the armour and become resilient! YIKES! But it is a false form of resilience – one that eventually has to crack either through physical illness and disease, mental ill health, an incident or accident of some sort.

For me it was an existential crisis mixed in with a dose of burnout topped off with a splash of alcohol misuse that brought me to a stop and to question EVERYTHING about how I was living. The outer toughness and the inner hardness had to be cracked open, I had to address the inner beliefs I held about myself that were feeding these processes and the undealt with hurts that fed everything.

But underneath all of that I was assisted to discover something amazing – that there was a part inside me that had been unaffected by any of those hurt-full experiences, a part that was still pure and pristine, shining and glowing, a part that was whole and complete irrespective of the story I told. The more I connected with this part, my innermost, the more solid and truly strong and steady I became. I was able to see and feel those hurts and heal them, to see them for what they were, and to know they were not who I am nor do they define me. I became more willing to feel what was there to be felt instead of burying it, numbing it, dismissing it, overriding it – in the knowing that feeling it was the key to healing it. I began to take things less personally, to not take on other people’s stuff  (it’s enough dealing with our own!) and to also accept my part in what had played out in my life and take responsibility for it. 

I started to feel the harm of emotions like anger, rage and frustration in my own body and to understand the underlying reasons for their presence so that I could address them and I consciously chose to develop a more centred, a more still, less emotional way of being – one that was connected to my innermost, that cared for and nurtured my body through going to bed early, being aware of the food and drink I consumed and their effects on my body and exercising gently. 

I discovered (with help) that there is a true and healthy form of resilience – one that comes from knowing who we are, from being open to, acknowledging and honouring our sensitivity, to being willing to feel everything and to listening to what we feel such that we trust the intelligence of our body to reveal what is really going on.

And so I have come to deeply know that resilience is not about toughening up and sucking up whatever comes our way; it comes through the practice of observing life and people rather than absorbing their issues, by knowing oneself deeply, being prepared to feel whatever is there to be felt without bottling it up, burying it etc, understanding that there is always a bigger picture and allowing it to be what it is whilst always endeavouring to live with a high degree of personal responsibility and integrity in the knowing that all choices have consequences as well as developing a deep regard and respect for self that means any abusive or bullying behaviour towards oneself is not accepted nor tolerated. 

Bullying is pervasive in the NHS – resilience training should not be about enabling us to cope better with bullying behaviour or any other toxic practices so that they may continue! Instead true resilience empowers us to speak up and out about such practices, for we know and can feel the deep harm they cause to all the individuals involved and the wider environment and culture.

When we are connected to our innermost, to that place of love, stillness and greatness that is within all, we know on a certain level we are invincible, that emotions are toxic fuel for the body, that no matter what adversity or strife comes before us, there is always a bigger picture, one that is endeavouring to waken us up out of our deep and stupefying slumbers to realise we are so much more than we ever imagined we could be. Thus we can develop a resilience that is healthy, empowering and renders us fit for life whatever that life may entail. One where we know that even if we lose it or get affected by something – there is still an unshakeable core that does not need to bounce back because it never truly left.  We experience the need to ‘bounce back’ because we left our core, our essence and how quickly we do this is currently a measure of how resilient we are.

But what if true resilience meant there was no or very little bouncing back at all because we are so solid in living from the absoluteness of who we are, that we have all the true strength and courage to do what we need to do? Not only that but rather than doing it with the tough bulldozer approach we appreciate the true strength that resides in openness, delicateness, tenderness and fragility, where we know the best protection of all comes from letting people in, feeling everything and being who we truly are.   Any form of resilience training that does not first show you how to connect to who you are, to know who you are, will ultimately be another band-aid, a temporary fix, a solution of sorts, that does not bring any true healing or lasting answers.

The world does not need more quick-fixes, more solutions, more band-aids; it needs answers based on the truth of who we are – a truth that comes with a beauty, a majesty, and the glorious freedom of divine responsibility, where resilience is our natural, innate friend and not our manufactured foe. 

Reseliance - Friend or Foe?

I totally agree with you Eunice. The last thing this world needs is more quick fixes. There truly is another way to live. I also grew up carrying my hurts and because of this shut down and was determined not to let love in or out. However, just recently I came across Universal Medicine and many of the wonderful healing modalities they offer and my life has truly taken a turn for the better. I now recognise my tenderness and the strength that this carries and also more easily see the beauty in others. I am now much more commited to life and after 3 years of unemployment due to psychosis and depression, I have found employment and I am now in a role just 20 minutes walk from my house, paying a great salary in a job that I love with lovely, sociable people. I recently bumped into a friend I hadn't seen for about 2 years and he was amazed at the change in how I looked and could not get over the fact that I was back in full-time employment, as things were looking quite bad on that front for me. It's truly amazing!

This is such a perfectly

This is such a perfectly timed read for me. Learning to stay with my innate tenderness and super sensitivity can be challenging at times as there are often hurts which are exposed which have led to reactions many times before. Being aware of these before they happen enables me to stay with the feeling of tenderness and sensitivity, recognise the hurt and not react to it therefore developing a true form of resilience through re-imprinting my choice to stay with me. Thank you Eunice.

illusion

What a beautiful article Eunice. How could we possibly foster the ideals and beliefs that by toughening up ourselves, that we are better able to deal with life. Of course it hurts when people do bully you, of course it hurts when you loose a friend or collegae in war, of course it hurts when people yell to us. Anyone who denies this, isn't honest. The way it affects us, differs. In the end we could say that the people who are more open, sensitive, understanding, accepting and allowing are generally less affected than the ones who has chosen to toughen up. Within our hearts, we're beautiful, deeply sensitive and sacred beings. We are to learn this as a part of all our training, including resilience training. Thank you Eunice!

An inspiring article Eunice.

An inspiring article Eunice. True resilience is to be and live the love of the inner-heart.
15 Aug

#ILookLikeASurgeon – Surgery is what I do, not who I am...

Over the last few days the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon has been trending on twitter and has sparked interest across the globe. It originated when a female engineer @IsisAnchalee was told she didn’t look like an engineer and started the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. This was followed by a female surgical resident Dr Heather Logghe suggesting that #ILookLikeASurgeon might be next and sure enough the twitter world responded. Female surgeons from America, UK, Australia, Europe and elsewhere posted their photo claiming that they ‘look like a surgeon’ – because they are surgeons – celebrating the diversity of surgeons and smashing the gender stereotype.

So many female surgeons have been told they “don’t look like a surgeon”  - so obviously there is some image of what a surgeon is supposed to look like that has been emblazoned onto the minds of the populace and that still reigns supreme. Of course once upon a time….. ALL surgeons were men  – and so clearly ANY woman is not going to fulfill that image – even though some of us may have tried to emulate those manly traits that inhabit the patriarchal stereotype of ‘the surgeon’. Indeed even if we succeeded in adopting those traits and acted accordingly we still did not look like men – so no matter how hard we tried, we could never fit the bill of ‘looking like a surgeon’ even though we already were!  Could it be as simple as that? Could it be that no matter what a woman did or said, she would never be considered to ‘look like a surgeon’ simply because she isn’t a man and doesn’t possess the necessary anatomy, even if she did have the ballsy attitude?

Of course the stereotype is not just a man – it is a man in a pin stripe suit, an arrogant man who holds court in the ward or operating theatre and who can instill fear into the heart of nurses, junior doctors and students with just a look or a word, who assumes the all powerful status of being the one to tell you exactly how it is, no matter who you are (patient or staff) and whom no-one dared to question or counter. A man who commanded and controlled, who was an authoritarian dictator, who battled night and day to save lives and who was both given and assumed a God-like status. Of course this God-like status was the false God of the authoritarian dictator who could do and say whatever he liked irrespective of the effect on others and who bears no resemblance whatsoever to God in truth.  He is the surgeon of films and tv shows that perpetuate the stereotype – and so no wonder female surgeons are oft frequented with ‘you don’t look like a surgeon’ – and we never will whilst that stereotype dominates the consciousness. Of course I have to add that there are lots of male surgeons who do not fit this stereotype either thankfully! But certainly this image that to be a surgeon one must be a man is one that needs to be and is definitely worth smashing – and the twitter storm of beautiful faces is doing just that! 

I know from personal experience it is definitely possible to adopt the stereotypical patriarchal  traits of “the surgeon” – someone who is arrogant, superior, hard, tough, demanding, takes no prisoners, does not suffer fools, who prides themselves on the long hours they work, who gives orders and expects them to be obeyed without question or counter and who in many cases had more balls than the men and whose ruthlessness and aggression was justified by it all being done in the name of providing good care for the patient.  I lived that stereotype for many years. Stamina was my middle name. My identity and sense of self-worth was wrapped up in being a surgeon – it gave me power over others, commanded a certain respect because of my profession and was a key part of my identity. I prided myself on being tough and hard, strong and in control – I thought it was a good way to be, that that was what was needed to be a good surgeon.

However, since those days much has changed, especially my relationship with myself and from there my relationship with others and my work. I have discovered much about myself and why I was the way I was and what was underlying those ill-behaviours. The way that I am with myself and with others has completely changed – I am no longer the tough nosed, hard, domineering surgeon of days gone past. My sense of self-worth and my identity no longer come from being a surgeon – surgery is what I do, but it is not who I am. So who am I?

Who I am is purely and simply love – love is the essence of my being (and everyone else’s) and surgery is one of the ways that I get to express the love that I am through what I do. If we need two little letters in front of our name (Dr) or a list of qualifications after our name to feel better about ourselves, then we can be sure that our sense of self-worth is derived from things that are outside of ourselves, by measures that society have deemed are what makes us a good person, a worthy person – rather than coming from the innate divinity that rests within. When we have the latter as our foundation then outer identfiers are seen for the false pillars they are and more importantly we have an inner strength that is true and indomitable.

When we are dependent on the outer recognition we can be easily offended when people do not give us the recognition we are seeking – hence why some female doctors or surgeons can be offended when they are called ‘nurse’ by patients – as all their years of hard slog to be a doctor or surgeon is not being recognized. When we feel that we are somehow superior or better than another just because we have studied longer or harder – we are in deep, deep illusion. For when we know who we are, it doesn’t really matter what people call us, as our sense of self is not dependent on the outer – there is an inner unshakeable knowing that who you are cannot be offended by any labels or identifiers that are not true.

We come to know that before any role or job title we are people first and foremost – whether that’s a nurse, doctor, surgeon, dentist, accountant, hairdresser or carpenter – these are all what we do for a living but they are not who we are. The truth of who we are is so much grander than any role we play or adopt. We also know that there is true equality – that no-one is more worthy or less worthy – for all are love in essence, even though we may not all be expressing that love! To be mistakenly called a nurse is no sleight nor should it cause offence – and those that are offended have a shaky self-esteem built on outer pillars that can crumble to dust. Personally I have nurses in my family and some of my best friends are nurses and of course many are work colleagues – they are hard-working professionals who care deeply about people – but before all of that they are people whose essence is love and worthy of respect without needing to do anything, as we all are. 

People like to be accorded their appropriate names and titles and it’s a part of how we work in current day healthcare and there is no problem with that provided the equality of all is recognized first – but that is not what happens. People use their job titles to have power over another, to bully and abuse and so we have a healthcare environment that is not actually very caring. But imagine what it would be like if we treated each other as people first, people who are love, and not our job titles? Is it possible that could annihilate the medical hierarchy and level the playing field in a way that was beneficial for all? No more power plays and struggles – just people helping people, collaborating instead of competing, working harmoniously together instead of fighting and arguing creating disharmony, stress, and tension; where the most junior person in terms of professional rank feels equal and valued in person to the most senior in rank and can express accordingly? Surely that would be a healthcare service and environment worth providing?

It may be stating the obvious but we are women before we are surgeons – we were born female but we did not come with a scalpel in our hands from the womb. Where I and many others have made a mistake is thinking that we needed to be like the men to play in what was their assumed territory – instead of connecting with and bringing to surgery the qualities of the true woman.

A true woman is someone who is comfortable in her own skin, who does not need to put on any face or mask, who does not need to pretend to be something she is not, who is natural and at ease, steady and consistent, who can be tender and nurturing as well as strong and firm, who does not suffer any abuse, she is not emotionally driven and neither is she scared of her own vulnerability and fragility; she is a woman who cares deeply both for herself and others and who beholds all equally with the same quality of love. Now there is a Godly way to be! The true woman lives within all women for that is what we are – they are innate qualities that we can connect with and live from and bring to all that we do. In this way we can truly claim #ILookLikeASurgeon and surgery is what I do, not who I am – for who I am is so much more. When we bring the truth of who we are to what we do – then the true magic begins and the magic of God is known.

 

I have been blessed to learn about life, love, God and the human condition from Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine and through applying the teachings in my life, I continue to unfold and deepen my own connection to the true woman within me and bring that to all that I do to the best of my ability and definitely without perfection! But they say a picture is worth a thousand words and that the camera never lies – so I posted pictures on my twitter feed as a surgeon before and after applying these teachings and you can see for yourself if you feel there is a difference.( or click on the links below)

For me now it is a no-brainer – living the love we are is the key to true health, wellbeing and to being a surgeon….without needing that identifier to feel worthy or better about myself for it is not who I am, it is what I do.

 

I am

Love,

No hurt nor wound,

No illness nor disease,

No word nor deed,

Can alter that

Immutable fact,

I am

Love

 

Eunice J Minford ©

 

Surgeon before Universal Medicine 

 

Surgeon after Universal Medicine 

I Love this Eunice, you share

I Love this Eunice, you share with an honesty that is tangible and real. "The truth of who we are is so much grander than any role we play or adopt." So often we are caught in the roles we set ourselves into when the truth is we are all equal in the fact that our foundational essence is that of love. As we see each other from this point , it translates to a harmony among people as there is no competition or recognition required, just all of us doing our part equally so whether it be cleaning the floors of the operating theatre or the surgeon performing the operation we are all part of the whole picture quite beautifully and equally so.

We are who we are, not what we do

This is beauty-full Eunice, we often forget as women to be ourselves first, and what we do second. Whether we're surgeons or astronauts or butchers or cleaners or whatever it's important to be ourselves as the woman we are first and foremost, and then the job as something we do from there. I love your poem too :)

Thank You!

I love this piece. Thanks so much for sharing!

a role as an excuse to be abusive...

Such an important expose Eunice. I have dealt with a handful of surgeons who all seemed to be in that 'role of a surgeon'and it seemed to give them permission to 'get away with' any kind of behavior and no one called them out on it... it felt to me like a dangerous situation where the patient is vulnerable in need of their services but the surgeons were not coming from the love that they are which you so speak of. I want the person not the title!
13 Jul

Charities exposed for Cold-calling: what is True Charity?..

How charitable is cold-calling?

You may say, “what a ridiculous question, it’s obvious there is no charity in cold-calling”, yet we have seen this week how a number of large charities in the UK think it is appropriate to ‘cold-call’ people to raise money for their charities, including Oxfam, Save the Children, the British Red Cross, Macmillan and Cancer Research amongst others.

They employ companies to do the dirty work – and dirty work it is indeed. Fundraisers were apparently "ordered to be 'brutal' and 'ferocious' when asking for money"...and that people " 'have no excuse' not to give, even if they are elderly or poor."  The under-cover videos in this article show the tactics that are used to get people to depart with their cash. No-one is spared from being given this opportunity to donate including elderly pensioners and those with dementia. How twisted and distorted is the thinking that converts the imposing technique of cold-calling elderly people with dementia, using tactics to coerce them to donate money to the charity and calls it ‘giving them the opportunity to donate’?

How far removed have people become from what are ethically and morally acceptable practices? To me, cold-calling people and effectively coercing and forcing them to donate, is the absolute antithesis of charity. Whilst they may argue that no force is used, I would have to disagree. It takes a force devoid of true love and care to cold-call and force, harass, coerce, persuade, talk around, people to donate to a charity. As a consequence of this exposure the government is apparently bringing in new laws to curb such shameful tactics. However, it is in itself an indictment of the charities and the people who are implementing and condoning these practices that such laws are needed. True charity would not require such laws for it would go against the very essence of what true charity is to behave in such a way. 

The word charity comes from the Latin caritas, translated variably as meaning eternal love, unconditional love, God’s love, love of all mankind, generous love, Christian love. The latter of course refers to the love that is the Christ that lives within every human being – not just those who profess to be Christian or who align to the Christian religion. The Christ being the energy of the soul (of love) in embodiment – something that every human being has the potential to live.

What is consistent is that it is a love that is freely given, with no attachments, expectations, investments, needs or demands. And so it follows that true charity are acts done, money given, time and space offered, with no investment of self of any kind – where there is absolutely nothing in it for us, but we do what we do and give what we give with, from and for love.  It sounds simple – but perhaps is not so easy to live given our human predilections for “what’s in it for me, me, me, me?’ to take hold. There are the obvious and not so obvious investments, attachments, and other emotional hooks than can catch us out – for example:

  • Do we feel better about ourselves for having given to a charity?
  • Have we given just because everyone else is giving?
  • Have we given out of guilt – the haves vs the have nots? Guilty that others are less well off than ourselves?
  • Have we given because it is expected, but it’s not really something we want to do?
  • Have we given to not be shown up in some way, to be considered uncharitable, a miser or thought to be hard of heart?
  • Do we give out of pity or sympathy for those deemed less well off?
  • Have we given and then resented the fact that we gave our hard–earned cash away? Or our time to a project, a charity, cause, a friend in need, when we really would have preferred to have been doing something else, something better, something for me and my family?

And so the list goes on ----- if any of the above resonate, then we know we have not given in true charity but have had some investment or need for self.

And so perhaps there are not too many people or too many charities out there who are truly giving of their time and money with ZERO investment of self. Certainly all of the above charities that were exposed in the article for cold-calling and haranguing people for money using ‘boiler –room tactics’ are far, far removed from true charity.

Of course it’s always easy to point the finger at others and the real work is looking at ourselves and removing our own attachments and investments which requires a radical self-honesty to clock when we are doing something for self, when the ‘what’s in it for me’ rises up, and when it is purely and simply for the love of all. I can recognise both within myself – times when I have done something but there was an undercurrent of resentment about it, and other times when I have freely given with zero need for anything in return. The two feel quite different in my body. The first is heavy and sticky, the second is open, expansive and free-flowing.

I have been privileged to learn about and see first hand true charity at work by the living example of Serge Benhayon. For over 7 years I have witnessed and experienced him give of his time and services freely to hundreds and hundreds of people including myself over and above his paid work. But it has not just been the giving, but the quality that comes with that giving – his patience is unending, every individual is totally held, listened to and met with love no matter how big or small the issue is, there is no rushing to get away, no flicker of resentment or frustration, for there is only true caritas, true caring, true charity.  The list of the ways that he has given of his time and services freely to support many across the world would fill a book.

Many have been inspired by his example and subsequently the College of Universal Medicine Charity has been established by the students of Universal Medicine and endeavours to live by and adhere to the principles of true charity – where there is no investment of self. I know for certain that cold-calling will never be a part of this charity for there is absolutely nothing charitable about call-calling and persuading people to depart with their money. If it is not freely given with love, without force, coercion, persuasion, guilt, sympathy, pity, resentment, need, attachment, expectation or investment then it is not true charity. 

The College of Universal Medicine Charity is a forum through which we can return to the community that which has been given to us. We all know how much our lives have benefitted from applying and living the principles of the Ageless Wisdom as presented and lived by Serge through Universal Medicine, where lives have been transformed, people ultimately healing themselves of all kinds of physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual ills and being empowered to be who they truly are and share that with the world. It is by its very nature not something that can be contained within or held for a few – but calls to be freely given to all mankind that they too may know who they are and arise out of the quagmire, misery, struggles and suffering that many find themselves in, in the knowing that they are already healed, already whole, already love and thus there is no need for any pity, sympathy, attachment or investment of any kind. True Charity is Love Blessing Love. 

30 Jun

Paul Givan's 'Conscience Clause' - taking N. Ireland back to the Dark Ages..

In the past year a furore erupted in N.Ireland over a cake – Ascher’s bakery refused to bake a cake for a gay man in support of gay marriage on the basis it went against their conscience or perhaps more accurately their beliefs. Following on from this, N. Ireland politician Paul Givan has tabled a ‘conscience clause’, which if it was successful would give people the right to refuse admission to gay people in hotels, restaurants or to refuse to provide any form of service to gay people on the basis that it went against the ‘conscience’ or ‘beliefs’ of those providing the service. Any service provision that was deemed to be promoting, endorsing or celebrating same sex relationships could be refused if such a law was passed. 

It is shocking in this day and age that people actually think this is ok and can boldly stand in public and make such suggestions. It is rampant homophobia dressed up as ‘going against ones conscience’. Well if one’s conscience is in any way supporting such discrimination then we need to go up against it and call it out for what it is – blatant discrimination. Imagine if instead of gay it said black people? Or Jewish people? Or dare I say catholic or protestant? It doesn’t matter what the label is – all of it is bigoted discrimination that has no place in a modern day society where the equality of all should be first and foremost.

Givan asks the question if gay rights are more important than religious rights - showing that he misses the point altogether. This is about equality of all - not one group or faction above another. People believe all kinds of things in the name of religion that are not founded upon equality - and so yes, when that occurs equality legisaltion trumps religious beliefs that endorse discrimination and rightly so.  

Givan argues that Christians are being denied their rights and are not being treated equally as they have to provide services that offend their beliefs. Well, any beliefs that support discrimination against another human being for any reason need to be offended, challenged and called out. Equality is not about giving people the right to discriminate against others based on beliefs that are man-made – because for sure no such beliefs emanate from God.

How far away from the Christ can you get? It is a complete misappropriation to claim to be acting in God’s name or Christ’s name when tabling such proposals – as if the source of omnipotent love is really looking down saying, “Yes Mr Givan, that’s right I love everyone equally – except gay people”. It’s ridiculous and if it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. It is a clear example of some ‘Christians’ using beliefs in the name of Christ, but which actually are the anti-thesis of the true Christ and his Love, which is for all equally so.

Yet apathy can end up with such motions being passed – apathy by all the people who disagree and know this is just another fundamentalist attack on the equality of all. We can shake our heads and disagree in coffee shops and restaurants or at work  - but do we actually do anything about it? Do we let it be known that this motion is offensive to any human being who knows the equality of all?

When good people stand back and do nothing, evil (the forces that promote separatism, them and us, amongst humanity in whatever form that takes) gets a free reign – for there is no doubt it is evil to suggest that a group of people are somehow lesser or offensive to us just because they have a different sexuality and thus cannot be treated with the same respect and service as everyone else.

The conscious clause is nothing more than the human desire to have a law that gives people the right to discriminate – it has absolutely nothing to do with the true love of God. Givan and those who agree with him, might as well say they are complaining that they are being discriminated against because of their ‘right’ to discriminate! Just because people have been fed beliefs that to be gay is an abomination, an affront to God, ‘wrong’, ‘unnatural’, not Godly, or absolutely any of the other derogatory remarks used against people who are homosexual, does not make those beliefs true! It does not make it a fact, there is no evidence for them – confirming that they are only beliefs – unproven and unsubstantiated. When the true nature of the human being is known and felt - then it is also known that these beliefs are in fact not innocent beliefs but deeply harming lies.

Of course they argue that “the Bible says….” . The Bible is a book written approximately 2000 years ago by people who were not living the truth that the Christ lived. Whilst it contains wisdom it also contains falsities and it requires discernment to know what is true and what is not. The purity of our inner hearts, unimpeded by imposed outer beliefs is the best arbiter of what is true and what is not.

By reconnecting to the inner heart and essence of our being, we come to know that we are love, that we are all Sons of God – with no one lesser or higher. This can be felt and known to be true as an energetic fact as well as being consistent philosophically and religiously. If we have this foundational truth and principle as our guide and compass then it is clear that there is no need for a ‘conscience clause’, for any form of discrimination is offensive, and goes against our very nature of love, care and acceptance of all in the absolute knowing that all are equal.

 

Conscience Clause

Eunice, you have put the nail in the coffin of the idiotic Conscience Clause - a nail that should close the discussion right here, right now. You speak with such clarity and conviction it is hard to imagine anyone would try to argue against a word you have written. Thank you for continuing to bring a loud and righteous voice to our world which is often shrouded in chaos and darkness.

HONOUR

Dear Eunice, It's been an absolute Honour to read your blog. It has a very very Strong message: DO NOT MESS UP WITH THE BASIC RIGHTS OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT OUR (!) SOCIETY. There's not one single argument or reason that justifies separation. In this case putting Christians above Gays. Where really, behind the 2 stereotypes are people. Just like you and I. Godly people. Paul Girvan's opinion in this case is in fact very very cruel. I'm wondering if he's actually aware of what he is actually saying. If he is, to me that should be considered a crime. We - as a society - have to come back to our senses and call evil for what it is. And indeed - as Eunice is stating here - everything that is creating separatism is evil. This asks for a general consideration of how the world is today. Because there's not many that live with this integrity. And whilst there are many that would agree, there's hardly any that share publicly how they feel about it. And publicly doesn't necessarily need to be on a blog on the internet, but can also be at the dinner table, with friends, at work, etc. Or even just in our heads, CALL IT FOR WHAT IT IS. Because this is the way we create energy together to come Truly back to our senses and start acting on it as well. Thank you deeply Eunice to bring this to the fore. It is much appreciated!

Paul Girvan's 'Conscience Clause'-

I love how you have exposed the intent of this bill. It is taking everything in the striving for equality back to its original inequality. It would undo all that has been achieved.

Eunice you deftly deconstruct

Eunice you deftly deconstruct the corrosiveness of a belief in inequality. This needs to be shared wide.
24 May

Ireland says a BIG YES to Equality and Gay Marriage. ..

Yesterday Ireland became the first country in the world to legislate for same sex marriage based on the popular vote of the people. And the people of Ireland have spoken loud and clear and given a resounding YES to inclusivity, to acceptance, to equality and to love. The people of Ireland have listened to and been guided by the wisdom and love in their own hearts, rightly bypassing the doctrinal religious teachings that in the past would have been the source of their guidance for such decisions.

The archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has stated that the church needs a ‘reality check’ in light of the result and the overwhelming support for gay marriage that has directly contravened the teachings and advice of the religious leaders in Ireland.

Perhaps, it is time for the church to wake up, to listen to and learn from the people – the people who are in fact showing a true example of the love of God in action compared to those who are preaching from the pulpits against gay marriage; which is to be against equality, against inclusivity and against love. To be against love is to be against God – for God is love – and that love knows that every human being on the planet is equal.

For far too long gay people have been marginalized, outcast, downtrodden, rejected, abused, vilified, ridiculed and even killed – all because they love people of the same gender! It is absurd and ridiculous to say the least that a human being can be subject to such hateful abuse – all because they love another person of the same sex. That it has taken until 2015 for this to become obvious is an indictment of the religious teachings that have promulgated homophobia in their teachings and of us as people who listened and adhered to them.

Given that homosexuality was only decriminalized in Ireland just over 20 years ago – shows that great strides have been made since then to have a majority of the population voting in favour of gay marriage in the recent referendum. The fall of the Catholic church in Ireland due to the child abuse scandals and more has helped remove the wool from people’s eyes and to see that the church and its leaders are not infallible paragons of virtue – and that their authority as a source of moral and ethical guidance has been seriously jeopardized. It has given the people the opportunity to listen to their own wisdom, unfettered by the deeply harming and separative teachings of the church. Rather than go by the teachings of the institutionalized religion, it seems to me that people are being guided by the wisdom of their own hearts, by their own love, by the God that lives within their own being – a relationship that could be called true religion.  Equality is a cornerstone of love – without equality there is no true love. God loves all equally and it is our call to do likewise and the people of Ireland have taken a grand step in expressing that love for all equally by supporting gay marriage.

This too was emulated in the decision by the judge to find Asher’s bakery guilty of discrimination against the gay man in the case I commented on recently. A victory for justice, equality and for love. The bakery are now only going to make cakes for babies and birthdays in order to avoid having to make cakes that support gay marriage. This is where the difference between the love of Christ that loves all irrespective of gender, sexuality, creed, race or any other identifier and Christianity as organised religion is all too clear.

The real evil here that needs to be exposed are the religious teachings that feed people the absolute lies that being gay is an ‘abomination’, is evil, is a sin, is against God, is punishable by being sent to hell and a host of other religious teachings that serve to denigrate and dehumanize gay people, to make them feel guilty for being born and being who they are. The cost of such teachings is unfathomable – for so long gay people have been forced to lead secret lives, have been inculcated to feel guilt and shame for being who they are, have become addicted to alcohol or drugs as a way of numbing their pain, have taken their own lives or been killed by others along with the endless list of abuses they have endured. When the truth is the opposite of that promulgated by institutionalised religion – being gay is not an abomination, it is the true expression of love for many, and is to be accepted, nurtured and cherished as such. It is in no way an affront to God or against God – God is love and it is through love that we come to know God – whether that love is for a person of the same gender or not. The gender in that sense is irrelevant – what matters is the quality of the love. Is it a love that is all encompassing, open, accepting, understanding, allowing that sees and knows all are equal?

Whilst I greatly appreciate and celebrate the people of Ireland for taking a step in the direction of love and equality – there is work to be done! Northern Ireland needs to follow suit but is significantly curtailed and restrained by the false religious teachings that many of the country’s politicians adhere too. Such is the strength of their patriarchal superiority they think they know better than the people and have refused thus far to hold a similar referendum in the North. The day will come when gay marriage is legalized in Northern Ireland – it is just a matter of how long we have to wait for the dinosaurs to become extinct once more!

Furthermore, in terms of equality, there are the issues of women’s rights and access to abortion to contend with both north and south of the border. So let us not get too complacent just yet – the day is yet to come when women in Ireland are held as autonomous and equal individuals who have the power to make decisions over their own bodies without the patronizing patriarchal constrictions and restrictions that are currently in place.

So well done Ireland for recognising, honouring and acknowledging the equality of our gay brothers and sisters across this land and the wider world. May it set an example that other countries and people follow such that no man or woman should ever need to hide, or feel guilt or shame for being who they are or live in fear of being who they are and expressing their love for another human being of the same sex ever again. 

Equality

A big thank you to the people of Ireland, breaking the shackles of old dogma and control, and taking the lead in showing the world a loving way to accept and to love everyone as equals.

God is Love.. as are We.

God is love and love is every way of living in connection to and from this love, it couldn't be more simple and more about our acceptance of ourselves and each other as equal beholders of this true and love-filled way of existence.

Is it possible the Catholic

Is it possible the Catholic Church will come out from behind its cloak and realise its time to live with humanity equally? Maybe they can bring the politicians out as well. It's time all bastions lived truth and integrity based on equalness and true love. It might take a while for them to catch on what that actually is, so no more delay!

Wow!

I did not think that was going to happen! What a turn up - it just shows what you can do just by challenging the status quo, the church does need a reality check and in a country like Ireland where religion has such a hold, it is a amazing that they saw the writing on the wall and responded. If they respond to this, as they have - what else can we challenge the church on?

indeed Joshua - imagine if

indeed Joshua - imagine if people's minds had not been poisoned by such false religious teachings and instead they were encouraged to listen to the wisdom of love in their own hearts - then this day could have come alot sooner. I too have gay friends where I know the love is solid and pure and where they are a shining example of living loving relationships that many of us can learn from!   

Ireland says Big Yes to Equality and Gay Marriage

Eunice , this is such a stirring and deeply heartfelt message it brought me to tears - a Big Yes - to one more step towards Equality for all - Thankyou for sharing this and I surely hope a lot of people in Ireland get to read this blog for it is truly inspiring.

yes Beverley and what message

yes Beverley and what message does that send to the people?? This is the same patronising patriarchal rubbish we have in N Ireland where those in parliament deem themselves superior to the people. 

True Equality should be the Norm!

So well expressed Eunice. Gay relationships have been held for so long as wrong or 'dirty' or even unnatural and outcast in many societies of our modern times. I know for one I have held this same view of gay couples and know it is deeply engrained not only in the Church but also social and cultural ideals. Good on Ireland for this true revolution of equality as I have begun over recent times to observe true love in gay couples I know and can say it is truly gorgeous and something the must be embraced by all.

Ireland says a BIG YES to Equality and Gay Marriage.

Eunice, I support you in all you have said here. This was a wonderful result for true equality. About time that also happened here in Australia. But it does not look as if we are going to be given the opportunity here yet, it is claimed that it is the right of Parliament to make the decision, rather than the people of Australia.

Fantastic news!

Fantastic news! It does seem ridiculous that in 2015 we are still even discussing whether gay people should have the same rights as all others. Ireland is a shining example to other countries to have come so far in such a relatively short period of time. As you say, this is what happens when people listen to their hearts (their innate wisdom) rather than the church.

Powerful and heartfelt

Powerful and heartfelt expression Eunice. Love is love and renders all equal, is the simple, profound and compelling take home message I received from your article.

hear hear!

hear hear!
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