Springingtiger's Blog

Put Away Your Sword.


I was reading in Matthew’s Gospel about the arrest of Jesus. When one of his followers sought to defend him with a sword he told the man to put the sword away and famously added, “All who take the sword will die by the sword.” (He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword) It reminded me of an earlier verse in Matthew 5 when Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgement” (Mt. 5:21). An injunction against murder as Jewish law allowed for killing in war and as a punishment for certain crimes. However Jesus went on to say, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Which I believe rather tightens up the injunction.

In the early church many soldiers were martyred because they believed killing, even in war, to be contrary to the teachings of Jesus. I am not going to argue about just wars, I cannot blame people for defending themselves when attacked, I will not condemn self-defence. However when someone claims self defence dishonestly, whether it be a justification for a war or an individual killing, it is murder. If a politician honestly believes his country is about to be attacked then perhaps he is right to send the army to its defence. But to send armies thousands of miles into another country which is in no position to invade is not defence, it is murder. For a leader to misrepresent facts or to lie, to achieve the goal of attacking another country is murder. Anyone who dishonestly attacks another country is not only responsible for the attack, but also for any retaliation by the people of that country, whether by war or terrorism. When your country is invaded, if you accept the concept of a just war, then any action you take to persuade the aggressor to withdraw is justified wherever you take the action. However any doctrine of just war precludes the killing of civilians. Which would make the use of any weapon designed for the slaughter of civilians, murder.

We all have a degree of responsibility for war and for killing. The man who smelts the steel that makes the gun might as well be making it for girders, little blame attaches to him. The man who takes the steel and makes the gun must bear some blame, but does he know who will use the weapons? The man who sells the weapons knows to whom he sells, it’s fair to say he is to some extent guilty. But the man who orders the weapons to be used bears the most guilt and, to a lesser extent (in a democracy) those who voted for him. What about the soldier who uses a gun? His responsibility and his choice is the most personal. To a very great extent I accept that much of a soldier’s guilt is removed by his following orders. Should he deliberately kill a civilian then he is guilty, but the emphasis lies on ‘deliberately’. In my experience very few soldiers want to kill civilians, but there will always be some who in anger or ignorance strike when they should not. Even then much of the blame lies with those who put them in that position. I will not lay blame on a man under pressure who accidentally kills, I will not excuse the ones who put him there.

Ultimately the greatest blame lies with those who choose to order the slaughter of innocent civilians, the most obvious examples are terrorist bombs in civilian areas or the carpet bombing of cities like London and Dresden in World War Two. Any politician who votes to deploy weapons that cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants is effectively voting for murder. Any politician who declares themselves willing to use weapons of mass destruction is effectively declaring a will to commit premeditated murder. However any guilt these murderers or potential murders have is shared with those who put them in the position to make these immoral decisions. Some who vote for them will sincerely believe they are justified in doing so, however they should not take offence when others equally sincerely call them murderers. Before you next cast a vote, perhaps you might wonder whether that vote may ultimately lead to acts that, on reflection, you would abhor. Ask questions, before you decide, afterwards it will be too late.

The Old Woman’s Tooth


There was once a very old woman who had only one tooth in her very old head. When she smiled she upset people. Her family tried to persuade her to have the tooth removed and have dentures fitted, but she refused. She always protested that when a body lost all its teeth it knew it was time to die and so, even though she had only one, she was going to keep her tooth. Inevitably the day came when the old woman’s last remaining old tooth fell from her old head. She stopped eating and died within the week.

Had she not believed that losing all her teeth indicated it was time to die, would she have lived? Is it true that the body is genetically programmed to die when all its teeth are gone? Is it natural to live with dentures and do they disturb the natural order? Does any of this matter?

What if it were true that the body is genetically programmed to die when its teeth are all gone? Some people begrudge the time they spend on brushing their teeth in the morning and at night. Four minutes lost from a busy day, four minutes they would not begrudge their television or mobile phone. Why begrudge their teeth? Whatever the truth of it I prefer to call my time brushing teeth not a waste, but rather, an investment in longevity. (I’ll look a bit silly if I get run over by a bus this afternoon, but at least my teeth and underpants will be clean….Underpants? That’s another story)

We all have beliefs about old age, many of them founded on arbitrary factors like legal retirement ages and the longevity of our forbears, perhaps even losing our teeth. What do you believe about growing old, and will die when you believe you should or when you choose to? At least I’m not going to let my teeth decide for me.

Sheep and Goats

Today, as I will everyday this year, I read my Bible. The Old Testament still does not endear itself to me. I wonder whether there can ever be peace in the Middle East when one of the main religions in the area has such an inauspicious foundation. I am only in Exodus, but so far it’s all been propagating dishonesty, adultery, slavery and violence, the first instituted holy day is a celebration of the slaughter of Egyptian children. One can only hope things improve in later books!

Today’s New Testament reading on the other hand was magnificent and so relevant to our country today. I do like Matthew Chapter Twenty Five largely for its condemnation of modern Christian values. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels! I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink; I was a stranger but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me.’”…. “’I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’” (Mt. 25: 41 – 43, 45. Good News Bible)

When I read this in the context of a Britain that wants to turn away refugees and migrants rather than welcome them, I wonder how many of Britain’s self professed Christians like the Prime Minister actually have any regard for the teachings of the man they consider to be God. It’s all very well going to church to pray and sing hymns, but what about the instructions their holy book gives them? How can anyone claim to follow Jesus when they force people to starve or rely on food-banks? We are not talking here only about the unemployed, but about those with jobs. Whatever happened to ‘The worker is worth his keep.’? If a worker’s wages cannot feed his family, surely that is an affront to the teaching of Jesus and of St. Paul who repeated the saying in his letter to Timothy.

The repetition of the teaching by Paul suggests it is a fundamental Christian value, but sadly one ignored by the Government of the United Kingdom. It may be argued that the fault lies with greedy and dishonest employers more intent on profit than justice. However the government has a duty to ensure that people are justly treated. I hardly need to relate the government’s failure to properly support the National Health Service to Jesus’ condemnation of those who fail to care for the sick, nor shall I comment on the privatisation of prison services so they are run for profit and not for society. Who is condemned by Jesus in Matthew 25? All of us, our responsibilities are collective and if we allow people to be abused, to go hungry and homeless then we are as much to blame as anyone as long as we allow it. I am quite glad I don’t believe in heaven and hell, but those who do have real cause for concern.

Even the day’s selection from the Book of Proverbs condemns our society; ‘To honour the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance evil ways and false words.’ (Proverbs 8:13). Perhaps our legislators should take the proverb to heart, particularly on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day


You may not be aware of it, but today is Valentine’s Day. “Oh no,” you may protest, “St. Valentine’s day is not until the fourteenth of February. You are a week early!”

To which I respond, “I love my wife every day. Why should I wait a week to celebrate that? Why should not everyday be Valentines Day?” Most of our celebrations are ridiculous when you think about it. Yes it is a good idea to commemorate and celebrate events and people, but why do we tie ourselves to the tyranny of the calendar. I don’t wait to All Souls Day to remember my dead loved ones, why should I confine love to one day in February. I personally see little reason to celebrate birthdays, I may be a year older, so what? Surely it is best to celebrate everyday?

Anyway I am wandering off my point. Today my wife was feeling unappreciated by people who should know better than to take her for granted. I am probably the only person who is aware of how much she does or that she has not had a day to herself since the First of January and it annoys me when people fail to appreciate her. I could see she was unhappy so I decided to give her my Valentine’s gift a week early. I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day because, as I have said, I love her everyday. However this year I had bought her a present.

I went to Hamley’s to buy some model paints and as I walked past the toy farm animals, zoo animals and knights on horseback, I saw a unicorn. Neelam loves unicorns so I decided to buy it.

As the girl behind the counter rang up my purchases she asked me, “Who are these for?” I suspect she thought I was on Grandpa duty.

I replied, “The paints are for me and the Unicorn is for my wife.”

The girl smiled and said, “You can never grow out of unicorns.”

“She won’t.” Said I. “And why should she? There’s little enough magic in this world.” I added.

As I walked away I heard her saying to her colleague, “That was lovely…” I like to think she was referring to our conversation and that the old fellow taking magic home to his wife perhaps left a little magic in her day too. In fact the real problem is not that there’s too little magic in the world, but that we don’t notice it. The magic that opens our eyes to magic is love, and when we open our eyes the magic we see is love.

Happy St. Valentines Day….whenever you choose to celebrate it!


February 7, 2016, 00:22
Filed under: disability, Health, NLP, personal development | Tags: , , , ,

And so once again I find myself struggling to write my blog. Again my body is in rebellion. I thought it was bad enough having back pain, now diagnosed as sciatica, without spraining my ankle (last week). To add injury to insult to injury my left shoulder dislocated itself last night. It relocated itself almost immediately, however it is somewhat less than comfortable.

I am reminded that (as someone once said) ‘pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’. I choose not to suffer. As to the pain I observe it with fascination. I shall overcome it with the power of my mind, but not today. Today I’ll use painkillers and Voltarol. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll use the power of my mind. On the other hand….

Mobile Remix

As some people will be aware, this year I have cut back on the time I spend on my phone following social media. I try to limit myself (usually unsuccessfully) to a period in the morning after my journalling and again in the evening during my journalling time. Outside those times I restrict myself to times when it is appropriate, like sitting in waiting rooms. The actual amount of time I spend on my phone has been cut by at least two hours a day, I still waste too much time on it.

The first thing I have noticed since cutting back on my social media use is how much more reading I can get through in a day. I also find I have more time to write and — less happily — get things done in the house like cooking. I hadn’t realised how much time I spent looking at my phone, probably because it was in small packages of ten minutes here, thirty minutes there. Even an hour can pass quickly when following threads and links.

The problem with putting my phone away is that sometimes I feel completely alone even in a crowd of people. I accept that those who know me may not be surprised by that. However now it is nothing to do with me, but a realisation that no one is paying attention to anyone else because they are too engrossed in their phones. Glasgow has some beautiful buildings that some people will never notice unless a picture is posted to Facebook, because they won’t look up and see for themselves. Street entertainers perform ignored by the phone users of Buchanan Street. Couples sit in restaurants rarely raising their eyes to each other in case they miss a Facebook update. People may be communicating, but they aren’t talking.

I am admittedly one of the world’s most reluctant conversationalists largely because I find conversation tiring and tiresome. However I have recently enjoyed meals where no one was absorbed in their phones, but chose instead to look at each other and talk. I also chose to telephone a relative who has considerable difficulty speaking. We send the occasional email, however I decided to put aside convenience and speak with him. I confess to not particularly liking telephones, but emails can never replace the contact that comes when two people hear each other.

On Wednesday I listened to the Landmark Forum Leader —  David Cunningham — saying, “If people have no voice they don’t exist.” which sounds terrible out of context. The point he was making is that when we refuse to hear, to truly listen to another’s communication, we cease to honour them as a human being, they cease to matter to us and they know it. Interestingly enough in the exercise where we explored this, a number of participants took out their mobile phones and used them as a tool to avoid paying attention to their partner’s communication.

When I was young in a world without mobile phones or personal computers the world was a colourful and exciting place. Even so I would not want to return to those comparatively gadget free times. I think the ‘interweb thingy’ as one presenter calls it is valuable, social media enables me to remain in touch with family all around the world and catch the news as it breaks (does that really matter?). I just think it is sad when we allow our toys to prevent us appreciating where we are and who we are with. Perhaps they may have nothing to say, but we won’t know that unless we listen. As I said in an earlier draft, if we don’t pay attention to the people with us now we may log out of Facebook and find they’ve gone.

I Dreamed of Dinner
February 4, 2016, 17:46
Filed under: food, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

It is the strangest thing, but a couple of nights ago I dreamed my dinner. I didn’t dream of a dinner I had had (that would not be unusual for me!) my dream gave me the recipe for the coming evening’s meal. My meal plan for the week had already gone adrift so another change was going to make little difference and it did use ingredients I already had which made it virtuous. I know not from whence came the recipe, perhaps it is something I read once and forgot, but I made it and it was good. As it was so simple I will share it with you. I call it Chickpea and Sweetcorn Stew, if I had a tagine I suspect it would be called Chickpea and Sweetcorn Tagine.

2 onions (one white, one red) chopped into chunks.

1 rounded teaspoon of minced garlic.

4 medium potatoes chopped.

3 medium tomatoes quartered then each quarter halved to make chunky eighths.

2 medium carrots halved lengthways then sliced.

1 largish courgette halved lengthways then sliced.

1 240g drained weight (or there about) can of sweetcorn.

1 240g drained weight (or there about) can of chickpeas drained and rinsed.

2 teaspoons of salt.

1 teaspoon of black pepper.

Nearly 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika (my hand shook).

1 rounded teaspoon of Cumin.

1 rounded teaspoon of Ras Al Hanout (the dream said Sumac, but Ras Al Hanout just felt right).

1 cup of cold water, plus more if necessary.

Fry onions and garlic until soft.

Add potatoes, allow to brown slightly.

Add carrots and tomatoes stir well and fry for a couple of minutes to sweat.

Add all other ingredients apart from water and stir well allow to cook for another couple of minutes.

Add water stir well, Bring to boil then simmer on low heat for 30 minutes or until carrots are soft (at 30 minutes mine were still al dente).

Check seasoning then serve with rice or bread. (It’s actually nice just on its own). It should serve four. You could garnish it with coriander if you felt like it, I didn’t have any.

The preparation was very quick and easy. While it was cooking I baked a loaf of very easy Spelt Bread (from a Sophie Grigson recipe) whose dough finished proving just before I put the stew on to cook, we ate the stew with the warm Spelt Bread. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this and got a couple of meals from it.




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