THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND

The likely possibility of a second independence referendum was announced only a matter of hours ago and I had to write something already. I didn’t think I’d see another referendum in my lifetime and the potential of a second one in over a year or so makes me both excited and sick. Excited because the prospect of an independent Scotland, consequently more just, equal and democratic is beyond appealing. Sick, because the thought of losing the battle for a wholly autonomous Scotland and having my heart broken all over again makes me really nervous!

It’s being argued by opposing parties and other people in Scotland that a second referendum shouldn’t even be being considered, it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ event and it should be left as the first one finished. Jeremy Corbyn even tweeted earlier that there is “no appetite” for an Independent Scotland. Firstly, I think it’s a bit insulting that an MP who practices in an English constituency thinks he has a grasp of the Scottish appetite for independence and secondly – he’s right. There’s no appetite for a second referendum – from the Labour party anyway, who lost their reputation in Scotland years ago. I can understand why some people are annoyed that theres going to be a potential second referendum after it was sold as a ‘once in a lifetime’ affair – but so much has changed since the last time.

Most notably, Brexit. Before the Independence referendum, we were told that if we remained part of the UK we would be guaranteed a continued relationship with the EU. We remained part of the UK. Fast forward two years, the referendum on EU membership is held. Scotland vote to remain – the rest of the UK vote to leave. We are leaving the EU, after being promised continued membership of the EU if we remained as part of the Union. The results of the EU referendum are reflective of how the voting system in the general election always works in Scotlands favour – yes we have our own devolved government but our autonomy is limited. We voted to remain in the EU, yet we’re outnumbered by England so we are being made to leave. We don’t get a say in things like defense and whether we’re going to go to war or not – our voices are lost in the big so-called ‘democratic’ void. It feels only right that we try n gain full autonomy for our country as our voices are continuously drowned out by the Torys ruling in Westminster, passing legislation that we don’t want.

Another thing that makes me want to get soooooooo far out the UK is the cosy dynamic between Theresa May and Donald Trump. The politics of both politicians are divisive and dangerous and the prospect of them creating an even cosier alliance between the UK and the US, sitting back and tolerating the hate and intolerance being peddled by Trump across America makes me really feart.

There’s a lot of work to do. I think it goes without saying there is people out there who voted No the first time, who were betrayed as Westminster went back on their pre-referendum promises about ‘more power for Scotland’ and ‘membership of the EU’ who would vote yes this time around – but that doesn’t mean we can sit back and assume everybody will vote yes by default. The Scottish Government will have to build a strong case for the economy to gain the trust of potential yes voters, particularly so in a time where the economy and trading agreements are under increasing pressure consequent to Brexit. Additionally to this, let it not be forgotten that a vote for Independence is not a vote for the SNP. Yes, we have the SNP to thank for putting the first and now the second referendum on the table – but its no secret that they’re not the progressive, inclusive party they make out to be. It’s understanding why people don’t want to vote Yes incase they’re seen to be supportive of the partys politics because they need some serious work** – but any chat about being pro independence must mean you’re pro SNP as well is nonsense. Parties aside, just put your country first and decide on a better life for yourself, the generations after you and the people who are worse off. This is it x

** Here is some other things I’ve written about the SNP and some of their legislation here:

https://equalheartsequalrights.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/the-polis/
https://equalheartsequalrights.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/no-votes-snp/

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INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY 2017

IWD 2017 –  Be Bold for Change

I’ve written about feminism a good bit on this blog, but it was only fitting that I wrote something for International Womens Day. This years theme is ‘be bold for change’, a concept which can be difficult. It’s challenging for many to be bold about their struggles as a woman when feminism is still a dirty word for some people. But similarly, being bold might be the only way we can make any progress.

There are lots of sub-categories and approaches to feminism, that can make it appear like a difficult ideology to understand. Simply put, a feminist wants equality for both genders. Some people think that because the term is “Feminism” that it’s just for women and womens struggle, but that’s not the case. If you want gender equality and aren’t comfortable with the term ‘feminist’, that’s cool, you can label yourself whatever you like. “Feminism” is the chosen term as it gives a nod to the systematic oppression of women which sees them impacted significantly more by the arguably patriarchal society which we all live in, but of course men suffer their own struggles too which feminism doesn’t ignore.

I see a lot of nonsense on Twitter and Facebook etc that sort a criminalises feminists. While feminism is less of a taboo subject than it has been in the past, it is still a bit of a dirty word for some people. Feminism isn’t the same concept of militancy and extreme demonstration as it was in the early 20th century. There are different forms of ‘feminist’ but the idea is all the same – equal treatment and opportunities for both genders. Of course it going to be a challenge, particularly when feminism has to apply to all women and men across all races, religions, sexualities and social classes. But that shouldn’t be a scapegoat. We can’t be like “fuck that, there’s no chance” when there’s women at the other side of the world dying for an education or the right to wear a bra. Or when there’s men suffering with mental health because they don’t correlate with the media’s hyper-masculine ideals about how they should act and look.

I’m not going to sit here and say it’s dead rosy being a feminist and advocating equal rights, we all know its not. It’s hard declaring your opinion when feminists are portrayed as a reckless, militant rabble of women – which is why we need more guys. We need more guys to stick their neck out and ignore this institutionalised idea that feminism is only for women, and lead by example. Show other men that this isn’t the case and there’s benefits to be felt by all genders. We shouldn’t be measuring our support of a cause by “what’s in it for us” or “feminism? Aye I’ve got a daughter, a wife, a sister.. better get involved.” We should be showing support regardless of personal gain or relevance, just putting all that aside and recognising that there’s people struggling and we should all be helping each other out a wee bit!

Whilst it shouldn’t be a big deal to be a feminist, the reality is that currently there are still a lot of people who think its cool and quirky to oppose the idea, even further encouraging the struggle of humans under the patriarchy. I think it’d be class that during this week of International Women’s Day, girls, and guys who are under represented in the cause, who haven’t really shown much interest in feminism before, think about being bold for change – the more the merrier!

FAKE NEWS

Its difficult to digest how much turmoil the world is in – right now more than ever before. Its difficult to avoid despair when people like Donald Trump are being given mounds of power.
Journalism has many faces. For many it’s a misleading, biased, fount of propaganda –  conflicting with its intital purpose of neutrally informing the public. Writers have faced a great challenge to gain credibility in a media world that is turbulent and at times corrupt. How discouraging must it be, then, when Trump sends them back to the start with his take on “fake news”. It’s laughable that the president thinks that you can grant any negative press as false, if only it were that easy in general terms. “He said I didny buy the last round? Bullshit mate.” “What do you mean, ‘I’m a Hearts fan’? Lot a fuckin nonsense”

I’ve tried to avoid writing about Trump for a few reasons and I keep correcting myself. One, does he really deserve the attention? Well, aye he does. He’s destroying America n maybe potentially the world, the guy has to be held to account. Another thing was that I feel like he’s almost becoming a bit of an old joke, like a dodgy cliché. I can’t help but feel like maybe everything that can be said about Trump has already been said, and that he’s an almost ‘overdone’ topic. But then again, it feels like every day you wake up and the guys done something else. Even at that, all we know is what’s getting reported. Who knows what else he’s up to that’s falling through the net. I don’t know. Can holding an ignorant facist to account really become ‘overdone’???

I’m not entirely sure where I’m trying to go with this. I think what I’m trying to say, is that right now we need writing more than ever. Not just writing, but voices. It can seem hopeless when we’re constantly calling out wrong actions and identifying injustice in our own country and beyond and nothings being done. But that doesn’t mean we should give up, it sounds so cliché man but its dead easy to be like “¯\_(ツ)_/¯, we’ve tried, nobodys listening, just let the hatred, discrimination and criminalisation unfold – we’ve done our bit” but nooooo. I’m not claiming to be a writer of any considerable credibility or influence but I don’t have to be, none of us do. I think we all have to sort a band together n oppose, not just Trump, but people in power everywhere who try to monopolise the media in addition to their existing wealth of power (and money lol). Even people closer to home man, people in Holyrood and Westminster passing through policies impacting the people most vulnerable, Start wee and build big, it’s too easy to just be like “doesny affect us, not even from America”, but look on ur own doorstep! There’s people losing their homes because of policies like the Bedroom Tax n innocent people getting lifted watching the football at the weekend under flawed legislation like the OBFA (the chances of which you will have heard of either in the news is unlikely.) Nobody should have the approach that “if it doesn’t affect you it doesn’t matter”, which is what most of us are like when it comes to the situation in America. But if that’s the position you find yourself in, look at what’s happening in your own country. Start opposing injustice in your own country and community and build big. Corruption and prejudice aren’t one-state problems, and that’s what the danger is with people like Trump. These dangers are normalised by people with his influence, spreading the problem across nations and causing divisions across race and social class and gender all across the world. Lets not be scared of fighting oppression by the threat of your voice being lost in the void or “fake news”, the battle against the dodgy like Trump and other questionable word leaders can start on your own wee doorstep. Pipe up!

 

BURSTIN BUBBLES

I am right ashamed at how bad I’ve gotten at keeping the posts on here as frequent as possible, but as a sort a New Years resolution I’m going to try and get back at it. I’m confident that I’m not the only person who has written something like what you’re about to read and I’m a bit conscious of it sounding a bit clichéd but it was on my mind and this is what the full blogging shift is all about isn’t it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After what happened in Turkey on New Years Eve, I was thinking about how horrendously frequent these sort of attacks are and how we’re not really the best at responding to them. It’s really easy to hear about these acts of violence and terror and forget about them an hour later because it doesn’t affect you – most people won’t like to admit that but its true. It feels like they happen so far from you that because you aren’t impacted by any of the consequences of these disasters, that it isn’t happening at all. But the worst part about this is that, we all seem quite happy to continue living like that, in a wee bubble where aye we can nod and acknowledge that these events are atrocious and we’ll dedicate an hour or two to think it over and a facebook status to commemorate the fatalities, and then get back to our day.

It’s became apparent since the rise of social media that the main way to make folk really pay any sort a attention to these events it by linking the situation to themselves. The most common, almost cliché one is stuff like “A terrorist attack in Paris? I was there just a few months ago.” I might be being really picky here as well but even things on Facebook like “Feeling really grateful/blessed for what I have around me right now after hearing the bad news from Istanbul tonight” doesn’t really sound the best either. Like of course it’s very understandable that these harrowing events can remind you of how fortunate you are to live in a country that isn’t torn apart by war or terror, but these events aren’t insinuated for that purpose. The folk responsible don’t carry out these attacks with the intent of imposing reality checks upon us all. We are all guilty here but it absolutely shouldn’t take a massacre thousands of miles from your home for you to realize how fortunate you are. What I’m really trying to say is that we should be grateful for what we have already without being reminded to be grateful in comparison to those who are down on their luck – to say the least – elsewhere. So that when these events do happen, we know how fortunate we are already and are prepared to not just be thankful for our fortunate position, but maybe think about how we can use that position to help those in need.

Like I said before, it is so so easy to hear this kind a news and forget about it now and I think there’s a good few reasons for this. Firstly, the media don’t report half as much as we think. The picture we are painted in the tabloid press of places like Aleppo and Gaza are horrific, but they are nowhere near accurate in portraying how abysmal the conditions are. The awful attacks we will hear about in Europe and America, happen in places like Syria and Palestine daily – even hourly – and they go unreported. It’s not just a lack of reporting, often what is reported is inaccurate, biased and sometimes just overcomplicated because they don’t really want us to wholly understand the atrocities that are happening elsewhere, often with the financial aid of our own government. We have no idea how abysmal the conditions and the continuous violence and terror in these places are – I’m not saying this is an excuse to turn a blind eye, but it’s something to be considered about why its really easy for us to remain in this state of ignorant bliss, because while we know about terrorism and violence and discrimination we are not really anywhere near aware of the scale. If we were aware, I’d like to think we’d all care that wee bit more.

Another reason is that all of this violence is becoming almost normal. This can be uncomfortable for a lot of us to admit but as time goes on and terror and destruction are more frequent, the shock factor sort of wears thin for people. It’s like if its 7pm at night and a car alarm near your house starts going off. It’s loud and you can’t concentrate but by 8pm it’s still ringing and you’re oblivious to it. You grow almost immune to the agony, and we can’t be okay with letting this happen. Sure we can empathise and hurt for other people and we can share their pain and sorrow, but we can’t just do that for an hour or so until we have a think for a while, stick a banner on a profile picture and return to our normal lives. These things are nice to do, like they show solidarity and everybody has their own ways of doing that but I just don’t think it’s enough. I think it would be class if we all tried to shake this subconscious compliance we all have to remain in this wee bubble where the stuff that’s happening around the globe isn’t really our problem because it doesn’t affect us. I’m not saying that we all have to acquire arms and overthrow all the dictatorships and terrorists of the day, but even if we just cared that wee bit extra to know more. I’m sure I mentioned this in a previous post about homelessness but with issues like these, awareness is maaaassive. Like it’s hard to find information about the true injustices and the scale and consequences of these injustices because the mainstream media often don’t cover them, but if we look hard enough we can find it! Yes it’s uncomfortable reading about these things, it’s hard to accept that other humans can be so cruel and horrendous, but the people that they are doing these things to are humans too. I think it would be so cool if we all got to a stage where we could shake this idealistic mindset where we’re getting by everyday not really being too fussed by what’s going on out with our own life. It’s a bit of a typical thing to say but we’re all human, regardless of age and gender and religion and race – and its silly that we all have to keep reminding each other of this. As people like Donald Trump get into power, we can’t let these discriminative attitudes become normalised. Every individual is entitled to the same quality of life and that’s why we can’t become complacent in how we respond to violence and terror. While its right easy to stay in the comfort of our wee bubbles, maybe 2017 is the year we looked into bursting them!

FEMINISM IS FOOTERY

Feminism can be dead tricky. When you look at places like Iceland whose recognition of womens rights is more than respectable and compare it to elsewhere in the world it can be right disheartening.  Whilst there is still a long way to go in putting feminism into practise intersectionally, the concept is becoming more of a day-to-day topic of discussion than ever before. Years ago feminism was largely associated with idea of militancy and violence – scary connotations which deterred lots of folk from getting involved with the concept. The negative stigma hasn’t entirely dissolved and remains something which makes people hesitant to associate with the concept of feminism even though they still desire the same aim of equality of the sexes – which is cool, there’s no pressure to identify as anything you don’t want to! However, whilst a previously taboo subject, Feminism is becoming an increasingly more comfortable topic to approach in casual discussion – why?

I reckon the big player in this is the media. The oppression of females is institutionalised in society and it is evident in the majority of media outlets. Women are portrayed using harmful and restrictive stereotypes – they always have been, but the difference is now that people are starting to notice.

Raising awareness for any cause is the first, last and most important step. The accessibility of social media is a massive thing to consider. It’s easier now than ever before to access feminist material (if you want to, I know its not for everyone!) and the simple act of seeing and sharing raises awareness like nothing else. All it takes is one person to see something on the telly or online that is discriminative towards women and within an hour, thousands of people have seen it. People recognising harmful language and stereotypes in the media and sharing it on their social media takes the best part of 10 seconds and, whilst increasing awareness, also normalises the topic of feminism in a way which we probably don’t even realise.

Whilst feminism is becoming less of a taboo subject compared to previous years, it isn’t any less complex. There is still lots of work to be done for the cause, and it’s always going to be difficult when there’s so many people involved. For feminism to be a successful movement, all races, genders, sexualities, religions social classes and age groups must be considered and represented equally, and that can sound overwhelming but we can’t be disheartened. Iceland wasn’t built in a day x

THE MORAL OF THE SLEEP OUT

The Moral of the Sleep Out

Before I even start, thank you so much to everybody who sponsored me on the online donations page and on my sponsor sheet. I don’t know how to word this without sounding like a massive cliché, but I am genuinely overwhelmed with how generous everybody has been. The event was part of the Celtic FC Foundations Christmas Appeal, so all the money raised goes towards families leading troubled or chaotic lives in the hopes of making this festive season that bit more special. Between all the participants we’ve raised over £60,000 and it absolutely will not go to waste– thank you soooo much!

As usual, every blog post comes with a wee disclaimer. I’m not writing this to be like “oh look, I did a charity thing! #philanthropy”. I just thought I’d write a wee thing about a few thoughts I have after doing the Celtic Sleep Out last month. If you don’t want to read it that’s okay you can just click off and resume to doing whatever internet-y thing you were doing before, I won’t know I promise!

It’ll be just coming up to a month on the button since I slept out on the trackside at Celtic Park with my pal Anne-Marie. We signed up in August and I can remember thinking at the time “that’s ages away, it’ll be nearly Christmas by the time that’s here!” and right enough here we are, it’s been and gone and we’re right into Advent already! The event itself came round really quickly so it was absolutely typical of us to be totally unprepared until a few days before and also get to Celtic Park nearly an hour late, but we got there. We went outside and were pitched on the trackside by 11pm and that was us for the night. It was right cold but it was almost bearable until about 3am and then it was almost impossible to move! It was a challenge but I’m almost hesitant to say that because we had it well easy. We had sleeping bags, food, hot drinks and working toilets so if that was difficult, I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for these people who sleep rough every night.

The whole experience has really got me thinking about these people on the streets particularly at this time of year. It’s unbelievably easy to see a homeless person in the city centre and just move on with your day – but it shouldn’t be that easy. Everybody can recognise there’s an outrageous number of people sleeping rough, especially during these cold months, but what are we doing about it? We need to stop seeing these people as statistics and as ‘the norm’ and start recognising that they are people with identities, likes, dislikes, families and roots. These people deserve contentment and safety, not just at Christmas but always. It sounds almost typical but even as much as a smile is better than just walking by and pretending they’re invisible. Yes, its upsetting seeing other humans struggling and unsafe, but ignorance absolutely isn’t bliss in these cases. We also need to get shot of this worrying rhetoric that they’re all “addicts” and “junkies”. Truthfully, some of them will be addicts. Does that make them second-class citizens? Absolutely not. Dependency on things like alcohol and drugs is an unfortunately normal consequence of circumstances like this. People search for ways of coping and I think it’s absolutely sickening to hear some people who live quite comfortably speak of the homeless in a way that suggests they’re undeserving of help because they’ve found themselves in a situation where their only means of coping is through dependency.

I knew I was likely to end up rambling while I was writing this so I’ll get to the point. Now I’m not saying that everybody should go and sleep outside in the ground of their chosen football team, and I’m definitely not saying I’m some kind of martyr for doing just that – I just think we could all be doing so much more man! Even just starting to recognise these people as real humans and keeping them in mind over this Christmas period is a step in the right direction. We are all too comfortable a society in our wee bubble that doesn’t like to see the truth and keeps the marginalised, marginalised. I’m going to leave a few links of some cool organisations etc just underneath this if anybody is interested in learning about some of the work that’s being done and how to help. Thank you ever so much for reading if you have stuck around to the end!

 

“The new generation is being called upon to rectify and change without hesitation all that should be rectified and changed”                                                                                                     Fidel Castro, 2011

 

 

Here’s some cool organisations who are hard at work in tackling homelessness in Glasgow: http://seetheinvisibles.co.uk/
http://www.glasgowcitymission.com/

If you are worried about a homeless person on the street, you can report their location and at what time you seen them to ‘Street Link’ on their app, website or on 0300 5000914 to get them the necessary attention.

If you are interested in donating to a food bank this Christmas, you can use this link to find your nearest one: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
Of course not all food banks are listed on the above website so keep your eyes peeled for one local to you because food banks are unfortunately a lot more common than the few listed here. Food bank resources are used not just for homeless people, but primarily people who have permanent accommodation and are employed but remain in challenging financial situations. The help they provide is invaluable as are the donations made at this time of year.

BEING A CATHOLIC IN 2016

I’ve wanted to write about this kind a thing for a while but I feel like talking about things like religion openly is a bit stigmatised and can open some heated debate. But that is exactly why it should be spoken about, so the air can be cleared a wee bit and we can be comfortable talking about our religion (should you have one or not) in a progressive way, u know.

Disclaimer here that I’m definitely not any kind a Saint and I don’t think that I am. If there was such a thing as Catholic a the year I would’ve been right out a the running a good time ago. However, I get a lot from my religion and would consider myself a “practising Catholic’ and I just thought it would be cool to write something about why it can be difficult to practice a faith as a young person in 2016 without being all preachy.

Just before, I mentioned the idea of being a “practising Catholic”. I feel like we need to be a bit cautious a that term. Religion is different things to different people and they should be left to practise it however they like. However, like if you asked somebody to define what made a practising Catholic they would probably say somebody that actively goes to mass on a Sunday, maybe reads the bible and carries about rosary beads but it’s soooo much more than that man! Sure the things I’ve just mentioned could be seen as important in Catholicism but it’s not the be all and end all. For me, the concept of being a “practising Catholic” is about putting faith into action. So cool, like we hear about selfless acts in the gospel on a Sunday but what are we doing about it? I think its about taking what we learn in mass and in our spare time about our faith and putting it into practice every day – but without it being a task. It sounds difficult but I think if you are really invested in a religion (which not everybody is and I totally understand that and wholly welcome it everybody should be doing their own thing) then it doesn’t seem like a task, but it’s enjoyable.

I’m not going to sit here and claimed that I have welcomed my faith all my life, cos that would be nonsense. I’ve went to chapel since I was a wee girl but when I was about 15 my Dad told me that the decision was mine now and I didn’t have to go with him if I didn’t want to – so I stopped. I stopped for a year or two and genuinely felt a difference. I don’t want to say I felt unhappy cause I didn’t, but I did feel like something was missing. So I started going back when I was 17 and found there was something more to gain from going to mass out of my own prerogative rather than having to go with my family out of obligation. That wee hour or so in mass on a Sunday brings me so much peace I can’t even put into words like I don’t want to sound preachy but its class! Its nice to be reminded what its all about and sit in a place of worship with other like-minded people like you. When I started going back to chapel I realised there was so much more to it than showing face on a Sunday, and the whole concept a putting faith into action as often as possible really appealed to me. I’m not going to sit here and make out that I do brilliant things every day and I am this entirely selfless and giving person because I’m not, none of us are – but its good to try and give the best of yourself as often as you can.

I think there’s this idea that people who go to mass are old and it’s a dated concept, and its this sort of idea that makes people want to stop going when they become teenagers. I’m quite fortunate that in my parish theres a lot of young people, but I know that’s not the same everywhere. It’s a big deal to stick your neck out when you’re in secondary school or uni and say that you’re religious. In light of the endless acts of violence and persecution towards Muslims and Christians and every other faith understandably makes some people look at the concept of religion and think “patch that.” This combined with the conflicting ideas of the Church on things like abortion and gay rights means that there are so few young people practising their religion – its painted to be complex and exclusive in the media but for me it’s not at all.

I’m not going to sit here and make out I have the answers for everything, because I don’t. I wish I knew why the Church won’t wholly progress on  the views that they have on abortion and gay rights – I wish I did, because I don’t agree with them. But that’s where I find comfort in my faith, in the hope that one day I’ll be able to understand why what I think and what the Church thinks doesn’t always correlate and why there’s badness and violence in the world. On paper, any religion is complex but it doesn’t have to be. I’m fully aware that with writing this there’s going to be people reading it and squinting their face firing it intae their group chat thinking what an absolute ridneck for this lassie but this why I’m saying what I’m saying – to try and shake this stigma that if you’re under 50 and go to mass and actually enjoy it that it’s questionable cos it isn’t! I work in a pub and I remember somebody coming up to me a few months ago and saying “Here, fuck the Pope. You hate aw that don’t you?” Well like, aye I dae a wee bit but when you live in the west a Scotland you’re almost used to it. To an extent, we almost can’t be entirely angry at the degree to which religious ignorance and hatred is rife in the West of Scotland – cos it’s kind of all that we know as a society. People are born into this community where there’s discrimination and violence and intolerance and because they’re born into it, they are conditioned to think that its normal. We don’t have to keep breeding it, we can stop it! Not everybody has to be into faith but its all about welcoming and accepting other people that are x