Tag Archive | Compassion

As Lands Lie Bleeding 

On Remembrance Day I write a poem which is based on the concerns of a 94 year old veteran who served in the Second World War. This former soldier believes that we are now standing at the brink of a third world war and potential global catastrophe due to what he calls the greed and self interest of a group of sociopathetic leaders who have no compassion or empathy for those they lead or for the greater human race as they seek only power no matter the cost to the rest of us. I hope I have done justice to the words of Harry Leslie Smith in this poem which I’ve titled As Lands Lie Bleeding. I hope you enjoy the read. 

As Lands Lie Bleeding 

I can’t stand by and watch the world explode

these are not my words 

but those of a former soldier

in the winter of his years

who genuinely fears for our human race 

this is a man who has faced unspeakable horrors

the likes of which we hoped we would never see again 

like hearing whilst stationed in Germany 

that atomatic bombs had been dropped on japanese cities

and turned the souls of inhabitants 

in to what he describes as chalk marked stenciled drawings on pavements 

in the fragile peace of a cold war world

we had believed those days were behind us 

yet now we stand at a crossroads

not seen since the 1930’s and rise of Nazi Germany

as once more the conservative right 

squares  up for a fight without realising the consequences 

these people have a glorified sense of self 

but no sense of other nor compassion for their plight 

without a moral compass they play games with our lives 

in contrast to those who rebuilt a shattered continent 

at the end of the last global conflict 

who in this country brought us

The NHS and welfare state 

but now the politics of fear and hate are on the rise again 

as the disadvantaged look for scapegoats

to blame for their decline 

shortage of housing and rising crime statistics

blame it on the forigners not the British 

say those who preach exclusion 

as if by doing so we magically solve all problems 

I support an independent Scotland 

but I recognise that independence alone would not solve our problems overnight 

however in the dreamworld of the British Conservative right

they are prepared to make no such admissions about their United Kingdom

and by perpuating their delusions 

they are sacrificing the ambitions of their children 

to live in a better world than this 

an old soldier is warning us 

with autocratic governments in positions of power 

the world stands at the darkest hour 

since the days of Hitler and the reich 

life he says cannot go on like this 

something has to give.

we are standing on the brink of war 

he urges us to take a step back 

not for the Saltaire, stars and stripes, or union flag 

but for humanity 

he worries about the sanity of sociopathetic leaders 

with no respect  for others 

as they lust for power at all costs

and watch lands lie bleeding 

as they play war games by remote control 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

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Faithful Daughter

Hey Readers.

My good friend Johnny Cypher has certainly selected a topical subject for this month’s Extra Second which takes place at The Blue Chair on the third Thursday each month. The topic of choice is religion and this is my poem which has been specifically written for this event. I have given it the title Faithful Daughter I hope you enjoy the read.

Faithful Daughter

I am one of the faithful
on a Sunday morning
you will find me in the pews
listening to the good news of the Bible
Presbyterian I may be but I am not wee free
I do faith without intolerance
am Protestant but not orange
I am loyal and true not to the red white and blue
but only to those I call family
biological or not this Scot says
they are the ones who matter
I won’t be bought
by the puritanical patter merchants
who preach fear of those they don’t understand
their attitudes are against the commandments
as I relate to them in scripture
I can’t stand bitterness
and knowledge of other faiths
was learnt early
as my mum and dad came from different branches of the Christian tree
my mum mission hall kirk
my dad RC from Irish ancestry
I loathe bigotry that’s why it was important to say
I am Protestant but not Orange
I cringe in the marching season
preferring to look in the other
direction
I feel a tension when they march
that I don’t have on other days
but I refuse to engage
to rant or rage
I have discovered a better way
I pray rather than shouting at others
I am more like my mother than I thought
sometimes I feel my church constrains me
from saying what I think
though I have to confess
this isn’t always a bad thing
I know what I can be like
but belief is nothing without compassion
I hope my faith comes from a good place
If some people think it strange
a trans woman attends church
I remind them I belong to a reformed tradition
which has to keep reforming
or face oblivion
within a generation
you can’t speak for a nation
if you don’t represent it
resting on laurels of contentment
is not the Christian way
when we have something to say
It should be said in faith and with power
my personal faith is based on
a vision for a better society
not on the pompous sobriety
of those Burns called Holy Willie’s
or the red white and blue of Rangers and the union
so loved by those this Celtic supporting yes girl
would call the less enlightened
I am not frightened to ask the question
what would Jesus would do
who would he accept in to his family
how would he treat those with alternative gender identities, non conforming sexualities,
disabilities,  different ethnicities from the dominant population
I believe he would view them with more kindness
than many who speak in his name
and refuse to the take the blame
for their hurtful behaviour
rebuking them not with malice
but with sadness
and prayers for their souls
faith should not be seen
as a crutch for the old
it must be a force for change
a living breathing mission
for a better world
and that’s why this woman
who was born to be but wasn’t raised a girl
is now a faithful daughter of the church

image

@ Gayle Smith 2016

The Gospel Of Hate From The Manic Street Preacher Was Something I Couldn’t Make Up

Hey Readers  I start this post with a trigger warning. This warning is given to all those who believe that Scotland is an accepting country whose people are all embracing liberal minded humanitarians who live by the manta of live and let live or as some of my younger friends would say Yolo (You Only Live Once)

My evidence for this statement comes from an experience in the early part of the evening on the first Saturday of the month as I made my way home from a Saturday afternoon meeting of T-Time a trans social group which meets on the first Saturday of the month.

It was around quarter past six when I made my way down Buchanan Street in what I thought would be the direction of George Square to get the bus back home after an excellent afternoon at the group where I enjoyed a tutorial session on how to make the most of make up and as we were given tips on how to apply it properly. The session which covered all aspects of make up from foundation and blusher from eye shadow to mascara was both enjoyable and inclusive and a world away from the prejudice I was about to face in my local city centre just a couple of hours later. 

As I walked down the precinct at around 6.15 on an otherwise pleasant if unremarkable Saturday evening, I heard someone shouting and saw a crowd of my fellow Glaswegians gathered round listening to them. Being a nosey wee madam I thought I had better check it out to as we say in Glasgow see what the deal was.  This resulted in hearing some of the most vile and abusive hate speech I have ever been unfortunate enough to witness and his attack on trans woman showed a cold hearted lack of compassion which defied both description and belief. Yet the man who was spouting this drivel had the nerve to tell those of us who were listening that he was a Christian preaching the good news of the Bible.

As he preached from what I can only suggest was the gospel of hate this man of god sounded more like UKIP at prayer and some of his comments were so outrageous I couldn’t make then up even if I wanted to. As I stood to listen to what in the words of one young girl present must qualify as hate  speech, I was seriously conflicted as to how I should be reacting to so this so-called Christian whose view of cultural enlightenment must have been shaped in the dark ages. On one hand, the compassionate side of me wanted to take the Voltaire approach of I disagree with what you say but will defend until death your right to say it, whilst the other less tolerant side of my nature wanted to get him locked up or potentially even strung up and hung from the nearest lamppost for spouting such vile abuse on his fellow citizens of our city and our country.

In the end though reason won through as it always tends to do with me as my five second flirtation with death penalty died as my temper which was at boiling point began to return to somewhere approaching normal. This by the way, is the reason why we should never consider bringing back this punitive punishment under any circumstances.

As a Christian myself I loathe the idea that people like this man and his ilk can cherry pick the bible for their own intolerant agenda as they always like to do. Though I have to say that they are in their own way entertaining, these people are also dangerous as if they have viewed which if they are unchallenged could seriously influence the gullible and do a major disservice to Christianity as they spread the only gospel they know which is that of hate and fear. This to me sums up perfectly the warnings Jesus gave to the early Christian church to beware false prophets as many deceivers will claim to come in his name .

Feeling the need to do a bit of a PR job for Christianity I remarked to the girl standing next to me that not all Christians were as narrow minded as this manic street preacher who in my opinion wasn’t so much manic as clueless and confused. The girl who attends a Roman Catholic secondary in the city said that in her opinion the church wasn’t doing enough to support the LGBT community and faced a stark choice to modernise or die.

I told her that as a trans woman I was a regular attender at my local church of Scotland but I could fully understand where she was coming from as the church is in danger of dying from irrelevance. This highly articulate teenager said that it was good that I felt at home in my local parish but wondered if I might be the exception rather than the rule.
To her the church wasn’t doing enough on social issues. It was she said too full of the old testament fire and brimstone and lacking in compassion in the way it views difference.

I have to say I think this is not an issue for one faith in the Christian community but instead is something which needs addressed by us all. Indeed as I said to one of my closest friends in my parish we in the church of Scotland need to remember we are a reformed church and we need to keep reforming or slowly but surely we will cease to exist.

Now this news may frighten some of the church’s more traditional old guard but it is my view that they to be frightened out of their complacency or the kirk will die when they do. The fact that I as a trans woman can attend church service and not be made feel to like an outsider except perhaps during the independence referendum (the church of Scotland is still too unionist for my liking) may not say too much to the parishioners but it does to me it offers hope the church that it can still be socially and culturally relevant in the 21st century. So challenging times as they are for Christian church there is still hope but we as Christians need to act on it now before we miss this golden opportunity to spread the real good news of our story and slip back to the bad old days. Believe me the last thing Christianity needs at this time in our history is our own version of project fear. Trust me I have heard from too many people that if there is one thing which puts them off attending church it’s the fact that there are or at least there are perceived to be too many thou shalt nots in the average Sunday morning script.

This to me and others like me is a wee bit unfair but it is unquestionably how God and faith are represented in the press and media both in this country and globally. The fact that God loves everyone is a fact which is beyond dispute and whether some people like or not he loves me as the trans woman he knows me to be. Well let’s have a look at the facts shall we. In my pre transformation days you couldn’t get me anywhere near a church now I’m a regular in the pews. This proves to me that God will grant you the desires of your heart but he’ll do it on his terms and in unique way. Well we shouldn’t forget in the lords prayer it says thy will be done not my will be done and that is the terms and conditions.

Maybe that’s the reason why on what could have been a difficult night to be a Christian he used a transsexual woman to reassure the younger girls in the crowd and to let them know he is working on the equality stuff they are so keen to see progressed both in the church and the wider society at large.

As for the girls themselves they said they would have had no problem whatsoever, if I had been their uncle and decided to become their aunt. Indeed they said they would taken me round the shops to style me up and to make sure my first dress was classy and sophisticated.

To me it was these teenage girls who showed what real Christianity is all about with their positive attitudes when it came to accepting others. This is faith as it should be served with compassion hope and love and not with selective tolerance found in the book of prejudice. Now I don’t know about you but whilst Scotland may not quite be the perfect accepting inclusive nation we sometimes tell ourselves we are, it is heartening to see that attitudes are changing for the better with regards to the equalities agenda and as far as I’m concerned and that really is good news.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X.

Coffee Cake And Compassion In The Name Of A Worthwhile Cause ( The Story Of The MacMillan Coffee Morning At Baillieston St Andrew’s Parish Church)

Hey everyone Yesterday on the day of the anniversary of our country’s independence. referendum I went to church. I didn’t go to a wedding or a funeral nor did I go to say a prayer for a second referendum. I went to church for a cup of coffee.

Yes I know I’ve got coffee in my home but a good cup of coffee tastes even better when it’s served with compassion and hope and that’s why I had to attend my local church who were holding a coffee morning in support of MacMillan cancer care.

This is a topic which is very close to my heart. Having lost both parents to cancer I know the value of the work carried out by MacMillan nurses. I particularly valued the support they provided to my dad in his final few months before he went to his final rest.

I had intended being over at the start of the event but me being me I ended up running shall we say a wee bit later than planned. This wil be no surprise to those who know me well, especially if they are regular attender at Bards In The Park, Baillieston St Andrew’s Parish Church, Faith And Unbelief, Tollcross Writers, Glasgow Writers at GoMA, Shettleston SNP, or Women For Independence. In fact the only event for which I am on time is the Words And Music night at Lebowskis on the First Monday of the month and that’s probably because I host the event.

Anyway, I finally did make it to the church where I enjoyed coffee cake and companionship in support of a good cause. I was told that it had been busy earlier on but it was beginning to quieten down when I arrived. I was also informed that it had raised a decent sum of money and I have to say I am pleased about that. Well I am a strong believer that no-one should have to face cancer alone and no family should lack support as they face the pain of losing a loved one and eventually the force of bereavement. It is therefore great to know that the money raised at coffee mornings like the one I attended will make no sure no has to and that MacMillan nurses will be able to provide the high standard of care for which they are renowned to those who need it most.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X