MLK had a dream, now I have a nightmare – 2013

Martin Luther King (MLK) spoke of a dream, a dream whereby the content of someones character becomes more important than the colour of their skin. In Washington this week thousands gathered to listen to three Presidents; Carter, Clinton and Obama, along with members of MLK’s family to pay tribute to his speech that has transcended the ages. Unfortunately that dream, regardless of what Obama and Clinton said yesterday, is yet to be realised for billions on this planet, including Americans and of course us Brits.

The ghetto looks the same from the front of the bus and now people are being left behind from all cultures at a phenomenal rate.

We live in a time where a country that supported Saddam Hussein whilst he gassed a million Kurds, selling him chemical weapons, now finds itself prepared to start a war with Syria over an allegation via YouTube that the government used chemical weapons on its own people. Unwilling to wait for a United Nations inspection report, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Barack Obama, is preparing public opinion and wants to get on with it ahead of his trip to Petersberg on Tuesday for the G20. His lap-dog David Cameron is upset that the opposition, Labour, have vetoed any action until such time as the UN inspectors report has been digested. Labour of course were the puppets in charge when Tony Blair lied through his teeth with Jack Straw and told us Saddam was stock piling Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and so have steadied the surge for action, conscious of a backlash from the people of the UK for condoning another illegal war. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America, the land of the free, use depleted uranium in their munitions that left thousands of Iraqi children deformed and with cancer, they reigned down white phosphorus on  civilians, said nothing when Israel did the same and yet they find the alleged actions of the Syrian regime unacceptable. The Syrian civil war has been waging for over two years and at no time have the American or UK government been interested in anything other than selling arms to a rebel group that has not been properly vetted and that has served only to perpetuate and escalate the war. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America, who dropped an atom bomb on the people of Hiroshima just to flex their military might, speak out against the Israeli right to retaliate against indiscriminate bombing, who will now chastise the Syrians when they retaliate to any intervention carried out by the axis of peace. I have a nightmare. We live in a time when Madeline Albright said it was justifiable for the U.S. to be responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions and bombings and now claim to care about Syrian children, I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of a UK pilot being shot down by Syrian forces using a surface to air missile sold to them by Russia, which will result in ‘boots on the ground’ and the Middle East spontaneously combusting. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare that Russia and China will take an exception to the world police mobilising to annihilate Assad and will offer their services to stop them. I have a nightmare that Hezbollah will see any action by the West as an act of aggression and that this will result in the Syrian civil war spilling on to the streets of the UK and America. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where in the UK we have go home vans driving around the streets, 50 years on from the I have a dream speech by MLK in America. The UK has not had a Civil rights struggle the same as America but the cry is the same, we all want to be free. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of the black shirts, police, stopping people in the streets and asking them if they have the correct paper work. I have nightmares that doctors will ask to see our paper work to ensure we have the right to medical treatment. I have a nightmare that the fire and ambulance service will end up privatised and we will only receive their help if we have the correct insurances, I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America and the UK attack China and Russia for vetoing the option for action on Syria until the UN inspectors results are in, when somewhat hypocritically they veto any decisions taken that involve Israel.

We live in a time where Tony Blair, who has the blood of men women and children on his hands, should be arrested for his war crimes but instead has been appointed a Middle East Peace envoy and now we have to listen to him bleat on about how we should resolve the conflict and his talk of intervention. It is like asking a heroin addict for advice on the best way to dispose of methadone. 30-50 people a day dying in bombing incidents Tony Liar, well done!

We live in a time where MLK had a dream but Barack Obama has a drone and they operate out of America, the UK and a host of other airbases across the planet and they kill people indiscriminately without trial. They focus on first responders because they too may be ‘the bad guys’. When it is American or British first responders to scenes of ‘terror’ on our streets, they are commended for their bravery; in Yemen, Pakistan and soon to be Syria, they are regarded as the enemy. I have a nightmare.

MLK’s dream is one that changes with each generation, today we have civil partnerships and gay marriage, or as I like to call it, marriage. I have a dream was a call to mobilise on the back of peaceful direct action and civil disobedience that has been lost in the MTV generation, but it is one that I feel is being slowly regained as more and more people are becoming aware of the deceit and corruption of the power principle personas at the head of our states. If we want freedom to ring across the continents and throughout the ages we must rise up together against the tyranny and corruption of these people in position of influence and stand for each other across the variety of issues that face us all. There are no problems but human problems.

“We can bomb this world to pieces but we cannot bomb it into peace” ~ Michael Franti

Advertisements

Be the change

In July this year it was announced that there would a series of cuts to Bedford Hospital’s River Bank Ward that will affect anyone with a child under 19. The public will now have to use the hospitals at either Luton or Milton Keynes.

As of August 1st 2013 there was to be no:

– Planned overnight inpatient care (on Riverbank Ward) for children having planned (elective) surgery, or planned medical procedures or care. Children will be cared for by their Bedford consultant at Milton Keynes Hospital (or another neighbouring hospital) 

– Emergency overnight inpatient care (on Riverbank Ward) as there will be no emergency admissions from 31 July

 – Children’s Accident and Emergency (children brought to hospital by ambulance will go straight to the next nearest hospital. Children (those aged up to 19) should not be brought to A&E as walk-in patients from 1 August.

– Children’s Assessment Unit, for children requiring short-stay observation following attendance at A&E (as there will be no emergency admissions from 31 July)

The Trust explained that they would continue to provide the following services:

Children’s outpatients services (all children’s outpatients clinics will continue to run as normal)

-Nurse-led ambulatory care for children with chronic or long-term conditions whose care can be managed by specialist paediatric nurses

-Day Unit (on Riverbank Ward) with day case care following planned surgery, or for planned medical procedures or care

 -Maternity services and neonatal services are unaffected and continue to run as normal

-All other services, including adult A&E remain as normal.

These announcements lead to a very vocal demonstration being launched at short notice as, around 500 people took to the street in protestwith some 5000 people in two days signing a petition against the closure and their message is clear; that these proposals are outrageous and as always the case, they impact the poorest the hardest and with children, they target the most at risk and most vulnerable group. As a child who spent many a Sunday morning or evening at the local hospital recovering from a variety of sporting related injuries, I know first hand the impact some of these proposals will have on families. There are rumours or mumblings of concessions or plans to resolve the discontent of the Save Riverbank Ward Facebook group, but half measure should not and will not be tolerated.

riverbank sos

There are a succession of protests and art performances being planned to oppose these disgusting closures, one of a long line of attacks on our NHS service across the country to date. A march is being held on August 24th, starting at 12:30pm at Horne lane in Bedford and on the following week, August 31st starting at around 10:00am there will be a cavalcade procession, making their way from Bedford Hospital to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, to highlight the issue of the journey, with a sick child (not a real one!) being wheeled on a bed and loaded on to a vehicle and taken slowly down the road to their final destination. This has been championed by the Luton’s People Assembly, buoyed by the reversal of the decision to close Lewisham A&E, who realise not only the risk this attack on the hospital in Bedford poses for the future of the L&D, but for the very real hardship some families will face with the logistics of having to transport children to Luton or Milton Keynes. All are cordially invited to attend and make both events something to be proud to be part of. This may not be something that directly affects you today but in time it can and perhaps will. Lewisham has shown us that if we take a collective stand, in enough numbers, we can be the change.

There is no justice, there is just us
There is no justice, there is just us

August 24th also marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech ‘I have a dream’ in Washington, but perhaps his finest speech was his last, now affectionately referred to as ‘At the mountain top’. In this speech he explained how the biggest question he faced was not what would happen to him if he stood up for the sanitation workers, but what would happen to them if he did not stand up for them. This is as relevant today with all the attacks being faced by the public from this government, whatever the issue, be it bedroom tax, pension attacks, NHS closures and privatisation and attacks on the disabled, these are all as a result of ideological austerity being driven by corruption in our parliament and bad banking practices. They are right when they say we are in this together, but we can only turn back the tide by taking a collective stand across all issues and not just laying back on our laurels once our own individual issues are resolved.

Read in order to live

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles William Eliot

Today I joined up with a group of activists petitioning a local supermarket who are seeking to stop the closure of their local library. The Library situated in Wigmore, Luton, is one of three marked down for closure or downsizing. The closure of these facilities will impact children the hardest, children who will now have to head into the town centre if they wish to take out a book, if they can afford to, and for many it will put knowledge and wonderment beyond their reach.

Quotes-on-reading-Beecher

Reading opens a gate way to the weird, wonderful and unknown and for a local council to rob sections of the society of a vital resource such as a library is a disgrace. They have wasted over £50m on a bus link between nearby Dunstable and Luton that will drain the high street of Dunstable but we digress. The petition is seeking to raise 10,000 signatories ahead of their town council meeting on September 10th and judging by the way people were lining up to sign the sheets today, they will have no problem smashing this target, with 6000 taken in the first three days alone.

Whilst most people were all too happy to stop for 30 seconds to sign a petition that serves mainly to serve the children and the elderly there are of course always a few individuals who insist on expressing their obnoxious opinions on others.

One woman in her 60’s told me unequivocally to “piss off” whilst another man in his 40’s and his 10-year-old son in tow said he hoped the library would “burn down.” I was stunned and to which I asked if that was to be with or without the children being in the building at the time. Other favourites were “I do not read/use the library” and my personal favourite “It’s not my problem.” Maybe not today no, but what about tomorrow when your grandchildren wish to head to the local library and you have to get your wallet out to pay for a bus ticket because they also cancelled bus passes for pensioners?

Fortunately people like those mentioned above were the exception and not the rule. I took great pleasure in seeing the hope that the actions, however small, of a handful of interested individuals can have on changing an outcome that seems to be rubber stamped. For this a lady named Doreen must be applauded, for it has been her vision and drive that has secured over 7000 signatures to date, with her band of merry volunteers and I would never like to guess her age, but her stamina and drive to try to make a change would shame many people half her age, who would rather sit and whine about the things happening around them rather than taking some action to make things better.

I shall be there again tomorrow for a few hours where I hope the magic number of 10,000 is not only achieved but exceeded and that the stand being taken for this library will echo across the others.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” ~ Oscar Wilde