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Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

And other questionable responses…

I’ve had a few FB conversations recently about COVID lockdowns and compulsory COVID vaccination. Rather than responding to each one individually, I thought it would be more effective to put all of my concerns in one place. I want to say four things: 1) There are liberties that are essential to human wellbeing that should not be left to government discretion. 2) Lockdowns do not seem to be more effective in dealing with COVID. 3) Lockdowns amount to homicide. 4) Compulsory vaccination is not the answer.

1) Basic Human Liberties:

Human wellbeing depends on autonomy, the freedom to choose one’s…


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Thoughts on getting things right…

I haven’t had a day in the city lately. I’ve been ok with that. I usually relish days spent in my quiet village, far from the noise, the traffic, the barren faces of commuting crowds. I love getting off the train at the end of the ride home and smelling the playfully-irreverent salt air of my seaside home. The one thing I miss about the city is the cafes. There’s one with gold letters in the window boasting “coffee and booze for the working class.” Another window-front suggests that we “wake up naked, drinking coffee and making plans to change…


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Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

Recently, I posted a poll on two social media platforms: “True or false: Beauty is a moral requirement.” Across the two platforms, the average answer was 62% for False, and 38% for True. From DMs relating to the post, the default interpretation seemed to be that beauty meant ‘physical appearance’. That observation alone, if it is correct, speaks volumes. It is worth asking whether a culture preoccupied with physical appearance, often manipulated by make-up, surgery, and photo editing, could ever have a healthy approach to beauty. Perhaps, that’s a topic for another time. …


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Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

But you don’t have to be…

In the film “Braveheart” there’s a moment when the irate king of England rants about the rebellious Scots with the phrase “Sheep! Mere sheep! Easily dispersed if you strike the shepherd!” What happens to sheep without a shepherd? They disperse, they wander, they look for a new herd. (Unless they’re Scots, in which case they drink whisky, recite poetry and start a fight).

In my last article, I discussed some of the problems of group membership. Tonight, I was having a conversation with Michael, a good friend, and the idea came up again. The fear, the villification of the other…


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Photo by Donovan Valdivia on Unsplash

And why we should stop…

I remember watching a video years ago recorded during the civil rights movement in the southern U.S. A black man, tall, well-dressed, with a proud step, was walking down the sidewalk. A group of about fifteen white men were gathered around him. Nothing in the video showed what came before or after, there was no context. As he walked, they followed, with an almost visible rage. They wanted him to run, or to cower, but he didn’t. He just walked, almost majestic. One man stepped forward to push him. He recovered and continued to walk. Another man stepped out and…


The Gender Question, Pt 1.

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martinfirrell.com socialart.work

A recent billboard in the UK claimed that “All men are dangerous.” The common responses to this, I would think, would be either to agree and move on, or to be offended and complain. The right response, always, is to ask what this gives us opportunity to learn, and how we might be better than we are.

It’s true. All men are dangerous. Men are over-represented in every category of violent and destructive behaviour: murder, rape, war, terrorism, genocide, the list goes on. Sexual harassment and assault are especially wide-spread. The statistics suggest that somewhere…


We see the world as we are, not as it is

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Photo by Björn Simon on Unsplash

The 25th of January is Burns’ Day, the day when good Scots all over the world celebrate the visionary Scottish poet Robert Burns. I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss a theme that Burns highlights, one that will save you from making some serious mistakes, and set you free for better things.

In the poem “To a Louse” Burns says this:

‘“ wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

It wad frae mony a blunder free us, an’ foolish notion.

What airs in dress an gait wad lea’e us, an ev’n…


6 Steps to a meaningful life

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I’ve never had a bucket list. I guess I’m kind of odd. When I hear people talk about adventurous things like deep-sea diving or climbing Everest, I’m unsure of the payoff. My aims are generally milder sorts of things. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lived an entirely sheltered life. I’ve been arrested, fought in a cage, and been to a village in Africa that had, apparently, never had a white visitor before. But the things I want can be tidily summed up with the laughter of my children, a long conversation, a job well-done, a clean kitchen. …


It’s Better than Seizing the Day…

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Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

My oldest child just turned twelve last month. I was still pretty young when she was born, young enough to think of myself as a ‘cool’ dad. We were buddies when she was a baby. Before she could talk, I would play guitar and she would sit on the couch or in the window and sing gibberish. She would pretend to be an airplane while I ran across the beach holding her in the air so we could scare the seagulls. I used to take her out early for café breakfasts. She was less…


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Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

As a child, scared in the night, I’d go sleep in my parents’ room. My mom had a long, white night-dress that hung behind the bedroom door. In the darkness, it always looked to me like a skeleton. I have no idea how many nights I lay there afraid of a night-dress. I’m pretty sure, deep down, I knew that skeletons don’t usually hang out on the backs of bedroom doors, and that my parents weren’t the type of people to keep skeletons around. But, illusions can damage our experiences, even if we don’t buy into them completely. …

Wil Cunningham

The Art of Ethical Narrative.

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