Saturday, 31 December 2011

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Justice


Justice

Locked away
Looking for better
Listening to untruths about you and me
Learning that what is in, is more important that what is out
Loving the fact that YOU are here and nothing can change that
Loosed to fly, and bars, and prisons cannot hold, I’m away
Living in the space of your freedom

Adrian Hawkes
W. 60


As its the Holiday season just a short one on the blog for you, www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
Happy Christmas and Great new year especially to my Blog followers... www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com

Monday, 21 November 2011

Cuts,Care and Development (Children in the Looked after system)


Cuts, Care and Development (Children in the Looked after system)
In what direction is the care area in the UK heading? The current government promised that it would not cut front line services particularly for those most in need I am sure you will agree that those who are on the ‘at risk register’ or those actually in the Looked after system of the UK are very vulnerable and in need.  One London borough actually said it was going to cut foster care rates by half.  That seems to me to be moving in the opposite direction of what has been announced.  When I contacted central government on this issue I was told, very sorry but this is a local decision, nothing to do with us!
There is a vast burden of regulations imposed on those who care enough to foster or to adopt. Many of the regulations are very good but like all things human, they work at the whim of the humans applying the regulations.  There are excellent social workers out there who I would say have the ability to apply the CS factor, that is, common sense, (which often seem to be very uncommon).  However, in my experience, there seems to be many social workers for whom the ‘power’ of being a social worker has gone to their head and they treat all others as lesser mortals.  I overheard a conversation recently between a key worker for vulnerable adults and a social worker.  The key worker has good university degrees and is a good worker, with experience and expertise.  I noted that the key worker was being very polite and patient.   When the social worker had finished and left, I said “are you all right?
“Yes I am I suppose,” was the response, “but why is it that social workers think that I am stupid, when I am not, and think that it is ok to treat me in that way and talk to me like dirt beneath their feet.”
It isn’t acceptable, but many social workers seem to display that attitude. Why is it?  Is it the training, or is it the pressure of the job, is it perhaps that they are insecure? I don’t know why it is but I wish it would stop.
I do not believe the code of practice is the problem, below are some extracts:
The General Social Care Council (GSCC) codes of practice
Social care workers must:
• Protect the rights and promote the interests of service users and carers;
• Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of service users and carers;
• Promote the independence of service users while protecting them as far as possible from danger or harm;
• Respect the rights of service users whilst seeking to ensure that their behaviour does not harm themselves or other people;
Uphold public trust and confidence in social care services; and (i.e. in their dealings with other professionals and working collaboratively)
• Be accountable for the quality of their work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills. 
But talk is cheap or rather the words on the page are not worth a jot if they are not observed.
Then there is the element of need; the number of looked after children is around 64,400 on 31st March 2010 according to government statistics. That does not include those on the at risk register, which is probably about the same number, this brings us to an approximate total of 128,000 children in need of care. Can we afford to cut our service delivery in such areas?  Or should we be improving the delivery and the training of those who are willing to foster or want to adopt.  Alongside the compelling argument to avoid cuts perhaps we should also be looking at the reasons why we have so many children in such need.
I wonder also if smaller agencies might actually deliver a better service for less cost, particularly if the checking procedures were strengthened that are currently delivered by OFSTEAD
Since the ‘60s the whole adoption scene has changed dramatically, at that time single parenting was much less common and abortion and birth control where only just commencing. There were 27,000 adoptions in 1968; large numbers of children were released to adopters, many almost straight from birth.  That whole scene has now changed, now the children who require adoption are more likely to come from parents that have been neglectful or abusive, either physically, sexually, or by the use of substances that damage the children as well as themselves.   Adoptive parents can often face the choice of waiting for years for a young single child or months for older sibling groups. The reality being that as those children get older their experiences of neglect and abuse are likely to be significantly higher due to the length of time they have remained with neglecting parents.   The knock on effect is that adoptive parents are often left to clean up the emotional fallout of their adopted children plus the support is minimal and not a statutory requirement.  The training for adopters’ remains negligible, often has not changed much since the 60’s; and I would reiterate that the kind of children coming into the adoption system has changed dramatically.  Should this be more of a priority in designing the way we help these vulnerable children and how we guide those adopters?  The number of children available for adoption has, of course, dropped as single parent families have become more culturally acceptable. There are now around 3,500 children each year who go from care to adoption To make matters worse, those in the know tell me that of current adopters, something like 1 in 4 situations break down, in other words the child goes back into foster care, or back into a children’s home.  The high emotional and public cost of this surely needs investigating.
And where are we going with the large and unwieldy social service department.  Sometimes, just because of their size, they seem to treat the children, the foster carers and the adopters more like a commodity than like people. I wonder if smaller agencies might actually deliver better service for less cost, particularly if the checking procedures that are currently delivered by OFSTEAD were strengthened.
These big departments are being hit by cuts whatever central government is saying to the contrary; departments have been slimmed down, in some instances this may be the right decision, but in light of the cuts can they still deal effectively with those 64,000 children in a manner that does not increase the damage that all agree should be avoided. The fact remains that those in the looked after system are less likely to leave school with good qualifications, are often more likely to end up in the prison system, with all the ensuing expense, or, as Big Issue founder John Bird likes to say, they could become “….a great ‘big issue’ seller!”
It is also still true that if you are part of the black and ethnic minority, your chances of being in care are greater and your chance of finding an adoptive parent is less likely.
26% of children within the English child care system were from a black or ethnic minority origin in 2010 as compared to 11% within the general population (Department for Education, 2010; Office of National Statistics, 2010). Frazer and Selwyn (2005) noted that in 2003 only 10% of approved adoptive families were of Black, Asian or mixed parentage and in the same time period only 13% of all the children adopted were from a black or ethnic minority origin.
Maybe smaller units of foster care, and a better training programme for adopters would be a step in the right directions.  I know that a lot of work has been done in this area in the past, and of course tragic events like baby P make us all want to see change, however after the press fever has died down we go back to doing what we did and sort of forget.  These young people can be a great resource to the nation; we should not short change them. And the current round of cuts should make us take a fresh look at how we can improve their life situations. (25,000 children leave care each year)

Further reference:
Frazer, L. and Selwyn, J. (2005) ’Why are We Waiting? The Demography of Adoption for Children of Black, Asian and Black Mixed Parentage in England’, Child and Family Social Work, Vol 10, pp135 – 147.
Great Britain. Department of Health (2010) DfE: Children Looked After by Local Authorities in England (including adoption and care leavers) - year ending 31 March 2010 [Online]. Available at: http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000960/index.shtml (Accessed: 23rd April 2011).
Office of National Statistics (2010) Adoptions. Available at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=592 (Accessed: 12th April 2011).
Figures quoted are usually for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate statistics.
Adrian Hawkes
With Help from Al Coats
31st May 2011
For Blog and Wider distribution
Edit - Technicolour Text
W. 1512
Cuts, Care and Development (Children in the Looked after system) www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Morals and Conscience - Do we have them? Where do they come from?


Morals and Conscience – Do we have them? Where do they come from?
This is the third time I have written about this subject from which you will gather that I think it’s important, especially in the light of some the recent events in the UK, such as the riots.  However I believe they are only a symptom of something deeper.
Politicians, of all shades, including the prime ministers are discussing this subject and it is playing central stage on many TV and Radio Programmes.  Perhaps, then, it really is important. There is also deep concern about our schools and our young people – how, the politicians and TV pundits ask, can we install morals into young people so that they do not smash up our streets and destroy our society?
Many responses to my blogs can be summed up as follows, ‘Morals don’t need to come from the Bible, The Koran, or from a god, they surely can come from within ourselves?’ to which I answer, ‘yes of course they can but what sort of moral guide would that be?’
We need to go one step back and ask, why we need to have morals at all, and what is it that propels us to even ask these questions?  My answer encompasses the whole issue of conscience.
What is conscience? What is our conscience?  My argument would be that conscience is a part of us that we are all born with.  Some people disagree with this concept and say that we don’t have a conscience, but I strongly believe that we do. We each have our own individual conscience, unique to us personally. That means that it only works for us, it doesn’t work for anyone else.  What it instils in us is the general sense of right and wrong.  In a nutshell, right and wrong for you might be different to the right and wrong for me, but there will, most definitely, be a personal right and wrong. This concept is far beyond the idea that we do things because they are convenient or inconvenient or because we know we can ‘get away with it’.
How does conscience work, well for the individual, and I do stress the individual in any given situation it will say to the person, ‘yes that is right do it,’ or, ‘No, that is wrong! You should not do it.’  You conscience does not impel you, it does not force you in any direction, it will only hint at the decision you should make, the final decision that decides the action  is the result of your decision making process,  which I would call the will. When you have carried out an act, you know if it is wrong without anyone telling you, you will feel uncomfortable and disturbed; the pendulum of your conscience has swung into the negative zone.  For many people when they obey their consciences and do what they feel is right they often say they feel good, when they disobey their conscience they feel bad, or despondent, but the feeling does not prevent them from disobeying.
Interestingly the Bible does have some comments on this.  John 1:9 is obviously talking about Jesus the Christ, but also the implication is that there is a ‘light’, or the word I use, conscience that is there in every person, and Romans 2:14 says this, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves.”  In other words we all have it, and we use it, our conscience, personally. 
This means that we will have different views of right or wrong according first of all to us, and then as we grow and develop, according to what we learn from our family and surrounding culture and education. The problem is that we all break our own rules, and go against our own conscience.
Conscience can of course be educated and that is where the moral discussion enters the stage.  Who will define that moral code, will it be just me, will it be my culture, or will it be God?  It is possible for our conscience to be developed and refined by all sorts of external things, including education.
But who should define the moral code, which one will we adopt?  We need to understand that the moral code that Jesus defines is quite amazing in that it is contrary to all other moral codes that I know anything about, but please tell me if you know something different.  Think about some of those moral imperatives and how counter-culture they are; ‘love your enemies, do good to those who do bad to you,’ for starters. What sort of Moral code do you want young people to follow?  What moral code is required for our culture to follow and for you personally?

Adrian Hawkes
W. 821
Edited: Technicolour text
If it feels good, and you can get away with it, go for it! http://lnk.ms/33Nm6

Monday, 19 September 2011

Riots


RIOTS
Now that the riots have calmed, and the papers and newscasters have left the subject behind, I have some questions about it all.
I have listened to the Prime Minister and various Politicians all talking about the fact that this was just gang culture, it is robbery, and that is it.  I did hear a couple of people asking what the causes are of what is going on.  But not a lot of comments were coming back on that score. Some have cited cuts and closures but I would like to ask some other questions and I think my questions just might touch on causes.
The last government spent a large amount of money on trying to cut down underage and very young age pregnancies.  They failed, the figures went up.
 Question one:  How many of our rioters come from very young mothers who really are possibly only children themselves?
We have terrible figures for marriage breakdowns, I note that the prime minister said, lots of the rioters have come from dysfunctional families, maybe, and if so…
 Question two: What make those families dysfunctional?
I noted that the Education Minister was saying that it isn’t education that is to blame.
Question Three:  If you are taught that you are just a machine, or a collection of genes that all arrived by accident, is there really any need to take responsibility for my actions?  Just asking.
Question Four:  Jim Wallis in his book  Why the American Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get it - states that a budget is a moral document, is he right?
Question Five:  And talking of Morals, where do they come from? Are they truly there, and if so can we talk about them? Is there a law giver and ultimate judge?  Can I make my own mind up as to what is right and wrong?  And if I should decide that looting is right who is to say I am wrong?
One young lady with a tee shirt covering her face when asked by a reporter,”How do you feel about robbery, do you feel good about what you have just done?” Replied, I’m only getting some of my taxes back!”
Question Six:  Many have said, these rioters have nothing to lose, maybe they haven’t if they are just machines in an accidental universe, which is what they have been ‘educated’ to believe.  Are they right?
Just in case you think I live in an ivory tower, I actually live in Wood Green, many of my family live in Tottenham, I am white, but personal friends who are black had to take their small child and run from their flat just above the first carpet shop that went up in flames in Tottenham!
Also I am involved in trying to help NEET young people (Not in Education Employment or Training) and its true that many of them have given up on themselves, do not know where they fit in, or feel they do have not stake in society and nothing to contribute.  Not knowing that God loves them and regards them as highly valuable, and has purpose for their lives.
Question Seven:  All the politicians and police have talked about the fact that this is gang related.  I meet some of the gang youngsters who are afraid to go out of their post code in case they get attacked because they are in the wrong place.  Our training centre is in the wrong place for some of them and we have had to give them rides to and fro so they can improve their education. But here is the question, why are they in those gangs? Is it because their family is dysfunctional and family life is not there and so they need to belong, they need a family even if that family is a gang?
Question Eight:  Is it my imagination or am I right in thinking that if you talk about right and wrong, or dare I say Evil and Good, or worse still Sin, then the PC crowd and government is  on it like a ton of bricks, telling you, ‘No its just behavioural; and you should not talk in those terms!’
Question Nine:  Dr Donald Howard an American Educationalist said that discipline is not something you do TO someone; it is actually something you do FOR someone. Am I right in thinking that this is now out of fashion, discipline that is, and very un PC?
Question Ten:  Do we need to find a purpose in life, do we need to look for a lawgiver, is it possible that even though our families are dysfunctional there is a family that wants to include us, and bring us into responsible relationship?
I look forward to your comments.

Adrian Hawkes
For Blogspot.com
Edit: Technicolour Text
11th August 2011
W. 823 
Some questions that people forgot to ask following the riots. http://lnk.ms/33Nm6

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Morals,Where Do They Come From?

Morals, where do they come from?


Looking up something recently on Wikipedia I discovered lots of comments about myself in discussion with Richard Dawkins.  Many of the comments following on from the discussion are statements like, ‘how ridiculous to think that morals come from any kind of God’.
Usually, in this kind of debate, there is a tendency to ridicule things that I have said, well that’s fine, I guess it goes with getting involved and not being afraid of what I  believe and understand and being sure that it holds water and can stand up to cross-examination.
I suppose I do get somewhat irritated in debates when people tell me what I believe and then tell me how ridiculous it is to believe it and attempt prove how stupid I am.  But all the time I am thinking, ‘I never believed that in the first place, and you have not given me space to say what I really do believe, or think.’  It’s what I call destroying straw men, you put up an argument and then knock it down, but if it was no argument in the first place what is that?
In TV debates, especially those that are not live, there is the possibility that what was said is on the cutting room floor.  I remember in one debate with Richard Dawkins, he said to me that he was more moral than me because he did not rape or pillage and he did not need a God to stop him doing those things whereas I did.  My reply, which I think must be on the cutting room floor was, ‘bully for you, you ought to watch the news more often.’
If you watch the news you can see that there is an awful lot of inhumanity and suffering in the world, I live in one of those areas where young people can be stabbed or shot just because they happened to have strayed into the wrong post code area.  My questions are; Why are we so awful to each other?  And what has happened to a moral basis?  I would argue that as we move away from an understanding of a God, who ultimately will judge and question our life responses, then we become more selfish and less inclined to care for each other or have any basis for moral decisions, our moral compass deteriorates.
The humanist argues that our morals come from the fact that we are simply human, and it develops out of our selfishness and survival needs, or as Richard Dawkins would argue the selfish gene is simply protecting itself by being moral towards others.
I often ask the question why do we have right and wrong, where do we get such concepts.  The arguments on Wikipedia, in answer to what I said about morals, seem to conclude that it’s just because we are human, I’m sorry, but that just will not do.  If doing wrong gives me an advantage and I can avoid getting caught why not go ahead and do it.  Morals like that don’t seem to me to be moral at all.
In a discussion on morality, Richard Dawkins was asked: "If we do not acknowledge some sort of external [standard], what is to prevent us from saying that the Muslim [extremists] aren’t right?” 
Dawkins replied, "What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right?  I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question, but whatever [defines morality], it’s not the Bible. If it was, we’d be stoning people for breaking the Sabbath.” 
The interviewer wrote in response, "I was stupefied.  He had readily conceded that his own philosophical position did not offer a rational basis for moral judgments. His intellectual honesty was refreshing, if somewhat disturbing on this point."
 Richard Dawkins, atheist atrocities, and historical revisionism


It brings us back to the question, who is the law giver?  If there is no ultimate lawgiver, or God, then morals become irrelevant; we are left with anarchy. If we can get away with it then why not?  Whatever it is right and wrong are just words with no meaning.  What is right for you might be wrong for me, but so what!  
Dr. Bahnsen says that, “if the God of the bible does not exist, all principled or moral complaint about what Hitler did to the Jews is irrelevant.  In a godless universe, what one “animal” does to other “animals” is ethically irrelevant.  There is no basis for indignation or outrage.  What happens happens: period. We are left with others feelings and desires versus the feelings and desires of Hitler – with neither having any more “right” than the other.”
If we support liberal freedom, then in a true atheist worldview we should defend Hitler’s freedom to do as he desired!
Dr. Bahnsen sets forth a rational, objective case for the existence of the Christian God, a case which fully takes into account the crucial function of one’s worldview in his reasoning.  He is quoted in the tabloid for the Tabash debate as saying:Pursued to their consistent end, the pre-suppositions of unbelief render man’s reasoning vacuous and his experience unintelligible; in short, they lead to the destruction of knowledge, the dead end of epistemological futility, and to utter foolishness.”  http://www.tabash.com/

I question here the argument that atheists and humanists do as much good in the world as the likes of Robert Raikes, Wilberforce, Shaftsbury, Cadburys, Fry’s, Rowntree and the  reality is that the Christian ethic, the moral bias of serving a living God gives us great reason to  care  for His world and the people created in His image.  Interestingly Dinesh D'Souza took Richard Dawkins to task for engaging in historical revisionism when it comes to the atrocities of atheist regimes and declared Dawkins, "reveals a complete ignorance of history".
In a recent interview D'Souza declared:
“Richard Dawkins argues that at least the atheist regimes didn't kill people in the name of atheism. Isn't it time for this biologist to get out of the lab and read a little history? Marxism and Communism were atheist ideologies. Stalin and Mao weren't dictators who happened to be atheist; atheism was part of their official doctrine.
It was no accident, as the Marxists liked to say, that they shut down the churches and persecuted the clergy...
Dinesh D'Souza stated in another interview:
“As one writer put it, “Leaders such as Stalin and Mao persecuted religious groups, not in a bid to expand atheism, but as a way of focusing people’s hatred on those groups to consolidate their own power.” Of course I agree that murderous regimes, whether Christian or atheist, are generally seeking to strengthen their position. But if Christian regimes are held responsible for their crimes committed in the name of Christianity, then atheist regimes should be held accountable for their crimes committed in the name of atheism. And who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? Who can dispute that they did their bloody deeds by claiming to be establishing a “new man” and a religion-free utopia? These were mass murders performed with atheism as a central part of their ideological inspiration, they were not mass murders done by people who simply happened to be atheist.” Joseph Stalin's atheistic regime killed tens of millions of people.
The thing that I noted most as I looked through Wikipedia and other web sites and the arguments against my moral perspective was that no one seemed to talk about ‘conscience’, that strange inner-voice with which we are all born.  No one asked, “where does that come from?” The Bible says in John chapter 1 that there is, “…a light that lights every man.” John is talking about Jesus in his Gospel, however there is also that ‘conscience’ light that every person has, and why would that be a surprise?  If, as I believe, we are made in the image of God, why would it be strange that there is that a part of us that is God-like, telling us about good and bad, right and wrong?  Conscience is a strange thing, it tells us these things but does not make us do the right thing or stop us from doing wrong.  Dinesh D’ Souza says it much better than me:

The Surprising Fact of Morality
Evolutionists have some ingenious explanations for morality.  But do they work?  Morality is both a universal and a surprising fact about human nature. When I say that morality is universal I am not referring to this or that moral code. In fact, I am not referring to an external moral code at all. Rather, I am referring to morality as the voice within, the interior source that Adam Smith called the “impartial spectator.” Morality in this sense is an uncoercive but authoritative judge. It has no power to compel us, but it speaks with unquestioned authority. Of course we can and frequently do reject what morality commands, but when we do so we cannot avoid guilt or regret. It is because of our capacity for self-impeachment and remorse that Aristotle famously called man “the beast with the red cheeks.” Aristotle’s description holds up very well more than 2,000 years later. Even people who most flagrantly repudiate morality — say, a chronic liar or a rapacious thief — nearly always respond to detection with excuses and rationalizations. They say, “Yes, I lied, but I had no alternative under the circumstances,” or “Yes, I stole, but I did so to support my family.” Hardly anyone says, “Of course I am a liar and a thief, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.” What this means is that morality supplies a universal criterion or standard even though this standard is almost universally violated. 
Morality is a surprising feature of humanity because it seems to defy the laws of evolution.  Evolution is descriptive: It says how we do behave. Morality is prescriptive: It says how we should behave. And beyond this, evolutionary behaviour appears to run in the opposite direction from moral behaviour. Evolution implies that we are selfish creatures who seek to survive and reproduce in the world. Indeed we are, but we are also unselfish creatures who seek the welfare of others, sometimes in preference to our own. We are participants in the fame of life, understandably partial to our own welfare, while morality stands aloof, taking the impartial, or “God’s eye,” view, directing us to act in a manner conducive to the good of others. In sum, while evolution provides a descriptive account of human self-interest, morality provides a standard of human behaviour that frequently operates against self-interest.
So if we are mere evolutionary primates, how to account for morality as a central and universal feature of our nature? Why would morality develop among creatures obsessively bent on survival and reproduction? Darwin himself recognized the problem. In The Descent of Man, Darwin argued that “although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe, yet . . . an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another.”  Darwin’s point is that a tribe of virtuous patriots, with each of its members willing to make sacrifices for the group, would prove more successful and thus be favoured by natural selection over a tribe of self-serving individuals. This is the group-selection argument, and for many decades it was considered an acceptable way to reconcile evolution with morality.


But as biologists now recognize, the argument has a fatal flaw. The question we have to ask is how a tribe of individuals would become self-sacrificing in the first place. Imagine a tribe where, for instance, many people shared their food with others or volunteered to defend the tribe from external attack. Now what would be the fate of individual cheaters who benefited from this arrangement but hoarded their own food and themselves refused to volunteer to fight? Clearly these scoundrels would have the best deal of all. In other words, cheaters could easily become free riders, benefiting from the sacrifices of others but making no sacrifices themselves, and they would be more likely to survive than their more altruistic fellow tribesmen.
So do I still think morality or conscience is something that comes from the ‘God who is there,’ after reading all that is said about my opinions in the various discussions, Wikipedia and otherwise?  Even more so!

Adrian Hawkes
For: adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
W. 2133
Editor: Technicolour Text


There is no such thing as right or wrong! http://lnk.ms/33Nm6
There is no such thing as right or wrong! http://lnk.ms/33Nm6

Monday, 15 August 2011

Morality


Morality.
The subject I observe presents such problems.

I was part of a government think tank looking at OFSTEAD inspections of schools; one of the things they look at is the moral part of the schools ethos.  My problem is how does one obtain morals?  In my small discussion group there where Moslems, Catholics, Jews, Evangelicals, and humanists; all of us apart from the humanist agreed that morals have to come from some kind of Law giver, and actually in all of our thinking that must be God, apart, that is, from the humanist, who said there isn’t a God so morals must come from somewhere else.
I went on to argue that in terms of generosity, in such things as tsunamis, famines and the like the UK is actually quite generous in its giving, I put this down to the Judeo Christian influence in the background of the nation. The humanist said, “now don’t be silly, its due to the fact that we were once great colonists.”   To which I responded, “I thought that was about greed, trade, and getting lots of things for ourselves?”
I was one of those interviewed by Richard Dawkins for his ‘Religion is the root of all evil’ programmes. After which I found stuff all over the internet, usually from many of the so called ‘learned’ atheists poking fun at my opinions.  Funnily enough I have read Richard’s book, The God delusion, and one of the things that struck me is how often the base of whom we are and where we are comes down to ‘luck’, at least according to that book.  God seems a better thesis to me.
And of course both in the programme, on the net, and definitely in Wikipedia comes the discussion of mortality.  I am amused that in at least one article, the fact that we live in a moral universe and one ‘without God’ according to the ‘atheists’ is argued from the fact that some fish have a symbiotic relationship with ‘cleaner’ fish, the action of the one fish on the other fish actually protects them; therefore arguing that we don’t go around on our streets killing each other because it’s wiser not too.  One of the things that Richard Dawkins said to me in the interview for his programme, (which I have not seen on the programme or the Utube repeats, so I guess it’s on the cutting room floor), was, Richard said “I am more righteous than you. “ I of course said, “Oh and how is that?” to which he replied, “I don’t go around pillaging and raping, and I don’t need a God to stop me, you need one to stop you.” To which I answered, “bully for you, you maybe ought to watch the news!”
One Swallow does not a summer make.
 Richard Dawkins often says that being an atheist is not one with a depressing philosophy, actually he say it makes one appreciate life more and love life.  Again I say, ‘bully for you’, the problem is that you don’t have to travel very far to find people who are starving, people who have been enslaved, people who have every reason not to love life, if you now want them to believe that this atheism is the truth, and not be depressed by such a philosophy all I can say is HELP!  It’s the most depressing view of life that I can imagine; 
So where does morality come from, I note that even some of the comments on what I think that are listed in Wikipedia note that I am saying that we live in a moral universe, and there is a base line for morality and that comes from somewhere, God I would say.  Yes that is what I am saying, morality without a giver is craziness, it is not morality; as Charles Finny would have put it: “Opposed to this is willing self-gratification; a practical treating of self as if the gratification of our own desires, appetites, etc., were of supreme importance. Now in this ultimate choice of the good of universal being, or of self-gratification as an ultimate end, moral character must reside. Primarily, surely, it can reside nowhere else. It is this ultimate choice that gives direction and character to all the subordinate actions of the will; that gives direction to the volitions, the actions, and the omissions of all our voluntary lives. This ultimate choice is the root or fountain from which all volition and all moral action spring.”
 I guess even Richard would agree with some of that, as the basic premise is that morality only comes from our own selfishness to survive or not be killed that is why we don’t have mayhem on the streets.  Although I wonder if we perhaps do, I live in an area where we have postcode crime, knife and gun crime, so the morality is you don’t live in my postcode area, you are there so you need killing. That seems a great morality!
Going back to that statement I made earlier, ‘bully for you’, seems to take no note of the Hitler’s, Pol Pots, and Stalin’s of this world, which again makes me think if morality is only up to our moving to a value system that selfishly benefits us only, and we can get around it, then why not? If it is to my benefit to circumvent the law? If there is not ultimate sanction or moral law giver?
It has always interested me that the Bible talks about giving ‘light’ to every person who comes into the world. What is that light? Personally I have always seen that light as being that conscience that dwells in each and every person.  We can obey it or disobey it, it is, if you like, a little bit of God in us, if we obey it we feel good, if we disobey it we feel bad, but it does not force us either way, we have the freewill, we have choice.  Again to quote Finny on conscience, he talks about moral insanity:
“Moral insanity, on the other hand, is will-madness. The man retains his intellectual powers unimpaired, but he sets his heart fully to evil. He refuses to yield to the demands of his conscience. He practically discards the obligations of moral responsibility. He has the powers of free moral agency, but persistently abuses them. He has a reason which affirms obligation, but he refuses obedience to its affirmations”.
So where do I think morality comes from? I think it comes from the law giver - God, he has created, and designed a moral universe, a universe that ultimately works towards the best good for all, the created order, us, and God too.  We can pretend it is not there, we can work against it, we can listen to our conscience, we can ignore it, but none of those things make it not there.

Adrian Hawkes
For Wikipedia
For Adrian’s Blog
Edited by: Technicolour text
W. 1175.

If we can be morally bankrupt, from where did the moral bank originate? http://lnk.ms/33Nm6

Friday, 22 July 2011

The London Training Consortium (College) Story


The London Training Consortium (College) Story
In 2005 Phoenix Community Care formed a new company called London Training Consortium.  The reason we formed the company was due to misinformation from an accountant.  We were told that we needed  to take this action in order to register for VAT purposes,  in the end  turned out to be incorrect, but by this time, the company was already up and running.  
PCC was already addressing some of the needs of the young people for example, looking after unaccompanied minors, foster children, vulnerable adults and young people who had been through the care system and were moving on to independence.
We quickly understood that many of those we were seeking to help needed to be able to speak English to progress in the UK and so English Speaking for Other Languages (ESOL) classes were born.  During the seven years since the inception of the London Training Consortium (LTC) we have seen many young people helped by these classes.
We have run the classes and somehow found the money to pay the staff, although most of the time I have no idea how, (probably God knows).  At other times we were fortunate enough to receive grants from the European Social Fund via the London Development agencies.  Each year we  wonder how we will  find money to train  the next batch of students.
 In spite of the challenge of ongoing funding, the college has expanded its services and now helps those young people, who the government euphemistically calls NEET (Not in Education Employment or Training).  We have helped many to access further education, enter into employment, and often most importantly, change their attitude to life, success and progress.  I remember the whole office applauding one young man on achieving his Oxford Cambridge Royal Society of Arts (OCR) certification in Literacy and Numeracy; which is equivalent to a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).  He was full of delight by the fruits of his hard work.
LTC is registered as an examining body for various courses leading to qualifications such as OCR, ASDAN, City and Guilds and ICCE, and there is an enduring thrill observing young people, who thought they could never achieve such qualifications, smile confidently as they receive their certificates.
We are still talking to the people who offer grants, and filling in their application forms.  Each year, in excess of fifty students undertake the various courses offered by LTC.  The courses are tailored to get the best for the individual concerned.  I don’t know about you but I am fascinated by statistics and thought perhaps you would like to see some, and even if you don’t,  I am going to show you them anyway.
First of all  here are  the various nationalities that have gone through our college, it reads a bit like United Nations doesn’t it?  The interesting thing is;  you can often tell where the wars are by looking at our statistics:


Afro-Caribbean

3
Afghanistan

84
Albania

22
Algeria

1
Bangladesh

6
Britain

71
Burundi

1
China

21
Congo

12
Eritrea

25
Ethiopia

1
Gambia

1
Guinea

3
Iran

6
Iran (Kurdistan)

8
Iraq

5
Iraq(Kurdistan)

8
Ivory Coast

2
Korea

1
Kosovo

3
Kurdistan

11
Kuwait

1
Pakistan

1
Poland

3
Romania

2
Sierra Leone

2
Somalia

10
Sudan

4
Switzerland

1
Turkey

7
Uganda

3
Vietnam

1

Here are all the qualifications that the students gained.  Almost all students leave  LTC with some certification.


Finally we seem to be more than just a training college, helping many of the students to fill in forms, find housing, offering help and support with the many challenges that life brings.   Many of the students are without family or relatives to help them with these issues.  As one staff member commented recently, “ I often feel less like their tutor and more like their Mother,” she went on to say,  “what most of these young people are looking for, what they really need to progress is  someone to sit and listen to them.”  And that’s what we do; it’s called going the extra mile.  The reward for us is their success.
One of the most special elements of being involved in LTC is that some young people who commenced as students ended up as long term friends.
Adrian Hawkes
For Adrian Blog spot
W. 735
Edit: Technicolour Text