D is for Deterrence. Should we disarm?

D is for Deterrence. Should we disarm?

Is there a case for nuclear disarmament? Jeremy Corbyn thinks there is..

Listening to Corbyn at the Labour conference this week I find myself agreeing with the man on more and more issues. But I’m a Conservative. I’m not supposed to agree with a Socialist!

 

This is what Corbyn said in his speech yesterday and it’s causing quite a stir within the Labour party and within Conservative ranks there is much laughter but the man has a very valid point:

 

‘Today we face very different threats from the time of the Cold War which ended thirty years ago. That’s why I have asked our Shadow Defence Secretary, Maria Eagle, to lead a debate and review about how we deliver that strong, modern effective protection for the people of Britain. I’ve made my own position on one issue clear. And I believe I have a mandate from my election on it. I don’t believe £100 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons taking up a quarter of our defence budget is the right way forward. I believe Britain should honour our obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty and lead in making progress on international nuclear disarmament.’

 

It seems to me that our nuclear deterrent policy is an outdated one as we move further away from the Cold War. Yes there are still aggressors throughout the world who threaten our freedom and the lives of their citizens but is pointing a weapon at them rather than engaging in meaningful talks really the answer?

 

Deterrence theory gained prominence as a military strategy during the Cold War with regard to the use of nuclear weapons – the ultimate form of destruction. One theorist Bernard Brodie wrote in 1959, must be always at the ready, yet never used.

 

The use of power to hurt as bargaining power is the foundation of deterrence theory, and is most successful when it is held in reserve.

 

In a January 2007 article in the Wall Street Journal cold war policy make Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry, George Shultz and Sam Nunn reversed their previous position and asserted that far from making the world safer, nuclear weapons had become a source of extreme risk. “Senior European statesmen and women” called for further action in 2010 in addressing problems of nuclear weapons proliferation. They said: “Nuclear deterrence is a far less persuasive strategic response to a world of potential regional nuclear arms races and nuclear terrorism than it was to the cold war”

 

A total of 9 countries possess nuclear weapons yet all the other countries in the world don’t. What gives those 9 countries the right? The rest of the world doesn’t feel the need to arm up with a total of 16,000 nuclear weapons between them.

 

Ultimately the only way to maintain peace is by talking. Trying to establish good relations with other nations, trying to understand other ways of thinking and persuasion are the only means to peace. Pointing a weapon at an aggressor just makes that aggressor retaliate.

 

I think we should all be listening to the case Corbyn has to make and stop blinding following an outdated and hugely costly policy.

 

D is for Dementia; deficit, decline & death

The prediction is that one third of babies born in the UK today will develop dementia in later life. By 2025 one million people will be living with the illness.

D is for Dementia; deficit, decline & death

When we think of dementia we tend to see it in three ways:

  1. Deficit. We see it as negative, a curse with no cure.
  2. Decline. It is a process of decline with the arrow pointing one way. You can only go from bad to worse. There is no reversal. There are no stories of recovery.
  3. Death. Dementia is a living death. The process of death has begun and we try desperately to hold on to the person we knew and recognise. We look for signs that person is still there. Dementia diminishes the sense of whom the person was. We don’t want them to change. We don’t want them to disappear into an oblivion. Death when it comes is a final release. A final release; but for whom? The sufferer or the family?

But maybe a better approach is to accept the changes. Maybe we should receive who they are now with their new characteristics, enjoy who they are now and stop trying to pull them back. We can begin a process within ourselves of acceptance and of letting go of the person we once knew, letting them roam free in who they are now and accepting that they are now on a new life journey; moving into new unchartered territory, scary as it seems to us.

 

D is for Death Cafe Discussion

It was a dark night. Sodden leaves gathered in soggy mounds outside the dimly lit village hall in Lindfield, West Sussex. Winter is approaching. As we huddled into a circle on red velvet chairs heavy rain came down like handfuls of nails outside, smacking against the windows.

It sounds rather like the opening of a horror movie doesn’t it? But make no mistake. Death Cafe isn’t a grim and macabre affair. In fact it can be quite a cheery evening out. And the people who attend are hardly Christopher Lee characters. While we chatted about what had brought us to such an event the kettle boiled in the kitchen next door and delicious homemade cakes awaited for the mid way interval.

We hold our Mid Sussex Death Cafe bi- monthly and at two locations, alternating between Cuckfield, (The Pantry’ Cafe) and Lindfield (King Edward Hall). It’s part of a worldwide movement (www.Deathcafe.com) designed to break down the taboo surrounding death and to facilitate discussion among those who want to talk about it.

A variety of different people attend from those involved in the death industry or in grief counselling to those simply wanting to explore thoughts about their own mortality. Last night we were thin on numbers but the discussion was still interesting. Two ladies had travelled across from Surrey. Having found out about the meeting via the Death Cafe website they were intrigued. One was a young woman in her early twenties; a recent MA graduate in Cognitive Science. She discussed a TV programme she had seen about how the Japanese deal with death and the ‘suicide spot’ on Mount Fuji; known as the ‘demon infested forest.’ (The Aokigahara Forest). This article may interest you: http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/05/the-mysterious-suicide-forest-of-japan/ We also discussed ISIS and the meaning of death for suicide bombers swept along in a brotherhood and what it means for those men as they approach death to be united with Allah.

One man in the group (I’ll call him John) said that he had a good friend who became very ill. He went to visit him and he was sitting in a deckchair in the garden asleep. As John approached he stirred, looked over at him and said ‘you know the difference between you and me John is that I know when I’m going to die.’ For me this was an extremely moving statement. It sent a shiver down my spine. Those who are dying are separated from those who are alive and well. We don’t know when we will die. We don’t know how we will die. And we don’t know what will happen after we die. It’s a sobering thought. The dying man had reached a new plateau, a new form of existence – the end and that set him apart from his friend. It was the biggest difference they had ever faced across their friendship and something that John could not possibly understand.

What is it like, we wondered as a group to be set apart from everyone else around you because you are dying and everyone else isn’t. And even when you meet others who are dying somehow you don’t have the same experience in common because each dying person is going through their own unique experience.

We also discussed the defeat of the assisted dying bill in the House of Commons last week. I’m in favour of assisted dying for the terminally ill but the group were split. One lady said that she has cared for those who are extremely ill but yet still have quality of life. She felt that the human mind is too troubled and that people are confused when they are ill and change their minds and therefore not in a good place to make this decision.

Personally I feel that I will wake up one day and want to end my life with the thought that there is nothing more to live for. However this is a hard one. I have children who will one day have children of their own. When you have family there is always something to live for, something to look forward to. But if there ever comes a time for me when there are no new challenges in life and just more of the same I would consider going to Switzerland.

What are your thoughts about death and dying? Why not come along to your nearest Death Cafe. Google www.deathcafe.com to find out more.

My new book ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ might also interest you. The link is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Catholic-Womans-Dying-Wish-Things/dp/1511936703/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442476661&sr=1-3&keywords=joanna+warringtonhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Catholic-Womans-Dying-Wish-Things/dp/1511936703/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442476661&sr=1-3&keywords=joanna+warrington

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D is for Division: Labour’s new leader

D is for Division: Labour’s new leader was elected last weekend ending weeks of speculation on which way the party would vote. The polls were predicting his win but did the country really believe Labour’s supporters would back a 1970’s retro Left wingers? For years we had been led to believe that Labour had changed. Tony Blair invented ‘New Labour’ and the party had nudged towards the right with a different vision for the party. And that worked for some time. Initially the electorate embraced Tony Blair and his new vision but over the course of Blair’s and Brown’s tenure many saw through the gloss. Labour were the same party underneath and by 2005 the country was heavily in debt and we all knew that big spending on our public services had to be cut to avoid economic disaster. But after ten years of austerity many are fed up with cutbacks. Many have suffered. AS a Funeral Celebrant I have listened to plenty of heartbreaking stories of sick people waiting in hospital corridors for a bed. And so it is understandable why Corbyn has been elected.

It’s easy to understand why Corbyn was elected in other ways too. Politics has become deadly dull. I can’t remember the last great debate in Parliament. Many look back to the 70s now with nostalgia and forget the strikes and disruption the unions caused to the economy, instead seeing a great era they want to return to.

Like him or loathe him you have to admire Corbyn for his mission to return Labour to its’ true Left wing principles and his desire to make Britain a better place. But there is a great deal of distrust, division within his party on where he will take Britain. Are his policies dangerous for this country? Here’s a quick run down on what he believes:

  1. Unilateral disarmament.
  2. Pull out of NATO.
  3. Doesn’t want to renew Trident.
  4. Pacifist stance on war. Reduce army.
  5. Against renewed bombing in Syria. Talk instead to our enemies
  6. Abolish the monarchy
  7. Higher taxes to fund welfare reform
  8. Schools to return to complete state control
  9. Tackle tax avoidance and tax evasion
  10. Renationalise the railways and energy
  11. Introduce rent controls on housing in some areas
  12. Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic
  13. A maximum wage cap on top executives
  14. Bank of England to print money to fund state projects
  15. He is not completely against leaving Europe.

My prediction is that he will win Labour’s Scottish voters back by killing the arguments for independence. With the collapse in oil prices any hope of Scotland becoming richer outside the Union is dead. Huge areas of Scotland are in dire poverty. The people living in these areas want social change, better living standards. Independence is a secondary issue. Corbyn can offer them the social change they want.

I also predict the end of UKIP as supporters begin to return to the Conservatives to fight this Left wing leader, considering him a dangerous threat to Britain’s stability. Within an hour of Corbyn’s election the Conservatives sent an email round to its’ supporters warning of the dangers to Britain’s security and stability. I also predict the end of the Greens. Many of their policies are very Left wing. Corbyn will appeal to many Greens.

Some of Corbyn’s policies should be adopted by all the parties. If we believe in a minimum wage then we should also believe in a maximum wage. The salaries of top executives I believe should be capped. I also believe he is right to hesitate on bombing our enemies and starve IS of its’ arms supplies and try to talk to these people. In the end we had to talk to the IRA. When you’ve killed and killed talking becomes the only solution but it should be the first solution.

I look forward to the end of bland politics and some real debate over the coming term. Corbyn stands no chance of being elected Prime Minister but he will certainly rock the political boat and that’s no bad thing.

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D is for Dying: Assisted Dying

Today MPs in the UK Parliament are debating the assisted dying bill which would enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medical assistance to end their life. 82% of the population now want a change in the law. I am absolutely convinced that a change in the law is needed as a matter of urgency to stop the needless suffering of many.

Working in the funeral industry, talking with families about their loved ones deaths, also running a Death Cafe and talking with a variety of people from all walks of life has convinced me that change is needed. For too long we have been governed by legislation which is rooted in  Christian sentiment. Only God can take life away many would argue. But man can control his own destiny. We were not given the choice to come into this world. We should be given the choice to leave this world and on our terms.

An assisted dying law has work in Oregon the USA for 18 years. In those 18 years there have been no cases of abuse and no calls to extend the law beyond terminally ill adults. That is because it works. It prevents unnecessary suffering at the end of life and provides dying adults with the choice to control their death, if that is their wish.

Under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act the terminally ill patient must be able to self-administer and ingest the life-ending medication themselves and they can only be prescribed the medication after meeting a number of legal safeguards. These include:

  • The patient must be 18 years or older
  • The patient must be mentally competent
  • The patient must be diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to their death within 6 months

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill  builds on the Oregon model but with these differences:

  1. Under the Assisted Dying Bill the life-ending medication is stored at the pharmacy until the terminally ill person decides they want to use it – in Oregon it can be kept in the patient’s home.
  2. Under the Assisted Dying Bill a doctor or nurse must deliver the life-ending medication to the patient when they want to use it. The doctor or nurse would check that the patient did not want to change their mind and would stay with the patient and their family. In Oregon the patient can ask a healthcare professional to be with them when they take the medication, but it is not a requirement of the law.
  3. The Assisted Dying Bill includes a ‘sunset clause’ which states that Parliament must review the law after 10 years, and that Parliament could repeal the law at this point. This is a unique safeguard that has not been used in any previous assisted dying legislation. It ensures that there is a formal review of how the law works in practice.

My book ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish explores one woman’s dying wish – to find her daughter before she dies. It is on Kindle until Sunday at 99p and also available in paperback. Check it out here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Catholic-Womans-Dying-Wish-Things-ebook/dp/B014DP7HQW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1441958201&sr=1-1&keywords=joanna+warrington

 

D is for Dying Wishes

http://joannawarringtonauthor-allthingsd.co.uk/writing/d-is-for-dying-wishes/ Author of ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ (a story about the last wish of a Catholic woman to find her missing daughter) explores dying wishes today.  D is for Dying Wishes. Do you have a dying wish? Plenty of people do particularly as they approach the later stages of their life, faced with the prospect of death. As a funeral celebrant I hear plenty of stories. Sometimes families ask if the deceased can be buried with their dog or cat. This is assuming the pet happens to have died around the same time!

One dying wish many of us think about is the scattering of our ashes. Where would you like your ashes to be scattered? Or would you prefer to be buried? It’s important to let your loved ones know your wishes.

Here’s a funny story about one man’s dying wish!

Some people want to hold on to their money more than they do relationships. The husband in this story is one of those people.

Throughout his life, he worked hard and saved all his money; a real miser. He loved his money so much that he wanted to continue to hold onto it even after he was gone and requested that his wife bury him with all his money.

Being a moral woman, the wife feels she needs to honour her greedy husband’s dying wish. However, she does so with a twist…you’ll love how she handles this!

He was a real miser when it came to his money. He loved money more than just about anything, and just before he died, he made his wife promise something:

“When I die I want you to take all my money and place it in the coffin with me. I want to take all my money to the afterlife.”

After his death at the funeral before his body was committed his wife shrieked:

“Wait a minute!”

She had a shoebox with her and placed it in the coffin. Then the undertakers locked the coffin and rolled it away.

Her friend said, “I hope you weren’t mad enough to put all that money in there with that stingy old man.”

She said, “Yes, I promised. I’m a good Christian, I can’t lie. I promised him that I was going to put that money in that coffin with him.”

“You mean to tell me you put every cent of his money in the coffin with him?”

“I certainly did.” said the wife. “I got it all together, put it into my account and I wrote him a cheque.”

Interested n Dying Wishes? Why not read ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’?

 

 

 

 

Dating old farts

I’ve officially entered grumpy old woman territory. Moaning about too many cars on the roads, people glued to their phones in restaurants and the length of time it takes to get a doctor’s appointment.

But I don’t see myself as old, at 50. In fact recently I’ve started to act like a teenager again regarding men. And I’ve noticed some of my female friends are just the same.

Last night a friend called. She had returned home at 10 after a dreadful second date with one of my ‘cast offs’. (When you’re all doing internet dating men go round in circles like a card game at a party.) She referred to him as ‘fatty.’

Fatty arrived at the restaurant having eaten, he told her, 4 sausages.

‘Well we know why he did that don’t we?’ She said.

‘Oh we certainly do.’ I replied. ‘So that he didn’t have to eat much because he’s a tight bastard.’

‘I had a starter of cray fish. He ate my bread instead of ordering a starter then he chose the cheapest meal on the menu – fish and chips for his main. I had a pudding but he didn’t. He said he was on a diet!’

‘A diet?! He’s having a laugh surely? Or more like he’s trying to keep the bill down!’ I laughed.

‘The waitress came with the bill and he turned to me and said go halves? I was disgusted. After we’d paid we headed for our cars and I didn’t so much as give him a backward glance. I won’t be seeing him again. Oh and he said his last date threw a paddy because he didn’t treat her! He wonders why! We’re of a certain age and yes men should take us out for a meal. They’re very quick to expect sex. This one kept hinting about sex; that his marriage had been sexless. She called him lardy arse. Well I tell you there will be no more of this skullduggery.’ She laughed.

Another friend is also complaining about her date. She’s got into a routine of going round to his house and she takes him dinner. He rarely takes her out for dinner and just suggests she come round to his place for the evening. Her daughter calls it ‘Netflix and Chill’ … in other words sex and a film. After sex he comes down in his towelling robe and plonks down on the sofa to watch a second world war documentary.

What is it with men these days? They seem to think they don’t need to swoon a woman, wine and dine and show her she’s special? They seem to have slumped into old man mode not wanting to do anything. Instead we get this dull old fart behaviour…