Monday, December 23, 2013

Maybe I am not overtly 'religious,' but I do like to see Christmas decorations in our streets and malls---BUT----

Have you seen some of the over-the-top 'decorations' that festoon the streets, buildings and malls in some cities that owe little to the 'Christian' tradition. Take for example, Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai and even a city like Jakarta, which although having a significant Christina population, is predominantly Islamic. These cities are ablaze with colour and lights, creating the impression that they celebrate Christmas in a manner that leaves the city of Auckland looking like a very poor relative indeed. One has to search out a more 'Christmassy' scene in Auckland; probably arriving at Franklin Road in Ponsonby or other scattered attempts to celebrate the festive season. Sure, you can find the odd shop that does its best to remind us of the season and it is as much about attracting our wallets (which of course it is in the cities aforementioned) as it is about anything else.
Drive down Queens Street, but don't expect to be uplifted by the experience, even less  suddenly be impacted by the fabulous decorations (NOT!) to open your wallet or even feel the real 'spirit' of Xmas. There is only one redeeming feature of a Xmas in Auckland--at least we have not succumbed to that sad PC behaviour that emanates from the USA and the UK where you must say 'Happy Holidays' rather than Merry Xmas. Oh no---we can't have that---it would offend 'other' religions. What a load of cods-wallop! I am regularly greeted by Hindus and Muslims amongst other religions in NZ who wish me a Merry Xmas, so what gives New York and London?! Let's celebrate all of the festivals that are based on joy or yes, suffering too, but not water down the very roots of a faith or belief system, all in the name of some misguided attempt to be politically sensitive. And yes, I would love to see the big 'boys' of business take a break form merely taking our money and put a bit more back into 'lighting up our beautiful 'queen city.'

Putin's cynical attempt to appear magnanamous---no better or wrose than what the USA has been doing for ages.

Power, naked power at that is alive and well in all forms throughout the world. We see it under the guise of religion in the Middle East, in Africa and parts of Europe. In the USA is manifests itself through the 'accepted' institutions' of government and  its various agencies. That Putin  is exercising it in a manner that is nothing more than an attempt to calm sensitive 'Western' nerves on the eve of the Winter Olympics should come as no surprise.
Take the example  the release of Greenpeace protesters and two members of Pussy Riot as examples of his devious machinations. I am happy that the above are now partially free to go about their lives, but he has underestimated the resolve of both groups. The Pussy Riot women were possibly putting themselves at risk by undertaking their 'adventure on the church.' They must have understood that their protesting in a place that many Russians hold as a special place, would play into Putin's hands.It should have been obvious from his past publicity stunts that he would use them for his own purposes; give them a time in a 'Gulag' and then show mercy by releasing them at a later date.
The bottom line is that he is only concerned about his continued stranglehold on the highest position in the new Russia; a position little different from that of the old, Tsars or even Stalin. The difference between his approach and that of President in the USA is that the latter cannot stand for election more than twice. Of course they have other means of keeping their hand in re power and influence.
The rest of the world is often consumed by issues playing out in other parts of the world; like terrorism, economics, oil and energy concerns and the ever growing list of 'failed states and all of what is involved in working through the ramifications as per refugees set upon finding new lives in other countries (read --the West).
The Pussy Riot members have made it quite clear that they will not return to a more 'acceptable and non-speaking-out' position. They will continue to put themselves at risk. We should not  be surprised to observe this. In the past, many Russians have taken brave stands against despots and who would point out and resist corruption and the suppression of freedom. Nations who take similar stands, like the Ukraine will suffer similar fates as Putin and his like put their foot on the throat of such 'expressions of hope.'
We should all keep a close watch on what transpires for the Pussy Riot women and those who would dare take on the Russian State.
As for the USA; we are well aware but equally powerless to lessen their hold on world events and issues. Now all we need is for the emerging giant that is China to show its hand in a more obvious way. The other old colonial powers and newly emerging nations, like Brazil, India and others---well just watch them playing catch-up!
In the meantime, lets all keep a watch on the fate of the women and others like them who represent hope and the continuing struggle against power that corrupts!