Opinions – to have or not to have

Opinions – to have or not to have, that is the question. Whether it is more prudent to shut up or speak up courageously and denounce a group of people you don’t understand.

Courageous? Hmmm. Recently on the evening news, every night in fact for the past week, there has been a huge fuss made over a football player here in Australia who voiced an opinion on social media that homosexuals will burn in hell unless they repent and turn straight. He quotes Bible passages and other opinions to back him up. Some people think he’s very courageous for voicing such a politically incorrect opinion. Others think he’s a bigoted moron. But if we can believe the stats on Twitter and not assume it’s Russian meddling or fake, everybody’s talking about him, about his right to have and express his opinion.

Democracy says he has the right. And there is certainly some value in knowing what idiots think (just my opinion). However when you consider the fact that this guy is a major footie celebrity whom legions of devoted fans listen to and near-worship I have to ask myself whether or not he does have the right to express such a hate-filled and negative opinion, especially when there’s a good chance his opinion will fuel homophobic views in a country that has worked so hard since 1978 to engender acceptance and tolerance of the LGBT community. Australia has only just legalised gay marriage and our famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras had a record turn out this year. In 1978 gays were routinely bashed by police and took a risk walking home alone day or night. Gay men were fair game for a certain type of anger. It has taken years to wean the general public off their fear and hatred of homosexuals. So back to democracy and the democratic right to have and express an opinion.

I think (and this is just my opinion) that arriving at a firm opinion about anything at all must be the end result of much investigation and information-gathering. My opinion is that before you express your opinion about anything make sure it is YOUR opinion and not the indoctrination or persuasion of peers or society or religion or family or the reactive product of your own fears. Think about it long and hard and try its opposite on for size. By that I mean examine the opposite side. Sit with it and see how it feels. One of the first rules of debate is a open-minded willingness to argue for both sides. Yes, I was on the school debating team and we often had to argue convincingly against our “opinions”. Stephen Hawking said “question everything” and I could not agree more. That is one opinion I hold very strongly, which brings me to the Facebook debacle and the claims that “fake news” filtered through multiple fake sights influenced the recent election in America. Again I would suggest (my opinion) that a little bit of observation and careful listening to the rhetoric of Donald Trump during the campaign should have been sufficient to inform anyone with an open mind that the man was unfit for the Presidency. What were his policies? What was his history? What was he actually saying apart from spin? What does Make America Great Again actually mean? Broad claims are mere dogma and believing dogma is the same as claiming homosexuals will burn in hell. Based on what history? Supported by what evidence?

So I guess by now you can see that I think all this FB debunking is more of the blame game and sidelining that has been the hallmark of the current POTUS’ time in office. Advertising spin is very effective and if you keep a mantra going long enough it will become a “fact” in the social consciousness.

Be careful what you believe and be super-careful what you express publicly as your opinion. Even the line “everyone has a right to their opinion” was just somebody’s spin at one stage. Now it seems like a social justice. The ancient Greeks had a forum for expressing opinion. It was done on a certain day at a certain hour and you picked up a card at the entry which gave you the right to speak and the right to be heard. Women were banned from the event but hey, justice is a slow-moving behemoth, but that aside, when your card was chosen you took the stage and had a limited time to make your point. And points were made. Ancient Greece was the birthplace of democracy and opinions were valued unless you were Socrates and rocked the boat too much. But even then it’s reasonable to say that Socrates’ opinions had so much value they were considered dangerous and he was silenced with hemlock.

Nobody is silenced with hemlock these days. They may be taken to court. But mostly anybody’s opinion is tolerated when in my OPINION it ought to be debated.

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Jules Just Read… March 2018 – 5 Star #Reviews @RenitaDSilva @wa_waters @shani_struthers @JaneIsaacAuthor #MonthlyReads #FinishedReading #BookReview #Books #BooksRead #Audiobooks #Paperbacks

via Jules Just Read… March 2018 – 5 Star #Reviews @RenitaDSilva @wa_waters @shani_struthers @JaneIsaacAuthor #MonthlyReads #FinishedReading #BookReview #Books #BooksRead #Audiobooks #Paperbacks

Jules Just Read… March 2018 – 5 Star #Reviews @RenitaDSilva @wa_waters @shani_struthers @JaneIsaacAuthor #MonthlyReads #FinishedReading #BookReview #Books #BooksRead #Audiobooks #Paperbacks

So grateful to #exquisite Jules Mortimer for her support!

LittleMissNoSleep Daydreams of Books

It seems this year isn’t showing any signs of slowing down yet, and we’re back round to another Jules Just Read post already!

I had a much more successful reading month in March compared to February. I read 9 books and listened to 3 audiobooks. Rather impressively, 7 out of the 9 books I read were 5 star reads, so my reading hours provided plenty of high quality entertainment 🙂

I even managed my challenge to read 1 paperback a month by reading not 1, but 5 paperbacks, yay! That helps make up for my complete fail in February 😉

March Books

I also had rather exciting signed book and Indian gifts post from the wonderfully talented author, Renita D’silva. I absolutely LOVED her new book Beneath an Indian Sky, which actually now has a beautiful new cover, which you can see under my reviews section later ❤

Beneath an Indian Sky Signed 20percent

I won a…

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Wynne Prize

My mother Carmol Scammell is entering a landscape painting in the Wynne Prize this year! I am so proud of her and so relieved she has at last found the courage to put her brilliant work out there where the critics can savage her and the public can enjoy her gift. Criticism is always the risk we take when we give humanity our highest gifts. But what a poor world this would be if our gifts were withheld.

Mum has been painting for over 50 years and has reached a level of mastery few artists ever attain and soon the world will get to see her work.

Here are a few examples of her art.

#BookReview (5 Stars) – Catch the Moon, Mary, by Wendy Waters @wa_waters @CatchMoonMary #CatchTheMoonMary #MagicalRealism #Fantasy #FairyTale #Angels #Fiction #Book #Review

LittleMissNoSleep Daydreams of Books

Blurb:

A magical story about a gifted but vulnerable girl who is both saved and damned by an angel who falls in love with her music and claims it as his own in a Faustian pact. With Mary in his thrall, he ruthlessly kills those who threaten his plan to bring Mary to Carnegie Hall where her talent will be hailed supreme.

Sunday Express, March 2017: ‘Catch the Moon, Mary is one of my six favourite books’ – Amanda Redman, actress/director/arts patron/head of ATS, New Tricks, The Good Karma Hospital, Sexy Beast

‘Beyond beautiful’ – Simon Egerton, singer-songwriter, composer, lyricist

‘Original and scintillating, tantalising and thought-provoking. A novel about the transformative powers of music and beauty’ – Hazel Philips OAM, Gold Logie winner, author of Black River, Bright Star

‘Weaves a singular spell mesmerising the reader on several levels like a fugue. Wendy Waters and her characters believe deeply in…

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Entropy

I have just re-read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck and he posits that evil is the ultimate laziness, that evil people will do everything in their power to avoid spiritual growth. Citing Trump as a spiritually lazy human being, it is clear that the man clings to outmoded values and hides behind his money. He has no vision or concern for the welfare of the people in his care or the country he claims to serve. He threatens war and whips up hatred. This is tired old thinking. Even though Americans believed they were getting something new when they voted for Trump they did so in a mindless lazy manner. Trump is the product of laziness. Lazy people who refused to galvanize themselves into action, cohere into units of self-regulated neighborhood groups to address the issues of homelessness and poverty in their own backyards. Instead they passed that burden on to an unknown outsider whose only qualification was his fortune. He demonstrates no empathy or understanding of the grassroots issues Americans are facing on a daily basis, instead he tweets a similarly spiritually impoverished leader in North Korea (nice that the boys can play together). But returning to Peck’s brilliant book, he suggests that entropy is the natural force acting on us all and that to fight it we must stop looking to leaders, armies, parents, others, God and develop inner resources to solve our own problems and having done so, to then support the journey of others who are also on the road less traveled. the path to self-realization and acceptance of the mantel of gnosis. It is incumbent upon us all to take responsibility for ourselves and the world. Yes, the world. You and I are as responsible for our suffering disenfranchised co-occupants on this planet as any political or religious leader. Using borders and nationality to exclude others is a lazy dodging of our responsibility. If, as Peck suggests, we are all headed towards ultimate Godhead then isn’t it time we start behaving with Godly compassion?

2017 the year that was in pictures

2017 – a year of endings and beginnings. People I loved left this world and are hopefully finding their wings. I moved from my home of eleven years and relocated to Sydney and in September I went back to glorious London where the streets are paved with gold-dust for me. Some images of my UK visit.

The casts of Catch the Moon, Mary and FRED Tristan Bates Theatre Covent Garden London

Hannah Whyman, Aidan O’Callaghan and Suzy Davenport from play Catch the Moon, Mary

Marketing guru Hayley Hemingway-Hare and lovely soprano Rachel Hynes

Lighting magician Nigel Lewis

Suzy Davenport who read Mary Granger and Lawrence Ellis who read Gabriel

Bath and pigeons!

2017 the year that was

2017 has been a year of changes: endings, beginnings and in some cases, total restarts. In March, I relocated from Mount Tamborine Queensland to Sydney, the city of my childhood and adolescence. Moving to Sydney I discovered a cousin I’d never even heard of living just around the corner. He introduced himself as a composer and asked me if I would listen to his latest CD. I hate it when people ask me to listen to, look at or evaluate their creative work because I am as harsh a critic of their work as I am of mine. The bar is set very high and I won’t give false praise. It’s insulting to say the least and I assume that every artist is like me and wants to produce his/her very best work. Fortunately, Frank Seckold’s music turned out to be superb. He is a master musician and a sensitive, clever composer and arranger. I had already co-written a play based on my novel Catch the Moon, Mary with a very talented playwright Jemina Macedo and the piece needed a musical score. Frank had composed a 14 minute symphonic piece titled Moon Suite which was a perfect fit for the play. Within weeks Frank and I had the piece carved up into tracks to compliment the scenes.

Next big change was my second visit to London in September where I had a reading of the play and my latest musical FRED at the Tristan Bates Theatre Covent Garden. The cast was largely drawn from Amanda Redman’s ATS graduates led by Suzy Davenport and Lawrence Ellis with the addition of the superbly gifted Aidan O’Callaghan and the singers in FRED were Rachel Hynes, Lucy Aley-Parker, Emma Duke and Dom Rogan. It was an incredibly thrilling day and worth all the angst and pent-up hopes it took to get there. I now have a London agent, Ian Taylor, and a London marketing guru, Hayley Hemingway-Hare and some fabulous friends in the UK.

Back home again and Frank Seckold and I completed a new musical, MIRIAM. So that’s my news. Now my take on the global news, fake or otherwise. How did the world become so misled by fools? How did people become so disconnected from reality that Tweeting can be considered political diplomacy? I think our value system has become so distorted because money gives people a disproportionate competency, for instance just because Trump inherited a fortune and went on to scam a whole lot of people into investing in his shonky companies does not mean he is mentally competent to govern America. Money in and of itself means nothing and does not qualify its possessors for anything other than purchase ability. Possessing a fortune is not a great accomplishment. How you earned your fortune very well might be, but probably not. One can supply pegs to the masses and make a fortune but that doesn’t make you a genius or a visionary. All it makes you is rich. The greatest minds this earth has ever known have not always been remunerated accordingly during their lifetimes. It is only the rich who perceive themselves as high achievers because ego demands gratification and the soul demands purpose. But must we be misled into appending unearned attributes to the obscenely wealthy few? Having a great deal of money whether inherited, stolen or earned is simply the reflection of someone’s achievement, not necessarily your own.

Closer to home, another change, an ending. The lady who owns the house I live in died on New Year’s Eve. She was a wealthy lady and at times, a very kind one, but as she lay dying, her only concern was the cost of the hospital car park where she had left her car the day she came in for a routine check-up and never came home. I assured her I’d take care of it but she wouldn’t let it go, she complained that the car park fees were daylight robbery, the hospital itself full of potential thieves. She worried her handbag might be stolen and with it, all her cash and credit cards. Two days away from death she softened and allowed that after all perhaps it didn’t matter, she couldn’t take her money or her possessions with her. Her mind then returned to a family picnic her mother had arranged for her eleventh birthday, the kindness of a former lover, the generosity of friends including my mother, even my kindness in being there at her grim deathbed in that ghastly hospital that smelled of disinfectant and formaldehyde (or so it seemed to me, the morgue was at the end of the hall). But the other thing she began to notice was the angelic ministry of the night nurses, the gentle decency of the tea lady and the sweetness of the Muslim woman who came each day to massage her feet – a woman who spoke little English but had, as my landlady said, the loveliest smile on earth and incredibly, to my landlady anyway, the woman wasn’t being paid to massage her feet, she did it voluntarily. Such kindness for no apparent gain amazed my landlady. Kindness has more currency than money and is only of value when given away.

Over this past year I have become even more convinced that money has no value until it is used to help others and for those of us who possess it to any degree, it offers us an opportunity for kindness when given away, with or without discernment. Money is to be shared like kindness and love and its sole purpose is to improve the  quality of life. Money hoarded is kindness withheld. And when a pair of mentally impoverished morons boast about the size of their buttons rather than utilizing their power and money to enhance and improve the lives of the people in their care I am more than ever convinced that the world is tragically dazzled by inanimate objects like weapons, bank accounts and bits of coin and paper with numbers on them. Attributing value to such things is a form of insanity. Ask yourself if they would be of any use to you on a desert island.

Ask yourself if money would feed you on Mars.