Monday, 21 December 2009

John Lennon: its Christmas, and what have you done?

For nearly 40 years  a very long time John Lennon has meant something really important to me.  First as a teenage rebel, and then as a pretty serious social and political critic.   Nowhere Boy is my one essential Christmas season film-going this year.

His main message - speak your own truth and hold them accountable - is still right bang on the nail.

And here we are at end of the noughties:  Christmas 2009.  Lennon would have had a LOT to say about everything that has been going down.  One of his catchy lyrics comes to mind:

"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?"

Indeed Ms. Sarah Louise, what have you done, in 2009, to make a difference?

Including, given the sub-text of Lennon's Christmas Song, what have you done about the knotty problem of war?

With failing heart I set to work to list what I have done, and I find I've done better than I thought.  I set the list out below for those who care to read further.

Meanwhile, let's just say that its all messy, and we all have to do our bit.  The main thing is to stay clear, pay close attention, and hold our so-called leaders accountable.  And I still love John Lennon. to say the least.  Here's how he put it:

Still true, still fabulous and still important!

And from the genuinely influential to my little part - 

First of all, what's still to do, for next year.
  1. Join an organisation that is working actively to charge Tony Blair as a war criminal.
  2. Join some effective mechanism on energy reduction, or a composite of organisations.  This is such an important issue, and we are being held hostage mainly by the US congress of capitalists and their chinese equivalent.  Some very drastic kind of Greenpeace-type action is needed.  Copenhagen was such a farce:  how can we get these wankers to take it seriously?.
  3. Grow my own veggies
  4. Cut down on my airmiles
  5. Get my finances sorted, by which I mean properly planned, organised and recorded (this is the main one.  If I get this done I'll be way pleased.  Why am I so finance phobic? see I'm Looking for a Financial Adviser).
  6. Keep learning more on web 2.0, and come to grips with html
  7. Keep working on my fitness.
Here is my list of eight good things in 2009.
  1. Family:  I provided part of a framework for my daughter to climb out of the mapless pit of trauma, depression and chaos into which she had fallen.  Using this framework, a huge amount of effort and a strong network of friends that she has built up, she has turned her life around.  I am very proud of her and all she has done, and the threshold of a new life that she has carved out for herself, and I am proud of myself for my small part in this.  For me, this is the single most important thing that I have done this year
  2. Family:  I was able to spend several weeks with my father while he was dying over the summer, an incredible privilege which we both loved, and also to share information and pictures with our somewhat fractured family, which helped us all get through this difficult time together. 
  3. Work:  I have participated in facilitating a really innovative and effective leadership training programme for United Nations senior staff, which will continue next year.
  4. Work: I have been able to help the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) clarify their strategic priorities on women's and girls' rights, and in the case of UNDP work quite a lot on ways to prevent and provide recourse for violence against women.  
  5. War: As a great deal of UNDP's work on violence against women takes place in war-torn and post-conflict situations, in a sense I have made a small contribution to mitigating the effects of war. This also will continue next year.
  6. War: I participated in several demonstrations against the Israeli invasion of Gaza earlier in the year, and threw a shoe at the Embassy here in London, specially carried thence for the purpose.  I tweeted madly about the war criminal status of Tzipi Livni, and the distinction of Palestinian and Israeli origin for consumer items.  A very important step in my view, and I will certainly be boycotting Israeli goods.
  7. Carbon Footprint:  I have worked quite hard on my carbon footprint this year.  First off I have become a vegetarian, pretty much.  I never buy meat for myself now.  This is because of the extreme carbon costs of producing meat relative to veggies, and also, for me,  the difficulty of knowing whether it has been reared and killed humanely.   That's about 25% off by carbon footprint right there.  Secondly I have stopped using my dryer and hair dryer, and have changed all my light-bulbs and turn them off more diligently.  Small beer, but still, that's what I have done.  I have joined the 10/10 campaign (10 % reduction in energy use by 2010).  Third, I have cut back on my car use considerably.  I did an audit on my average mileage for the autumn.  It was 68 miles a week!  Don't laugh, I travel a lot (air miles, oh dear), and I live alone, and I was sick for part of the time.  So, I will do another audit in 2010, what ever, and I will make sure to reduce it by at least 10% less next year, and, much, much more importantly, cut down on my air miles.
  8. Personal:  I changed my life with Web 2.0.  Still enjoying tweeting and blogging

So all in all, not bad Sarah Louise.  Room for improvement, but on the right track.  Keep up the struggle my dear.

And the hardest thing I had to do?  Find a new new home for my cats.  And I succeeded in that too,  painful as it was.

Oh, and another thing for 2010 - don't turn into one of those people who brings their cats into every damn conversation.

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