Thank you to Councillor Matt Storey to accept my invitation for a Dialogue Works Conversation. We cover topics from the changing work of being a Local Councillor through the Pandemic, how Dialogue is crucial to Community Engagement, Black Lives Matter and the awakening that has sparked in Public Consciousness. The Spiritual nature of Public Service. Matthew ends the Dialogue with a very powerful quote from Bobby Kennedy. On the coattails of what ifs and what could have been.
My DialogueWorks conversation with Mick Thompson of Middlesbrough. We cover his political roots, standing for Mayor, populism, spirituality, community cohesion and the crucial importance of Dialogue ending with Mick’s rendition of “What’s so Funny About Peace Love and Understanding”.
Oh dearest BEAUTY how beautiful you are. From where do you derive that mantel of beauty? How much more Beautiful that Beauty must surely be. What love is it that Loves you so? Formless, placeless. Transcendent.
“Solidarity with the NHS. A personal story from Musa Askari which demonstrates how important our NHS is, not just for our health, but our dignity.” Paul Daly, Socialist Think Tank
“My thanks to Socialist Think Tank for asking me to contribute to the 12 Days of Solidarity Series. I reflect on the Solidarity shown to my Family by the NHS at the passing of my late Father.” Musa Askari
Dearly departed how so many miss you. How so many yearn and grieve for you. The places you used to sit in a room seem dimmer now bereft as they are of the light of your smile. The signature sound upon the stairs as you descended each morning is no more. You have ascended never to return and the memories keep flooding back. They embrace with love but also constrict with pain and longing all at once. It is not grief that pains, we are to be life long companions grief and I who will travel far together with the rise and fall, ebb and flow, but rather the burning feeling in my heart of memories that pains. It is not that I remember you. I do not need to invoke remembrance instead remembrance invokes me. Unbidden it surrounds and wheresoever one looks it is there. I live in a state of remembrance. I did not ask for this life of remembrance. It was not something I was searching for and yet it has found and held me in its grip from the moment your hand slipped out of mine. I do not have the power to resist. You are simply “there”. Invisible, intangible, immaterial but unmistakably just “here” with me. I feel you everywhere at all moments of wakefulness. In my dreams of which you know better than I. How to speak now when the centre of the circle of one’s life is no more visible? I wander about the circumference at the outskirts of my life. Where shall we meet and face one another again? I will wait for you at the park bench where we used to take rest. I will enact our conversations silently as an act of remembrance and prayer looking for you in the eyes of the people who pass by. If you recognise me please say hello. Dearly departed how so many miss you. None more dearly than I.
(A reflection in memory of all the departed Souls in 2020 and in honour of those who remember them. A year of heartache.)
It was great to Dialogue with Paul Daly of Socialist Think Tank on Socialism and Spirituality and to talk about my late Father’s work (Professor Syed Hasan Askari, Inter Faith Dialogue Pioneer) informing my Socialist sensibilities.
If you want to know how a variation of collective hypnosis works we need look no further than asking when did the term “KEY ESSENTIAL WORKER” become so affectionate in the Public Consciousness?
There have always been Workers. There were always low paid workers. Did we not see them before? Was a Nurse, Care Worker, Refuse Collector, Postal Worker, Bus Driver, Supermarket Worker, Teaching Assistant and so many more; were they not key or essential only a matter of weeks ago? Or months ago? Or centuries ago?
These workers by the industry of their labour, sweat, tears and injury mighty empires rose up. Where are they now who once thought what they believe to be true and everlasting over the centuries?
We too were sold a dream to become “self” made, a spiritual term diverted. Yet no one asked what is the Self? Who are we? What are we? A collection of identities prone to dangerous levels of exclusivism one sidedness or oppression? Or something more, much more beautiful.
Why such a massive outpouring of love now and rightly respect and gratitude but not so universal before for key essential workers? Why? We can hide from our collective hypocrisy, but sooner or later it will find us. It will trace us down and I hope it will be kind to us and come masked as our “Conscience”.
One’s self hypocrisy is a terrible force unmasked. Unbearable. Even our own hypocrisy will be kind to us I pray. I hope it remembers its root is not to humiliate us in our minds. To belittle us in front of the audience of our own self consciousness. No. This Conscience I hope comes to Awaken us and surely Awakening is the antidote to hypnosis.
Let us awaken to many things in the new normal to come. One of them being gratitude to Key Essential Workers not just as a kind word but a just settlement, treatment and conditions.
There have always been essential workers. I simply refer to them as the WORKINGCLASS who take the pulse of collective life. Are they not the closest to every day life? Yours and my neighbour.
A knock at the door. Who is it? Conscience. Who’s Conscience? Your Self comes the reply saying come outside:
Do I not have the companionship of my eyes to bring the distant near? As like the shroud of a starlit night to draw down and embrace me.
Do I not have the fellowship of my ears to bring soft soothing melodies closer? As like the journey of a hidden stream in the hills whose meandering mirrors the lines upon my palms in which the water falls and sustains me
Do I not have the comradeship of my hands to offer peaceful greetings to the World and every Being thereupon? Do not forget about one’s Self remembrance. Memory above memory.
Do I not have my next of kin that is my speech coupled with my awakened free will, to give Form to intuition and imagination? As like the sunrise over the ocean horizon gives form to a sense of awe within me.
Do I not have the soothing touch of my tears to comfort, console and plead on my behalf? To wash away the pains suffered in the struggle and of love lost but never forgotten.
And if should there be none of these faculties and friendships or their powers diminished there will always be the inner Self.
When we have systematically poured in to the human psyche bitterness, division, hatred, identity superiority, domination & competition. And further entrenched those ideas in to our exploitation of the Planet. By what arrogance did we think the human biological system & Nature itself would simply be a bystander & not react? The same arrogance perhaps that conceived, created & used the nuclear weapon. Ask Nature if it is deterred by nuclear weapons. What use such weapons & untold sums of money expended in the face of current challenges? Could that not have been put to better use to deter poverty, hunger & disease?
If one is a racist, one is not “One”. Rather, fragmented. If one is a bigot, one is not “One.” Rather, splintered, incomplete. And so on with the discriminations that persist betraying an inner incompleteness that is desperate for a wholeness it can never become.
If one thinks the intelligible, intangible, non-material is subordinate to the tangible, sensible and material. Or that the Higher is directed by its lower in status of Being. Then one is not “thinking” at all.
It is like saying half-being begets fullness of Being. Can a shadow cast on the ground become conscious of itself and then have the audacity to claim that it gives “form” to the Form that created it? No.
There is no scared law, no secret philosophy from antiquity, that dictates Human Beings of The World should remain perpetually innerly divided.
Because the dogma of exclusive materialism overwhelmingly dominates our World there is no room for a non-material idea to help Humanity re-think and ultimately transcend the divisions caused by the mantra that there is only “matter.” That everything is determined by “matter”. Therefore, to some it is no great leap (let us be clear a perverse leap) if the idea of biological hereditary exclusivity and superiority parades shamelessly in front us. It is even given a seat at the Great Table of Ideas as though it had equal validity with all else.
With each day we continue to lose touch with our Soul, our non-material, intangible, immaterial companion. Soon the Discourse on Soul, even its faint contour, will recede from our collective consciousness and there then will be what? I dread to think. Before we ask of God we must ask of ourselves, who are we, what are we and then climb from lower to Higher. From Body to Soul and Higher. As my late father wrote in his book Alone to Alone, First Soul, Then God.