Immigration – 1

Mainly aimed at North Americans but the principles apply to other nations.

Immigration – an issue very much in the news for which many people including politicians, the media, church people and others get ‘hot under the collar’.

Most people forget that virtually all Americans are immigrants of one sort or another. There are those who came ‘voluntarily’, seeking a better life. Others because of persecution of one form or another. And then there were those forced to come, whether they wanted to or not.

But, everybody forgets that there were people already living in what is known today as North America – the Native Americans.

Some Facts:

Total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone population: 2.9 million or about 0.9 percent of the US population – it used to be over 20 million (most killed by diseases brought over by Europeans)

Native people die at higher rates than other Americans from

– tuberculosis: 600% higher? alcoholism: 510% higher? diabetes: 189% higher

– vehicle crashes: 229% higher? injuries: 152% higher? suicide: 62% higher

– Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide among all ethnic groups in the US and is the second-leading cause of death for Native youth aged 15-24

– The rate of aggravated assault among American Indians and Alaska Natives is roughly twice that of the country as a whole (600.2 per 100,000 versus 323.6 per 100,000)

– 1 out of 10 American Indians (12 and older) become victims of violent crime annually.

http://www.ncai.org/about-tribes/demographics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_Americans_in_the_United_States

Most of the problems the Native Americans have experienced over the past three centuries have been due to settlers not recognising their nomadic lifestyle and the almost genocidal treatment brought about through conquest, bringing European illnesses, destruction of their animals and massacres of whole tribes.

Many Native Americans have successfully integrated into American society and there has been a re-assurgency in the use of indigenous languages and the teaching of their history and culture. But, there is still much discrimination by the States and others as well as their identities being assimilated in ‘Americanism’. The media has not shown any interest in their plight, nor has the much of the Church.

An example of this is that none of the tribes own their land and therefore, it can be exploited for oil and gas exploration – see the following article: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-tribes-insight-idUSKBN13U1B1

The Church itself has a mixed history of its treatment of Native Americans, but today, the many Christians among them are developing culturally appropriate forms of worship and taking leadership of their congregations. (see http://chief.org/ )

What are we going to do about it?

Maybe the Church could lead the way through repentance for the way it has treated Native Americans, asking them for their forgiveness. It could also make sure they are involved as equal partners in national collaborations like Mission America and the National Association of Evangelicals as well as local outreaches and social programs.

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Censorship – 1

Censorship is a difficult issue.  On the one hand, we want to encourage creativity and we supposedly believe in freedom of speech and belief, but how far do we go when it comes to especially films?  Do we allow anything or should we set standards, if so whose standards? Take the issue of sex for example.  Most films seems to have at least one scene of a sexual nature.  My question is, do we really need it as part of the plot and what does it say about relationships – is sex the main deal?  Then there is violence – do we need to watch it in detail; are there other ways in dealing with situations where violence is the norm?  Where do you draw the line between it being what actual happened (if based on a true story) and just having it for dramatic effect?   And when it comes to swearing, I just wonder about the language skills of the screenwriter when it just demonstrates laziness as far as I am concerned, especially when there are thousands of good descriptive words to use instead.

The excuse for using sex, violence and swearing because that is society wears thin.  Films are there to challenge or entertain not simply follow the so-called ‘crowd’.  If films did not have swearing, over time, people would see it is not necessary.  If sex was not prevalent, relationships would be seen as where people care for each other and share one another’s interests as well learning to communicate with each other through active listening.  And with violence being not so common, people will not except that it is normal and there are other ways of dealing with issues.

This is where film censors can play a crucial part.  But, because they are human and have a variety of views, we maybe need to develop a software that can view films in a consistent way and categorise accordingly.  This is necessary when you look at what some 15 films show – some you wonder why they are not 12 or 18.

So, here is a tentative criteria for a piece of software:

Each criteria is given a scale based on 1 to 5, with 1 being low and 5 high, based on the number of times there is an occurrence.

Sex scenes

Nudity

Homosexual scenes

Swearing

Violence – physical

Violence – verbal

Adulterous relationships

Criminal activity

Drug use

Drunkeness

Horror

Satanic activity

etc

Obviously, work needs to be done on each of the criteria so it can clear and specific, otherwise the software will not work.  Then, the censors will need to decide what scores will determine what age groups can see a particular film.  The criteria scores under each category would need to be published so members of the public are fully aware of the film’s content.

Any comments on how to develop such a system would be most welcome.

I would also make a plea for screenwriters to write in more positive aspects of certain characters like pastors, include more actors who are Hispanic and Native Indian (American films) and create women characters who are not always so emotional and men who are more emotional!

 

 

Housing – 1

It has been calculated that we need over 200, new homes a year to solve the UK housing crisis.  Whether that is true or not is not the point.  Many people who need a home cannot afford one and end up living in poorly cared for rented accommodation.  Poor housing has adverse affects on one’s health.  Even if one can afford a home, it is often only because it is located miles away from one’s work.  And mortgages, even though comparatively cheap at the moment, are still out of reach of many people or have been given at several times one’s income, which in time when the interest rates go up will cause many defaults on payments.  Then there are the builders who are only interested in creating large estates to make maximum profits, usually on greenfield sites, which has a knock-on effect with regards to the environment.  So, we need a new approach.  Here are a few suggestions:

– the national government needs to create regional housebuilding social enterprises which will only build social housing on small sites around cities and in rural communities.  That way, local services will not be overwhelmed and more ‘brownfield’ sites can be used.  Proper funding should be provided by the Government, with income from sales providing annual finance for further new homes.

– all building employees to be quality checked; planning to be done so that there is no wastage of materials; environmental controls are followed like using locally-sourced products, waste re-used (if practical), etc; each house to come with an EPC of A+ and a full guarantee with regard to bad workmanship and repairs for five years.

– the design of each house should be done in such a way that they have ‘character’ and fit into the local area.  Each house to have a minimum of two bedrooms, a shower room/toilet, a kitchen/diner and living room with proper storage in each room.   At least an off-road driveway for one car. Security features should include secure doors (with a front door one way peep hole) and windows, appropriate external lighting and alarm systems.  (CCTV may be necessary in some cases.)

– all new houses must be built so that they are virtually emissions-free, with thicker walls (well insulated), solar panels, water-harvesting facilities, loft insulation above standard, glazing which keeps out the cold and keeps in the heat, under floor insulation and energy-saving devices like radiators which can keep rooms at a constant temperature throughout the day.  Also, all rooms to be built to a standard size which is a lot larger than current new homes.

– social housing to be sold only to first-time buyers on the condition they do not move for at least five years, unless they have more than one child, and then they are not sold for a profit so  that they can be offered to other first-time buyers.

– all new housing have access to their own gardens and the streets are wide with proper paving designed for disabled people and families with pushchairs, etc.  Access to fast broadband is essential.

– as part of new housing developments, an integrated transport system is incorporated into the plans, so as to make sure car use is kept to a minimum.

I am sure there are a few other ‘standards’ that should be met so that the new housing does not fall into a dilapidated state within ten years.

If we do not have standards such as above, there will be problems in later years.