Victor Zammit’s Weekly Afterlife Reports can be accessed via his website: http://www.victorzammit.com/
ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS, RATIONALISTS, HUMANISTSÂ AND THE AFTERLIFE
Victor Zammit’s Weekly Afterlife Reports can be accessed via his website: http://www.victorzammit.com/
ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS, RATIONALISTS, HUMANISTSÂ AND THE AFTERLIFE
London mayor, Boris Johnson,Â at a Â ‘Boris Bikes’ hiring station
‘Boris Bikes’ is the unofficial name for London’s bicycle hiring scheme, sponsored by Barclays Bank and initiated by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The scheme has recently been extended from Central London to some inner London boroughs like Wandsworth.
This has caused much controversy because bicycle hiring stations are being erected without proper consultation with residents, so valuable parking spaces for cars has been lost.
My main concern with the scheme, which I think is an excellent idea, is the danger posed to cyclists in London due to other traffic. Even where there are cycle lanes most of these are not physically separated from other traffic. However I am greatly in favor of bicycles, buses and trams being given priority over private cars in big cities like London.
Not only are our roads congested with moving traffic (sometimes moving at a crawl), but many side roads have cars parked in them all day for most of the week. This is no doubt because owning a motor vehicle in big cities like London often means people are very limited as to when they can actually use them. I gave up a small second-hand van years ago as it was parked in the road most of the week, and I still had to buy a season ticket for public transport to get to and from work because of parking restrictions.
Now we also have the Congestion Charge (recently contracted to a smaller area due to opposition from local motorists) as well as parking restrictions, and on our estate there are now two parking schemes. One is free to residents and their visitors if they can find a free residents’ parking bay, otherwise they have to pay to park in the road. Consequently other roads with currently no parking scheme are clogged with parked vehicles all day, and this is also true of many other parts of London.
Having a motor vehicle in big cities like London, let alone more than one motor vehicle, is becoming more and more of a problem for the owners and Londoners generally. Increasingly it is becoming more difficult to use them due to the Congestion Charge, parking restrictions, etc. Even if you use them to take a trip to the countryside or coast, because London has no urban motorway network it can take an hour or more just to get outside the metropolis. It is much quicker to go by train.
We sometimes went on coach trips from Battersea to the coast, and even using the few dual carriageways and the M25 orbital motorway it took over an hour to reach the Croydon area, which couldÂ be reached in 10 minutes by train!
There was rumor of a proposal by the European Union to ban all private car ownership in inner cities (apart from vehicles owned by the disabled, doctors, etc.) Even if we don’t go this far, it may be necessary to widen the Congestion Charge area again, raise the charges, increase parking charges and restrictions and impose a higher road tax on vehicles owned by motorists living in the inner cities.
Due to the impracticality of using motor vehicles to travel to work in many cases in the big cities (due to lack of parking space, Congestion Charge, etc.) many drivers leave their vehicles parked all day, only able to use them in the evening and weekends for occasional shopping and other trips. Of course there is the ‘school run’ by parents who own cars, now it is often considered unsafe to let children walk or take public transport to school like we used to.
I can’t help feeling that owning one or more cars is often more of a status symbol than anything in big cities, where their usefulness is limited. I have not missed the motor vehicle I gave up years ago because of our excellent public transport system which runs 24 hours a day.
Apart from the factors mentioned above, motor vehicle use has to be reduced to combat global warming and climate change. Bicycles keep you fit (if the roads are safer) and do not emit polluting fumes. Therefore I am all in favor of the Boris Bikes scheme being extended to complement public transport, and car use in inner London being discouraged. However our roads need to be made safer, more segregated cycle lanes in London, and it is true that residents should be properly consulted before bicycle hiring stations are established, though there will always be a conflict between motorists wanting more parking space and other residents.
So I give a big thumbs up to Boris Johnson’s cycle hire scheme and extending it to other parts of London, but I can also see a need to restrict private car use in at least the inner city.
When you hear about wars and murders, gang warfare, atrocities, the threat of nuclear annihilation which still hangs over us all, it can be pretty depressing. As can the unfair distribution of wealth throughout the world, with millions dying of starvation whilst most of the world’s wealth is in the hands of the few.
It seems there is no spiritual progress for humanity, until you look back into history and see how much worse things were then. Read The Bible or some other ancient text, and you’ll see what cruelties were enacted upon completely innocent people, sometimes, if what we read there is true, sanctioned by people like Moses. Instructing the Israelites to rape and kill innocent people, including children. There’s the crucifixion of Christ and others, a common form of torture and execution at one time.
We come to the the Middle Ages and the Inquisition, with more terrible tortures, people burned alive, or hung, drawn and quartered. Stoning to death was also sanctioned in The Bible, in The Koran, etc. It still goes on today in some Islamic countries.
Very, very gradually we have become more civilized, though horrors and atrocities still occur. While we and other countries threaten millions with nuclear weapons we cannot claim to be really civilized. When we bomb innocent civilians, and teach young men to kill each other just because they are born in different countries, we can’t claim to be really civilized either.
On the other hand, outside of war situations and hoping the nuclear weapons will never be used again and will eventually be abolished, we have made slow progress. Whilst various forms of torture are still practised behind closed doors it is no longer acceptable for any nation to admit it happens, and things like burning witches alive, etc. cannot be decreed by courts of law. Indeed capital punishment has been abolished in many countries and in many states of the U.S.. Even in those states which still keep it, at least the gas chamber and electric chair are slowly being retired in favor of the lethal injection. Progress in human rights and a better world is painfully slow. It is more advanced in some countries and cultures than in others.
Lenin once wrote about progress being ‘Two steps forward, one step back’, and that certainly describes his revolution. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels showed how the world’s workers were exploited in the era of capitalism, which followed on from feudalism, and pointed the way forward to a better world under Socialism and ultimately the utopia of Communism. What happened in the Soviet Union and the other Socialist countries showed the limitations of the revolutionary method and the so-called ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, which turned into a dictatorship of a new privileged bureaucratic class. I’ve written about why this occurred in previous blogs, but the point I want to make here is that in the 20th Century there was a real attempt to build a utopian society, and while this was never achieved, the basis of a fairer society was established. All the Socialist countries had good public services, subsidized essentials, good public transport systems, good education, good health services, full employment, security in old age, but the privileged elite which had infiltrated the organs of power lived in luxury compared to the ordinary citizens. Unfortunately in the years 1989-1991 all the good things this imperfectÂ Socialism had achieved were swept away, and many of the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who had exploited the people were kept on. More like one step forward, two steps back in that case!
Nevertheless some of Marx’s and Engels’ principles have been followed elsewhere. Here in Britain, immediately after WWII, we had a wave of Socialist measures including the setting up of the Welfare State including the National Health Service, following Marx’s formula for Communist society: ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’, since these things were paid for by taxation in some form or other, but were free to those who needed them most. Unfortunately the post-War Labour government’s achievements have also been slowly whittled away by subsequent administrations, but here and in many other countries free medical and hospital services are still available.
Of course there was the terrible 20th Century slaughter of two world wars in which millions of innocent civilians and conscripted soldiers died, and the Nazi Holocaust.Â It is said that this world is where we learn lessons, and that is why progress is so slow because we have to learn the hard way not to repeat these terrible things.
I am, and always have been, an optimist. I always hope for a better world, and believe a new generation will find a way to gradually bring it about. I also believe the mistakes of the past are valuable lessons for the future, so any 21st Century Socialism must avoid, for instance, the one-Party state or one-Party dominated coalition if a corrupt new bureaucatic ruling class is not to emerge again and limit progress towards the Communist ideal, if indeed that can ever be achieved. I have very strong doubts about that, since it involves the withering away of the State itself so places enormous responsibilities on individual citizens to act collectively in a self-governing society without money, police, armed forces, etc. I would be satisfied if world wide Socialism was established with no privileged ruling elite, but even that seems a very long way off, though now Latin America seems to be leading the way.
However building a better, fairer world based purely on materialism, or dialectical materialism, will never work. My friend Victor Zammit has written about dialectical spiritualism. We must all become aware that we survive death, and that there is a law of cause and effect, also known as karma. What we sow surely we will reap, nobody gets away with anything. Once humanity becomes convinced by the overwhelming evidence of the true nature of the afterlife, now all over the Internet but suppressed by much of the media, by orthodox science and orthodox organized religion, then much more rapid progress willÂ be made to a fairer society.
Medical advances mean resuscitation of people who once would have died has greatly increased the prevalence of NDEs (Near Death Experiences), and these prove there is an afterlife, that our minds are separate from our physical bodies, and the trauma of the Life Review shows that we are all connected, and that our actions and their consequences will be felt by us, whether good or bad. There truly is no Heaven and no Hell, these are gross simplications of organized religion. There are endless spheres, dimensions or planes and we gravitate after this life to be with people much like ourselves, so you can imagine where people like Hitler and other cold-blooded murderers ended up! Not in very pleasant places, but there is the possibility of progress and spiritual development for all when they tire of being treated as badly as they treat others.
Meanwhile, I also firmly believe based on overwhelming evidence, an Inter-Galactic civilization closely observes us, as they have done for centuries but with increasing interest since the development of nuclear weapons, to await the time we have put our wars and national rivalries behind us, and are ready to join the civilized Inter-Galactic community. UFOs are real, and it may be thanks to them and Spirit forces also watching over us that we haven’t destroyed the world already.
I’ll give just two practical instances:
UFOs over the USA on at least one occasion neutralized ICBMs (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles) armed with nuclear warheads in their silos.
On a Soviet nuclear submarine during the 1962 Cuba crisis, one officer refused to agree to push the nuclear button which would almost certainly have started a nuclear World War III. Three officers had to agree, and the other two were ready to push the button. Spirit acted on this third officer to save the Earth.
How many other times have Spirit and/or extra-terrestials acted to save our planet? Now it is time we got our act together and started to save it ourselves, and built a better, fairer, more humane and environmentally friendly society. A less materialist one where not everyone has to own even one car polluting the atmosphere and clogging up the roads, but a society which puts the community and the environment first. You can call it what you like – a Socialist society, a Green one, or simply a society based on spiritual and humanist values instead of purely materialist ones based on greed.
Â Dreamland tower in background, but amusement park and all facilities gone.
Having just had a day trip to Margate, where I spent many happy holidays in the 1950s and 1960s, it was fairly obvious to me why this and some other seaside resorts have seen better days.
The usual excuse is that people now go abroad where the weather is more certain. However surely that is all the more reason to provide entertainment for when the British weather isn’t so good.
The group I went to Margate with came home an hour early, spending only three hours in the resort because, to quote the team leader, ‘there’s nothing to do here’. It was true, unless you wanted to sit in cafes sipping endless teas and coffees. The weather was dry but overcast, so not beach weather (anyway the tide was out so a long way to walk even for a paddle.)
In the old days there was plenty to do when the weather wasn’t so good. Dreamland amusement park, for instance – now just a derelict site. A cinema on the promenade, now closed. Many shops have now closed in the High Street and on the front. The promenade was always very lively with many prize bingo places where my grandmother won loads of useful presents. These have disappeared from nearly all seaside resorts because the prizes got so awful. Instead of a dinner service for one win you got a tin of baked beans, and needed about 20 wins to get anything worth having.
The Sun Deck, a unique Margate feature, like a small pier on the beach, has long gone with its cafes, ice cream vendors, etc. The salt-water swimming pool was dry and is now used for boating, but it was essential for swimmers in Margate when the tide is out, and even when it’s in you have to wade out a long long way before it’s deep enough to swim. In the 1950s/1960s everyone used the salt-water swimming pool, Otto putting up wooden signs indicating the depth when the tide went out.
The pier is long gone, its entrance replaced by a glass monstrosity which ruins the whole outlook fron the jetty up the hill towards Cliftonville.
Margate is not the only resort to suffer like this, but an additional disadvantage is that the so-called off-peak cheap day return costs a massive Â£32 even if bought in advance, so Â£64 for a couple to spend a day there. By contast a period return to Lowestoft this coming weekend cost me just Â£20 and a period return to Portsmouth Harbour in August cost just Â£11.25, both about the same distance as Margate or even further.
Southend-on-Sea also suffers from the loss of the Kursaal amusement park, but it does have another little fun fair and its famous pier.
Brighton remains lively despite the loss of one pier. The other pier is free to go on, and has lots of attractions and cafes. Hastings pier is currently closed, but it also has a little amusement park, the attractive old town, shops, a cinema, shopping mall and the beautiful scenic views from Castle Hill and West Hill (from where you can walk over the Downs to Fairlight Glen and beyond). Lifts going up to both these hills.
Of course the most successful British seaside resort must be Blackpool which retains its trams, its Tower with its famous ballroom and other attractions, the Winter Gardens complex and the Pleasure Beach, an enormous amusement park. Plus the illuminations in season.
Margate’s illuminations have long gone, as has the Punch and Judy on the beach. And I didn’t notice the kiddies’ roundabouts on the beach either. Brighton has many attractions on the beach and lower promenade for both adults and children.
Dreamland was a huge loss for Margate, with its many rides, stalls, the Magic Garden and its once famous firework display every Thursday in the Summer. Plus cafes and beer halls – all gone forever it seems.
If seaside resorts want to start attracting visitors they have to provide entertainment when the weather isn’t so good. Not just machines in which to lose your money, but fun ones like the old laughing sailor at Margate, and the much newer automatic bowling lanes which many seaside resorts and piers have.
Margate has great potential, such as its great sandy beaches and shallow water for children toÂ bathe Â inÂ safely, but it needs to get its act together. The rail company must be confronted for a start to slash its ridiculously high fares and bring them into line with other resorts. Dreamland should be rebuilt, and the cinema and ballroom reopened near the entrance. Would be nice if at least the Sun Deck could be rebuilt, and the salt-water swimming pool restored.
Most of the buildings I remembered as a child were still intact, including the old boarding house overlooking the beach where we used to stay (now a private residence). They need to be used to provide more entertainment than just endless cups of coffee and tea, without perhaps going so far as ‘kiss me quick’ hats and endless Gipsy Rose Lees to tell you your fortune.
The Winter Gardens looked pretty run down too, but used to be a hive of activity even in the daytime. Bands playing, puppet shows, but nowÂ it just seems deserted in the day like much of the resort.
So my next seaside trip will be to somewhere much cheaper to get to and with more things to do and see when you get there, even in the bad weather.