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Sunday, February 21, 2016

FORGIVENESS... for murder? The futility of hatred...

Interesting article by Richard Branson I just saw online about forgiveness that I thought is worth reading. Not directly connected to knife crime perhaps. I think maybe victims and their families need to see justice and then forgiveness could run in parallel.

Branson makes good points while referencing Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu and the bitter battle between British Airways and Virgin ...
In my career I have often been asked if I hate certain people. I have had many differences of opinion with people, and I have had a great number of battles with rival companies, but I can happily say I have never been driven to hate. It is the most unhelpful and unproductive of emotions, and says far more about the hater than the hated.
My friend Frank Giustra wrote eloquently about the futility of fear and hatred, and how much time is spent on emotions that are the first to disappear when we are faced with death. “To those that spend life fearing and hating others, why waste your life?”
As a child, if I ever said anything bad about somebody else, my parents would make me stand in front of the mirror for a long time. Their point, well made, was that my cruel words reflected badly on me. To this day, I always try to see the best of people, and will always try to make amends if I have a disagreement with somebody.
Perhaps the best example is in the aftermath of the Dirty Tricks campaign by British Airways. I fought tooth and nail to protect my company, Virgin Atlantic, but I was more than happy to invite BA’s Chief Executive Sir Colin Marshall round to my house for lunch. We cleared the air and he left with us on friendly terms. 
As Frank said: “Hate consumes us and more often than not, it is a useless and misplaced emotion. We work ourselves up into a frenzy over misunderstandings, presumptions and fear, that in most cases we eventually get over or wonder why we ever felt in the first place.” 
One of the most important lessons I was fortunate enough to learn from Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu is the power of forgiveness. Everyone deserves freedom to move forward. Arch calls forgiveness “the miracle medicine”, and it is a great way to move towards peace.
Branson and Archbishop Tutu
If you find yourself experiencing feelings of hatred boiling up, think about how much time you will waste creating more anger. Then think about how you could spend that time differently. I guarantee you’ll feel a little better, and the world will be a little happier. 
I would suggest that everyone reading this ring up someone that they have fallen out with in their lives and invite them out for lunch or dinner. It could be an ex-partner, an old friend turned enemy, or a family member. Remember, there's always two sides to every story and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Branson is missing a point about justice - but his experience makes you think perhaps.

And on Internationl Day of Peace last September, Branson said:
I am joining many others to promote the message that true peace is reached through forgiveness. Forgiving and being forgiven have been recurring themes in my life, and have shaped the person I am today.
The Virgin story could have been very different if I hadn’t chosen to forgive one of my very first business partners, Nik. One day I found a note outlining Nik plans to oust me as Student magazine’s publisher and editor. I felt incredibly betrayed and asked him to leave.
From Student came the idea for Virgin Mail Records. As the operation took off, I could not handle the business’s financials on my own. I called up Nik and offered him a second chance. Forgiving him was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I retained a great friend, became happier at work and in life, and gained the confidence to grow Virgin. Forgiveness brought us both peace and success. We’re still good friends today.
Since those early days, forgiveness has become something of a cultural policy within Virgin. Instead of letting staff go for misbehaving, we have often given them second chances; and as a result have reaped great rewards. It’s amazing how much people lift their game when you put trust and hope in them.
In my opinion, no matter the situation, how badly things have gone wrong, or how much you have been hurt, forgiveness is the best answer. We have been reminded of this time and time again by individuals who make my stories seem trivial. 
I was privileged to recently meet Kim Phuc, who was severely injured as a girl by napalm bombs dropped by US military planes during the Vietnam War. Kim lost family members in the attack, and had to have 17 operations to try to repair the damage it caused. Yet, in 1996, when Kim met the pilot who coordinated the attack, she forgave him. By giving the pilot forgiveness Kim was able to move on with her life and travel the world to promote peace.
17-year-old Malala Yousafzai has become the voice of a generation and an inspiration to all people of all ages, including yours truly. Malala was shot in the head three years ago for speaking out about her right to be educated.
Despite the pain and the trauma she experienced, Malala publically forgave the young solider that shot her. Speaking at the UN she said: “Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him…. This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.” Malala’s act of forgiveness freed her to continue to drive her vision of education for all.
And who can overlook Nelson Mandela’s powerful tale of forgiveness. Madiba was jailed for 27 long years of his life. But when he was released he forgave the people who imprisoned him. This forgiveness enabled him to become one the greatest leaders our world has ever seen.
He also brought together The Elders, an extraordinary group working for peace in the world – take a look at what they are doing to forgive for peace too, including Desmond Tutu’s wonderful Forgiveness Challenge.  
Everyone deserves freedom to move forward. Forgiveness is the fastest route to peace. The more inner peace the world’s people have, the more world peace we will all experience.
Love and peace should be our highest aspirations. If you are seeking peace, try to forgive the person who you feel is causing you anguish. And if you feel you’re too proud to forgive, remember these wise words from Gandhi: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” 
I forgave, and have been forgiven, will you?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

JOINT Enterprise: No voice or justice for victims?

ONE has to seriously question and rigorously examine the apparent change to the legal concept of joint enterprise which was announced this week by senior legal types. They've admitted establishing and applying the Law wrongly for 30 years... three decades. It beggars belief.

Without doubt, the voice of victims, their families and friends has not been heard so far. Observing the media this weekend though, you can see and hear them starting to speak out, having to summon strength and composure to face whatever the Law (supposed to help them) has decided to do to them at the start of 2016.

When most workers get something wrong for a few weeks, they can be fired. Can the legal profession avoid responsibility getting something wrong for 30 years? How can these legal types be held accountable for such a huge mistake? They could help fund anti-violence education across the country, i reckon, for such a disastrous mess up... at the very least, as a start.

Faced with a mistake of such massive magnitude, do we hear profusive apologies to victims' family and friends - and not forgetting the Taxpayer - who have been put through tortuous court proceedings over 30 years? **Tumbleweed** ... no, not a peep.

Which one of these allegedly intelligent (out of touch, mainly old, well-heeled?) legal types will put their hands up and admit they've messed up? **Tumbleweed** ... deafened by the silence.

I was just reading Brooke Kinsella's message on Facebook about the news that could sum up the type of emotional impact bound to be felt by families and friends of the murdered who thought justice had been achieved:
"Am trying not to panic about yesterday's decision - yes it's wrong if a law has been 'used wrongly' for 30 years but it's also wrong that my family and so many more like ours may be right back to square one with nobody even bothering to explain what this means for us and our Justice. And Ben's Justice. My heart goes out to all who are as confused and scared as us right now and hoping we will get the answers we need... "
And Ben Kinsella's father, George, can be heard speaking on the issue here on BBC Radio London's Vanssa Feltz radio show. His interview comes just after 2 hours in (2:05:30).

Other reactions

Campaigner and activist at Advocate for Criminal Justice, Moya Griffiths, lost her son Jourdan in a joint attack. She said: "Could I please ask all those who have received a conviction through Joint Enterprise to contact the MOJ (Ministry of Justice) this afternoon....asking why this ruling, which CANNOT be challenged, has been passed so surreptiously and without any consultation or involvement from Victims families!"

Janet Wilson, mother of one of the teenage boys convicted of murdering Garry Newlove, was reported in the Guardian saying that she hopes the supreme court ruling against the joint enterprise law will bolster the case for her son’s conviction to be thrown out.

Jordan Cunliffe was 15 when he was convicted of the 2007 murder of Newlove, which on Thursday the supreme court ruled had been misinterpreted since 1984.
She said: “You think the person who has done it has been caught and they’re going to be punished and that’s the last of it and you grieve and get on with your life. To have people like me and campaigners popping up all the time; it must be like rubbing salt in the wounds.

“But it was the law that took the wrong turn and the law has put that right now. It’s not our fault. We shouldn’t have to feel guilty but we certainly do feel concerned for the victims because it’s all been unnecessary.”

Stop Press: Please join with me trying to help give young people in London better choices by helping fund education run by The Ben Kinsella Trust - donate to the Three Peaks challenge this summer in Ben's memory (Ben was stabbed to death in 2008). You also have time to take part in the challenge, raise money yourselves, by contacting the trust.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

ANY Government comment on current 27% increase in violent crime? No!

STRANGE, isn't it, that Government politicians are apparently still not making any comment on recent figures showing a 27% increase in violent crime...?

And established news media are also staying somewhat silent, imho - not calling to account those elected officials who should be publicly demonstrating how they are making the public safe.

Maybe the British Government can do nothing at present when the Prime Minister David Cameron and 'his staff' are working on EU deals overseas... or to make any statements about rising crime are likely, perhaps, to be downright terrifying to the general population?

For the record, in my recent post indicating national statistics showed violent crime had risen 27%, I flagged claims that gangs were the main reason for the rise in violent crime as possibly inaccurate.

So I checked.

I found the Mayor of London's office states gangs accounted for about 20% of reported violent crime (source: So 80%  of violence is committed by non-gang criminals.

  • Perhaps the Mayor's office is not wanting to admit the true scale of gang activity (or organised crime) taking over the capital.
  • Perhaps there are fears about such high levels of violent crime being, of course, bad for tourism and business footfall across the city, even the country.
  • Perhaps the police have it all in hand and the recorded crime numbers are being used to prove a case for more officers on the streets?

How can we know what to believe?

Whatever, there is a huge trend upwards in violent crime reported just now.

I noticed Labour's shadow Home Office / Police minister @JackDromeyMP has condemned the rise and highlighted police cuts - but Labour hasn't done much else.

Labour probably like watching the Tories squirm. However, people are being injured and killed so that would be complacent and negligent.

Perhaps all those in power or opposition with handsome public salaries are keeping their heads below the parapet? And then, with terrorism issues abounding too, it is likely our uniformed protectors on the front line are overstretched.

Whatever, one wonders what is going on that this serious rise in violence is currently not being addressed by any nationally-coordinated, reassuring, proactive, observable government / public action? Bizarre.

And now we have the legal changes being wrought by the UK Supreme Court to joint enterprise.

Feels like this country is sleepwalking into some kind of violence nightmare. Perhaps the death penalty will return next.

Stop Press: That said, the Met police have been hard at work stepping up stop and search, the Evening Standard has reported... Thank goodness - despite the Home Secretary Theresa May previously not sanctioning it!

** Please support my fundraising bid to provide knife crime education to young people - click here **

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

GANG violence, dead friends and mental illness

JUST watching Lucy Martindale on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme - she grew up surrounded by gangs and lost more than 10 friends and family to gang violence.

Gangs are responsible for 20% of violent crime in London, the BBC reported today.

I found Lucy's story provides huge insight into gang violence in London - and probably gang behaviour across the world. Her video report about gang violence and mental illness is currently available to view here on the BBC website.

View Lucy's report now about gang violence

Not everyone connected to gangs necessarily turn to crime, said Lucy this morning. But people who lose family and friends to murder can get ill - long-term exposure to violence is associated with a range of psychological problems including depression.

It is not surprising young people operating the law of the jungle on London's streets and those affected by their killings and violence experience mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

She said young people - mainly 'boys', 'teenage males', 'young men'... choose your label - who carry knives and guns do so because they are in fear of being attacked; they carry them for protection so "don't label them all the same" she said.

"If someone doesn't die, it's a good year," she said at one point

I go back to previous posts on this blog that people in more civilised parts of our society need to change their behaviour to provide decent role models for young people to aspire to.

For example, politicians need to behave less like animals in Parliament (arguing, sticking the knife in opponents), business must not act as though job losses are a normal part of working life etc (often mentally hurting people who are simply earning money to pay bills + put dinner on the table for their loved ones as well as themselves), world markets must be less like an anarchistic places to trade and survive. You know... behave like civilised human beings, not wild animals or cavemen.

Much must change to give young people in London gangs - and probably the rest of the country - more to aspire to than the law of the jungle that seems to be often operating in civilised society. People in civilised society need to show they can be trusted, be role models to aspire to. Only then can we reasonably expect changes in behaviour from our young people, I reckon.

Please join with me by helping give young people in London better choices by helping fund education run by The Ben Kinsella Trust - donate to the Three Peaks challenge this summer in Ben's memory (Ben was stabbed to death in 2008). You can also take part in the challenge, raise money yourselves by contacting the trust.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

HELP stop knife crime please - 'Donate to Educate' in schools

I'M STEPPING up campaigning efforts this year to try to stop people carrying and using knives for violence and criminal acts - and am asking people to help tackle knife crime by donating online at the Virgin Giving site.

Click this picture to donate - and learn more about the 'Three Peaks' challenge to remember Ben
After Ben Kinsella was tragically murdered in June 2008, his family set up The Ben Kinsella Trust. Ben was only 16 when he was stabbed to death in an unnecessary act of horrific violence that shocked the nation.

He had just finished school, received top GCSE grades and was just about to begin a life full of promise. This was cut short by the devastating and growing problem that is knife crime.

Since Ben’s death, the Trust has received a huge amount of support as well as many generous donations to use primarily in the following ways:

  • To pass on the legacy of Ben – by making sure the amazing impact he had in his life and since his death is never forgotten.
  • To promote knife-crime awareness – many people believe that knife crime is not their problem and will never affect them. Sadly we know this is not the case and we want to ensure that everyone is aware of the threat that knife related crime poses to our lives.
  • To educate children of all ages of the consequences of knife crime and the devastating effect that it has on families – by ensuring children as young as primary school age are educated about knife crime and will never consider picking up a weapon, be it through peer pressure, fear or simply believing it is cool.  We aim to send the message to kids today that carrying a knife is not acceptable, against the law and could end in devastating consequences.
  • To hopefully one day build youth centres in Ben’s name – as a tribute to him and to help protect, support and nurture kids on our streets. Sadly there are not enough recreational facilities for children in our country and we believe that when kids are kept busy and active they are less likely to become involved in gangs and anti-social behaviour. We would like to initially base our youth centre in Islington where Ben grew up and is known and loved.

Please help. London is a particularly bad place for knife and other violent crime. Money raised will go to the heart of the capital city to work on changing hearts and minds. Donate here - many thanks.

Monday, February 08, 2016

GANGS and guns in the UK... will police act?

HOW much violence will the law enforcers allow? This BBC Panorama programme - Gangs, Guns and the Police: - shows how little is apparently being done to stop violent criminals. Worse - communities aren't uniting against the violence. Worse than that - communities don't trust the police for historic reasons (as was hinted at during the Panorama programme).
  • How can communities get more organised?
  • How can the police be more trusted?
These two issues require solutions... what are they?

Feel free to comment below...