Archive for the ‘media appearances’ Category
I participated in this debate/discussion on Sunday 26th of March, hosted by Nicky Campbell.
Among those taking part were philosopher AC Grayling, former Bishop of Rochester Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Prof the Baroness Afshar from York University, Symon Hill from Ekkelsia, Rabbi Jonathan Romain from Maidenhead Synagogue, Naomi Philips from Labour Humanists, writer and academic Myriam Francois Cerrah, Gita Sahgal from Centre for Secular Space, Pastor Mark Mullins from Strangers’ Rest Mission and Dr Audra Mitchell from York University.
This week’s show focused on the Catholic Church and whether we need ten new commandments…
You can watch it on i-player here for a week: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01qxrzw/The_Big_Questions_Series_6_Episode_7/
This is my contribution to a discussion program called “Group Therap” on Resonance FM – you can listen to the show here
Sawa’s story seems to be a fairly normal case of the jitters, a fear that, five years in, maybe we didn’t make the right choice after all and this seems to me quite a widespread sentiment I would have thought, especially in younger couples. On the other hand her story makes me feel quite hopeful in that her partner loves her and thus presumably is prepared to work at the marriage and she describes him as a ‘friend’, which although insufficient basis for a marriage, is a core component of what makes for a good marriage partner.
I agree with Catherine concerning unrealistic expectations of relationships – I don’t necessarily agree that a marriage can’t fulfil all of our needs, but this requires a significant investment in the other person, an investment of time and energy which in our face paced lives is sometimes hard to come by.
“The Passionate fireworks display” as Jen described it, only really last for a fairly short period and part of the problem is not understanding that marriage is a verb, it is a work in progress, it isn’t just wham bam shebang and you’re happily every after. The media doesn’t show us love five or ten years in, when love has been stretched and worn – love is typically presented as passion, which is one element, but certainly isn’t sufficient to sustain a marriage over 30-40 years or more. This means young people like Sawa are sometimes unrealistic in expectations of what their partner or the marriage itself can provide. The marriage itself doesn’t guarantee happiness, investing time and energy into someone else is a much surer bet.
In this I agree one with Dr Alice jones that we need to be realistic.
Sawa has changed – but all people change – it would be worrying if we didn’t grow and evolve – the contractual aspect of marriage is to recognise that within certain boundaries (your mental and physical wellbeing!), you have to accept that this will happen and part of the work required in a marriage is learning to evolve alongside one another. Part of the issue is, I would agree with Catherine here, is in viewing marriage as static. As someone who has been married for almost 8 years, I can say from personal experience a lot things will change in a relationship (where you live, your job, your family set up, etc) and this is true for all couples. Part of the challenge is learning to recognise the enduring qualities in your partner during those periods of turmoil or change. Yes they’ve changed, as have you, but surely they still have certain qualities which you respect and admire, which drew you to them initially?
Is individualism to blame? To some extent, the focus on satiating the ego at all costs is to blame, because we fail to recognise the enduring truth that a great degree of happiness actually comes from pleasing others and in a relationship, that would be each partner doing their utmost to please the other. To a large extent, happiness is a derivative of that, rather than assuming that, as Alice says, we can or should feel happy all of the time. More important that ‘finding happiness’, which actually I think is the cause of a lot of unhappiness, is I would suggest serving certain principles and ideals, working together as a couple to seek to achieve them and happiness will be derived from working together as a couple towards these.
Catherine’s argument that infidelity can somehow lead to a happier marriage seems nonsensical to me – one of the reasons marriages fail today is because we don’t have time for one another and in particular, we struggle to find time to have fun together – how finding that ‘fun’ with someone else can somehow improve the relationship you’re neglecting in the first place makes no sense at all. It is a fairly simple mathematical equation – little time and little energy to invest in anything beyond work and family means relationships suffer – how or why one would assume that taking that limited time and energy and investing it elsewhere, not to mention the emotional investment of a new relationship, is somehow going to save your marriage seems laughable to me. Where I will agree with Catherine is that sex has to remain a component of a marriage, both partners must remain committed to doing whatever is necessary to maintaining a healthy sex life, alongside the commitment to emotional support and a loving commitment. My experience of friends whose relationships have survived a period of infidelity is that it shatters a fundamental trust between the partners which is incredibly difficult, if impossible to recover. It also distracts attention from each partner focusing on the other, which in periods of difficulty, should surely be the main focus. It also significantly and negatively impacted the children and their perception of love, trust and marriage. At a very personal level, it also doesn’t make much sense to me that your ‘best friend’, which surely is what your partner is, before everything else, could betray your trust so fundamentally.
You can listen here to my contribution to a discussion on the latest report on gangs and group based child abuse in the UK on BBC radio 2 Jeremy Vine’s show with MP David Davis.
Please note that since this is BBC i-player, the link will expire on Wednesday 28th/11/12
Such was the global political upheaval of last year that many across the political spectrum were moved to ask whether 2011 would become as era-defining as 1968 and 1989. Even those uncertain about the aims and prospects for the Arab Spring couldn’t help but feel inspired by the youth-led demands for democracy and change, which stood in stark contrast to the seeming conservatism and apathy of their Western counterparts. Similar enthusiasm for the spirited rebellion of the young has been shown towards a number of anti-austerity movements such UK Uncut, Spain’s Indignados, Alexis Tsipiras’ Greek SYRIZA coalition and the youthful support for Hollande in France. Meanwhile, from one-off demonstrations such as SlutWalk to large-scale calls for social change like Occupy, social media has become an increasingly influential mobilisation tool for global protest.
Yet a celebration of the radicalisation of previously apathetic youth turns to profound concern over the rise of a ‘new European far right’, with the likes of Hungary’s Jobbik and Finland’s True Finns complemented by the electoral breakthroughs of Le Pen in France and Golden Dawn in Greece. There is much discussion of how what unites European youth is the relative hopelessness of the ‘jilted generation’, saddled with debt, ageing populations and high unemployment. The exodus of the young from crisis-ridden countries such as Ireland and Greece seems to indicate the depths of youthful desperation, although some see opportunity for new allegiances and communities of interest to be formed through the turmoil. For some, last summer’s English riots were an angry and incoherent reaction against the politics of austerity; for others, however, the nihilism of the riots suggested that the generation told they have ‘no future’ had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Do Europe’s youth need to unite together as particular victims of the crisis, or would such a perspective simply breed division between the generations, undermining social solidarity? Is it useful to discuss social movements and problems in generational terms at all? Are there grounds for apprehension in the rise of populism, or is there a danger of scaremongering? Is there potential for a European Spring, or is it more a case of hope springs eternal?
Speakers / discussants:
emeritus professor, English and American studies, Middlesex University; author,Riot City: protest and rebellion in the capital
writer; head of sociology, JFS Sixth Form Centre; contributor, spiked
writer; editor; campaigner; former senior editor, Prospect
DPhil candidate, Oriental Studies, Oxford University; journalist; regular panellist, BBC1′s Big Questions
researcher in the problematisation of happiness and wellbeing, University of Kent, Canterbury
journalist; former campaign coordinator and web editor, Hacked Off
I told Sky news that Obama’s speech was aimed at appeasing a domestic audience and as such, it failed to set out a concrete vision for US engagement with the Middle East. Beyond the rhetoric of democracy and free speech, what does US engagement look like with an Egypt with Morsi (formerly of the MB) as president, with Tunisia where Ennahda is struggling to contain salafi literalist strands, with Syria beyond a condemnation of the murder of children and other such platitudes – in other words, beyond the (home) audience pleasing speech, how serious is America about democracy promotion, including in places where its efforts seem minimal or nonexistent (the GCC, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian territories) and about supporting the Arab uprising in countries where it appears to privilege the status quo (Bahrain, Yemen). Overall, a wasted opportunity to engage with world leaders considering just how pressing some of the issues are (namely Syria) – understandable given his concern over reelection, but in the long run undermines the importance of the UN as a forum for conflict resolution.
I comment through webcam on the show which features Mohamed Ansar, Ajmal Masroor and Douglas Murray – presented by Samira Ahmed.
An extract from my commentary of the inauguration ceremony of Francois Hollande at the Elysee, Sky news, 15 May 2012.