I have been trying to think of a background which would suit the nature of this blog. Finally, this funny photograph began waving rather giddily at me, from the hard drive.
I was lucky enough to visit Seattle recently, where I was bowled over by the intelligence and perception of its residents. Both in terms of their knowledge of the wide wide world but also in relation to their interest in their ‘neighbours’. Something I hope that this blog can stimulate a bit of interest in – i.e. who your neighbour is. Or could be outside of the bloke who lives on t’other side of your bricks n mortar…
Something about Seattle hit home with me. Such an unusual interest in the outside world on behalf of nearly everyone I met there – whether the bods running the workshops at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the woman serving customers in the local co-operative, the lad working on the reception desk at the hotel, the lady manning the Wooden Boat Society Museum, the girl flogging me The Big Issue. There is a striving in Seattle to make a difference on their own doorsteps. There seems to be an understanding that, although ‘your own nearest and dearest’ are of course precious bunch to you – unless you can get off your arse and quietly help those who may live over the road from you – who are struggling with life – well… Then you have no room to preach to others or to even comment on the ‘way of the world’.
That’s what I believe. I suppose it’s what my parents have brought me up to believe. But I also like to think that I have figured it out for myself too. And that’s what an awful lot of people in Seattle seem to buy into. The premise that ‘Everyone’s kids are as precious as yours. Yours are special to you – but no more important than anyone elses’. Seattle seemed to me to be able to get beyond the small-minded, self-centredness that the current mode of capitalist society in the North tends to breed,
What I would love my own children to see more of, as they grow up, is a culture where the human dignity of everyone prevails. Where getting angry and passionate about the care and attention that all the vulnerable in society receive is part of the fabric of where you live. This means our elderly people, asylum seekers and refugees, the mentally ill, addicts and even criminals (and if you disagree with me on the last group of individuals being deserving of an insightful strategic approach – you may as well stop reading right now my friend..)
This is what I loved about Seattle. No-one was to be disregarded. Everyone was different but deserving of respect and perhaps requiring a different approach, or consideration. No knee-jerk reactions. A willingness to admit that you dont have the answers to everything. That we all need to LISTEN more. That there is no ONE FITS ALL solution (regardless of what the current educational systematic approaches entail…regardless of the current trend for parenting methodologies involve.)
This is something that my own interest in the Quakers has encouraged me to think about a bit more on. We all are – or have the potential to be – Exceptional. There are aspects of Quakerism that I don’t quite embrace fully – but that I would love to be able to (i.e. pacifism). But in terms of all of the spiritual and humanist approaches that I have ever been exposed to – that lot have got it right. The Quakers adopt the sentiment that ‘this is our collective view on XYZ after we have considered, discussed and asked God about the issue …over a good amount of time…. and if you don’t like it…hey – you are still welcome here! And we MIGHT even change our collective views on it if you care to tell us more about your experiences and thoughts’.
(Can you get more democratic than that??)
So. Seattle. A bunch of arsey anarchists to some. A crowd of woosey liberal do-gooders to others. Perhaps a little too many crystals being twirled and dodgy cheesecloth clothes…But what a cool place in terms of putting words into acts! I love the City (and believe me – I am NOT a fan of big cities at all). And if it rains – which Seattle is infamous for – so bloody what? Get an umbrella up – you big namby pamby!
So to explain my blog’s background photo. This is one of the statues that has been placed in the University of Seattle district of Fremont. Local people in Seattle like to dress up their statues (yes – there IS even a Lenin one – that is always wearing a warm scarf or a bob-hat).
And for me the Seattle approach to welcoming and looking after their civic statues says it all really. It’s about time Lord Nelson had a pair of ear muffs, I say!
I am choosing to call this blog ‘Funny Lass’ because this is something that my dad has always called me. In true Lancashire dialect the meaning of ‘Eh – she’s a right funny lass!’ is less about a female causing ‘hillarity and mirth’ and much more along the lines of being ‘Odd/Peculiar and prompting humour’ – which quite frankly, I think is a much more fitting description of myself). I think that this is also a perfect description for most Seattleites – the ability to have a serious outlook on life – on how we really CAN change the world via our brains and actions etc. But they are also able to be ‘daft’ and ‘ridiculous’.
So – long may the funny lasses and lads of Seattle reign! Let’s see some more of this attitude on other shores…