Jayne's Opinions On Things

My opinions on different things that come to mind

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My interests are Yoga, psychic power and the power of the mind, health and fitness, diet and happiness.

Thursday

Abortion

I was somewhat surprised to read that in Russia one in five of women, of child bearing age, have an abortion every year. It appears that this is considered an acceptable form of birth control. I find this difficult to comprehend. How on earth can abortion have become something so routine and almost akin to a visit to the dentist?

I have observed something completely different within my own circle of friends and acquaintances. I have only seen abortion to be very traumatic and something that stretches the emotions to the limit.

My friend, Y, had an abortion in February. I won't go into details other than to say she still comes round to my flat in tears. I do my best to comfort her but I realise that nothing I do, or say, really helps. I can just be there for her. She has unfortunately to somehow live with, and accept, her decision. I hope this doesn't sound hard or that I disapprove of what she has done because that isn't the case - but her mind has to heal as well as her body. This must be the hardest part.

My opinion is that whether or not to have an abortion is the woman's decision. Whatever she decides is right - for her.

I realise that many men will immediately say, "What about the 'fathers', don't they have rights as well?" Well yes they do, if in an established relationship. I think they have the right to be informed, to express their opinion, but I still feel that ultimately it has to be the woman's decision. It is she that has to bear the child.

Abortion I find to be a very difficult subject. I suppose it really all depends on when you believe an embryo or foetus becomes a 'real' person. This is mind boggling. If a foetus is not aborted then there is a reasonable chance 'it' will become a baby. However, abortions are carried out prior to the foetus being able to survive outside of the mother. Does this mean, therefore, that the foetus isn't as yet a human being? This is further complicated by improved medical techniques that may now make a foetus 'viable' at a younger age than the present accepted 24 weeks.

OK, I'll stick my neck out and give my opinion again - even though I know many will disagree. I believe that a life doesn't start until the first breath - and likewise ends on the final breath.

I quite expect a lot of stick for saying this. I appreciate, for example, the hurt that a spontaneous abortion i.e. miscarriage can bring and the dreadful loss felt. I understand the Roman Catholic view that an embryo deserves the full protection afforded to any human being. I fully respect all opinions whether they are for or against abortion. None of us can be absolutely certain as to what is correct, all we have is our beliefs.

Needless to say I feel we should do our utmost to avoid unwanted pregnancy - but accidents can happen - there but for the grace of God, judge not that you be judged and all that sort of thing.

As I'm a bit fed up with wishy washy opinions, where writers do a lot of fence sitting, I'll give my opinion again:

I believe that being able to have a legal abortion is a woman's right.

I must admit, however, to being quite shocked to read that there are over 30 million legal abortions worldwide every year plus an estimated further 20 million illegal ones (source World Health Organisation). It looks like a lot more education is needed regarding contraception.

All abortions aren't carried out because someone has 'slipped up' and forgotten to take the pill or use a condom. There are other reasons such as: the mother's life may be in danger, there may be something not quite right with the foetus, the pregnancy may have happened because of rape and so on. To such things I've heard people say that an abortion is 'acceptable' - but then go on to say that it isn't right for other reasons. I don't see this. Having an abortion is surely either right or wrong. I don't see there being any halfway measures. If an abortion is carried out the outcome is the same regardless of the circumstances - we can't have it both ways.

I think we have to accept that life has moved on from the time when women stayed home and looked after the kids. Some still do, which is great, but we now have the choice. Women have more control of their lives - we want it all - well some do. We want to be able to plan our futures and have children, should we want them, when we choose. It's the freedom that good contraception has given us - Catholics will no doubt disagree.

It's all hypothetical but what would happen if we now decided to stop legal abortions? It is illegal, for instance, in vastly differing countries such as the Republic of Ireland and Iran. The answer is that abortions would still continue but to the detriment of many womens' health. It would be back to the days when a friend knew someone who would do the deed. This must never happen again surely - it would be the poor and underprivileged that would once more suffer most.

One thing that abortion does effect is adoption. In Holland and Sweden, for example, because of abortion, easily available contraception and social assistance for single parents there are very few children for adoption. Most have to be brought in from other countries. Depending on your own personal view point this could be good or bad. Perhaps, therefore, you might even think that adoption should be encouraged as an alternative to abortion. Personally I don't think so, mainly because of the emotional problems and scars this could create throughout a lifetime.

To sum up my opinions are:

• I am in favour of legal abortions.
• It is the woman's decision whether to have an abortion.
• I believe that a life begins fully with the first breath.

I see one of mankinds priorities being proper education about contraception. We should be aiming to drastically reduce the number of abortions where it is being used as backup for failed contraception. This is a worldwide problem, especially where contaception is against religious beliefs or is expensive and not freely available.

And finally. My mother had a miscarriage before my brother was born. Earlier this summer, some 20+ years later, she had a most vivid dream that has stayed with her. There was myself and my (younger) brother (aged as we are today) standing laughing with another boy (of similar age) between us. She could see this other boy's face clearly and can still picture him now. She feels certain this was her 'lost' child. It made me wonder if my brother, as I know him, would ever have been born if my mother had not had a miscarriage. We are all born out of amazing coincidences and against all odds. No wonder deciding whether to have an abortion must be so difficult. My heart goes out to anyone who has to make such a decision.

Sunday

Religion

As the sun shone down they no doubt scratched their chins and puzzled over how to resolve their differences. Here they were in Iznik, a small town in Turkey, with one aim in mind: How to get Christianity to be the number one religion. It was obvious that to hit the top spot they would have to stop their bickering and all speak from the same book, in the same way.

At their meeting they started to formulate a 'master book' comprising of all the Christian teachings and dogma that they could agree on. No easy thing when Jesus had taught of love, the oneness of all life and that all people, whatever their race, sex or colour, are equal in spirit in the eyes of God.

"Come on now," one of them may well have said, "This is after all the year 325, so lets get real. Who will believe all of this stuff when most of society today is macho, hedonistic, chauvinistic and quite a lot of other 'nistics' as well."

No easy job then for all of those Christian Bishops meeting in what was then called Nicaea. There was only one thing to do and that was to tailor the Bible, for this is what they were trying to agree on, to suit the people of the day. And that's what they did - I think.

Well, it could have been something like that. I wasn't actually at that meeting, of course, but it did take place. The fact is that the Bible, and the Christian religion, has been messed about with over the years. There have been different translations, the first into English from the original Hebrew by John Wyclif and friends (1382-8). William Tyndale had another go in 1525 and then there was William Coverdale doing his bit in 1535. The King James version followed in 1611 and was produced by around 50 scholars of the period. Over the years important chunks have been ommitted and words altered.

So what is my point in all this? And yes, before I answer, I know there are lots of religions in the world besides Christianity like - deep breath - Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, African, Sikhism, Jainism, Zaroastrianism, Mazdaism, Porseeism, Buddhism and many, many more. And I haven't forgotten things like Ancestor-worship, Paganism, Druidism and Spiritulaism. There's a lot of ism's in the world, some still determined to become 'number one'.

My point is that though the fundementals behind a religion may well be something very potent, important, truthful, mind blowing or whatever, but what is revealed to the general public has been created by man (woman). It means that religion is adapted and adjusted to the needs of the time. The real 'truths' behind the religions are often forgotten or conveniently ignored in order that followers will act in a certain way. Tell someone the wrath of God will be upon them if they indulge in a naughty and they may well stay on the straight and narrow - just where the leaders want them.

Following the 16th Century national churches were created in England and Scotland in an attempt to take control. Religions shove people in certain directions and tell them how to think and act. In part this can be for the good. Telling people not to steal or murder would be for the common good but there are other 'instructions' that may not be so hot for individals. Like going to war - how can this ever be done in the name of religion? Isn't it really up to us as to how we live our lives?

But things are changing, in some parts of the world at least.

Though religions are still there, in lots of cases they are losing their control and power. We no longer just accept how things should be. As part of our, what I believe to be, natural development we are questioning old ideas and we are starting to say, "Is what they are telling us true?"

I see there being two types of religion:

(A) One, as mentioned, where 'they' are in control and 'we' do what they want. Some people, I'm sure, find this comforting. If we pray, do this or that, everything will be fine and we'll eventually move on to 'heaven' as long as we aren't 'naughty' because then we might go to 'hell' - I'm still on the Christianity kick here.

In some parts of the world religion still rules the roost so lives are often wasted and potentials aren't reached, especially for many women. The population do as they are told, when they are told. Personal expression is ground under foot.

(B) The other sort of religion is where we are the ones doing the seeking. We dare to question what or who God may be, or even if there is such a concept. We ask: Why are we here? How did it all come about? Is there an afterlife, a heaven or do we reincarnate? We are starting to follow the advice of the Sphinx, 'Know thyself'.

You can see why my boyfriend often says I talk a lot of mumbo-jumbo! He would say something like, "Jayne, why do you bother? If you find yourself in a heaven after you die, fine. If you don't you won't bother because you won't be able to." He really annoys me at times!

When we start to look for answers of a religious nature there is usually a reason why. The obvious is that we feel that there has to be something more, so we try to think about what this might be. There can be a lot of other reasons.

In Africa, for example, it is said that around 7000 new religious movements have started since the 1930's. These are usually a combination of African rituals and traditional beliefs all mixed up with Christianity or, in some case, Islam. This may well reflect disappointment with contempory life or the political and economic situation. It is also the hope for a better future, so the religions are designed to instill such hopes.

We also turn to religion in times of stress or difficulty. If we have nothing else we look to a God, Supreme Being, Guardian Angel, Saint, lucky talisman, symbol or something like this. We seem to have an instinct that there is something more, a power, or helper waiting just off stage. It's also true, don't you think, that there isn't any society that hasn't sought to give order and meaning to their lives through religion?

Personally I don't belong to any organised religion, but I do have my beliefs. I suppose you could say I've created a 'Jayne's Religion' made to measure for me. It's made up of bits and pieces from all over the place and, like all the major religions, it will no doubt alter and be amended as the years pass - again to suit my needs at a particular time. I'll stick with this unless I hit on something that I feel instinctively to be true and answers a lot of my many questions.

I believe that there is one supreme source or power. If you were to ask me what this is I'd probably cop out and say, "It's beyond my/our comprehension." I call it 'Ms.Big Boss' and she helps me to help myself. I believe that I'm boss of my life, but that Ms.Big Boss is on hand if I need her. I mix this with certain values and principles (which I won't go into here) and I have my ready made 'religion' where I and my conscience are in control.

This way there is no one to tell me how to act or what is right or wrong. It's up to me, with a few nudges from M.B.B.

I believe most of what Jesus taught and feel confident that there was such a man, probably a member of the Essenes. As to being the Son of God, I think we are all the Children of 'God' and we can become as Jesus: '...every one that is perfect shall be as his master' St.Luke6.40. The difficult bit is becoming perfect! But in time, perhaps after many lives, we'll all get there.

To sum up, for me, organised religion equates to contol of the masses (for good and bad) whereas I think that perhaps for us now it should be more along the lines of: 'Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and ye shall find etc.' The answers must be out there, mustn't they?

Saturday

Capital Punishment

Isn't simple death a much too easy way out for someone who has commited a heinous crime?

Why should they just be put to death - surely they must be made to suffer first before leaving this world. So why not, at the very least, give them a good flogging or birching before they are put down? Let them feel a fraction of the agonies comparable to the crimes that they have committed. This would make the guilty appreciate the suffering they have caused and would also serve as a warning to others not to step out of line.

Draconian measures must be considered to stamp out the evil in the world today. Draco had the right idea, don't you think? Back in 620 BC he set out his laws. He wasn't too bothered. If it was pilfering or murder the sentence was the same - death. This certainly acted as a deterrant and could well be what is required at our present stage of development.

Okay so a few innocent people may be put to death in error. But does a few miscarriages of justice matter when compared to the bigger picture? A world virtually without murder and serious crimes, wouldn't that be something? Wouldn't we then have made progress as human beings? I know I'm asking a lot of questions!

In Britain we dumped the mandatory death penalty back in 1965. The world hasn't completely gone soft though. There's still plenty of support for capital punishment in civilised parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

If we look at some countries capital punishment isn't just for murder. It's death in China for rape and gang fighting, drug trafficking in Thailand, armed robbery in many parts of Africa and so on. And then there's the Islamic law: Sharia. They don't mess about!

Now we have to consider the best way to 'kill' these evil people? Hanging, guillotine, electric chair, crucifiction ... What do you mean, 'Thou shall not kill'? Who on earth would say something like that?

Okay, let's stop right there because ...

I'm actually completely opposed to Capital Punishment and anything that inflicts pain on others.

I was just trying to see how it would feel to have an opposing view to my natural way of thinking. It makes me quite sick inside to think that there are some people who support 'killing' another person, for that is the reality of capital punishment. I don't think 'we' have the right to end another human life no matter what terrible deed they may have carried out.

I know some people will waffle on about an 'eye for an eye' or something similar, especially as this is in the Bible (so it must be right!) But this isn't a justice that we should carry out. I believe that an eye for an eye is what actually happens by way of a natural law. Karma if you like. I won't dwell on this as I realise that many people will ridicule such ideas, but nevertheless it's my opinion (so perfectly valid!). I would go along with Jesus when he said about turning the other cheek. There has ultimately got to be forgiveness.

Of course, there has to be punishment for any crime as well. If there wasn't we would be in a right old mess. From what I have read there is no evidence, however, that capital punishment acts as a deterrent any more than life in prison. I believe there is a good argument though that life should mean life. I feel that a murderer surrenders his or her right to freedom by taking another life.

I accept that there are various degrees of killing or murder. There is a world of difference between killing with 'malice aforthought' (i.e. intending to kill or cause grievous injury) and killing someone accidently. Sentences have to reflect this. Let's keep 'real' killers, however, locked away for life.

An opposing argument to this is always along the lines of, "But look at how much it costs to keep someone in prison. If we bring back capital punishment think of the savings". I suppose this is true. We could also cut costs by not bothering to revive old people following an illness. This would save millions. Obviously this would be completely unacceptable. We must preserve life at all costs - even the lives of murderers (euthanasia is a whole different debate). There is a human right to life which must never be violated.

There is little liklihood that we would ever return to capital punishment in this country. Even if there was something like a referendum we must have moved too far along the line to resort to ever wanting to return to such a barbaric practice. It would be a step backwards in our civilisation - we have to move forward.

How would I react should the unspeakable happen to someone I love? Would I seek revenge or would I be able to forgive? I don't really know, none of us do. I'd like to think that I would be able to forgive. It's very easy to say something like this when not emotionally involved, the reality could be something very different. I don't believe that I would want the perpetrator of the crime to be given a death sentence (if this were an option). I don't see how this would help me in any way. We are, of course, all different.

I think that we have to look at capital punishment free of personal involvement. If we do I feel sure that the thought of it is abhorrent to most people. The only possible argument anyone could put forward is that it would be a deterrant. I have already said that there is no evidence to support this.

If anyone is in favour of bringing back capital punishment I would ask, "Why stop there?"

Why not also revert to flogging, birching, amputation and so on. No? It's barbaric? Well so is ending someone's life prior to it having run it's full course. What could be more barbaric than this?

"Ah," you might argue, "But the person concerned has also caused a death".

So are we going to exact revenge as we have been done by? A rape for a rape, a knife stab for a knife stab. Of course we aren't. We have risen above such punishment. The same applies to the death penalty.

Also with capital punishment there is always the danger of an innocent person being put to death. Our courts and prosecutors are far from perfect. We only have to look at recent history to see numerous instances of miscarriages of justice. It's not possible to pay a dead man or women compensation.

To be quite honest it's beyond my comprehension how anyone could possibly be in favour of capital punishment. There just aren't any worthwhile arguments. No doubt there are still a few flog 'em, hang 'em relics in existence in this country. Fortunately they are mostly now extinct.