Smells like team spirit

© Michael Lavine

For our international readers, the UK is having a mirror held up to its principles and practises … revealing the blemishes. It is to this we refer.

Crossing Cricket’s boundaries has been as dismal as illuminating. Since Azeem Rafiq captured the vascular drainage of racism implicit to the Yorkshire dressing room [daresay it’s not the only county whose cricket club is thus mired], his eloquence has thrown open windows ventilating the snarling state of banter.

The cricket club has acknowledged Rafiq was the victim of racial harrassment.

Interviewed on the Today programme about the painful experiences Rafiq revealed, Monty Panesar championed his fellow cricketer’s ‘determined voice to be heard’.

Educating teenagers on the difference between micro-aggression and banter is important in light that “the Dressing Room is a great place to be … which comes under team spirit”.

Aye: and there’s the rub. There’s nothing soft about sensitivity to others’ feelings. Insulting one another in virtue of not knowing how to express admiration seems intellectually, morally and emotionally deficient and rather tragic. … Would that there were an expert in strengthening self-awareness and spirit of empathy; in fortifying emotional resilience.

Yet there’s hope this tipping point will yield more than a cascade of recrimination.

This is a miraculous opportunity for us all to examine the cause of our contempt for things beyond our ken and spring-clean values and principles by which we live. No?

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido
A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial, a denial
A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial

Songwriters: Chris Novoselic / David Grohl / Kurt Cobain Smells Like Teen Spirit lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Madeleine Baird Materials: expert in strengthening self-awareness and the spirit of empathy.

Throwing another Christian to the lions?


Have you ever seen a sword’n’sandals film: one depicting the ancient world dripping in blood and parched of moral noblesse?

Almost fainting as intellectual and physical response to a depiction of how Romans would throw another Christian to the lions*, this depleting image has been blinding my view of the road while cycling round Town in recent months.

Why? It is how road-parked cars appear to my mind in light of the exponential increase – blizzard proportions – of shattered glass lying on the road beside where once the driver’s window existed. Their plangent exposure to ferocious attack defies belief.

I don’t know what these violent grabbers seek: it seems puzzling to suppose anyone leaves a thing of immediate financial value in their vehicle. It must be something else then that motivates a night’s exercise of smashing their way in to cars along an entire length of street. But what?

This, albeit a long way round, suggests that were understanding the emotions promoted up the academic hierarchy, there’d be fewer destructive souls in our midst.

It is a ubiquitous characteristic among those who carry out criminal acts not to reflect on their victims nor on the impact of their crimes as it entails examining their own motivations which, naturally, are unpalatable.

Famished inner emptiness is a condition marvellously simple to treat.

Empathy classes are beginning to ventilate some curricula. Teaching children how to stretch their minds to understand how their actions impact others … how reality exists beyond themselves … is an extremely sound start in addressing all kinds of social ill, crime being the most obvious.

By starving voracious minds of the chance to cultivate compassion and empathy, are we not continuing to throw Christians to the lions?

* For them as find this kind of thing to their taste, the wondrous Senhouse Museum in Maryport, Cumbria was where I saw it. (Simply couldn’t face illustrating this Blogos with lions gnawing through their supper. Image comes from Psychology Today)

Sophisticating football


© BBC                                                                                                  HMS Victory

It is heartening to listen to sports commentors speak of the emotional intelligence of Gareth Southgate and his approach to managing the young England football team.

When he was appointed in November 2016, we noted his manner and self-knowledge bode well for the future of English football.

While Croatia’s fair victory curtailed England’s voyage of self discovery, this “team in the making” as Barry Davies described them on the radio, will set sail on others, taking with them fuller awareness of their potential, fuller wind in their sails.

From a dispassionate stance, it’ll be interesting to discern the team’s current mettle by virtue of its last match to determine Third/Fourth place at the World Cup.

Even if one is not bitter in life, there is still danger to become sour which is why acceptance and release matters. Unless this casting off occurs, moving on can’t happen. With Southgate at the helm, in England we can now expect every man will do his duty.

Expression of empathy


© Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA                                                            HM the Queen being utterly present while talking with victims of the Grenfell Tower fire

Voices are demanding that s/he who investigates the circumstances which led to the cataclysm within Grenfell Tower be sensitive to the trauma of its victims and reality of the lives they live.

They say the chap appointed, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, may be a fine lawyer and forensic examiner of onerous detail but lacks the empathy survivors require.

Never having met the man, I cannot comment on the level of his emotional intelligence. What does seem evident though, is that skills now considered essential to fulfilling specialized work have evolved. No longer is it enough for noses to be in tomes for decades; our humanity must also to be out in the world, mingling itself with others whose air we breathe.

Does this indicate an important flowering in awareness of what it means to be human? That it has never been the case focussing all efforts on one part of our humanness as desirable, is a no-brainer. Fiercely bright intellects who scoff at others more able to express non-intellectual virtues seem as misguided as those prone to emotional naturism who wear it all on their sleeve.

Cultivating innate humanity alongside and in balance with reasoning processes can only produce harmony within. Exhaling generosity of spirit does not entail casting wisdom to the four winds and could even ventilate the chorus of compassion so crucially required at present.

Empathy : word of the year


I wonder whether the rise of interest in Empathy this year is in any way related to the dazzling number of truly miserable events by which the world’s been besieged?

In order to stretch one’s mind to try to understand how it is for someone else, there needs to be a motivation to do so. So perhaps the fact there are few who haven’t been touched by tragedy of some kind has generated this deepening of humanity?

Emotional intelligence is the American term for England’s Emotional literacy; reading the room if you will. Each and both pertain to the skill of recognizing others’ mood and using that knowledge to inform the nature of the ensuing dialogue.

Marshmallow, together with a few other focussed groups promoted these EQ skills since the mid-Nineties and Empathy was one of the foundation stones. In the same way a sculptor will look at a block of marble, see two figures entwined and then set about revealing them, so Madeleine Baird Materials emerged from Marshmallow’s block and continues to stand on those founding principles.

Why am I telling you this? Well, you might not have known how intrinsic empathic understanding is to self-raising flourishing.

Have a happy and compassionately empathic New Year.