Raise Your Voice

The theme for Blog Action Day this year, oh-so appropriately, is Raise Your Voice.

Or Rattle That Lock, if you prefer.

To borrow from the Blog Action Day website:

We have the power to create the world we want to see when we raise our voice to promote positive change and expose unjust actions. However, those who speak out are often under attack. This Blog Action Day we will celebrate those heroes who raise their voice when faced with censorship, threats and even violence. We will raise our voices to defend their right to raise theirs. We will overcome silence with our words and actions. We will share their stories. We will fight for those whose voice has been silenced.

This Sunday, at KOKO in Camden Town, David will join with other artists to mark Belarus Free Theatre’s tenth anniversary. Performing will be those, like David, who are fortunate to live in a democracy (no sniggering at the back, please), as well as those from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine who have experienced intimidation and indeed persecution for speaking out in defence of their political and religious freedoms. The event, Staging a Revolution: I’m With the Banned, is sold out but BBC Arts will be live-streaming the event from 8pm (UK), so please tune in and lend your support.

Then there’s the incredible £17,495 you helped raise very recently in aid of MOAS, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. That money will help rescue refugees from the Mediterranean who are fleeing their homelands in search of a better life in Europe. So many people have already died trying to make the perilous journey across the seas, and we’ve all been deeply saddened by the images, the most harrowing of all the sight of small children, drowned, washed ashore on beaches where children who do not yet realise how very fortunate they are to be born into peace and prosperity play without a care in the world.

Thank you again, everyone, for donating. Such a simple act of kindness and compassion can also be an effective way of making your feelings heard, and of speaking up for those being attacked by the intolerant and fearful for doing the very thing we all would do if we found ourselves in their dire circumstances.

There is so much that’s wrong with the world we live in, so much happening before our eyes that we know is unfair and immoral, but feel powerless to change. How often we willingly turn a blind eye, pretend we do not see, convincing ourselves that somebody else will speak out and demand change, doubtful that we can make any difference. Whether it be the plight of the homeless sleeping rough in our city centres, the destruction of our forests and parks, or the wilful abandonment of essential support for the most vulnerable in our communities, we must not shy away.

Thank goodness people do raise their voices loudly and confidently, and inspire, motivate, sometimes shame others to speak up with them. They bring attention to critical issues and hold the powerful, whose selfish and short-sighted policies infuriate but will ultimately decimate, to account. How much worse things would be without them.

I read this week that support for fracking in the UK has fallen to its lowest level. This is because women, primarily, are becoming more aware of the dangers of extracting shale gas.

Few doubt the huge economic benefits, but by highlighting the dangers that the powerful lobbies too readily dismiss, more and more people are accepting that carbon should be left in the ground – for all our sakes – and are doing what they can to ensure that it’s kept there.

Legalising cannabis would have huge economic benefits, too. Another study reported in the press this week found that there would be an annual windfall of between £500m and £800m were cannabis treated in the same way as tobacco in Britain. This would save the under-pressure health service, as well as the struggling criminal justice system, because if people were no longer charged for possession of cannabis, there would be obvious savings to the police, courts, probation service and prisons.

Yet why do I strongly doubt that these economic benefits will matter to the same people who feel it is of course worth the grave risk to keep pushing the planet ever nearer global catastrophe, for cheap fuel? They know we need a low-carbon economy, but like a demented jockey with his whip, they will keep beating until something breaks because there’s an awful lot of money to be made from thrashing that poor horse.

I’m reminded of Dr John O’Connor, a family doctor in Fort Chipewyan, a hamlet in northern Alberta, Canada, who reported in 2006 a higher than normal incidence of rare cancers in his patients and suspected that these might be connected to the oil being extracted contaminating the environment on which this predominantly indigenous community is so closely connected, with carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene and toluene, as well as heavy metals, like mercury and lead. He wasn’t the first to be suspicious. Locals downwind and downstream of the tar sands in Alberta (they cover an area about the size of Florida, don’t forget), had been trying for years to make others take their concerns seriously; fishermen had even collected deformed fish from Lake Athabasca and presented them to officials, not that anyone wanted to know.

Federal health regulators filed several misconduct charges against Dr O’Connor – including one of causing “undue alarm” (which says it all, really; after all, who is this upstart to hinder the rapid pace of growth?) – and he was eventually cleared of all charges, but earlier this year he was fired with no explanation.

The sinister reach of Big Oil?

It is said that doctors throughout Alberta are now fearful of offending the oil industry by confirming that its actions are having an impact on the health of their patients, which is utterly depressing but not in the least surprising when you look at the way, since 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has silenced and muzzled those who say that we need to scale back emissions-intensive industries if catastrophic global warming is to be avoided, rather than keep on exploiting our natural resources.

His ‘war on science’ has seen thousands of federally employed scientists, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as Environment Canada, laid off; environmental bodies such as the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Studies and the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, a body seeking to regulate Canada’s carbon emissions, have been scrapped; numerous programmes devoted to food inspection and water quality have been cancelled; and academics are no longer free to communicate their findings to the media, as he favours unqualified bureaucrats over experts in their field to inform the public and, let’s not be naïve about this, deliberately mislead us into believing that everything is tickety-boo just as long as the oil keeps flowing.

We should dwell on facts like this:

If Alberta were a country, its per capita greenhouse gas emissions would be higher than any other country in the world, more than three times that of either the USA or Canada.

Many more to make you weep, here.

Canada might have a new Prime Minister very soon, anyway, with a general election on Monday. More than two-thirds of Canadians think their oil-obsessed government should focus on diversifying the economy and favour a post-carbon economy by a margin of three to one.

So I thought I’d take a moment to remember those, like Dr O’Connor, who have spoken out, inspiring others to do likewise and to question everything we are told by the liars who write the news.

Like many blogging on this theme today, I wanted to also include my admiration for Raif Badawi, arrested in June 2012 on a charge of insulting Islam through electronic channels, of “violating Islamic values and propagating liberal thought”.

In July 2013, it was reported that he had been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In May 2014, he was re-sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison, as well as a fine of one million riyal (more than $250,000 or £170,000). Even that’s not considered punishment enough; Saudi Arabia’s criminal court now want to retry him for apostasy, commonly defined as the conscious abandonment of Islam by a Muslim in word or through deed. If found guilty, he would be sentenced to death. For blogging.

He championed free speech in such a violently repressive regime and may pay with his life. Meanwhile, cowardly western governments remain slow to condemn their oil-rich Saudi allies. I wonder why.

We all need to raise our voices much more.

Speaking out against injustice, shining a light on the bullying and corruption within our societies, if these inspirational people can raise their voice, the very least we ought to do is listen.

There are brilliant people in your communities, right now, using whatever means are at their disposal to fight to prevent closures to hospitals and libraries, blockading roads and impeding the progress of destructive industries, as well as brave whistleblowers exposing malpractice, so support them. March with them. Sign a petition, write a letter of objection, boycott and encourage others to do the same. Be one more person who demands to be taken seriously instead of taken for a fool. Do it for people like Raif Badawi, sitting in a prison cell not knowing when he’ll next be dragged out and publicly flogged – for blogging, for goodness sake.

Please, no matter how silly or self-conscious you feel, raise your voice – and keep rattling locks.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

50 thoughts on “Raise Your Voice”

  1. … I wonder who’s hearing the raised voices. I’m afraid not the one who should listen. As long as we are such a hypocritical society, I’m afraid the voices won’t find a listening ear.
    Look all the drama around the refugees. Why aren’t management and employees of the military industry forced to host a refugee family? They make fortunes selling guns, why not let them have a first hand feedback of their deeds? You probably noticed, I’m raising my voice to the wrong ones…

  2. I hear you loud and clear, Fed, and Taki, I share your fears. It makes no logical sense to me that the word “liberal” has become a negative word, when it is literally associated with freedom and generosity; open minds, hearts and arms. The drive to accumulate money – not even necessarily to enjoy it – has perverted our language; “conservatives” are now feared; rather than “careful and cautious” they are close-minded, unaware, uncaring, and too often carrying a loaded gun they are only too happy to use.

    It is indeed a frightening world. One look at a geological map shows clusters of daily small earthquakes near fracking sites, where there were no known faultlines or rifts. How can we pump poison into the earth and expect to keep finding clean water? The powers destroy the earth for money. I remember in the 1960s and 1970s we didn’t fear one another like this. We believed that if we believed in peace, we could have it. There were peaceful gatherings of peaceful people quietly protesting war. I don’t know quite what has happened. America was founded to take in refugees in fear of their lives, who sought a better life and longed for freedom. My grandmother was one of them. Now our politicians may as well take that plaque off of Lady Liberty, and stop pretending to uphold our Constitution. Politics has ruined government, because power is now a commodity.

    I find David’s new work very relevant, and Polly’s interview revealing her inspiration for the lyrics, and her writing process, very insightful and inspiring. These are people that deserve my respect and support – they have done excellent things with their money, they are still in touch with real life, real people, real values. And the music they make has healing power for me. I have always, and will always rattle locks.

  3. There are so many great causes out there in the big World. So much to choose from and not enough hours in a day from our very busy lives. Like here in the UK, we all seem tied to working long hours. My concerns are all the lonely folk out there or the victims of abuse or crime. And of course the Children. I say always look in on your elderly neighbour saying hello or good morning to a stranger passing you in the street, you never know what a difference that makes.

    There are loads of voluntary organisations out there crying out for volunteers, just a few hours a week is all it needs, I was recently working in the crown courts as a witness support volunteer, really interesting and satisfying. I have in the past worked as a murder and manslaughter councillor voluntary.

    That’s enough from me but yeah, check your areas, volunteer and you never know, it may change your lives for the better.

    Kind regards
    Damian

  4. David, do not play with the morons “Pussy Riot”, if you do not want to spoil your reputation. They brought to this world nothing except hate. They are not “rebels” they are “attention whores” and nothing more.

  5. I just hope we never ever connect that oil pipe line from Canada to the U.S.A.

    That will be a terrible tragedy waiting to happen. You cannot defend every region securely, it’s a no win situation for one and a terrible tragedy for the environment.

    Very Happy Belated Birthday FED! Many Happy Returns to YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Just a thought…if Liverpool don’t start improving you’ll have to ‘Rattle that Klopp’.

    Needless slaughter of wild animals for ‘dubious’ medicine and people paying a fortune for the ‘pleasure’ of destroying wildlife just for fun.

    Best wishes to all
    Heather

    1. Just a thought…if Liverpool don’t start improving you’ll have to ‘Rattle that Klopp’.

      😀 He’ll sort things out, don’t worry.

  7. Right on Fed about our fearmongering Prime Minister here in Canada, he also thinks the refugees are terrorists.

    Time to rattle his lock right the F out of office.

    George

  8. This may sound simplistic, but the first step to raise your voice and make it heard is to vote (no sniggering at the back either, please 😉 ). Still so many people don’t bother to vote but keep complaining. No vote, no voice, eh?

    We take our right to vote for granted, but we must not forget that it’s a privilege that people had to fight for in the past, especially women.

    Hats off to Dr Al-Fassi and the suffragettes of Saudi Arabia who ‘raised their voices’ and successfully campaigned for the right to vote for women (they got it only in 2015, can you imagine?).

    1. I completely agree with you about the importance of voting; far too many people just don’t bother and it’s an insult to those who campaigned, and died, for that right. (They’re not all protesting against the parties on offer or the system by not voting.)

      1. Too many people think it’s somebody else’s problem.

        Someone told me they didn’t vote and didn’t care what the (resultant) government does, that it’s all in God’s hands!

        I mean, talk about giving your problem over to someone else to solve. . . what’s more, it’s someone that doesn’t exist!!!! (Or abandoned us long ago.)

        ash

  9. I would like to add about all the foreign companies here in the UK not paying their way or paying tax: Google, Amazon, Voda-fucking-phone and the like. Millions unpaid, it is theft, nothing short of. And what about Apple, reportedly sat on 200 billion? That’s outrageous. Folk out there can’t pay their utility bills let alone a mortgage, kids going without and these parasitical Tory scum allow it to happen. Why I wonder? Any share in the company?

    My lock just got rattled.

    Damian

    1. You made me laugh Damian. 😀 Voda-fucking-phone. . .

      Yes, shares and backhanders probably.

      ash

        1. Quite a surprise to see Duncan Bannatyne’s name there. A lot from the alcohol Industry and some with an OBE. Fancy that, getting an award for poisoning people.

          Damian

      1. Thanks Ash, I wasn’t sure about swearing but it’s justified I think.

        Damian

  10. Great day in Italy to raise your voice. Erri De Luca, a writer who was against the construction of the TAV – high speed trains- in Piemonte (as many, many others, because this work could kill nature all around and it’s, after all, useless) was absolved at the end of the process. They was asking for 8 months of jail because he used words like ‘sabotage’. Well, as he said today at the court :’Sabotage is a great word. Gandhi and Mandela used it. You can’t kill water and grass, and you can’t kill my words’.

    Great, isn’t it?

    Ciao,
    Emilio

  11. The Tory Party will always look after their own and in the last few months we’re beginning to see what they’re all about. George Osborne makes me feel physically sick and I really hope he becomes their next leader because if the response by the crowd at the Olympics towards him was anything to go by, they’ll be out!

  12. I responded to this Greenpeace appeal and sent in my thoughts for the consultation. The consultation CLOSES on FRIDAY.

    Hi there,

    George Osborne is on the verge of taking a sledgehammer to solar power. Earlier this year, the Chancellor unveiled sweeping cuts to how the solar industry is funded. With his plans now on the cusp of being approved, the UK is set to see a huge slump in the number of solar panels installed each year. Even worse, thousands of solar workers look certain to lose their jobs.

    The government says it wants to hear our views on the solar cuts and has launched a public consultation, so I’ve just sent an email to government officials and raised my concerns. It would mean a lot to me if you can too. It’s really easy to take part, just follow the instructions on this page.

    Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Ash. I will send my thoughts, too.

      How I hate this government of ours. Funny how these out-of-touch millionaire buffoons can cut jobs, benefits and tax credits almost instantly, yet when it comes to raising wages or reducing emissions, it has to be a very gradual process.

      Hats off to you for getting shot of your dangerous Tories, Canada.

      1. I was shocked at the announcements on the news yesterday, that steel plants in various parts of Britain are to close down because of cheap Chinese steel driving down world prices.

        I can’t understand how we didn’t hear about it before the news, again, which I only found out about as it was happening, that the Chinese President is here on a state visit and has been treated like Royalty ! What’s going on ?

        Then. . . then it is confirmed and deals are signed, for China to build new nuclear power plants in Britain !

        All of this has gone on and kept out of the media somehow. Or has it been known and I just missed hearing about it. There have been rumblings for years about new Nuclear plants but various companies pulled out of it. Now all of a sudden the plug has been pulled on renewable energy ! It’s as if we have been presented with a fait accompli.

        Maybe everyone was too busy worrying about how to make ends meet to see what was going on under our noses. I can’t believe how many people are going to lose jobs at a time when out of work benefits are so low and under tight scrutiny to force people off them.

        ash

      2. A friend of mine just lost his job in the green energy sector because of the cuts.

        Damian

  13. Love this topic. I found there are many ways to raise ones voice. Voting to be a positive way on the most part. I live in one of the states that has legalized cannabis. Many people enjoy it’s medicinal benefits. So I am glad they will no longer be punished locally for using it. Also now people can use it to relax as it has been legalized for recreational use too. Unfortunately the federal government still has it outlawed. So if one lives in federal housing they can be evicted for using it and usually become homeless. So voting in candidates that honor the views of most of the people still needs to be done. Hemp is an excellent product too with so many uses. So I hope for positive change with the federal government.

    Another way we can raise our voice is by what we buy or better, do not buy. Such as products with GMO or BPA in them. As apparently our votes in those areas have not mattered (or the congresspeople that have been voted in do not vote for the people’s well being but for the companies interest). But the companies hear the people loud and clear when it comes to their pocket book.

    I was part of the Teamster Union organization at a resort I worked at. Working conditions were not good. Women would have their baby in the morning and be at work for their evening shift as there was no leave and if they took time off they would not be on the schedule anymore when they were ready to come back. Although most of us could not afford to do that. There was no sick/maternity leave or pay. A lot of mind games went on there. No set schedule so you could not plan doctor appointments, volunteer at your child’s school, etc. It was a close knit community with everyone going to the same store and our children to the same school. My co-workers would not want to be seen near me for fear management would punish them by not putting them on the schedule or transferring them to a department they would not be able to work. But when it came to the count of the secret ballot 99% of the employees voted for the union. Our voices were heard.

    Unfortunately the owner of the place “down sized” his clientele by not wanting the large companies from the nearest city to book their conventions there and went with an upscale clientele. Therefore elementing many, many jobs. Which was his punishment for the community. So now I am very careful what I do as I do not want to be targeted and made homeless or have harm caused to others. That is why I am always hopeful that voting will help. It can be a slow process but generally works. Especially in the local elections.

    I always worry about being homeless again. My housing situation is very precarious to say the least. I was on a waiting list for years to be on the program I now receive. They have discontinued that program but for now I still get its benefits. I receive disability and do not make enough to qualify for the few housing projects they have in my area (or anywhere) that have 5,000 people waiting over five years to receive housing. It is dire circumstances. When I see all the homeless people on the streets my heart goes out to them as I understand all to well how easy it is to be in that situation. I wish I could give them my “spare change” as they ask but I really have none to give as I barely get by myself. All I can do is vote in people that care about people and their well-being.

    That brings me to my guilt of one of my indulgences per year is going to a concert. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs that to me it is a spiritual experience. The most exciting concert of my life is coming to Los Angles (city of lost Angels) this March. It is a huge expense for me but something that if I do not get to do I will be very depressed, as seeing David in concert before my time is up is up is very dear to me. (I am extremely grateful to have medical as I would not be here otherwise. And I do enjoy our beautiful planet and the kind people on it. It is truly a gift.)
    But as of Tuesday, after many Doctor visits, I found out one of my sons has a disease and needs to get to the Mayo clinic for treatment. I am very concerned about that, to say the least. So now I am thinking the little bit of money I am saving for my concert experience is an extremely selfish indulgence. My therapist says she has some friends in the area that would let my son and I stay with during his treatments and she showed me an airline that flies round trip that is fairly affordable. His health plan will not be accepted where the Mayo clinic is but my therapist said he might qualify for grants, or at least we can do a payment plan. It has really made me depressed along with some other things. But now I have a bit more hope again. I am trying to get a part time job at one of the local schools a couple hours a day. I will need to wait for a position to open up. Could be a while. They would work with my disability without punishment so I would have money to do both. I am allowed to earn so much before losing my benefits but allowed money such as when I received my inheritance a decade ago. But the reason I get disability is because I can not work full time. So the school position would be humane and understanding.

    So that is why I have not been blogging much lately. I have felt like such a failure. Life has had me down. Now there might be some hope.

    Take care, Suzy

    1. Oh Suzy, I hope things pick up. Don’t be too hard on yourself; the situation seems bleak for so many people right now and we all should raise our voices in solidarity and outrage, because any one of us could find ourselves in need of similar support tomorrow. Things can change in the blink of an eye, for better or for worse, and we must never forget that.

      It’s disgraceful how governments are failing people and ignoring them when they need a hand up. May they all end up like Canada’s Conservatives at the next opportunity we have to vote them out.

        1. I want to say thank you FEd and Damian for your positive words and thoughts. It is greatly appreciated.

          The outcome of Canada’s election was positive and does give hope for other countries’ elections.

          Take Care, Suzy.

  14. Very sorry to hear the loss of Chris Squire; bass player of very extraordinary original talent with Yes. I got to see him once in my lifetime. What an unbelievably creative and sophisticated player he was. I rate him with Sir Paul and Geddy Lee of Rush. We were blessed with these gifted musicians for an era.

    Go Blue Jays!! Fingers crossed for Friday night.

    1. Frank, I share your admiration for Chris Squire, he was just incredible. I saw Yes many times over the years and their concert at Massey Hall was awesome, only topped by David’s in 2006.

      So sorry to hear that he’s gone.

  15. Just wanted to wish one and all a super, smashing, great weekend. I am out and about today, with The Endless River, Rattle That Lock, Animals and in no particular order.

    Kind regards
    Damian

  16. Raise your voice indeed, but I fear that it may fall on deaf ears. I’m so disappointed that governments are allowing the environment to be poisoned, food to be altered (why does food need to be certified organic – shouldn’t non-organic food be certified that it won’t harm anyone?), suspect chemicals to be used in our food, drink, and hygiene products, the list goes on.

    Am I the only one who thinks that the emphasis on money in the American electoral process is just scandalous? Yet it is reported on almost daily and treated like an extended horse race, where the winner is the one who collects the most cash. It’s shocking, really. Let’s vote in the party that is beholding to the most corporations. Yeah, right.

    Canada has a new government, but how much will change besides on a few “hot” issues of the day? Time will tell, but I don’t know whether they will want really want to rattle that lock.

    I hope for the best but fear that nothing will really change.

    Oh, well. Time for me to be distracted from life’s realities. Go Jays!

    Are there any good reality shows on?

  17. ‘COP21’, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be held in Paris, from November 30 to December 11. World leaders (of more than 190 nations) will discuss a ‘possible’ new global agreement on climate change. One more… very little hope, I know, but…

    Please sign the petition (from Nicolas Hulot, special envoy for Earth protection) urging State Heads to rattle that lock, that is to walk the talk and go beyond declarations of intent that postpone decisions : take climate action now!

    1. I will. It’s about time the politicians and the polluting industries stopped talking, setting pathetic targets and making half-hearted promises, and took decisive, unpopular action. They’ve wasted far too much time already. They shouldn’t need another tsunami or heatwave to kill thousands to remind them.

      Merci.

  18. Fed and DG management…thanks for Rattling that Lock against ticket touts this year, it gave me a chance to see David Gilmour. Your system of checking IDs worked and made sure that true fans got to see the show without having to pay exorbitant scalper prices.

    I hope you can implement this policy for any smaller US shows.

  19. Hello Fed and friends, I’ve missed you all.

    As this is about raising voices in blogs, I thought my latest blog documenting my adventures over the last few weeks might add some value to the conversation.

      1. Hi George,

        Thanks for the link to your website – there is some fabulous work there.

        You left us a bit worried in the chatroom with your enigmatic withdrawal but it’s good to know we can keep tabs on you – just try to stay healthy!

        As for the emergency services, don’t worry about what to say. First and foremost their reward is your safe recovery. Of course a sincere and heartfelt thank you will also be much appreciated – and written on a postcard of one of your spectacular prints would really make their day I’m sure.

    1. That sounds like a very narrow path you managed to get through, if you allow me to say. Lost for words: I always am, when I hear what those guarding angels earn in comparison to an average employee and I’m sorry that I have to include myself to the later.

    2. Hi George, I just read your blog. Hope you’re well and on the mend, matey.

      Kindest regards
      Damian

  20. WELCOME BACK!!!! You have thanked them by being LIVING proof of their efforts and somewhere deep inside, you missed us and still had some locks to rattle. I’m so happy that you’re okay. ♥

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