The Hebrew Word Is Timshel.


All Cut From The Same Cloth

I don’t believe I am racist, but thinking back to my youth, I’m sure I told jokes in the pub that may, or may not, have offensive, say, the Irish, “did you hear the one about the Irishman………” for if it is true that only an Irish person can say if s/he is offended by your remark, and if so, then I suppose I may well have been a racist.

Now back in the 1980s a German came to work with us, I found out he had studied engineering at a German University, and at the end of his studies moved to South Africa where he had secured a job in management. He was in charge of laying water pipes to outlying townships, however, he never really had to leave his office since he had under-manages and foremen to look after the actual every day laying of the pipes.

“What kind of pipes were they, concrete, clay?” I asked.

“No, asbestos” he replied.

“Asbestos! I’m really surprised, you must have had strict safety in place working with such material, and was the water passing through the pipes not contaminated? (asbestos was disbanded in the UK).

“No, none” he assured me.

“But the danger to health would have been enormous, asbestos is a killer” I said.

His answer was even more shocking, it was not a problem,

“Black men have big families”.

Later when he returned to South Africa to bring his wife and son to the UK he landed at Heathrow where they would have to pass through immigration control, when he found out the person that would be interviewing his wife (she and her son were white South African) he immediately boarded a plane for Germany with his family and brought them through customs there, now officially in the EU they could fly to Edinburgh unimpeded. He asked me why we allow black people to run our country?

There were two French lads on the television the other day talking about ballet, one black, he was saying how black dancers were under-represented on stage and how changes should be made to correct this. The other took the opposite view that the only criteria to be on stage at all, should be their talent no matter their colour. Difficult since both views had merit. The system in France, of course, could be pitted against anyone other than ‘male and pale’ and there might be all sorts of reasons for those theatres to favour white dancers, Theatres make their money by selling their product to an audience, so will cater to that audience, not an excuse, and possibly wrong, but a reality just the same.

I personally think for instance that the BBC should bring more black people on as presenters and newsreaders on television, especially black women newsreaders. My reasons for saying this may be biased. You see I’m hard of hearing, and I find English women, like children, their voices are high pitch and to me sound squeaky, very difficult to follow. On the other hand, black women newsreaders normally have deeper voices and their diction is flawless. So I suppose I am on the side of, who is best for the job, regardless of colour, creed or favour.

Which brings me to the stooshie that is taking place in Scotland at present. Should we have all women candidates lists at elections to have a better balance in the parliament? And the latest has to be the SNPs ham-fisted and corruptly-motivated attempt to increase BAME and disabled representation at this years Holyrood elections, that is now threatening to split the party and the parties membership asunder.

It is very easy to make the case against any form of discrimination, and if you talk of having all-female lists, whatever the thinking behind it, well is smacks of discrimination or even cronyism, so you change the wording to, “Quotas” much more neutral sounding, who could object to that? But people did. So those pushing for change did just that they changed the name again to “Diversity and Inclusion”.

Now object to diversity and inclusion, clearly a good things, and we will hound you to hell and back on Twitter. Suddenly now all debate has gone from the argument.

I am against any system that overrides raw democracy so as to increase the representation of a selected group at the expense of another group, for whatever reason, sex, gender, or colour, the choice should only be made on ability. If there is a problem in the system that discriminates against any of the above gettings to the top spot, then that is a different question.

I remember when Union Congress was a sea of white male faces, and during my father’s generation, women did not even have the vote. Tossing statues into the harbour will not change history, the values then are not the values now, and that is a good thing, but they were the values then and you cannot change that.

The First Minister of Scotland, since taking office has brought more women into her cabinet, and from what I see, she has picked well, and when she didn’t, she was quick to through them under a bus. What I object to is this 50:50 cross-party group which enjoys the enthusiastic patronage of the First Minister. The proponents of these systems that are being imposed argue that the only groups being disadvantaged are ‘male and pale’ and nobody likes straight white men and anyone standing up for them can be quickly dealt with on Twitter.

The banner behind the First Minister as she took to the podium of the 50:50 group read

“At Least 50:50 Representation in our Parliament and out Councils”

So at least 50:50 – at present only 35% of Scotland’s MSP are female – the group see this as unacceptable and what would be acceptable? Would 65% or even 75% or why not 100% since no upper limit is set, would this be acceptable? I doubt that we ‘pale and male’ would think so and would simply vote with our feet.

When it comes to ethnic it is even more complicated. Scotland is, and always has been, a white country. In fact, 95 % of the population is white. Asian 2.6% around 140,000 souls, and relatively speaking, new to this country. Only 0.6% of our citizens a mere 32,400 are classed as African, Caribbean or black, growing up in Fife I only knew of one black man.

So when you talk about proportional representation for BAME at Holyrood that would be 4% of the 129 MSP, which is five. We already have two, Hamza Yousaf, and Anas Sarwar, electing three more, you would think, not impossible. But is that all from the same party, for if not, what? And then do we move to subdivide BAME or simply lump them all together into a neat (Brown) group? – and what about BAME women must we have 50:50 BAME? And all this before you come to cultural identity – something that can not be overlooked in Scotland if you have attended an old firm game in either capital. So then do we have a shortlist for religious followers of Allah, Mohammed, Buddha, Obi-Wan Kenobi, this list would be endless. You can already see the problem, by proportional representation, to have even only one Jewish MSP in Holyrood there would have to be 769 MSPs, so should we forbid a Jewish MSP from standing for the Holyrood elections, so as not to upset the balance?

Why, oh why, did the SNP open this can of worms, and how can they put the lid back on the tin?

Hours of bickering and squabbling, over this silliness, whilst the real problems of Scotland go undebated, is a recipe for disaster.

Since my retirement I have found the time to read books, I pick up most of my paperback fiction in charity shops and when read will put them in our library here, for someone else to read. Others, however, I pick up in book shops, usually, these are books that I hold on to. For on their first ready, you get the story, but on the second or even the third time of reading you get the message too. I have been working my way through a big box of books that comes under the category of worthy of a second reading. Today’s book is East of Eden, by John Steinbecks.

Lee the Chinese and old Samuel discuss a Bible verse where a word is translated differently in the American Standard Version and the King James versions. The word was so important that Lee consulted his Chinese community. The Chinese got so interested in the exact meaning of the verse at issue that they learned Hebrew to try to part the veil. At the end of two years, they were ready. One of the accepted translations said, ‘Thou shalt rule over sin’ (a Promise). The other equally accepted translation said ‘Do thou rule over sin’ (an order). And the Chinese had found that it read ‘Thou mayest’ (a choice). And they knew their two years spent working and meditating on it had not been wasted.

Samuel said, it’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. ‘Don’t you see?’ he cried. ‘The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in “Thou shalt”, meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – “Thou mayest” – that gives a choice. This says the way is open. That throws it right back on man. For if “Thou mayest”, it is also true that “Thou mayest not”. don’t you see?

What a beautiful way of put it, to conquer ignorance or remain ignorant. You can educate but you can not legislate against racism or prejudice (ignorance) and quotas will change nothing. The Hebrew word – timshel, “Thou mayest, it is an individual choice, that we all must make.

Stay safe.

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