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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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38 Responses to 522

  1. will says:

    yeah, who wants to be in the line of fire. After all, I may get hurt.

  2. Andrew S says:

    One of the things that really winds me up is people refusing to get ‘involved’ with issues of (mostly third world) poverty and justice, assuming that if they don’t think about it, they are innocent.

    While buying cheap clothes in Primark, driving enormous, inappropriate vehicles and not asking how or where the bank invests their money.

  3. janetp says:

    Surely when it comes to matters of injustice, ‘not getting involved’ is tantamount to complicity, therefore we are involved as much by our INaction as by our action. The only difference is in deciding whether we want our involvement to be positive or negative.

    Andrew S: I agree with the points you make, but would add that it is also important to recognise and accept our limitations as individuals. This doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility to try to make proactive decisions in unjust situations, but it does relieve us of the need to feel guilty when, for whatever reason, our efforts fall short of our ideals or the ideals of others. We are none of us perfect.

  4. janetp says:

    BTW, great cartoon Jon.

  5. Carole says:

    It would be great to get involved with every injustice that comes along. Realistically speaking, though it would take some kind of superhero. We ought to be careful not to spout too much ‘right on’ rhetoric because it is physically impossible to fight every battle. Much better, I think to choose your battles and have an effect in one or two than to fail miserably at every cause going. That doesn’t stop you having sympathies towards many causes but you would spread yourself thinly to the point of breaking if you attempted an active involvement in all (like the last human in Dr Who!)

  6. becky says:

    5. Agreed completely re: pick your battles or you’ll die. I also believe it’s true that we think globally but act locally – when I see Christians who are into social justice but treat their neighbors like rubbish, I dismiss them as hypocrites.

    As Andrew noted, there are things we can do that have a global impact. For example, I am working hard at buying fair trade clothing or shopping at thrift stores so I don’t contribute to third world sweat shops. I try to travel responsibly so my carbon footprint isn’t embarrassing – one of my mantras has been to encourage people to rethink Christian conferences – we need a few things like Greenbelt to meet up but we’re on conference overload here in the US – add up the speakers fees, hotel (esp. if hotel isn’t green), travel (cost and carbon footprint), food (esp. if catered and not grown locally) and is what you did for the kingdom at this event worth what you emitted from this event?

    One thing I do as a writer is to give voice to the voiceless – I respect those working in the Sudan and Iraq but they have people there giving them voices whereas there’s almost no one speaking for the Christians in Lebanon, Syria and Bethlehem. For me, I find I need to really pray and reflect to see where God is truly tugging at my heart strings. And where she pulls is different for each of us.

  7. janetp says:

    Carole: Yup! :)

    Becky: Yup! :)

  8. TyTe says:

    I once remember the head of Tearfund telling me not to stop buying unethical clothing but to keep buying so that the workers still get paid the pittance they are on, but rather, lobby the companies telling them we like their stuff and would buy more if they were ethically made/fairly traded. This was in the days before one could buy fairly traded clothing.

  9. TyTe says:

    We don’t have to go far from home to discover injustices though…

    It is an injustice that here in Bath, elderly people are afraid to walk the streets after dark. It is an injustice that the local supermarket and bus companies keep prices artificially high because they know people have no other choice due to lack of alternative transport.

  10. janetp says:

    Absolutely right, TyTe. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the ‘big’ issues far away and forget about the ‘little’ issues on our doorsteps.

  11. jonbirch says:

    sometimes it’s easier to focus on nothing at all

  12. Carole says:

    TyT, janetp – I couldn’t agree more. One injustice which will come home to roost and affect us all is the pitiful state of the pension system in this country. It seems that since Maxwell shafted the Mirror group pension funds, it has almost become acceptable to rip pension fund members off. We sign up to pension funds before we are old enough to give a damn and the administrators then proceed to move the goalposts whenever they feel like. It is probably the people who can ill afford it but make the effort to look after future needs and be ‘good citizens’ who will end up being mercilessly robbed by the fat cats of the City. Yes, as a Chrisitan I try not to worry about the worldly needs of tomorrow, but undoubtedly the future will see a lot of us ‘up Poo Creek without a paddle’ (my dad always used the mor e colourful version!) :)

    And many, many other local issues…

  13. subo says:

    “there’s almost no one speaking for the Christians in Lebanon, Syria and Bethlehem”

    powerful stuff Becky, i think thats a key aspect of how Jesus saw his work, giving a voice to the poor and powerless

    something i’ve needed often enough

  14. Anna says:

    Did any one see Panorama yesterday? Its probably on iplayer. Isn’t it just our culture that has this lazy attitude? We don’t have to combat issues, lets stick with the status quo. if fuel price goes up then thats bad for car companies and money. We like money, who gives a monkeys about the environment.
    Also, it seems that its every ones dream to be rich enough to afford to be wasteful. Why do we work? to get money. Why do we want money? so we dont have to work. I blame lazyness.
    Of course I am completely hypocritical as I am in fact the laziest 15 year old in the whole of West England. :D but ynow… sorry for the ramble!

  15. jonbirch says:

    i doubt you’re the laziest anna. you posted a comment… that takes effort. :-)

    that’ll be ‘shit creek’ then carole. :-) i too (barring the discovery of some hitherto unknown rich relly) will be working until the day i die. i did think that a labour gov might bring justice to our country in the shape of pension protection and fairer taxation. but no… :-(

  16. sarah says:

    F**k you that’s the only thing we can do to get involved.

    (to the toon)

  17. TyTe says:

    It’s hard to keep up motivation to live ethically, lobby corporations and so on. It’s easier just to give up and go with the flow. I hang my head in shame in that recently, I’ve let my standards down. It’s good to be brought up short and encouraged to keep going!

  18. subo says:

    i think the pension rip of has loads of implications for our culture, including silencing all those outspoken, experienced and thoughtful people, who have more time and freedom to look at whats happening politically – I think it was the WI that spoke up about something or other

    it also increasingly robs the next generation of a much needed source of support – ie when a baby arrives, or other life events, it’s so mice to feel there’s a few folk in the family who can spare a little time

    finally, we find ourselves nursing more and more of our relatives, as our culture burns up and scraps us at a faster rate, whilst not even being able to buy a home or our own

  19. janetp says:

    OK, so lots of us feel there’s quite a lot wrong with OUR country at the moment, and that our government isn’t changing things the way we’d like.

    Question is, what are we doing/can we do to be counter-cultural over issues like the pension thing, besides changing the way we vote in the hope that ‘the next lot’ will ‘get it right’?

  20. Maggi says:

    Funnily, I took the comic literally, whereas you guys seem to think of it as an allegory. The first thing I thought when this popped up in my feed reader was my own situation in ’93. See, here in Germany we have no professional army as in the UK (I do not know whether the term is correct, but I mean a standing army consisting only of volunteering people, no drafts involved), but a compulsory military service.

    As good christians of course in our church you had to “verweigern”, what means refusing to serve in the military and doing some social work instead. The attitude of my brothers of not “making their hands dirty” together with my rebelling spirit lead to the fact that I am now on the reserve list of the German army – as corporal.

    So what should I do if it came to drafting me again – which could always be the case, if the NATO intensifies their involvement in Afghanistan, the Kosovo, somewhere in Africa? Should I refuse (yes, that is even possible here *after* having served)? Should I risk potentially getting blood on my hands?

    I’d like to know whether there are similar problems with the UK armes forces and christians who serve there – what it’s like. Do you know of anyone having these conflicts being soldier and christian at the same time?

  21. janetp says:

    Maggie: Thanks for your comments – an interesting insight into different ways of doing things since, as you point out, we have a very different set up here in the UK.

    You also reminded me that in my earlier post (19) I had forgotten that many ASBOers aren’t in the UK, so thank you for that and apologies to those of you for whom “OUR country” DOESN’T mean the UK. :)

  22. doctor ruth says:

    I think one of the biggest problems (in the UK at least) is an overwhelming sense of helplessness – ‘nothing I do makes any difference’. Voting doesn’t make a difference because all the parties are the same. The trade unions have lost their voice and power. Protest marches are either ignored or broken up under the terrorist act. Petitions are ignored. Multinationals are a law unto themselves. The supermarkets make loads of profit on fairly traded goods because they know people will pay extra for them.

    So the average person will say ‘what difference can I make as just one person?’

    Just as well Martin Luther King didn’t think the same!

  23. Mimou says:

    Giving voice to those who have no voice is part of and essence of postcolonialism and postcolonial theory.. I recommend reading some of that. Good book to start is Robert Young’s introductory book:

    it’s a very practical in this world/in the midst of our world kinda book. I’d have loads more to recommend to all who’d be interested..

  24. janetp says:

    You’re so right, Dr Ruth. Perhaps that’s why we’re so focused on situations like Afganistan – we feel as a nation we might actually be able to contribute something positive elsewhere, even if our methods sometimes let us down.

    In a country in which so many people seem to have no sense of identity and feel that what they can contribute is at best dismissed, it’s no wonder that people swing between paralysing helplessness and an attitude of ‘eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die’ that underpins much of our rampant consumerism.

    Sadly, the Church doesn’t seem to be offering a vibrant, life-enhancing alternative that allows people to find Meaning in their human experience. :(

  25. janetp says:

    “Sadly, the Church doesn’t seem to be offering a vibrant, life-enhancing alternative that allows people to find Meaning in their human experience.”

    Just to be clear, I mean the Church as a whole. I’m well aware that individual churches have much to offer, but collectively we don’t seem to be having much of an impact in terms of Meaning. The attitude of the media and certain groups who are vociferous in their condemnation and ridicule of all things Christian (funny how they don’t apply the same attitude to our Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddist brothers & sisters ….) doesn’t help. :(

    Hurray for things like Greenbelt and ASBO, where vibrancy and life-enhancement are alive and well! :jazz:

  26. janetp says:

    Sorry. Wrong word.

    I meant :razz:

  27. gilly says:

    I think it was Adrian Plass who said: ” I have not been political. And I repent”
    It was the intro to something no doubt even wiser and wittier…but that statement stayed with me..and continues to stay with me.
    It seems to me that we have absolutely no alternative But to be involved. I surely hope God never calls me to thrown tables around though….

  28. drewman says:

    Becki (6) be encouraged, just returned from a field with 2500 teenagers – thankfully not all mine. During the event the main speaker person was commenting that he had been written to suggesting that Mr so and so – current big ministry success person – should be invited along. To which the reply was ‘ no thanks I’ll think we’ll invite Jesus instead, if thats alright with you. – Rockin!

    Also, and on a tangent here, why is it that it always rains on pack down day and gets the tents all soggy so you need another week just to dry them all?

  29. soniamain says:

    Maggi, I have a friend who has a very strong christian faith and was an officer in the army in the uk ( has retired now). He went into Ireland the day after bloody sunday. He is a great person to talk to about conflict, fighting and whether we should have an armed force, he believes in just war ( needless to say he feels the recent Iraqi conflict are not under that category). For him being in the army was very carefully thought through, prayed through. While he was in Ireland he helped to protect his men and the innocent people in Ireland, and to model how to behave in a just and godly way, while still doing his job. Thought provoking stuff.

  30. “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” – Rabbi Hillel

  31. JF says:

    dr ruth (22): I feel you’re right about politics. I have long felt that politics are dead as a means of instituting what is ‘right’. The only votes that count is how we spend our money. I truly feel that shopping ethically, banking ethically, and acting ethically (where, in my book, ‘ethically’ applies as generally as “love thy neighbour” and where my neighbour includes people, plants and animals, in this country and abroad) is the new voting. It’s all about money. They want your money. Money is power. Don’t give your money to anyone who wouldn’t get your vote if they were a political party. Sure it’s not as 100% simple as that in everyday life but you gotta have goals.

  32. jonbirch says:

    i like the cut of your cloth jf! well said. :-)

  33. Will says:

    indeed – well said jf

  34. sarah says:


  35. subo says:

    “They want your money” – recent government decisions include giving a large wad of our money to a bank, just over a thousand pounds from all of us

  36. doctor ruth says:

    JF – I agree, but sometimes it’s difficult to know who the right people are…

  37. subo says:

    the de-humanisation of faith

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