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by Julie Murrow about a year ago in humanity
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Waving my little flag

When I considered the title of this challenge I had to stop and think. I love reading and writing, studying and playing the piano but what actually gets me fired up enough to speak out? I have a Facebook page where I share my thoughts in both prose and poetry so I had a look back to see if there was a recurring theme. And there was. I discovered a curious mix of sentimental prose, rather dark fiction and poetry that I have obviously written from the lofty heights of my soapbox.

So, first of all, injustice is a big issue for me. For example, my poetry covers subjects such as: the hard work and extra reward of a single parent (male or female); if your dad is gay, transvestite, old or uneducated, if he loves you that’s all that matters; the sorrow of war; the ridiculousness of people starving when globally we throw away something like two hundred and twenty million tonnes of food each year; why it’s enough just to be who you are and not who society dictates you should be; how mad it is that people in the UK, on an average wage, would have to work for forty minutes to earn the same as a world-class footballer does in one second.

So, I think I do feel a sense of injustice or imbalance in the world and rather than preach to people I prefer to write down my thoughts and let people appreciate what I'm saying the easy way. People don’t like to be talked at (well I don’t anyway) so I try not to do that.

Secondly, I’m an avid supporter of Human Rights and cannot abide intolerance especially racism, particularly coming from ignorant people. By that I mean, for example, where I live there are anti-Muslim people who vomit inaccuracies, because they know nothing about Islam. Once again, social media allows me to pass on my opinions, subtly. I live in the UK in a place where towns either side of mine have migrants arriving almost on a daily basis. It has caused upset, tension and physical dissent among locals who, fuelled by mis-representation of the facts by the media and the insidious rhetoric of politicians and fascist groups, feel obliged to protect their land from an enemy that doesn’t exist. Where they see danger to our lives and economy being washed up on the beach in small dinghys, I see people’s humanity being washed away on the outgoing tide (suggestions like putting machine guns on the beaches being one example). So, I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and wrote a piece of prose about how the castle of my hometown has stood for almost a thousand years watching as Jutes, Vikings, Romans and Normans invaded our land. In my words my hometown should open its arms to the reluctant invaders of today because it is already multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-coloured. Another piece of prose which seemed to touch a nerve was entitled ‘The Little Things’. In it I described how, when my son was approximately two or three years old, we went to a toddler’s gym where one of the other mums said that my son was ‘a bit Chinese-y'. I told her that, yes, he is mixed race – English/Burmese. Her response? “Don’t worry, it doesn’t really show.” Similarly, when acquaintances have been speaking in derogatory terms about migrants and I've reminded them that if my in-laws hadn’t fled their home in fear of their lives, I wouldn’t have my son, their response has been “Ah, but that’s different”. The point of the prose that these incidents inspired me to write was to say that little comments like these might seem to be harmless or even helpful, but they are, in fact, rude, racist and unnecessary. I’ve since had quite a few messages from people thanking me for my words.

The last thing that I am passionate about is my faith. It’s personal to me. I'm not evangelical about it, I’m not the sort of person to roam the streets spreading the Word, for instance. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, it’s just not who I am. Having said that though, if people ask me about my faith I’ll answer any questions as honestly as I can. For me it’s less about trying to convert and more about letting people know that it’s okay to say, ‘I’m a Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Atheist’. After all, there are enough places in the world where people can’t admit to those things. The thing is, I can take a joke about religion like many people but when I feel that a line has been crossed, I’m not afraid to say so. Funnily enough it’s usually friends or family who post the most offensive memes on social media. I think that they forget I’m the ‘religious one’ in the family. So, apart from standing up for my beliefs, I'll post a prayer on my Facebook page as a gentle reminder that ‘I am here and this is me’. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone fall out with me about anything that I’ve posted and I believe that it’s because I have the knack of providing an opinion in the guise of food for thought.

One thing that my friends and family are aware of is the books that I publish. Usually poetry, sometimes prose, a mixture of serious, sentimental and silly with the odd prayer thrown in, they know that any profit I make from selling the books goes to charity. I’m not talking about thousands of pounds but enough that one winter the proceeds of The Musings of a Middle-Aged Woman bought woolly hats for Syrian children and the following year Cancer Research was the recipient of Writing for Love on Father’s Day profits (which I wrote in recognition of men’s cancer). It serves a multi-purpose, writing these books, because my creative urges are satisfied, I’m waving my flag in support of matters I feel strongly about and other people reap the benefits. And that makes me feel good.


About the author

Julie Murrow

I'm an avid reader, writer and pianist. I have written on a variety of subjects and in various genres from children's stories, poetry and history to adult short stories. My three Skinny Pigs and I live by the sea, where I grew up.

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