international

I'll Fight

I've done quite a few jobs down the years. Worked in newspapers, radio, television, PR and communications, training. I'm also an author.

My first book was about the founders of The Salvation Army, the global church and charity organisation, William and Catherine Booth.

William and catherine book coverWeirdly it was called 'William and Catherine - the love story of the founders of The Salvation Army told through their letters' (Monarch/Lion Hudson 2013) ... and yes it was based on the letters the couple wrote to each other from the time they met and throughout their engagement and long marriage.

The letters are full of their love and family life, but also show how that love, and a love for and faith in God, led to the creation of The Salvation Army, from very humble beginnings in the East End of Victorian London to a 'movement' which today can be found in more than 130 countries. 

Why am I telling you this? Well, it's because today - April 10th - is William Booth's birthday! Born this day in 1829 in Nottingham in England, he was a man on a mission. Having become a Christian when he was what we today would call a 'teenager', he was determined to spend his life in God's service.

He yearned to be an evangelist and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He tried hard to fit into the Methodist Church, but he was such an individualist that, ultimately, that just didn't work. Finally, after years of struggle and ministry, he and Catherine found themselves in London where William began to really see the plight of the poor and to be challenged into a response. He and Catherine had realised their 'calling' in life was to champion the hoards of people excluded from church and society, marginalised, ignored, undervalued and even abused.

In 1865 the Booths created the East London Christian Mission, among other things to preach to, feed and support the poor. In 1878 it was renamed and became 'The Salvation Army' and from that moment it really took off, with its quasi military structure and distinctive character. Uniforms and brass bands were among the features which captured the public imagination and attracted not just people from the poverty stricken part of the population but also those from the higher echelons of society who felt that 'church' should be more than just ritual and Sunday attendance at services.  Christian faith in this context was to be shared, and to make a difference in the world. In modern parlance, Christian faith is '24/7' and is to influence what you get up to and how you interact with the world.

The Booths and their followers (known as 'Salvationists') faced much opposition, from society and even the church. Among other things, The Salvation Army asked, and still asks, it's members to give up the booze and that didn't go down well with publicans! Salvation Army members were imprisoned for their faith, and attacked by those who opposed them, including groups calling themselves 'The Skeleton Army'.

But by the time William was an old man he was revered. He and Catherine (she had died in 1890) and their children and followers had developed not just what was effectively a church with many hundreds of 'corps' across the globe, but a mission which helped to pick people up from poverty and equip them for a future where they could look after themselves and their families. Not just a 'hand out' in charity, but a 'hand up'. 

WIlliam's last speech = albert hall ihq imageAnd even as an old man, William Booth never lost the spirit to fight for the marginalised, people who no one else would champion.

On May 9th 1912, just a few months before he died, William ... the 'General' of The Salvation Army ... appeared before a huge crowd at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He had just completed a tour of Europe and it's reckoned around 7,000 Salvationists packed into the venue to hear what would be their leader's final address. 

It was here he was reported to have said something which would sum up his 60-year Christian ministry, and the mission of The Salvation Army.

And it still inspires today 

While women weep,
as they do now, I’ll fight.

While little children go hungry,
as they do now, I’ll fight.
While men go to prison, in and
out, in and out, as they do now,
I’ll fight.
While there is a drunkard left,
While there is a poor lost girl
upon the streets,
While there remains one dark
soul without the light of God,
I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end!

Quite a few years ago, I was employed as the Head of Media for The Salvation Army in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and we produced a video for a big event (a 'congress') which brought together Salvation Army members and friends from across the UK and the British Isles. 

It was called the 'I'll Fight' Congress and it's theme was that great speech made by General William Booth at the start of the 1900s.

But, big question  - is the sentiment of the speech still relevant for the 21st century?

Well of course there are still 'poor lost girls' ... in fact today The Salvation Army is at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking, the modern slave trade, across the world. People still go hungry, still go to prison and end up isolated. Drugs, alcohol abuse, homelessness, unemployment ... these are unfortunately still issues which The Salvation Army helps to address day on day. 

And for that 'congress' we re-worked the original Booth speech to suit the times. It was some years ago, so apologies to the children who kindly helped me on this project. They are now grown adults. 

But it still works ... and it still challenges ... 

 

*image above and film embedded in the video copyright The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre


Be Happy!

Are you feeling happy today? Be happy

I hope so ... because today is ... the International Day of Happiness !

This is not just something that some whacky person thought up on the spur of the moment to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It's part of a growing recognition at the highest level that happiness is very important to the human condition and to the progress of our cultures and societies and even our economies.

It is the United Nations International Day of Happiness. Back in July 2011 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”. In other words, to progress as a global community it's not enough to have economic success. We should also be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing.

WOW!

All 193 members of the UN adopted the resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority, and International Day of Happiness has been celebrated around the world since 2013. Every year a World Happiness Report is published on March 20th, which is always a great opportunity to see where YOUR country lies in the 'list' of happy countries, or not so happy nations, as the case may be.

But it's not just about governments. Happiness is down to each one of us. In ourselves and in our communities.

Every year on the International Day of Happiness, we're invited to take some positive steps to help create happiness. But perhaps THIS year it's even more important than before.

After the year we've had with the coronavirus pandemic, it's easy to feel rather depressed isn't it? Many of us have struggled with our mental health, what with all the lockdowns and personal and economic/business challenges we've experienced. Some of us have struggled to stay happy, and I think for some of us, our concept of happiness might have changed. 

Maybe in the past we thought we were happy when we were travelling, going to parties, buying stuff, being recognised, having career success, promotion and status. Perhaps these days we're happy just with a walk in the countryside or on the beach. Seeing members of our family with whom we've have little contact for months. Just knowing we are staying safe and our loved ones are well. For me, these concepts and feelings have replaced much of the 'doing and having' happiness of the past.

And today, as we think about the International Day of Happiness, we've got lots of help to refocus our minds.

This year the group Action for Happiness, which is a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations, is reminding us to Keep Calm. Stay Wise. Be Kind.

  • Keeping calm will always take the pressure off. We're reminded that there are so many things outside of our control, but if we remember to focus on what really matters to us, the stresses may reduce. 
  • Making wise choices will help. We'll improve our own well-being and that of others around us if we choose positivity and positive thinking and actions, rather than negative ones.
  • Yesterday we were thinking about being kind to each other. Action for Happiness also encourage us to keep in touch with others and reach out to help people in need. To 'stay connected'
 
So ... question is ... what makes us happy? How can we stay happy and encourage and promote happiness?

Here are some more ideas from the International Day of Happiness website which has 10 great points to help us develop happiness, especially in these coronavirus times...

  • Let's stick together (to beat covid)
  • Follow World Health Organisation (WHO) advice
  • Attend a Happiness Day event (virtually)
  • Stay Social (online)
  • Be Kind, share and say 'Thank you'
  • Stay active and be mindful
  • Be optimistic, positive and resilient 
  • Stay informed about facts and news
  • Enjoy nature
  • Adopt 'HAPPYTALISM' .. which is all about thinking of ways we can change systems to ensure we never again have such an awful pandemic. It's about looking at new economic models and, as the United Nations resolution encourages to do, to think of the well-being of people as much as we think about economic success

Don't you love that ... HAPPYTALISM rather than CAPITALISM?

On this International Day we have a whole 24 hours to think about happiness but hopefully, if we're just starting out on this journey, what we learn today will transform tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow.

And .. for those of you who know me well, you might have guessed already that I have song for you ... and it IS an obvious one. Love this song!

Happy International Day of Happiness !

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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We’re all in this together, even when we’re forced apart. Let’s stay connected and reach out to help others who may be in need.