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Saturday 30 July 2011

Annus Mirabilis!

It often seems that those who sit out storms come through them far stronger and far lighter and far wiser that ever before. Maybe some people remember the sadness in the Queen’s voice when, with what sounded like a sore throat and bad cold and a great deal of sorrow, she spoke of the ‘annus horribilis’ of 1992 – a year she would surely be happy to forget. The 1990s was a particularly unhappy decade for the Queen and, following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, she came under increasingly unpleasant scrutiny from newspapers (which, incidentally, are now being shown in their true light...or rather darkness!). Happily, though, she did not buckle under but, as she has done for almost 60 years, continued in her role and remained true to herself.

Today, I am sure she must have really enjoyed the lovely wedding of her granddaughter Zara – a quite different and, for the Queen, probably less demanding occasion from the wedding of Prince William only three months ago. Already preparations are underway for her Diamond Jubilee and it is a lovely to think that perhaps, having come through the other side of the annus horribilis, it is now an annus mirabilis and thank heavens for the next generation!

Congratulations to Zara and Mike Tyndall (a good Yorkshire fellow!!) and I wish them a very happy life together!

Friday 29 July 2011

Freedom of the Press & The Internet

I love the internet! It seems to me to be the greatest innovation since the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel! The way in which people can communicate with friends across the world at any hour of the day or night, is brilliant. The way in which people who wouldn’t otherwise have ever met can come together is amazing. The way in which information is available at the press of a key is so rewarding. The way in which it is possible to learn and discover things that you might never have thought of is amazing; and, above all, the possibilities for sharing ideas and learning to see through the eyes of people who might live thousands of miles away is awe-inspiring. Once, while working on a book, I needed to know whether a particular car of a particular era would start by a key in the ignition or by winding a crank in the engine. Knowing nothing about engines I searched for an antique car forum, posed my question and within half an hour had 5 detailed replies from experts! How brilliant is that?

There are people who speak of the dangers of the internet because some social websites give rise to people – especially children – placing themselves at the mercy of predators. This is undoubtedly true but there have always been wicked people who use whatever methods are available to abuse others, and I think that, in time, children will become as aware of the dangers as children in the past were aware of the dangers of getting into strangers’ cars or taking sweets from strange men. Another – slightly amusing to me – ‘danger’ is what happens when you purchase a website and let it lapse. There is a website in my name which is now filled with ‘steamy sex secrets’ which have nothing to do with me, though it is still registered in my name and, since I once had cards printed with that website address and handed them out to many people in places where I give talks about the Victorians, it might be a bit weird if anyone goes to that site! That causes me a lot of amusement and, no matter what, I hope with all my heart that there will never be any form of internet censorship because that would be far worse than the so called dangers of the present freedom of expression.

The recent newspaper scandals of News International demonstrate the dangers of monopolies and what happens when free-speech or the ‘freedom of the press’ falls into the hands of a few magnates. This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1914, a German newspaper published a totally false story of Germany’s war preparations and military mobilisation. Only two years previously, the British Prime Minister, Asquith, had warned the Kaiser of the danger of German newspapers being dominated by a small group of people with their own agenda. That article, I am sure, was a deliberate attempt to raise fear across Europe and provoke war.

The exchange of ideas available on the internet overrides the news that is fed to people by the standard papers and TV broadcasts – which are often indirectly under government control - and allows people to look beneath the surface of what we are being told. From such a position, people are able to form our own opinions without relying on some magnate’s slant on what is happening in the world.

And, speaking of the internet, please visit our new blog, which has just been set up:
Lost in the myths of history
and also, if you feel inclined, a new website (which won’t be sold on!)
Hilliard & Croft

Monday 25 July 2011

Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats

I am delighted that the paperback version of Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats is now complete and will be available for purchase within the next fourteen days (or less!).

Saturday 16 July 2011

3rd Excerpt from "Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats"

This excerpt takes place immediately after the funeral of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, when Archduke Karl meets with the Czech princes who attended the requiem..

“....Dies irae, dies illa, solvet saeclum in favilla…”
“Day of wrath, that dreadful day, the whole world shall lie in ashes…” he whispered, when suddenly the sound of raised voices echoed from the Medieval Gate where three men stood talking loudly.
Striding in their direction, Karl immediately recognised them as the Czech Princes Kinsky, Schwarzenberg and Lobkowitz, who had knelt reverently in the chapel and seemed genuinely saddened by the deaths. Seeing him approach they turned in unison and, though their greeting was polite, there was an obvious hostility etched into their faces.
“Gentlemen, it is a sad day…” Karl began in a conciliatory tone but rather than placating them his words provoked anger.
Prince Kinsky was the first to speak, “A sad day and a thoroughly shameful one!”
“Shameful?” Karl said, uncertain of his meaning.
“Had I not seen this for myself, I would never have believed it.”
“Montenuovo,” Prince Lobkowitz said, “should be publicly humiliated and dismissed at once for such an affront. How dare so vile and insignificant a creature dishonour the Archduke and his wife in this way!”
Though his own feelings were slightly less vehement, Karl immediately warmed to these men who shared his disgust at the treatment of Sophie and Franz Ferdinand.
“It is a great insult to my uncle’s memory…” he began but Prince Kinsky interrupted,
“If I were in the Emperor’s position I would have Montenuovo flogged for this.”
Lobkowitz agreed, “As if it were not enough that they treated Her Highness so atrociously in her lifetime, they now go out of their way to abuse her in death.”
“And as for that excuse for a requiem…” Kinsky said so angrily that he could barely blurt out his words and looked to Schwarzenberg to speak for him.
“Who told the Cardinal to rush through the service and why were there so few mourners? We know that many foreign royalties wished to attend but they were not allowed to do so. King Carol of Roumania was actually turned back at the border!”
Appalled by this information, Karl shook his head, “I had no idea.”
Kinsky, regaining his composure, said, “Even our own people were turned away. Crowds had gathered to file past the coffins. Many had patiently waited in line since dawn, and others had made the effort to travel from different parts of the empire but almost four hours before the service began Montenuovo had the doors locked and refused them entry.”
“It would be understandable,” Schwarzenberg said, “if the public were to be given another opportunity of paying their respects but we have just been told that there will be no formal procession to the station. The bodies are to be shipped away in the night like a pair of executed criminals.”
“At least,” Kinsky said bitterly, “when they reach Artstetten they will be given the honour they deserve. I thank God that the Archduke had the foresight to make provision for himself and Her Highness in Bohemia where they have always been shown the respect and affection that was so sorely denied them in Vienna.”
Karl stared down at the ground and said quietly, “I know it is small consolation but I agree with everything you have said. I was very fond of my uncle and I know that all of this has been conducted in a shameful manner. The Emperor, however, is not to blame. He…”
“The Emperor allowed this to happen,” Kinsky said. “It is common knowledge that he intensely disliked Archduke Franz Ferdinand and I dare say that he is more than relieved by this turn of events.”
“No!” Karl protested loyally. “It’s true that they disagreed about many things but the Emperor is truly horrified and saddened by what has happened.”
Kinsky shook his head scornfully and opened his mouth to say more but Schwarzenberg urgently intervened as though fearful of what his companion had been about to say.
“You must understand, Your Imperial Highness, that the Archduke was the only member of your family who truly understood and respected the Bohemian people. As in so many other parts of this empire, there is a feeling among the Czechs that we are issued with orders from Vienna by people who have no understanding of our culture and our way of life. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was different and, of course, his wife was one of our own people. The Choteks might be sneered at here, but in Bohemia they are a highly respected family.”
Lobkowitz nodded, “Unlike the ministers or even the Emperor – to whom, I assure you, we remain devoted – the Archduke listened to us. We even hoped that when he eventually succeeded to the throne he might restore the Kingdom of Bohemia as an autonomous region within the empire in much the same way as the Kingdom of Bavaria is both autonomous and part of the German Empire.”
Karl nodded thoughtfully and wondered whether it would be imprudent to suggest that, like Uncle Franz, he recognised the need for greater freedom and self-government in the various provinces.
Schwarzenberg, seeming to read his thoughts, said, “Of course, this is not an appropriate time to discuss your future plans but, as you are now heir, perhaps you will consider what we have said and honour the Archduke’s memory by implementing some of his ideas.”
“Uncle Franz had many plans for reform. He was well-travelled and well-read and, though as yet I lack his wisdom and experience, I hope that one day I will be able to combine our great traditions with some of his more progressive ideas.”
“Then I suggest,” said Kinsky, “that you keep your views to yourself until you are in a position to execute them.”
Karl, disturbed by his ominous tone, ran his foot over the cobbles, inadvertently kicking a stone that flew across the courtyard and ricocheted on the opposite wall.
Schwarzenberg moved closer, “The details of exactly what happened in Sarajevo remain unclear. Perhaps you could elucidate?”
Karl opened his hands helplessly, “The killer, Gavrilo Princip, was a nineteen-year-old Bosnian who believed that by assassinating Uncle Franz he would further the cause of a South Slav Kingdom. Princip wasn’t working alone. There were several would-be assassins in the street that day…”
“We have read all of this in the newspapers but it makes so little sense,” Kinsky said impatiently. “Doesn’t it strike you as odd that a group that is allegedly comprised of Serbian officers, ministers and lawyers should choose a set of incompetent kids to carry out such an attack?”
“I suppose,” Karl said, “young men like Princip are malleable. It is easy to train them into believing their actions are justified, and their leaders view them as dispensable.”
Kinsky’s eyes narrowed, “Imagine if we were planning the assassination of someone as important as the heir to an empire. Whom would we choose to carry it out – a tubercular boy who, from all accounts, hadn’t even held a gun until a few months ago, or a skilled marksman with experience of weapons?”
Karl shook his head, “What are you suggesting?”
“Is there any proof that this boy was acting on behalf of the Black Hand?”
“The Emperor has ordered a thorough investigation so we must wait for its findings.”
Kinsky threw back his head, “The investigators will find whatever they are told to find, which undoubtedly means they will implicate the Serbian government in the murders.”
Karl glanced warily across the courtyard.
“You are aware, I suppose,” Shwarzenberg said, lowering his voice to a whisper, “that the Serbian Prime Minister, Pasic, warned our ambassador in Belgrade that a plot was afoot and the Archduke’s life would be in danger if he travelled to Sarajevo?”
Karl, increasingly unnerved, shook his head.
“Pasic had received word that these assassins were planning to disrupt the visit and he gave orders that they were to be arrested at the border.”
“And,” Lobkowitz said, “three days before the Archduke left Vienna, the Serbian envoy gave Bilinski, the Civil Governor of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the same warning but in every case these warning were ignored.”
“Why?” Karl frowned.
“Why indeed?” Kinsky looked up at the sky. “One thing is certain, there are several men within our own empire and even more international intriguers who had far more to gain from His Imperial Highness’ death than the Serbs had. When did the Archduke receive his invitation to Sarajevo?”
Karl shrugged, “I don’t know. A few months ago, I would imagine.”
“Around the time of the Emperor’s illness, perhaps?”
“The thought that the Emperor might die must have triggered a great deal of fear in certain circles. Everyone knew that the Archduke had already prepared lists of the ministers whom he would remove from office; and everyone knew, too, that he had no intention of supporting an invasion of Serbia.”
“There is no proof,” Schwarzenberg said, “that these boys were linked to the Black Hand. Even if they were duped into believing that they were acting on behalf of that group, who is to say that that was actually the case?”
Karl’s stomach churned, “You are saying that his murder was planned by …”
“No,” Schwarzenberg interrupted, “we are accusing no one. We are merely making observations.”
Lobkowitz nodded, “Who knows what goes on in the shady world of spies and agent provocateurs?”
“You must admit,” Kinsky said, looking directly at Karl, “that the timing and manner of His Imperial Highness’s death couldn’t have worked out better for many of those ministers in Vienna if they had planned the whole thing themselves. Now, they can remain secure in their positions of power; and this very public killing has provided them with the perfect excuse they were seeking to invade Serbia.”
Again Karl remembered Franz Ferdinand’s words on the evening of the ball: “…What frightens me, Karl, is the thought that these people would willingly manipulate us into a situation where war becomes inevitable. To all intents and purposes, it will be seen as an imperial war fought by kings but in fact the whole tragedy will have been engineered by ministers and generals who will then use the ensuing chaos to set themselves up in our place.”
“And,” Kinsky said, “they must be rejoicing that they are not only rid of the Archduke, but also his wife whom they all treated so appallingly.”
“Isn’t it strange,” Schwarzenberg nodded, “that Princip was as close to Her Highness as I am to you, yet he claims that he killed her by accident?”
Karl stared at the ground, weighed down by so many conflicting thoughts and emotions that for several minutes he could not speak and when he eventually did so, his voice trembled, “What do you want me to do?”
“Nothing,” Kinsky said. “There is nothing to be done. The investigation will produce its report, and history will record these events accordingly but, with all due respect, Your Imperial Highness, be aware that very few world events are ever quite as simple as they are presented for posterity.”
“Indeed,” said Lobkowitz. “Documents disappear, investigations run into insurmountable obstacles, and the truth is lost in the fairy tales that are told to keep the public happy. It is so often the case that beneath these stories, there are layers upon layers of artifice, and even when we have a glimpse of the truth and the immediate culprits are unmasked, there are many more who lurk in the shadows and whose guilt is never uncovered.”
Karl nodded sadly. Just as the news of the murder had shattered the beauty of a summer afternoon, so, too, had Uncle Franz death wrecked the idyll of the age of innocence.
“Whether or not we will ever know the truth of what happened in Sarajevo, there is something we can do now to honour Uncle Franz and Sophie.”
The three princes looked at him with interest.
“There are still crowds outside who would like to pay their respects as the bodies are taken to the station.”
“Police cordons have been set up to keep the people away.”
“The police will give way to the new heir apparent. Gentlemen, perhaps you will join me in leading the crowds in procession so that we can at least mark the Archduke’s departure from Vienna in a manner that’s honourable and fitting.”

Friday 15 July 2011

2nd Excerpt from "Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats"

This is a second excerpt from "Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats".
Here, Kaiser Wilhelm, at his daughter's wedding, is viewing himself in a mirror and trying to make sense of his conflicting emotions regarding his late mother and his sense of his own inadequacy.

He pressed his hand to his ear, trying to silence the demons that had taunted him for so long. If only Mama had been more like Queen Victoria, things could have been very different. Grandmama did not see him as weak – she recognised his potential as a noble German Emperor. While she lived, the two nations could stand side-by-side, their combined heritage bringing peace and culture to the world. With Grandmama’s passing, and the accession of Uncle Bertie as Britain’s King Edward VII, that seemingly unbreakable bond had been severed. For almost a decade an aggressive rivalry had replaced the former cooperation between the two countries, and the mutual respect they had once shared had been twisted into antipathy.
Wilhelm peered more closely at the mirror and, as he stared intently at his own face, that of his late uncle, lying in state, floated through his mind. Along with the rest of the family, he had paid his respects to the corpse of the British king but, while others struggled to contain their grief, it had taken Wilhelm even greater self-control to conceal his relief and elation. Looking down at that lifeless body, lying like a great oak felled by a storm, it had dawned on him that the death of King Edward VII marked the dawn of a new age for Germany and for her Emperor.
Huge, bronchitic and bloated by his own excesses, Uncle Bertie, no less than Wilhelm himself, had come to personify his empire. Like her king, quaffing and gluttonising at his table, Britain’s appetites had become insatiable, ravenously gobbling up so much of the world. Like her king, too, flirting and sprawling with his Parisian whores, Britain had abandoned her rightful partner, Germany, choosing instead an adulterous alliance with France. This was all Uncle Bertie’s doing, Wilhelm thought. With his patronising attitude and his lack of respect for his Kaiser-nephew, the nine years of his reign had brought nothing but tension between two great nations whose union had been sealed seventy years earlier in the marriage of Wilhelm’s grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Three years had passed since Uncle Bertie’s death but still that union remained unrestored. Britain continued her liaison with France and had even extended her alliances to create a comfortable ménage-a-trois with Russia, leaving Germany – the young and virile nation – to seek dubious comfort in the arms of the aged and decrepit old crone, Austria-Hungary.
“Now, though,” Wilhelm murmured, adopting the pose of a hero, “it is time for the restoration of the true order. When Britain realises that her era of domination is over and it is Germany’s hour to take the lead, she will abandon her flirtation with France and return to me, begging for an alliance like an unfaithful wife pleading for her husband’s forgiveness.”
He smiled at his own magnanimity, “I will take her back. I will overlook these past thirteen years and, in her gratitude, she will treat me with respect and devotion. Germany is in the ascendancy. Our military prowess, our growing navy, our social welfare programmes and advances in industry, outclass those of any other nation, and I, as her Kaiser, the All-Highest, am the most influential ruler of the age!”

Wednesday 13 July 2011

The Earl of Harewood

I was sad to hear of the death of the Earl of Harewood at the weekend as he seemed such a lovely man. I live not far from Harewood House and, while visiting the bird garden there as a small child, was asking my parents something about a particular bird when a gentleman (who looked very old to me but anyone over thirty looks old to a child!) very kindly supplied me with the answer. My mother whispered, “That is the earl!” and I hurriedly flicked through the guide book for his photograph and found that was true. Not being acquainted with royal protocol, I looked up at this tall man and asked for his autograph on the photo, and he smiled kindly and signed it for me.

Many years later, I wrote to him about a book and received a very lovely handwritten reply. He had accidentally dropped a half-finished Times crossword into the envelope somehow, and I was going to complete it and return it to him, but I never did.
Sincere condolences to his family...I am sure he will be remembered with love.

Sunday 10 July 2011

"Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats" Excerpt

I am delighted that within a day or two, my novel: “Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats” will be available via Kindle, and will available in paperback in about a month. The cover posted here, is a temporary cover for the Kindle edition.
As I wrote in a previous post, “The Scapegoats” is the first in the ‘Shattered Crowns’ trilogy which follows the royalties of Europe through the years 1914-1918. The Scapegoats covers the periods from April 1913 to the outbreak of the First World War. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Emperor Franz Josef, Archduke Karl, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II feature most prominently in this novel, an excerpt from which, I include below (and will include further excerpts over the next couple of days.

This excerpt is part of a conversation between Archduke Karl and his uncle, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It takes place during a winter ball where the two men have escaped from the chatter of the ballroom and, as they discuss the fate of Crown Prince Rudolf, Franz Ferdinand gradually reveals his suspicions that he will soon be murdered:

....Eventually, [Franz Ferdinand] turned and said, “In the past, I believed that kings and emperors made all the decisions for their people. Now, though, I see it very differently. For the most part, monarchs are merely the actors who take centre-stage. Their lines are scripted for them and their movements are stage-managed by faceless people whom the audience never sees. Even in an autocracy like Austria-Hungary, so much goes on behind the scenes where ministers and politicians plot and intrigue among themselves. They see their monarchs as little more than puppets. They make plans that suit their personal ambitions and increase their own sense of power, and they manipulate their emperors into accepting and implementing those plans at whatever cost to their countries. Then comes the cruellest part of all: when the drama turns into tragedy, these people withdraw into the shadows leaving the emperor to shoulder all the blame.”
Karl frowned, “I cannot believe that an emperor anointed by God could be so easily influenced.”
“Most emperors who take their coronation oath seriously have the good of their people at heart but even the most astute of them cannot see with his own eyes all that is happening across his empire. These shady people know that; and so, with carefully woven words, they persuade him that unless he follows this course or that course, the country will suffer. They conceal things that they don’t want him to know and they scare him into accepting their ideas.”
“Scare him!” Karl laughed in disbelief.
“Yes,” Franz Ferdinand nodded emphatically. “The ability to inspire fear is the politician’s most powerful weapon. Men react totally irrationally when they are afraid. Even in Biblical times, wasn’t it fear of losing their authority that prompted the Sanhedrin to hand Christ over for crucifixion? And wasn’t it the fear of repercussions from Rome that prevented Pontius Pilate from setting him free? Imagine being able to harness that fear and twist it to your own ends. That is a tactic that politicians have mastered. Create an enemy, create something or someone to fear, and then persuade the people that you alone can protect them from the impending disaster. If the people believe you – and skilled politicians ensure that they do – they will do whatever you ask of them: they will fight your wars, pay your taxes, and allow their own freedom to be curtailed, all the time believing that you are acting for their highest good.”
Karl ran his hand across his brow.
“These politicians employ the same tactics when dealing with their emperors. They say, ‘unless you implement harsh laws, more people will suffer’ or, ‘unless we take up arms against this country or that country, we will be invaded,’ and all the time, unbeknown to their king, they are striking deals among themselves or with their foreign counterparts.”
“But why?” Karl blinked, “Why would they do such a thing?”
“Money, power…”
“And for that, they would not only betray the trust of an emperor but also endanger the welfare and lives of their fellow countrymen?”
Franz Ferdinand smiled at him gently and spoke in the tone of a patient schoolmaster to an innocent pupil, “The more noble the emperor, the easier it is for the unscrupulous to take advantage of him. Good men, who act from the highest motives, believe that those around them are equally noble. I hate to disillusion you, Karl, but the truth is that there are many ambitious and self-seeking men in positions of authority. Who would have believed that someone like Redl, on whom so much of our country’s security depended, would sell us out to protect his pathetic reputation and to fund his lavish lifestyle?”
“That was a particularly unpleasant case.”
“Believe me, Redl is not the only one who would be willing to sacrifice all that we hold dear to further a greedy ambition. Every day secret agreements are reached between politicians, arms manufacturers, bankers, spies and newspaper proprietors. There are always people who place their personal gain before the good of the country.”
Karl returned to the table and, sitting down, rested his head in his hands. The evening had begun so brightly in the glamour of the ballroom, yet now, alone with his uncle, he felt suddenly drained and exhausted.
Franz Ferdinand came to stand behind him and rested an avuncular hand on his shoulder, “I am so sorry, Karl,” he said softly. “I didn’t intend to distress you but men in our position must see what is going on or there is no hope for our country or our people.”
A line from the Gospel ran through Karl’s mind, ‘I am sending you out like lambs among wolves; be as wily as serpents and as gentle as doves....’

Monday 4 July 2011

Happy Independence Day!

A very Happy Independence Day to all American visitors!

May the spirit of your brilliant Founding Fathers always live in America! May your constitution thrive and your country become once more ‘the land of the free’!

“A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” (Thomas Jefferson)

Saturday 2 July 2011

Freedom, Fear and Empowerment

Something dawned on me today when a kind lady asked me to donate to a cancer research charity, to collect for which she had given up her Saturday morning. Often we see that certain drugs are not available to some people because they are ‘too expensive’. Several years ago I saw a documentary about a village in India where people who had suffered from polio as children had become deformed and were treated as outcasts by their families and yet for something like £1 a village they could be inoculated but the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t donate that vaccine. They do, however, freely provide vaccines against bizarre epidemics like swine flu and other man-made illnesses (made in labs?) and also – as I know from several friends who have worked for such companies – give huge bonuses to their staff and the owners of these companies are mega-millionaires. So, as I donated to the charity simply because the lady who asked me to was obviously doing so in good faith, I couldn’t help thinking, “Where does all this research money go? To drug companies who then create something that they charge the earth for, and also who – perhaps! – actually create illnesses in labs....”

I know it sounds like some kind of weird sci-film to think such a thing and it is totally contrary to my nature to be so suspicious! Sometimes, though, things become too blatant to ignore any longer and you have to speak out. Remember SARS and bird flu and swine flu and how they all appeared at times when governments were going through a difficult time and needed the people to be distracted by something fearful. I dare say they will come up with something new before too long and – at the same time as the EU is banning certain herbal remedies that have been used since the world began (like St. John’s Wart) – the grip of pharmaceutical companies becomes more obvious.

Having been engrossed in the horrendously murky dealings behind the First World War – and the way in which this was anything but an ‘imperial’ war but was absolutely manufactured by megalomaniacs who set out to overthrow Russia, Germany and any other country that did not adhere to state control (and then replaced the governance of Russia and Germany with absolute state control – these people not only funded Lenin and Trotsky, but also Hitler!), it became so obvious that there is a very dark and very misguided group of people who still continue their bizarre dream of ‘world domination’ to this day. When you want to overthrow a country, the best thing to do is create the idea that their present leader is a tyrant, then create uprisings and then step in as though you are a peace-keeper. It’s gone on for centuries now. It’s become rather ‘old hat’ and we still fall for it. Also, create an atmosphere of fear so that people will believe you are protecting them while you are subjecting them to abuse in airports (zap them with massive radiation and, if they refuse that, subject them to physical molestation) or while you manipulate the boom and bust, the supposed ‘global downturn’ and little by little you control the world...well, not really...

The trouble for these people, though, is that they do not take into account the incredible nature of humanity or the spiritual dimension of Life which is far more powerful than any big corporation, conglomerate, government or empire. Just as green shoots and flowers sprout through the most dilapidated of places, there isn’t enough oppression in the world to stifle the true nature of the individual spirit. There isn’t enough hatred in the world to overcome one single person who loves; there aren’t enough methods of control to enslave one single free spirit; there aren’t enough lies to smother the truth that every person is of vital importance and not one person or group of people has real power over another.

I often wonder why these people don't concentrate on their own lives rather than trying to elbow their way into everyone else's. I guess they must be lacking a sense of self-worth if they need to 'take charge' of others to distract themselves from their own sense of inadequacy. Little boys playing their intimidating games...I don't want to play anymore in their culture of fear.