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Welcome back, and welcome to part two. In part one we looked at the culture of a club, the treatment of its staff and the ambition and hunger of the manager. As was the case in part one, any quotes, unless otherwise noted, come from The 90-Minute Manager. The clock is ticking, let’s get back to the action.
FOCUS ON STRENGTHS
Unless you are at a very talented club, or have hundreds of millions of pounds in the transfer kitty, it is very unlikely that you will have world class talent covering every position on the pitch. The best managers are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their team and they set up the team to maximise the strengths and minimize its weakness. If you have a squad of technically gifted, rather short players you are not going to play route one football with a target man centre forward. A team must play to their strengths and a manager must focus on the strengths of each player, rather than their weaknesses. When looking at a player you must be asking the question, “where would his strengths best be utilised?” With the aggression of Roy Keane it made sense for him to be at the centre of the action, right in the thick of it. With Dirk Kuyt’s work rate he did not look out of place as a wide midfielder getting up and down the touchline for ninety minutes. Some players are overlooked because their strengths aren’t being utilised, some are disregarded as the wrong type of player, and some are simply playing in the wrong position. Again we look at Pep Guardiola as a perfect example of a manager who focuses on the strengths of his players. Whilst at Barcelona we saw Guardiola employ Javier Mascherano at centre back and Lionel Messi as a striker, now at Bayern Munich Philip Lahm has become a defensive midfielder. Talk Sport wrote “as Spanish football writer Pete Jensen pointed out, one of Guardiola’s greatest strengths is to see the player beyond the position, as has been the case with Lahm. For the Bayern manager, a player’s qualities and attributes are key, rather than where he has played for the majority of his career”.
Gareth Bale is another example of a player in the modern game who has changed his position and flourished. Having started his career as a left back at Southampton he is now one of the best wingers in the world, playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid. The example given in The 90-Minute Manager is that of Arsene Wenger and a certain French winger struggling to make the team at Juventus. Wenger bought him, converted him to a striker and the rest, as they say, is history. Wenger “correctly identified those talents that would make Henry an explosive and world renowned striker”.
Though this is vague and intangible, and a concept which is hard to grasp and more than likely does not even exist, the mantra “you make your own luck” is applicable. The Germans are not lucky when it comes to penalties, they are well prepared, practised and confident, Lee Cattermole is not unlucky to get sent off so often, he is undisciplined, aggressive and times his tackles poorly, Luis Suarez is not lucky to nut-meg his opponents so often, he is incredibly skilled and a brilliant dribbler of the ball. “A Chinese proverb describes luck as the place where preparation meets opportunity”. It is said that “lucky people are those who prepare themselves to recognise random opportunities and then to seize them”. How many times did Man Utd, under Sir Alex Ferguson, score late goals? They were renowned for it. A never-say-die attitude and perhaps a bit of luck but “it was not luck that won the European Cup for Manchester United in 1999, but their ability to apply pressure in the opposition penalty area and consequently amplify the odds in their favour”.
When Greece miraculously won the European Championship in 2004 I put it down to luck. I was only 14 at the time and so did not fully understand the intricacies of the modern game. Since that time though I have realised that it was not luck, it was detail, it was tactical genius and it was a lot of hard work. Zonal Marking wrote a brilliant article on the Greece team of 2004 and in it they said, that the victory did not happen by accident, “it happens through immense tactical wisdom and careful deployment of tactics to suit each game”. Greece’s manager Otto Rehhagel was the mastermind behind the Greek success, and just like the great managers in the game, he played to his teams strengths. As mentioned earlier in the article teams should play to their strengths and Rehhagel and Greece did just that. “They had solid, reliable defenders and a hard-working midfield, with little attacking talent. To play open football would have been suicidal. They defended solidly, then countered at speed with numbers – and their set-piece organisation was superb”.
COPING WITH PRESSURE
Stress is a major part of the job, but as a manager you must do your best to cope with it. Though it may affect you physically as well as mentally, this cannot be shown to the players you are in charge of. The effects of stress on football managers are well documented. In terms of health, Gerard Houllier was one of the highest profile names to have to leave the game, but in terms of mental effects Kevin Keegan’s infamous interview whilst at Newcastle is the best example. “An inability to handle stress reduces a managers effectiveness and inevitably communicates itself to the team, creating a negative impact on their performance”. In more recent years perhaps the best example is when Rafa Benitez gave his press conference about “facts”, an attack on Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, which many in the media claimed was a sign of Benitez cracking under pressure.
UNITY AND TEAMWORK
It is cliche, but true, to say that there is no “I” in “Team”. The unity of the team and the cohesion of its members is perhaps the most important aspect to get right when managing a club. There is no use having world class talent when they all play for themselves, and are selfish on the pitch. A team is more than simply the sum of the parts. It is the cohesion, the teamwork, and the cooperation. Everyone must put the team first and work towards its goals rather than their own. A star player may have to get sold if the team is more compact and works better as a unit without him. Juan Mata at Chelsea was a prime example of this.
Individually the Real Madrid galacticos team was the greatest club team of the last twenty years. Their team was a who’s who of individual awards and superstars. David Beckham joined Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Raul, and yet despite the abundance of talent, the team won surprisingly few trophies. There have been many suggestions put forward as to why this was but the most obvious was that their performances on the pitch showed a lack of balance and cohesion. Individuals were considered more important than the team, and this cost Real Madrid greatly.
Unity is just as important off the pitch as it is on it. One of the oldest tricks in the book of management, and one Jose Mourinho employs regularly, is the “us versus them” situation. At once it creates a siege mentality within the team, where the belief is that the rest of the world is against them. “The presence of an external enemy, imagined or real, induces the team to forget about any internal disputes and focus on sticking together”.
As a manager you should always have an eye on the long term, even if you will not be around to reap the rewards. Short term gains should not be at the cost of long term sustainability. The best managers achieve sustained success, year after year, collecting silverware and breaking records. Motivation and man management can bring short term success but hard work on foundations and laying the groundwork is needed for sustained dominance. The ultimate goal for any manager should be to create an empire, season after season, year on year, squad development and repeated success. Buying ageing stars may give benefits for a season or two but once they have left or retired your team is in trouble once more. Sir Alex Ferguson is not considered one of the greatest managers of all time because he won the league a few times. It is because he consistently created teams that dominated a number of competitions. He did not see the success with just one set of players, he had two, or three, or four squads over a period of two decades. His ambition and focus on longevity is clearly seen by what he is reported to have said when he arrived at Old Trafford in 1986. His brief was to “knock Liverpool off their f*****g perch”. Perhaps one of the only complaints that could be made against Ferguson as a manager was that once he knew he was going to retire the longevity of the team became unimportant. This is something I have written about previously here, arguing that Ferguson took his eye off the ball and left an extremely difficult task for his successor.
The great football managers understand that they need to build a viable system of long-term success. “Constant emphasis, through words and deeds, on the long term. This [should be] apparent right from the early stages of their tenure”. Unfortunately being a manager does not guarantee you a place on a long term contract and this could explain why so many managers fail to focus on longevity. It is only through the safe knowledge that he will not be replaced that Wenger is able to rebuild Arsenal’s team every few seasons. His investment in youth, careful transfer spending and long term goals are only possible because he has the full backing and assurances of the board. “Insecurity breeds short-termism”.
As stated earlier, there are shortcuts to success, loaning players, signing ageing stars, spending lots of money on transfers and wages, and though these are good strategies for self-preservation and short-term gain, they are not good strategies for greatness. Chelsea have learnt this recently and in the last few seasons I believe we have seen a shift in the strategy of the team. Upon returning to the club Mourinho stated he wanted to stay for a further twelve seasons thus providing the stability and longevity. During the last few seasons the team has also begun to invest heavily in younger players, a new generation of stars brought through the ranks, and the spine of the Chelsea team for the next decade under Mourinho. Christian Atsu, Bertrand Traore, Wallace, Oriol Romeu, Victor Moses, Romelu Lukaku, Gael Kakuta, Thibaut Courtois, Marko Marin and Kurt Zouma are all well known names but are yet to even break into the Chelsea team. The future looks to be very promising.
In the third and final part of this series of articles I will turn my attention more towards the recruitment and development of players, how a manager should act in the transfer market, and what skill is essential for any great manager to possess.
This article was originally published on Proven Quality on March 6th 2014.
I love finding out that something I have written has been justified by human action in the real world. This was precisely the case I found myself in this weekend. It is comforting to know I am not the only one who thinks a certain way.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article entitled “Buzz Off: The Problem With British Gas’ Hive“. After ranting about this latest idiotic initiative I ended the article with the following paragraph:
“The only way that I can see Hive saving people money is if you have it installed and you leave the house empty, forgetting to turn the heating off. Then you are able to turn it off using the app on your phone. Hive costs £199 to buy and have installed but for a fraction of that price I could sell you a wonderfully designed post-it with the words “TURN THE HEATING OFF”. You can stick this to the inside of your front door and save yourself a ton a money on your energy bills. And I don’t even need an awful advert and terrible song to sell it to you”
The last few days I have spent in London, with a very good friend of mine who I had not seen in a long time. Whilst in London we visited some his friends and had a couple of drinks around one of their houses. I was overjoyed to find the following on the back of his friends front door.
I am not ashamed to admit that I have simply copied and pasted everything in the letter from another site and posted it here. I am not ashamed to say it because I think it is an incredible letter, thought provoking and heartfelt, and I believe as many people as possible should read it. I am immensely opposed to the death penalty, for any crime, it is neither humane nor fulfils any of the criteria needed for justice. I truly hope that in my life time I will see the eradication of capital punishment worldwide.
I originally read this on gawker.com.
What follows are the words of Ray Jasper.
When I first responded to you, I didn’t think that it would cause people to reach out to me and voice their opinions. I’ve never been on the internet in my life and I’m not fully aware of the social circles on the internet, so it was a surprise to receive reactions so quickly.
I learned that some of the responses on your website were positive and some negative. I can only appreciate the conversation. Osho once said that one person considered him like an angel and another person considered him like a devil, he didn’t attempt to refute neither perspective because he said that man does not judge based on the truth of who you are, but on the truth of who they are.
Your words struck a chord with me. You said that my perspective is different and therefore my words have a sort of value. Yet, you’re talking to a young man that’s been judged unworthy to breathe the same air you breathe. That’s like a hobo on the street walking up to you and you ask him for spare change.
Without any questions, you’ve given me a blank canvas. I’ll only address what’s on my heart. Next month, the State of Texas has resolved to kill me like some kind of rabid dog, so indirectly, I guess my intention is to use this as some type of platform because this could be my final statement on earth.
I think ‘empathy’ is one of the most powerful words in this world that is expressed in all cultures. This is my underlining theme. I do not own a dictionary, so I can’t give you the Oxford or Webster definition of the word, but in my own words, empathy means ‘putting the shoe on the other foot.’
Empathy. A rich man would look at a poor man, not with sympathy, feeling sorrow for the unfortunate poverty, but also not with contempt, feeling disdain for the man’s poverish state, but with empathy, which means the rich man would put himself in the poor man’s shoes, feel what the poor man is feeling, and understand what it is to be the poor man.
Empathy breeds proper judgement. Sympathy breeds sorrow. Contempt breeds arrogance. Neither are proper judgements because they’re based on emotions. That’s why two people can look at the same situation and have totally different views. We all feel differently about a lot of things. Empathy gives you an inside view. It doesn’t say ‘If that was me…’, empathy says, ‘That is me.’
What that does is it takes the emotions out of situations and forces us to be honest with ourselves. Honesty has no hidden agenda. Thoreau proposed that ‘one honest man’ could morally regenerate an entire society. Looking through the eyes of empathy & honesty, I’ll address some of the topics you mentioned. It’s only my perspective.
The Justice system is truly broken beyond repair and the sad part is there is no way to start over. Improvements can be made. If honest people stand up, I think they will be made over time. I know the average person isn’t paying attention to all the laws constantly being passed by state & federal legislation. People are more focused on their jobs, raising kids and trying to find entertainment in between time. The thing is, laws are being changed right and left.
A man once said that revolution comes when you inform people of their rights. Martin Luther King said a revolution comes by social action and legal action working hand in hand. I’m not presenting any radical revolutionary view, the word revolution just means change. America changes as the law changes.
Under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution all prisoners in America are considered slaves. We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery. That was the reason for the protests by prisoners in Georgia in 2010. They said they were tired of being treated like slaves. People need to know that when they sit on trial juries and sentence people to prison time that they are sentencing them to slavery.
If a prisoner refuses to work and be a slave, they will do their time in isolation as a punishment. You have thousands of people with a lot of prison time that have no choice but to make money for the government or live in isolation. The affects of prison isolation literally drive people crazy. Who can be isolated from human contact and not lose their mind? That was the reason California had an uproar last year behind Pelican Bay. 33,000 inmates across California protested refusing to work or refusing to eat on hunger-strikes because of those being tortured in isolation in Pelican Bay.
I think prison sentences have gotten way out of hand. People are getting life sentences for aggravated crimes where no violence had occurred. I know a man who was 24 years old and received 160 years in prison for two aggravated robberies where less that $500 was stole and no violence took place. There are guys walking around with 200 year sentences and they’re not even 30 years old. Its outrageous. Giving a first time felon a sentence beyond their life span is pure oppression. Multitudes of young people have been thrown away in this generation.
The other side of the coin is there are those in the corporate world making money off prisoners, so the longer they’re in prison, the more money is being made. It’s not about crime & punishment, it’s about crime & profit. Prison is a billion dollar industry. In 1996, there were 122 prisons opened across America. Companies were holding expos in small towns showing how more prisons would boost the economy by providing more jobs.
How can those that invest in prisons make money if people have sentences that will allow them to return to free society? If people were being rehabilitated and sent back into the cities, who would work for these corporations? That would be a bad investment. In order for them to make money, people have to stay in prison and keep working. So the political move is to tell the people they’re tough on crime and give people longer sentences.
Chuck Colson, former advisor to the President once said that they were passing laws to be tough on crime, but they didn’t even know who the laws were affecting. It wasn’t until the Watergate scandal and Colson himself going to prison that he learned who the laws were affecting. Colson ended up forming the largest prison ministry in America. He also foreseen in his book THE GOD OF SPIDERS & STONES that America was forming a new society within its prisons. Basically, that prison would become a nation inside this nation. He predicted that over a million people would be locked up by the year 2000. The book was written in the 8O’s. Now, its 2014 and almost two million people are locked up. It’s not that crime is the issue. Crime still goes on daily. It’s that the politics surrounding crime have changed and it has become a numbers game. Dollars & Cents. You have people like Michael Jordan who invest millions of dollars in the prison system. Any shrewed businessman would if you have no empathy for people locked up and you just want to make some money.
I don’t agree with the death penalty. It’s a very Southern practice from that old lynching mentality. Almost all executions take place in the South with a few exceptions here and there. Texas is the leading State by far. I’m not from Texas. I was raised in California. Coming from the West Coast to the South was like going back in time. I didn’t even think real cowboys existed. Texas is a very ‘country’ state, aside a few major cities. There are still small towns that a black person would not be welcomed. California is more of a melting pot. I grew up in the Bay Area where its very diverse.
The death penalty needs to be abolished. Life without parole is still a death sentence. The only difference is time. To say you need to kill a person in a shorter amount of time is just seeking revenge on that person.
If the death penalty must exist, I think it should only be for cases where more than one person is killed like these rampant shootings that have taken place around the country the last few years. Also, in a situation of terrorism.
If you’re not giving the death penalty for murder, then the government is already saying that the taking of one’s life is not worth the death penalty. Capital murder is if you take someone’s life and commit another felony at the same time. That’s Texas law. That makes a person eligible for the death penalty The problem is, you’re not getting the death penalty for murder, you’re actually getting it for the other felony. That doesn’t make common sense. You can kill a man but you will not get the death penalty……if you kill a man and take money out his wallet, now you can get the death penalty.
I’m on death row and yet I didn’t commit the act of murder. I was convicted under the law of parties. When people read about the case, they assume I killed the victim, but the facts are undisputed that I did not kill the victim. The one who killed him plead guilty to capital murder for a life sentence. He admitted to the murder and has never denied it. Under the Texas law of parties, they say it doesn’t matter whether I killed the victim or not, I’m criminally responsible for someone else’s conduct. But I was the only one given the death penalty.
The law of parties is a very controversial law in Texas. Most Democrats stand against it. It allows the state to execute someone who did not commit the actual act of murder. There are around 50 guys on death row in Texas who didn’t kill anybody, but were convicted as a party.
The lethal injection has become a real controversial issue here of late because states are using drugs that they’re not authorize to use to execute people. The lethal injection is an old Nazi practice deriving from the Jewish Holocaust. To use that method to kill people today, when it’s unconstitutional to use it on dogs, is saying something very cruel and inhumane. People don’t care because they think they’re killing horrible people. No empathy. Just contempt.
I understand that it’s not popular to talk about race issues these days, but I speak on the subject of race because I hold a burden in my heart for all the young blacks who are locked up or who see the street life as the only means to make something of themselves. When I walked into prison at 19 years old, I said to myself ‘Damn, I have never seen so many black dudes in my life’. I mean, it looked like I went to Africa. I couldn’t believe it. The lyrics of 2Pac echoed in my head, ‘The penitentiary is packed/ and its filled with blacks’.
It’s really an epidemic, the number of blacks locked up in this country. That’s why I look, not only at my own situation, but why all of us young blacks are in prison. I’ve come to see, it’s largely due to an indentity crisis. We don t know our history. We don’t know how to really indentify with white people. We are really of a different culture, but by being slaves, we lost ourselves.
When you have a black man name John Williams and a white man name John Williams, the black man got his name from the white man. Within that lies a lost of identity. There are blacks in this country that don’t even consider themselves African. Well, what are we? When did we stop being African? If you ask a young black person if they’re African, they will say ‘No, I’m American’. They’ve lost their roots. They think slavery is their roots. Again, its a strong identity crisis.
You take the identity crisis, mix it with capitalism, where money comes before empathy, and you’ll have a lot of young blacks trying to get money by any means because they’re trying to get out of poverty or stay out of poverty. Now, money is what they try to find an identity in. They feel like if they get rich, legal or illegal, they’ve become somebody. Which in America is partly true because superficially we hail the rich and despise the poor. We give Jay-Z more credit than we do Al Sharpton. What has Jay-Z done besides get rich? Yet we see dollar signs and somehow give more respect to the man with the money.
A French woman who moved to America asked me one day, ‘Why don’t black kids want to learn?’ Her husband was a high school teacher. She said the white and asian kids excel in school, but the black and hispanic kids don’t. I said that all kids want to learn, it’s just a matter of what you’re trying to teach them. Cutting a frog open is not helping a black kid in the ghetto who has to listen to police sirens all night and worry about getting shot. Those kids need life lessons. They need direction. When you have black kids learning more about the Boston Tea Party than the Black Panther Party, I guarantee you won’t keep their attention. But it was the Black Panther Party that got them free lunch.
People point their fingers at young blacks, call them thugs and say they need to pull up their pants. That’s fine, but you’re not feeding them any knowledge. You’re not giving them a vision. All you’re saying is be a square like me. They’re not going to listen to you because you have guys like Jay-Z and Rick Ross who are millionaires and sag their pants. Changing the way they dress isn’t changing the way they think. As the Bible says, ‘Where there’s no vision the people perish’. Young blacks need to learn their identity so they can have more respect for the blacks that suffered for their liberties than they have for someone talking about selling drugs over a rap beat who really isn’t selling drugs.
They have to be exposed to something new. Their minds have to be challenged, not dulled. They know the history of the Crips & Bloods, but they can’t tell you who Garvey or Robeson is. They can quote Drake & Lil Wayne but they can’t tell you what Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton has done. Across the nation, they gravitate to Crips & Bloods. I tell those I know the same thing, not to put blue & red before black. They were black first. It’s senseless, but they are trying to find a purpose to live for and if a gang gives them a sense of purpose that’s what they will gravitate to. They aren’t being taught to live and die for something greater. They’re not being challenged to do better.
Black history shouldn’t be a month, it should be a course, an elective taught year around. I guarantee black kids would take that course if it was available to them. How many black kids would change their outlook if they knew that they were only considered 3/5′s of a human being according to the U.S Constitution? That black people were considered part animal in this country. They don’t know that. When you learn that, you carry yourself with a different level of dignity for all we’ve overcome.
Before Martin Luther King was killed he drafted a bill called ‘The Bill for the Disadvantaged’. It was for blacks and poor whites. King understood that in order to have a successful life, you have to decrease the odds of failure. You have to change the playing field. I’m not saying there’s no personal responsibility for success, that goes without saying, but there’s also a corporate responsibility. As the saying goes, when you see someone who has failed, you see someone who was failed.
Neither am I saying that advantages are always circumstancial. Sometimes its knowledge or opportunity that gives an advantage. A lot of times it is the circumstances. Flowers grow in gardens, not in hard places. Using myself as an example, I was 15 when my first love got shot 9 times in Oakland. Do you think I m going to care about book reports when my girlfriend was shot in the face? I understand Barack Obama saying there is no excuse for blacks or anyone else because generations past had it harder than us. That’s true. However, success is based on probabilities and the odds. Everyone is not on a level playing field. For some, the odds are really stacked against them. I’m not saying they can’t be overcome, but it’s not likely.
I’m not trying to play the race card, I’m looking at the roots of why so many young blacks are locked up. The odds are stacked against us, we suffer from an identity crisis, and we’re being targeted more, instead of taught better. Ask any young black person their views on the Police, I assure you their response will not be positive. Yet if you have something against the Police, who represent the government, you cannot sit on a trial jury. A young black woman was struck from the jury in my case because she said she sees the Police as ‘intimidators’. She never had a good experience with the Police like most young blacks, but even though she’s just being true to her experience, she’s not worthy to take part as a juror in a trial.
White people really don’t understand how it extreme it is to be judged by others outside your race. In the book TRIAL & ERROR: THE TEXAS DEATH PENALTY Lisa Maxwell paints this picture to get the point across and if any white person reading this is honest with themselves, they will clearly understand the point. I cannot quote it word for word, but this was the gist of it…
Imagine you’re a young white guy facing capital murder charges where you can receive the death penalty… the victim in the case is a black man… when you go to trial and step into the courtroom… the judge is a black man… the two State prosecutors seeking the death penalty on you… are also black men… you couldn’t afford an attorney, so the Judge appointed you two defense lawyers who are also black men… you look in the jury box… there’s 8 more black people and 4 hispanics… the only white person in the courtroom is you… How would you feel facing the death penalty? Do you believe you’ll receive justice?
As outside of the box as that scene is, those were the exact circumstances of my trial. I was the only black person in the courtroom.
Again, I’m not playing the race card, but empathy is putting the shoe on the other foot.
The last thing on my heart is about religion and the death penalty. There are several well-known preachers in Texas and across the South that teach their congregations that the death penalty is right by God and backed by the Bible. The death penalty is a governmental issue not a spiritual issue. Southern preachers who advocate the death penalty are condoning evil. They need to learn the legalities of capital punishment. The State may have the power to put people to death, but don’t preach to the public that it’s God’s will. It’s the State’s will.
If God wanted me to die for anything, I would be dead already. I talk to God everday. He’s not telling me I’m some kind of menace that He can’t wait to see executed. God is blessing me daily. God is showing me His favor & grace on my life. Like Paul said, I was the chief of sinners, but God had mercy on me because He knew I was ignorant. The blood of Abel cryed vengeance, the blood of Jesus cryed mercy.
There are preachers like John Hagee in San Antonio who have influence over thousands of people, who not only attend his church, but also watch his TV program, and hear him condoning the death penalty. Hagee doesn’t see his Southern mentality condones the death penalty, not the scriptures. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that condones the way Texas executes people today.
Southern preachers use scriptures like God telling Noah, ‘Whoever shed’s man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed’. ‘That’s murder. Under Texas law, you cannot receive the death penalty for murder. There is no such thing as capital murder in the Bible, where murder must be in the course of another felony. Yet, they preach capital punishment is God’s will. Even if you’re guilty of capital murder in Texas, it doesn’t mean you’ll receive the death penalty. People get the death penalty when a jury has judged them to be a ‘continuing threat to society’. ‘That means they are deemed so bad that they have no hope of redemption or change in their behavior. That is the only reason a person gets the death penalty. They are suppose to be the absolute worse of the worse, so terrible that they cannot live in prison with other murderers.
That in itself is contrary to the whole Christian faith that believes no one is beyond redemption if they repent for their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ. For a Christian to advocate the death penalty is a complete contradiction.
As easy as it is for a preacher to stand up in the pulpit with a Bible and tell thousands of people the death penalty is right, I challenge any preacher in Texas, John Hagee or any others to come visit me and tell me that God wants me to die. Martin Luther King said, ‘Capital punishment shows that America is a merciless nation that will not forgive.’
Again, Mr. Nolan, this is only my perspective. I’m just the hobo on the street giving away my pennies. A doctor can’t look at a person and see cancer, they have to look beyond the surface. When you look at the Justice system, the Death Penalty, or anything else, it takes one to go beyond the surface. Proper diagnosis is half the cure.
I’m a father. My daughter was six weeks old when I got locked up and now she’s 15 in high school. Despite the circumstances, I’ve tryed to be the best father in the world. But I knew that her course in life is largely determine by what I teach her. It’s the same with any young person, their course is determined by what we are teaching them. In the words of Aristotle, ‘All improvement in society begins with the education of the young.’
Ray L. Jasper
Ps: Forgive me for being longwinded, but I was speaking from the heart. Thanks for the opportunity.
“Help” she cried, “help” she said,
But none were listening, for they were all dead,
Dead in the brain and dead in the head,
Numb to all of the anguish she felt,
TV, and booze, and jobs that work them,
Had left them distracted, tired and dumb,
She sat and she waited, but no-one did come,
For the world is cruel to someone so young,
In silence and darkness she fell to the floor,
She knew that she could take it no more,
She wept and she smiled as she reached in the drawer,
The contents of which were the last that she saw.
Low and behold, we are back. This is now the second in the series of what I am calling “What Is The News?” These articles feature recent events that were published on local news and media sites. The first looked at the fascinating phenomenon of litter picking. This can be found here.
Staying with that theme, and in fact staying with the same paper, this week’s shocker is entitled “Portmead woman ‘deeply upset’ after wrongly accused for dropping a cigarette end”. Quite the snappy title. This story was published in the March second edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
As you may expect from its headline, it is not quite the earth-shattering news that has customers rushing to their local Londis, and scrambling to get their sweaty hands on the latest print. At best it is gossip. And that is being very kind indeed. Rather than the type of story that gets the Twittersphere buzzing, it is more of an anecdote I would use to bore a taxi driver with on a drunken ride home from Wind Street. “And you know what… I didn’t even drop the fag… I don’t even smoke… couldn’t believe it I couldn’t. The cheek”.
The fact a “story” such as this made it into the paper, did not come as much of a surprise to me. What I found more surprising was the fact that this article, woman wrongly accused of dropping cigarette, was written by the same reporter as last weeks litter story. Once again the Editor has forced poor Amy Downward to go out on to the streets of Swansea and interview, photograph and write up a story that is quite literally rubbish.
I don’t know if Amy Downward is the Evening Post‘s head reporter on refuse, or the Editor has taken a strong dislike to her recently, but reporting on litter week in week out is going to be enough to crush the soul of any ambitious journalist. I mean the McDonalds litter pick story was ridiculous, but two stories in two weeks about rubbish?! Come on, that is not news. And that is not reporting.
At least with the McDonalds story you can understand why it was run. Initiative from management, bit of good press for the company, free public relations etc. But with this story, where on earth did it come from? Who on earth decided that being wrongly accused of dropping a cigarette was newsworthy? The woman who was accused, Amanda Roberts, didn’t even get charged. Nothing happened! She was apologised to “unreservedly” for the mistake that was made and then everyone went back to their own lives.
Perhaps if a cigarette butt was the cause of a death, perhaps if someone dropped a cigarette butt and then one of the Queen’s corgis wandered over to it, decided it felt a little peckish, had a little nibble, subsequently choked on it, keeled over and collapsed in front of the entire Royal Family and the gathered UK press, perhaps then it would have been newsworthy. Perhaps then Amanda Roberts could feel slightly aggrieved for having been accused of dropping a cigarette and murdering a royal canine. But that did not happen.
And not only did nothing happen, according to the article, nothing happened three months ago! Three months! “Amanda Roberts … was out shopping in Swansea on December 4 last year…”. How could she have waited such a monstrously long time to deliver to the world such a heart wrenching tale? Why on earth Amanda Roberts waited three months to inform the press is utterly beyond me. I assume it was her that went to the press, I may be wrong. But I hardly see the press hunting this story down, weeks of detective work to find leads and angles, and then pounding at the door of Mrs Roberts late one night, in the pouring rain, begging her to tell them the story. I can’t see that being the case.
Unlike the previous article on litter, this one seems to have gathered a fair bit of attention. At the time of writing it has sixty two likes, and thirteen comments. Unfortunately the majority of the comments are being as kind as I am. Swanseajock states “No story really. Accused, denied, denial accepted. Nothing to see here”, in a rather sarcastic tone Lunkhed comments “I expect she will never be able to work again with all the stress this has caused”, and ever the blunt speaker Geek-Police writes “”Deeply upset” – Good God woman – get a grip”.
“Deeply upset” are the words of Amanda Roberts herself, she used this phrase to describe how she felt after what had happened to her. The use of the phrase “deeply upset” is slightly baffling to me though. Either we are dealing with one of the most sensitive people on earth, someone so sensitive that they waited three months before they were able to tell anyone about their traumatic experience, or she is lying. If Amanda Roberts can be “deeply upset” about having someone accuse her of dropping litter, then I would advise we remove her from society and wrap her in cotton wool and bubble wrap because there are far worse things in this world to get upset about.
I get deeply upset about the crisis in Syria, and the fact that people are starving to death across many regions of Africa, and the fact that there are people living in Britain forced to live on the street. I get deeply upset about the anti-gay laws that have just been passed in Uganda, and about the process of female genital mutilation, and animal testing. I get deeply upset about hearing the news of a friend or family member who has died, and about drone strikes killing innocent people, and about the mass slaughter of dolphins that happens annually in Japan. I get deeply upset about these things. Being accused of dropping litter does not even register on the scale.
On a lighter note, after the incident, and following the apology, Amanda Roberts “was provided with a Stubby pocket ashtray” by the litter enforcement officer. What a gent. What is that saying about every cloud?