When to put one’s head above the Parapet and why

According to my first hit, when I typed into the Google search engine the term:put your head over / above the parapet”, was that it meant: “to be brave enough to state an opinion that might upset someone”. My second hit told me it meant: “to do something that may cause people to criticize you”. Given when that happens, it may make one a target, is good reason some will heed the advice …

Without wanting people to feel sorry for me and recognizing bravery for some might be folly for others, it is something I have lots of experiences of, especially since getting involved with Facebook and becoming a regular blogger. Sometimes that criticism has been justified as I do not stand above contradiction and opinions should be questioned. Sometimes it has been unfair and hurtful, begging the question: am I simply being a masochist and would I not be better advised to keeping my head low and thus avoid the flak and the unintended untoward consequences of sharing my opinions?

But I recognize it often isn’t quite as simple as that. Sometimes, without wanting to appear arrogant or pretentious, some things need saying and I cannot rely on others to say it, especially when those who imho ought to know better are saying the opposite to me. One danger is neglecting the “is it true, necessary and kind” principle before saying / writing anything. Another is we don’t know enough about our subject and it needs a deeper knowledge than we possess. Yet another is the law of unintended consequences, e.g. sometimes it may be better to lose an argument than a friend. It is also true that such is the cultural climate that what is sometimes spoken with honest intent may be turned against us and we can be penalised if what we say is deemed hateful or politically incorrect

This thought came to me as we start a new year and already things happen that divide people, even good people and EVEN Christians of sound faith! I include the two person images (one above, one below) who I will get to, because they portray what it is that I want to get to. In my regular blogging about this or that, the subjects of man-made climate change and what should we do about Iran are two of the 2020 news stories, despite being so long before then, that I would like to blog about. I like to blog away for the reasons I have just said – people are saying wrong things that need correcting, and many people who listen to them will otherwise be led astray if annoying people like me don’t speak out. Yet I am conscious often I am at best barely qualified to pontificate on matters so profound, which is why for the time being I will confine remarks to setting out my store rather than waving my flag above the parapet. I am also mindful of the need to find out what the “opposition” thinks, mindul too that many of our conflicts come from a lack of empathy.

I got thinking on these lines when I listened to a clip from the James O’Brien show titled: “James O’Brien schools caller who says climate change isn’t man-made”. James comes into the category of one of those irritating fellows who is very intelligent, tackles important subjects, yet who I often profoundly disagree with. He also has a habit of putting down those who in his view do not argue their case well enough. One of the folk calling in to his show made the point climate change isn’t in the main man made even though it is happening (my position too). James resorted to a tactic he has used before when talking to callers on other controversial topics, asking him to name one scientist to support that position given the scientific consensus is that climate change is manmade. The caller failed, which I guess is what James expected and it got me thinking that I might also be flummoxed by the question and is as good a reason as any for NOT putting my head above the parapet, although later I checked out two names (besides if I had cared to search out articles signed by a number of skeptical scientists) who did not consider man made factors were major reasons: David Bellamy and Nils-Axel Mörner (check links), who I would be inclined to further read up on if I were to come on shows like this.

There is no doubt climate change and the causes for it and the drastic remedies needed if, as many now believe, it is mainly to do with man made carbon emissions, is one of the most significant controversial issues of our time. I include the photo of sixteen year old climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, because she has been made the figure head of the stop man made climate change lobby, as evidenced by being named Time magazine “Person of the Year” and less than a week ago being made the Radio 4 Today programme guest editor for that day. In some quarters she has been granted almost sainthood status and woe betide those who question her qualifications or challenge her influence, including having the temerity of suggesting that those pushing her to the fore may be child abusers, that includes wrongly imho scaring all too gullible youngsters when there are many more important issues to consider.

I also have concerns over the bush fires recently raging in Australia with its tragic consequences and when those who say it is not necessarily due to the CO2 effect are given short shrift as a result. It seems to me that politicians of all persuasions are going out of their way, like lemmings, to call for working toward carbon neutrality in the near future, at great cost. I am coming to a view while the preventable manmade element is a factor behind global warming it is unproven this is the major factot. My bigger concern is it may be a myth pushed by the hidden elite to subjugate humanity and bring in the reign of the AntiChrist (who according to the Book of Revelation is widely accepted because he claims to have the answer to natural disasters and for global peace). While making such statements does mean I have allowed my head to be placed over the parapet and thereby inviting mockery by putting forward a view not deemed as mainstream, I do so reluctantly, hoping others better qualified than me will make the case more strongly and thus help stop humanity from being duped into error and ignoring what truly matters.

So I come to another big news story of the new year: “USA kills Qassem Suleimani, Iran’s Most Powerful Commander”. One report begins “On Thursday night, USA launched an air strike at the airport in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Major General Qaseem Sulemani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force has died in this attack. At the same time, the Deputy Commander Abu Mehdi Al Muhandis of Popular Mobilization Force has also died in this strike. In a statement issued by the Department of Defense, the US military carried out this decisive protective action on the President’s instruction in which Major General Qaseem Suleimani, the Chief of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, was killed”. It seems to me there are at least two reasons this story is significant: the involvement of President Trump and the likelihood of retaliation and the possibility of all-out war.

My ebook, which I regularly add to, “Donald J Trump – bad, mad or good?” is one of many examples of my putting my head over the parapet. All of us are mixtures of bad, mad and good but having been closely observing Trump these past three and more years I am inclined to the view he is more good than bad or mad (unlike many of his predecessors or detractors) and unsurprisingly this has got me into trouble, including among the constituency I would much rather I could agree with – Christians who are not Christian in name only. Because it was he who ultimately gave the go ahead for taking out Suleimani and confidently justifying his actions, he has attracted a lot of criticism, including (unsurprisingly) from among his detractors and (more surprisingly) from among those who are otherwise more likely to support him. I am tempted to rehearse the “for and against” arguments for the “take out” action, but will refrain because of time and space. While I have only touched on the surface, I am inclined to believe Trump was right on what was essentially about ensuring security for Americans and the region, and his action will go some way to prevent worse disaster.

While putting one’s head above the Parapet can have unpleasant consequences for the one whose head it is, sometimes it is the right thing to do rather than a means of self gratification by appearing to be in the right. We all have to make decisions and I know many who keep their own counsel, and are often deemed to be wise, especially if that could be said about them in the first place. But I have to beg to differ … while there can be a tendency of saying too much or of exercising mouth before brain, the truth and seeking after the truth is far too important an undertaking not to share. We are told: “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. While I carry the wounds that comes from putting my head above the parapet and recognize there is a time and a place for giving our views as with any activity, I will continue to speak out on what matters, recognizing I may not always be fully right, I may not know all the pertinent facts, and I may invite enemies and lose friends, as something I must do.

Update 09/01/20: Unsurprisingly, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since posting only 5 days ago. It has though confirmed I was right to flag climate change and Iran as two of the big issues for 2020, likely to run for some time yet. While I have more to read up on, taking into acoount significant developments like the debate over the causes of the Australian bush fires and the aftermath of the “Iranian take out” and also to wise up given the sometimes hostile reaction to my putting my head over the parapet. Another two names have been added to “qualified” people to question the status quo on climate change causes and one is Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace. As for Iran, I was exercised by comments from Owen Shroyer arguing Trump is being set up over Iran, and several reports indicating a widespread turning to Christ among Iranians. All this requires further study and measured responses. I have been taken aback by the adverse reactions to my views on these subjects but then it is only further evidence that if one does put one’s head over the parapet, one is liable to be shot down. I will refrain for now from elaborating further and work on strengthening my case along with my other major other 2020 intellectual activity – write and publish my book: “The Prophets of the Bible“.

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