Sometimes I fear that we have not learnt that much over the past ten years.
Surely terrorism wins when we view ever potential friend as a stranger,
When we condemn people on sight by the way they look?
Violence breeds more violence, or as Gandhi put it:
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
Compassion and kindness in the face of hate are the most difficult things to show.
But if we want to make the world a better place, then we have to try.
Call me naive, but I still dream of a world without hate and prejudice.
As you have probably heard, Norway is a country in deep shock and sorrow.
A fanatic planted a car bomb in the centre of Oslo and then took a ferry to the island of Utøya.
Pretending to be a policeman, he hunted and mowed down many youngsters (most of them teenagers) who were attending the Labour Party Youth Camp.
Over 90 people have been killed so far and many more injured.
You might think that there would be a great outcry for revenge.
But Norway has chosen a much harder path than the one of retaliation.
They have chosen to have even more democracy and openness.
In the words of the Prime Minister, “You will not destroy us. You will not destroy our democracy or our ideals for a better world.”
It would be much easier to give in to fear and hatred than to believe in compassion and ideals.
But we must have faith that there are more heroes than villains in the world, that there is more good than evil.
Because if we don’t, then fear and hatred will have won.
When a reporter asked one of the survivors how she wanted people to fight terrorism, she replied:
“If one man can show this much hate, think how much love we can show together.”
A beautiful and powerful statement.
For more slices of life, please visit: My World.
Is there anything more pleasant than skimming knees and stones with your best buddy when you’re a young boy?
There’s a boy like this in every class: noisy, unafraid and full of life.
But somewhere along the line, he was too full of life –
Leading to problems at school, and visits to doctors
And then, a diagnosis with four letters.
Somehow, that label stuck with him, and although he’s only 11,
People whisper about his tantrums, violent outbursts and shake their heads.
I know this boy. He’s the one who walked up to school with me the other day,
The one bursting with love and wonder and tenderness
At the birth of his baby sister.
He spent 20 minutes describing how wonderful she is.
Yes – there’s a boy like this in every class.
Which leads me to wonder if the only labels kids really need are the four letters: L O V E.
For more stories, please visit: Camera Critters.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to Jillsy’s May Challenge, which is about childhood. Why not join in?
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” — Mark Twain
I’ve been thinking about the nature of forgiveness.
How everyone says what a release it is finally to forgive; yet it is one of the hardest things for us to do.
Is it the pain that holds us back? Or is it simply the fact that we have to learn to love ourselves more than we think we deserve before we can love others the same way?
Forgiveness won’t change the past – or the resentments we can find there – but it might, perhaps, transform our future.
What are your thoughts on the art of forgiveness?
Living up to the ideals of society is pretty tough. Especially if you are a young girl or a woman.
School friends, adverts, TV, billboards – they all show us how we ‘should’ be: thin, with glowing skin and perfect teeth.
It’s not good enough to be yourself, they seem to say.
A while back this photo caused controversy in the fashion world. Why? Because it shows a normal woman. (They wanted to photoshop her stomach so that it disappeared.)
I for one think she is beautiful.
What does this say about our own self-image?
Our pre-conceived notions can blind us to the beauty of others. And worst of all, it can stop us from seeing the beauty that we are.
It may be a cliché, but I urge everyone to go out there today and see the deeper beauty that is you, or your daughter or sister, or friend or wife…
Tell them how gorgeous they are. Tell yourself how beautiful you are.
Because even the humblest flower in the woods shines with a lovely light.
I’ve been languishing in the heat of Mississippi, wallowing in Southern belles and fried chicken, and feeling shocked at the genteel brutality and racism underneath the fine Southern manners in Jackson.
Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is her controversial debut about rich white Southerners and their coloured maids (often referred to as ‘nigras’). Even more controversially, she – a white author raised by a black maid in the south – writes in the voices of the black help and the narrative is driven by their rich accents.
There are three main characters: the two maids Aibileen and Minny, and the young white woman, Skeeter. Each chapter is spoken in the voice of one of these women as we learn of a terrible, closed world of race, discrimination and separation in 1962 Mississippi.
“Mississippi and the world is two very different places,” the Deacon say and we all nod cause ain’t it the truth.
The real stars of the book are those hard-working, often abused, unseen women: the maids – as characterized by calm maternal Aibileen and hot-tempered Minny. Skeeter gradually gets drawn into their world as she decides to write about the way the help is treated.
The friendship between these three women crosses the boundaries of the racial laws of the time – and it also puts them into danger as few people would tolerate, much less understand, it.
At times, it reads like a chick-lit page-turner; at other times, it is funny and shocking. Much has been written of the deep South in the 1960s, but this book focuses on the women of the time and on the female aspect. The white females come off looking the worse for wear – and it is the unsung songs of the ordinary maids that really shine.
The whole point of the book? In Stockett’s words, “We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.”
And that is something worth remembering every day.
In my world I read of hatred and killing.
Of people who would rather focus on our differences;
Of a world where it is easier to shake your fist in anger
Than to hold hands in friendship.
And yet… in my world I look at the children
Who see through the superficiality of things
To celebrate our common humanity.
They live in a world where it is
Easier to laugh
And hold hands out of love.
We have much to learn from them.
To see more of our friendly world, please visit: My World!
UPDATE: You can read more here! http://news.iskcon.com/node/1825/2009-03-14/mayapur_residents_recovering_after_car_crash
To my regular readers: some kind of normal service will be resumed soon! I’m preparing another edition of that whacky carnival you know as Strange Shores. I’ll be posting it up this evening (Sunday) or tomorrow morning.
To my irregular readers: the low-down as I know it about Braja.
- The very kind devotee Paul is going to print out all our comments on Braja’s last post and read them out to her today at the hospital. He then flies back to New Zealand. The link to the updates (that I posted yesterday) will lead you to another of Braja’s friends, who is constantly at her side. There is an e-mail address there, but as she is taking quite a long time to answer, I’m assuming that she has received a lot of e-mails. I’m sure she is very busy and distressed herself and doesn’t have time to answer them all.
- Henry the Dog’s Mum has asked her for a postal address to which we can send cards. In the meantime, I did receive a kind message from Paul, who has this to say:
“The address for the Apollo hospital, as well as phone numbers, email etc can all be found on the following website: http://www.apollohospitals.com/Kolkata.asp
I think it’s a very sweet idea for you all to send cards of support.
I have no doubt it’ll raise her spirits and touch her heart. “
- Here is the address:
Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata
#58, Canal Circular Road
Sheesh – do I have to do all the work for you?
- Please do NOT send flowers to the hospital as they are not allowed. I believe post takes somewhere between 10-14 days to get to India, so you’d better get started!
Just in: Vodka Mom has posted up a reply she got from Ramadevi. Apparently, she is willing to pass on personal messages to Braja, who doesn’t have her mobile in ICU. (So don’t try to ring yet!)
It’s seven in the morning here on Sunday. Can I please go and get a second cup of coffee?
The news about Braja’s accident has spread like wildfire and Lisa has suggested that everyone stop for a minute at noon today (Saturday 14 March) to send loving thoughts to Braja, her husband and their driver. In the words of Mother Teresa: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Braja is doing much better and should be able to leave the Intensive Care Unit of the Apollo Hospital in Kolkata in about a week. Unfortunately, her husband has suffered more extensive injuries as has the driver, who might lose a leg. They are all being cared for well, and their fellow devotees are keeping them company both physically and in their prayers.
Some of you have expressed the wish to send cards to Braja at the hospital. One of her friends has sent me the URL to the hospital, so I will post the address shortly. I am just waiting for confirmation from one of her close friends at the hospital to make sure that we are not crossing any cultural lines here and also to ensure that the hospital will be able to cope with huge amounts of mail!
Check back here for more details later on.
And, as always, Braja’s carers are updating their site with news about all three. Visit this site for updates. However, I do suggest that not all of us email Ramadevi as her inbox will be flooded otherwise!
Now go out there and give your loved ones an extra hug!
The normally peaceful – let’s not have a conflict – Stockholm has been suffering from a wave of protests this week about a so-called art project by Magnus Gustafsson, former student of Konstfack: Sweden’s University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. For his graduation thesis, he carried out an art project, which consisted of a two-minute film of a black-masked person (himself) defacing the interior of a train compartment by spraying the walls with spray paint. He then smashes a window and jumps out to carry on spraying the walls of the tube station. All in all, he managed to cause 12,000 dollars’ worth of damage.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand that graffiti is a sub-culture and I’m not totally against it as an expression of art. But the actual act of spraying paint in a carriage full of passengers and then smashing the window is … well, against the law.. and it’s usually called ‘vandalism’ in other contexts.
How can it be that what is vandalism in one context is art in another? Mr. Gustafsson, who goes under the name NUG, is doing very well out of this controversy, thank you very much. His film is called Territorial Pissing (and yes – it is a Nirvana song -quite right!) and the copies he has sold have raked in about 13,000 dollars so far – half has gone to him, and half to the gallery owner who sold them.
The whole thing whiffs of: we are all equal, but some are more equal than others. I’m betting that if a young immigrant had made a film of himself defacing a train, then he would have been carted off to jail faster than he could have said, “But officer — it’s art!”
And while I’m on my high horse, I may as well just carry on!
OK – folks. Can you explain it to me? How does this kind of thinking work?
China has been praised from all corners of the world for organizing a great Olympics. “Well done!” “That was well organized!” “Oh, and thanks for making the smog lift for a few weeks!”
You get the picture.
It’s great that people have discovered China – and the wonderful people that live there. And I mean that: after all, I spent three years as a volunteer teacher there.
I digress… Anyway, China has now sent up its very own spacecraft and a Chinese astronaut has just taken a walk in space. A step forward for Chinese space exploration.
But isn’t it time to get your head down out of the clouds? To plant your feet firmly back on the ground?
I mean: how is the government going to explain that it can organize a global event and put a man into space yet it still can’t protect the lives of its youngest and most vulnerable inhabitants?