Feet of a Dancer

I hope you find the feet of a dancer,
I hope you can sing in the rain,
I hope you find all the easy answers to your pain;
It won’t be easy, what can I say,
There will be trouble along the way;
‘Round every corner there’s terror and fear,
Always remember that we’re here.

Charlie McGettigan – Feet of a Dancer

I love this picture.  I love everything about it, but I especially love the expressions on their faces.

I don’t know who took the photograph, or where it was taken, or when.

But I love it, anyway.

It’s on the One Human Family Facebook page here –


“Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance

to a mysterious tune intoned in the distance

by an invisible player.”

Albert Einstein


We are all convinced that our conception of beauty is natural. We think we like what we like, nobody teaches us what to like, either people are beautiful or they aren’t.

But is that really the case?

P.S. All of these girls look absolutely beautiful to me.

Why Does This Make Me Cry?

This video seems to make me cry – but in a good way!


The Inadequacy of Words to Express the Nature of Reality…*

War-Toys is a project undertaken by veteran photographer Brian McCarty. McCarty has set out to explore the daily experiences of children who live in war zones.  This is how he describes it himself –

“So War-Toys in a nutshell allows children to articulate their experiences of war, occupation, terrorism through a collaborative process. It’s all based on art therapy and play therapy. I essentially go and interview kids, working with established therapists. You ask them to draw a picture or write a letter, and somehow they express what they’ve seen, what they feel, what they’ve heard. And from those drawings, I then go and buy local toys, and recreate at the actual locations, what they’ve described.”

For his first War-Toys project, McCarty has chosen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He puts a lot of effort into remaining neutral –  “I want to show all sides of the conflict, and show the cost of the conflict from the kids, who are just stuck in the middle of this whole mess.”

This project is an excellent example of how the arts can be used not only to show the problems in the world but also to help heal the pain.

This CNN report is very informative –


Chaotic Butterflies

Photograph of David Bohm, taken from this page.

David Bohm

In ordinary life chaos means disorder – random, disorganised confusion.  In science it means something entirely different – it means apparent randomness. In other words, things that appear to be random and disorganised but actually obey an order that we either can’t see or don’t understand.

The physicist, David Bohm believed everything was governed by a hidden – or as he termed it – implicate – order.  He demonstrated this using a very simple but graphic experiment copied from a BBC Children’s TV programme.

Take a vessel composed of two glass cylinders, put glycerine (or other viscous fluid) in the space between the cylinders, then put a drop of insoluble ink into the glycerine and turn the outer cylinder.  As the cylinder turns, the ink is drawn out into a thread that eventually becomes so thin it disappears from view as it is enfolded in the solution.

But if the cylinder is then turned in the opposite direction, the thread form reappears and retraces its steps until the original droplet is reconstituted.

Bohm offered this as a visual example of how order exists even when it is hidden and not obvious to us.

But David Bohm is far from the only scientist to suggest that the seeming ‘chaos’ that surrounds us may not be as haphazard as it appears.

In the 1960s, Edward Lorenz, a MIT meteorologist and the originator of the Butterfly Effect theory, tried to explore why it is so hard to make good weather forecasts and as a result chaos theory was born.  Lorenz was the first to recognize what is now called chaotic behaviour in the mathematical modelling of weather systems.

Soon, many other scientists – including social scientists – were attempting to use chaos theory to search for the hidden order in everything.

Nowadays, chaos theory (and it’s offspring, complexity theory) provides us with models we can apply to everything from epilepsy to social problems.

So, organised chaos is not a contradiction after all – who knew?

An Answer to Evil

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty.  To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. Bertrand Russell

Dear Anders Behring Breivik,

A lot of the friends I met at Utoya are dead and you are the perpetrator. You are the man who, by coincidence, didn’t kill me. I was lucky.

You might think that you have won. You might think that you have ruined something for the Labour Party and for people around the world who stand for a multicultural society by killing my friends and fellow party members.

Know that you have failed.

You haven’t only made the world stand together, you have set our souls on fire and should know we’ve never stood together as we do now. You talk about yourself as a hero, a knight. You are no hero. But you have created heroes. On Utoya that warm day in July, you created some of the greatest heroes the world has seen, you unified people from all over the world. Black and white, man and woman, red and blue, Christians and Muslims.

You made your victims martyrs, immortals, and you have shown the world that when one person can show as much hatred as you have done, imagine how much love we can show when we stand together? People who I thought hated me have given me hugs on the street, people I haven’t been in contact with for years have written 300 to 400 words about how much it means to them that I survived. What can you say about that? Have you broken anything? You have united us.

You have killed my friends, but you haven’t killed our cause, our opinions, our right to express ourselves. Muslim women got hugs of sympathy from random Norwegian women on the street and your goal was to protect Europe from Islam? Your actions worked against its purpose.

You deserve no thanks; your plan failed. A lot of people are angry, you are the most hated person in Norway. I am not angry. I do not fear you. You can’t touch us, we are greater than you. We do not answer evil with evil, as you wanted it. We fight evil with good. And we win.

Benjamin Ostebo, aged 16.

Why We All Need Science and Religion to Work Together (even if we think we don’t)

Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. Albert Einstein (1)

Everyone would agree that we are material beings but we also know that much of our experience of life is not material.  We love, hate, imagine, dream, think, guess, wish, hypothesize – and there is no one way to explain it all. Along with our material reality we have another reality – a transcendent reality. Which is why we need as many paths to knowledge as we can get.

Because, as Albert Einstein also famously said –

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. (2)


Photograph – A glowing emerald nebula seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

(1) This article appears in Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions, pp.41 – 49. It is taken from an address at Princeton Theological Seminary, May 19, 1939. It was published in Out of My Later Years, New York: Philosophical Library, 1950.

(2) Albert Einstein“Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium”, 1941

Related articles

The Importance of Difference.


Image by Jonas Hansel via Flickr

The differences between us are natural and bring a beautiful diversity to human life – like a garden full of varied plants and flowers.  But perhaps there is a lot more to the story of difference than simple decoration.

In physical terms, in order to see anything clearly with our eyes we need it to contrast with its background.  Animals understand this phenomenon as they blend into the background to avoid predators. And, if you or I want to display a dark picture we will most likely mount it on a light background.  We do this because the contrast between the picture and the background allows everyone to see the features of the picture in greater detail.  Contrast literally draws our attention to what we wish to focus on and allows us to see it more clearly.  Perhaps there is an analogy to be drawn here in terms of human behaviour?

Sometimes, as we search for solutions to difficult questions we find that everything can be a big mush of detail.  To solve the problem we usually need to tease out the individual elements in order to come up with answers.  This can be hard to do because these ‘individual elements’ can be difficult to see.  We may not enjoy ourselves much when we are engaged in a problem-solving process with others who see things differently to us but perhaps the differences between us in the process may be the very contrast-providing mechanisms we need to see the detail clearly?

So maybe it is possible that just as physical diversity lends itself to greater health in a population (whether flowers or animals or people) then diversity of viewpoint and thought and culture and experience are just as necessary for healthy human society.

Ourselves and Others

Cooperation and it’s pre-requisite, reciprocity, require us to learn how to get on together but real human development needs us to be able to do this in a truly diverse and inclusive way.  Easier said than done.

So, how do we interact as individuals?  How do we see ourselves?  How do we see others?  Ourselves in relation to others?   Does it matter what we think about others and who they are and what they do?  How sure are we ourselves about who we are and what we do?  And what difference does it make anyway?

A fundamental feature of ethical and political thought is the attitude of an individual (“the self”) toward other people (“the other”).  One perspective acknowledges three modes of engagement.  First, is when the other is viewed as an object – a subject of research or victim of oppression that is merely a recipient of the actions and judgements of the self.  In the second mode, the other, is human, but the self claims to know the truth about the other completely, engaging him or her from a distance, offering certainty and authoritative direction, an example is the traditional relationship between a doctor and patient.  The third mode is one of reciprocity and mutual recognition; the self influences the other, but when the other speaks, the self must also be prepared to be called into question and, perhaps, to change. (1)

The real question then, as we learn how to live together, is how open we are to learning and changing in all our encounters with other people.  Especially when we believe (and we might even be correct) that what we think is right.

The human race is a complex, dynamic system of oneness – in spite of how we act. This type of system requires high levels of reciprocity if it is to function properly. And it is this interaction between ourselves and others – at all levels of society – that forms the basis for the creation of human environments where everyone can flourish.

TomorrowAnd in the beginning…

(1) Paul Lample, Revelation and Social Reality, p.226

I think therefore I act…


Image by Sem Vandekerckhove via FlickI think, therefore I am...

If our social reality and education are the factors outside of us that shape our view of reality, what factors inside us contribute to the decisions we make? Education definitely influences our decisions and ignorance can contribute to prejudice. However, if information and exposure were enough to correct prejudice, then men would never have been prejudiced against women and all colonizers would soon see that the natives were just like them.

In order to benefit from information about, and exposure to, other cultures and traditions, we need conceptual frameworks in which diversity is seen as a good thing and everybody is seen as equal and valuable. Otherwise the differences can simply be seen as proof of inequality or inferiority or well, proof of pretty much anything we want to prove.   Because one of the first ‘facts’ that we really do need to carry with us as we learn to think for ourselves is that as human beings, we don’t believe what we see but on the contrary we actually see what we already believe.

TomorrowTalking to your Hat