Could I Do This?


The truth?
I don’t know.
I agree with the sentiments expressed in this short film and admire these people and their courage and their commitment to action and hope and change for the better but I’m not sure I could be as magnanimous if someone took my child.
But I’d really like if I could.
I don’t admire success or fame or accomplishment. I don’t aspire to be like anybody else really – certainly not in regard to what our societies tell me I should want to emulate. But I do aspire to be as open-hearted, as brave and as far-seeing as these people.

Don’t Stamp on the Seedling…


Stop Joseph Kony

Stop Joseph Kony (Photo credit: boston7513 Kevin)

The Kony 2012 campaign has caused a huge stir in the world.

Is it good?

Is it bad?

Are we being fooled?

Are the organisers just manipulating us so they can make lots of money?

Is it foolishly idealistic?

I’m a European and I’m a born cynic (ask my family) and here is what I think.

It is important to know – as much as possible – what is going on.  It is important to investigate truth for oneself and not to be duped but here are the questions I have asked myself about this campaign –

If my child was in danger from Joseph Kony would I want help?

Would I feel insulted if people from other countries tried to help me?

Would I care if they were making mistakes or would I be glad someone was trying – even imperfectly – to help me?

There is a lot of criticism about the Invisible Children campaign but I haven’t read – or heard – even one thing that says their accusations against Joseph Kony are false. Everybody says the same thing about him – he is a vicious criminal and nobody has managed to stop him.

So, what is bothering us, exactly? That we’ll be fooled?

OK – that’s not pleasant but I’d prefer to run the risk of looking foolish than to leave people in danger because I was busy protecting my ego – wouldn’t you?

As for the paternalism accusations – helping anybody, anywhere, any time can be seen as paternalistic – it’s all about how it’s done. So here are my questions about that –

Are the people (even the Ugandans) who are objecting to the campaign the ones living in terror?

Do the people who live in this abject terror object to the attempts to help them?

If those in the firing line are happy to receive the help – and I don’t know if they are but it seems that way – is it not really incredibly paternalistic to say they don’t know what is best for themselves?

Saying we don’t want help from outside is a divisive act like saying we will only help our own people.  National boundaries are increasingly illusory and increasingly impossible to uphold in the ways we used to define them in the past.  The earth is clearly more and more obviously just like one country, so unless the assistance is extra-terrestrial surely it isn’t really from outside?

As for accusations against the Ugandan government – I imagine they are mostly true but I wonder would any of our governments stand up to much scrutiny and if not should that deprive us of help from others?

This campaign interests me because it is trying to find ways to use our present day social reality to facilitate some good.

I’m sure it’s flawed. I’m sure they are making mistakes. I’m sure it won’t be entirely successful but here’s the final question I ask myself about this –

If this campaign helps to improve the life of one child will it be worthwhile?

For me the answer is yes.

Let’s Dance


And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.  – Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s easy to believe in war and injustice

in greed and corruption

in hatred and prejudice and violence.

It’s harder to believe in equity and justice and unity and peace.

But once upon a time…

Slavery was the norm – nobody thought it unreasonable that one human being own another.

Everybody believed women were inferior to men.

White people were genuinely thought to be superior to everyone else.

Appendicitis was usually a death sentence…

The thought of human beings flying was ludicrous and nobody had ever dreamed people all over the world could communicate almost instantaneously…

All change happens because at the very, very start someone believes it is possible.

We see what we believe so if we believe something is possible then we will search and search until we find the way to make it a reality – for better or worse.

So – while peace, love, understanding, equity, and justice might not be that easy to envisage, the first step in attaining any of those things is to believe they are attainable.  Strain your ears until you hear the music and then – dance…

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Getting Over It


The year spreads out ahead and it’s clean now.

The slate scrubbed with shame and judgement.

We need mirrors not slates.

To reflect the past

into the present

into the future.

Blank slates make lousy maps. (1)

If we were less afraid to make mistakes would we do more and learn more and understand more?  Would we benefit from what we do – for better or worse – and learn not to value ourselves and others using shaky standards of success and failure as our measure?

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. ~Mahatma Gandhi

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Out of the Mouths of Babes…


In January 2010, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, a group of children aged between 8 and 23 who live in the slums in Nairobi, Kenya, produced a song to raise funds and give hope to their counterparts in Haiti.

Here is the song – the lyrics are printed below the video and are well worth a read.  Enjoy!

Chico
children of Haiti
together as one
lets unite, lets make a song
doesn’t matter where you’re from
clap for your life and sing along

Chorus
peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

Mary
there’s no limit to how far we can go
a long journey starts with one step
i cant go wrong if i do my best
Doesn’t matter how far you’re from
even beautiful roses grow in the slum
lets share the struggle
lift our heads above the rubble
no more heart aches, no room for doubt
well make it through the earthquakes floods and droughts
no matter how long it takes
lets move now no time to waste

Oyugy
Hard work pays so lets use our talents
more peace in the streets no more violence
we can move mountains
we can fly
and if we don’t give up we will survive
and make the difference

Chorus

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

Walter
The pain will go, the wounds will heal
its not a dream its very real
i know we will overcome
what is done is done
so let it be
from the smallest seed can grow the biggest tree
and the ones to make that change are you and me
wash the dust from your eyes to see images of love
caring, sharing and joy
its a must we get food, clothing and shelter for every girl and boy
lets play lets grow/lets play lets grow

Chorus

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

Fode
Want to breath in a world where the air is clean
anything is possible if we work as a team
because it takes a village to raise a child
don’t let the hard times take away your smile
coz your a shinning star just believe i you’re self

Okusi
there comes a time when we all need help
there’s no shame in that
lets play our part
after the tears comes laughter
no need to fear lets open up a new chapter
A better way to live life

Oscar
so we can build stronger foundations
we can find hope even in the worst situation
if we stay strong
must hold on
even when you’ve lost you’re family and home
their people who care you’re not alone/ you’re not alone

Chorus

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

Anto
better education and health care
the right information so we can all be aware
and be better prepared
so keep your head up/keep your head up/ keep your head up

Chorus

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

peace love unity power

is the key that we need in life la la la la life

clap clap clap clap for your life

Chichi
message to the world
please don’t forget them
for now and in the future
don’t let them down
help them out
to build a new life

© Wafalme

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Educate Girls and Change the World


There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls.
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

I can’t say it better than that – or this –

http://itonlytakesagirl.blogspot.com/

The Meaning of Life?


We run around in our lives pursuing happiness.

We worry about finding meaning.

We fret in case we never realise our potential.

And the pursuit is often in vain.

But maybe that isn’t because those things can’t be found but simply because we’ve been looking in the wrong places?

Perhaps searching for what we should do, who we are and where we should go is actually a mistake?

Instead, maybe we should stop, look around, have a think about what is needed in the world and then see how we might be able to meet those needs.

This doesn’t imply that we shouldn’t develop our own unique potential.

On the contrary.

Meeting the needs requires us to be the best individual version of ourselves possible.

Man’s Search For Meaning

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who spent three years in a concentration camp.  His wife and parents died in the camps and he himself saw and experienced inhuman suffering.

The conclusion he reached while in the camp about what he and his fellow inmates needed in order to survive was not the conclusion you’d imagine a victim of such horror would reach.  But it is an insightful and inspiring conclusion –

What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude towards life.  We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men,  that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. 

We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead to think of ourselves as those who are constantly being questioned by life – daily and hourly.  Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct…

These tasks and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment.  Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. (1)

It’s a lens. If we look through it hoping to see our route to (simply) personal happiness it will be blurred by all sorts of extraneous matter.

However, if we look through it to see if we can work out how we might contribute to the well-being and happiness of humanity we’ll be more likely to see our path.

Our purpose.

Happiness.

Meaning.

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The Still Face


Humans are social beings.  We’re not the only ones on the planet but we most definitely belong to that group.

Our interactions with other people do more than just shape our manners and our view of the world, these interactions actually shape our physical brains.  As the saying goes, neurons that fire together, wire together. 

As we lumber about in our lives, we often believe, erroneously, that only our big actions count.

If I don’t hit you or shout at you or curse or show my disdain I can tell myself I haven’t revealed anything of myself – or done any damage to you.

But what if that isn’t true?

What if our sensitivity to response is so ingrained in us and so long-standing that we don’t consciously recognise how subtly influenced – or influential – we can be?

Everybody knows that new-born babies respond to the world around them and we instinctively try to interact even with the youngest babies.  But do we realise how vital this seemingly trivial interaction really is?

Watch the video below – if you can handle it – it tells a very interesting story.

Ubuntu


Chris Abani

Chris Abani

The Nigerian writer, Chris Abani describes the African philosophical concept of Ubuntu as, “…the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me.”

In 2008, Desmond Tutu said –

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity. 

Butterfly Effects for Change – Part 8

“What I’ve come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand Messianic gestures but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft – almost invisible  – acts of compassion  – everyday acts of compassion.” (Chris Abani)