The Big Picture


It’s all about perspective.

Perspective isn’t just something for art class – it’s essential for understanding.

It’s indispensabile in our quest for truth.

It’s vital for our ongoing safety and security.

And most of all it’s absolutely irreplaceable in the pursuit of personal and societal happiness.

In every sense perspective helps us get the whole picture.

And nothing delivers perspective better than films like this (well, for me anyway)…

Love


We all seek love.  We need it.  It holds us together – literally.

The thing about love is that it grabs our attention even while it takes our breath away.

Love shows us what is already true.  It shows us the power lying at the core of everything.  A power that ties us together.  Links our molecules and energy and fates and well-being.  Entangles us like particles moving in response to each other. Wordlessly, remotely, completely bound together forever in a harmonious dance.

Love does have appetites and that makes us fear it as well as long for it.  We see it as a double edged sword to be approached with trepidation.  But there really is no need.

All appetites are natural.  They are just instincts and neither good nor bad.  They just are.

We don’t fear our appetite for food.  We just know that we have to be in control of it and not vice versa.

Love is the same.

Nothing works without it.  It’s like food for our hearts and souls and minds. We can’t be without it.  And we aren’t.  We are beloved of each other.

Better Together


The human limbic system is composed of a number of areas of the brain – such as the hippocampus and amygdala – which are involved in complex realities such as emotion, behaviour, long term memory and interestingly (to me at least) our sense of smell.

This system is an open-loop system – which simply means it is dependent on factors outside itself for regulation.  There has been extensive research done to confirm what everybody already knows – namely that we are deeply affected by other people when it comes to our emotional well-being and stability.

According to Daniel Goleman, author of books like Emotional Intelligence and The New Leaders, this effect is so profound that it registers physiologically as well as emotionally. He says that even patients in intensive care facilities find the presence of another person so comforting that it perceptibly lowers their blood pressure.

“The open-loop design of the limbic system means that other people can change our very physiology – and so, our emotions.” (1)

Time and again, researchers have found that emotions spread through groups, this ‘spread’ can happen non-verbally as well as verbally, and this appears to be the case simply because of the open-loop design.  It seems that we function together whether we like it or not, even when we don’t consciously choose to do so.  It also seems that we need each other – for better or worse – in order to regulate ourselves, internally, as well as manage the world, externally.

The only way we can live, it seems, is to live together.

So – how might we manage that a bit better?

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(1) Daniel Goleman, The New Leaders, p. 4

The Brilliance of Hearts


This talk is officially called Tan Le – My Immigration Story – and it is that, an immigration story, but it is also much, much more.

It is a story of tradition and war and fear and upheaval, a story of displacement and escape, a story of love and hope and perseverance and family and hardship and the forging of a human spirit.

A truly inspiring story.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. – Helen Keller

Still


I Like for You to Be Still – by Pablo Neruda

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would've died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I'm happy;
Happy that it's not true

Not Just a Material Girl Part (1)


Two things can be true at the same time.

In order to create harmony within our societies we need to first create harmony within ourselves. How many internal and external struggles exist because we try to style ourselves as entirely one thing or another?

On the one hand we might see ourselves as totally rational beings, devoid of a ‘higher nature’ and motivated only by narrow self-interest – we’ve even given that story of ourselves a name – homo economicus.

On the other we might try the ascetic route and disappear into our non-material side to the extent that we deny – or at least don’t entertain – our physical/material selves.

Maybe it’s time we dropped the dichotomies?  Maybe it’s time we recognised them as the unhelpful and fragmenting conceptual constructs that they are and instead tried to see the whole picture in everything?

On an instinctive and intuitive level we know we are multi-dimensional beings – emotional, physical, mental, spiritual – we call our ‘dimensions’ by different names but we really do know our reality is much more than a simple physical, or even psychological, truth.

As Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist points out,

Modern people are fundamentally materialistic…and the fact that we’re materialist in our scientific philosophy has made us extremely powerful, maybe too powerful for our morality but extremely powerful from a technological point of view. But it’s also blinded us to certain things and I think one of the things that it’s really blinded us to, is the nature of our own being.

Because we make the assumption that the fundamental constituent elements of reality are material we fail to notice that the fundamental constituent elements of our own reality are not material. They’re emotional, they’re motivational, they’re dreams, they’re visions they’re relationships with other people, they’re conscious, they’re dependant on consciousness and self-consciousness and we and we have absolutely no materialist explanation whatsoever either for consciousness or self-consciousness and we don’t deal well from a materialistic perspective with the qualities of being.

And everyone knows those qualities exist I mean for most people there’s nothing more real than their own pain. Pain transcends rational argument – you can’t argue yourself out of it, it’s just there. And materialist or not there are very few people who will allow the claim that their pain is merely an epiphenomenon of some more material process. Pain is fundamental. Consciousness is fundamental. (1)

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Photograph – The photo of the Schie sisters at 71 – is part of a larger series, taken by photographer Barbro Fauske Steinde in 1989.
See the rest of the photo series of the Schie sisters on our web sitewww.arkivverket.no/webfelles/manedens/mars2009/hovedside….

(1) Jordan Petersen – Virtue as a Necessity

This is How We’re All Connected


We all know that we are connected to our loved ones.

Many of us can tell stranger-than-fiction stories about incidents in our lives when we have ‘known’ something and we cannot explain quite how we do know it.

Perhaps our experience of these connections becomes conscious when we are also conscious of how we feel about another person?

But conscious or otherwise.

Known or ignored.

For better or worse.

We are all connected to everyone else on the planet – even when we don’t know them or love them or think about them.

This is just a material fact.

It doesn’t need to be taken on faith alone because this is how it works…

Thanks to Michaela at The Living Room for finding that wonderful clip – http://room4truth.com/2012/02/22/why-everything-is-connected-to-everything-else/

The entire programme from which this clip is taken is well worth watching – here is the link to Part I, in case you are interested (the other parts are also on YouTube)

Self


We struggle to become ourselves.

We try to create a ‘self’ that will be acceptable to others.

A self that will fit in.

We try and try and try and try and try and try and try –

to become.

But we already are.

Maybe we could just learn to

be whatever it is that we exquisitely, discretely, uniquely are already?

Instead of forcing.

Bending and fashioning and defining.

Maybe

Delve and develop and radiate.

And shine.

(Photograph by UNICEF)

Rwandan Women Build a Future


What most of us know about Rwanda – other than the fact that it is a small country in central Africa – is that in 1994 there was an horrific genocide where hundreds of thousands of people were murdered in 100 days.

Few of us know that since then Rwanda has more women in its parliament – 56% – than any other country in world.  Or that Rwanda is a leading force in peacemaking, agriculture, healthcare, education and communications.  Or even that nowadays, Rwanda has a fibre-optic network connecting its cities to its remote areas.

After the genocide, 70% of the population of Rwanda was female and many laws that discriminated against women had to be changed.  Laws were passed to address the discrimination against women and jobs previously the preserve of men became open to women.  Women also began to take a role in the judicial system and this had very profound effects.  Very important changes have been made in laws governing sexual violence, marital rape, labour, property, inheritance and education.

There are still problems in Rwanda.  There are many scars from the “War,” as it is known, many lives altered forever.  Most of the population is rural and life for rural women is not as significantly altered as for their urban sisters – but it is changing even there. Interestingly, Rwanda is not only a better place for women since the society has become more equal, it is a better place for everyone as it is also benefitting from steady economic development.

In the aftermath of the genocide, many women who had been imprisoned in rape camps were not only traumatised they were stigmatised because they had HIV and babies as a result of their rapes.  But they overcame even these obstacles because, as one woman describes it,  “Since all of us had suffered from this, we were able to support each other.  That is what saved us.” . . .(1)

For the most part, men have not had too much to say about the changes in the law but according to Evarist Kalish MP, a member of the Liberal party and the chair of parliament’s human rights committee, many men recognise that women may provide the best leadership.

“More than men, women are the victims of the war. They have different priorities to those of men. They have more concern about issues related to violence in general, and gender-based violence in particular. Women have faced discrimination so they want to put a stop to discrimination. All of this will contribute to preventing another genocide.” (2)

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(1) Rwanda: Defying History, by Anne-Christine d’Adesky, June, 14, 2011. http://worldpulse.com/magazine/articles/rwanda-defying-history

(2) Chris McGreal – The Guardian, 17/12/2008,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/17/rwanda-women-politics-human-rights