How to Be Happy


One of the problems that naturally occurs when a light is shone on pain and suffering is that those who are looking at this picture are overwhelmed by pity.  This might seem like a good outcome – surely if we are sorry for someone we’ll try to help?  Well the answer to that is not a definite ‘yes’.  Sometimes when we feel sorry for people we also feel angry, or resentful or superior or confused.  We wonder how this can happen and why they can’t help themselves just like we have to do and if they have some inherent shortcoming that precludes them from building a wholesome and sustaining life for themselves… Continue reading

Think


We need to learn to think.  Urgently.  Not just as individuals but also as governments and international organisations.  We need to learn to see both our immediate reality while still keeping an eye on where we want to be in the future.

The recent talks in Istanbul between Iran and members of the United Nations Security Council (P5+1) regarding Iran’s development of nuclear capabilities attracted many human rights demonstrators.  These people were advising the UN not to barter away human rights within Iran in an effort to appease the regime and get ‘promises’ regarding the development of nuclear weapons.

These ordinary people were pointing out that the best way to safeguard the rest of the world vis a vis any threat from Iran is to ensure that Iranian society is democratic and safe because then there will be no issue. The ordinary person in Iran has no interest in bombing anyone so the ordinary person in Iran (and everywhere else) needs to have a voice.

This seems like a fairly obvious point but somehow it is the type of principle that has always been missed by governments negotiating to avoid war.  The Spanish Civil War was ignored by the Allies in Europe in the 1930s – in spite of the fact that Germany and Italy both took an active part in supporting Franco.  Everybody hoped it’d go away.  Everybody ignored what was happening to the Spaniards in the belief that it would be confined to Spain.  Everybody told themselves that the ‘hole’ in the boat was far away.

This was then further enhanced by appeasing Hitler in the hope that that would be enough for him and everything would be OK.  The fact that it didn’t work out all that well is a matter of historical record and attested to by over 60 million deaths.

We need to see that if we compromise our principles – as people and as governments – it will never solve anything and will, ultimately, come back and bite us.  Therefore, it is not only nice, ethical and moral to defend the victims of human rights abuses in Iran and elsewhere – it is also the wisest course of action even in terms of our own self-interest.

Listen to their case for yourself –

Love And Protection


Given all the controversy in recent times about social action via social media, here is a very interesting initiative.

It seems like a great idea to me –

Especially as this is the response –

Here is an interesting newspaper article about this phenomenon –

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/iran-blog/2012/mar/26/message-israel-iran-love-you?newsfeed=true

And many thanks to Talesfromthelou for posting this in the first place –

http://talesfromthelou.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/we-love-you-iran-and-israel-real-people-movement/

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War Happens


English: Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway ...

Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway with unidentified Chinese officers.

Martha Gellhorn, was a famous American war correspondent who covered most of the major wars of the 20th century.  At every war and conflict, from the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to the Vietnam War in the ’60s and 70’s, Martha was present, reporting on what she saw.  She even stowed away on a hospital ship so that she could cover the Normandy landings.

So, Martha Gellhorn knew war and she hated it.

Below is one of her statements about war.  It seems to me that it is also applicable to many other ills – famine, poverty, abuse – in our world.

War happens to people, one by one. That is really all I have to say and it seems to me I have been saying it forever. Unless they are immediate victims, the majority of mankind behaves as if war was an act of God which could not be prevented; or they behave as if war elsewhere was none of their business. It would be a bitter cosmic joke if we destroy ourselves due to atrophy of the imagination.
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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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Become Someone You Can Admire


We wonder how to be in the world.  What to do.  Where to go.  We spend our lives trying to ‘be’ someone.

Why?  We are all already someone.

Stop worrying about what others think.

Here’s the only real question – what do you think?

You’ll never be able to get away from yourself so

For that reason – if no other

Try to become someone you can admire.

Path revealed.

Problem solved.

To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind– Theophile Gautier

Peace on Earth – Goodwill to Girls


Rape is used to destroy not just individuals but entire communities. Rape is so commonly used as a weapon that Major General Patrick Cammaert, a former UN force commander said –

“It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.”

In 2008 the UN declared rape, ‘ a weapon of war’.  In the resolution, the UN Security Council noted that,

“…women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.

Rape is a heinous crime, acknowledged as torture by the United Nations and yet apart from the physical, emotional and psychological scars that rape inflicts, there is another source of pain for rape victims – social exclusion.  In many countries the shame experienced by the victims after rape is as traumatic as the incident itself.  Many women kill themselves as it is seen as the only way to restore honour to their families.

How can this be true?

Surely the perpetrators of heinous crimes are the ones who should be ashamed?

And who are the people who exclude or look down on these victims?

Do these excluders and condemners include women?

If so – why?

What is it about rape that makes the victims ashamed and not the perpetrators?

When will men – and women – begin to speak out against this violation?

What sort of social conceptual framework exists to support this victimisation of victims?

If we could find it could we dismantle it?

All thoughts appreciated.

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(1) http://www.ohchr.org/en/newsevents/pages/rapeweaponwar.aspx

Peace on Earth – War Children


Emmanuel Jal was born in Southern Sudan c. 1980. By the time he was seven, his father had left to fight with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and his mother had been murdered by government soldiers.

After that he was recruited by the SPLA and trained as a soldier.  For five years he fought with the army, but as the fighting became unbearable Jal and some of the other children ran away.

They wandered for three months, many of them dying on the journey until they reached the town of Waat.  Emma McCune, a British aid worker who was married to a senior SPLA commandant, insisted that at 11, Jal was too young to be a soldier and adopted him and smuggled him to Kenya. There Emmanuel went to school and even though McCune died in a road accident, her friends continued to help him.

Jal began singing to ease the pain of what he had experienced, he also began to work at raising money for street children in Kenya and his first single, “All We Need is Jesus” was a hit in Kenya and received airplay in the UK.

Jal tries to unite young people through his music – he believes that music can help overcome ethnic and religious divisions.  His first album – Gua – is a mix of Arabic, English, Swahili, Dinka and Nuer.  The title – Gua – is a symbol of the unity for which he is striving as it means ‘good’ in Nuer and ‘power’ in Sudanese Arabic.

His second album, Ceasefire, is a collaboration with the well known Sudanese Muslim musician Abd El Gadir Salim.  The collaboration between Jal and Salim demonstrates their vision of unity.  On the album they emphasize their musical differences as a symbol of co-existence.

Jal dedicates his life to the wellbeing of children, believing that music is a vehicle for uplifting the spirit and surviving tragedy.  The commonest theme of his songs is the campaign for peace – particularly in his native Sudan – and his condemnation of using children as soldiers.

A documentary about Emmanuel Jal called War Child was made in 2008 by C. Karim Chrobog. It made its international debut at the Berlin Film Festival and its North American debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the Cadillac Audience Award. An autobiography under the same name was released in 2009.

Jal’s charity, Gua Africa, builds schools and tries to help children and Sudanese war survivors.

Those of us who are lucky enough to live in relative peace should never underestimate the suffering caused by war or give up working to eliminate it.

Peace on Earth – Heart to Heart


The heart is like a box, and language is the key.* 

Photograph – Neighbourhood Children of the Neptune Road-Lovell Street Area – 1973 – Michael Philip Manheim – U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-6813

*’Abdu’l-Bahá The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 60-61

http://eof737.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/happiness-haiku-what-does-happiness-mean-to-you/