Saturday, November 23, 2013

Be +ve

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 24 2013

Mike is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Mike was there telling the guy how to look on the positive side of the prevailing situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Mike and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Hey man Mike, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood."
"Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it."

"Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, but it isn't that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," Mike said. Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. "The bottom line is: It's your choice how you live life."
I reflected on what Mike said. Soon thereafter, I left the country to start a new career as an expat contract worker in the Middle East. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Mike had also moved out of the country and was involved in a serious work related accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Mike was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.
I saw Mike about 6 months after his accident when I happened to visit home and he had returned to recuperate, too. I asked him, "Do you feel better now, mate?". He responded in his same old cheerful manner, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds but asked him what went through his mind during the fall. "The first thing that hit me during the fall was the well being of my wife and kids" he responded. "Weren't you scared, did you lose consciousness?", I asked.

Mike responded,"The Paramedics were great, they kept telling me I was going to be alright. However, when I was wheeled into the emergency room and saw the expressions on the faces of the medics I got the feeling that in their minds I was a dead man".

"So what did you say or do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting instructions to the rest of the support staff in emergency. She asked me if I was allergic to anything.  I said, 'Yes' and saw the expression in their faces change as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breadth and yelled 'Gravity'. Over their laughter I told them that I wanted to live. Operate on me as if I am alive and not dead", I told them."

Mike lived and pulled through this extremely difficult phase of his life mainly on account of his totally positive attitude. I learned from him, that day, that we all have the ability to choose to live our lives fully.
Its our attitude, after all,  that makes the big difference in life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Dark Side of Environmental Conservation

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 17 2013

Here's an interesting story from a young lady in south America that will interest you Peeps this Sunday.

The Dark Side of Environmental Conservation 

by Katie Black [native mid westerner, human rights lawyer, world traveler, yogi]

Unlike most law school students nearing the end of what can be a less than enjoyable experience, I spent my final semester living and working in the southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica. This experience was life-changing, and led to the establishment of The Rich Coast Project, a community storytelling and collective history project aimed at supporting and protecting the cultural heritage of coastal Afro-Caribbean populations and other communities living along Costa Rica’s Talamanca coast.
In an effort to learn more about the challenges facing communities in coastal Talamanca, I began interviewing people about their history, the precarious state of land tenure, and the threat this poses to their cultural survival. I quickly realized there was a story to be told – one that asks how environmental conservation measures can and should be balanced against the needs and rights of local communities. Better yet, how could these measures include the communities and incorporate the knowledge and best practices they have gained over centuries of stewardship to these lands?
Coastal Talamanca is a place that, until relatively recently, lived in virtual isolation, nestled between the lush forests of the Talamanca Mountains to the West and the Caribbean Sea to the East. English speaking Afro-Caribbean fishermen began settling this coastline beginning in the early 1800’s, and built their communities where they lived and worked: right next to the water. 
Over the past several years, local landowners in coastal Talamanca have been stripped of their property rights and economic development has been paralyzed. Homes and businesses have been threatened with demolition orders and residents have faced criminal charges for pursuing better lives for their families.
Costa Rica has developed an admirable policy imperative to protect and conserve its vast natural resources, and has established itself as an international leader on environmental issues. As this reputation has grown, so have the instability of land tenure and economic insecurity of the people living within the country’s vast protected areas.
What we're doing to help local landowners:
The Rich Coast Project wants to make sure that these communities have a chance to tell their own story. Our goal is to work within these communities to combine storytelling, visual advocacy, interdisciplinary research to update their recorded history, expose their present situation, and explore their hopes for the future of their children and neighbors.
We’re teaming with local residents, socially-engaged artists, and scholars from a range of disciplines to explore better approaches to the competing aims of environmental conservation and sustainable development through the example of this community’s experience.
We’ll be taking our lead from the locals, letting the community drive the development of the project and considering how this approach – combining local storytelling with legal research – can be leveraged to support other communities in different parts of the world.
Lessons we've learned from our conversations, that you can put into practice:
Support local and regional NGOs. See if the big name NGOs you're thinking about supporting have good relationships with local and regional NGOs.
Pay the extra penny and try to be a socially-responsible consumer. Certification schemes like Rainforest Alliance may not be perfect institutions but they are better for local communities than Hersheys or Mondelez are.
Be a responsible tourist. Try to support the local economy when you choose where to stay and what to do. Both of these things can work to crowdsource relationships with communities, empowering them economically and socially.
Support conservation efforts in your own community. Buy local whenever possible, compost and recycle, be mindful of your energy and water consumption. Even small behavioral changes can start a virtuous cycle within your own community.
If you'd like to support our project, you can contact usjoin our volunteer network, or donate to our Indiegogo campaign until November 24 (or to our Fiscal Sponsor after this date). If you’re an interested organization, grantmaker, media outlet, creative professional, academic, or anyone with good ideas, we want to partner with you! Click here to add your support to your To-Do list.
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good-- our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.
The Rich Coast Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Rich Coast Project must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering the Dead

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 10 2013

"Death leaves a heartache no one can steal, love leaves a memory no one can steal" - taken from a headstone in Ireland.

Poppy day is just around and remembering the war dead from the many wars that have passed before has become a vital part of our lives in November.

Ian Hussein, director for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), states that the act of remembering the dead of the First and Second World War, is an important message in helping avoid future wars. Describing the remembrance period as "highly significant", he said: "It's to pay tribute to those who gave their lives but also to remember this is part of our history. It's very important to understand what happened, why it happened and what can be done in the future to prevent future conflict."

But is this really a fact of life?

We have, surely, seen the Vietnam war, the conflicts in Korea & Cambodia, The Cold War, 911 and its aftermath of the many wars still raging in Iraq & Afghanistan, The Palestinian mess, and now the many upheavals and flies burning around the globe. 

How has remembering the war dead helped to keep these fires from erupting, time and again?

War and conflict are a part and parcel of human society as long as borders remain intact and people think in terms of nationality, ethnicity, and tribes. Even with the emergence of the Global Village concept, massive migrations, and even people seeking asylum and refugee status in many far away lands, the differences that spur conflict still remains.

What is the best way to remove this brainwashed ideology from our minds?

We are all different even if we belong to a particular group, sect or community. Each human is unique in his or her own special way. Even twins and triplets do have teir variances however identical they may look. on the outside.

No one can fathom the soul of a living being. Its only the possessor who will be able to comprehend it fully.

Its time to wake up and live like real human beings.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Desecrating the Holy

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 2 2013

In recent days we are hearing more stories and happenings of one religious group desecrating and destroying the shrines and holy places of other religious groups. Such hatred and the ensuing havoc is mostly being generated by radical elements of one religion against another, especially in multi cultural societies.

The problem is rampant in the third world while, we are also seeing some signs of it surfacing in the developed world, surprisingly.

Religious conflict, across the globe, has always been a part and parcel of life on our planet earth since the beginning of time. Many are the wars that have been fought over religious issues. The USA was created because of religious persecution in England and Europe.

It is often that you hear and see many of those folks who belong to these various religions claim that their God, Deity, Goddess, or Guru, will surely take revenge for this kind of carnage on those who perpetrate them. While this may be a psychological way for them to appease themselves and stay calm it truly doesnt make any sense whatsoever from a common sense logical point of view.

The basic question that needs to asked and appraised is why dont these super beings ensure that their holy places are not attacked and take immediate action on the evil oned even before they create their mischief? If they are all powerful, omnipotent, and whatever else that is attributed to them, then surely they must know before hand what the mischief makers are up to, and surely they are able to punish them upfront?

Doesnt make any sense to me at all.