Sunday, December 29, 2013

Growing Old

Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 29 2013

It is said that the last period of human life is supposed to be the years after 65. That puts us all into the departure lounge automatically, holding on to our boarding passes
 , hopefully without any shakes

My Mum turns 95 in Feb if she makes it to that date. Skanda's Mum is also in her early 90's. Am not sure of how many other
Randy 8 
Mums are still around. If they are, then they must also be in their 90's, too. Bless them all for having produced peeps like us!

Growing old can be satisfying but also sad. My Mum is losing her memory and forgetting people, places and events. Lately this year she 
showing signs of physical difficulty in moving around and has had two falls already
causing cuts and 
requiring stitches 
 her head. 
et, she still insists that she can manage her affairs by herself. At least she has the ability to convey this to us, her three children, which tells us that while she is being stubborn she still has her free will and open mind to express herself

openly as she wants to

wants to grow old? In our mind's eye we see "old" as being a negative thing...though once you add years to your age "old" keeps getting, well, older. "It's just a number!" 
is what some choose accept and believe in, especially 
those who've crossed the threshold 
Is it necessary 
to retrain ourselves to think of "old" in a different

Where did it start? Maybe 
 conjured up a picture of what "old" looks like when 
 I remember Mr Barrow an d Mrs Spillers
 who lived in and around our neighborhood back in Colombo in the 50's
? They looked as if they were one step from becoming a piece of petrified wood when I was, say, 5 years old. But the older 
the younger they appear
ed, strangely

How old are 
, really? Are there people our age who look older than 
? Are there people our age who look younger than 
? Look at those around who are our age. Are people our age getting around more, doing more, experiencing life more than 

o or what
 want to 
 by the time 
we get to 70, 
80, 90, 
100? "One hundred?" you say? Sure, why not. 
Lets just make sure we get whatever we want done, that's all. No need to huff and puff about it. Life's just a roller coaster ride that takes us up and down. Whether it all started with Elvis Presley sideburns and a brylcream bump of hair on top of our forehead, capping gals, hanging around bus stands, Sunday movies at the Savoy, Sundown Dances at the Coconut Grove, and moving on to professions, careers, fancy cars, businesses, marriage, kids, homes, and even grand kids now, it doesn't really matter as long as one has done it all rightly or wrongly and pulled through the long and winding road of life to where we are at today.

I have stopped attaching myself to material possessions, ownership of assets, fancy cars, designer attire, real estate, and worrying about what to do next with whatever is accumulating in the bank. Shirani and I have transferred all our assets to the girls and only have the clothes in our cupboard plus whatever I make by consulting fees which gets credited to my bank account every month. This suffices us for our day to day living and also supporting the grand kids in many of their academic and personal needs. The girls have their own income and choose to live as they please.

And it is also better not to leave behind, any, "wrongs" that need to be made "right". It's good to set them straight right now before the last train calls at the station to take us back home.

Information is available in plenty on Google. Browse the net and make use of it. Learning something we didnt know before never stops, and is also very entertaining and productive. Helps to stay in sync with the grand kids too when they talk high tech. They also respect us when they know that we also know what they know, especially within the areas of interest in their domain. And surely they have so much to learn from our experiences, too. My grandson listens to all my tall tales, while driving him around, and asks 20 questions all the time. He once even asked me if I ever smoked pot?  I couldn't tell a lie. ;-)

And of course, lets always think positive, share, and stay alive and kicking as best as we can. Helps a  lot when you have crossed 65. Not sure what it will be like, if and when we do get to 69, since it is a nice number as you all will surely agree?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our Valiant Values

Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 15 2013

Moral values are always considered as the highest form of values among all natural values. Goodness, purity, truthfulness, humility of man rank higher than genius, brilliancy, exuberant vitality, than the beauty of nature or of art, than the stability and power of a state. What is realized and what shines forth in an act of real forgiveness, in a noble and generous renunciation; in a burning and selfless love, is more significant and more noble, more important and more eternal than all cultural values. Positive moral values are the focus of the world, negative moral values, the greatest evil, worse than suffering, sickness, death, or the disintegration of a flourishing culture.

Moral values are always personal values. They can only inhere in man, and be realized by man. A material thing, like a stone or a house, cannot be morally good or bad, just as moral goodness is not possible to a tree or a dog. Similarly, works of the human mind (discoveries, scientific books, works of art), cannot properly be said to be the bearers of moral values; they cannot be faithful, humble and loving. They can, at the most, indirectly reflect these values, as bearing the imprint of the human mind. Man alone, as a free being, responsible for his actions and his attitudes, for his will and striving, his love and his hatred, his joy and his sorrow, and his super-actual basic attitudes, can be morally good or bad. For, far above his cultural accomplishments, rises the importance of the man's own being: a personality radiating moral values, a man who is humble, pure, truthful, honest and loving.

Among the attitudes of man which are basic for his whole moral life, faithfulness is ranked next to reverence. One can speak of faithfulness in a narrow sense and in a large one. We have the narrow sense in mind when we speak of fidelity toward men, such as fidelity to a friend, marital fidelity, fidelity to one's country or to oneself.
The course of a man's life contains a continual rhythmical replacement of one impression, one act, one decision by another and different impression, act or decision. We are unable to ponder over one thought for a long time and to keep our attention on one point for very long. Just as in the biological realm, hunger and satiety, fatigue and renewed strength succeed one another, so a certain rhythmical change is proper to the course of our spiritual life. Just as the various impressions which affect us give place to one another, and the stream of events offers to our mind a great variety of objects, so our attention cannot long remain focused on any one object with the same intensity. A movement from one subject to another is therefore proper to our thought, as well as to our feeling and will. Even in the case of a very blissful experience, such as the long-desired meeting with a beloved person, we are unable to dwell permanently in this joyous experience. The rhythm of our inner life forces us to leave the full presence of a great joy and to turn our attention in another direction and to register different experiences.

When we call someone a "morally conscious" man, and another man a "morally unconscious" one, we have in mind a difference which is decisive from the ethical point of view. The unconscious man drifts through life; of course, he grasps certain values, and responds to them, but this process goes on in a manner that is deprived of an ultimate awakening and of an explicit character. His grasp of values remains more or less accidental. Above all, his life, on the whole, is not consciously and expressly lived under the awful sword of good and evil. Even when, at a given moment, he rejects something bad and affirms something good, at heart this attitude is rather an affirmation of his own temperament than a really enlightened cooperation with the implacable demands of values, and conformity to those demands.

The unconscious man behaves according to the impulses of his nature; he has not yet discovered within himself the capacity to direct himself freely toward the objective demands of the world of values independently of what is or is not congenial to his nature. 

Truthfulness is another of the basic presuppositions for a person's moral life. An untruthful or mendacious person not only embodies a great moral dis-value, as does the avaricious or intemperate man, but he is crippled in his whole personality; the whole of his moral life; everything in him which is morally positive is threatened by his untruthfulness, and even becomes doubtful. His position toward the world of values as a whole, is affected at its very core.

The untruthful man lacks reverence toward values. He assumes a lordly position over being, he deals with it as he pleases, and treats it as if it were a mere chimera, a plaything of his arbitrary pleasure. He denies recognition and response to the value which inheres in being as such, to the dignity which being possesses by its opposition to nothingness. 

Goodness is the very heart of the whole reign of moral values. It is by no accident that the term "good" means moral value as such, and also the specific moral quality of goodness. Among the different moral values there is none which embodies more completely the entire reign of moral values, than goodness; in it we find the purest and most typical expression of the general character of moral goodness as such. It is the center of all morality, and at the same time, its most sublime fruit. Its central importance in the moral sphere is, therefore, of a completely different type from that of the fundamental attitudes previously mentioned: reverence, fidelity, awareness of responsibility and veracity. For, apart from their own high moral value, these virtues are accepted as a presupposition for the moral life. 

What is goodness? What do we mean when we say that a man irradiates goodness? We say this of a man when he is disposed to help, when he is kindly, just, when he is ready to make sacrifices for others, when he pardons wrongs done him, when he is generous, when he is full of compassion. All these qualities are specific forms and manifestations of love. This indicates the close connection which exists between love and goodness. Love is, as it were, flowing goodness, and goodness is the breath of love.

Finally, the antithesis to the good man is the cold, indifferent man. He is the man who by-passes his fellowmen with a blighting lack of comprehension; the man who lives for his own comforts and enjoyments; he, too, is a typical egoist, but he has a different complexion from the hardhearted man. He is neither hostile toward others, nor brutally and unrelentingly hard, but he is filled with indifference toward his fellowmen. He may be moved by fearful sights, he experiences disgust and horror when facing illness, he cannot bear the sight of blood, but all this is but a nervous reaction to an aesthetically shocking object. For he flees from awful sights and seeks pleasant scenes, while the good man hastens to help.

On the other hand, this type of man is even more cold than the hardhearted man. The hardhearted man, it is true, has an icy coldness, he does not know the voice of the heart; he is heartless. Yet he does know the fire of hatred, the cold burning of vengeance, of rage. He is not indifferent. He is not invulnerable. He is familiar with the irritation caused by offenses and humiliations, but he does not know what it means to be wounded to the heart by lack of charity, injustice, and, above all, by the sufferings of our fellowmen, and other objective negative values.

Instead of the awakening and openness of the good man, we find him circumscribed and blind regarding values, and instead of the all embracing breadth of the good man we find in him a petty narrowness.


Saturday, December 7, 2013


Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 8 2013

In recent years, the term "information overload" has evolved into phrases such as "information glut" and "data smog". What was once a term grounded in cognitive psychology has evolved into a rich metaphor used outside the world of academia. In many ways, the advent of information technology has increased the focus on information overload: information technology may be a primary reason for information overload due to its ability to produce more information more quickly and to disseminate this information to a wider audience than ever before. 
"Information overload" is also known as infobesity or infoxication, and is a phrase popularized by Alvin Toffler in his bestselling 1970 book, "Future Shock". It refers to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue, making decisions, and responding, that can be caused by the presence of too much information that becomes too heavy to digest at a single moment in time. The term itself is mentioned in a 1964 book by
Bertram Gross
The Managing of Organizations. “Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur.”
In today's society, day-to-day activities increasingly involve the technological world where Information technology exacerbates the number of interruptions that occur in the work environment.  There has been a study from 1997 that found 50% of management in Fortune 1000 companies were disrupted more than six times an hour by emails they were receiving. Being compared to this decade's use of the internet, management are commonly more disrupted which leads to more interruptions on their decision making and result in more poor quality made decisions.
As the world moves into a new era of globaliz
tion, an increasing number of people are connecting to the Internet to conduct their own research and are given the ability to produce as well as consume the data accessed on an increasing number of websites, blogs and social media groups. Users are now classified as active users because more people in society are participating in the Digital and Information Age. More and more people are considered to be active writers and viewers because of their participation. This flow has created a new life where we are now in danger of becoming dependent on this method of access to information. Therefore we see an information overload from the access to so much information, almost instantaneously, without knowing the validity of the content and the risk of misinformation.
According to Sonora Jha of Seattle University, journalists are using the Web to conduct their research, getting information regarding interviewing sources and press releases, updating news online, and thus it shows the gradual shifts in attitudes because of the rapid increase in use of the Internet. Lawrence Lessig has described this as the "read-write" nature of the internet.
“The resulting abundance of – and desire for more (and/or higher quality) – information has come to be perceived in some circles, paradoxically, as the source of as much productivity loss as gain.” Information Overload can lead to “information anxiety,” which is the gap between the information we understand and the information that we think that we must understand. As people consume increasing amounts of information in the form of news stories, e-mailsblog posts, Facebook statuses, TweetsTumblr posts and other new sources of information, they become their own editors, gatekeepers, and aggregators of information. One concern in this field is that massive amounts of information can be distracting and negatively impact productivity and decision-making. Another concern is the "contamination" of useful information with information that might not be entirely accurate (Information pollution). Research done is often done with the view that Information Overload is a problem that can be understood in a rational way.

Many people do find it difficult to manage this type of information pressure by way of what they receive in their email in-boxes on a daily basis. One often hears of  peeps asking senders to remove them from their mailing lists and stop sending them junk mail. Spammers, Advertisers, and other sales people also gun for email addresses to which they can direct their traffic seeking commercial gain. Religious gurus and other proselytizers use it to spread their faith. Con artists try to lure in people to part with their hard earned cash using very deceptive methods of lure and enticement.

Human beings will always be human beings and many fal, for these traps and suffer the consequence. Some simply cant handle all the garbage that pours in and try to stay aloof and private as much as possible. Suspicion is at its peak cos no one wants to accept another as a "good guy/gal" until he/she has proven himself/herself.

Accessibility is the key factor of this phenomenon that opens the doors of intruding on peoples privacy and time.

At the end of the day what matters is how we manage ourselves in dealing with this glut of information that invades us on a very regular basis. Many dont even look at the way in which this can be done, so easily and successfully, and simply crumble to the pressure.

All it takes a little bit of information management, I tell you.


Are Toy Guns, OK?

Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 1 2013

Are Toy Guns OK?

What is violence?

Many parents wonder why their child is so fascinated by guns and other similar weapons that usually are meant to kill and destruct. Parents do not want their kids to view weapons as playthings, and many parents do consider prohibiting their child from even using toy weapons.

Most kids show feelings of live and the intent to connect, affiliate, and share with each other. However, they also possess aggressive feelings and the intent to disconnect, hurt, retaliate, and take from others. In fact, human beings are biologically wired to respond with angry feelings and aggressive thoughts to emotional or physical distress. Boys, for reasons that remain speculative, usually have a stronger aggressive response mechanism than girls

All children understand that the world is filled with aggression because they too have had first-hand experience with their own aggressive thoughts and feelings. The rages of an unhappy infant, or the temper tantrums of the toddler or two-year old are examples of times when children experience strong aggressive feelings. Children who are in the midst of a tantrum are often temporarily overwhelmed with urges to destroy or hurt. Children's awareness of violence is expressed in the common childhood fear of "scary monsters." Children develop this fear whether or not they have experienced other people acting in monstrous ways or have seen scary monster movies.

Although children do not have to be taught about or exposed to aggression and even violence in order to know that it exists, they need an environment in which aggression between people is kept within appropriate bounds and disagreements reach satisfactory resolutions in order to successfully master their aggressive tendencies. 

What is the meaning of Play?

The emotional development of children involves their confronting a progression of challenges that progressively rise to the foreground only to recede into the background after sufficient resolution. The need to master aggression is one of the major developmental challenges facing young children. Children must learn, for example, about the appropriate expressions of anger, the difference between aggressive thoughts and actions, and the fact that aggressive feelings are natural and present in all good people.

The emotional development of children involves their confronting a progression of challenges that progressively rise to the foreground only to recede into the background after sufficient resolution. The need to master aggression is one of the major developmental challenges facing young children. Children must learn, for example, about the appropriate expressions of anger, the difference between aggressive thoughts and actions, and the fact that aggressive feelings are natural and present in all good people.

How do toy guns fit in?

Play is the young child's most important tool for emotional growth. From that standpoint, play is quite serious business. Play is a canvas upon which children paint a portrait of their feelings, hopes, worries, questions, and desires. In playing, children can experiment with solutions and thereby make progress with their developmental tasks. 

Naturally, children turn to play so that they can learn what they need to learn about everything in life, which also includes fraternity and aggression. It is necessary to become concerned about children's relationship to aggression only if they appear to be overly pre-occupied with aggression in their thoughts or actions outside the sphere of play, or if the play aggression has an extremely violent or gruesome character. 

Parents should prohibit and hopefully eliminate unacceptable aggressive words, acts, and behaviors. However, children's aggressive feelings cannot be prohibited or eliminated. Children must have access to their aggressive feelings so that they can play with their aggression and develop more mature outlets. Any parental effort to eliminate these feelings through shame, guilt, or fear may even interfere with children's ability to ultimately channel their aggression into assertiveness, healthy competition, and achievement. Therefore, parents should comfortably accept their children's interest in aggressive play. Play is the arena suitable for a contained and controlled expression of aggressive feelings.
Children need time to learn to play successfully with aggression, including learning to play without abusing, scaring or hurting people. Play requires props.  The best recipe that parents can use to support children's healthy mastery of aggression is to permit children to play with aggression, set clear limits about non-play aggression, and offer a family life that models conflict resolution without utilizing excessive aggression, such as corporal punishment.

In addition, the lifestyle that the child grows up has a massive impact on what the child learns what he lives within the home, neighborhood, school and community. If such environments contribute to a very aggressive attitude and nature, then it is automatic that the child will pick this up as a norm and use it effectively in his or her own future, be it planned ot even knee jerk type aggression.

The bottom line here is that, "Children live what they learn and learn what they live".