Archive for the ‘Journey of life’ Category

5
Sep

From Pine Cove

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Late Saturday evening, in a place called Pine Cove, soft winds breathing through the woods, cicadas belting out soothing songs here and there. Oh ya, there’s also a small pond nearby, with a dainty water fountain calmly sprinkling, gently waving, carrying a blurred moon reflection, pushing back and forth, almost like cradling. In the midst, haply mixing a few lazy caecilian ballads.

Nocturne. I whispered to myself, did not want to disturb the composition.

Lying on the ground covered with some fallen leafage, I felt the security, the comfort, to be copiously open with no reservations. I felt that the thoughts in my mind were floating freely in the aura, no longer belonged to any particular habitat, I felt the emergence of consciousness. I felt, almost as if someone were whispering in my ear, that nature is full of kindness, she’s still abundant of benevolence. C. once said: “Do not be discouraged, if in a thousand instances you find your kindness rejected and wronged, your good evil-spoken of, and the hand you extend for the relief of others, cast insultingly away; the benevolence which cannot outlive these trials of its purity and strength, is not like the self-sacrifice of him, who went about doing good. ” This is what mother nature has been through, year after year, decade after decade. I thought she had occasionally sent her warnings, to express the disappointment towards her beloved childrens.

For a moment, it seemed the extravagant heat this summer had just endured was but a remote retentiveness. I quickly scanned my recollection, to see whether I had burst complaints. Who wouldn’t. After all, it’s been a sturdiness of daily record-breaking. I could sense the anxiety ascending amongst the birds, when they groaned haplessly. I saw the squirrel in my yard lying flat on the dirt, despairingly pressing her tummy on an imaginary wet spot, hoping a smattering of chill would help her go by the blistering afternoon. I saw children… There were no children.

No. I did not grumble about. I thought I could almost feel the pain this planet is suffering. The simple matter is, heat is a form of energy released from a combustion A combustion artlessly means something is burning. When the transfusing media is all but sucked out, when her lubrication has been generously incinerated, dissipation is surely expected to be extremely slow and tearing.

I understand Summer is supposedly hot, and I should not act as astounded. But some of the year’s finest, most joyful time also took place in this magnificent season. One Fair Summer Evening, out and playing, children were running and jumping, with their laughter echoing in the spaces of the neighborhood. One Fair Summer Evening, walking on the pathway along the brook, the young couple were revealing for each other the love and admiration. One Fair Summer Evening, sitting on the bench in the city park, with childish smiles on their faces, grandma and grandpa were chatting, as if they wanted to redeem the romance they thought were missed in omission. One Fair Summer Evening, a local group of musicians gathered together in front of the town hall, fidgeting flawlessly the G major Serenade - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

If this all sounds Utopian like, I am afraid we might have to ascertain the scene along a reversed time-line. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I doubt the play would have gotten such a beauteous name, if it were written in the 2000s.

Certain things are irreversible. Greed fuels such irreversibility. Obsession strengthens the inertia in its motion. On this ever accelerating train, each of us as a passenger adds to its bulk of mass to sustain its momentum.

Of course, there’s always the argument that human conducts are inconsequential, totally negligible to the deportment of mother earth. However, it shouldn’t be too difficult to anticipate what would be ahead when driving a vehicle with oil drained and coolant evaporated.

Crisis. A term has almost become part of our daily life. We are genuinely disheartened by the adversities vitiating the lives everywhere in this world. The sadness is, it seems that crisis had lost the coherence it once had to bond, to unify, to bring about the united strength for resurrection.

And, I am fearful that the ultimate crisis is brewing right beneath our own feet, and the calamity would make any human power bluntly faint.

Leading an anabasis to places no one had set foot before commands tremendous braveness. Leading a retreat back to where it was right and condign commands unprecedented courage.

It summons a true vision.

Recently I was invited to a convention with a main theme of Vision. A little surprised when I learned that I was to give a speech. “Vision, huh?” I said to myself, this shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, we hear this term almost everywhere we go these days. In my mind I started to speculate – is “vision” overrated, or is it just overstated? With such contemplation, I began my presentation:

A blind man walks in a store with his seeing-eye dog. All of a sudden, he lifts the leash, and begins to swing his partner. The store owner storms by, and asks, “what are you doing ?!” Grinning, the man responses, “just looking around.”

So often, this is the kind so-called vision we are presented in this day and age, when the presenter could not even see what the rest could. Allow me to quote from another Jonathan, Jonathan Swift, “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” When such a vision is backed with a plan, it gives us tremendous confidence in our own ability about what we can accomplish. The plan begins with the artistry of incandescing your insights so the other could see what you see, and persuading them to follow with comprehension, confidence, and determination.

I went on to praise the organization for its unparallelled thinking, the service that reflects, strengthens, and supports its intuition, and its extraordinary humanitarian contributions, which led to:

What you are about to witness and experience today is a presentation of a true vision with an implementation plan that is substantial, that is tangible, that would rejuvenate the spirits of common men and women who want to put themselves in the driver’s seat in pursuing their own destinations, who want to leverage their strength and optimize their capacity to make a better world, a better place for the future generations.

[The organizer] and I share an idea. It can be best described with the words of Michelangelo, the Renaissance Man, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” We keep this idea as our maxim in challenging our work and cerebration. It’s my honor to share it with you today, so that we could together aim a littler higher for a greater cause, and a sweeter dream.

Perhaps my annotation would fall in the category of collective catchphrases. It was more to sedate my own trepidation, to glimmer a little hope to myself so I could keep away from a total despondence.

Gazing at the sky as the nightfall dropped its curtain, at the end of my sight was a thick, hazed delineation, with the tips of the pine trees blending into the darkened clouds. Between the indistinguishable shades, I thought I could sense a transformation, as if a message were displaying: Humans, my dear children, you win! Your avarice has been outpacing my faculty of producing for your impregnation.

22
Sep

Celebrate the Moon

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Today is the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival. It is a harvest festival celebrated, as family members gather, loved ones joyously come to the reunion.

In the eve of one particular Mid-Autumn Festival, Su Shi (January 8, 1037 – August 24, 1101) , one of the most celebrated in the history of China, a writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist, and statesman of the Song Dynasty, missing his beloved brother far away, wrote this quintessential poem that became a standard recital piece for this particular holiday.

Thinking my folks, and all the people who miss their loved ones, I picked up my rarely used brush this morning. I too wish may those who love be blessed with amour and life that last.

“In this light and on this evening”, we shall celebrate the moon. It is my prayer that families with their loved ones being away, particularly those of the servicemen and women, shall be living apart together in the spirit of love, that their emotions and sentiments shall be brought to a joyous reunion by the glory of the full moon, when it is shared by, close from afar, the millions.

水調歌頭 蘇軾

丙辰中秋欢饮达旦,大醉作此篇,兼怀子由。

明月幾時有,把酒問青天?
不知天上宮闕,今夕是何年。
我欲乘風歸去,唯恐瓊樓玉宇,高處不勝寒。
起舞弄清影,何似在人間。

轉朱閣,低綺戶。照無眠。
不應有恨,何事長向別時圓?
人有悲歡離合,月有陰晴圓缺,此事古難全。
但願人長久,千里共嬋娟。

Lustrous moon,
when do you decide to be full?
Holding up a cup of wine,
I submit my wonder towards the sky.
And Palaces unearthly high,
what would be their season tonight?
Riding the wind, to there I would go,
yet I am fearful it would be utterly cold.
In my chilly shadow I would be dancing alone,
I’m afraid it won’t feel like home.

Around the red mansion,
through the silky curtain,
the moonlight glazes over the sleepless person.
Bearing no grudge,
I wonder how come is it oft full and bright,
when loved ones are to part?
Sorrow and joy in humans,
they part and may come in reunion.
Bright and dim as with the moon,
waxing and waning she goes through.
Alas, that’s just how it is,
since the very olden days.
All I wish is for those who love be blessed,
with amour and life they last,
sharing the beauty of the moon tonight,
Though they might be far away apart.

Translation: Jonathan Chen
Calligraphy: Jonathan Chen

17
Sep

This Constitution

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“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.” ~ James Madison

“A treaty cannot be made which alters the Constitution of the country, or which infringes and express exceptions to the power of the Constitution.” ~ Alexander Hamilton

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” ~ Patrick Henry

“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

“A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” ~ John Adams

James Madison

I am still trying to comprehend the majesty of all these great men coming together in crafting this noble document, and every time I read the Constitution I cannot help but think how magnificent this instrument of our democratic system is.

But I know that we should not take things for granted. This Constitution did not arrive automatically as a mere follow-up of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, America was at a crossroads right before the 1787 Philadelphia Convention.

Let’s just go back to the year before. 1786 was the 10th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, but the young nation was not as jubilant as we might have imagined in celebration. Dark clouds in all shades were floating over the country. Form his plantation in Virginia, George Washington lamented the steady stream of diplomatic humiliations suffered by the young Republic. Fellow Virginian James Madison talked gravely of mortal diseases afflicting the confederacy. In New Jersey, William Livingston confided to a friend his doubt that the Republic could survive another decade. From Massachusetts the bookseller turned Revolutionary strategist, Henry Knox, declared, “Our present federal government is a name, a shadow, without power, or effect.” And feisty, outspoken John Adams, serving as the American minster to Great Britain, observed his nation’s circumstance with more than his usual pessimism. The United States, he declared, was doing more harm to itself than the British army had ever done. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Monroe, Robert Morris – in short, men from every state – agreed that a serious crisis had settled upon the nation. [1]

The stage was set for the 1787 Philadelphia Convention. But to most delegates selected from the 13 states, it was not clear what the convention was about. However, that was not the case for James Madison, he knew the task. He wanted to see the creation of a new government. The young Virginian went to Philadelphia way before anyone else, and determined to accomplish what seemed an insurmountable assignment: steering the convention away from amending the Articles of Confederation towards creating a brand new constitution. But anxiety started building upon him, for there was no encouraging sign that even the delegates were to come. Although the time alone there was good for him to complete drafting his proposal ready to be submitted to the convention.

Then, in a Sunday morning, May the 13th to be exact, Madison woke up to a rousing sound of cheering mixed in chiming bells and firing cannons. He jumped out bed knowing precisely what just had happened – something he had been worrying greatly that might not happen – George Washington arrived, as a delegate from Virginia! The death of his brother earlier that year and his own health had made Washington’s attendance to the convention uncertain. Washington’s arrival not only lifted Madison’s spirit, but gave him great confidence that the convention would take place. Surely, with the presence of Washington, Madison was able to establish much needed support from a number of Philadelphia’s own influences, including the 81 year old Dr. Benjamin Franklin. Most importantly, the delegates started to arrive, and the required quorum was soon exceeded. The conversion went underway, with Washington being unanimously selected to preside the conversion. The date: May 25th, 1787. The place: The Pennsylvania statehouse, better known as Independence Hall.

Madison waited patiently. He wished some of his colleagues were there with him. The most notable politicians missing were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (both of whom were overseas working as diplomats), as well as Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry. But there was a strong coalition in the forming, including his fellow Virginians and the delegates from Pennsylvania. On May 29, Edmund Randolph, on behalf of the Virginia delegation, submitted fifteen propositions as a plan of government to the convention. On the next day, the Convention devolved into a committee of the whole to consider the fifteen propositions of the Virginia Plan seriatim. As one could imagine, debate about the treatment for large and small states heated up, representing the two arguments were, as expected, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Madison argued that a conspiracy of large states against the small states was unrealistic as the large states were so different from each other. Hamilton argued that the states were artificial entities made up of individuals, and accused small state representatives of wanting power, not liberty. The small States became increasingly discontented and some threatened to withdraw. On July 2, the Convention was deadlocked over giving each State an equal vote in the upper house, with five States in the affirmative, five in the negative, and one divided.

July 5th marked an crucial date. On that day, the committee submitted its report, which became the basis for the “Great Compromise” of the Convention. The report recommended that in the upper house each State should have an equal vote and in the lower house, each State should have one representative for every 40,000 inhabitants.

The Great Compromise ended the rift between the large and small states, and the high quality of the delegates to the convention eased the way to compromise. With the spirit of forming a better federation to protect the freedom of the citizens, the delegates worked intensively for the whole summer. On July 24, a committee of five (John Rutledge of South Carolina, Edmund Randolph of Virginia, Nathaniel Gorham of Massachusetts, Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, and James Wilson of Pennsylvania) was elected to draft a detailed constitution embodying the fundamental principles that had thus far been approved. The committee, referenced a vast variety of laws and constitutions for ideas, in particular, the British Bill of Rights, submitted its writing to the convention, which was discussed, from August 6 to September 10, in such a vigorous detailed fashion. On September 12, the new Constitution was printed for all delegates. And on September 15, the Constitution was engrossed.

And that led to the signing day – Monday, September 17th 1787. And in the famous painting by Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952) below, we could identify George Washington, standing on the dais. The central figures of the portrait are Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison.

Let me quote Patrick Jake O’Rourke, “The U.S. Constitution is less than a quarter the length of the owner’s manual for a 1998 Toyota Camry, and yet it has managed to keep 300 million of the world’s most unruly, passionate and energetic people safe, prosperous and free.” [2]

That’s what the Constitution means to the citizens of this nation. With the Constitution firmly standing as the foundation of this democracy, again P. J. O’Rourke, “America wasn’t founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damned well pleased.” In other words, under the guideline and protection of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, individual liberty is the rights of each and every citizen, who shall be with no fear because under any circumstance he or she understand the protection granted, not by the government, but by the foundation of the nation. “The Constitution of the United States is not a mere lawyers’ document. It is a vehicle of life, and its spirit is always the spirit of the age.” [3]

In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.[4]

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    [1] Carol Berkin: A Brilliant Solution: inventing the American Constitution (2002)
    [2] Patrick Jake O’Rourke, source not found.
    [3] Woodrow Wilson: Constitutional Government in the United States (1908)
    [4] Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).

10
Jul

Peace

   Posted by: Chen Tags: , ,

Upon until recently, my understanding of world peace relied heavily on diplomatic negotiations among nations, relied on leaderships of the free world to safeguard freedom, relied on democratic process that ensures protection for justice. While all of these are still vital, none of them guarantees anything. Because, any of these can be manipulated, misguided, and deceptive. True world peace can only be achieved when each and every individual human being surrenders himself wholeheartedly to peace, when each and every one becomes PEACE. We talk peace. We walk peace. WE ARE PEACE. Only then, violence will be cornered, oppression will find itself in no place to flex muscles. Let’s make today count!

* * *

Only when we develop a genuine sense of love and respect towards all members of our human family, will we be able to sustain a true gratitude towards all beings in nature. That’s when not only the world is peaceful, but also enchanting. Remember, we are all members of our human family, and our human family is a member of the bigger family of nature.

* * *

Everything in nature has its purpose in the grand desideratum of the circle of life. That purpose may not seem obvious to be directly beneficial to us humans. That does not warrant us the rights to destroy it. We must come to the realization that destroying any part of the structure will lead to the collapse of the structure itself.

* * *

The most coward act in the world is to use violence to suppress peace and obstruct justice. Peace and justice cannot prevail if the free world continues to tolerate such coward acts 

* * *

We are the same, and we are different. We are the same because we all are members of the same human family. We are different because each of us is unique. Love each other because we are brothers and sisters. Respect the individual liberty of each other because we all have our own individual personalities and needs and all of us are created equal and are endowed with basic human rights. That’s the spirit of Diversity. From this point on, when we say Diversity, we mean the interweaving of Love and Freedom.

* * *

For too long the gift of diversity and the unconditional love mother nature endows we so have taken for granted. We expect her nurturing to continue indefinitely while compounding uncontrolled punishment to her. Our common mother will never tell us how much pain she has been enduring. But she has being teaching us silently how to love and be passionate without prejudice. Isn’t it time that we return the love and compassion to her, and manifest love and compassion to each other and all beings? Doing so, we as children will console her and put a genuine smile on her heart, while creating harmony and peace for ourselves.

* * *

Deep down most people want peace, want to make friends, want to connect themselves with others. That’s what humanity is all about. Violence cannot solve conflict, war plants seeds of hate that’s inherent generations upon generations.

* * *

Being grateful and appreciative. Once that becomes our primary attitude, we open ourselves to endless enrichment.

* * *

Within the heaven of the godly peace lies love in all beings.

* * *

To be successful in any profession requires skill and knowledge. That usually means vigorous training and education. All it requires for being a champion for peace is a heart that believes in peace. Believe that I AM PEACE. My life is the message for peace, myself is an instrument for peace, my act sparks inspirations for others standing up for a nonviolence and cruelty-free society. Each of us may be a small drop. But collectively we converge onto an ocean that brings Peace to the world and extends our love and compassion to all life around us. Imagine!

* * *

True liberty cannot be attained if one lives in fear. Fear exists if one does not nourish oneself with inner peace.

* * *

We see, we hear, we think, we talk, we feel, we touch, we breath, we drink, we eat. We are codependent to all lives in the universe. Realizing this barefaced fact, it becomes apparent that anything we do has an impact on others, even it is some thoughts going through our mind. Invisible does not imply powerless. Invisible is the prelude to manifesting physical, and is contiguous to the state of mind of other beings. Underestimate not the power of a peaceful mind. It disseminates positivity to actuate livelihood. It sends amicability to comfort the surroundings.

* * *

Anxiety and uncertainty, being stressed and strained, fear and insecurity, these all are symptoms of lack of inner peace. All the learning for acquiring inner peace primarily directs to the same objective: shielding off the intrusion of annoyances cause by elements that are none essential to life. Those elements are countless. But the list for the opposite is quite short: liberty and compassion, both are attainable within one’s own natural capacity.

* * *

When one is at peace with himself, with the surroundings, with all beings in the universe, he is no longer to be under obligation to himself or anyone else, nor does he feel anyone is under obligation to him. That’s the state of liberty. In that state, there’s nothing in him but compassion. Oh, my friend, do you see it?

* * *

8
Jun

A video, a poem, and a quote

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Quote

Jonathan Chen

Everything in nature has its purpose in the grand desideratum of the circle of life. That purpose may not seem obvious to be directly beneficial to us humans. That does not warrant us the rights to destroy it. We must come to the realization that destroying any part of the structure will lead to the collapse of the structure itself.

Mother Nature’s Cry

by Susan Chen

It took me a long while
To better the way you live.
Since you have turned hostile,
I’ve got no more to give.

My land is filled with waste
My children are displaced.
They live in utter fear,
Watching friends disappear.

You treat me like a joke:
Choke me up with your smoke,
Strip me of any clothes,
And leave me with my foes.

I have become man-made,
Who serves you like a maid.
Unnatural and impure,
A disease with no cure.

Do you know how I feel?
See the scars I conceal?
I lost my rights and voice
You leave me with no choice.

I am shaped based on greed.
In pain, I sob and bleed.
I have been infected,
Abused and neglected.

Do you hear me crying?
I am sick and dying.
You are my therapy
Love me and and set me free.

My children, I love you.
I hope you love me too.
Your mother needs you now.
Help me I’ll show you how.

Recycle and conserve,
Heed the rights I deserve.
Hear my weakening voice,
Help me regain my poise.

It seems that what you do
Has more effect on you.
I am Mother Nature,
Not a human for sure.

You live the life you drain:
You breathe the air you stain
Drink the water you soil,
And eat the food you spoil.

My gifts you must protect:
From air to ocean shelf.
My love you should respect
Save me to save yourself.

3
Jun

One Day …

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The cover of June 4th Poems

You were in your late teens or early 20s. You were tender trees ready to become strong woods. You were rising suns. You were hopes of a nation. You were about to embrace the challenges and joys of life. You were about to repay your parents for their love and hard work in raising you. You were on your way to bring vigor to the world. You were …

Your lives were abruptly shortened.

You stood up for the people. You stood up for an ancient country to become a member of a peaceful world. You stood up for freedom, justice, and the rights of citizens. You stood up to challenge the world’s most unpassionate governing machine. You stood up to pursue a dream that had been living by millions and millions. You stood up to see that dream to become reality.

Your lives were abruptly shortened.

You inspired. You inspired the street vendors who gave you a cup of tea, a bowl of noodles, with a hearty smile on their faces who normally would have to count each and every penny to make a living. You inspired your teachers and members of school staff who were with you to make sure you were fine with tears on their faces, despite knowing their futures were at risk. You inspired medical workers who performed emergency cares non-stop, treating you like their own sons and daughters. You inspired reporters and journalists who told the truth to the world, defying the rules and routines that they could only write a pre-authorized story line. You inspired police men and women who joined you in the grand march, facing potential ultra harsh punishments. You inspired students overseas who spent day and night asking themselves: what can we do to help, with their hearts beating together with yours. You inspired the world, from the deserts of Africa to the mountains of Europe, people were cheering and crying with you. You were about to witness the fall of Berlin Wall, the freedom ringing in the entire East Europe, the democratic election in South Africa.

Your lives were abruptly shortened.

You would be around your 40s, the most energetic, productive ages. You would be leaders in the professions you would have engaged. You would be proudly telling your children what you did in the early summer of 1989. You would be together joyfully with you families after work. You would be walking with your friends in a Sunday afternoon in Tiananmen Square, telling them: look this is where it all started 21 years ago that had changed China.

Your lives were abruptly shortened.

You still cannot rest in peace. Those who ordered the murder are still being praised. Your mothers who have been relentlessly out-crying for justice are continuously suffering from all forms of political persecutions. Sympathies are not allowed. Compassion is forbidden. Open mourning is a sure arrest.

But, you did not die in vain. You will never be forgotten. Justice will eventually prevail. Freedom will one day ring in the ancient land you loved so much.

One day, there will be a National Memorial day dedicated to you on that day every year thousands and thousands people will bring fresh flowers to you.

One day, there will be a cemetery built for you, in it there will be a gigantic wall made of the most precious marble with your names permanent engraved.

One day, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee will no longer be intimidated when they graciously pronounce you, all of you, the Laureates.

One day, people will be proudly telling their children and grand children the story of the Tiananmen heroes.

One day, you will be able to rest in peace.

4
May

Forgiveness

   Posted by: Chen Tags: , , ,

With a quote and a video I posted on Facebook, a nice discussion on the subject of forgiveness took place. While forgiveness is certainly an educational process for the psychological well-being, this discussion touches the ability to apply interpersonal forgiveness skills in our personal lives in conflict situations between emotions and aspirations. I thought the elaborations are refreshing and genuine, for they coming in a capricious fashion.

The quote:

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” ~ Catherine Ponder

The video:

The discussion:

Grace: Uhm, what about bullies, predators & dictators? What should I feel? I’ve been giving it some thought.

Gordon: Mind if I jump in here? One of the hardest things we must do in life is to detach ourselves from those we love so that they can take responsibility for their own mistakes. It is when we become too attached that we stifle those we are close to. All parents experience this dilemma of having to let go of the people they love most in the world so that they can grow. But letting go is also necessary when those we love become alcoholics, addicts, users, abusers, etc., as anyone who has ever been to an Alanon meeting knows. Forgiveness in such cases is really a 2-part process. The first kind of forgiveness is the recognition that other people can hurt or control you only because you allow them to. In this sense, forgiveness means “No matter what X does, I will not let it affect my happiness.” The second type of forgiveness comes when the person concerned asks for forgiveness. This is only possible if the person acknowledges what he or she has done and realizes it is wrong. The forgiver has several options. One is when when the transgression simply no longer matters and can be forgotten. Another is acknowledging that the offender is moving forward with his or her life and is making an effort to improve. In extreme cases, forgiveness also means letting go completely and permanently. In the cosmic scheme of things, it matters more how we let ourselves feel about what others have done than the deeds themselves. There will always be injustice, victimization, abuse, and pain in the universe, but we can only rise above it within ourselves. Wasting precious time on resentment and anger serves little purpose and distracts us from far more important things.

Grace: I understand fully what it means to forgive & how important it is to forgive others for having hurt you in any way.

What I am still struggling here is…what about those who are doing great injustice to others? Maybe it’s my weird sense of righteousness, but I’ve never been the one to get over this feeling, even as a small kid, whenever I see someone getting bullied.

Man, as an 11-years-old, I even refused to talk to a best friend in class for months just because I caught her bullying another classmate. Of course, I forgave & forgive her very easily. We’re still best of buddies :D I just can’t get over these kind of acts.

Do we forgive Hitler? Do we forgive Mao? Do we forgive Ahmadinejad? It’d be very difficult to separate the acts from persons like these. They offend me not because they have hurt or harmed me, simply because I am human.

Jonathan Chen: This little video has stirred some in-depth discussion, which makes it very worthy of posting. The message in the video focuses on forgiving and letting go sentiments that directly impact our own mental state, left by those who are or have been part of our lives. As Gordon pointed out, each person will eventually have to be responsible for their own acts. Justice will work its way to punish criminal activities – at least that’s what it supposedly does. As someone who has access to a person who is on the verge of misdeed, we do everything within our capacity to help that person change before it is too late, so that we are doing our part the best we can, and we have inner peace in ourselves. The mental strength achieved via self-cultivation here is having a clear understanding about the purpose, not letting resentful emotion dominate the process.

Forgiveness and courage against injustice do not contradict each other. In fact, forgiveness strengthens our ability to fight injustice. By letting go personal emotions that cluster our minds, we’ll be able to grasp the grand picture, and have the focus and energy to make a difference. Pursuing justice against those committed inhuman crimes and enduring forgiveness for those who we care about lead to the same goal: peace.

Grace: That makes a lot of sense :-) Without forgiveness, it’s how normal people would get radicalized into violent acts like terrorism, out of rage & anger at what they see & hear. I’m all for a voice of reason to get heard. Now I see what all those petitions & letters from the Amnesty are about.

Gordon: Grace, like you, I have always been a person who reacted strongly to injustice and oppression. For most of my life, I spent a lot of emotional and spiritual energy raging against the status quo. It wasn’t until I lived in Prague in the 1990′s that I discovered that all of the former dissidents I met there were profoundly unhappy people. The average Czech played along with the machine, paid lip service to the glorious martyrs of Communism, and looked forward to a time when they could make a decent living and live like Western Europeans. They emerged mostly unscathed from 60 years of totalitarian rule. But the dissidents all bore deep scars. It was a revelation for me because I had never questioned the notion that doing the “right thing” was always the best thing to do. I now believe that one must keep things in perspective and maintain a balance between anger at the way things are and acceptance (resignation?) that there are many things we cannot change in life. I hate to refer to a cliche, but I believe there is much universal wisdom in what is commonly referred to as the serenity prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Because I was raised the way I was, I will always err on the side of outrage rather than complacency, but I can only hope that as time goes on, I will find more effective ways of channeling that anger about the way things are and choose my battles more carefully. Wisdom isn’t easily acquired.

Jonathan, it is interesting that you refer to self-cultivation, as this term is such a difficult one for most Westerners to grasp. In the current political discourse in this country, it has become virtually impossible to advocate forgiveness or even tolerance, and those who hold the most unbalanced and extreme views seem to get the most attention. As much as I want to believe that those responsible for the abuse and torture of millions will receive justice in the hereafter, I think that justice must happen in this lifetime to make a difference. The notion of truth and justice commissions, as happened in South Africa after apartheid, is perhaps the best example of how justice and forgiveness can occur simultaneously. But there are still far too many wrongs in the world which have not been made right, too many victims who have not been made whole, and I fear that the future holds more of the same. For those of us who care about such things, we will never be fully at ease.

Grace: Hmm, Gordon, rage is hardly ever in my realm anyway. “Peace” has been one part of my armor in spirit. Between anger and resignation, surely there is another way.

I think, for most people, ignorance is bliss and it’s probably best for them to stay that way until they’re fully prepared for a new level of awareness.

I’m afraid I’ve become too aware of everything :-) but I have confidence that I’m strong enough to deal with any negativitiy that may come as part of the package. And, prayer has been one major part of my defence.

Back to the topic of forgiveness, I believe most peope can’t get pass this very first test — self-forgiveness, to be able to forgive their own selves first of all.

Jonathan Chen : Gordon, your personal encounters have significantly enriched your range of vision. Not many people have such rich experience and allowed the broader exposure to enhance their views. The state of mind you have arrived may be a result of the combined effect of serenity teaching and self-cultivation, because I sense you allow yourselves to a lot of thinking and reflection. The willingness of embracing diverse ideas is obvious in Grace too. I agree with you, Grace, that self-forgiveness is perhaps the start. It all comes to being able to make a judgment: does the resentfulness towards oneself or towards anyone else produce positivity.

Relying on serenity teaching and performing self-cultivation definitely reflect cultural differences. But for anyone who achieves a decent degree of serenity is most likely an effort of doing both. Sage, in Chinese, is what we refer for those who are with such statue. In real life, we all have emotions and feelings. No one is truly a sage. The courage and morality of those of us who reacted strongly to injustice and oppression should be applauded. As you pointed out, the next step is to ascend to the proficiency of channeling such energy for a greater impact, there the ability of enduring forgiveness to maintain broad minded becomes essential. I can think, in recent history, only a few with such capacity, among them the most noticeable, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They are not just iconic figures, they have changed the world.

For those of us who want to accord a change for the better, we may not be able to see the immediate impact. We should believe in that our efforts are not to be wasted, because we are in the middle of a long relay that the baton has to be carried to pass to the next runner. I keep these words of JFK in a close reach all the time: “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

Grace: Yes, it’s a long relay indeed!! The great men & women have passed down the batons to us and we are to keep it going. It’s a group effort, the whole humanity. Individuals can only do so much :-)

5
Apr

Gift Of Diversity

   Posted by: Chen Tags: , , ,

In his  “I have a Dream” address nearly half century ago,  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered the following vibrant calls:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

Today, I feel compelled to seek inspirations from the vigor his words transmit, in the midst of sensing a dangerous trend of hatred inquietude.

Throughout the history human beings everywhere have been struggling to derive a just society. The recognition of reaching a just society as the principle goal has let to collective agreements in the forms of constitutions, laws, and other documentations. The ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights marks a great progress of human societies in emphasizing the underlying value of justice.

In today’s world, parts of the world are no longer isolated. Nations and regions are not static but rather organically dynamic, and societies everywhere are multicultural and multi-faith. We, in this world, are a People of peoples with different cultural identities that enrich ourselves and our communities.

It is more exigent than ever that the democratic framework within a nation and across the globe functions as it is designed that it is the protection of minority interests and popular sovereignty that popular sovereignty should not trump minority interests.

While the democratic framework and constitutions and laws intend to safeguard the individual rights and freedoms, they are what they are: frameworks. They provide us a “house” but not a “home”. We the people who are endowed with the capacity of conscience and the capability of resonance must give this “house” a soul: respecting individual liberty and embracing diversity. Only with such enlightenment deeply rooted in each and every one of us, can justice and peace become organic, natural, and enlivened.

No matter what faith and belief we have, we are all part of the same universe. It cannot be argued otherwise that the universe we are part of is created by the same Creator. If we respect and accept ourselves as part of the creation, we must respect and accept all the parts of the creation. The universality of rights is not just a value but it is the truth. It is rather conspicuous that discriminating any beings created by the Creator is an act of disrespecting the creation of the Creator, let alone members of our human family.

It is the harmonic motion of all the individuality and the uniqueness of each beings in the universe that forms the ultimate living art the Creator designed. Without the diversity in ethnicity and culture, our human music is monotonic, our human family is lifeless, and our human celebration is dull.

Infinite diversity in infinite combinations… symbolizing the elements that create truth and beauty.” We are blessed with the Gift of Diversity. Let’s embrace it with open arms and celebrate it with open hearts.

 

One doesn’t really need to look for inspirations. Inspiration is everywhere, from a causal conversation, a sightseeing, a gathering, and, yes, splendid pictures. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The key is being grateful, being wanted to be inspired. Gratification allows one to abandon the arrogance that blocks seeing things that are inspiring, things that are heartwarming, things that make life meaningful, colorful, and fulfilling.

I have been fascinated daily by the creative arts shared on Facebook by friends, whether it’s a beautiful photograph capturing the elegance of nature, or a stunning painting revealing an enlivening message. Looking at them defines a still moment of joy, rejuvenates the otherwise fading sense of humanity.

I thought the least I can do is treasure it for more people to enjoy.

 

The Global We: a Facebook initiative of Gordon J Millar. Gordon sets the mission statement for the group as:

The Global We ~ You, Me, Us… ALL of us are changing the world!
compassion for each other, conservation of our world
LOVE in action for people and planet
(( (WE are ONE) ))


Images source: The Global We on Facebook

 

Rucar: through the Wheelchairs For Iraqi Kids Project by Brad Blauser, I met two friends, Lili Avram and Cornelia Davis. They both share the passion to make their hometown a better place for the people there: better development, better education. I admit that I did not know much about Rucar before. Seeing the breathtaking pictures they and their friends posted, I just know I want to visit that gorgeous place soon, meet the friendly people and enjoy the local cuisine.


Images source: The Rucar on Facebook

 

Autumn: Rachy is a “musician and artist at heart”. But she’s definitely a photographer. Her album Fall 2009 captures some of the most stunning colors nature offers. This collection was taken around Boston. It reminds me a famous poem by the celebrated writer Du Mu of the Tang Dynasty: The frost-covered leaves are redder than the spring flowers.

Images source: Rachy Burckardt’s Photos on Facebook

So, there you have it. Enjoy!

 

Speech at a Martin Luther King Day Gathering in Washington DC, 1991
Edited on Martin Luther King Day 2010

Special MLK Tribute – by friend and artist, Haiyan

Today we gather here to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.

We celebrate an enchanted life of celebration, a life that inspires generations and generations to come.

We celebrate an everlasting spirit of enlightening, a spirit that transcends the fear within in commanding respect and longing equal rights.

We celebrate a mighty power in a human being, a power not derived from wealth or privilege, not from Royal heritage or government post, not even from a public election. A power emerges from the conviction and dedication to the unconditional love for the human race. A power that is deeply rooted in each and everyone of us that when it is finally being ignited there is no mountain of injustice that can not be flattened and removed.

We are here to let you know, Dr. King, that your Dream is being carried on not just in the hills of Georgia and the state of Mississippi but everywhere in this world; that your call to Let Freedom Ring is not just echoed in the hilltops of New Hampshire, the mountains of New York, the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, the Rockies of Colorado, and the slopes of California, but is being responded in chorus in the mountains of Himalayan, in the valleys of Danube, along the shore of the pacific ocean, and in the heart of the Los Llanos plains.

People, people are rising up in pride and dignity. People are saying No to tyranny and reign of terror. But, the ultimate victory for the peace-loving humanity is far from being claimed. In those states of totalitarian, laws are used to defend dictatorships instead of protect the people; peaceful calls for harmony are being suppressed with brutality instead of being cherished; human rights champions are being imprisoned instead of being praised. Even in this great nation of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and you, Dr. Martin Luther King, too often democracy is comprised to special interests, too often the so-called ideology overshadows the commitment to put the people first.

These words of Dr. King that “I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality” describe well for our gathering today, in the context of the global family of humanity. We must “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” 

When we pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King on this special day, the best gift we can present to him is to remind ourselves about his dream, to continue his cause each and every day until there is no one in this world finds himself an exile in his own land

We have a dream: let freedom ring from every corner in this world!

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