Just look at life with more playful eyes. Don’t be serious. Seriousness becomes like a blindness. Don’t pretend to be a thinker, a philosopher. Just simply be a human being. The whole world is showering its joy on you in so many ways, but if you are too serious, you cannot open your heart.Osho (via alteringminds)
A few weeks ago, I re-read Samantha Power’s article on Rwanda - Bystanders to Genocide - the searing piece I first encountered about 5 years ago that started my journey towards a career in conflict management and humanitarian action. Of course, I remember the movie, Hotel Rwanda. Of course I remember crying when reading personal accounts of the savageness of the Khmer Rouge regime and the fears stemming from the Sudans. But Power’s analysis of where every step in the democratic and international systems broke down hits so hard because it’s a story of how decisions could have been made differently, of where critical decision-making processes and incentives ultimately failed the Rwandans. And the clear possibility of personal accountability contrasted with the general lack of guilt for the blood of 800,000 innocent civilians on the hands of top US officials (but also all international diplomats) is devastating. It’s a damning account of the American foreign policy apparatus and the conflict management and humanitarian actors.
We always say ‘never again’, but the silence of the international community at critical junctures of history is sheer complicity. Governments can be the greatest defenders of human rights, but they are also the greatest violators. Despite being predicated on a principle of non-intervention, the international system needs to be radically restructured to lower the political barriers to humanitarian intervention. Along the same lines, in foreign policy making, there must not only be shrewdness but also morality.
"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.”
Robert Kennedy in his speech to Indianapolis the night Martin Luther King was assassinated. In a critical moment, RFK reached deep within to connect with his audience and demonstrate his understanding of the depth of pain in alluding to the death of his brother, JFK. Indianapolis was one of the few cities that remained calm, while many others burned that night.
"To tame the savageness of man, and make gentle the light of this world"
Once upon a time, there lived a peanut vendor in South India. Every day he walked up and down the beach calling out, “Peanuts! Peanuts for sale! Peanuts!” The man was miserably poor. He barely earned half a living, hardly enough to feed his family. But at night he bragged to his wife and children, “I am the president and the vice president and the secretary and the treasurer of my own company!”
Eventually, the grinding poverty wore his nerves paper thin. One day he snapped. He sold all his peanuts and most of his meager belongings. He decided to go on a big fling.
“For one day, I am going to live like a rich man!” he vowed.
So he stopped by the barbershop for a clean shave and a hairstyle trim. He visited a fine clothing store and purchased an expensive suit, white shirt and tie, and all the accessories needed to look rich. Then he checked himself into the finest luxury hotel for the night. He had just enough money left to pay for the gourmet breakfast buffet the next morning.
He enjoyed the night’s accommodations in his luxury suite. When morning came he located the private, beachfront patio for the breakfast buffet. Although it was crowded with tourists, he found a table by himself. He had just filled his plate when in walked an elegantly dressed man. By this time no more tables were available, so the man approached and asked, “May I join you?”
The peanut vendor replied, “Why, yes! Please sit down.” He thought,
This is my lucky day! Not only am I living like a rich man, but I am going to eat with a rich man, too.
As the two began to talk, the stranger asked, “Sir, what do you do?” “I am the president and the vice president and the secretary and the treasurer of my own company,” he replied. “And what do you do?” The richly dressed man looked a bit sheepish. “I’m sorry. I should have introduced myself. I just supposed that with the coverage in the newspapers you might have recognized me. My name is John D. Rockefeller.” Although he had not recognized the face, the peanut vendor did know the name. He thought, This is wonderful! I am eating with one of the richest men in the whole world.
After talking for a while, Mr. Rockefeller said, “I like your style. We are starting a new company here in South India. Why don’t you come to work for me? I will make you vice president of sales in my new firm.”
The peanut vendor replied, “Why, thank you. What a generous offer! I would like a few minutes to think it over.”
“Of course,” said Mr. Rockefeller, “but I would like some indication of your interest before we part company.”
The two leisurely enjoyed the rest of their meals. When they were finished, the peanut vendor stood up. He wanted to announce his decision with style. He took a step away from the table and then turned and spoke in a voice loud enough so many could overhear.
“Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller, for offering me the position of vice president in your new company. But I must decline. I prefer to be the president and the vice president and the secretary and the treasurer of my own company.” He turned on his heel and walked out.
Years later, an old peanut vendor walked up and down the same resort beaches croaking in a broken voice, “Peanuts! Peanuts for sale! Peanuts!” But at night he boasted to his grandchildren that long ago one of the richest men in the world had offered to make him vice president of a huge firm.
“I turned it down,” he bragged, “so I could be the president and the vice president and the secretary and the treasurer of my own company.”
by Sam Kameleson
The peanut vendor had a chance for financial security but was too proud and self‐sufficient to accept it. Yet don’t we, as Christians, often make the same mistake? Our “rich” friend—our heavenly Father—owns the possessions and resources of the entire world. He has offered us love, meaning, purpose, and, ultimately, eternal life. These are His gifts to us (“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Jesus Christ”—Philippians 4:19). All we must do is repent of our sins and accept His lordship in our lives. But many husbands and wives are too proud—too self‐sufficient—to surrender their lives and belongings to Him. The unfortunate result is that they continue in misery and poverty.
Do you struggle with wanting “more”—be it money, possessions, status, or something else? We’ll spend the next few days discussing the impact of material desires and money management on marriage. As we do, keep in mind that everything we own and everything we are really belongs to the Lord of all.
- James C Dobson
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no lights. It was just another day to him. He didn’t hate Christmas, just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate. There were no children in his life. His wife had gone.
He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through. Instead of throwing the man out, George, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the space heater and warm-up.
"Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you’re busy. I’ll just go."
"Not without something hot in your belly," George turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain’t much, but it’s hot and tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you’re done there’s coffee and it’s fresh."
Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell. “Excuse me, be right back,” George said.
There in the driveway was an old 53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked.
"Mister can you help me!" said the driver with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken."
George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold; the car was dead. “You ain’t going in this thing,” George said as he turned away.
"But mister. Please help…." The door of the office closed behind George as he went in. George went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building and opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.
"Here, you can borrow my truck," he said. "She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."
George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. George turned and walked back inside the office.
"Glad I loaned em the truck. Their tires were shot too. That ‘ol truck has brand new tires…….." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty with a used coffee cup beside it.
"Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought. George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.
"Well, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on. "Those tires ain’t gonna get ‘em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car.
As he was working he heard a shot being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Help me.”
George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention.
"Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The laundry company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.
"Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin’," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease. "Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.
"You hang in there. I’m going to get you an ambulance." George said, but the phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your police car."
He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.
"Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."
George sat down beside him. “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain’t gonna leave you.” George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. “Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through ‘ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain.”
George got up and poured a cup of coffee. “How do you take it?” he asked.
"None for me," said the officer.
"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city." Then George added: "Too bad I ain’t got no donuts."
The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun.
"Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.
"That’s the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.
"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George. "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."
The young man was confused. “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!” The cop was reaching for his gun.
"Put that thing away," George said to the cop. "We got one too many in here now."
He turned his attention to the young man. “Son, it’s Christmas Eve. If you need the money, well then, here. It ain’t much but it’s all I got. Now put that pee shooter away.”
George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.
"I’m not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I’ve lost my job. My rent is due. My car got repossessed last week…"
George handed the gun to the cop. “Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.”
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. “Sometimes we do stupid things.” George handed the young man a cup of coffee. “Being stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”
The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. “Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I’m sorry officer.”
"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.
George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn.
"Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.
"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"
"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, “I don’t know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran.” George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. “That guy works here,” the wounded cop continued.
"Yep," George said. "Just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, “Why?”
Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas, boy. And you too, George, and thanks for everything.”
"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems." George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box.
"Here you go. Something for the little woman. I don’t think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."
The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. “I can’t take this,” said the young man. “It means something to you.”
"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That’s all I need."
George reached into the box again. A toy airplane, a racing car and a little metal truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. “Here’s something for that little man of yours.”
The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. “And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that, too. Count it as part of your first week’s pay.” George said. “Now git home to your family.”
The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. “I’ll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.”
"Nope. I’m closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."
George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. “Where’d you come from? I thought you left?”
"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don’t celebrate Christmas. Why?"
"Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn’t see what all the bother was. Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was getting a little chubby."
The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder. “But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed. The young man who tried to rob you will become a rich man and share his wealth with many people. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.”
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. “And how do you know all this?” asked the old man.
"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again." The stranger moved toward the door.
"If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."
George watched as the man’s old leather jacket and his torn pants turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.
"You see, George, it’s My birthday. Merry Christmas."
- Author Unknown
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus, William Ernest Henley
The poem I first fell in love with when learning about Nelson Mandela.
RIP Mandela. For all the strength, integrity and humility you possessed, for your innumerable contributions to the world, as The Onion satirizes, you will be the first politician to be missed.
It ought to concern every person, because it’s a debasement of our common humanity.
It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric.
It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets.
It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.
I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name – modern slavery.
Prison walls still standing tall.
Some things never change at all.
Keep on building prisons, gonna fill them all.
Keep on building bombs, gonna drop them all.
The air on my skin and the world under my toes
Slavery stitched into the fabric of my clothes
Chaos and commotion wherever I go,
Love I try to follow.
Ain’t No Reason, Brett Dennen
Some days, the world feels heavier. Even if my classmates and I one day manage to achieve the beautiful visions of the world we carry inside, we would only have made a small dent. Longing for His return, because only that can save this place.
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Seven‐year‐old Chris Krebs was born with cerebral palsy and was profoundly retarded. One day he and his father, Greg, sat in a hospital lounge waiting for Mrs. Krebs, who worked at the hospital. Another man, shabbily dressed and emanating a peculiar aroma, was also waiting there. He looked like a bum or derelict. Greg went to the nurses’ station and asked how much longer his wife would be. When he returned, he saw Chris sitting by the man. The man was sobbing, and Greg wondered what Chris had done to disturb him.
“I’m sorry if my son offended you,” Greg said.
The man replied, “Offended me? Your son is the only person who has hugged me in the last twenty years!” Greg later said, “I realized at that moment Chris had a more Christ-like love for this man than I did.”
Although disrespect for the disabled or less fortunate is characteristic of our culture, we know there is no “junk” in God’s value system. He loves every one of us the same. He sees our potential, and He uses each person to accomplish some part of His purpose. As His children, we’re called to look at everyone through the lens of His perfect love.