December 25, 2009

ALL THINGS BELONG TO YOU

Posted in Philosophy, Poetry, Psychology tagged , at 9:23 pm by randallbutisingh

ALL  THINGS  BELONG  TO  YOU

Live in the present moment wherever you are;
It is the only certainty;
Even death cannot steal that moment.
Behind that is history,
Beyond that is uncertainty.
The present moment can mean your eternity
if you hold on to it
and live it as if it were your last.
See God in everything –
the flitting butterfly, the honey bee,
the birds and flowers, the babbling brook,
the stars and planets, the stone.
See the clouds how they change
to bring rain to the earth,
The brook that constantly flows towards its goal – the river,
the river towards the sea.
See the connectedness in all things –
See their interdependence, their interrelatedness.
Hold on to the moment,  don’t let it fly from you.
All things belong to you,  if you belong to all things.

Randall Butisingh

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December 21, 2009

Standing on Shoulders – Brian Konkol

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, South Africa tagged at 2:22 am by randallbutisingh

Standing on Shoulders

By: Brian E. Konkol

Throughout my life I have heard frequent stories of my adventurous uncle, Maynard Konkol.  Maynard, who was one of my father’s older brothers, was born in May of 1951 and was known for “breaking the mold” of typical Konkol family expectations.  Instead of settling down to raise a family in central Wisconsin, Maynard was inspired to pursue an alternative path, travel the world, and contribute to social development projects alongside various rural communities around the world.

Following Maynard’s graduation from the University of Wisconsin in Platteville, he applied to serve with the United States Peace Corps, and was eventually assigned to the city of Maseru, located in the Kingdom of Lesotho about four hours southeast of Johannesburg, South Africa.  From 1977-1979, Maynard applied his bachelors and masters degrees in soil and crop science at the Lesotho Argicultural College (LAC), which is located on the outer edge of the city.  In addition to Maynard’s high priority of building relationships and cultural immersion, his service at the LAC helped create numerous sustainable development projects, and his work has since been shared in the text, “Imperial gullies: soil erosion and conservation in Lesotho”, written by Kate Barger Showers, who is a senior research associate at the Centre for World Environmental History at the University of Sussex in England.

When Maynard departed Lesotho and returned to the United States in 1979, he decided to spend a few months assisting my father as they built a new home, after which Maynard would plan to accept a new job in soils research at Iowa State University.  My older brother was nearly two years of age at time, while I was only ten months old.  Instead of hiring a construction company to work through the various construction phases, my father, uncle Maynard, and other friends and family worked cooperatively and tirelessly on nights and weekends to lay a foundation and assemble the home which my parents continue to reside in today, over thirty years later.  Following each day of work, Maynard – who was known to be “green” and environmentally conscious long before it was trendy to do so – rode his bicycle to my Grandmother’s home each day to eat and sleep.

On September 17, 1979, following another day of hard work on my parent’s future home, what appeared to be a typical day of construction progress turned into an event that members of my extended family would never forget.  Maynard’s daily commute to my grandmother’s residence was cut short when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle less than a mile from his point of departure.  He died that day at the tender age of twenty-eight.  While I was clearly far too young to understand the seriousness of the heartbreak, my family and their friends were crushed by the news.  Maynard had traveled into distant lands around the world that many in central Wisconsin had never heard of, yet his life came to an abrupt close only minutes away from his childhood home.  My father, whose bond with Maynard was especially strong, was wounded in ways like never before.  Only moments after seeing Maynard peddle down the road, an accident would change everything.  Not only had my father lost a brother, but also a life-long best friend.

At numerous occasions during my childhood I viewed various photos of my uncle Maynard during our family “slide shows” in the living room of our home.  I can still remember the clicking sound of the slide projector and the smell of the buttered popcorn!  I loved to hear of Maynard’s amazing and adventurous travels around the world, especially those which took place in Europe and Africa.  Also, I could not help but laugh and smile at his bright-white long hair, stylish 1970’s clothes and glasses, and classic guitar.  It would not have been difficult to find him in the remote villages of Africa!  Through it all, I remember thinking about the far away places he visited, and how it all seemed like a world away.  As a young man in rural central Wisconsin, I always wondered what it would be like to actually visit some of the same foreign places where he served.  Amazingly, that day would eventually arrive.

Once Kristen and I were placed in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in order to serve as Country Coordinators for the ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission program, I immediately knew that one day I would travel to see where my uncle Maynard spent much of the final years of his young life.  I wanted to visit the Kingdom of Lesotho, walk through the streets of Maseru, and of course, explore the Lesotho Agricultural College and learn if anyone remembered him, or if there were any stories to share.  I wanted to hear the sounds of the streets, the feel of the soil, the smells of the plants, and close my eyes in order to visualize what it may have been like for Maynard nearly thirty years ago.  As Maseru is only a six hour drive from our home in Pietermaritzburg, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be able to make the opportunity a reality.

A few months ago, after nearly eighteen months living in South Africa, Kristen and I finally took advantage of an opportunity to travel to Lesotho and visit the LAC.  As one can imagine, the opportunity to listen to stories about what my uncle may have experienced was a truly amazing occasion, for while I had never truly “known” Maynard, I felt a sense of connection that could not be rationally explained.  As we were led through the area by one of the local LAC workers, I was able to see some the areas with my own eyes that I had once viewed only through photos and slides in the comfortable confines of my parent’s living room.  The sights, sounds, and smells were wonderful, and it was an amazing occurrence that I will never forget.

As I write this reflection, my parents are sitting in my own living room here in Pietermaritzburg, as they are currently visiting South Africa for the first time.  Kristen and I have spent the past weeks alongside them listening and learning, and of course, experiencing numerous sights and sounds of South Africa.  As their time in the region comes to a close in just a few days, tomorrow will most likely be a major “highlight” of their journey.  We plan to rise early in the morning and travel the six hours to Maseru in order for them to experience some of what Maynard had experienced so many years ago.  I have no doubt that it will be an emotional experience, especially for my father.  Over the past weeks I have heard numerous stories about Maynard and his time in southern Africa, and I believe our journey into Lesotho will be something we all will never forget.  With all the excitement in the air, I doubt there will be much sleep tonight!

As I reflect upon this entire situation, there is simply too much running through my heart and mind to even try to capture and share in written form.  Through it all, I am amazed by how my life has worked out in such a way that I am now able to visit places that I once dreamed unimaginable.  And not only that, I am incredibly thankful for the love and support that Kristen and I have received from both of our parents, and how they are all willing to travel thousands of miles to come and visit us here in South Africa.  When I sat in my parent’s living room so many years ago and watched the various slides of southern Africa roll by, I never could have imagined that one day I – a “small town kid” from Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, would be walking through the same areas.  These days I am reminded that with God all things are possible, even if they do not seem probable.

While my parents are usually thousands of miles away, over the past weeks they have been sleeping under the same roof as Kristen and I.  There are times that I have to pinch myself, as it often seems so strange!  As I watch them move around the country meeting and greetings those whom have so gracious welcomed Kristen and I to this beautiful country, I have been thinking a great deal about the connectedness of family, which is something a great deal of South Africans consider at length.  While those of us from North America do not pay much attention to “the ancestors” and all who have come before us in life, these recent experiences retracing Maynard’s footsteps alongside Kristen and my parents have reminded me that we are all products of those who have come before us, and our opportunities arise because we “stand on the shoulders” of family and friends who first paved the way.  In a sense, I am beginning to believe there is no such thing as the “self made person” or the “do it yourself” individual, for we have been given opportunities, gifts, and abilities as a result of our environment and social settings.  Yes, a large deal of success and happiness is based upon individual effort, but I am certainly beginning to believe that our nurture – the way that we were raised and the situations we dwell within – have a great deal of impact.  While I like to believe that I have worked hard in order to “earn” the opportunities which I have been given, the reality is that they are more accurately a result of the undeserved gifts which I have received by God through my parents, those who walked this Earth before me, and of course, those whom Kristen and I are now blessed and honored to accompany.

I never would have imagined one day being able to live in South Africa, and I most certainly never would have imagined one day being able to visit where Maynard once lived.  And of course, I never would have imagined that my parents would be willing to step so far out of their comfort zones to come and visit!  Nevertheless, Kristen and I are here, and we have many people to thank for this amazing blessing.  I thank God for our parents, the various congregations who support us through faith, as well as family and friends around the world who continue to think of us, pray for us, and encourage us in numerous ways.  And of course, today I especially thank God for my Uncle Maynard.  I thank God for the ways in which he – and so many others like him – did so much for so many and how he inspired others to follow his lead.  And perhaps most of all, I pray that one day Kristen and I will be able to honor the blessings we have received by inspiring and supporting others just as so many others have done so for us.

As we come to a close on the year 2009 and look forward to 2010, may we all live our lives in a way that honors those whose who have come before us, and may we provide inspiration for those whom will eventually come after.

With peace and love this day and always,

— Brian Konkol

December 14, 2009

HUMANITY

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Religion tagged , , at 4:39 pm by randallbutisingh

HUMANITY

A Paper read to youths of the Vir Dal of the Arya Samaj Organisation

I was asked to write a short paper on Humanity.   I know it will not be quite easy to address youths on this topic, but I do not underestimate your intelligence.  Most of you are in High School and some of you may be graduates.   To begin with, let me define Humanity.   The World Book says, a human being, a group of people, mankind.   It also says, human nature or character or quality; also a being humane, humane treatment, mercy.

Mahatma Gandhi says; “Humanity is indivisible”.  George Moore, a western writer puts it; “After all, there is only one race, Humanity.”  All Scriptures teach that all mankind comes from the same source.   God is the source.   He is called by different names by different peoples.   He is all pervading, all wise and all powerful.  His own spirit gives life to all beings; hence the concept; all life is one.

Like the bulb that receives the same electric current, but is only able to illumine according to its capacity, so do human beings reflect the Divine to a greater or lesser extent.

Outwardly each individual is unique.   Even identical twins have differences, which may not be discerned; just as in Nature there are no two leaves alike or no two petals of the same flower.  So too, there are differences in people due to geographic locations, language, culture and religion.

Because of our common origin, all men are brothers, and so we speak of the Brotherhood of man. Your teacher Swami Dayanand knew this.  His doctrine was not one of separation or exclusivism.  It was KRINVANTO WISHWA ARYAM – make the whole world noble.   It was a doctrine, not only for Hindus, but for all Humanity.   And what can be a better thing than having all mankind thinking, speaking and acting nobly.   That was his vision and that must be your goal.

I am aware I am speaking chiefly to youths who are aspiring with the help and guidance of their elders to carry the torch so gloriously lit by swamiji and handed down to brave men and women throughout the centuries.  Bear in mind that you carry the label of Vir which means courageous one, and you can be only worthy of the name if you practice the principles of Dharma (righteousness) which includes the practice of Humanity.

In our society, there are various religious creeds, each claiming to be ib possession of the Truth.   Swami Dayanand said that he did not come to form a new religion.   That was already there from the beginning.   Nothing has caused so much division in the world tan religion.   Instead of building bridges to unite, it has set up walls to separate.   There can only be one true religion, the religion of Love, one language, the language of the heart and one God.   When you chant the Gaytri mantra and meditate on its meaning, you see how universal it is; how every human spirit, regardless of its origin can feel its vibrations and become illumined by it.   By constant practice of meditation, you can reveal your true identity, which is one with the Divine being.  You then realize that all human beings have the same identity though individuality differs, and you become non-discriminatory as regard your fellow men.  You begin to see the Divine in all.  You envision in diversity.

To further illustrate the oneness of Humanity, let me make an analogy.   Each individual is a piece in the mosaic pattern of society, every piece with its own colour and shape blended to form a harmonious whole.   If something happens to any of those pieces, if it gets broken or is tarnished in any manner, it significantly affects the harmony of the whole.   So too, the behaviour of one individual either enhance or diminish humanity.

I shall now quote the thoughts of a Western writer John Donne.  He says:  “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.   If a clod is washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or thine own were.   Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

The brutality and humanity perpetrated against his fellow man, is a result of, notwithstanding his academic and technological advancement, his not moving from unreality to reality, from darkness to light   His spirit still grovels in the dust while his body reaches for the stars.   He is so obsessed with shadows and mirages that he fails to recognize the substance.

To be perfectly human, one must be able to see the Divine in everyone no matter how base that person is; and to see that Divinity, one must leave the periphery of the circle where we are bound by attachment to temporal and ephemeral objects and journey inwards.   There we will see pilgrims from all creeds who have seen the light.   And as we journey towards Humanity and Nobility, let us have a genuine tolerance for our brother who tries to find God by another path.   I here quote from the poet:

“Into the bosom of one great ocean

Flow streams that come from hills on every side;

Their names as various as their springs;

And thus do men in every land bow down

To one great God though known by many names”.

Let us continually seek Him, if we are to find our Humanity.

The blend of different colours enhances beauty.   How would it look if all the flowers of your Garden were of one colour, or one shape, or one specie, or the rainbow just red or blue or just one colour?   The Creator in his infinite wisdom has made diversity in all things.   We can learn from Nature, from the vast variety of plants and animals – each specie thriving in its own kind of environment of soil, climate and weather; each flower displaying its own unique beauty to delight the eye and gladden te heart.   So too, in the realm of Humanity.   We have one skin which is transparent as can be seen in the Albino, but Nature has endowed us with varying degrees of pigmentation to allow us to adopt more comfortably to our environment.

Another point I would like to make is:  man is a gregarious animal.  He needs to socialize and to communicate with others of his kind, if he is to grow and develop and to find fulfillment.   But here he has to make good choices.   He must choose Satsang, the company of the wise.   Association with the wise will, as Bhagwan Baba so eloquently puts it, will dilute his evil tendencies just as sewer is diluted when it reaches the sea.

In our highly civilized and specialized society, man has become more interdependent.   He needs the service of his fellow men for survival.   It takes the service of more than a thousand men to produce the loaf of bread which you have for breakfast.   So you can understand how many millions of workers it will to take to produce all the amenities we need for a good standard of living in today’s complex society.   We have to go beyond the community, beyond the state and beyond the country.  In times of famine, pestilence, devastation by war, natural disasters of various kinds, we seek help beyond our borders.   Foreign countries render humane assistance in money, food, medicine and valuable human resource to help alleviate the suffering of their fellow men.

I shall now tell you of an incident of man’s Humanity to man, how others feel for others as they feel for themselves.   It was Christmas, the Season of goodwill when gifts were shared among family members and friends;  I turned on the television, and by chance I saw a show where the host was giving much needed articles to the poor and needy who had previously asked for help.   A young woman did not ask for anything for herself, but for warm covering for a homeless couple who lay on the cold sidewalk of a city in this rich and great country.   She got her request and took the gift to the delighted and grateful couple.  Another young woman used her $20.000 legacy to help the poorest children in the slums.   She took them to places they could never have dreamed of seeing.   Their little hearts were warmed by the generosity and compassion of this stranger who became their neighbour.

But what moved me more deeply was a little act of kindness from an old woman who made her living by collecting empty soda containers for recycling.   A hungry man after soliciting unsuccessfully the help he needed from other men who were engaged in the same activity, approached her and stretched out his hand to her.   Immediately, she took out two dollars from her pocket, gave it to the man and told him to meet her again in the morning.  A television crew was out that morning and filmed the incident.   She was awarded with a gift of five thousand dollars.   She did not expect reward.   What little she gave was from the little she had and from a generous heart.  It was more than the rich could have given from their thousands.

Your religion teaches that there is no forgiveness of sins;  but be careful how you interpret this and refrain from helping the poor and needy and those who despitefully use you.   Always bear in mind of Swamiji and the sadhu who used to abuse him every day;  how he never retaliated, was never angry with him, and one day he sent him the choicest of the fruits a devotee had offered to him;  how the sadhu was filled with remorse;  and from that day became one of Swamiji’s most devoted followers.

You practice humanity when you help the hungry, the homeless, the sick and suffering.I missed one of my opportunities to practice Humanity in a street of Georgetown, Georgetown, Guyana when a man stretched out his hand to me to ask for help.   I looked at him then went on my way.   But something struck me;  I had seen despair on the man’s face.  I turned away quickly, it was just a matter of a few seconds, hoping to find him and to give himhelp, but he was gone.   I searched for him a while, but he had vanished like a shadow in the night.   That incident and the look on my brother’s face is haunting me to this day.   I wrote a poem about the incident.   It runs thus:

A wretched stranger met me by the curb

With hand out stretched to beg for gold;

I passed him by without a word

And left him sad and unconsoled.

When on the way to seek my own

My conscience pricked me to the bone,

I hurriedly retraced my steps

To cheer my neighbour;

He was gone!

I sought him frantically among the throng,

But he had vanished like a shadow in the night;

I stood awhile in guilt and pain and shame,

My Lord came knocking,

I tarried, then opened, but oh! too late.

Sir Patrick Renison one of the great governors of the colonial era, once said:   “The Brotherhood of man is not only a fact of nature but a Divine command.   If God is the Father of all mankind, then all of us are brothers and sisters.   How many blood transfusions from some person of another colour have not been given to save the lives of others?   And because of our natural affinity, we find it easy to adapt into the environment and assimilate the language, customs and culture of other peoples.

Now, how can we add luster to Humanity?   Here are a few examples of great people who by their love, sacrifice and compassion have been great Humanitarians, and have helped to make this world a better place:

Mahatma Gandhi who gave up everything he had to serve his country, his people and his God.

Saint Francis of Assisi, who abandoned wealth and a comfortable existence and became a poor monk in order to serve the poor and suffering.

Mother Teresa, who left her home and country at a young age and went to India to help the sick and suffering.

Dr, Albert Schweitzer a man of four doctorates who left civilization and went into the jungles of Africa to help the sick.

Father Damien, a Catholic priest, who worked among the lepers in Hawaii for many years and eventually contracted the disease.

Abraham Lincoln, U.S. president who abolished slavery and set free thousands of slaves in America.

George Washington Carver, a U.S scientist, son of a slave who spent many hours in the laboratory to discover the many uses of various plants for the use of man.

There are many, many more that could be added to this list.   We cannot all be great like the persons mentioned above, but we can all do things within our capacity, to show our Humanity.  We can surely show love and compassion and as one writer puts it: ”write kindness in the heart of one individual”

So never let us miss an opportunity to do a good deed with good intent; for as the song says, “we do not know in what guise He will come to test us.  Good deeds enhance Humanity of which every human being is a significant part of the indivisible whole.

In closing I will leave a thought in simple verses.  It runs thus:

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.

Little deeds of kindness, little words of love,

Make this earth an Eden, like the Heaven above.

Namaste !   Om Shanti!  Shanti!  Shanti1

December 8, 2009

Simple Acts of Kindness

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology tagged , , at 12:40 am by randallbutisingh

Taken from Inspirational Quote From Motivation Of  The Minute

“How many hours of a day, a week, a month, do we have the opportunity to get through simple acts of kindness.  In your DASH never underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, or an honest compliment.  All have the potential to turn a life around”.

Linda Ellis

The DASH

November 16, 2009

“A search for opportunity”

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, South Africa tagged , at 8:17 pm by randallbutisingh

South Africa: October, 2009
“A search for opportunity” by (Kristen Faith Konkol)

To view with pictures, go to: http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com

She looks up from the washing and rests her weary hands on top of the bucket to see where all the sound is coming from. As she walks out beyond the gate and down the path to the small patch of red dirt the sounds become louder and more familiar. When she reaches the area where the sounds were emanating from, she steps forward with uncertainty to the small group gathered. As her calloused and tiny bare feet come into the circle, all eyes are upon her. The sounds she heard were familiar ones…those of the neighborhood boys playing and kicking around a make-shift soccer ball in one of any number of informal spaces in the area. But when she approaches, she is met with many looks of displeasure, restlessness and discontent. The cackling and sighs under their breath make their feelings transparent. The “ball” rolls to her feet, and with one touch she unlocks a palpable sense of vigor and excitement. Small posts made of sticks and old bottles are put on either side of this makeshift (garage-sized) space and the competition begins. Although the first days and weeks of ‘toeing the line’ to be just ‘one of the gang’ [who used every spare moment to play] were brutal and sometimes defeating, she remained persistent, focused and simply tried not to screw up and hear the demoralizing criticisms with arms raised in her direction. She is eager to hold on to this rare opportunity.

Born in a rural area of KwaZulu-Natal (at the time simply Natal ), she was already faced with challenges that continued to test her and try to keep her down. As one of 6 children born to her mother and father, her life was quickly turned upside-down. With her father out of the picture from the beginning, she then faced an uphill battle as her mother died before she had reached two years of age. She and her siblings were then taken to an aunt in the Edendale Valley (just outside of Pietermaritzburg), where she still lives today. At the age of 5, she spent nearly a year of her life in the hospital fighting pneumonia for which they were told to plan a funeral. Today, her father, brothers and one sister have perished at very young ages (most presumably from HIV/AIDS) and one of her two remaining sisters is currently battling serious ill health. Her immediate family is all but gone. But it was from her father that she said that God placed this love and gift into her body…the physical gifts, love and passion to play the game of soccer. She knew she had to create that opportunity to shine.

Growing up in the Edendale Valley , she took advantage of any opportunity to play soccer. But as like many places in the world, opportunities for young women and girls to play sports (especially those “traditionally” for boys) was limited and she knew every time she got the chance to step out and compete with the boys that she had to prove herself. But she always asked herself, why? Why do people not want me to play? Why are there no girl’s teams? Why do they (the boys) get all the opportunities? As she got older, she heard that there were some girl’s teams in the country, but had no idea or resources to participate. It wasn’t until she was playing with a boy’s team that she was “seen” by someone in SAFA (South African Football Association) who had contacts with the likes of female teams. As her aunt had no phone and no way of really reaching her outside of finding the school she attended, she was a relative unknown. Her talent was not taken advantage of for lack of opportunity, exposure and ability to locate her. Then the call came in to the school…

Bayana Bayana (the female national soccer team) called her to come and train at a camp and play some matches with them when she was 15 and 16 years old. It was not long before that she was given her first pair of soccer shoes.  To put on the national uniform in the relatively new democratic country was an amazing feeling for her and opportunities she says she will never forget. Although the experiences were meaningful, she wondered what was next in store for her career, as there still remained relatively few opportunities for females to play in the area. ‘Here I was playing for Bayana Bayana and now I come home and it’s back to playing with the guys.’ Although she admits that playing with males helped her with her skill, speed and toughness, she always wanted the opportunity to compete with and against other females.

It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that an organized league for females in the area was available. She has been playing on this team ( Maritzburg City ) since its inception and feels very happy that it was created. Although, she says, that part of her always wishes that these opportunities came earlier in her life as opposed to the latter stages of her career. Above all, she remains determined to create and encourage opportunities for female players today that she herself did not experience.

She remains with the local women’s team, and continues to play at a very high level, although the gray hairs on her low cut style are apparent. She spends many a weekend working with and coaching the next generation of female players and continues to assist SAFA with scouting of female players around the region. Her goal is to provide the opportunities and encouragement for young girls that she always yearned for. Although the days of females getting kicked off the soccer pitch by male teams and being scoffed at when arriving to play against male or female teams still happens (and did while I was there), strides are slowly being made.

It has been my privilege and joy to be able to call the person in this story my friend. We have not only played together in practices and games, but coached young girls alongside one another from all over the surrounding areas. Walking alongside and accompanying one another in mutual respect we have learned so much about not only each other but also about one another’s country, language and culture. Above all, the passion that we share is for women and girls to have the opportunity to compete, participate and enjoy the gift of games and sport…no matter what sport that is or where in the world that female may be!

With peace and blessings,

— Kristen Konkol

A great story from a brilliant writer.  Kristen Konkol is a rising  scintillating  star in the  journalistic firmament,  and honest reporting.   We look forward to her first bestseller.

Randall.

October 28, 2009

IS IT ME?

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology tagged , at 2:36 pm by randallbutisingh

IS IT ME?

We have this old saying: “time changes”.
To me, time is an abstract, … a constant that measures history in its passage, which helps man to put events, ideas, mundane activities, etc., in a sort of orderly fashion: it enables us to associate happenings with perspective, era, or place.   Man has developed by evolution, over millions of years and to us time is timeless and without end into eternity.

We humans always seem to be on the defensive and make-believe that “time changes.” Or maybe we mean “times change”.   Well, I keep wondering if it is me who has failed to change or conform to today’s norms, or, since “time changes” I am now held accountable for my failure to adjust accordingly to the “new times”.   To me, the norms I grew up with were better but now I live in a world where rudeness and disorder is the norm.

For instance, when growing up, I had to go by the adage “silence is golden,” or be ostracized.   In any public place – a post-office, bank, doctor’s office, lobbies, etc, it was expected and in some cases demanded to be polite, and speak softly when called upon to do so.   Today, rudeness is in fashion, and almost everyone:  young, old, male, female: all seem to act as if they were born with cell phones stuck in their ears, incessantly babbling, and inconsiderate of others.

I remember when reading was required and was the order of the day.   Now I see signs in post offices asking that customers refrain from using cell phones, and guess what?  One can hear their loud cell phone conversations from one end of the building to the other, paying no attention to the posted signs.   Sometimes I try to read in doctors’ offices and other waiting rooms, but this is difficult when bombarded by loudmouthed individuals.

As a kid, when I ran out of books I read labels on packages and cans, advertisements and anything legible.   My classmates and I played games in school finding cities of distant countries listed in the atlas, and looking up strange words in the Oxford Dictionary.   Nowadays, in contrast, I see parents assisting children in video and cyberspace, games in offices and waiting rooms. No more reading of books or in pursuit of good literature.   At home the children live on Facebook, the Internet, cell phones, or again in cyberspace.

No wonder President Obama wants to bring U.S students up to par with the more educationally advanced students of other countries.   Good luck Sir!   American youngsters can tell much about baseball and football stars, American idol, Yankee pitchers, Deco Drive and Dancing with the Stars.  Ask them about Socrates or Plato, Shakespeare or Dickens, Longfellow or Samuel Clemens and they will ask:  “what planet are you from”?

For instance, a High School senior could not add 50+15+35 cents for purchases that he made. He threw out a couple of dollars in coins and asked the cashier if it were enough for his items; other senior students could not locate the capital of England on a map.   A college student asked his professor for permission to use “The Godfather” to do a book report.  I could not make any of this up.  The ignorance of the typical so-called “educated” American is amazing.

I had to say please and thank you and still do.   My playtime was real sports or physical games, not shooting men or fighting wars in video games.   We had to be accountable to our guardians for our whereabouts at all times, and smoking and drinking for pre-teens and teenagers were taboo, until age eighteen or better.  Somewhere along the way society lost control, good manners and etiquette were out the back door.   Parents or guardians are solely responsible, NOT TEACHERS.

When children beget children, and BBC boasts about the world’s   youngest father, age twelve, in England, with a fifteen year old girl being the mother,  and feature men with their underwear hanging out almost fully, it’s time to say “beam me up Scotty.”   Society is so hypocritical that they address the underwear issue as “droopy pants.”   It is a disgusting, shameless, and quite unhygienic problem. Quit the “droopy pants” nonsense, and describe it for what it is: indecency verging on lewdness.   We use deceitful words in order to avoid confrontation, so the rot continues.

Motorists, trying to make right turns, cut me off on the road, I look around, and there is not a single vehicle behind me for about a quarter of a mile.   I believe the same ones, instead of stopping short of the pedestrian crossing line, go right over, leaving no safe path for pedestrians. They see red lights and mistake them for green, and some tailgate so badly it seems as if they are sitting on your back seat.   All right, all right, it’s just me bellyaching. I know it is my entire fault for not following the new norms, and sidestepping mores, “it is me!”

In his classic, “The Stranger” (L’ Etranger,) Albert Camus states that society deems any man a criminal, who does not cry at his mother’s funeral. Yes, it’s me. And I did not cry at my mother’s funeral: ……  I was too young.

Patanjali Ramlall – Guest Contributor

October 4, 2009

Let’s revive the Golden Rule – Video

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Religion tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:29 pm by randallbutisingh

Karen Armstrong is a provocative, original thinker on the role of religion in the modern world.

Karen Armstrong is a provocative, original thinker on the role of religion in the modern world.

Why you should listen to her:

Religious thinker Karen Armstrong has written more than 20 books on faith and the major religions, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and how our faiths shaped world history and drive current events.

A former nun, Armstrong has written two books about this experience: Through the Narrow Gate, about her seven years in the convent, and The Spiral Staircase, about her subsequent spiritual awakening, when she developed her iconoclastic take on the major monotheistic religions — and on the strains of fundamentalism common to all. She is a powerful voice for ecumenical understanding.

Armstrong’s 2008 TED Prize wish asks us to help her assemble the Charter for Compassion, a document around which religious leaders can work together for peace. In late fall 2008, the first draft of the document was written by the world, via a sharing website.

In February 2009 the words of the world were collected and given to the Council of Conscience, a gathering of religious leaders and thinkers, who are now crafting the final document. The Charter will be launched in November 2009.

“I say that religion isn’t about believing things. It’s ethical alchemy. It’s about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.”

Karen Armstrong on Powells.com

THIS IS THE VIDEO LINK:

http://www.ted.com/talks/karen_armstrong_let_s_revive_the_golden_rule.html

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Submitted by Cyril Bryan- Guest Contributor

September 25, 2009

PLAN YOUR GOALS

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology tagged , , at 11:33 am by randallbutisingh

PLAN YOUR GOALS

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”  ~Pablo Picasso

“You have undoubtedly heard the phrase, ‘Plan your work and work your plan.‘ Planning is as important as purpose because it gets you where you’re going… faster. To do twice as much in half the time, you can’t approach your goals haphazardly. A well-thought plan will keep you clearly on track towards your goal; and the methods of planning are as varied as our personalities. So, what is your method of planning?”

~Amy Jones, author: Twice As Much in Half the Time”

September 23, 2009

GUARDIAN ANGELS II

Posted in Environment, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion tagged , , , , , at 1:05 pm by randallbutisingh

GUARDIAN ANGELS II

It was on a great looking South Florida summer afternoon in 1995. After I got home from work I decided to go for my usual two- mile walk around my neighborhood. Nearby was a large plot of land was occupied by a plant nursery and I would say that its length was about half a mile. I had a friend, Mike Roberts, doing some carpentry work on our house at the time, and I told him that I was on my way to go walking around the nursery.

Going west, about the equivalent of three city blocks away was the nursery. I rounded a corner on the west side of it and proceeded north going towards Eureka Drive, a main route. On my left were three houses, sitting far apart on remote farms, all enclosed by barbed wire fences and ferocious dogs; nothing else. Strangely enough I never looked skyward, but about midway on that half-mile strip I became aware of a sudden darkening of the skies up, and ahead of me.

I figured that I would be able to touch Eureka Drive, turn around, and be home before there was a cloudburst. Although being a seasoned seaman and knowing something about summer squalls, I underestimated nature and the fury of a Florida thunderstorm. Two more minutes, and the clouds broke loose like the biblical deluge; ten seconds and I was completely drenched with no possibility of seeking any kind of refuge or shelter and slightly more than half a mile from home, including the three city blocks.

This was no ordinary rainfall, there were countless bolts of lightening all around me, hitting the asphalt ferociously with circles of fire in front, sideways, and behind with no end in sight. Tears came to my eyes and I started wondering why I had been saved from a heart attack in December1992, only to die this way.

Then it all came back – between two and three o’ clock that same afternoon, Anthony Rivera, another officer on the job looked at me with squinted eyes and asked, “Hey Ram, do your religion or culture have women dressed in full colourful clothing and jewellery and can be described as Goddesses?” I responded in the affirmative and asked the reason for the question. He stated    “I just saw you in a big circle of fire surrounded by some of these Goddesses but the fire never touched you”. He asked a few more questions about the culture and religion of Hindus, all of which he described in his “vision”. About the fire, I told him that Hindus pray with a little fire burning in front of them and thought no more of our little conversation.

The torrential rain, thunder and lightening kept on, and on, with sparks and fire all around me, some as close as fifteen inches away from my feet. I kept on trudging and came across the previously mentioned corner and turned east, and after about nine minutes, in the wall of rain I made out a red pick-up truck headed in my direction. The driver stopped, and it was Mike ordering me to get into the truck.

I protested, not wanting to mess up his vehicle, he insisted, and stated the obvious danger. As we drove back to the house he said that when he realised the full fury of the storm he had to find me.

Was this the end of storm or danger? Not yet!

As we got out of the truck and started walking to a side door of the house a blue bolt of lightening hit the driveway, about three feet away from the truck’s tail end. The noise was deafening, and the flame was blue, the bluest we had ever seen, better described as a deep ultra violet, the size of a football, soccer, as called by some folks. On a lighter side, Mike laughed and said: “that’s your warning, Pat”.

Next day I sought out Anthony Rivera on the job and asked him to recount to me what he had seen in his “vision” the previous day. He reiterated everything without skipping a beat or changing his thought processes. After he was done I gave him an account of my horrifying episode, – his reply? He only confirmed what he had said on two different occasions.

I am not a practising religious person and I do not believe in coincidences, however, I do believe in a “higher order” that sends “guardian angels” to watch over us.

Anthony Rivera and Mike Roberts will be given a copy of this essay.

Patanjali Ramlall : Guest Contributor

September 17, 2009

Make your day

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology tagged , at 11:49 pm by randallbutisingh

MAKE YOUR DAY

Rise early to greet the dawn.  It is the best part of the day when you can see the rising sun, hear the birds singing, see the buds opening as the industrious bee and other insects flit from flower to flower, taking and giving.

Say a short Prayer of thankfulness from the heart to the Creator, for bringing you safely into a new day, and a new opportunity to write on a clean slate.

Greet everyone you meet cheerfully with a smile.  See only the good in others.

Do a service to someone in need

Work on your daily task cheerfully.  Love lightens labour.

Learn something new.   You may memorise a great thought, or a short beautiful poem, and meditate on it in your quiet moments.

Think Love.  It is the virtue everyone should strive for.  When you get it, you need nothing more.  Love’s cup always remains full, no matter how much is given from it.

Randall Butisingh

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