Legacies Live On

RIP to a man who lived a life that we all wish to emulate (though few could have endured it as he did). Nelson Mandela was a leader like so few who walk with us in life. His trials and tribulations were so like and yet unlike ours. He lived them with the convictions that the world could be a better one, and showed us the change that we were capable of.

A poem that helped him survive his years of imprisonment which led to a change that we see too little of: freedom for a people.

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 by William Ernest Henley

Today, another great man left his earthly bonds, though he will never leave us. Nelson Mandela has been on our watch, as his frail body continued to remind us that our time with him and with this planet is finite.  I can’t claim to have known him, but have tried to learn from his courageous actions that stand as a shining example of hope in a world that is so often dark with intent. It’s examples such as his that remind us of our own destinies that await us  from our birth.

We are all searching for a raison d’être. We all hope that we will feel it like those few true leaders who understood what it meant to feel the meaning of our existence. They build themselves up by acquiring the tools needed to wield their dreams. But they do so with a humility that is so rare in those who choose to lead. It’s not about the power for them. It’s about the purpose of their lives. They don’t do things for golden accolades or fruitful treasures that build into thrones to their greatness. They do things because others need them to complete these actions. To remind us that we all have obligations to one another. To tell us that love is so much more powerful than fear or greed or selfishness.

When there are insurmountable walls that keep us from greater opportunities, there are ways to get around the barriers. Those true leaders we choose to remember understand that a helping hand builds a much stronger ladder that will scale these walls. They help us envision a land of wealth that has little to do with material things. They listen and they encourage. They acknowledge when others provide better examples. They give wind to our sails when there is no wind to be found. They argue against the norm when the norm becomes dangerous to the greater good. They have no problem being wounded if it means that others can be safe.

The legacies that live on are those that make us think twice about who we are and what we choose to do. In a world where emptiness in our souls yearn to be filled, those whose legacies serve as examples to the rest of us need to be exalted above the vacuous pageantry that dominates. The legacies that survive bring us together. The legacies that survive give us hope. The legacies that survive push us to be better. The legacies that survive deserve to live on in our hearts, minds, and souls. They live because they are alive in all of us.

Speaking upon his release (courtesy of CTNews01):

We need no reminder because we always remember those important to us. That is a true legacy.

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When Human Rights Gets a Voice

The whistle-blowing of information regarding out-of-control institutional global surveillance has finally brought some much needed conversation and thoughts to the important topic of increasing loss of human rights. And today, there’s finally a glimmer of hope that a few governments get what so many people are worried about. Yes, there is hypocrisy because everyone spies on others. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we all have basic rights that should not be taken away by selfish institutional interests that are increasingly taking over individual rights.

Meet the newest UN conversation brought out by Brazil and Germany, seeking to equalize global human rights in regards to privacy and freedom of expression:

 

And read about the latest attempts by certain “superpowers” who wish to continue business as usual:

UN surveillance Goes Ahead Despite Attempts to Dilute Language on the Guardian.

 

The people are finally getting their voices heard. And it’s up to us to keep up the pressure so that another’s economic and power windfalls doesn’t continue to dilute everyone’s basic human rights.

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When Progress Stops…We Start

So, it’s been a while since I’ve spoken to you all. Health can do that to you. But once you’re free of the troubles that restricted your life, it’s easy to see that you’ve been given a new lease to do what you’re meant to do. The question for so many of us is: What were you put here on Earth to do? A tough question that only you can truly answer for yourself.

My favorite outspoken philosopher/economist Umair Haque just asked that same question. And it’s come at a perfect time in our world history. No matter where you look, our governments are proving that they are no longer up to the task of doing what they’re supposed to do. Our economies are in a shambles, trade agreements are being written to usurp social and legal rules (have you heard about that unbelievable horrid TPP??),  those who protect and serve no longer do so collectively, and many of our so-called legislators have shown themselves to be the deconstructers of democracy.

We’ve got a lot of news that is troubling, and it’s become clear when you listen to the dialogue that those who want change are fighting against even more of those who got theirs and don’t want to share or simply don’t care. The global climate talks aren’t moving forward because of money, our governments are moving backwards because of money. It’s all because no one wants to share equally. Equality is the moral issue of our times.

But we’re actually in a much better place than we think. When things break down, they need to be fixed by someone who understands how they are designed to work. When leaders stop talking, then there’s an opening for other words to be heard. When laws no longer protect society as a whole, then they need to be rewritten by society as a whole. And there are a lot of thinkers and doers out there who can make a big difference in the first steps.

Beginning of US Constitution (source: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These particular words from the US Constitution mean the most to so many people around the world. It’s given people hope that there will be a time when everyone is equally important. Well, that time is now. And those people include you and me and everyone, EQUALLY.

We know that our governments and institutions are dysfunctional. The system that has worked for so long has only worked because it’s been on life support, administered by those who have the most to lose if things change. If you want to see how bad it can get, read it in a newspaper like this: Washington’s Post Capital Gains. There has to more to life than this, isn’t there?

So, now that progress stops in status quo, then we can start everywhere, on everything. Fixing our infrastructures, businesses, social contracts, individual interactions, and so much more.

Writers and other “dreamers” see other ways of living that excite them so much that they create worlds to explain their dreams (like one of my favs, Star Trek: TNG). So, do social entrepreneurs and others who help make the world better for more of us. All of these dreams have one thing in common…WE THE PEOPLE. All of us working together, instead of competing as we are now doing. Notice how in all of thse dreams, none look like the world we actually live in? And if they do, then we are trying to escape it. Curious, isn’t it?

Cooperation goes far, and it’s been proven over the centuries. Our future will require it. Now it’s up to us to take up our part in making it happen. Something, anything that will be different from what we’ve done in the past.

It only takes a tweak and some people to make that change stick. If you’ve seen the news, then you know that we need to start now.

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What’s Important

Talking about health, here’s a site that’s being shared on Reddit: The Battle We Didn’t Choose. The images that were shared by a husband in memory of his wife really hit home, and remind you of just how delicate life is. I am recovering from my own battle with my health, and lucky to be looking at a brighter future due to an amazing group of nurses and doctors. We talk all of the time about healthcare and choosing the right system, but until it affects you personally, you won’t recognize the importance of this talk. We can’t leave it to idiots who look at the system as an endless cash machine. It needs the heart of soul of a society that gives a damn of more than itself.

This story of a man and his wife is only one of many happening around the world everyday. We tend to focus on the causes without paying attention to the people involved. We need to stop the blind-folded feel good actions that revolve around pink ribbons or patches, which don’t help the actual nurses, doctors, researchers, and care-givers who work in the darkness to bring light to those who need it.

Here’s an opportunity to read a personal story and come face to face with the realities of failing health and an over-burdened system that gets little help that it needs. It’s a small step, but all new beginning start from tentative steps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My condolences to the family of Jennifer. Your story helps keep her memory alive. And helps to change a world so that it can recognize its heart once again.

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Comfort

Hey there! It’s been a while since I wrote, but life sometimes just takes over and leads to chaos. Considering that some of us thrive on various levels of chaos, you’d think that it would be welcome. Well, some chaos is harder to accept because it tears apart your comfort level and leaves you swinging in the wind questioning it all.

Moving from a home you’re comfortable in to a situation that is unfamiliar is unsettling. Having your body break down, leaving you in throes of pain unimaginable is frightening. Trying to re-establish a life that is different from what you know can leave you floundering like a bird without wind. Having it all happen simultaneously can leave the strongest person wanting a teddy bear. For some, comfort is just too important. For others, the ripping apart of the seams from your own blanket of comfort a new blanket that embraces the you that wants to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world today is in the process of having its blanket ripped apart. What was familiar has become questionable, because we do the rote actions with little thought behind them. When the thinking stops, then it’s impossible to avoid all of the potential pitfalls awaiting their opportunity to shred the material that holds society together. The thread for this blanket is full-bodied knowledge. Knowledge gathering is a life long pursuit that has little to do with going to school, and everything to do with seeing life as the ultimate schooling. No piece of knowledge is useless, because there is a place that it belongs to. Sometime that place is outside of the view of what we consider normal.

What we need to remember is that our normal will not always be THE normal. Life changes, the world changes, and so must we. If we choose our own personal comfort levels, then we are not only not growing as individuals or allowing those around us their potential to grow as well. How is that fair for anyone?

So, comfort may be the be all and end all of existence. But it’s the process of ripping apart that allows potentially new fabrics to come into being. We have more than enough materials all around us to make beauty be more than skin deep. The question is are there enough adults out there to sew the pieces into an even more beautiful piece of life?

 

And on a side note: Don’t ever take your body for granted. It has an uncanny knack of reminding you that it really is your temple, and the only one that you’ll ever have. If you feel strange symptoms, don’t ignore them and hope that they’ll simply go away. Being comfortable isn’t the same as being healthy and whole.

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Justice?

So the verdict is out for Pfc Manning and it’s not good, though there is one slim silver strand in a porous lining:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t been as diligent in following this case as I have been with the NSA surveillance, because Manning is in a much more precarious position than Snowden, simply because he signed up for the military and swore an oath that is much different from that of a private contractor. People have been ripping apart both men, and centering on their unpatriotic actions with very little indication that they understand that any system must be questioned if it is endangering the majority for the sake of status quo. For too long now, we have accepted that our governments know best, that our military is fighting for what’s right, and that our leaders actually understand the moral obligations that come with their positions. Now, we’ve found that none of this is true.

Whistleblowing is falling under the darkest of shadows because there are too many who stand to lose too much if the system were to change. Our system is no longer about how to ensure that society is secure, but is now about how to game the system the best to win the prize: grandeur, status, power, money, and whatever keeps these people on the pedestals that they designed for themselves. History shows over and over what happens when absolute power corrupts absolutely, and our global ruling class by and large are following in the steps of the gilded Caesar. Now, they are looking over their shoulders to ensure that they don’t fall under the same fate that he did. It usually happens when you perpetuate the unjust in your thoughts and deeds against the many.

And now we are faced with a continuing dilemma that is challenging us to understand the motivations of those who question systems which are inherently unjust. When a system is built so that its major participants will go against the wisdom of the ages in order to continue their golden lifestyles, then it’s time to do more than wait for the next election cycle to replace those we don’t trust. Decades of making a choice between the lesser of two evils has given us a world that is not fit for life. We see what our thoughtless actions create just by looking outside of our safe havens. We don’t want to accept climate change. We don’t want to accept martial law. We don’t want to accept that our thoughts are no longer our own. We don’t want to accept that evil is really triumphing over good, because we didn’t realize that evil has been cloaked in good for far too long. As more denials to our fate ring hollow against the stark truths that darken the light, we are now standing at the moment when we as a people have got to think about more than ourselves. Individualism gives us strength until it spills over into selfishness and destroys what we hold dear.

Today another man who stood for his principles is a victim of his circumstances. He knew that he would be punished for his actions, but he still did what he thought was best for the greater good. And today, our system let him down by accepting that civility, honor, and respect means more than what this country used to stand for. It’s hard to swallow what the US has become because none of us cared enough to change the trajectory towards the edge of a deep chasm. When a senator is disrespected by automaton lawyers for a governmental behemoth which has been revealed to be acting against mankind, which words do you trust? If you’re aware of the future, then hopefully you chose the one who has been fighting like Don Quixote or David. If you pick the giant, then many of us want to know why!

If you’ve immersed yourself in the global news of late, then you’ll probably be noticing that justice only happens periodically when someone brave stands up for the lives of individuals everywhere over what they consider to be civil order. Perhaps we’ve been living in civilization for so long that we no longer recognize what a proper act of decency looks like. It’s not about confronting the ugliness that mankind is capable of through more bloated laws, but forcing the questionable acts out in the open so that we can have a global discussion on what WE want our society to ACT like. And not how some antiquated and proper parliament or congressional member thinks society should behave.

Morals are all well and good, but when they endanger the lives of too many innocents, then morality has been tipped off the scale of justice. I for one am sick and tired of my governments telling me what I can read, write, or listen to. It’s not their jobs to do so. It’s all of our jobs to understand when you’ve gone too far in your actions and words, and hurt others around you, even if it was unintentional (those hurt the most because you thought the least). That’s what civility used to be about. Now it’s empty rhetoric tossed out through sermons by people who long forgot what their jobs really entail. That these people are in charge is our call to do our duties as a global citizens and reformat society.

CTRL-ALT-DEL the system so that we can rewrite the code of how man needs to live life. Once we understand what is wrong with our current system, we’ll know how to rebuild to try to avoid a re-occurrence. That’s when we’ll find our justice for all!

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Moving Pains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting too comfortable in one place can be quite troublesome. You make your nest as cozy as possible, never thinking of the possibility that it won’t be there for you forever. But in this day and age, nothing is permanent – least of all a physical presence known as home.

When change happens, you’re hit with emotions when you least expect them. If your life has been full of changes, then you think that you’ll be able to handle the new ones. But life has a way of throwing the balance off to test your resilience.

We’re in the midst of huge changes and it feels like ripping a band-aid that’s been attached to your skin for too long. There’s no easy way to remove it so that you don’t feel the pain. All you can do is embrace it because it reminds you that you’re still alive. Moving pains just come with bigger band-aids, or so it feels. Hopefully, the next place will use rolled gauze that will stick far less to those sensitive places…like your heart.

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Art Depicting Life: Baobab

This beautiful film short, Baobab, by Nicholas Loesner is a beautifully haunting example of art depicting life. A retelling of a classic love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet but with a hopeful twist that reminds us that life and love has a way of surviving.

This is a student graduation piece by Nicolas who is working on becoming a CG animator. One thing that you can say is that he understands the heart of a story. He sees that all of life’s stories are intertwined by the actions that we all take. And that the cycle of life and death is interspersed with the actions of those who seek to dominate, so that they can control this chain. But the spirit that drives us all will find a way to make its wishes known, even against the most grave of odds we face. Respect the cycle and learn from it, because it’s outlived us all.

I hope that we see more from Nicolas because he has a masterfully artistic voice that should be shared.

- thanks to Vimeo for this heartbreaking piece

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True Support

The Western Sydney Wanderers are more than a group of soccer loving players, they are also members of the Wheelchair Initiative that supports disabled players enjoy that same sport. It really is wonderful when you see professional players extend their embrace for their beloved sport so that many regular people can enjoy the same pastime. Football NSW holds a tournament called Football4all that allows many well-known figures to interact with special needs players, bringing recognition to their sport.

This video, shared by hypnoguy2 and Reddit, shows another level of support for these athletes as they participate in a sport that they love. True support that comes from a great group of people so that the players know that they are also loved. Awesome, incredible, heart-warming support that shows the true meaning behind playing sports. It’s not about winning, though many fans and parents will argue the point, but it’s about participating in an event for the sheer love of the sport.

We see to many ugly fan incidents at sporting events and even children’s sporting events, but clips like this make you feel so much better. Take note sports fans, the next time you’re yelling at a player or umpire because you feel slighted.

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SpaceX Vision

If you’re wondering what all of the testing that SpaceX has been doing is for, then here’s an awesome reminder of what we are capable of when our minds are set to new horizons. If you’re a fan of space exploration, then you already know that SpaceX won a contract with NASA for sending cargo to the ISS. You’ve probably also seen the pretty amazing launch tests and landings that the Grasshopper has been completing.

This video shows the mindset that SpaceX has followed in order to re-imagine the possibilities with space flight that factors in reducing the costs incurred on these missions so that more can be done with less. Considering the amount of success that SpaceX has already achieved, and the beautiful minds that stretch into exploring the unknown, it looks like Elon Musk’s team has put a firm foot into outer space. Now if we can only keep our governments from profiteering from those achievements, then maybe we can see that these steps are indeed for humanity as the previous generation of space explorers from NASA and other space agencies recognized.

SpaceX’s vision shows us the possibilities when we move past questioning new practices and embrace radically changing models that only hold us back. And you have to admit that Elon Musk is definitely a person who travels on paths rarely trodden (how about the Tesla). This is the kind of leadership mentality that the 21st century needs more of. Not the antiquated, close-minded kind that we currently have all over our fragile planet.

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Stop censorship