Sunday, August 28, 2016

The great beauty about the internet is that in 2016 we can still form an opinion. A free world means that we can look at a blank page and write what we like! Lately I've come to the realisation that this free world is under threat.

Rather than create another page I hope to write on such matters in this page. Even though this page is based on volunteerism the very fact that we live in a world where free speech is being curtailed means that volunteerism itself may become under threat. Because at the end of the day once we are curtailed in our thinking; Volunteerism ends!

Please be prepared for a different type of blog! But it must be!

Long live the volunteering mind!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The simple act of kindness.

How we learn from our children! This post was inspired by an act of my daughter. When her mum arrived at work today she found this simple note written on a serviette in her bag. Simple. Real. Kind. Thoughtful. Loving.
It is easy to get disheartened with the world today. There is almost a danger of becoming desensitised to the daily news of turmoil in various countries. Women, children and men are being killed daily by conflict. Hospitals are being bombed.
The internet for all its advanced technology has brought out people who are angry, fearful and bitter. Sometimes loving kindness is mocked, seen as a weakness or laughed at.
And yet simple acts of loving kindness happen every day. You see it through volunteering. You see it through community building. You may have heard the following story before but if not:
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley

I am finding myself smiling at people more. It can’t hurt. Yesterday on leaving the train I said to a random stranger that I hoped they had a great day. And meant it. First she looked surprised but then a smile filled her face.
How can we become more aware of our capacity to show loving kindness? Is it present in your work? It should be. The world needs to change this way. People should make an effort to greet one another. People should ask “are you OK?” every now and then. We spend most of our life at work. Even this needs to be re-examined. Most of us work five days a week. Why? Because that is the way it is. Could we not be just as productive or indeed more productive if we worked four and took the other three to try and slow down a bit, to reenergise, to spend more time with family and friends. Oh but we can’t do that! Says who? We are responsible collectively for our own destiny. Perhaps we could spend our extra day volunteering for our community? Why not?
We need new thinking. Because the thinking of the world is not working.
Russell E. DiCarlo put it well when he said “Our drifting awareness, our tendency to take the path of least resistance by being less than fully awake to the present moment creates a void”
And how our awareness drifts these days! Preoccupied with the latest gadgets, so called reality shows and I wonder if our necks will morph into something else down the evolutionary cycle as many of us are constantly looking down at our IPhone whether we are on a train, bus or walking down the street oblivious to the world around us and the people there.
The Indian philosopher Krishnamurti once said many years ago “We look at conditions prevailing in the world and observe what is happening there – the student’s riots, the class prejudices, the conflict of black against white, the wars, the political confusion, the divisions caused by nationalities and religions. We are also aware of conflict, struggle, anxiety, loneliness, despair, lack of love, and fear. Why do we accept all this? Why do we accept the moral, social environment knowing very well that it is utterly immoral; knowing this for ourselves – not merely emotionally or sentimentally but looking at the world and at ourselves – why do we live this way? Why is it that our educational system does not turn out real human beings but mechanical entities trained to accept certain jobs and finally die?”
So what are we to do? Sometimes I feel that if the world population suddenly lost its memory we would start again. Meeting people in the present we would have no prejudice, bias and conditioned behaviour towards each other. There would be no history to refer to, no memories of the 100 million people we slaughtered in one century alone. It would be a new earth.
All we can do today is try in our own way. Some people will run towards politics to change the world, some people may or have formed movements to change the world for good. But what can I do?
I want the world to change. I want a better world for my children and theirs.
From today, please try a simple act of kindness each day. You never know what your simple act might then inspire. It may be passed forward. It may not change the world but it could change someone’s world. Share it here as it may inspire others.
The mind of a ten year old child today found the awareness to write a note of love. We owe it to the future world to create a world of love.
And we will.

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The simple act of kindness.

How we learn from our children! This post was inspired by an act of my daughter. When her mum arrived at work today she found this...