May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself. - Jonathan Lockwood Huie
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Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Each one of us has our own perspective on everything we see in life. - jlh
I took this picture on the beach near my house. Looking at this picture, I see a beautiful beach that is teaming with natural life - birds, mollusks, fish. Deer walk this beach. Sea otters play here. In the foreground, I see an antique - a piece of history - lying on this beach. I don’t know whether storms have recently removed layers of sand from this truck axle, or whether the storms have recently brought the antique here from far away. It doesn’t matter. Either way, this axle, these tires, are a part of history and have a story to tell. While I personally will never know their story, there’s a story here - a bit of history. Like a miniature Roman Coliseum or Stonehenge, this axle played a role in lives now past. Ugly? Beautiful? Personally, I find this section of beach especially compelling. For me, this historic object adds to the interest of the area. Each one of us has our own perspective on everything we see in life.
A quote from LIVE BOLDLY
it is a better thing to weigh and measure priorities in the illuminating light of your own mission than to have your activities formed by the impressions and expectations of others.
- mary anne radmacher
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Mae West -known for her wit and double entendre - said “too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” but for the rest of us, “too much of a good thing” tends to be a confusing situation.
It’s Autumn and the ground beneath our apple tree sports an abundance of fallen apples. The deer, rabbits, and squirrels are feasting. I watch as a squirrel picks up an apple almost half as big as itself. It looks confused. Takes a small bite. Puts the apple down. Looks confused. Scurries to another apple, and repeats the process. “What to do? I can’t eat them all. I can’t bury them all. I may be hungry this winter. Right now, there are so many apples. What to do?”
In 21st Century America, we suffer from a profusion of fallen apples… an epidemic of abundance. We are so spoiled that we can’t even see what is right in front of our faces. Unlike the fallen apples in my backyard, the “fallen apples” we feast on in America are a year-round cornucopia.
“But I’m tired of ‘apples’ and I don’t like them fallen.” Remember “manna from Heaven” in the Bible? Sounds a lot like “fallen apples.” Are we sick and tired of our abundance of manna? Most 21st Century Americans truly are sick and tired of their abundance of manna. “Same thing - day after day. And I have to bend over to pick it up. And it touched that dirty ground. Sheee... germs. And everyone else is eating the same thing. How boring.”
When we are surrounded by abundance, not only do we stop being grateful, we actually STOP SEEING our abundance. We are not aware of, let alone grateful for the air we breathe. “What air? I don’t see any air.” As we don’t notice the air, we also don’t notice the abundant food, shelter, health, comfort that surrounds us. “But, But, what about…” Our glass isn’t half full, its 99.9% full. Open your eyes… Notice… Become Aware… CHOOSE… Gratitude or Complaint?
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Name a genuine Hero who followed the crowd? It’s a crazy question, because Heroes don’t follow the crowd. A hero may or may not lead other people, but all heroes lead themselves. Heroes are self confident independent thinkers who make courageous choices. By committing their entire focus to their goals, Heroes leave no time or energy for worry or self-inflicted emotional suffering. Heroism is a path to a joyful life as well as to inspired service.
Want to be a Hero, just pick one to emulate - WRONG. To be heroic, don’t emulate a hero, learn from one. Heroes don’t follow anyone, they set their own course.
At the end of this article there is an exercise for considering your own greatest hero and which of their qualities inspire you.
Y. C. James (Jimmy) Yen (Yan Yangchu): (1893-1990)
- Charismatic Visionary, Humanitarian, and Educator
An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
- Victor Hugo
Go to the people
Live among them
Learn from them
Plan with them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have.
- Jimmy Yen
A leader is most effective when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, his troops will feel they did it themselves.
- Lao Tzu
My personal Greatest Hero is Jimmy Yen. You have probably never heard of Jimmy Yen - most Americans haven’t. Not that he went without recognition. The novelist Pearl Buck wrote his biography. Time magazine wrote about him, and Reader’s Digest wrote about him several times - once as a feature article. In 1943, Jimmy Yen received the prestigious Copernican award as one of 10 highly influential "modern revolutionaries" including Albert Einstein, Orville Wright, Walt Disney, and Henry Ford. He also received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding in 1960, and in 1983 he received the Eisenhower Medallion of the People-to-People Foundation for his ‘exceptional’ contribution to world peace and understanding.
Jimmy Yen was a very unassuming man who never sought personal recognition or glory. He didn’t start out with a huge vision, either. His greatest commitments were to his wife, his strong Christian faith, and to the people around him. His immense contribution to humanity began in a very small way, and grew, and grew, and grew exponentially.
In 1918, immediately after graduating from Yale University, Jimmy Yen was swept up into the First World War. He went to France as a YMCA volunteer to interpret for a few of the 180,000 Chinese peasants who had been brought to France by the Allied Forces to work as laborers.
While working among the Chinese laborers, Jimmy found these people to be eager and intelligent, but universally uneducated - that is, unable even to read or write their own name. Jimmy spent many hours reading Chinese language newspapers to these men and writing letters for them to send back to their loved ones in China.
Jimmy wished that he could teach his new friends to read and write, but there was a second reason for these people’s illiteracy beyond the poverty and exceedingly hierarchical class structure of rural China. Chinese is an extremely complex language that is written using tens of thousands of intricate characters - each representing a complete word, rather than a letter.
Even more confounding for a common Chinese speaker trying to master reading and writing, the language that was read and written by educated Chinese at that time was Classical Chinese, which is not a written representation of conversational Chinese, but rather a formalized language virtually unchanged for 2000 years. It was as if the only path for an Italian to learn reading and writing was to learn to read and write Latin.
In spite of the great perceived difficulties, and the mediocre success that other YMCA volunteers had had in teaching the laborers to read and write Classical Chinese, Jimmy still visualized the laborers reading their own newspapers and writing their own letters home.
As he looked at the correspondence he was writing, Jimmy was struck by how often a very small number of characters (words) recurred. Inspired genius struck, and Jimmy selected 1000 characters that he believed could communicate virtually any idea.
Putting flesh on the bones of inspiration, Jimmy made the decision to teach the writing of Vernacular Chinese (Baihua) - a written representation of spoken Chinese - rather than Classical Chinese. Although there had been a effort to promote Baihua in China for several years, it had not gathered momentum, and Baihua remained virtually unused.
Jimmy offered to teach the laborers reading and writing using his 1000 Character System. 40 of the 5000 men in his camp accepted his offer. The training was so successful that many more wanted to join the next class.
Soon, almost all the laborers in that camp were writing their own letters home, and reading a newsletter Jimmy had printed for them in 1000 Baihua characters. Word spread rapidly, and other volunteers started teaching Jimmy’s 1000 Character system throughout the Chinese laborer camps in France.
Jimmy then made a vow to return to his country of birth and educate everyone in rural China.
Jimmy returned to the United States, completed a Masters program at Princeton, obtained financial support from the YMCA-In-China program to launch a Chinese literacy program, and set sail for China with his new bride Alice - who was to become his lifetime companion and committed co-worker in the Literacy and Rural Reconstruction movements.
In 1923, Jimmy established the Chinese Mass Education Movement, and launched what quickly became a nationwide program to teach 1000 Character literacy.
In 1926, Jimmy expanded his work to address the four interlocking problems of ignorance, poverty, disease and civic inertia, with an integrated Rural Reconstruction program of education, livelihood, health and self-government - “integrated, people-centered and sustainable rural development” in his words.
In 1928, John D. Rockefeller Jr. made a large personal contribution to Jimmy’s work and inspired many other Americans to do the same.
With the onset of the Second World War, Jimmy came back to the United States to raise funds for reconstruction in China. Jimmy made powerful friends in America - including Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry Ford - and in 1948 secured funding for post-war reconstruction through the “Jimmy Yen Provision” of the China Aid Act.
In 1950, when his work in China was halted by the incoming Communist government, Jimmy and Alice turned their attention to the world, working with rural reconstruction in the Philippines Thailand, India, Ghana, Guatemala, Columbia, Mexico and Cuba.
In 1960 Jimmy founded the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in the Philippines.
In 1985 the Chinese government finally welcomed Jimmy back to China and acknowledged his immense contribution to Mass Education and Rural Reconstruction in China.
Today, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), a worldwide organization based in the Philippines, continues the work begun by Jimmy and Alice Yen and serves as a living memorial to their work.
Beginning with the desire to teach a few simple laborers to read and write, Jimmy Yen’s life unfolded over more than 70 years of service to directly benefit tens of millions of people around the world.
Best of all for me personally, Jimmy Yen is my uncle. In 1921 Uncle Jimmy married Alice Huie - my aunt and the daughter of my grandfather - the Reverend Huie Kin, pastor of the First Chinese Presbyterian Church of New York City.
For me, Jimmy Yen represents the ultimate in inspired selfless service. Day after day after day, he just did the best he could to take one more small step toward what he believed in. His commitment and enthusiasm were so infectious that people around the world became inspired by his vision.
Exercise: Who is your Personal Greatest Hero? Take pen and paper. Write why you admire your greatest hero, and which of their qualities you want to emulate in your own life.
The meaning of Life is whatever we Choose.
We give life its meaning
See life as ugly and painful - if you choose, or see it as beautiful and joyful. There is no inherent meaning in life. We give life its meaning. It's our Choice.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
One minute we merge in awe with the compassionate creative universal force, and the next minute the imperfections of our human existence focus us toward another aspect of life.
Each of us is loving in some moments - hateful in others. Patient and calm sometimes - harried by urgency at others. Understanding - and self-absorbed. Reassuring - and sarcastic. Generous - and greedy. Trusting - and jealous. Comforting - and snappish. Original - and stuck in a rut. Thankful - and needy. Forgiving - and vengeful. Nurturing ourself - and stuffing ourself with fast food. Honoring our bodies - and overstressing. Being Joyful - and Suffering.
What does all this mean? It means only that we are human - nothing more. Our opportunity is to love ourselves exactly as we are - with all our joys and sufferings. To be grateful for everything. To forgive ourselves for our doubts of our own worthiness - for we have no need to be anything other than what we are.
Our opportunity is always to make the choice for Joy. To see the world with new eyes - open eyes - loving eyes. To choose compassion and understanding - for ourselves, our family, our friends, our community, for the whole world.
Our opportunity is to Soar our Spirit. To see Light and Joy in everything. To spread our wings and fly boldly. To give thanks for rainbows and butterflies - our symbols of renewal and rebirth. To offer daily Thanksgiving - for ourselves, our family, our friends, our community, for the whole world.
Our opportunity is to visualize a kinder world. To sing glad songs of tomorrow - imagining a world of love - of the whole world filled with love. To offer our hand... often. To breathe deeply and honor ourselves. To pause and contemplate... just because.
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