Archive for the ‘Causes’ Category

Two Women Wize

by H. Doc Burns, PhD
March 8, 2010

In recognition of International Women’s Day today, (March 8, 2010), I wanted to celebrate someone I have found to represent strength, wisdom and sheer force of will; the qualities which helped women come as far as they have, from chattel–under or unvalued property not considered fair trade for a goat–not that long ago, to heads of state and governments, corporate moguls and academic giants. I also wanted to spotlight the thoughts of women whose actions have spoken for themselves and whose words will give some foundation to those now and to come who will continue to work toward finally balancing the scales all the way to equal though different and have also made a difference in my life. Who showed gender neutral wisdom.

For a large part of the last century, there were two women, living during, perhaps a hundred weight of years in which a couple of hands full of women, for the most part short in stature, but in no other way small, making themselves large so that a greater number of women with things–important things–to say, have spoken out, regularly in the face of serious resistance and retribution of all kinds, and have been heard…have made themselves heard, in the Western and parts of the Eastern World, encouraging and emboldening women still facing seemingly impenetrable barriers–social, emotional and physical.

These two had things to say, and having spoken, went out in the world to back up their words after being strong and supportive for the men in their lives, getting things done by themselves as that was the only way they knew things would be done.

They both had the courage of their convictions and relied on actions along with words to see that their work bore fruit and was harvested.However, amongst their significant deeds, the words they left behind, mostly meant as a preface to their work and a call to all hands, are a precious legacy of often quiet thoughts for serious contemplation.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Mother Teresa left us a sense of the heights of mind and depths of soul their characters shared. Here are a few of those words from these two amazingly different women indicating the similarity of the thoughtful wisdom so often overshadowed by iron wills and sheer force of personality they shared, especially after both emerging from the long shadows thrown by men of longstanding and trusted leadership, men they loved, supported and promoted.

Mrs. Roosevelt had quite a dry wit, by the way, as did Mother Teresa, although somewhat more visible with Mrs. R.. They both knew a sense of humour can give one great strength and disarm their adversaries. Here are some samples of that verbal strength:

Mother Teresa

  • Life is a beauty, admire it.
  • Life is a dream, realize it.
  • Life is a challenge, meet it.
  • Life is a duty, complete it.
  • Life is a game, play it.
  • Life is a promise, fulfil it.
  • Life is sorrow, overcome it.
  • Life is a song, sing it.
  • Life is a struggle, accept it.
  • Life is a tragedy, confront it.
  • Life is an adventure, dare it.
  • Life is luck, make it.
  • Life is life, fight for it.”

— Mother Teresa (1910-1997)


“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them so close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
–‘This Is My Story,’ 1937

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

“A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
–“My Day”

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’.””Do one thing every day that scares you.”

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

“Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
–Eleanor Anna Roosevelt, (1884 – 1962)
US Diplomat, Reformer and former First Lady

These barely scratch the surface of Mrs. Roosevelt’s ‘bon mots’ and pearls from her writings demonstrating her quick mind and humour. These are two of her’s that are personal favourites:

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”

These words demonstrate the true power of these minds without any further embellishments from me, so I shall leave you with them to ponder.

As ever,


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Feb.14, 2010

A Personal Comment:

For centuries Haiti has been the victim of invasions and crippling diplomatic blunders by many countries and far more than its fair share of natural disasters.

If the debt of so many shaky, questionable and downright dictatorial and illegal governments can be ‘forgiven’ in the name of political and/or economic expediency, certainly one of the most promising governments in Haiti’s history shouldn’t be further disabled with such debt while attempting to keep the people hopeful, the government stable and completely rebuild their infrastructure, especially when the earthquake damage falls off CNN and the front page.

In July of last year, (2009), the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, deciding Haiti had met internal poverty reduction and economic reform conditions, cancelled $1.2 bil, or 80% of Haiti’s debt. If their other creditors, including the Inter-American Development Bank, and countries like Taiwan and Venezuela, with the IMF and World Bank can find the last 20% of the debt in their coin purses and couch cushions, cancelling the remainder will, in the long run, do Haiti much greater service than donating a similar amount today by giving them some solid economic foundation as they rebuild housing and stable infrastructure foundations, by necessity, from the bedrock up.

By no means should this replace the emergency and intermediate aid so desperately needed, but, as is so prevalent in today’s society, especially economically, short sightedness and ignoring the future as long as things look good today, (or until the next election), is a recipe for disaster.

Haiti has had too much disaster.

H. Doc Burns, Ph.D

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Requiescat In Pace Sir Johnny

allmusic News Roundup: 2/08/2010
February 8th, 2010 | AMG Staff

R.I.P. “The First Knight of British Jazz,” saxophonist/clarinetist/arranger John Dankworth, who died on Saturday at age 82. Dankworth studied at the Royal Academy of Music in the ’40s and formed his first band, the Johnny Dankworth Seven, in 1950. Later that decade, Dankworth formed a big band and married jazz singer Cleo Laine. Along with UK chart success with 1956’s “Experiments with Mice” and 1961’s “African Waltz,” Dankworth moved into film work in the ’60s and became Laine’s musical director in the ’70s; during his career, he also worked as musical director for Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, and Nat King Cole. Dankworth was knighted in 2006; he and Laine had a son and a daughter, both jazz musicians as well.

John Mayer, Arcade Fire and Haiti

allmusic News Roundup: 2/04/2010
February 4th, 2010 | AMG Staff

John Mayer and Arcade Fire have licensed two of their best-known songs to help with Haiti relief efforts. Along with donating $500,000, Mayer will contribute his 2006 hit “The Heart of Life” to Red Cross radio and television commercials. Meanwhile, Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” will be used in charity ads that will run during the Super Bowl; all of their licensing fees will go to Partners in Health’s Stand with Haiti.

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–from: Inner Frontier – Cultivating Spiritual Presence

Tikkun Olam: The Spiritual Purpose of Life

–by: Joseph Naft

[MP3 Audio Podcast]

Isaac Luria, the renowned sixteenth century Kabbalist, used the phrase “tikkun olam,” usually translated as repairing the world, to encapsulate the true role of humanity in the ongoing evolution and spiritualization of the cosmos. Luria taught that God created the world by forming vessels of light to hold the Divine Light. But as God poured the Light into the vessels, they catastrophically shattered, tumbling down toward the realm of matter. Thus, our world consists of countless shards of the original vessels entrapping sparks of the Divine Light. Humanity’s great task involves helping God by freeing and reuniting the scattered Light, raising the sparks back to Divinity and restoring the broken world.

We meet similar concepts in other religions. Christ promised to return with the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and exhorted people to prepare through love, wakefulness, and charity. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva vows to forgo final liberation until all beings have been freed from suffering. The Gnostics held that a spark of Divinity resides entrapped within the soul of humans.

Tikkun olam encompasses both the outer and the inner, both service to society by helping those in need and service to the Divine by liberating the spark within. As we are, the Divine spark lies hidden beneath our layers of egoistic self-centeredness. That spark is our conscience, through which the promptings of the Divine Will flow toward us.

By pursuing spiritual inner work to strengthen our soul and purify our heart, we grow more able to bear that spark without shattering, more willing to act on what we know to be right, less willing to act in harmful or grasping ways, and more able to notice the quiet presence of conscience beneath the din of our chattering minds and reactive emotions. The work of transformation, of building a soul creates a proper vessel for the Divine spark, for our unique share of the Divine Will, returning that spark to the service of the One Who made it. By working to perfect ourselves, perfect our soul, and serve society, we each contribute in our own unique way to the perfecting of the world. This is our duty and our calling as human beings.

To contemplate and enter the process of tikkun olam, repairing or perfecting the world, we need to understand the concept of world. All the major religious traditions present a hierarchy of worlds or levels of being, from the one we ordinarily inhabit to the ultimate world of Divinity.

In Kabbalah, for example, the worlds include Asiyah or Action, Yetzirah or Formation, Beriyah or Creation, and Atzilut or Emanation. Beyond and permeating all these is the Ein Sof, the One God, the Boundless and Unconditioned. Each of the worlds corresponds to a progressively higher level of spiritual energy and will, and the related level of soul. The world of Action utilizes the sensitive energy, from which the nefesh soul forms. The world of Formation is built on the conscious energy, the basis of awareness, from which the ruach forms. The world of Creation and Light works with the creative energy, from which the neshama forms. The world of Emanation and Divine Presence brings the high energy of love, from which the chaya forms. And corresponding to the ultimate Ein Sof, touching the yechida soul, we have the transcendent energy.

The basic principle of Kabbalah is that the seeker pursues spiritual practice to transform his or her being and rise through the levels of worlds, to bring his or her own will back to the Divine will, while opening a way for the higher energies to flow down to this world, and thereby advancing the great process of tikkun olam.
For millennia Kabbalists have sought to serve this process, for example by meditating on and opening to the higher energy, the Divine Light, the Light of the Shechina above their head. They allow the Light to spread through them as if sitting in its midst and draw the Light down for the Earth, for life, for their own soul. The possibility of opening to the Divine Light stands within reach of us all, if we are prepared to do the necessary inner work.

For those who can, yet another possibility presents itself, one discussed by Luria’s chief disciple Chaim Vital [1]. With a pure heart and a quiet mind, the person enters contact with the Divine Light and raises the Light up to the Ein Sof, offering the Light to the One God in a sacred act of service wholly hidden in the higher worlds. Only then does the person open the channel for the Light to flow down through his or her soul into our world.

Tikkun olam places our spiritual practice at the heart of the epic, unfolding history of the universe: the evolution and spiritualization of the whole of creation. With each small act of kindness, with each moment of presence and practice, with each effort to see, cleanse, and integrate our inner life, with each heartfelt prayer opening to the higher energies and the higher will, we build the new world and serve the Divine Architect of meaning. Rather than view tikkun olam as a return to the perfection that existed before God created the universe, we consider the spiritualizing action as reaching toward a new and greater perfection than existed before, toward perfecting this flawed world by imbuing the whole of it with the Divine Spirit.

Because of the freedom God necessarily placed into the world, we can infer that the outcome of the whole process truly remains uncertain, that our free choice to serve the Divine and our planet through fulfilling our highest destiny really matters, that despite our insignificant size with respect to the universe our personal inner work makes a difference. If we can raise ourselves to the station where the Divine can see and act through us, then we complete the momentous work of restoring at least one part to the Whole. And so, with the great Kabbalist, we discover a vision of unbounded meaning: perfecting ourselves, perfecting the world, and helping God.

[1] Rabbi Chaim Vital, Gates of Holiness, quoted in Kaplan, Aryeh, Meditation and the Bible (Boston: Weiser Books, 1978), pp. 47-56.

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Doing some small, good thing for yourself each day, A Daily Action, or as often as you want/can, often no more than thinking about something, about yourself, or others, or the earth, as suggested, you can earn points toward everything from offsetting a pound of atmospheric carbon to feeding, schooling or medicating a child in need to helping a third world family out of poverty by starting a business.

Care2 is long lived, legitimate and efficient, has a lot of checked information and a great number of services to help you and the World, Polls, Petitions, including those you form yourself, adding to your points with use.

Also create your own pages, blogs, free web mail accounts and a huge selection of great e-cards, many animated and with music, for every occasion and a reminder service and/or automatic e-mailing, so you’ll never again miss a birthday, anniversary, secular or religious event, ‘National/World Whatever Day’, (all listed), or an occasion to tell someone you’re thinking of them, (and often what you’re thinking of them).

Today’s suggestion is to Learn the Art of Receiving.
The alternate suggestion is to indulge yourself with an Epsom Salts soak.

Just visit the page, (or have the suggestions e-mailed to you), and click the button to show you’ve been there and you’ll add 20 points to your accumulation. You earn one point just for showing up.

There are also a wide range of ‘Click to Donate‘ buttons supporting causes from endangered animals to endangered people to endangered ecosystems and many more. Click one cause or all of them daily.

Well worth the 5 minutes it will take to do the clicking and all the time spent exploring the site’s contents. The links are also to the right.

As Buckminster ‘Bucky’ Fuller once said:
“On Space Ship Earth, there are no passengers, only crew.”


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Preserving History One Page at a Time

DP Front Page News & DevelopmentsSunday, November 1, 2009

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