Saturday, January 29, 2011

what is poverty?

When most people hear the word 'poverty,' they think of no money, little food, wretched living conditions, dirty old clothes, disease, lots of flies and other bugs, and on and on.  However, many of the people that populate third world countries and are materially impoverished are some of the most joy-filled people you'll ever meet.  A lot of times they are happier than people with many material possessions.  So can material possessions define poverty alone?

A friend recently wrote a blog post discussing the same topic, because she heard the quote: "Poverty is the result of hopelessness."  If you have only a few material possessions but have hope and joy for each day, then I believe you are not truly poor.  There is poverty of the soul and poverty of possessions.  Sometimes we forget that poverty of the soul exists.  It would be good for us to remember and ask ourselves what it is we can do to fight poverty of all kinds.
"There is more hunger in this world for love than there is for bread." -Mother Teresa  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

social media today

[Disclaimer: In this post I'm not trying to argue the pros and cons of using social networking websites, but rather take a look at how our society uses these tools.  These thoughts are only meant to stir discussion, not say either is right or wrong anything.]

I recently heard someone say, "social media is to relationships what fast food is to nutrition — a quick way to feel like we’ve gotten what we need. But when compared with what we really need, what we get is insubstantial."  I see some truth in that statement.  Nonetheless, there is no doubt that social networking websites can help us to keep in touch with far away friends, reconnect with long lost ones, and meet new people.  However, how aware are we of how social media websites and our usage of them affect us?  When examining the time you spend on these websites, how much times is spent communicating with others versus time spent looking at others (often people you've only met once or barely know), playing games, "liking" random stuff, etc.?  How deep are the connections you make on Facebook, Twitter, and the like? 

Aside from connecting with people, social media is also a place where people can support products, ideas, or causes.  Is online support making changes in the real world?  Yes and no.  It's a place to organize people and get the word out, but as Malcolm Gladwell writes, "The revolution will not be tweeted.  Social media can't always provide what social change has required."  Our actions on social media can't take the place of physical action. Although social media is revolutionizing our time in many ways, we can't expect it to do everything for us.  There are still things we have to do without it.

As a society, we need to examine whether we are using a tool or whether the tool is using us.  We don't do enough of that.  This post got me thinking a lot about digital clutter and how the way I spend my time online affects me.  Are you aware of how you use social media?  Do you manage your use of it?  What are we gaining from using these social media tools?  Is it worth the time we put into them?  Is there a cost involved for us to use these tools?  If you think social media is helpful or a waste of time, either way that's great.  What matters is that we're making a conscious, well thought out decision about our use (or non-use) of social media and other technological tools. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

the substitute singer

Though I was unable to prove the events of this tale, this event supposedly happened many years ago in the Paris Opera. On the night when a famous tenor was to perform, the packed house was told he would not be able to attend due to traffic.
Concerned, the director of the Opera appeared on the stage to explain what was happening and to ask for a local tenor to act as a substitute.
The audience reacted as expected; with discomfort. Some spectators rose and asked for their money back, while others simply waited to see what lay in store for them, seeing that they had instructed their chauffeurs and made reservations for dinner, and did not quite know how to kill the time.

The substitute tenor came on stage and did the best he could. For two hours he sang with all his heart and soul. At the end, there was almost complete silence.
Then one spectator applauded, and a child’s voice was heard, “Daddy, you were great! Just great!”

The next moment, the whole theater gave a standing ovation; a simple word of love had changed everything. 

[I originally read this story here.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Our lives move to a Rhythm-- something so big and beyond us that moves us through life.  When we dance to music, rhythm literally moves us.  Rhythm also can easily be found throughout nature.  There is the rising and setting of the sun, the seasons, a heartbeat, life and death, the waves and tides of the ocean, and so on.  I think rhythm is so much more than music, dance, and nature's cycles.  It's difficult to put rhythm into words, because it's simply felt.  You don't think about rhythm.  People who are 'bad dancers' aren't good dancers because they are over-thinking dancing.  You just feel it and dancing happens.

Rhythm is something you just fall in tune with.  I believe that we can live our lives that way too.  We can come in tune with Life.  There isn't a recipe for it.  It's unique for every person, but when you find it, you just know.  Some cultures have found Rhythm more easily than others (see video below), and I think there are a variety of reasons for that.  However the most important thing is that it can be found, so we should try to look for it.

In order to dance to Life, you must first feel the Rhythm...

 Foli: There Is No Movement Without Rhythm

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hopi thoughts

Hopi Elder Speaks

"You have been telling the people that this is the 11th Hour,
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader."

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a very good time! There is a river now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those that will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly."

"Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water." "And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt."

"The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves."

"Banish the word struggle from your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration."

"We are the ones we have been waiting for."

Oraibe, Arizona
Hopi Nation

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

the power of vulnerability

I like what she has to say, and the sociologist in me loves that she can back it up with research.  It's true: connection is what defines our existence.  In order to connect, we have to be seen.  It's our decision to let our guards down, take our masks off, and be vulnerable.  I pray we all have the courage to do so...

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Everyone wears them-- all different shapes and sizes.  Allowing only a select few, and sometimes no one at all, to see behind them.  We claim to hide from other people, from pain, from the past, from the future...  We try to be what we want others to see.  But we truly only end up hiding from ourselves.

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within."
–James Baldwin

Love is power.
Learn love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

too much technology

Currently, I'm living and working abroad in Morocco.  A recent trip home to America for the holidays has got me thinking about life in these very different developed and developing worlds.  As I sat in the airport attempting to catch up with a friend over the phone, I had two TV's blaring at me, a woman calling out over the loud speaker every 5 or 10 minutes, and not to mention hundreds of people moving this way and that trying to get to where they wanted to go.  I couldn't stay on the phone for long.  It was too much between the TV's, the loudspeaker, and the phone.  I couldn't focus at all.  There isn't the same level of technological stimulation in my face every day in Morocco.

A friend recently told me about how he saw an American family that was touring Morocco.  He saw them sitting outside a cafe.  The father sat completely enthralled by the pictures he was scanning through on his digital camera.  The oldest daughter sat with her ipod on completely into her music and not paying much attention to the world around her.  The youngest child sat completely mesmerized by the game he was playing on his ipad.  My friend watched as the mother walked out of a near by store, walked over, picked up her purse, and went off to carry on with her shopping.  Here are four people all together in the same place, but having zero interaction.

How does technology affect us socially and mentally?  It has this ability to pull us into our own world.  While I was home, I was completely entranced by my cousin's video games.  I have never been one for video games before, but something just sucked me in.  I've also heard it said before that one of the reasons why copious amounts of TV watching for small children isn't good, because it gives them a false sense of control over the universe.  They can decide what they want to watch, when they want to watch something, when to change the channel, and so on.  While technology entertains us, it can isolate us as well.  A lot of the times, it's hard to even be aware of it or even if we are aware, it's hard to disconnect from it.  I just hope we don't end up like those fatties in the movie Wall-E with nothing in front of us except a computer screen (see image above).

Monday, January 3, 2011

percolating thoughts (#6)

['Percolating thoughts' is an on-going collection of quotes I have found and gained wisdom from.  These are the ones that I've recently discovered and that I'm currently sitting with and reflecting on...]

"It's not where you look that matters, it's what you see."

"Every difficulty, disharmony and obstacle is either because we refuse to let go of what we no longer need, or refuse to accept what we require.”

"If you want to shrink something, you must first expand it.  If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish."

"Knowing other people is intelligence, knowing yourself is power.  Mastering other people is strength, mastering yourself is power.  If you realize that what you have is enough, you are truly rich."

"If you want to be whole, you must first be partial.  If you want to be straight, you must first bee crooked.  If you want to be full, you must first become empty.  If you want to be reborn, you must first die.  If you want everything, give up everything.  If you don't display yourself, people will see your light.  If you have nothing to prove, people will trust you.  If you don't try to be something, people will see themselves in you."