"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Friday, 30 July 2010

Why Poetry Matters

Robert Frost identified poetry as "a momentary stay against confusion."

Edward Hirsh uses the metaphor of a message in a bottle to describe poetry's relationship to its readers. The poet crafts it, sends it out on unknown waters of time and place, and hopes that it will find readers and generate a response. Then he adds, "the reader completes the poem, in the process bringing to it his or her own past experiences" (1999, p.6).

I love poetry.

Poets, as Jay Parini writes, "articulates thoughts and feelings in ways that clarify both; they hold a mirror of sorts up to the mind if not the world, and their poems reflect our deepest imaginings."

Frost poems are often heralded as truth givers and I love reading his poems again and again! The comfort of great poetry is redemptive. That is not to suggest that it is without pain. Its sentiments are honest, even brutal, but there is peace in approaching suffering with honesty.

Parini said that the important work of the poem is "to unify otherwise fragmented experience."

Frost would accept and amend that credo. His work unifies fragmented experience that others have r"igidly united."

His poetry is full of gifts to its readers.

How to communicate

In the climactic scene of the 1989 hit Field of Dreams, the character played by Kevin Costner steps onto the baseball diamond that he carved out of his Iowa cornfield. Then, wordlessly, he tosses a ball back and forth, back and forth, with the ghost of his long-dead father.

Communicating with our children and sharing space remain the foundation of parent-children relationships.

Fathers can enhance that connection from day one by playing or holding, cooing, cooking, or sharing music. They can read to their children and share laughter and adventure through stories.

Mothers and fathers should advise and then allow their children to exercise their decision-making skills. Even though mothers do not want their children to make the same mistakes they have made, it is important to allow them to make their own decision.

Open communication does not mean that parents should tell their children everything. They must tell them only what they need to know. Some parents try to make their children their personal confident. I do not think it is a good idea. Do not try to confide in your children about those DREAMS you have left behind. Pushing them in a direction because it was something you missed is a bad idea.

It is better to learn about their strenghts, interests, and joys, and then encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Our positive encouragements as they leap over the hurdles will warm their heart for a lifetime.

Self Development

The word “morality” comes from the Latin word moralitas meaning "manner, character, and proper behavior". Morality generally refers to a code of conduct, that an individual, group or society hold as authoritative, in distinguishing right from wrong. Such an ideal code of conduct is often espoused in preference to other alternatives.

The argument over whether religion is the only basis for morality is not new.

Socrates asked if something was good or right because the gods said it was, or did the gods say a given behavior was good because it was innately good.

Would the good thing be good, outside of the gods pronouncing it was good? Plato's answer was yes. Dostoyevsky's was no.

"Socrates would probably answer that religion is not the only ground for ethics can be grounded in a rational philosophy".

Jean Paul Sartre, an avowed atheist, would agree with Dostoyevsky. He would say that without God everything is permissible; but since Sartre does not believe that there is a God...

Sartre thinks that morality needs an anchor, a set of rules, even a rule giver, but there is not one! so for all human beings, discussion of right and wrong is meaningless...

Hummm...is this what you meant sartre?...

Albert Camus believes in morality but, like Socrates it does not require a god. But Camus insist that each person needs to be moral.

Well,well let us summarize all these thoughts...

Sartre would say that Dostoyevsky is right, however, there is no God. Therefore, sadly, everything is permissible.

Judaism, Chrisitianity, and Islam would assert that Dostoyevsky is right and there is a God; following God's divine commands is the whole duty of his creation.

Kant, Socrates, and Camus would say that Dostoyevsky is wrong. There may or may not be a God, however, morality is possible anyway.

The principle, like the Golden Rule, said that each human being had an absolute obligation to judge him or herself as though their action would become the universal law for all. Individuals should do only those things they would sincerely desire for everyone else to do.

Ethical Treatment of other People

Gilligan and Kohlberg

Carol Gilligan, in her book, A Different Voice, said that men and women do approach ethical issues differently. Gilligan presents a theory of moral development from a gender perspective. She claimed that women tend to think and speak in a different way than men when confronting ethical dilemmas.

When dealing with a moral dilemma, Gilligan asserts two moral imperatives:

  • Justice is impersonal, and focuses on individual rights, equality before the law, fair play, a square deal, and goals that can be pursued without personal ties to others.
  • Love focuses on goodness, beneficence, and utility. Gilligan's word for this kind of love is care. Care points to the duty to find and assuage the world's problems.
From her research, Gilligan has concluded that generally men and women have different proclivities when they look at and talk about ethical issues.

  • Men tend to think and talk in terms of justice, fairness, duty, and rights.
  • Women tend to think in terms of care, connectedness, and the need to sustain relationships.
Kohlberg seemed to reinforce the notion that women were innately unable to reason as well as their male counterpart when it came to ethical dilemmas. Kohlberg setup a moral-dilemma example:

A man's wife is dying. There is a drug that might save her. The drug is sold for $2,000, ten times what it costs to make it. The man can raise $1,000 and begs the druggist to sell it to him for less money. The druggist refuses. Out of desperation, the man breaks into the drugstore and steals the drug for his dying wife.

Question? Is the act wrong?

Responsible Treatment of Others

I believe that the principle number one that should guide how we treat other people is the ethic of reciprocity, also known as the Golden rule.

All religious and non-religious ideas include the concept of reciprocity, that "every person shares certain inherent human rights, simply because of their membership in the human race" (Robinson, 2009).

Therefore, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. Consider the following:

  • "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev.19:18)
  • "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary" (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
  • "And what you hate, do not do to any one" (Tob, 4:15 6)
  • "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt, 7: 12)
  • "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6: 31)
  • "Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt, 19:19)
  • "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself" (Number 13 of Iman Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths)
  • "God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers" (Quran, 60:8)
  • "Whoever has killed a person shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise"
  • "There is a reward for kindness to every living animal or human" (Prophet Muhammed)
  • "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other, not that ye may despise each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you" (Quran 49:13)
  • "Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state" (Analects 12:2)
  • "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire" (Doctrine of the Mean 13:3)
  • "Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence" (Mencius VII.A.4)
  • "This is the sum of Dharma (duty): Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you" (Mahabharata, 5: 1517)
  • "A state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" (Samyutta Nikaya v. 353)
  • "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful" (Udana-Varga 5: 18)
  • "This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you" (Mahabharata 5: 1517)
Native American Spirituality
  • "Respect for all life is the foundation" (The Great law of Peace)
  • "All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One" (Black Elk)
  • "Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself" (Pima proverb)
Kant based his ethic on the categorical imperative, which said that we should see our actions as though they would become the guiding principles for the actions of all.

How should we treat others?

It seems clear to me that most people would agree that we should treat others in the same way we would want to be treated.

Responsible Leadership

"Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal" (Northhouse, 1997, p.3).

Northouse clarifies this definition of leadership as a transactional process, whereby leaders influence and are influenced by interactions with foloowers.

Humm, mmm... Therefore, leadership is purposive with specific goals. Leadership is more about producing change. It involves casting a vision, inspiring people, and motivating them to embrace innovation.

But what about ethics? I believe like Blanchard & Woodring that the ethical use of power is the ability to make a positive difference, personally and professionally.

But I do not like to think of power as a negative or controlling force. I like to think and look at power in a positive light, however, "words such as freedom, independence, authority, ability, and influence would probably come to mind" (Blanchard & Woodring, 1998, p.9).

A good leader is someone who can get the task done and at the same time create teams that relate well to each other.

Seriously contemplate your own leadership abilities and influence.
  1. What unrecognized power do you have because of your knowledge, special task skills, or your personal and relational abilities?
  2. How can you use that power to do good and create a positive environment at home and work?
If a person does not have all the innate abilities required for leadership, they can study and develop leadership skills. I would think that this focuses more on how leaders behave than a set of innate abilities.

Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

Emily Dickinson: A Romantic Poet

Emily Dickinson stands out as a key poet. She is a poet who continues to exert an enormous influence on the way writers think about the possibilities of poetic craft and vocation.

She explores a wide range of subjects: psychic pain and joy, the relationship of self to nature, the intensely spiritual, and the intensely oridnary.

Her poems about death confront its grim reality with honesty, humore, curiosity, and above all a refusal to be comforted.

In her poems about religions, she expressed piety and hostility, and she was fully capable of moving wihtin the same poem religious consolation to a rejection of doctrinal piety and a querying of God's plans for the universe. (Baym, 2007)

Dickinson wrote lyric poems about everything she considered worthy of thought: music, nature, religion, science, society, world events, and other literature. Sadly, it was only posthumously that most of her poems were published.

Dickinson's life was beset with death and dying. Her dear father died unexpectedly in 1874, and shortly thereafter, her mother suffered a stroke and was bedridden until her death in 1882.
Dickinson also faced the losses of her young nephew Gilbert in 1883 and a very close friend, Helen Hunt Jackson, in 1885.

This quick succession of death and loss may have contributed to Dickinson's reclusion during these years, but it did not stop her from writing. It was during that time that Dickinson wrote a number of poems dealing with death, and she wrote her poetry in solitude until her own demise in 1886.



Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you plann'd:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

From: Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems.
Christina Rosetti. London: Macmillan 1879.

Death and Life

Death and Life

The Upanishads offer to each aspiring heart countless messages. There are quite a few messages which are at once most significant and most fulfilling. Here is a stupendous message about life and death.
Before death and after death, what happens?

This is the message of the Upanishads:

Before death, life is a seeker.
After death, the same life becomes a dreamer.
Before death, life struggles and strives for Perfection.
After death, the same life rests
and enjoys the divine Bliss with the soul.
Before death, life is God's Promise.
After death, life is God's inner Assurance.
This Assurance of God's we notice while we fulfil God in our future incarnation.

Excerpt From: The Vedas, The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita

By Sri Chinmoy

I was Dead by Rumi

I Was Dead

i was dead
i came alive
i was tears
i became laughter

all because of love
when it arrived
my temporal life
from then on
changed to eternal

love said to me
you are not
crazy enough
you don't
fit this house

i went and
became crazy
crazy enough
to be in chains

love said
you are not
intoxicated enough
you don't
fit the group

i went and
got drunk
drunk enough
to overflow
with light-headedness

love said
you are still
too clever
filled with
imagination and skepticism

i went and
became gullible
and in fright
pulled away
from it all

love said
you are a candle
attracting everyone
gathering every one
around you

i am no more
a candle spreading light
i gather no more crowds
and like smoke
i am all scattered now

love said
you are a teacher
you are a head
and for everyone
you are a leader

i am no more
not a teacher
not a leader
just a servant
to your wishes

love said
you already have
your own wings
i will not give you
more feathers

and then my heart
pulled itself apart
and filled to the brim
with a new light
overflowed with fresh life

now even the heavens
are thankful that
because of love
i have become
the giver of light

by Rumi

Ghazal number 1393, translated by Nader Khalili

Emily Dickinson

Because I Could Not Stop For Death

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

Emily Dickinson

On Death by Khalil Gibran

On Death

Then Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

- Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Zineb Laouedj A great Poet

Algerian feminist scholar Zineb Laouedj emphasises the cultural dimensions of the current crisis - which she sees as the inevitable result of the FLN policies which made technology and industry a priority over cultural development, and marginalised much of the population. These policies, says Laouedj, left a cultural "black hole", which the FIS stepped in to fill.

But Laouedj's weapon of choice is language.

Through her poems Laouedj suggests that the strength of the Algerian spirit is greater than the current crisis. It is partly through the voices of Algeria's writers, exiled, abandoned, but not yet mute, that this spirit will be nourished. (written by Hadani Ditmars)

Le Palmier

Mon coeur est terrifié,
telle une mer étrange
enlace ses vagues.
Mon coeur est terrifié,
telle une mer
essuie la saveur salée
de ses larmes.
Mon coeur est terrifié,
tel un poisson égaré en mer
dans l'attente d'une larme
tombant du ciel,
goutte d'eau,
legs d'un nuage vierge,
fuyant le feu,
la cendre est une tempete,
qui aveugle meme les enfants,
époque que n'a citée aucun écrit,
et qui n'a gravé aucun front
des temps passés.
Nuage, blanc coton
ou brillant comme neige.
Telle une mariée fuyant
sa nuit de noce,
en quete d'un ciel
qui conserve encore
l'odeur de ses couleurs.

Zineb Laouedj

Des images qui se réinventent constamment et des mots qui vibrent à l'écoute de ce mal si profond dont seul le poète peut aller au-delà du visible et faire de l'ordinaire un atout poétique.


Rhetoric studied how to put together arguments that would logically support the speaker's point or purpose.

Aristotle divided these arguments into propositions of fact, value, and policy.

Factual arguments dealt with what was, or was not, the case. These arguments took place in a court of law.

Arguments over value focused on whether something was good or bad, ethical or unethical.

Policy arguments addressed what should, or should not, be done to solve a given problem.

Arguments mean to make clear. To persuade the audience, speakers use appeals to emotions called pathos; appeals to reason using logos, or logic; and appeals to source credibility, or ethos.

Credibility is broken into three factors. Probity is the speaker's appeal based on his or her perceived integrity or honesty. Sagacity is the audience's perception of the speaker's knowledge or wisdom. Goodwill is the perception that the speaker sincerely cares about the needs of the audience and the topic presented.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Breaking the Cycle of poverty

I have spent a wonderful Sunday with my friends. Around our frugal dinner, we started talking about poverty and how we can break the cycle of poverty.

Amwa was the first one to talk. She complained about the problem of education. According to her, it is the problem number one!
It is true that only 14 percent of Niger's people are functionally literate. Amwa is persuaded that without good schooling, it will be extremely difficult for her country to break the cycle of poverty.

Anya thinks that poverty is definitely linked to the lack of water. It is true that only 46 percent of Nigériens have access to clean potable water. And just 12 percent of the people have adequate sanitation.

Sanedje thinks that we need to purge the government of corruption. While the mining of uranium and other minerals has brought some economic development to the country, she thinks that the government is not doing enough.

A suivre...

Amazing Women who cannot break the cyle of poverty

In most African countries, women are a neglected and ignored economic force.

On the contrary, women are the main economic force in Africa!

In Niger, which the United Nations classifies as the world's least developed country, starving families are eating flour mixed wild leaves and boiled plants.

Many women work hard in Niger but most of them do not have a chance to get educated. Therefore, they get married very young and they have more children than they can feed. Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, has the highest birth-rate in the world, greatly contributing to the country's chronic food problems.

Consequently, women are poorly educated in the region with famine.

Once again Niger is facing a food crisis. How can we stop this catastrophe? Why has Niger again been let down while a famine is hitting the country?

Friday, 9 July 2010

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Speak With Conviction" Taylor Mali (Def Poetry)

Taylor Mali - "What Teachers Make"

Question Authority

Taylor Mali’s Poem Totally like whatever, you know?

In case you hadn’t noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you’re talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you’re saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)’s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences – so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not -
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don’t think I’m uncool just because I’ve noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It’s like what I’ve heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I’m just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we’ve just gotten to the point where it’s just, like . . .

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we’ve become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

Talking with Authority

It is Not Enough to Question Authority – You Must Speak With it!

Taylor Mali has written a poem wondering about what is happening to speech. He dissects an interesting tone in the linguistic patterns of today's young people.

Students! You have come to this world with the power to reason and communicate. Each one of you has the ability to think critically about whether you agree or disagree with ideas, and can have logical reasons for agreeing or disagreeing about ideas. So Speak with authority and do not be afraid of questioning authority.

Don't become like those people in Plato's allegory! Media, modern mass media which surround your lives are using language to create a shadow world of unreality. They use words to manipulate, to deceive, or to win an argument in a self-serving way.

Do not let them do that.

Neil Postman, quotes Bertrand Russell, saying
"That the purpose of education was to teach each of us to defend ourselves against the seductions of eloquence. In the realm of the world, we learn the specific techniques used to resist these seductions: logic, rhetoric, and literary criticism."

Slick media packaging, news, and political discourse has "altered and trivialized perceptions of serious topics."

They become Plato's shadows, containing only fragments of truth.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Once by the Pacific

Once by the Pacific

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the Light was spoken.

by Robert Frost

Put out the Light” is a famous line from the Shakespeare play “Othello.” Othello speaks these lines just before he kills his wife whom he feels (inaccurately) has betrayed him. He believes that only by killing her can her Innocence” be restored.

How might this relate to the poem?