Sunday, November 30, 2014

" Know Your Rights "

"All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned or tortured . . . . We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide, but also on the definition of these rights . . . for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity, and they have an equal right to achieve that."    Tenzin Gyatso - 14th Dalai Lama

         Imagine for a moment. If someone came up to you on the street asking for your definition of  "human rights", how would you respond? We may think we know when our rights have been violated but what rights are protected by law? It appears to be a deceptively easy question. What exactly are our "human rights"? Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, language, or other status. Human rights include political  and civil rights, the right to life, liberty and the freedom of expression. Human rights include social, economic and cultural rights. The right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to education and the right to work are all included in the definition  of human rights. Human rights are protected and upheld by national and international laws and treaties.

  The universality of human dignity is the cornerstone of international human rights law. At first emphasized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, the principal of universal human rights has been restated in a number of international human rights resolutions conventions, and declarations.  For example, The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, reiterated that it is the duty of States(countries) to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems. But how do we make these statements a reality for billions of men, women and children  worldwide who continue to suffer horrible atrocities each day? How do we turn words into reality? It is imperative that we understand our human rights in order to protect ourselves and protect the rights of human beings all around the globe. 

     December 10th has been designated Human Rights Day commemorating the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clarifies 30 basic human rights:  

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 3.

    • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person

 Please continue Articles  4-30  here:

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Watching the clouds float across the sky."

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."--John Lubbock

     "Listening is a skill we are in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload." writes Seth S. Horowitz, PhD. a neuroscientist whose work in comparative and human hearing, balance and sleep research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and NASA. We need solitude.
     In a world of wonderful high tech advances and instant communication, no one appears to be effectively hearing or listening to each other at all. Have we forgotten how to listen? Effective listening requires attention. Listening requires our focus on the speaker. When we are incapable of focusing our attention on one task our minds turn to our self-to me, me, me- again. We are only listening to the mental dialogue in our heads. "What should I make for dinner?" "I hope traffic's not bad on the way home." "Is there a good movie on television tonight?" "Did I check my email this afternoon?" Our inner chatter is endless and prevents us from placing our full attention on the person speaking. Our thoughts are like clouds. Imagine each thought cloud that appears in your mind while you are having a conversation. Learn to recognize and acknowledge your thought clouds, let them float past and shift your attention back to the speaker.
    Solitude not only allows us a brief respite from the noise and demands of daily existence, it allows us the opportunity to focus our attention on listening to our inner voice. One thing constant stimulation and multi-tasking is taking away from the current generation is the ability to focus. Being present is an important component of focus. How many times have we taken a cell phone photo of an event we are supposed to be enjoying in the moment? Are we listening to our friends excited comments about a concert or just typing highlights of a conversation on social media? Or as psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck stated,  
   "You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time." 
 When we practice our ability to concentrate on any task, we develop the ability to focus on hearing what others are saying. Solitude allows us to begin with listening to ourselves.

Monday, November 24, 2014

"We have a choice."

“We must never forget that it is through our actions, words, and thoughts that we have a choice.” ~Sogyal Rinpoche 

Rain, hail, snow and ice:
All are different,
But when they fall
They become the same water
As the valley stream

- Ikkyu

Friday, November 21, 2014

"To the waters and the wild."

"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."
W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poems

   Unleash the ravenous movie lover inside by devouring a feast of delightful December dishes. 

Opening December 12th, critically acclaimed director Ridley Scott's epic Exodus:Gods and Kings features the incredible Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton and Aaron Paul. The sweeping biblical adventure retelling the story of Moses freeing Egyptian slaves will satisfy any visual effects appetite. 

     Opening December 17th, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Inspired by the brilliant mind of J.R.R. Tolkien, renowned director Peter Jackson brings us the final installment of the thrilling drama fantasy based on the Hobbit. The highly anticipated film finds us on the edge of our seats as the fate of Middle Earth is determined once and for all. The impeccable cast features screen legend Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Oscar winner, Cate Blanchette.

     Top off your holiday festivities with the scrumptious classic escapades of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel reassembled by director Rob Marshall. The legendary Meryl Streep (see video feature above) plays a mischievous witch who conjures up twisted tales for Into the Woods. Teaching important life lessons to characters of popular children's books makes for enthralling and enlightening entertainment especially with an all star cast featuring Chris Pine, Emily Blunt and the seemingly ageless, Johnny Depp. Produced in part by Lucamar Productions, Marc Platt Productions and Walt Disney Studios, the PG rated film debuts in theaters  December 25th.

      A few more films to add to your December movie wish list:

Top Five featuring comedians Chris Rock & Kevin Hart opens on the 12th

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with Ben Stiller and Robin Williams
Annie  opening the 19th

The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco
Unbroken  directed by Angelina Jolie opens December 25th

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Listening is love."

"Listening  to someone closely is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to another human being."-David Isay, founder of StoryCorps

     TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design ) began as high impact conferences quickly transforming into an innovative nonprofit devoting the past 30 years to education, imagination and inspiration.  TED's mission: to simply spread ideas. With 18 minute video presentations in over 100 languages, no topic is off limits. Each year TED awards a one-million dollar prize to a person or organization that exemplifies a visionary view of our ever evolving world. The incentive is used to further support the global impact of their project wish.

      The 2015 TED PRIZE was awarded to David Isay as founder of StoryCorps.  Since its inception  ten years ago, StoryCorps creative force, Isay understood the great historical significance of sharing his own fathers unique journey.  StoryCorps has flourished into a passionate record of  seemingly ordinary people relating incredible narratives. Featured stories, pod casts, books, dvd's and animated shorts are available on their website. Discover how you and your loved ones can share your story here.  /

Friday, November 14, 2014

"An echo asking a shadow to dance."

"Lovers find secret places inside this violent world
  where they make transactions with beauty." -Rumi

          Xu Lizhi  submitted job applications to the Central Book Mall in Shenzhen,, a city in China's Guangdong Province. His love of literature lead him to dream of one day being a librarian. Unfortunately, he wasn't qualified for the position. He was also turned down for an assignment as librarian at Foxconn's internal library for employees. Despite his disappointment he continued to work for Foxconn, the company synonymous with a tragic mass of employee suicides between January and November of 2010. The deaths immediately drew media attention due to the number of contracts with American manufacturers such as Apple, HP and Dell. Following investigations by twenty Chinese universities it was determined that Foxconn was essentially a labor camp. Shortly after the studies, Foxconn increased  factory employee wages, asked  employees to sign "suicide pledges" and even installed special netting outside the building to catch free falling workers jumping to their deaths. Workers were forced to sign a legally binding document stating their families wouldn't sue the company if the employee self- injured or committed suicide. Xu Lizhi, an avid writer of essays, commentaries and poetry endured the soul numbing factory drudgery as long as he could. Hoping to sustain his desire to be creative, in his brief two-year tenure as a production line worker at Foxconn, Xu published more than 30 articles for their in-house magazine Foxconn People.
     On the 30 th of September 2014, at the age of twenty-four he took his own life. Following his death, his friends submitted his poetry to a Shenzhen newspaper. His poems have recently surfaced in newspapers worldwide as well as in online articles garnering much deserved praise for their vivid depiction of the spirit crushing, meaningless labor mercilessly imposed upon workers trying to survive.

     Poet E.E. Cummings once penned, "Unbeing dead isn't being alive." Where were the psychologists, counselors and health care advocates at Foxconn? Who was standing up for the workers?  Human beings were not meant to perform as emotionless, unthinking, unfeeling machines. There are billions of people in the world who are forced into labor or slave camp conditions due to one thing and one thing only- greed. Do the multi-million dollar corporations who so callously profit from slowly stealing a workers humanity have one ounce of empathy? We need to question. We need to find answers.We need to speak out for those who may be too afraid to speak or for those who can only speak to us with the words they leave behind.

 Below is a poem written December 2011, by Xu Lizhi,  "The Last Graveyard"

Even the machine is nodding off
Sealed workshops store diseased iron
Wages concealed behind curtains
Like the love that young workers bury at the bottom of their hearts
With no time for expression, emotion crumbles into dust
They have stomachs forged of iron
Full of thick acid, sulfuric and nitric
Industry captures their tears before they have the chance to fall
Time flows by, their heads lost in fog
Output weighs down their age, pain works overtime day and night
In their lives, dizziness before their time is latent
The jig forces the skin to peel
And while it's at it, plates on a layer of aluminum alloy
Some still endure, while others are taken by illness
I am dozing between them, guarding
The last graveyard of our youth.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Not one word."

"clouds very high look
not one word helped them get up there”
― Ikkyu, Crow with No Mouth

REAL  by Lisa More

Each minute cell holds cosmic soul

Our fragile frame of fragmented stars

explodes on dusty brain, DNA debris

a blueprint of the universe

buried deep in the nucleus of being

We carouse distant galaxies

revolve about illusion sun.

Illumined sparks as comets

glaze midnight skies.

Asleep, we are space travelers

with passports to the moon

dreaming reality.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Our gratitude for their sacrifice."

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. “
—Joseph Campbell

       Tuesday, November 11th our country will honor Armed Forces veterans past and present.
 Please take a moment to share your gratitude with those who bravely protected our nations citizens and those who continue to sacrifice on our behalf. 

Three Nonprofit Veterans Organizations You Need to Know.

The War Writer's Campaign is focused on the therapeutic release and benefits of storytelling. Ryan Weemer, a former Marine who earned a Purple Heart during the Battle of Fallujah, helped found the group after earning his degree in psychology and working as an education counselor at IAVA.(Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America)Writing has always been considered a catharsis as it serves as part of a deep healing process. Many veterans with post-traumatic stress and other psychological disorders are able to express their pain for the first time by sharing their stories which will provide a form of advocacy for improved future veterans services.
The mission right now is to promote social change surrounding veterans’ issues through written awareness,” Mr. Weemer said. (New York Other service organizations, government and especially family members are able to truly learn and empathize with the experience of veterans by reading their work. That is the power of therapy through communication
The Mission Continues is a nonprofit organization based in St. Louis, Missouri and founded by author and former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens.The Mission Continues challenges military veterans to begin to serve and lead in their own communities across America by awarding community service fellowships to post 9/11 veterans. Once again they are challenged and empowered to transform their own lives by serving others and directly impacting their communities. Many veterans struggle to find the same purpose at home as they found in the military. Many veterans seek accomplishing a meaningful goal, camaraderie, security and discipline of a structured environment. The Mission Continues does not offer charity rather it challenges returning service members to utilize their hard earned skills and leadership to continue serving our country. Through service, veterans find renewed strength and purpose while building stronger communities. Their mission is fueled by a deeply respected philosophy that our veterans are assets whose leadership is needed now more than ever right here at home.
Launched May 10, 2012, the Got Your 6 campaign demonstrates a measurable impact through their work by bringing together veterans and civilians in America. Got Your is a collective initiative that unites the entertainment industry with veteran-oriented nonprofit organizations and federal government stakeholders.Got Your 6 is starting and changing the conversation in the US to ensure that veterans and military families are perceived as leaders and civic assets returning home to re energize our own communities. The initiative hopes to accomplish these goals through an awareness building campaign, along side an activation strategy focused on six pillars of veteran reintegration: jobs, education, housing, health, family, leadership.Got Your 6 in military terms means that someone is watching out, protecting you from harm. They got your back. They got your 6. Check out even more great information on their website.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"What you see is what you see."

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
― George Bernard Shaw

     Why do we need art? What purpose does it serve? Is it obvious? Is it complicated?
 Is the purpose of art to make us feel something deep inside?  Should we gain insight into our own humanity? Is it is way of connecting to something greater than ourselves?  "What is art for?" is a question that all cultures and nations speculate.  World renowned theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein wrote in his contemplative volume "Living Philosophies", 

 " The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed." 

   Art exists in many forms because it is a primal behavior. We are born to create whether it be music, dance, haiku or inventing the Chia-Pet. We all have artistic instincts. We all have artistic talent. We need art to express who we are. We use art to tell our stories. We need art to heal ourselves and others. Art inspires us to look at the world from a different perspective. It keeps us searching. Art is unrestricted imagination. It is without labels. It allows us to uncover and discover. Art is fearless.

   Not always beautiful, art can be used to express beauty depending on our aesthetic. A gorgeous sunset, the ocean, the swirl of colorful autumn leaves, the curve of a lovers lips-all natures magnificent masterpieces. Art is a voice, a movement, the sound of a lyrical poem.  Art is our eyes wide open.