Opinion and commentary on politics, the economy, social and personal issues
One man, too inebriated to drive, was walking home along railroad tracks
when his foot suddenly became stuck. He pulled and tugged, but could not
free it from the tracks.
Then he heard a noise and turned around to see an oncoming train. In a
panic, he prayed. "Dear God, please get my foot out of these tracks and
I'll stop drinking."
With the speeding train closer, he tried again. "Oh, Lord, get my foot out
of these tracks and I'll stop drinking AND I'll quit cheating on my wife!"
Still nothing, and now the train was just seconds away.
He tried one last time. "Lord, if you get my foot out of the tracks, I'll
quit drinking, cheating, AND ... I'll become a minister!"
Suddenly his foot shot out of the tracks and he dove out of the way of the
passing train. Dusting himself off, he looked toward Heaven and said,
"Never mind, Lord, I got it out myself."
Does that kind of prayer sound familiar? How often are prayers, even when
one is not in a state of emergency, concerned only about physical needs --
health and safety?
Mahatma Gandhi claimed to have never made even a minor decision without
prayer. Gandhi was known best as an Indian nationalist and spiritual
leader, but he was also a man of rare courage. He developed the practice of
nonviolent disobedience that eventually forced Great Britain to grant
He spoke often about spirituality and prayer. He told about traveling to
South Africa to oppose a law there directed expressly against Indians. His
ship was met by a hostile mob and he was advised to stay on board. They had
come, he was told, with the express intention of lynching him. Gandhi said
of the incident: "I went ashore nevertheless. I was stoned and kicked and
beaten a good deal; but I had not prayed for safety, but for the courage to
face the mob, and that courage came and did not fail me."
Gandhi preferred courage over safety. If accomplishing his goals put him in
the way of danger, then he wanted to face that danger bravely. His prayer
was to receive enough courage to do what needed to be done, not to live his
life free from harm.
Rabbi Harold Kushner speaks about such prayer. He reminds us that "people
who pray for courage, for strength to bear the unbearable, for the grace to
remember what they have left instead of what they have lost, very often
find their prayers answered. Their prayers helped them tap hidden reserves
of faith and courage that were not available to them before."
Like you, I know what it is to be afraid. I'm afraid of accidental injury,
dismemberment or death. I've been afraid of a pending medical diagnosis.
There must be a million different faces to the fears of life.
I'm tempted at these times to hope for, and pray for, a way to avoid the
danger ahead. I want to be safe, secure and healthy. But none of us is
always safe, secure or healthy. So, I, too, have come to see that the
better prayer is for courage to face whatever life may bring. And in some
place deep inside me, I am not only convinced that the courage will come
and not fail me, but that it will be enough. Always enough.
-- Steve Goodier
Find Steve Goodier here: http://stevegoodier.blogspot.com/.
There is a wonderful urban legend circulating about a man who is
trying to land a job as an assistant professor in a university. His
application was rejected and he writes the following response:
*"Herbert A. Millington
Chair - Search Committee
412 A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109*
Dear Professor Millington,*
Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful
consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept
your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an
unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied
and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to
accept all refusals.*
Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous
experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection
does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the
position of assistant professor in your department this August. I
look forward to seeing you then.*
Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.*
Chris L. Jensen"*
If it is true that you can tell how big someone is by what it takes
to discourage that person, then this is a man who must be massive. I
might say the same thing about a boy who, in real life, was not so
big. But he was difficult to discourage and so he showed himself to
be a giant on the inside.
Some 40 years ago, when he was only 11 years old, Morgan Rowe lost
his left arm and much of the use of his right arm. It happened when
he fell off a tractor at his father's fence company in Valdosta,
Georgia, and was dragged beneath the machine. Morgan's left arm was
destroyed and his right, mangled.
Young Morgan was released from the hospital after three-and-a-half
months. The first thing he set out to do was to help pay the
bills -- $30,000 worth. That was a lot of money back then as it is
now. For a boy of 11 to accomplish such a task, the situation seemed
For five years Morgan scoured roadsides picking up cans and bottles.
He collected thousands of cans and collected and sold newspapers. He
never gave up hope. First, he paid off the $455 ambulance bill. Then
he put $2,500 down on the hospital bill.
He was still a long way off though his parents raised another $9,000
toward the debt.
People began to hear about the injured boy and eventually some 2,000
donations poured in, totaling $25,000. The bill was paid in full!
Morgan set aside the additional money for future education.
What then? Though the bill was paid up, Morgan kept his projects
going to collect money for the hospital so he could help others.
Someone forgot to tell the boy he was too injured for that kind of
work. Someone forgot to tell him that the situation was hopeless.
Somehow young Morgan didn't realize that an 11-year-old boy could
never pay off a hospital bill so large.
Church reformer Martin Luther once said, "Everything that is done in
the world is done by the hopeful." And entertainer Dinah Shore
observed, "There are no hopeless situations - only people who are
hopeless about them." Morgan Rowe should know.
I will not always be young and strong. My life circumstances can
change in an instant. My health may leave me and I may lose people
who are important in my life. But there are no hopeless situations.
So I won't easily turn loose of my hopeful outlook, even when things
seem bleak. Without hope, I'm lost. But with it, I suspect that any
situation can be creatively redeemed.
-- Steve Goodier
Find Steve Goodier here: http://stevegoodier.blogspot.com/.
Newsletter: http://LifeSupportSystem.com <http://lifesupportsystem.com/>
by Project Diaspora on Sunday, 11 March 2012 at 20:15 ·
I have had roughly 24 hours to gather my thoughts about the latest fund-raising stunt undertaken by the long-in-the-tooth Invisible Children (IC) organization. In that time, I have had an opportunity to think and ruminate over exactly what to say, what the right order of the words should be coming out of my soul to address yet another travesty in shepherd’s clothing befalling my country and my continent.
Usually I would fly off the handle and let passion fly, but I have grown a little since thisand this and this. Addressing the complexity that is Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)’s reign of terror in northern Uganda; what with the sheer volume of victims, the survivors, the horrific examples of humanity at its worst, and the lingering ghosts of family members behind the survivors’ eyes begs a momentary pause, if but to respect the gravity of it all. I do that. I pause. I reflect and I toil with the thought that something is not right in the world that IC is still grasping at relevancy all these years after their “night walkers” campaign.
There is no easy way of saying what I feel right now, except a deep hurt and gnawing urgency to bang my head against my desk as a prescriptive to make the dumb-assery stop. Sure, Joseph Kony and his counterpart of yesteryear, Idi Amin, have largely been responsible for the single story of Uganda. I have a hard time shaking it from the lips of strangers I meet. That’s all they know or seem to want to listen to.
They dismissively glaze over my breathless exultations of the great promise in our youth, our technology, our agriculture, and our women. It is a slap in the face to so many of us who want to rise from the ashes of our tumultuous past and the noose of benevolent, paternalistic, aid-driven development memes. We, Africans, are sandwiched between our historically factual imperfections and well-intentioned, road-to-hell-building-do-gooders. It is a suffocating state of existence. To be properly heard, we must ride the coattails of self-righteous idiocy train. Even then, we have to fight for our voices to be respected.
The latest IC fund-raising cum “awareness-raising” is an insult to my identity and my intellectual capacity to reasonably defend its existence as beneficial to any Ugandan. The video project is so devoid of nuance, utility and respect for agency that it is appallingly hard to contextualize. I won’t even try. Katrin Skaya said all that could have been said, “rarely seen something this stunningly, insidiously, clever crazy. Amazing case study.”
Indeed it is. But not for the reasons you would think. This IC campaign is a perfect example of how fund-sucking NGO’s survive. “Raising awareness” (as vapid an exercise as it is) on the level that IC does, costs money. Loads and loads of money. Someone has to pay for the executive staff, fancy offices, and well, that 30-minute grand-savior, self-crowning exercise in ego stroking—in HD—wasn’t free. In all this kerfuffle, I am afraid everyone is missing the true aim of IC’s brilliant marketing strategy. They are not selling justice, democracy, or restoration of anyone’s dignity. This is a self-aware machine that must continually find a reason to be relevant. They are, in actuality, selling themselves as the issue, as the subject, as the panacea for everything that ails me as the agency-devoid African. All I have to do is show up in my broken English, look pathetic and wanting. You, my dear social media savvy click-activist, will shed a tear, exhaust Facebook’s like button, mobilize your cadre of equally ill-uninformed netizens to throw money at the problem.
Cause, you know, that works so well in the first world.
I would love nothing more than to be telling you the small victories we experience working with the very scarred survivors of Kony’s atrocities. The Women of Kireka are the most resilient group of individuals that I know. Spend a day with them and you will wonder how they manage to so calmly describe to you watching their entire families burned alive, their husbands and children hacked to death, in front of them. They do it so calmly, methodically, with such articulate prose that it leaves your soul victimized for it’s privilege. Yet they don’t pause from rolling a perfectly crafted paper bead for a beautiful necklace. They don’t waste their time lamenting the lack of justice for the fallen or the abducted. Why? Because it doesn’t bring back the dead, it doesn’t dissolve the horrific images of their huts burning, or ease the scars borne of running scared into the night.
Instead, they want work and respect and business to be able to make decisions that move their lives along. They want desperately to forget and rebuild anew; thankful for their lives. They want radios and cell phones and grasp at any semblance of normalcy. They cuddle and nurse their newborns like delicate, cherished gifts. What they don’t talk about is justice. They talk about how to forgive and move on.
But I can’t tell you their story. Why? Someone else has taken over their part in this complex saga, simplified it, branded it, packaged it and is reselling it as an Action Kit. For as little as $30 and up to $500, you get your very own pimplicious t-shirt (that was made somewhere other than Uganda or Africa) and various assortments of SWEDOW you won’t care about in a month. But hey! At least you did something!
The academics have weighed in on this debate here, and here, and here and will continue to do elsewhere in the coming days. The click-activists, denied context and nuance, have spewed their ignorance all over the comments section in self-righteous indignation for all the world to see. They have whipped out their wallets and bought their very own Super Hero activist action kits. They have bombarded their friend’s Facebook wall with ignominious updates.
“You must watch this! I already ordered my action kit!”
If we all start from the premise that Kony’s actions over the last 25 years in East and Central Africa are atrocious and he should be stopped, we would be cut of the same moral cloth. Evil is something that is easy to point out from afar. But if we conclude that any one individual/organization/group has the right to hijack the voice of so many in the name of good, then I have a common sense pill to sell you.
Let me be honest. Africa is not short of problems, epidemics and atrocities. But it is also true that it is not short of miracles, ingenuity, and a proclivity to surprise. We as Africans, especially the Diaspora, are waking to the idea that our agency has been hijacked for far too long by well-meaning Western do-gooders with a guilty conscious, sold on the idea that Africa’s ills are their responsibility. This particular affliction is called “white man’s burden” in some circles. Please don’t buy into this. Africa’s problems are our own. I asserted as much almost 5 years ago when I started Project Diaspora.
I am coherent enough to realize when someone is trying to genuinely do good. At the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. There is something wrong with assuming that the people who you are trying to help 1) need help, 2) want your help, or 3) can’t help themselves. IC and this video assumes all the above. Before anyone says ‘why haven’t you done anything to stop Kony?’, may I point out that it took the world’s most sophisticated army over a decade and billions of dollars to catch Osama bin Laden. Kony has been on the run for 25+ years. On a continent 3 times the size of America. Catching & stopping him is not a priority of immediate concern. You know what is? Finding a bed net so that millions of kids don’t die every day from malaria. How many of you know that more Ugandans died in road accidents last year (2838) than have died in the past 3 years from LRA attacks in whole of central Africa(2400)? We’ve picked our battles and we chose to simply try to live. And the world should be helping us live on our own terms, by respecting our agency to choose which battles to put capacity towards.
I’ve never heard of Germans running NGOs in [the United States of] America to try and fix the economy or Swedish NGOs in America trying to fix the declining standard of living. Africa is our problem, we hereby respectfully request you let us handle our own matters. We will make mistakes here and there, sure. That is expected. But the trade-off of writing our own destiny far outweighs the self-assigned guilt the world assigned to us. If you really want to help, keep the guilt and charity in your backyard. Bring instead, respect, and the humility to let us determine our destiny.
Mitt Romney is in second among Republicans, but makes it the tightest general election race
between October 10 and 17, 2011 by Harris Interactive.These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,463 adults surveyed online
NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The debates continue and the calendar is quickly moving towards January when the first voting of the 2012 primary will take place. Each month, the story line seems to take a new shift and this month is no exception. Among Republicans, one in five (20%) would vote for Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain in the GOP primary while 18% would vote for formerMassachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and 11% would vote for Texas Governor Rick Perry. Other candidates are all under 10% including Newt Gingrich (7%), Michele Bachman (4%), Ron Paul (4%), Jon Huntsman (1%), and Rick Santorum (1%). One-third of Republicans (32%), however, are still not at all sure who they would vote for in the Republican primary.
Among Independents, 17% would vote for Herman Cain, 16% for Mitt Romney and 13% for Ron Paulwith 5% voting for Rick Perry. Two in five Independents (40%) are not at all sure who they would vote for in the primary. Herman Cain jumps out to a larger lead among Conservatives, with one-quarter (26%) saying they would vote for the businessman; 14% would vote for Mitt Romney and 10% for Rick Perry. Over one-quarter of Tea Party supporters (27%) would vote for Herman Cain in the Republican primary, 17% would vote for Mitt Romney and 11% would vote for Rick Perry.
Head to head match-ups
Looking at some specific candidates versus President Obama, Mitt Romney is the closest competitor. If the presidential election were held today, 41% of Americans would vote for President Obama, 40% would vote for Mitt Romney and 18% are not at all sure. Looking at the probable swing states for 2012, 42% of people from those states would vote for Mitt Romney and 39% would vote for President Obama while 19% are not at all sure.
If Ron Paul is the eventual Republican nominee, 41% of Americans would vote for President Obama and 36% would vote for Ron Raul with one-quarter (23%) not at all sure. Among the swing states for next year it's a tie with 38% voting for President Obama and 38% voting for Ron Paul, with 23% not at all sure.
Between Rick Perry and President Obama, 45% of U.S. adults would vote for the President while 36% would vote for the Texas Governor and one in five Americans (19%) say they are not at all sure. Among Independents, more than two in five (43%) would vote for President Obama and 35% would vote for Rick Perry.
Herman Cain has made a push to the top among the Republican nominees, but in a head to head match-up, 43% of Americans would vote for President Obama and 35% would vote for Herman Cain with 22% saying they are not at all sure. Among the 2012 swing states, two in five (40%) would vote for the President while 36% would vote for Herman Cain.
For most people the months of November and December will be spent getting ready for the holidays and enjoying time with family. Not so for the Republican candidates who have a date with the Iowa caucus in very early January and a still to be determined date with the New Hampshire primary shortly thereafter. These are the weeks that will set the stage for the first contests and determine who moves on to Super Tuesday in March. Possibly by then, the general election field will be set.
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 10 and 17, 2011among 2,463 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.
The Harris Poll ® #111, October 21, 2011
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
SOURCE Harris Interactive