Archive for the 'Taken from others' Category

Sights I’d like to see

For every place I have visited, there are plenty that would still be amazing to visit some time in the future. You know, when I’ve saved up enough money to go globe trotting. After all, it’s nice to break the usual routine of waking up, working, playing on Partypoker, updating my blog and sleeping. Some of the sights I’d love to see are:

The Northern Lights – The northern lights are one of those sights that most people in the world will never get to see, which is sad. From the pictures, you can tell it would be an experience worth having, to have those bright colours dancing across the sky above you.

The Eiffel Tower – To climb the Eiffel Tower at night, and get to see the view of Paris below would be amazing. Sure it’s a long way up, but it’d be so worth it. And even if you are afraid of heights, you can just stand by it and look up in awe.

Statue of Liberty – New York in general is a dream destination. To see the Statue of Liberty in person though, would be unforgettable. It’s supposed to be the ultimate symbol of the American Dream, but even if my other dreams don’t come true, I’d get to cross that one off at least.

The Great Wall of China – One of the ancient wonders of the world is a tourist trap admittedly, but to actually walk along a structure that is so historic would be worth the long trip to China.

Stone Henge – Believed to have been created during the Stone Age, to this day no one knows what Stone Henge was for. Perhaps it was just decorative, or a building site. Whatever the reason for its existence, for it to still be standing is a miracle in itself. It would be great to see during the English summer.

How to see and address the world issues (by Bill Gates)

“…We don’t read much about the preventable deaths. The media covers what’s new – and millions of people dying is nothing new. So it stays in the background, where it’s easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the problem. It’s hard to look at suffering if the situation is so complex that we don’t know how to help. And so we look away.

Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have — whether it’s something sophisticated, like a drug, or something simpler, like a bednet.

The AIDS epidemic offers an example. The broad goal, of course, is to end the disease. The highest-leverage approach is prevention. The ideal technology would be a vaccine that gives lifetime immunity with a single dose. So governments, drug companies, and foundations fund vaccine research. But their work is likely to take more than a decade, so in the meantime, we have to work with what we have in hand – and the best prevention approach we have now is getting people to avoid risky behavior. …”

by Bill Gates, speach to Harward graduates in June 2007

God is in the rain, not the thunder

Plenty of people shout that God talks to them and tells them how to vote. But Leonard Pitts Jr. introduces a man who heard God whispering _ about how to live.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

It has become axiomatic that just about anyone who invokes God in public these days is seeking to hijack either your pocket or your politics.

We have created God in our own image, endowed him with our characteristics. Small wonder that when people come before us claiming to speak with his voice, what we hear usually speaks only of human frailties and fears. God wants a yes vote on Proposition A! God wants you to send $100 to Rev. Jim! God wants you to elect a new school board!

They say they speak with the voice of God, but they don’t. This isn’t the voice that whispers when raindrops fall. Rather, it’s a thunder of insecurity, a roar of self-righteousness, a clamoring racket of religious and political hacks all claiming a hotline to heaven.

I guess that’s why Chris Carrier’s story resonates. I guess it’s why I’m struggling to conceive what seems inconceivable.

You see, Carrier, of Coral Gables, Fla., was abducted in 1974, when he was 10. His captor burned him with cigarettes, punctured his skin with an ice pick, shot him in the head and left him to die in the Everglades. The boy survived, though he lost sight in one eye. No one was ever arrested.

Then, recently, a man confessed to the crime and Carrier went to see him. He found David McAllister, a 77-year-old ex-con, frail, blind and living in a North Miami Beach nursing home that reeks of excrement. And Carrier befriended him. Began dropping by every day to visit, read to him from the Bible and pray with him.

No arrest is forthcoming; the statute of limitations on the crime is long past. Carrier says that’s fine with him. “When I look at him,” he told a reporter, “I don’t stare at my abductor and potential murderer. I stare at a man, very old, very alone and scared.”

First thought: Is Carrier crazy? Maybe. But if so, it’s a good crazy. Or at least, a crazy that gives pause.

The man is serious about God. I don’t say that because he has a master’s degree in divinity and until recently was the director of youth ministries at his church. Nor because by the time you read this, he will have moved to Texas, where he and his wife and two daughters plan to open a Christian bookstore.

I say it because he bowed alongside a man who tried to kill him.

I know I couldn’t do it. The same probably goes for any number of TV preachers and pious politicians. We lack the humility, I think. We haven’t the guts or the conviction.

Yet at the same time, those same sellers of sanctimony fill our political and social arenas, preying like hawks upon troubled minds that just want to reach a state of grace.

It’s worth noting that Chris Carrier didn’t stump for money, a vote, or “family values.” Instead he tried against all logic to redeem one weak and dirty little scrap of man. His deed reminds me of something I heard once in a gospel song: “Maybe God is trying to tell you something”.

It’s a quaint notion, I’ll grant you. Does anyone still believe the deity speaks in a voice that fills the stillnesses? Isn’t that just a conceit we wished up one day out of loneliness, a way of avoiding the idea that we might be unaccompanied in the universe?

I don’t offer an answer, only an observation: believing gets hard sometimes. Because we have created God in our own image, and it’s not a pretty sight.

So I’m glad Carrier did this crazy deed. It strikes me as an affirmation of things I’d like to believe. That the highest work of a lifetime is to become a truly human being. That courage sometimes disguises itself in unconventional forms. And that divinity often speaks not in the crash of thunder, but in the soft murmur of rain.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald

Sunday, September 29, 1996