Category Archives: Good Reads

GE 13: What Could Still Be Done

Most of us would agree there are a lot of things going on almost all at once in the run up to GE13 – I sense mainly enthusiasm and hope on one side and fear and rumour mongering on the other.

What to make of all this? What can I do, given there’s only 4 days to the polls? These are some of the questions running through my head. Well, here’s one way forward, thanks to my friend Make Peace. Very timely and apt for the occasion. Read on!

WHAT COULD STILL BE DONE?

With a few days to go before the nation goes to the polls in what would be the closest, most keenly fought battle between the the ruling party and the opposition ever, one wonders what could still be done to ensure that the whole process of the elections would be carried out in a clean and fair manner.

What could still be done to ensure that the elections truly enables the nation to choose leaders who will truly govern the country with democracy, justice, equality and integrity? . What could still be done to rid this country of all its maladies, namely the malady of corruption, the malady of racism, the malady of injustice, the malady of poverty and marginalization of the poor and the voiceless?

What could still be done despite the biased mainstream media, the maleficence spewed by many of the candidates and personalities linked to the powers that be (perhaps not for long) causing some of the rakyat to fear, to waver, to doubt what they already, obviously and intrinsically know to be the truth and nothing but the truth?

What could still be done to ensure that we are not going to be frustrated for the next five years, that we are not going to be grumbling during our teh-tarik sessions or any where else, about the leaders who continue to amass great fortunes at the expense of the quality of life every Malaysian deserves?

What could still be done by us, true, loyal , peace loving, honourable and good hearted Malaysians?

While the candidates and their respective parties are giving all they can in the run up to the elections, many of us I believe are also contributing in many ways. Some of us have become polling agents, joined groups and NGOs monitoring the authenticity of the whole process, helping out at the various bilik-bilik gerakan, attending ceramahs, writing in news portals and blogs and giving our time and energy in various ways and even our money.

What could still be done?

Some of us may have heard of the concept – “pay it forward”. It’s a philosophy asking the beneficiary of a good deed to repay it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight.

Pay It Forward is also a 2000 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde. It was directed by Mimi Leder and written by Leslie Dixon. It stars Haley Joel Osment as a boy who launches a good-will movement, Helen Hunt as his single mother, and Kevin Spacey as his social-studies teacher.

When eleven and a half year old Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) begins seventh grade in Las Vegas, Nevada, his social studies teacher Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) gives the class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better. Trevor’s plan is a charitable programme based on the networking of good deeds. He calls his plan “Pay It Forward”, which means the recipient of a favour does

a favour for three others rather than paying the favour back. However, it needs to be a major favour that the receivers cannot complete themselves. Trevor does a favour for three people, asking each of them to “pay the favour forward” by doing favours for three other people, and so on, along a branching tree of good deeds.

Based on this same concept, I would like to answer the question…WHAT COULD STILL BE DONE? : The answer: SAY IT FORWARD!

We have been enlightened by the right spirit and right information and right motivation with regard to what we want for our country, not just for ourselves and our loved ones but for all. And we need to pass this to others and this process would be more effective than any web portal, twitter, email, sms, ceramah , press conference….

We need to SAY IT FORWARD. We have been enlightened, and it is imperative that we enlighten others, especially those who may be in the dark through no fault of theirs. So could I suggest that each of us choose to talk to 3 persons (face to face) who we think will benefit from this endeavour explaining to them the importance to come out to vote and to vote for the candidate and party based on all the right reasons. We could help dispel all the fears that have plagued and paralysed many a good Malaysian, with all the facts and figures we can obtain. And most importantly we could share with them our passion and hope for a better and greater Malaysia. And when we have done that, we could convince them to share all that we had articulated with 3 others explaining this simple concept of saying it forward, encouraging and inspiring them to continue this process.

The time is now, we have a few days but much can be achieved, so lets begin this process…I believe it can work.

LET’S SAY IT FORWARD!

 

 

 

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Imaginations (1)

A once in a while thing of all things big and small:

“If only she could manage to remember everything until tomorrow….

‘That’s how it is with children too,’ continued Ariel. ‘They’re the ones who come into the world first. The grown-ups always come limping after. Limping more and more the older they get.’

Cecilia thought that what Ariel was saying was so wise she wanted to write it all down in her Chinese notebook, so as not to forget it. But she didn’t dare do it while the angel was watching. She said, ‘But Adam and Eve were grown up.’

Ariel shook his head.

‘They became grown-up. That was the great mistake. When God created Adam and Eve they were inquisitive little children who climbed trees and played around in the big garden he had just made. There was no point in owning a big garden if there were no children to play in it.’

‘Is that true?’

‘I’ve told you, angels don’t tell lies.’

‘Tell me more, then!’

‘So they were tempted by the serpent to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, and then they began to grow. The more they ate, the more they grew. That’s how they were gradually driven out of their childhood paradise. The little rogues were so hungry for knowledge that, in the end, they ate themselves out of Paradise.’

Cecilia gaped, and Ariel looked down at her with an indulgent look.

‘But of course you’ve heard all this before,’ he said.

She shook her head.

‘I’ve heard that Adam and Eve were driven out of Paradise, but nobody told me that it was from their childhood paradise.’

‘You might have been able to guess some of it yourself. But humans understand only in part. You see everything through a glass, darkly.’

(Through A Glass, Darkly – Jostein Gaarder)

(Google Images, may be subject to copyright)

Merdeka Unplugged (3)

Communication Breakdown.

That was a Led Zepelin hit from their self titled 1969 debut album. It’s also something that crops up every now and then when the topic “relationships” come up. Ouch!

An old (and recently happily re-connected) friend explained how she feels that in the large scheme of things, we seem to have forgotten to talk to one another.  However, I was also reminded there’s also the problem with mere “talking” – when it remains one dimensional;  people love to “talk” but don’t really “communicate”.

Just for the record, “talking” here refers to “communicating”.

We all have our own opinions on just about anything.  But, when problems crop up, we don’t really sit down and talk things through our differences. Instead, we sulk, get hurt, blow things out of proportion, criticize and whack each other, and generally don’t give a hoot to what the OTHER person thinks and feels while believing that we are almost always right.

Tellingly, this malaise happens across all segments of society – it’s very common between husbands and wives(!), parents and children, among siblings and friends; between communities and states, organizations and religious bodies – indeed all along the watchtower and everywhere in between.

Take the Merdeka 2012 (Malaysian Independence Day) celebrations that run from mid August – 16 September for example. I couldn’t have experienced a more tired, cliched, underhanded, overblown and divided national day celebration that happened on that eve and the actual day itself.

On one hand we had the government running its own supposedly inclusive celebrations complete with its theme and song and “invited guests only” at one stadium, while assorted groups of citizens initiated their own versions of commemorating Merdeka day elsewhere. The media, depending on which side of the divide they were on, got out all their usual trumpeting with unrestrained gutso.

Did we miss the forest for the trees? Was there any attempt to dialogue beforehand? If no, why not? If yes, how did all these “varying celebrations” crop up? This was not another political affair. This was supposedly the commemoration of our liberation from the colonial powers. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

On a smaller scale though, there were a few noble souls voicing moderation and respect for one another; there was at least one initiative to “say something nice” this Merdeka. I’d like to think it worked.

Really, “Have we forgotten to talk to one another?”

On a lighter note, a reminder from 1979:

Famous last words:

“When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.” – (Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Dairy Queen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merdeka Unplugged (1)

Random thoughts on the road less traveled to commemorating Merdeka 2012:

Fact: As idiotic it may seem, I didn’t know until today that Merdeka derives from the Sanskrit word Maharddhika meaning “rich, prosperous and powerful”.  One simple expression that conjures up a very potent image.

Reality: Yet, when I look at my country today, if I ignore the propaganda and the half-truths, I ask myself “Are we truly rich, prosperous and powerful?”.  A simple 4 point checklist on some of the most pressing issues:

  • the right to equal opportunity education,
  • the right to own affordable homes,
  • the right to earn a decent wage, taking into account the actual increasingly high cost of living;
  • the right to security;

shows quite the contrary.

Lessons from the Past

Famous Last Words: “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – (William Faulkner, author).

(*Note: All pictures from Google Images and their respective owners)

My Lot

Just joined MyLot – a web community that allows one to customize your internet experience, whether wanting to build new friendships, earn ( true!!) from your contributions, getting engaged in discussions and using the Yahoo search engine to surf for information online!

Something new. Something to chew on!

myLot User Profile

Let there be light!

 

“He who bears light in his heart shall see no darkness in his life”

– from the Tirukkural,  a collection of 1330 rhymingTamil couplets or aphorisms   celebrated by Tamil speaking people.

“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own” – Ben Sweetland, author of many self-help and motivational books who’s probably best remembered for his “Grow Rich While You Sleep” bestseller.

Happy Divali all! May the light you bear continue to shine forth, illuminating lives and paths especially whenever and wherever darkness threatens to overwhelm.

A Meditation at Your Computer

I found this gem at Spirituality & Practice.  I think I’ll look at my keyboard a little differently now!

An excerpt from the author, Philip Toshio Sudo:

“Every time you turn on the computer, take ten deep breaths and consider these Ten Points of Meditation. When you sit down at your machine in the morning, breathe. When your computer crashes and you have to restart, breathe. At every moment, breathe and give thanks for the air. For what is your life but this very breath?”

I like Nos. 4 and 6 best.

Once again, check the meditation out here.

 

Purpose Driven Life


A friend sent in this message via email. I think it’s appropriate especially during this time of Lent, to reflect on these words:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life?

And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body– but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity.

This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness. This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for..

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems: If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her- It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before.. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease..

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit.. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do. That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD. Difficult moments, SEEK GOD. Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. Painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD

The above insights are from Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of a number of best selling books. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, sold over 30 million copies. In January 2009, Rick also (somewhat controversially), led the prayer during Barrack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.

Access Rick’s website here.

Good Reads


Shopping for Christmas gifts? Here are a couple of books which have caught my attention lately:

Book Choice 1: “Evening is the Whole Day” by Preeta Samarsan.

Preeta paints a vivid picture of the complexities of a successful Indian immigrant family in Malaysia. It’s a story of “being educated and wealthy but of low social status” – one that would resonate much with a large section of the local population. Incidentally, the book has catapulted Ipoh born Preeta to the same status as Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai.

Need a review on the book? Read the one by Washington based writer Sadanand Dhumme here.

Want some feedback? Go here to get some very frank discussions on the book and the issues it raises.

Book Choice 2: “Where Monsoons Meet” by Musimgrafik.

Here’s a refreshing take on the history of Malaya from the days of the Malacca Sultanate to independence in 1957. It’s touted as a “People’s History of Malaysia”. The book was conceived at the height of the student activism in the midst 1970’s by a group of people who chose only to be known as “Grassroots.” In a time when we are trying more than ever to define “Malaysian identity”, Where Monsoons Meet tells us that we cannot ignore our historical roots, whoever we are, wherever we come from.

Where Monsoons Meet can be bought at Popular bookstores nationwide or ordered by mail from Kinibooks. Price:RM18.00

The Brick Prophet!

From Michel Quoist and Jeremiah a reminder of the task each one of us has been entrusted with:

“The brick layer laid a brick on the bed of cement.
Then, with a precise stroke of his trowel, spread another layer
And without a by-your-leave, laid on another brick.
The foundations grew visibly,
The building rose, strong and tall, to shelter men.

I thought, Lord, of that poor brick buried in the darkness
at the base of the big building.
No one sees it, but it accomplishes its task,
and the other bricks need it.
Lord, what difference whether I am on the rooftop
or in the foundations of your building,
as long as I stand at the right place?”
(The Brick – Michel Quoist)

Juxtaposed here with The Call of Jeremiah in the Old Testament:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

(Jeremiah 1:4-10, NIV)

I like the last line in Michel Quoist’s prayer: “as long as I stand in the right place”. May we then, all of us, blessed and sent, stand tall and strong in our proper places, in all the circumstances of our lives, living our call, whatever it may be.