The Selfie – we are supposed to transcend it not get stuck there

A Friday night: a thirty-something spinster at home with a DVD, and no desire or energy to move beyond the couch. A tough week gone by, dealing with her ‘past-halfway-to-seventy’ birthday a few days away. Neither contemplation, nor prayer, nor journaling, nor goal-setting or mind-messing (a.k.a. positive thinking) seem to be offering any answers. The seeking process, the being stuck space, the constant feeling of this ‘separation-from-half-of-herself’, the knowing that unconditional love is ‘out there’, is there, but isn’t tangible, only spiritual, is exhausting whilst trying to survive in the tangible, ‘real’, ‘now’ world; this is far from ideal world. Feeling completely exhausted by it all. Who would have thought that the desire to know and figure out and live through the process of transcendence would be so tiring? A constant battle between ‘soul-less’, money-orientated, appearance concerned, insecure individuals and my inner soul’s antithesis thereof. It would seem that the inner battle of conscience and truth versus immorality and zero ethics is as intense as the battles fought on famous battlefields… it’s just that the battle with self to survive in a broken world is not one that is going to end whilst I’m still on this planet… in this life.

I see around me that the ‘physical’ appears so much easier to ‘deal with’ than the ‘spiritual’. Go on a diet, get some exercise, go bed with anyone… from where I’m sitting anyway. So that’s what people focus on, their bodies, maybe their minds too, but seldom their souls. I was introduced to 2 ladies this week and they are convinced that it is all “easy” and all one has to do is wake up in the morning, get out of bed and say: “make it easy”, and poof, magic wand has been waved, and it is easy. Indeed, it must work, because what one tells one’s earthly brain is what one is programming it for, and if I lived in the realm of following my earthly brain, then I too would be able to wake up and make it all about the ‘now’ and ‘easy’ and that would be that. No concerns, no difficulties, just deep breathing and ‘flowing’ through the ‘now’ with ease and grace and no concern for the future as it will be ‘easy’; it has been self-prophesied and created and must be so.

Yet, I have this annoying thing called a ‘soul’, a ‘spirit’, that has a solid concern and dislike for what is going on in the world; which is combined with my chosen belief that friction and challenge mold and grow and mature human beings. The Refiner’s Fire must be lived through. The challenging lessons must be entered into. The truth, the history, the life, must be ‘re-membered’ and efforts must be made to endure, press on, persevere, and find peace at the top of the mountain that should be climbed. Someone, in my opinion, at least one person, needs to be observing, taking themselves into account, watching the growth, seeing the changes, pointing out how it happened, why it happened, what the worth is, with regards to meeting one’s self in the place of wisdom through experience and empathy… Still, my opinion is biased, because I am an observer, I am an ‘out-the-box’ thinker, I am a blogger, I am a writer, a performing artist, a teacher. I need material. I can’t say it’s ‘easy’ and just be in the ‘now’, because then I will have no substance to what I am doing and who I am being. I will be a zombie, going from one moment to the next, without purpose, without observing the whole story or sharing actualities.

Of course, I am my own worst enemy, because of my choice of faith, because of my over-thinking, because of my inability to trust, all thanks to my context and life experiences. I could turn any thought in my mind around to make it do what I like, make it serve me as I like, make the factors support whatever I like and whatever I please. I could place circumstances and factors in a light that ‘works’ for me… but, and here is the rub, what makes me ‘right’? What would make that choice and manipulation of facts to suit myself ‘helpful’? The current reading material in this world that now hosts more dis-ease, hurt, pain, abuse, hate, war, nastiness and the like, than ever before (which I could manipulate in my mind to say – that’s fine, that’s ‘right’, as the population is bigger, so this must be the case, proportionate growth) is all about “ME”, all about the “Selfie”, all about “controlling my thoughts, because I can make the best results, I will sort it out my way”… Really? Fallen, hurt, broken, insecure, vengeful, hating, bitter etc, and ‘I have the answer’, ‘I am right’… How? How can that, in any universe, be a rational and acceptable combination, never mind a direction for an entire society to take? “My way”, “my knowing”, “my truth”, because my mommy loves me… Seriously?

I reckon that I can see one HUGE downfall in this thinking pattern of the 21st century, how can there be 8 billion truths in one space called earth and no conflict? How can there be 8 billion individuals wondering around saying “I am in my now” (“I am taking it easy”, “I am in my space, don’t disturb me”, “I am ok”) and none of those 8 billion bump into each other and create major turmoil? Unless every one of the 8 billion takes their selfish space and sits in their own home, on their own and never encounters another…

Marriage scenario:

“My mother has invited us to dinner; I would really like us to go.”

“No, I’m not going, I don’t like your mother, she doesn’t make my life easy.”

How does that not end up in hating, clashing and a fight? A perpetual turmoil that overflows into everything?

 

Work scenario:

“Please would you assist with this?”

“No, it is not in my job description. I don’t want to, nor do I want to learn to.”

How does that not create frustration, annoyance and bad relations? Never mind limited skills and shortsightedness?

 

Friends scenario:

“My pet passed away, I’m really bleak, please come and help me bury him.”

“No, I don’t do death; it’s not something I want in my space.”

How is that going to build a relationship? How is that going to develop courage and strength of character?

Obviously the scenarios may be real, one may not need an in-law’s negativity, or someone else’s ‘problems’, or to face a fear at a particular time… but to use ‘flow’, and ‘ease’, and ‘me’, as reasons to avoid facing fears, maturing, growing and becoming a better person? It has to result in leaving the earth overloaded with people who have never left childhood being, never left the maturity of a five year old.

‘Adults’ by age; but ‘children’ by brain, will-power, self-control, self-discipline and immaturity. I see this society of selfishness, of arrogance and more brokenness as “me” takes over as one’s ‘god’. My way, my things, my achievements, it was all me… and, through my glasses: ‘it is/was all me’ is completely delusional.

I can write and type because someone taught me, because someone invented writing and technology, because someone else made mistakes before me, because someone else shared their ideas, wrote them down, gave them away, other people worked really really hard to invent things, to build things, to create the infrastructures that I take for granted every day. Other people have to help me with my health, my car, my laptop, growing my groceries, delivering my snail-mail; it is not all about me. It can’t be… yet, I have learners demanding their marks ‘now’, I have ‘adults’ demanding that things be done ‘their way’, I have had major companies completely unconcerned that their products have caused damage to my health, it’s not their problem… they don’t have to sort it out… there are 7999999999 other people in the world, so no ‘one’ person really is that important…

So why are we living in such a contradiction? Selfie – you are important; build your self-esteem – you are loved; have everything ‘easy’ and ‘now’ – you are worth it, you can have it… yet all I have encountered recently as a thirty-something-spinster sitting on her couch watching her DVD, is that I’m not that important in this world. There is no purpose in living for Self. There is no joy in having everything at your fingertips now when there is no-one to share it with… The world is preaching “Self” and creating a very, very lonely world.

I lift up my prayer this morning, that the world, the people who are sucked into ‘self’ will realise that turning to ‘self’ is not the end of the journey. It is the pathway that is supposed to show them how unfulfilling and meaningless ‘self’ is. It is supposed to show the loneliness and isolation of the ‘self’ as ‘god’ in order to get one to step up, out and above that way of thinking and being. Once one realises that ‘self’ is not what should be served; that ‘me, me, me’ is an incredibly lonely place; that fear gets worse when stuck on its own, feeding itself; that the only way to be saved from the isolation of ‘self’ is to be selfless, to serve, to give, to build, to persevere, to take the ‘road less travelled’, sacrifice, compromise, put others above yourself, be kind, be real, be open, be honest, step out of ‘easy’ and into meaningful, step out of ‘comfortable’ and into creating empathy. Leave ‘now’ and see the whole picture. Learn that love of ALL others in ALL circumstances will lead one to be able to peacefully move to maturity, wisdom, emotional intelligence and an intuition that is trained and listened to in order to make living in a broken world an enlightening experience and not just a journey in front of a hand mirror, serving and achieving nothing.

Dreams meet reality, Lady meets disappointment

My dreams were always going on somewhere, unconsciously, “up in the atmosphere, up where the air is clear… come let’s go fly a kite”… based in the wonders of the newly invented Television that arrived in South Africa in about 1975, and I was born in 1980. The speed of technological change in the last 35 years is BEYOND frightening. Especially as it took us 2000 odd years to get to inventing things, then, in a couple of decades, it has spiraled out of control, out of financial sustainability, out of moral and ethical control (this perspective being entirely dependent on the individual’s financial and moral position in life, as we all vary on this).

I have no record of what I dreamt of in my primary school years, other than a few ‘wishes/prayers’ jotted down next to pressed four-leaf clovers. Very simple things, like: ‘be happy’. Get ‘published’. Be ‘healthy’. Be financially stable. It seems that I haven’t quite managed to accomplish even those seemingly ‘simple’ things, which have now entered my awareness as not being so ‘simple’ in a country with a president who makes completely selfish decisions; a world filled with dishonest, money-grubbing people; with sexually consumed individuals who think of little else and even purchase audio visuals of sex because they are so consumed with their sex drives, lack of fulfillment and dissatisfaction; with ‘businessmen’/craftsmen/practitioners who are out to make errors and/or situations worse, so they can make more money; prioritising Television time over family time; pushing responsibility into other people’s courts, so one doesn’t have to be ‘accountable’, one can just pass blame…

In this context, how can my dreams ever be joyfully realised when the background situations are unchanging and things are not as they should be, when people set out to hurt and deprive others on purpose…? I never factored these ‘earthly’ conditions into my mind and Television observations when I was watching Mary Poppins flying with her umbrella…

Although I was very young when real-life reality hit in all its unsettling, perspective altering, life-changing, dream-warping capacities, I was still set into the escapism of Television and reading. Yet, as a pre-teen and then into my teens, I had to rely on the wisdom of those older than me… not knowing or even having the slightest hint of the fact that there may have been very little wisdom applied in actual fact. What was applied was “this is how it was for me, so it will be the same for you”, without the slightest acknowledgement or application of the fact that I was severely different in so many ways to my elders. For example: receiving ‘Mills and Boons’ to read, before I was even of the legal age to practice some of the contents therein, was absurd. Then on the flip side, other elders gave me the likes of Georgette Heyer to read, where the men were all gentlemen and the ladies all damsels, in an era when ladies and gentlemen still lived in full costume and practiced elegant conversation and public etiquette. Either way, the men were portrayed in a similar way: dashing, charming, caring, sexy and desirable. Nowhere was truth ever dealt with, or maybe it was and I never retained that part. No all day golf games with men leaving the club drunk. No men stuck to a sports game on a television set where conversation was virtually illegal. No men working from early hours until late hours. No men with umbilical cords to their cellphones, Ipads, emails and offices. No ‘reality’. Instead I had escaped to stories about gifts of roses, graceful evenings of dancing, card games and musical entertainment, long walks and ‘true love’. In my escape routes, however, there was nothing about the lust, the shag, and the purely physical satisfaction with total fear of anything beyond the surface of bodily function being dealt with. It seems that the eras I read about had no connection to the reality I would have to live with in the near future.

Reading Shakespeare, presented the idea of a love where a man would be articulate with his words, poetical, creating tangible pages to reflect what he felt inside: that she was more lovely and more temperate than a summer’s day; that his love was set in poetry to make it eternal and place it there for all to read. Then the reality hits, no-one can confirm that anything was written by “Shakespeare”. No-one has proof of his handwriting, even his plays were written down post-humusly by the actors who played the roles. Historians don’t even know if it was Shakespeare or another more influential man who came up with them in the first place, nor if Shakespeare was straight or gay, writing for a man or a woman… nothing is known, it is all made up from inference, assumption and calculated guessing…

Then, watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, with their dancing, the ‘singing in the rain’, the moving, the romance; the building of dreams and ideas around dancing with someone like they do in the movies, was added to the mix of escapism founded notions. The reality – it is a movie. Fred and Ginger probably had moments where they had had enough of each other. Their rehearsal times were probably grueling and it must have taken hours and hours and hours to get that ‘one move’ ‘right’. Yet, as an audience, we just see them ‘getting it right’; and that is not truth, it is a moment of climax, not the journey to get there. ‘Dirty Dancing’: “no-one puts Baby in the corner”, followed by a public announcement of how: “Miss Francis Houseman taught me about who I want to be”. One moment, after one and a half hours of movie, and bam we have the perfect dance. Yet, off stage, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, so I have read, did not get on and he didn’t want to work with her at all. Yet, “I’ve had the time of my life … and I owe it all to you” became the theme song, the theme dream for thousands of women around the world; and it was all based on an act, two actors creating a different story from their truth. What took dozens and dozens of takes to create on film, became a ‘that’s it’, ‘that’s what I want’ moment in the movie for all the lost, lonely, dreaming, hopeful single people in the audience. Their brains downloaded that moment and programmed it to believe it was that simple: A man can love a woman like that; and a woman can love a man like that. Now, in my real-life reality: I’ve experienced men being more nervous, more closed lipped, more unsure, more insecure and more scared than I ever expected them to be. In fact, I’ve been overwhelmed in some circumstances, and beyond confused, at how inaccurate all the movies I was shown have been when placed next to my observations. Although, I must admit, it may be all me, because I hear the learners I teach are scared of me too ;-), but they are young girls, not ‘strapping men’.

Then there were the musical films: the Vonn Trapp family, coming through hell singing. Singing as a happy family, finding song in their joy and troubles. Finding love in the midst of turmoil and escaping into the Alps to live on the love they have for each other. Dreams to sing with your family too. Dreams to be that blessed as to have a whole choir in one family; even typing the words now makes me think: “Seriously?”! Yet, there it was, and I know at least one person who rated ‘The Sound of Music’ as her favourite movie of all time. Listening to the stories of the cast years later, it wasn’t all plain sailing, they even shot the film in different locations so that it looked like the gates, the inside house and ballroom, the outside lake and dancing gazebo were all part of one house, they weren’t. As I recall, there was even a problem with the “I am sixteen going on seventeen” dance as Liezel had sprained her ankle…

Then reading Jane Austen and all the romance of Mr Darcy and Captain Wentworth; ‘Emma’, ‘Persuasions’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and any of her novels, so much love, with so much insight into relationships and humanity, also added to my unrealistic notions. Yet, when I visited Jane Austen’s last home and learnt about her spinster life, her disease and ailments, her fighting in a male-dominated world and her challenges, I realised that the novels were the dreams, the observations, her self-expression in a fallen world, they weren’t the reality.

The brain takes in what it sees, assimilates it, attaches it to the network of thoughts and makes it part of the internal goings-on of that human being. Somewhat like a computer only using the software that it has been programmed with. Five seconds of seeing something and it becomes a permanent part of that human being; an indestructible part. Yet many people are so blasé about what they see, what they go to, what they take in… whilst absolutely every one of those things will have an effect. Everything becomes permanently lodged inside the eyes that took it in.

I can’t change my childhood intake of poetry, dancing, singing and romantic ‘happy endings’. I also can’t get that to merge with a guy’s intake of pornography, sport and chauvinism. I can’t give up the hope in goodness and love, and I can’t take on society’s ‘masculine’ acceptance of brutality, male dominance and belittling of other human beings due to biology and self-entitlement…

As I look around my school social circle and see how many of us are still spinsters, and it is the majority, it seems to be becoming an accepted social norm, cheaper than marriage and divorce; no, it is not desirable to be alone either; but is it worth giving up all the love of good things to accept such unacceptable things?

Is it better not to have been exposed to the realities that I have seen and thus blindly jump into the legally binding contract of marriage only to learn of those inescapable realities afterwards?

Or is it better to know beforehand that you can’t change him; you can’t force him to give up what he has been brought up on and believes is ‘right’, be it having many girlfriends, smoking/drug/alcohol addiction/reliance, pornography, work addiction and/or the like… and just let him go and be the human being he has chosen to be on his own?

Dreams and reality: Can they ever meet? Has reality kicked out dreams and being ‘better’ altogether? Is reality slowly and completely abolishing hope? What a horrible thought…

Will the cycle of people choosing this broken world over a better way last forever, even with so much knowledge, proof, information and works that show it doesn’t have to be so?

Oh dear Lord, I hope that dreams and heart-yearnings do not end up lost to this degenerating, temporary world… all of those stories, poems and movies had to come from somewhere good… “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever

Effective Communication by Richard Harrell

Presentation by ‘Richard the pilot’ from Genesis Youth Ministries, 12 January 2016, http://www.genesishope.co.za

 

Communication

  • It is paramount to achieving success in relationships
  • When you communicate effectively, it is then that you can make a difference
  • Involves conveying ideas and expressing thoughts, but overall it is based in who we are
  • Includes everything about ourselves – how we stand, speak, dress… etc, everything is conveying a meaning, being interpreted by the person observing and/or listening to us.

3 TYPES of manners of communicating when seen in a broad and basic spectrum:

  • Oral / verbal … often the least effective form
  • Non-verbal … where most communication happens through body and actions
  • Written … the bridge that connects the verbal and the non-verbal

Pick a famous person … try and think of a paragraph they said… how much can you remember?

That same famous person … can you remember something they did? Or a facial expression or mannerism?

Which form did you remember? Thus, which was more effective?

Generally, the NON-VERBAL affirms the VERBAL and sometimes someone writes down the words.

 

Effective Communication

Yes, presence, pronunciation, knowledge and articulation etc are important, but they do not create effective communication. To be effective means to have an effect, just because you have knowledge and a great presentation style, doesn’t necessarily mean you are being effective.

To be effective means people have listened, or are listening, in a way that creates understanding and meaning. If an audience don’t understand or trust the speaker, then they won’t take on anything that the speaker has to say.

How impressive you are at speaking does not necessarily link to how effective you are at communicating.

The way one can be an effective communicator is to make it simple, and make sure that the approach used has everything to do with the listener and is not ego-centrically based on the speaker and how the speaker wants to express things to make themselves ‘look/sound’ ‘better’.

 

What gets in the way of being effective?

  • BAD INFORMATION – if 90% of what you are saying is true and correct and 10% is ‘maybe / logically’ true – yet unproven, then the listener will take on the 10% and dismiss the other 90% as being as unreliable too.

Knowing the information you are using is crucial.

 

  • PRECONCEIVED IDEAS – you believe you already know what the person is about to say/ask, so you cut them off with your assumptions before they have finished, before you have listened, before you have understood them; because “I already know…” This stops communication completely.

You have to be in tune with those you are communicating with, by letting them finish what they are going to say / ask, before you respond.

 

  • BIASES AND BELIEFS – we are all opinionated people. We prefer listening to those who affirm our own ideas. By nature we cut off / discount those who do not affirm our ideas and/or beliefs.

We, by nature, bring in history and the past to make our decisions on how to interact with someone, instead of letting it be a new interaction every time. Personal bias towards, and/or personal history with, another person often prevents effective communication from taking place.

People respond and perceive strictly according to their own personal history and experiences.

 

“Peg” Theory – once an experience happens, people label it and ‘peg it’ onto the person involved. Such action, from only one encounter, can cut a person off from another forever, if the ‘peg’ is never removed. If you have given a person a “Peg”, then you can never communicate with them effectively whilst you continue to keep that “Peg” stuck to them, and vice versa. They won’t communicate with you effectively whilst they still have you “Pegged”.

HOW to best communicate: Passionately. Teaching / Speaking with passion will empower those we are communicating with, whoever they are. In that passionate energy one creates a better history; positive “Pegs” with those who have been entrusted into one’s care and conversation.

  • ALWAYS BEING “RIGHT” – it is unwise to project this attitude on to other people. It is unwise to assume you know it all, as it closes doors to discussion and relationship building. Instead, it is wiser to have enough confidence to let others learn through discussion and experience: what is ‘right’. An effective communicator will communicate in a way that will lead the audience to choose for themselves… whatever mistakes and accidents may happen along the way…

 

  • PERCEPTION – a HUGE deterrent from effective communication. People will perceive whatever they want, however they want and no-one can change that.

What one perceives, influences what one accepts.

The thing is to let people get to know you, and as they do there will be less perception and more reality and truth. Knowledge is the best tool to break down false perceptions.

 

  • CULTURE –  this dictates and has constructed how one gives information, receives information, structures ideas, conveys ideas and deals with all the other potential preventive aspects of effectively communicating. Thus culture gets in the way of effectively communicating in a classroom / group scenario because one can’t give out or receive information across cultures and expect it all to be accepted / translated / interpreted / internalised / applied and/or understood in the same way across cultures. Every culture will have a different take on the same information, purely because their cultural background is part of their mind’s filtration device.

Thus information can never be accepted in the same way across a board of people.

The more one tries to speak for the listener’s ease of understanding, the more will be learnt about each other. Say whatever it may be in the listener’s preferential format, in order to speak to the listener’s understanding, not one’s own.

 

 

Acronym for how to effectively communicate

 

HAIL – hail that person to you, call them

H – Honesty – truth develops trust

A – Authenticity – be yourself

I – Integrity – make sure your body and actions (your non-verbal communication) matches your verbal

L – Love – put the other person first, give, care, be kind…

 

Honesty – when you honestly get to know someone, then you automatically begin to start trusting them and that trust will grow, unless dishonesty breaks it.

Be honest, be who you are.

When you are honest, people will see it, open up and receive what you have to give.

 

Authenticity – it’s an “EPIC FAIL” (false, not honest) if you are not presenting YOU. If you try to copy someone else and be someone else, when your guard falls, then you’re revealing 10% of what appears ‘fake’ / ‘inconsistent’ and this will drop all your credit to 100% of zero. Buy-in happens from others when it is obvious that the speaker believes what they are saying from within themselves.

 

Integrity – We are all watched very closely, especially teachers, and the more honest authenticity and integrity you present, the more you will be trusted and the more you will be listened to.

If you have no integrity or consistency, then you won’t be taken seriously… just as you won’t take someone without integrity seriously either, you’ll believe that they are wasting your time…

 

Love – Allows people to accept. Allows correction to happen. Let’s people be ok with being ‘wrong’.

It’s about servant-leadership where you make the other person more important than yourself. That’s love.

Apply things in such a way your love is apparent and that approach can break down bias, perceptions, cultural-contexts and all the other challenges of communication.

It’s about loving your listener, not yourself… and if you stop persevering in love, then it’s most likely you’ll divert back to the “I’m right” scenario, which will break down communication altogether and probably lead to ‘fight’ mode.

It’s a learning process

 

The first efforts at communicating will often be a mess

Slowly the efforts will improve with constant observation and practice

As the efforts improve so too will the personal confidence

Proficiency will happen when time, practice and applications have been experienced

As with many things, the first go is often tough and you need to give yourself room for mistakes

Years later, proficiency will be developed, but the process is exhausting, it takes a lot of time and effort

 

It helps to remember that becoming an effective communicator is a form of empowerment. Sadly, many people believe that they are waiting to take an ‘opportunity’ when it arrives, when actually they need to be gathering empowerment that will provide the means to grow and become more, by being pro-active.

Good teaching and good communication create empowerment, and empowerment is teaching someone HOW to go and do whatever it is they feel they need to do.

 

We all need to look for empowerment and not opportunity.

Thank-you for celebrating :)

Yesterday was the 25th of December, a date set aside to celebrate the birthday of Anno Domini, 2015. The elected “birthdate” of a man who literally changed the course of time.  There’s lots of debate as to whether He was who He was, e.g. : Judaism, Muslim, where they have chosen the title of “prophet” instead of The Christ. Any which way, this man was significantly important in the history of different cultures and religions. A man who spoke peace, love, wisdom and for the Christian faith, was the flesh that turned ancient stories and predictions into facts. Even His means of death on the cross was a form of torture that did not yet exist when it was predicted; yet, when Jesus was put to death, the prophecy proved truthful.

I took a long, slow drive home for the 50km of my journey in my old car and I used the opportunity to observe what was happening around me. Through a few different suburbs I was THRILLED to see about 90% of all fast-food places and restaurants closed. Which translated into: 90% of the people around my area were celebrating the Jesus I am indebtedly grateful to. 90% of my people were staying home to be with their family and/or friends / their own quiet space, and thus choosing goodness and relationship over business. What a beautiful sight to see so many shop lights off. To see the roads almost empty. To be able to be still in the quietness of the evening. It was glorious.

In the current state of attacks and certain groups desiring to crush Christianity and peace and unity and love, how miraculous to see so many people standing up and saying we will continue to practice love. Thank-you for every Christmas light that shone across the world. Thank-you for every single gift, no matter how big or small, that was purchased and given to someone yesterday. Thank-you for every Christmas tree, every stocking, every decoration, every Santa Hat, every smile, every sms/text, every Watsapp, email, SKYPE call, phone call, tweet and/or card that was shared yesterday and in the course of this month.

Thank-you for every drink that toasted Christmas, every time you said “Merry!”, every Christmas year-end function, every pulled Christmas cracker, and every little bit of tinsel that was scattered and mistletoe that was used for a kiss. Thank-you for all the Facebook and Instagram pictures of Christmas. Thank-you for every Christmas carol that was sung and/or played on your ipad, iphone, CD player and/or LP player (yes, I heard BoneyM on an LP player yesterday!). Thank-you for every Christmas TV series, movie and/or newsfeed you watched.

Every single one of these actions supported Christmas, supported Christianity, supported the birth of Christ; and as I drove through a very quiet town, I was proud to feel that the goodness and spirit of love and Christmas is still powerfully with us and is not going anywhere. AMEN! Stay blessed and loved. $

Where’s the joy?

Tonight, as has become my tradition, I joined my church in amateur Christmas Caroling at our local retirement villages; usually such a joyous occasion for me as I LOVE singing Christmas Carols. The energy, excitement and better memories of Christmas resonate within me with the Carols and the singing; along with the pure joy it is to know that myth became fact, grace became real, and unconditional love became truth through the birth of the Saviour. Tonight, however, I was let down immensely. Tonight, at a new venue for me, it was done very differently.

In the past, we have met at the church and had a rehearsal / voice warm up of sorts. Going through the carols together and getting up the “vibe” and delightfulness of the occasion.  I messaged a church elder and she said the rehearsal was at 17h30. Due to unforeseen circumstance, i.e. my emotional reaction to the recently released version of “The Little Prince” and a stop off with a dear friend where (as usual) the chatting took much longer than expected, I ended up arriving at church about 15 minutes late, and the car park was empty! Fortunately, I had taken the route past the one home we go to and saw two familiar fellows walking there (I have no idea where the rest were). So I kept on driving to another home that I wanted to sing in…

I drove across the suburb at a pace, cursing the scenario in my mind… on my arrival the wife of another elder said “we never rehearse beforehand”, I was incredibly grateful when the guitarist said we used to. As there was someone who was late, I was ‘on time’. Eventually, we went inside, into a large room with old people. The set of carols we sang, they missed out half the book, took about a total of 20minutes! Including the readings and prayer! It was ridiculous. No, pathetic.

At the home I’ve been to before, we sing, do readings, sing and then take requests. Usually, there’s a bunch of us dancing and singing and having so much fun. ZERO fun with the singers I went with today. Usually, we walk around the frail care and sing to them there because they can’t leave their beds. ZERO movement by anyone into the home, in fact the previously mentioned elder’s wife virtually hightailed it out of there, like she had somewhere more important to be. I was not impressed! 20 minutes in total and no gifts for the old dears like we usually do… And the singing ‘presentation’ opened with the apologies of the elder-in-charge because the pastor has gone on ‘holiday’ for Christmas, hence his absence… It felt so fake. There was no joy in any of the people I was singing with, and it sucked.

Of course the old dears were incredibly grateful for the 20 minutes. I, however, was like: What the?

Shocking. Shocking that “Christian” people have turned caroling, generosity of time and gifting of presence at Christmas into a “TICK LIST” thing. Go and sing a few songs, read a few verses: Tick. No joy needed; no understanding of the reason for the season at all. How can you be ‘representative’ of something when you don’t look or sound like you know what it means? How can you sing ‘Joy To The World’ without joy?  Where’s the joy gone? Where’s the reason for the season gone? Even “Christians” are not soulfully living what they profess to believe, and it bothers me, it really, really bothers me.

My prayer this Christmas is that people would put AWAY their schedules, their selfishness, their inability to give of their time and themselves for other human beings, their societally formed desire to ‘keep up appearances’ and ‘get through the programme’ and ACTUALLY: Be Still to “get it”. Actually, practically, genuinely and really give of themselves this upcoming year in a way that is sacrificial, that is costing them something precious, and is worth so much more to someone else than to themselves. I pray that as our country practically shuts down for a day to celebrate the birth of The Man who changed the course of time from B.C. to A.D., all will remember that HE SACRIFICED ALL OF HIMSELF, LITERALLY, and a couple of hours of one’s day given to another once a year is small fry compared to the Gracious, Blessed and AMAZING gift we have received in forgiveness and eternal life… 20 minutes, quite frankly, is just disrespecting God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Christmas.

Lord, Thank-You for Your provision, Your sacrifices, Your unconditional Love and presence for EVERYONE at ALL TIMES. Lord I pray, that in some way, we can all begin to step towards living life Your way and not our own selfish, self-absorbed, quick-time, check-list, doing-what-I-want-how-I-want-to ways. I’ll bet Jesus didn’t want to be born either, but He was. I’ll bet He didn’t want to die the way He had to, but He did, for me, for you, for us all. Father, help us all learn to say “THANK-YOU” with our actions and words, and help us feel, know and show the INCREDIBLE JOY that comes with such practice. Lord, as I sang so joyfully and stood next to others who weren’t joyful, it killed me, the atmosphere died, the hope died, and Lord, HOPE is the POINT. Lord, please let there be more joyous people in the world, there are just too many zombies amongst us. Thanks so much Lord, Lots of LOVE and HAPPY HAPPY ‘2015th’ BIRTHDAY! Amen.

Selfishness + Self-Hate + Suicide = the EASY WAY OUT

My opinion: If one hates one’s life, and has low self-worth, low self-esteem, zero ability to communicate with other people and no courage to face life, no hope to carry on, no guts, balls and/or integrity or dignity given to the human race who have been set apart from the animals; if one has ‘not found answers’ and wants to commit suicide, because of pride, perceived inability to apologise, perceived inability to face consequences, perceived inability to deal with their existential vacuum, perceived inability to be humble and ask for help, perceived inability to admit a mistake, inability to see beyond their moment etc… here’s the thing – f.y.i. – an intelligent person knows that suicide IS NOT THE ANSWER. An intelligent, non-self-absorbed person knows that being absorbed in only themselves, hating themselves and thus having the thought of desiring to kill themselves, is something that makes them feel guilty. It is something that rides on their conscience, keeps them awake at night, creates thoughts in their head that they don’t deserve to live, that they are unworthy to live, that they have no purpose, that all they can see is ‘their’ world in a mess, they can see that they want out because they have thought themselves into believing that they can’t ‘handle it’, that they can’t ‘change it’ (and all this stupid thinking is a load of rubbish by the way, you are perfectly loved and you do have an incredibly good purpose for being on earth!), that no-one else will change or be who they want them to be, they want to kill themselves, but their guilt and their conscience are telling them that they can’t… that killing themselves is the one thing in life that is not the answer … but they want to… and where there is a will there is a way … there is a way to commit suicide without feeling the intensity of the guilt, the responsibility, the pain and hurt of it, if but for a small moment before whatever truth meets us all after death . . . Join Terrorist Islam. (How appropriate – ‘terror’ – just go join ‘terror’ – only a desperate person would do that, in my opinion.)

If one joins Terrorist Islam, then one can kill one’s self and loads of other people too. One can take one’s self-hate and blow it up in the faces of millions of other people. One can take one’s self-hate, self-loathing, guilt, conscience and spin it all around in a brain-washed way that will make it “ok” (even justified!) for one to break the one important law in human society: THOU SHALT NOT KILL. If one joins Terrorist Islam, one will be brainwashed into believing that they are above God, above the one Human Law that EVERYONE is accountable to: THOU SHALT NOT KILL. If one joins Terrorist Islam, then one’s perceived inability to speak to other people, one’s perceived inability to ‘belong’ to one’s own ‘society’, one’s perceived inability to change the world, one’s perceived inability to have a back bone and practice love, all the inner hurt, all the personal history of sorrow, heartache, hate, terror and fear is twisted and turned around to allow that one desire, that one no-no, the most cowardly and selfish thing ever, to be “ok”: Suicide. Terrorist Islam will allow lonely, sad, hurting, fearful, manipulable, broken and angry people to step over God, over what it means to be a human being, completely miss the point of what it means to be a human being, dissolve all sensible, logical rationale, kill all love and step into finding a mental, personal, ‘guilt-free’ way around: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

Why is that law there? It is there because LOVE does not KILL. Love talks. Love is challenged. Love rises above the challenge. Love FORGIVES. Love HOPES. Love HEALS. LOVE is PEACE BEYOND UNDERSTANDING! Love is SHARING. LOVE IS KIND, CARING, GIVING… LOVE LIVES! Suicide and Suicide Bombing ARE NONE OF THAT. NONE OF IT.

To enter into a place and intentionally kill the person in line to develop the cure for HIV/AIDS. To kill the person who is the only breadwinner of a family. To go out and intentionally create ORPHANS. To destroy lives. To instill NIGHATMARES in ALL the people who witnessed the suicide bombers SELFISHNESS. Who had to witness the bloodshed. Who had to be traumatised and destroyed inside because someone hated their life so much that they desired everyone else to hate theirs too! SELFISH!

As a member of the human race, I do not believe that killing anyone, including oneself, is any sign of bravery. To go and kill unarmed people? To step in and decide that you are the one who should decide the fate of innocent human beings? To decide that you should kill people who have done NOTHING to you? COWARDLY! So very very COWARDLY!!!  COWARDLY, COWARDLY!!!! I DO NOT believe that breaking one of the highest human laws: THOU SHALT NOT KILL, is acceptable, unless it is self-defense. I believe it is the most COWARDLY, IRRESPONSIBLE, SELFISH, SELF-HATE-FILLED, SELF-LOATHING-FILLED, DESTESTABLE, UNWORTHY, HORRENDOUS, NASTY, MEAN, DISEMPOWERING, HURTFUL, HATE creating things a human being can do with their life. Then on top of that, to turn around and say it is for ‘God’ – ‘Jihad’ – what a load of BULLSHIT! What a crock of CRAP! It is not for God; God has made it more than clear: THOU SHALT NOT KILL!!!!! It isn’t for GOD, it is for MAN, for EGO, for personal PRIDE, for personal VENGANCE, for personal HATE, for personal LOW SELF ESTEEEM, for personal DESIRE, for personal POWER, for personal GUILT, ME ME ME – personal EVERYTHING! Cowards, such cowards. Irresponsible cowards. Destroy others and then kill yourself so you don’t have to be held accountable or take responsibility for your actions… spinelessly cowardly.

Viktor E. Frankl, “To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.”

“Each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognise that is it ‘he’ who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by ‘answering for’ his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. Thus, logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence.” Man’s Search For Meaning, V.E.Frankl.

The Existential Vacuum – i.e. Sunday Blues

“Let us consider, for instance “Sunday neurosis,” that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest. Not a few cases of suicide can be traced back to existential vacuum. Such widespread phenomena as depression, aggression and addiction are not understandable unless we recognise the existential vacuum underlying them. This is also true of the crises of pensioners and aging people.

Moreover, there are various masks and guises under which the existential vacuum appears. Sometimes the frustrated will to meaning is vicariously compensated for by will to power, including the most primitive form of the will to power, the will to money. In other cases, the place of frustrated will to meaning is taken by the will to pleasure. That is why existential frustration often eventuates in sexual compensation. We can observe such cases that the sexual libido becomes rampant in the existential vacuum.”

“The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth century. … … … …man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).

A statistical survey recently revealed that among my European students, 25 percent showed a more-or-less marked degree of existential vacuum. Among my American students it was not 25 but 60 percent.

The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom. Now we can understand Schopenhauer when he said that mankind was apparently doomed to vacillate eternally between the two extremes of distress and boredom. In actual fact, boredom is now causing, and certainly bringing to psychiatrists, more problems to solve than distress. And these problems are growing increasingly crucial, for progressive automation will probably lead to an enormous increase in the leisure hours available to the average worker. The pity of it is that many of these will not know what to do with all their newly acquired free time.” Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl, 1959.