Feeling encouraged and inspired by so many positively moving stories that have been catching my attention this festive season!
Here is a true story published in The Guardian newspaper a few days ago:
In short: a synagogue in Bradford on the brink of closure, was saved by a fund raising effort led by the secretary of a nearby mosque. Through this incredible endeavor Rabi Rudi Leavor and Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques; have formed a close friendship and brotherhood.
“Rudi is my new found big brother… It makes me proud that we can protect our neighbours and at the same time preserve an important part of Bradford’s cultural heritage.” [Karim]
In a world where racial and religious tensions are very high, this friendship speaks volumes.
Karim was unaware of the synagogue until recently, as they had taken their signage down after a man left the synagogue wearing his kippah, or skull cap, and was spat at by two Pakistani men passing in a car.
Karim makes a very good point:
“You look at those who killed Lee Rigby, supposedly in the name of Islam.
The question is: what makes these young men so radicalised, so angry, so intolerant?
I really, really deeply, strongly feel that the way forward is interfaith dialogue – perhaps through food, perhaps through visiting a synagogue or other places of worship.”
I agree. Sharing food together is a great step towards building peace and understanding within our multicultural communities around the world.
During Ramadan I was invited a few delicious Iftar feasts, with both Egyptian and Emirati friends. This Christmas I have already celebrated with a group of friends from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds.
Life is much better and easier when we focus on our similarities rather than our differences.
This Christmas, my wish is that we will put into practice those great lessons we have been taught…
‘Love thy neighbour’ [with no buts and no exceptions.]
Yesterday I received an email from my father telling me about the beautiful Himba tribe from Namibia, and one of their incredible customs.
“In the Himba tribe of Namibia in Africa the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind.
When a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him.
And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it in.
And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it.
And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honouring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.
In the tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the centre of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behaviour is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—the song to that person.”
My father’s comment was that this reminded him of Gandhi’s famous response when he was asked “What do you think of western civilization?”
To which Gandhi replied, “I think it would be a good idea”.
Indeed being civilized should surely not be about covering your body and declaring that moral superiority; but rather about recognizing the divine within each and every living being, and treating them as such.
I wonder what my first child’s song will sound like…
I’ll be listening out for that song one day when I am ready :)
Casey Neistat is a film maker from New York who was asked by Fox to create a promotional video for new Hollywood movie “The secret life of Walter Mitty”. To his surprise, he was given permission for his request to use that $25, 000 to go and spend on disaster relief in the Philippines.
What unfolded was something beyond inspiring…
The footage captures vividly the destruction of the land, and the beauty and resilience of the people.
My heart aches in some of these scenes…
Indeed, these are the places that the world’s most talented film makers and creative directors are needed, to show the rest of the world what is happening…
I admire and respect this no- nonsense approach. There is a problem. Someone needs help. So let’s create a way to do something about it. Ask for it, go for it, do it.
A perfect example of living your dreams and inspiring people.
I think more than nailed the concept for the film’s promotional video!
Well done Casey- we salute you!
Thank-you to CoolieDread for sharing this video.
As I reflect on your passing, I feel grateful that you walked alongside us.
As a child my father introduced me to your story. He told me about his days at LSE university protesting against apartheid and boycotting oranges from South Africa. This inspired me to read your amazing auto-biography ‘Long walk to freedom’. I was captivated.
Then I was lucky to see you speak live at Trafalgar Square when I followed my fathers footsteps and also studied at LSE. There I met my best friend whose father is South African. She told me tales of him, a Jazz musician who during Apartheid would perform behind a curtain with the white musicians at the front in a concert for white people, and in front of the screen with the white musicians behind the curtain for a performance for black people.
Apartheid. The very idea was so ridiculous, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t that long ago…
Last Summer 2012 I finally had the chance to go to Johannesburg South Africa, to record my debut single ‘Unite’ with the incredible Soweto Gospel Choir.
The Soweto Gospel Choir were particularly close to you. They performed at the first of your 46664 concerts! And regularly performed for public and personal occasions for you- you had good taste in music!
It was a real honour for them to sing on my song, and to know that they were so close to you had a deeper meaning to me, as the song Unite is about us being one human race and the immense positive power we can form when we live for one another; you lived by that. :)
The choir took us to Soweto to see the house where you grew up and to eat some traditional food in one of their homes. We also visited the apartheid museum, which tells the story of apartheid and shows more on your story. It was truly an amazing experience I will never forget.
Then strangely enough, during one evening at a small bar in Melville in Johannesburg we got talking to a few local guys that the waitress had put us on a table with as there were no free tables. We chatted for hours and hours about music, race and South Africa and later we exchanged emails… and there I discovered that one of them was one of your grandsons! It felt like I was never too far away from you!
Mandela- as I go through my life I will continue to be inspired by your great capacity for forgiveness, your fight for justice and your compassion. Many people will call themselves Christians, but truly ‘loving your enemy’ is something many do not achieve to do earnestly, and that I think you did, along with a smile that lights up the world, and gives the darkest souls hope…
You light has allowed others to shine, and now it is time for you light up the heavens and rest in heavenly peace…
Love & Light,
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.”
Courage, wisdom, humility, compassion, strength… Malala is an inspiration to us all. :-)
“Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.”
“I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
This blog is not only about my own journey as an artist, but also the inspiration that I take from traveling, from other artists, social initiatives and (perhaps the greatest of all) – nature :)
Even though nature is my favorite source of inspiration, more and more I come across creative inspiration on the web- ideas, creations, art. I guess thats a clear reflection of how much time I spend on the computer these days (!) But though you can’t beat real life, I do love the internet for allowing me to communicate universally, share ideas, and for the wealth of inspiration and information there is to find.
Don’t know the answer? Wikepedia! ;-)
(Don’t lie and tell me you don’t !! Haha…)
Today I came across www.icreatived.com a daily design, inspiration and technology blog dedicated to showcasing the best creative products and designs from all over the world.
Design is not my field at all, but I do find a lot of pleasure in clever, charming design.
You know that overwhelming feeling of ‘like’ ? Wishing there was a ‘love’ button? haha <3
So here are a few things they shared with me, that I would like to share with you :-)
1. The alternative to Palm island, Guitar Island! :-)
2. Tea fisherman…. (my favourite!! BIG LOVE!)
3. S’wonderful! :)
Just watched an inspiring documentary called “Born into brothels”, recommended to me by my sister.
The documentary was produced in 2004 by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. Zana Briski is a New York based photographer who spent some time in Calcutta taking pictures of the women who worked as prostitutes. While she stayed there, she became close to the children and started showing them how to take photos. As well as helping to develop the children’s photography skills, she was keen to offer them hope, a way out of the red light district through education, and she battles to get them places at a boarding school.
You can keep up to where the kids are at here —>
I really like that you can see where the kids are 8 years after the documentary was produced. From looking at the website it does seem that a lot of the children are doing well, and that the opportunities given to them have transformed their lives.
There has been criticism from the DMSC of how she portrayed the parents (as uncaring), for stereotyping, for causing more harm than good… however, the DMSC themselves are a controversial entity after reports that they allow underage girls, sex slavery and trafficking within the red light district… !
Very quickly- it all becomes extremely complex! and I am certainly no expert either…
Here is another interesting article on the legalization of prostitution:
But my humble opinion after watching it… is I think it’s a great example of a creative way to make a difference, and that it offers some insight into their world.
You can never force change upon someone.
A child will often run back to the arms of the parents that harm them, just as some wives run back to the arms of husbands that beat them.
But you can offer someone an alternative, an opportunity, a choice. and choice is a massive thing.
Before their eyes were opened up to a world outside the brothel, did they have much choice?
All opinions aside, one cannot dispute the innocence and beauty of children, or their need for protection and education.
Neither can they deny the light that shines in their eyes when they experience the joy of something simple, like taking a photograph.. :-)
“God and Destiny are not against us, rather they are for us, they are the ones who never forget the things we have long forgotten, the ones who hear the desires of our heart that our own heads can’t hear, and they are the ones who never forget who we really are, long after our minds have forgotten the images of who we are. We come from God and we belong to Destiny, yet for some reason of ignorance we think that to be the master of our own fates and the captain of our own souls means to write everything down on a paper and plan everything out on a grid! Such great things to be done, and we think they are accomplished by our primitive ways! No. We must only know what we want. And want what we want. And then fly high enough to see all that which we want that we couldn’t yet see.”
- C Joybell C.
While I was in London I came across something interesting,an altruistic project called ‘we-are-lucky.com’.
Basically, a guy came into some money, quite a lot of money. His first idea was to travel to space and he booked a Space flight with Virgin. Good idea- I mean, how many people can say they have been to space?
But then he told people about his space venture, and they expressed their ideas on what they would do with the money.. worthy causes etc. and overcome with guilt, he cancelled the flight and decided to do something different..
Rather than give the money to a charity or two, he created ‘we-are-lucky.com’. So, he has been going around picking people at random (from all walks of life), and giving them £1000 , on the trusting basis that they will do something positive with the money.
On the website he has taken photos of each lucky person (they are chosen at random), and there is a quick interview on what they plan to do and what their thesis is on money and giving. From a quick read of the stories, you have people doing all kinds of things, from helping to fund a course that will enable them to help others (to be a social worker/ midwife etc.) to giving the money to a good cause, or treating someone they know to an exotic holiday.
It makes quite a fascinating social experiment, to see what people value and how people deal with the responsibility of coming into free lucky money!
So, what would you do if you were given £1000 to do something good? :-)