Monday, 13 April 2015

The Act of Good Will

Daily, we hear news about conflicts all over the world. Every day when we turn the TV on, there's a stream of reports of killing and violence coming out of TV set. Sometimes I feel like I should stop watching news or reading paper altogether.
Middle East is the hot topic of every news program every day, especially Iraq, Palestine and Israel. Usually we hear only the negative reports from those regions, but is there only the act of hate exist over there? I don't think so.

This is a little bit of an old story, since this event took place in 2005, but in the growing atmosphere of hate and anger toward Muslims, I thought it is worth mentioning again. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all people of Islam are violent. Only a fraction of extremists involve in terrorism. Not all.

This is a story about a Palestinian family.


A 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Ismail Khatib, was shot by Israeli occupation soldiers while he was playing in the alleys of Jenin refugee camp. The children were playing with wooden sticks, imitating soldiers by holding them as if they were rifles. Ahmad happened to be among those children.

The first Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) bullet hit Ahmad's hip. The second IOF bullet hit his head. The bullet was certainly aimed to kill Ahmad. The IOF soldier mistook the child for a sniper.

Later, Ahmad died of his wounds.

After Ahmad's death, the boy's family had decided to donate his organs Israeli children "to bring hearts closer and bring peace closer". “Despite the pain, they made a very courageous decision,” the boy’s uncle, Jamal Khatib, told Israel Television. “This is part of our culture. As Muslims,” he said, “we can tell the world that we are not terrorists.”

His organs helped save the lives of six Israeli patients. His heart was given to a 12-year-old girl; his liver was divided in two and given to two patients, a six-month old baby and a 56-year-old woman; his kidneys were given to a 5-year-old boy and his lungs were given to a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

The boy’s father said, “Israeli children are our children. We are doing this because we believe in peace.”

Change the World with Hugs

A hug is a handshake from the heart

When was the last time you had a hug?

It is a very simple act, really. But have you ever given thought to what a single hug can do to us?
A hug can bring us comfort, warms and feeling of safety. It can send the message of love without saying anything. It can be a welcoming gesture. For some, like me, it is an every day essential ;-)
Somebody said;

Hugging is good medicine. It transfers energy, and gives the person hugged an emotional boost. You need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. A hug makes you feel good. The skin is the largest organ we have and it needs a great deal of care. A hug can cover a lot of skin and gives the message that you care. It is also a form of communication. It can say things you don't have words for. The nicest thing about a hug is that you usually can't give one without getting one.
- Author Unknown -

When you’re feeling sad and lonely, very often all you need is a hug from somebody you love. But what can you do if you don’t have somebody nearby? Maybe families live far away or friends just don’t understand?

Well, you can try Free Hugs.

A man, Juan Mann, started a phenomenal movement in Australia back in 2004. He is the one who started giving "Free Hugs" to a complete strangers and set the trend of Free Hugs Campaign all over the world. He proved that you can actually make a difference to the world by giving one little hug to somebody. If you don't believe me, check out the Free Hugs Campaign website, or Wikipedia, or just google "free hugs" to find out how this act of love is spreading all over the world.

Hugging is one of those things you can't give without getting one, as I quoted above, and one of the simplest things you can do to make YOU and other people feel good at the same time. So when you need a hug, the best thing you can do is to give one to somebody.

Isn't it nice to think that while you are fulfilling your need for a little comfort, you are changing the world as well?

A single hug might turn world to a better place :-)

Big hugs to you...

P.S. Oh, by the way, if you visit Free Hugs Campaign website, you can find a link to the free download for the ebook "The Illustrated Guide to Free Hugs".

Is It Art? Or Not?

Lately, I received an email condemning the actions of the artist, Guillermo Vargas Jiménez, known as the artist name "Habacuc".
According to the email, in 2007, the Costa Rican "artist" took an abandoned dog from the streets, and then tied the dog to a very short rope to the wall of an art gallery in Managua, placed a pan of food on the other side of the room beyond his reach, and left him there to slowly die of hunger and thirst - as part of an "art" installation.

This was a very disturbing news to me as I am an artist myself, and love animals. So I did some search on the web to find out more about this "art" and came across variety of stories about this "art" exhibition.

This is what the "artist" said originally;
"I knew the dog died on the following day from lack of food. During the inauguration, I knew that the dog was persecuted in the evening between the houses of aluminium and cardboard in a district of Managua. 5 children who helped to capture the dog received 10 bonds of córdobas for their assistance. During the exhibition some people requested the freedom of the small dog, which the artist refused. The name of the dog was Natividad, and I let him die of hunger in the sight of everyone, as if the death of a poor dog was a shameless media show in which nobody does anything but to applaud or to watch disturbed. In the place that the dog was exposed remain a metal cable and a cord. The dog was extremely ill and did not want to eat, so in natural surroundings it would have died anyway; thus they are all poor dogs: sooner or later they die or are killed."

Then he changed his statement several times depending on the climate of public opinion. In the end, Juanita Bermúdez, director of the Códice Gallery, insisted the dog escaped after just one day and didn't die at the gallery.

Surprisingly, the prestigious Centralamerican Biennial of Art decided that this insensible act - whether the dog really died or not - was art, and Guillermo Vargas Habacuc has been invited to repeat his cruel actions in "Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008.”

It seems that no one really knows whether the dog died at the gallery or ran away from there. However the pictures are enough to make a judgement. The dog clearly needed loving attention and tender care, not to be displayed as a piece of "art". This poor creature did not deserve this, nor any other animal on this planet. The Managua exhibition certainly attracted worldwide attention and many people believe it to have been an act of cruelty rather than art.

It might be quite difficult to judge what is art and what is not. If you label all the disturbing images as "not art", then what about the paintings by Goya, or those by artists involving in so called “dark art”? But at the same time, if you accept the starving dog as a piece of art, what about the photographs of victims taken by a murderer or a rapist? In my opinion, if the art physically hurt or harm something or somebody, then it should not be called art, but then, if Guillermo Vargas Habacuc did not leave the dog to starve to death, was it art?

Where should we draw the line?

Connecting To My Creativity

(The following blog post was originally published on my "Photo and Sketch" Blog.)

Sometimes I do get discouraged and depressed by my poor ability to express my inner visions. I get so frustrated by my lack of skills to bring the image in my mind into a physical form. But the worth thing happened to me in the last 2 years. I couldn't connect to my creativity.

When I was younger and free, I never felt there was a limit to my imagination. That time, my only limitation was my skills and experiences. I'd never imagined that I'd ever get to the stage where my imagination and creativity dry out - but it happened.

Everybody, or almost everybody goes through a certain time in his life with difficulties and challenges. I'm no exception to this. The past 2 years has been a very challenging time for me and my husband. To tell the truth, I'd been through even more difficult time in the past, but this time, something was not quite the same. Somehow, I managed to loose some of the precious qualities of myself - imagination and creativity. Feeling so tired and stressed out all the time, I kept ignoring my urge to paint and photograph something I REALLY wanted, not the sort of things I commissioned to do, and one day, I suddenly realized that I had been hushing the little cry inside me too long. When I sat in front of a blank canvas, I couldn't find anything I wanted to paint. Took my camera and rushed outside, I couldn't find anything attractive. Everything around me looked so dull and lifeless.

It felt like hell. Cried, cried and cried. For months on end, I tried to bring back my lost self, but whatever I did, nothing really worked. One day in April, when I was feeling completely drained, a book jumped into my sight out of our bookshelf. I picked up the book, "To Honor the Earth", for the first time in years. I opened it to the page with my favorite photograph of trees standing in the morning mist. I started reading the message written on the page opposite. This message from a realm beyond our physical reality truly sank into my heart then.
On a rainy day you can appreciate the good in the weather and act in a way that is appropriate to it. Always look for and find the unique flavor of each moment and each place you find yourself in, not wishing for something different. You would be amazed if you could see what a difference this makes to the life forces. Each moment has its own beauty, but it can be nullified if you resist the flow and put yourself out of harmony with it. To go with the natural rhythms is far more important than you realize. Inspiration comes on all levels when you are relaxed in the flow of life.
-- Landscape Angel --

I cannot say what exactly, but certainly something had happened in me then. My yearning to express myself had come back. My style in art and photography had changed. My obsession toward one particular subject had disappeared.

My rehabilitation to bring back my artistic self has been going on ever since.

(Above image was created in this renewing period. )

Why We Keep Seeing Lack of Understanding? - Unite For Human Rights

Since today is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations, I decided I would like to show my support by writing something related to the Human Rights issue on this blog. Actually, after I received an announcement from Blog Catalog about the Bloggers Unite For Human Rights, I've been thinking about this topic - about basic rights and freedoms, and moreover, why we keep seeing lack of understanding in this concept.

Looking around the world, it is quite obvious that not everybody respects Human Rights. Not only in the war & conflict zones, but also in the countries like the United States, Japan, UK and the EU countries which considered as developed and stable countries.
Basic human right would constitute the right of every individual to his/her fundamental freedom without distinction as to race, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, age, physical ability, or religion. But how often do we hear stories about discriminations against individuals concerning all these facts?
In Japan, where I was born and grew up, I came across so many stories about Gaijin (a foreigner) not being able to find an apartment to rent because "the apartment is for Japanese only". While I was living in the Middle East, I witnessed some cases of modern day slavery and the abuse toward men & women. Here in Spain, I personally received some abusive words by a group of strangers because of my Asian appearance. Just switching on TV, a stream of reports about various wars between different religious and racial groups hits us daily.

It seems to me that most of violations against humanity, large or small, are simply the result of lack of consideration. Whether it is a soldier torturing his prisoners, or a man raping a girl, or a country invading the other country. In the end, it's just because the person forgot the simple teaching, "Treat others as you want them to treat you ." Or maybe, he was raised in a situation that he was given everything he wanted ever since he was a little boy, then he learned to think in the way that everything is given to him because he is superior to others... He just doesn't understand that he hurt other people because he was never taught to put himself in the other person's shoes.
Maybe I'm being a bit too simplistic here. But, this very basic teaching and lack of understanding this concept seems to have been resulted in many, many violence and abuse cases.

I wonder if you have ever read a book called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. It is a delightful collection of his short essays. He lists lessons normally learned in American kindergarten classrooms and explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children. In his book, he states:
"A six-year-old will not understand that “By and large it has been demonstrated that violence is counterproductive to the constructive interaction of persons and societies.” True. But a child can better understand that the rule out in the world and in the school is the same: Don’t hit people. Bad things happen. The child must understand this rule is connected to the first rule: People won’t share or play fair if you hit them."

Everybody had his childhood. I wonder if the person who involved in a crime against Human Rights remembered about this simple teaching and held it in his heart, would he have acted in the same manner? I do wonder what makes people stop listening to his gentle, inner voice?

"Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all — the whole world — had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are — when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together."

Becoming Free

Becoming FreeA Reminder of the Principles of Life

1: Life does not work through indecision. Indecision promotes blocks, confusion and stress. Make a decision and allow life to find movement through you. Trust yourself.

2: The 3 C's of life are Courage, Capacity and Commitment. It takes Courage and a commitment to make many of life's decisions, and capacity to follow them through. The 3 C's of a successful relationship are Caring, Consideration and Communication. Communication opens the door between us, consideration allows us to pass through it and our ability to care for each other unites us.

3: Truth is not truth out of timing- yet it remains truth. We are the timing to recognize truth.

4: The mind recoils from the unknown, so we seek to make everything known, and, thus sage. Imagination is the key to the unknown- positive, uplifting imagination.

5: For as long as we search for Our God Self, we deny that we are it. Loving your self reveals your truth.

6: Becoming free is not changing yourself into someone you think you should be. Becoming free is falling in love with who you are- right now.

7: Imagine a room of pitch dark and a room of bright light connected by a door. When you open the door what happens? Light floods into the dark room, illuminating it. Live accordingly, think thoughts of light.

8: F.E.A.R- False Evidence Appearing Real

9: Anything of the past that is unresolved is unresolved now. Living NOW resolves the past.

10: Life flows from the inside out, never the reverse. Understand this and you cease to be a victim.

11: Love responds- fear reacts. Love connects- fear separates. Love uplifts- fear deflates. Love creates- fear destroys.

12: There is no such thing as a mistake- only experience. There is no such thing as failure- only people's condemnation. There is no such thing as success- only people's approval. Let life live through you.

13: Do not get caught up in modifying your life, allow life to change YOU. Modification is a superficial exterior veneer, change is an inner shift in consciousness.

14: Pain is a measure of your resistance to change.

15: Decide whether you want to be an onlooker of life or a participant. This is the birthplace of choice.

16: You hear with your ears- but you listen with your mind. You look with your eyes- but you see from the heart.

17: Consciousness is not contained in your body- you are the consciousness that contains the body. Consciousness draws to itself form through which to express

18: Your mind cannot exist in the moment. You cannot think your way into the moment, you can only think your way out of it. This indicates that your mind/intellect cannot set you free. Only your consciousness is aware of NOW. True freedom is a state of consciousness.

19: We each live in our own universe, a universe of our making. It is designed to support our beliefs and our focus. Our thoughts are our focus, so observe your thoughts, focus on your blessings, and trust. This is how you become a participant.

20: Practise seeing all life around you as an aspect of yourself. In this way you shatter the illusion of separation.

21: Your mind does now know the difference between what you do want or what you don't want, it only knows what you focus on. Many people focus on what they don't have, what they are incapable of doing and their sicknesses.

22: If you focus on what you do have, it increases. If you focus on what you don't have, you will have even less. If you focus on your capabilities, they grow, if you focus on your health, it improves.

23: Your mind does not know the difference between a powerfully imagined reality and a physical happening reality. Why? Because there is no difference.

24: You only have a problem if you believe you have a problem.

25: Live these principles and you will be practising reality. Practise reality until you overcome the illusion. It is only an illusion that you are not free, now!