Archive for December, 2009

Watching kids watching TV

Some guys brought kids to work and they were watching TV at the lunch room. I was amaze at what they were watching. They were watching Mariah Carey on MTV. These were boys eight, nine or then years old. They watch this woman in a skimpy outfit, half her enhanced breast (I am guessing) exposed and gyrating to a primitive rhythm. When I was their age I was watching toons. What will happen to them? Will they consider this normal? Will they think normal woman behave this way? Will they think sexually is a normal way of relating to woman? I don’t know. Will the girls think, they need to be like her to be normal? I am concerned and dare not think too much of it. But again, May be I should.

“Invictus”

“Invictus”

We went to watch the movie “Invictus” the other day. It was a inspirational movie of portraying Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. NM was portrayed as an inspirational but fully human leader. The movie showed his regrets in his personal life without a final explicit reconciliation and strained physical exhaustion certain showed the discretion of a more subtle and matter of fact rather than a more melodramatic approach. The racial theme though is rather preachy and blatant. The part that showed the cell NM was in was particularly sweeping. The name of the movie was from a poem that inspired Mandela to endure the 27 years unjusted imprisonment for the color of his skin.

“Invictus” (meaning “Invincible” in Latin) was a short poem written by William Earnest Henley and published in 1875. The impact of its verses is probably best summed up by this passage from a 2007 Reader’s Digest interview with Mandela:

RD: When you were in prison all those long years on Robben Island and elsewhere, was there something that came back to you, something you had either in your mind, a message or passage from a book, a song, something that helped sustain you and keep up your spirits?

NM: There was a poem by an English poet, W.E. Henley, called “Invictus.” The last lines go: “It matters not how straight the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

Additionally, from the official Nobel Prize website, there is this aside, amid a passage detailing the impact of literary heritage on Mandela’s life:

At Robben Island, Mandela recited this poem and taught other prisoners these defiant lines; reading such words “puts life in you”, Mandela says.

Henley wrote the piece following a foot amputation due to tubercular infection. He lived until age 53, apparently unbow’d and unafraid, a productive poet, critic and editor. (The one-legged Henley also served as an inspiration for his close friend Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” character Long John Silver.)

Another bizarre note is that the poem’s final verse was used as the last words by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Here is the full text of Henley’s “Invictus”:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Christmas giving

We went to highland farm to do some grocery shopping. I noticed this person standing at the entrance when I entered. I notice things like that. No, I am not Jason Bourne that by instinct memorized all the license plates anywhere he went but I do notice odd things. The person was still there when we were leaving about half an hour later. It was odd because it was windy and cold. When I passed by she asked for money for food. I paused gave her a ten. It is Christmas, let be generous. I had discussion with people who disagreed about giving money to strangers. They told me they would go buy alcohol or drugs and we by giving will perpetual the vicious cycle. If they need food we should go buy food with them instead of just giving them money. Some even say that by just giving that would be irresponsible giving. These are good arguments that I agreed but not whole heartily. I did follow the advice quite often. I wonder though sometimes may be we should just simply give after all that is all they asked for, money. Can we not just simply give sometime? Jesus asked us to give generously and he asked us to be merciful. Sure there is the Matthew 10:16 text that said “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” But I think more along the line that may be by our giving, the person will fell that there are still some goodness in the world. And may be just that once in a million chances the person will feel the love and change a bit, is that not worth it. Giving is theological, how to give is ethical, ethical consideration sometimes should not display theological considerations. I may have erred in my logic but at the very least I think this should be part of the dialogue and not to be left un-attended by the road to Jericho.

Christmas is special because it showed us a reality that supposes to be normal. Giving, forgiving and loving should be normal and not reserved for the special occasions. At Christmas even at the workplace people are more forgiving. They say if you cannot finish the work, it is okay to wait till later. Work is easier at Christmas for sure, but if everyday is like Christmas would it not be a better world. Some say then we’ll never get anything done. I beg to disagree. Firstly, people do perform better in a giving, forgiving and loving environment. Secondly, even if people do not do we need to get all the work done? Let make this Christmas special by make it not so special because we made a resolution to make everyday like Christmas.