Wednesday, October 2, 2013
It's October 2nd, the International Day of Non-Violence, so I think it's appropriate to at least make a bit of noise on this blog after having been on hiatus since I published a photographic essay (using photos taken with a phone camera) of my thoughts on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).
It's been nearly 3 months since I returned to the Philippines from my month-long AVP exposure journey all over Indonesia and I still haven't published the musings I wrote during that time. I have three entries already keyed-in. All that's left is for me to paste them here and click on that orange button but I don't feel comfortable putting those stories out yet—even if it's been a while since I wrote them. Sure, I wrote stuff for the local paper and the website of Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific and they're both accessible to anyone in the world with an unrestricted internet connection; however, there is a strange force within that's keeping me from publishing the ones written while I was actually going through what I now term "epiphanies." It's one thing when you're writing about an experience and recalling from a memory of events that happened several weeks to several months in the past; writing real-time—or at least very close to is—is an entirely different story. The things you come up with are much more raw and the words written down bear so much more life. Even after having been transcribed from paper to a digital surface, the words still seem, to me, like they could bleed if touched.
Am I being shy? Not a chance! Being shy entails resisting an internal prodding to do something; my case is that there is something in me telling me not to do it. Forcing myself would be a form of self-inflicted violence, wouldn't it? I don't believe I'm making excuses borne out of fear. As far as I'm concerned, this is legitimately conscientious. Perhaps things will ease up in time and I'll decide to get those stories out. For now, I'll wait. There's no rush. After all, I am a Quaker and waiting is something I do on a regular basis.
I'm the type of person who checks Reddit and Facebook on a regular basis, looking for news items I could sink my teeth into and there never seems to be a day when violence doesn't greet me with a heavy slap. It's on the front page of almost every news site and forum I visit. From the revolution in Syria to war in Mindanao to the recent hostage crisis in Kenya to the Russian government's violence against its LGBT citizens to gun incidents all over the United States of America—it's exhausting!
The sociology behind human violence is something you'd perceive to be outdated in an age like this. It's largely a recourse that primitive humans employed to ensure the survival of the species. Heaven, if it exists, knows there are enough of us to ensure our survival for the next millennia. With the existence of our kind of technology and the speed by which innovation moves forward, the only thing that could wipe us out is nature's indomitable force and nothing can be done to prevent that. So, I don't get why we're still fighting.
The principles behind causing destruction and suffering to fellow human beings are all antediluvian. Yes, perhaps even the interpretation you hold of your holy scriptures should undergo some sort of reform to kick away parts that do not apply to the present time. If you feel a necessity, as a human being, to hold on to a belief as you journey through life, why not let it be rooted in love and peace? Isn't it easier that way than to be angry all the time? I'd say religion itself is obsolete but if I speak like that, it would follow that a lot of things are—including states (i.e. countries). Such an idea is quite far-fetched.
Now, while John Lennon's dream may not reach its realisation in this lifetime, I genuinely believe it's the direction we ought to take. He isn't the first one to say such things. Jesus went along similar lines. Also, he never actually said people should build a religion centred around him and worship his name ceaselessly until their Earthly demise. He spoke of love and peace and a divine life lived with an understanding of his existence's example, which basically screamed forgiveness and non-violence and respect to every being. The Buddha did the same and so did Rumi and many, many others before and after them—inlcuding Mohandas K. Gandhi, whose day of birth we commemorate today.
With all that said, isn't a life of peace so much more convenient than being angry and violent all the time? With peace, there is a simple give and take process that occurs between individuals and everybody wins. You work to live and let live and you won't have to maintain a mantra of fear. Whereas, with a violent lifestyle, you actually have to exert a humongous amount of energy. Anger takes a lot out of you—more so does the act of inflicting pain and taking people's lives away. Plus, there's the constant fear of getting killed or hurt and there's paranoia that your allies aren't actually allies; you worry almost all the time about the few people you actually care about; you get no sleep. It all baffles me, really. Violence is unnecessary and absolutely stupid, if you think about it deeply enough.
I think I've made my point even though this entry isn't coherent in a lot of places. I apologise; it exhausts me to think of violence.
May Peace Prevail on Earth.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I went to Indonesia with the Friends Peace Teams to witness, first-hand, how the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) works and how it contributes to the global effort of cultivating cultures of peace.
But what is AVP?
Well, as far as I'm concerned...
But what is AVP?
Well, as far as I'm concerned...
AVP is fun and games and getting in touch with the innocent child in each of us.
AVP is days of forging new and lasting friendships.
AVP is sharing stories and learning from them.
AVP is embracing and celebrating the essential oneness in diversity.
AVP is sharing smiles and laughter.
AVP is having new brothers and sisters.
AVP is learning new things about the world you live in and about yourself.
AVP is learning how to stand firm under a raging storm.
AVP is like fresh water smoothly brushing boulders on its way to a serene river.
AVP is Peace through Love and Compassion.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Yesterday, my decision to cut my lush, long black hair received its material counterpart. I actually made it happen. From being a mere idea, it became reality after Jamin, a guy who works at the place we're staying at here in Langsa, drove me by motorbike to a shop called Metro Hair where I sat on a chair and a man ran an electric razor and a pair of silver scissors all over the top surface of my skull.
Contrary to what a few people think, I didn't have my precious strands of ebony chopped off just because a lot of people in North Sumatra mistook me for a woman--although I must admit it did provide a bit of reinforcement. My decision wasn't a crazy arbitrary thing either. A few people might remember that day in November 2011 when I flipped out and had my head shaved completely bald. That was arbitrary and I'm not ashamed to admit it. This time, though, it was done with some sort of mental feasibility study--if such a thing even exists.
I've actually entertained the idea of getting back my clean schoolboy look for quite some time already. My reasons? Well, for one, it's much, much neater to look at. It's easier to manage; it's much cheaper to maintain; it makes me look a lot younger; it feels better; it doesn't cause the area around my neck to store heat; and other equally valid reasons that would cause me to rant endlessly. I could go on and on and on.
This is only the second day I've pranced around the world with my new head of short hair and I'm still in the process of getting used to it. Sometimes, when I visualise myself, I still get an image of a young Asian dude with long hair. When I realise, though, that I don't anymore or if I get a glimpse of myself through a reflective surface, I instantly get the feeling that I don't know myself. "Who is that boy I'm looking at?" would be the usual internal question. Perhaps this has some sort of intellectual application in my life. Perhaps such a feeling is an indication that I don't actually know myself well enough.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I'm in Aceh Province in Indonesia right now (having left North Sumatra just yesterday) getting my first exposure to the worldwide work of the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)--something Quakers started a while back but has now become largely secular because that's exactly how it's supposed to be--and, even though I'm barely a week into it, the whole experience has been absolutely life-changing. The place, the work, the principles, especially the people I've come to know are simply extraordinary.
You see, I didn't really know this but I can honestly say I've only known way too little about the things I've been talking about all this time. This is really hard to say but it's the raw truth. I've been stagnant in the growth department for very, very long.
I'm not going to go into details right now but I just really felt the need to admit I've been a pompous brat all these years without even realising it. It's always been a mantra of mine that we're constantly evolving and growing but I've only come to grasp, these past seven days, what growth and evolution actually mean. I've heard lectures and public talks about it. The organisations I work with are big on ideas of growth and evolution and it's all good but such concepts are simply not absorbed through verbal information relay. It has to come through personal experience and that's what happened to me. It hurt very badly when it happened. It was like getting slapped repeatedly in the face and stomped on by wooden shoes. I shed tears lying in my hard make-shift bed but it had to happen otherwise I would have been stuck where I was.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
When you learn an important lesson about preventing a disaster from occurring, live by it. Stop trying to test it over and over again especially if violating it results to dire physiological and physical consequences.
Here are a few examples that may not apply to everyone but do to some and certainly to me.:
- Never consume any solids for at least two hours before hitting the running track or else your stomach will hurt after your third non-stop mile.
- Never drink more than 2 cups of coffee after 5PM or risk a sleepless night.
- Never work out if you didn't get at least 6 hours of sleep.
- Never accumulate more than 5 days of sleeping for less than 6 hours each day or else you will fall ill.
- Never strain your muscles by exercising within two hours prior to sleeping or else you will not be able to sleep immediately.
- Never do anything that specifically concerns any form of witchcraft an hour prior to sleeping or else you will not be able to sleep.
- Never ever, ever, ever, ever resort to violence! If you do, you will indubitably end up hurting yourself.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
So I was thinking about war and the victims of war and the grief and the agony and the pain... And it suddenly occurred to me to look up that song Christian Bale sang as a young boy in the film "Empire of the Sun," so I did.
It's called Suo Gân and it's a traditional Welsh lullaby first printed around 1800. It's such a beautiful song from a mother to a child. I couldn't help but weep a little while listening to it after having read the English translation on Wikipedia.
Of course, it wasn't just the song that moved me; it was also the images of the victims of war that popped in my head. Sometimes, humanity can get so disappointing. So very, very disappointing! It's sad to think that while some of us are doing things to remedy the horrid realities of life, many others are out there causing more devastation and depression.