Day 870

For all of us who aren’t sure, it is possible to be Christian/Hindu/etc and gay.
It’s also possible to believe in God and science.
It is possible to be pro-choice and anti-abortion.
It is equally possible to be a feminist and love and respect men.

It’s possible to have privilege and be discriminated against,
to be poor and have a rich life,
to not have a job and still have some money.
It is possible to be anti guns and still believe in one’s right to defend one’s self, family, and property,
it’s possible to be anti-war and pro-military.
It is possible to love thy neighbor and despise his actions.

It is possible to advocate Black Lives Matter and still be pro police.
It is possible to not have an education and be brilliant.
It is possible to be a devout follower of Islam and also suffer at the hands of terrorists.
It is possible to be a patient and a healer at the same time,
To be sane and insane, all at once.
It is possible to be different and the same.
We are all walking contradictions of what “normal” looks like.
Let humanity and love win.

(Inspired by Cynthia Stamm Clark)

Butterflies are Us

Art, healing and unifying us.

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Day 866

Having a couple of daylight hours still left after work is a luxury. This evening I was lucky. I walked aimlessly along the Southbank and ‘The F-word’ exhibition caught my eye. F for Forgiveness. Bold posters with simple, human messages from ordinary people from all over the world, telling stories that transform, offering a dynamic and challenging exploration of forgiveness through real life situations.

There is nothing ordinary about forgiveness. Forgiving others. Forgiving myself. I constantly struggle with it.

One mother said “When I was told that my son had been killed in action, the first words that came out of my mouth were ’Do not take revenge in the name of my son.’ It was a totally instinctive response.”

When Saagar passed away, one of the strongest feelings that came up for me was – no one should have to loose anyone they love to suicide. That was the driving force that kept me alive and goaded me on but forgiveness is a subtle and powerful thing that happens at another level. I am very conscious of the fact that it is something I really need to address but keep putting it off while it keeps gnawing away at me. Perhaps, it is not entirely by co-incidence that I chanced upon this exhibition.

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Ref: http://theforgivenessproject.com/

 

 

 

 

Day 860

Surprisingly her train was on time. Today she was careful. She went to the correct platform. It was 12 noon. There were only a few people around, looking lonely. She boarded a quiet coach and was happy to find her favourite, forward-facing-window seat with a table, waiting for her. The only other person there was a young man sitting by the window opposite, immersed in his phone and lost in a world of his own, between the big black and red headphones planted over his ears. Both his feet, with shoes on, were resting on the seat opposite. Her head rankled aloud and she was filled with such severe disapproval that she nearly turned around and left.

But then she stopped. He was only a kid. In a strange way he reminded her of her son, even though he looked nothing like him. She could speak with him. What was the worst that could happen? She approached him gently and got his attention.
“Please would you mind putting your feet down?”
“What’s your problem?”
“Feel free to disregard what I say. I just wanted to share my perspective with you. The grime under your soles gets transferred on to other people’s clean clothes and children’s hands. It can make people sick. That’s all. Thank you.”

She smiled and backed off. She sat at the seat she had ear-marked for herself, just on the other side, across the width of the coach. From the corner of her eye, she saw both his feet descend to the floor. With a nearly imperceptible smile she continued to pretend to be looking out of the window and he continued to do the same and the world went by…

Day 857

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Homeless people are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. The average age of death of a homeless person is 47 years for men and just 43 for women, as compared to 77 for the general female population.

Drugs and alcohol abuse account for just over a third of all deaths. Homeless people are over 9 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Other common causes of death are traffic accidents, infections,falls and violence against them. 

Homelessness kills.

Walking around London it is clear that despite significant investment in the NHS and improvements in homelessness services they are not getting the help they need to address their health issues.

Walking around Trafalgar Square, one can’t miss the majestic Georgian church, St Martin-in-the-fields . It is a hospitable, vibrant, open and inclusive, forward thinking community with worship at its heart. The Revd. Dr Sam Wells is full of grace and wisdom. He always speaks to my heart. I look forward to hearing him at the special service being held there on Saturday, the 4th of March for families bereaved by suicide.

This poem by Sir Andrew Motion is a part of an Arts project run by the Church and is inscribed on the balustrade encircling the lightwell in the open space near the church:

Your stepping inwards from the air to earth
Winds round itself to meet the open sky
So vanishing becomes a second birth.
Fare well. Return. Fare well. Return again.
Here home and elsewhere share one mystery.
Here love and conscience sing the same refrain.
Here time leaps up. And strikes eternity.

Sources:

Crisis research from 2011:
http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Homelessness%20-%20a%20silent%20killer.pdf

St Martin-in-the-fields:
http://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/

Sir Andrew Motion:
http://www.poetseers.org/contemporary-poets/poet-laureates/andrew-motion/

Day 849

School playgrounds are challenging places. Many of us haven’t quite survived them or their equivalents. They are part of growing up and some of the memories created there, stay with us for a long time. Our childhood never leaves us.

The playground has now extended itself into our private spaces via the World Wide Web. There is nowhere to hide. No place is safe. The aggressors can be cowardly and hide but the attacked are exposed even when sitting alone in their bedrooms. Any child from any background can be a victim and any child from any background can be a culprit.

How easy it is to make people feel they don’t fit in, by words or by indifference. Many agonise over fitting in and being accepted for who they are. The deep desire to fit in can cause misery for life. The feelings of non-acceptance are deeply damaging when internalised, leading to long term mental and physical health problems.

It must not be easy for kids to talk about being bullied. It must hurt. It must be embarrassing. Attention needs to be paid to what they say to alert us to the subtle or overt bullying that goes on. Every blessing requires care and commitment. Everyone needs to feel loved and valued. While meanness may afford short-term gains, kindness is transformative.

In Primary school, Saagar’s friend Adam always stood up for him in the ‘school playground’. They were best friends for many years and I am very grateful to Adam for his kindness. Saagar was too even though at the time he did not know that he would not survive the playground. Neither did I. 

Henry James said, “ Three things in human life are important: first is to be kind; second is to be kind; and third is to be kind.”

The ‘Special K’.

 

 

Day 846

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Simba Muzira, son of Sara Muzira.
Exhibition of Art, Long Gallery, Maudsley Hospital. London.
Simba Muzira. Doing it again.

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Spray paint. Street art. Bold statements. Clear expressions. Innocent eyes. Pure soul.
Courage. Suffering. Passion.

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Pigeons telling him not to wear his shoes. Pigeons everywhere! No words!

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A mother’s tribute to her talented son who died at 32 after living with mental illness for a few years, in and out of the hospital. Her accounts of doing things in his best interest which turned out otherwise. Her heartbreak at having to live away from him when he was too ill to be at home. Her sense of an utter waste of a young life full of promise. Her guilt. Again and again. Her love. Immeasurable.

I salute you. Sara and Simba Muzira.

 

Day 839

A few weeks ago Desert Island Discs completed 75 years on BBC Radio4.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08cd2fk) A brief excerpt of an interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu caught my ear. He talked about his experience of freedom when he came to England in the 1960s. He could go into any restaurant, speak openly and be himself. White policemen spoke to him with respect. He said that anyone who had never experienced such a great contrast as the one between his home country and the UK would not understand how wonderful that freedom felt.

This made me think about what freedom means to me. I read some of the Archbishop’s teachings and found the ancient Bantu word ‘Ubuntu’ meaning “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.

“Ubuntu .. the very essence of being human. A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family.”

“My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours. We belong in a bundle of life. A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships” ― Desmond Tutu

Nelson Mandela said something similar – ‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’

Freedom cannot be achieved by isolating oneself. Waging wars in the name of freedom is a fundamentally flawed concept, be it nations or individuals. Freedom is uplifting and life enhancing for everyone, not for one at the cost of the other. Ubuntu.

‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’