peace

LIVIN’

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The older you get, the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep on livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N!!!

Quote from dazed and confused.

Brilliant, just genius.

Learning to be HONEST!

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For quite a few years I was a shitty person, selfish, self-centered, self-obsessed… the list could go on.

Essentially I put my needs (for needs read wants) ahead of everybody else’s, of my friends, of my girlfriends, of my work colleagues… yes everybody without exception.

My friends abandoned me, regularly, and I had to make new ones (which incidentally I became quite adept at from the amount of practice), my girlfriends dumped me but that really should be no surprise and I got sacked (but not often).

Like most people I didn’t and still dont like to hear bad things being said about me and even less so being said to me so I rationalized them, went defensive, went on the attack (more people walking away) and ignored what was being said. I thought they were wrong, they were jealous, they were just moaning, being needy and high maintenance and generally were being real pain in the derriere.

Because… I was good, I was a nice person, I had the answers, my needs were more important, I was important!!!

I didn’t get the other people have needs thing, I didn’t get the other people are important thing.

I still have relapses, but then my wife slaps (yes sometimes she really does but not hard, just hard enough) me back to reality, she keeps me grounded and enlightens me on what’s important, which quite often is not necessarily me and what I want.

I would blame everybody but me if something went wrong, but I can HONESTLY say that I’ve learnt that sometimes I do actually screw-up. Painful to admit, yes, but I do make mistakes.

I eventually realized that I was being an Ass-Hole and started to make changes. This didn’t always go well, the people around didn’t know which Philip would turn-up, which head of the day I was using and I can see why there was some confusion. But I was beginning to ignore those little demons inside my head that kept on pushing me to just get what I wanted and screw the rest, go on just this one more time, I’ll be good tomorrow. It was like a drug being selfish, being me was giving me a high and destroying my chances of ever being a fully functioning adult.

It finally dawned on me that I had to be HONEST not just with others but probably more importantly with myself. It is sometimes good to put yourself first, you are not always in the wrong. The realization journey was like a pendulum and I’d reached the edge of the opposite swing and was beating myself-up way too much. You have to stand-up and support what is the right thing to do, not just the right result but the right way of doing it.

Today I feel well adjusted, a little stressed from time to time but I guess that’s normal and importantly on the whole I’m HONEST with myself, with others and with the people I care about.

Purim Disqus

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It will soon be Purim; a Jewish Festival of enjoyment and celebration. I wrote about this very same festival last year around the time I celebrated with friends in North Manchester, great fun. But what is Purim? What is the story?

Purim is the story of Esther and how she saved the Israelite people of Persia:

There once lived a King by the name of Achashverosh, who ruled over Persia in the third century, BCE.

The story begins with a grand feast that the King was throwing at his palace. Irreconcilable differences propelled the King to divorce and seek a new queen. In search of a new queen, the King commanded his men to travel throughout the kingdom in search of the loveliest of maidens so that he could view them and choose the most beautiful to be his wife and the new Queen.

Around this time there lived a gorgeous woman named Esther. She lived in a small province with her uncle Mordechai. She knew that being the Queen of Persia would be good for her people, so she prepared herself to be brought before the King.

Once the King saw Esther he stopped looking and she became the new Queen of Persia.

One day while passing by the palace gates, Mordechai overheard two guards plotting a revolution with the intent to kill King Achashverosh. Mordechai informed Esther, and the militants were captured and executed. Mordechai saved the King’s life.

The King had an advisor named Haman. This advisor was power hungry and conniving. Haman disliked the Israelites, especially Mordechai. When Haman would travel throughout the towns, he expected the people to bow down to him, as he was second in command to the King. Mordechai refused to bow.

In order to gain favor with the King and rid himself of Mordechai and his people, Haman devised a plan to kill them all. Haman used his sharp tongue and twisted the thoughts of Achashverosh, alleging that Mordechai’s people would cause a problem for the King and that the King should lend his seal to a petition to have them destroyed. The King authorized the genocide and letters were written and sent to all the provinces of Persia bearing the King’s seal.

Haman drew lots to pick the date upon which the genocide would begin. The thirteenth of Adar (the month of Pisces) was the selected day for the mass extermination of the people. Remember this date.

When Mordechai caught word of this, he tore his clothes in mourning, dressed in a sackcloth and cried before the King’s gate.

When Esther was told about her uncle’s behavior she sent him new clothes, but he refused them. He sent her a message telling her to go to the King and plead for the lives of her people.

The law in Persia at that time was strict; no one was to approach the King unless they were summoned. To disobey was punishable by death. Esther sent word back to her uncle that the townspeople should fast for three days, she would do the same, and after the three days she would approach the King.

After three days, Esther went to the King who was so pleased to see her that he held out his scepter and asked her if he could grant her a request. Esther asked the King and Haman to join her in her quarters for a banquet that she would prepare on the following day.

As Haman left the Palace that evening he saw Mordechai. So full with hatred was he for Mordechai, that he resolved the next morning he would ask the King’s permission to hang Mordechai in a public spectacle on gallows fifty feet high.

That same night the King could not sleep and he asked to hear the daily chronicles, which recorded the events of the palace. There the King learned that Mordechai informed the King about a scheme to overthrow the kingdom and kill the King. Mordechai had saved the King’s life, but had not been rewarded for his loyalty.

When Haman arrived in the morning, the King asked Haman’s advice as to the appropriate manner to honor a person that has found great favor with the King. Haman, assuming that it was he who was to be honored, said that the man should be allowed to wear the King’s crown, the King’s clothes and should be led through town on the King’s horse, proclaiming that this man is favored by the King.

King Achashverosh accepted the idea and told Haman to give this honor to Mordechai. Enraged, Haman followed the King’s orders. That night was the banquet that Queen Esther had prepared for the King and Haman. The King was so pleased with her, that again he asked Esther if he could grant her a request. This time Queen Esther asked her husband to save her life, the life of her people, and her uncle, Mordechai, who the king had honored that day. The King was horrified that the life of his queen and his devoted Mordechai were threatened and demanded to know who was responsible for this. Esther replied that it was Haman.

Haman fell to his knees before the King and pleaded for his life, but the King ordered that Haman be hung on the very gallows that he had intended for Mordechai. Mordechai was then made the new advisor to the King.

However, the order of genocide could not simply be revoked, so the King ordered that the Israelites be informed and armed to fight in their own defense. Due to their awareness of the kabbalistic tools of unity, the 72 Names of God, and their understanding of the cosmic cycles of the kabbalistic calendar, the Israelites of Persia triumphed over the Persian Army. They awakened the power of miracles available in the month of Adar/Pisces. And moreover, they were able to alter their destiny.

(Story c/o livingwisdom/kabbalah.com)

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So what does this story tell us? what does it teach?

The story of Purim is a story that teaches that we must overcome one of our greatest enemies; doubt.

Esther could not affect the destiny of her people until she affected the cause of their impending calamity. By saying her people should fast for 72 hours and give succor to one-another she helped her people come together, to overcome the desire for self alone and awaken the energy of unity through the experience of sharing. The king armed them, they fought and overcame their impending doom.

For Jews the time of Purim is a time of celebration. If you go to a Jewish area wherever you find yourself, in whatever country you are you will almost certainly find a community in festive mood. Parties, cake, drink, face-painting for children and general merriment – a time of joy.

Doubt is an enemy of achievement an enemy of aspiration. Doubt of others is bad, but Doubt of yourself is worse. Be sure of yourself, know who and where you are in your life. Know who and where you would like to be in your life. Do not doubt yourself and go and achieve.

These are the lessons from Esther.

Death of a Peacekeeper

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Setting off with 2 trucks, jeeps and material ...
Setting off with 2 trucks, jeeps and material in Bangui; © OCHA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a strange day yesterday, a very strange day indeed. There was the world media event that was the Nelson Mandela memorial, President Obama et al involved in a ‘selfie’ caught on camera by the press and then there was the conflict in Central African Republic.

The French Army, there as peace keepers, peace makers actually but I’m sure you know what I mean banned all media activity for the day. This is unusual to say the very least. Journalists were banned from filming with the French Forces, cancelled until further notice.

Journalists were left to report and film in the absence of armed protection and so they did what journalists do, they made reports.  And these reports, what did they say?

They told the story of a lawless country, of streets barred to ordinary people and to the journalists as it happens. But yesterday the army roadblocks had been removed, almost as if the effort to prevent further slaughter by the militia were suspended for the day! And then the news came that French President Francois Holland was to visit or more accurately fly into a secure, (very secure actually, the army had been taken off the streets to protect him during the visit) airport surrounded by soldiers and barbed wire then fly back out again.

Nonetheless journalists did witness some peacekeeping forces in action. Forces from FOMAC from the UN, African Troops this time were engaged in a fire-fight with local militia whilst covering people seeking to go about their business as usual as possible in these extraordinary circumstances. At least one was felled, killed I don’t know but probably and given the reports possibly from gunfire from his own troops who were seen to be firing what can be best described as in a chaotic manner.

But did we see the report? Not unless you go looking for the information.

I am reminded of Romeo Dalliers, the most senior UN military official on the ground during the Rwandan conflict who said of Africa and Africans that they were people who had nothing to lose except their lives. But that their lives were worthless in the eyes of the world and so what should be expected is more not less conflict, more not less hate, and more not less death.

The death of the two French Soldiers is without doubt a tragedy, but we have to place a higher value on human life, all human life no matter where they were born, what their wealth, no matter what their skin colour or who they pray too. Human life is NOT an economic statistic!

Peace Deal?

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Mahmoud Abbas, Tzipi Livni - World Economic Fo...
Mahmoud Abbas, Tzipi Livni – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2007 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

Last night I was waiting for my good friend to come round to my house, we were playing backgammon (for fun, not money) and turned the TV on. As I like watching the news so much I turned to Aljazeera News who give a different perspective from the home-grown news channels; BBC, ITV & Sky.  I was soon captivated by a speech from John Kerry US Secretary of State talking about the on-going Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

I was born and brought-up in the UK and have spent the majority of my adult life in the UK so have an interest in how the UK is viewed from beyond our borders. I also travel independently as much as possible.

I very quickly became captivated by the speech which seemed to be laden with hope! Good, I thought.

13 meetings so far, including three in the last 4-days, so the pace of negotiation is picking-up some urgency. Kerry even praised the Arab League for showing remarkable commitment. Kerry rounded-off his short speech by saying “The Israeli and Palestinian people both have leaders who absolutely understand what is at stake and they have taken risks to bring both parties to the table.”

Next up was Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah. He chose to speak in Arabic with English translation provided, no problem he should be comfortable with what and how he is speaking. His very first point – flag flying, specifically Israeli flag flying! Right, so not optimistic now then. He pledged $150m as debt relief for the PA, expressed concern about the Gaza Strip being isolated, and the need for food in Gaza.

Okay I think maybe he just overlooked Hamas, or that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated emphatically that no Israeli settlers or border forces would be allowed to remain in a future Palestinian state. “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands,” Abbas told the Egyptian press.

Its a funny term he used, the term “final resolution,” which sounds so disturbingly familiar. It brought to mind two other familiar terms from the same era, Judenfrei (“free of Jews”) and Judenrein (“clean of Jews”), the Nazi terms designating an area “cleansed” of Jewish presence. Judenfrei referred to “freeing” an area of all its Jewish dwellers by deportation, while Judenrein had the stronger connotation that any trace of Jewish blood had been removed as an impurity.

Anyway not long after the speech my friend turned-up and we played backgammon. He beat me 5-0, I’ve won our last three encounters by a single game and probably because he is a generous teacher; I’ve been playing for less than a year so far but its a very enjoyable game nonetheless.

But then I got to work this morning to see news of Arabs in East Jerusalem flying the Nazi Swastika over a village, and not for the first time either. The message is clear, their primary interest is in destroying Israel. The Arab/Muslim love affair with jihad, a cult of murder, torture, and death, finds its apotheosis in the Nazi party. So, even as much of the Arab world publicly denies, or at least down-plays the Holocaust, behind closed doors they celebrate and draw inspiration from the German genocide of the Jews.

It would seem then to my less informed mind that flag flying might actually be a good starting point after all. The road to Peace is going to be long and difficult I guess. To my way of thinking Israel accepts Arabs within its borders, as a predominately Jewish State it allows Arabs to sit in the Government (Knesset). As a model for the Mid-East you probably couldn’t go too far wrong in adopting the Israeli example for all Theocracy/Proto-Democracies regardless of the Ideology at the heart of the State.

However, on a somber note I think that the best that Israel can hope for in the short-medium term is that they can manage the various perpetually unstable IslamoNazi factions both within and without its borders.

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/abbas-palestinian-state-will-be-judenrein/2013/07/30/

WJC International Letter of Outrage

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The Sejm, the Polish Parliament, recently voted to make the kosher preparation of meat, the backbone of Jewish dietary laws, ILLEGAL. This means that Poland has become the first country in Europe since the end of World War II to ban shechita – kosher slaughter.

In effect Polish Jews have been told to quit the country or stop being Jewish if they want to stay in Poland.

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Prior to WWII Poland was home to the largest Jewish population in Europe.  Of course the Nazi Holocaust changed that for ever, but in July 1946 ethnic Poles murdered Jews in a pogrom in Kielce.  Today no more than a few thousand are left.

We’ve been here before and what comes next is more attempts to wipe out Jewish culture, to make it impossible for Jews to live peacefully with, contributing to and adding to the other local cultures & traditions.

As with ALL religious groups provided they are not in some way harming others then they must be protected, safety and rights of religious practice guaranteed. Any movement that begins with the outlawing of shechita is virtually guaranteed to adversely affect not only the Jews of Poland but, eventually, Jewish communities everywhere.

I strongly recommend that you (of any faith or none) stand with WJC and sign the International Letter of Outrage.

Go to:  http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/shechita-campaign/take-action?utm_source=WJC+Shechita+Petition&utm_campaign=92a098aef3-schecita_campaign_email_test7_25_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_504680ba00-92a098aef3-318845805