Monday, February 22, 2016

As heard in Australia!

Hello, it's Chloe here.
I hope you don't mind, but I've got my paws on the computer this week.  I know my Mum means well, but, between you and me, she can get her facts a bit muddled.   This story is all about me, so it's important to get the details right.

Now, as you know, my Mum and I go to the nursing home every Friday, and we've found lots of ways of cheering up the patients.

For instance, my Mum suggested that I should say 'hello' to each patient when we greet them.  This seemed an excellent idea, so, when my Mum prompts me, I always say a polite "Miaow!".

You'd be amazed at the result.  People's eyes light up and big smiles spread all over their faces . . . humans, I've decided, are very easy to please.

Then there's another clever double-act we've worked out.
When it's time to move on to the next room my Mum looks at me and says, "Do you want to go now, Chloe?".

This is my cue to turn to her in shocked indignation and give a loud "Nee-oww!" of protest.
It never fails!  The patients go all pink with pleasure to think that I don't want to leave them.

Well, last week, after we'd been to see Muriel, Tony and Anne . . . and I'd said lots of 'Miaows' and 'Nee-owws' . . . the next person to visit was Peggy.  Peggy isn't very well and she's usually in bed, so my Mum holds me over the bed to allow her to stroke me.

When we entered her room last Friday, Peggy was lying down and talking to her telephone.  Humans, as I'm sure you know, have this strange habit of talking to telephones.  I think they do it when they feel lonely.

Anyway, when Peggy saw my Mum and me, she got all excited.
"I'm talking to my daughter in Melbourne," she said, "could Chloe speak to Linda?"

Well, as you know, I'm an obliging cat who's always willing to co-operate.  But I must say I did feel a bit foolish at being asked to talk to a lump of plastic.
Nonetheless, Peggy had always been very nice to me and I didn't want to disappoint her.
So . . . "Miaow!" I said loudly at the telephone.

And do you know what happened?
That telephone spoke back to me!

It wasn't at all what I'd expected.  But Peggy was absolutely delighted, my Mum was laughing, and it seemed that I'd caused a great deal of pleasure all round.

"Chloe . . . your voice has been heard in Australia!" said Peggy, reaching out to stroke me.
It didn't seem the moment to mention that I'd no idea as to where or what Australia was.  But I'm sure you'll agree that, judging by the general reaction, it seems to be a very good place for a cat's voice to express itself.

Tell me . . . has your voice been heard in Australia?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A cracking shell

"Democracy," according to Winston Churchill, "is the worst form of government . . . except for all the others."

Could it be that we're in the process of relegating democracy to a position alongside all those 'others' . . . it's an unexpected possibility.

I'm sure we'd all agree that the democratic system will only thrive under specific conditions.  The most important being that, for a given period of time, the parties who lose the vote are willing to accept the judgement and authority of the party who wins.
In order for this acceptance to exist, there's need for a co-operative common ground.

A combination of recent events has brought democracy into sharp focus.  For a start, there's the presidential contest in the United States.  This contest has highlighted the widely differing policies of the opposing sides, differences best demonstrated by two of the contenders, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders . . . both of whom topped their parties' votes in New Hampshire.

Then, as we all know, a referendum will soon take place.  We, in the UK, will be voting to either stay in or leave the European Union.
But where's the common ground when all the votes are counted?
Will those who want to come out be happy if we stay in?
Will those who want to stay in be reconciled if we come out?

In addition, a disturbing poll, undertaken by YouGov, suggests that the proportion of parents who'd be 'very upset' if their child married someone of a different voting persuasion has doubled in eight years.

The common ground, the place where politics are excluded and the mutual needs of the people are recognised, is disappearing . . . and it's disappearing fast. 

So, why this increase in contention . . . and, if democracy is under strain, what's the alternative?

Let's look at the bigger picture.  In the natural world, wouldn't you agree that pain and friction almost invariably precede breakthrough?

Look at the chick forcing its way out of the egg . . . look at the oak shoot pushing its way through the broken acorn . . . look at the pain of childbirth before the baby finally emerges from the womb.

The start of the twenty-first century has much in common with these natural processes . . .  a difficult and uncertain time of change and growth.  A time when many structures, not just those in politics, are showing signs of severe strain.

But you can't stick a plaster on a cracking eggshell.
Democracy, as we know it, might be failing us, but it could still be a question of choice.

What if it's not Democrats or Republicans, it's not Conservative or Labour . . . but, put simply, it's a choice between the outworn past or a collaborative, compassionate future?
Isn't that what we should be voting for . . . the restoration of balance and harmony?

And how will we feel if we cast that vote, and break out of our restrictive shells?
Click here . . .  and find out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Waking sleeping beauty

I wonder, what does the word 'beauty' mean to you?

Wouldn't you agree that it's one of those difficult words.
A word that, at the same time, manages to be both instantly recognisable and impossible to define.

Beauty, so we've been told, lies in the eye of the beholder . . . a statement which is indisputably true.

After all, we can only recognise what we can identify, and we can only identify what lies within the scope of our knowledge.

But that statement would also suggest that beauty is limited to sight . . . which isn't true.  Beauty is appreciated by all our senses.
So could it be that it also lies in the voice of the speaker, that it's waiting in the ear of the listener?

In the natural world there's no such thing as questioning, everything is accepted as it is . . . everything is beautiful.  It's only our self-critical, self-doubting species who suffer from being so painfully judgemental.

But, just think about it for a moment, what if our inner beauty was only dormant?
What if it were waiting, like Sleeping Beauty, to be awakened by the recognition of its existence?

And this isn't mere conjecture.  I've a heart-warming video to share with you, one that perfectly illustrates what we're saying.

Click here to see what the heart and the voice can produce when working in unison . . . and notice how surprisingly simple it is, just by telling someone they're beautiful,  to uncover what was hidden.

Definitely something to think about . . . and an example to follow?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Time to go home . . . ?

Does the ancient tale of Adam and Eve hold any relevance today?

That question formed the theme of an article I've just read.
Let me tell you about it.

In the beginning, so we're told, all was harmonious in the Garden of Eden.  The inhabitants lived in loving unity . . . plants, insects and animals all co-existing and evolving in supportive collaboration.

Each life form recognised not only its own individual attributes, but also its unity with the whole.  It was an inter-locking,  very beautiful jig-saw . . .   as the human element of that jig-saw, Adam and Eve formed an integral part of the pattern.

Then . . . well, you know what happened next.
There was the question of an apple . . . and a persuasive snake.  Perhaps the apple wasn't fully ripe?  Perhaps Eve's motives for eating it were mixed?

Whatever the reason, the Tree of Knowledge, in offering self-awareness, simultaneously withdrew the memory of loving,  collective awareness.
And what did it offer in its place?  It bestowed on Adam and Eve a dangerous and intoxicating illusion . . . the illusion of separation.

New concepts, never known before, came rushing to the fore.  There was the birth of anxiety, a sense of isolation, feelings of shame and unworthiness . . . and an unexpected need for fig leaves.  No longer mutually supportive, Adam and Eve rounded on each other.

At the same time, new desires came flooding in . . . compulsive desires such as acquisition, competition and self-advancement.  Adam and Eve, so the article claims, weren't banished from the peace and harmony of the Garden . . . it was under the domination of these new and powerful emotions that they chose to exclude themselves.

Doesn't this all sound rather familiar? 
Whereas the natural world still lives in co-operative harmony,  the divisive, competitive concepts triggered by Eve's apple continue to govern us today.

But has the human race benefitted from its vaunted sense of superiority, its illusion of independence?
That's not how it feels. 

The writer ends the article by posing three questions: 
What if we throw away the core of that ancient apple?
What if we acknowledge that, in body and spirit, we're indivisible from all life on Earth?
And, finally, what if we recognise all the trouble we're causing  . . . and decide to go back home?

Before we answer those questions, let's share a remarkable video.  Without any need for words, it graphically illustrates two vital qualities that we once enjoyed in the Garden . . .  collective identity and common purpose.

Click here and marvel . . .