A "Black Swan Event" is when the unexpected occurs, causing a huge mindshift and change in how the world works. People never imagined that Black Swans existed, until the discovery of the first Black Swan... (as per book "The Black Swan", by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 2007, that sold over 3 million copies)

Is a perception change the next Black Swan Event? Consider that by changing perception we might change the world. Look at everyday things from different angles. Find beauty in the unexpected...
Change our thinking, change our actions, change our world!

See that all people are part of God's puzzle and have something to give. Black swans do exist. The ugly duckling was actually a swan who needed to discover himself and where he fitted and be who he was meant to be. To the last, the lost and the least, you are beautiful as you are.
May all who visit this page feel God's touch and experience His blessing...

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

An edited copy of my book, Foundation Stone of Hope, is available to read on ISSUU

I've uploaded a revised version of my personal growth, Christian book, Foundation Stone of Hope, onto ISSUU. ISSUU is a great platform to use to read and page through books online.

I removed quite a bit of information from the book and hope it reads better now. Comments and feedback are welcome because it would be great to know what you think of the content.

The book is also available for sale on Amazon as a trade paperback, hardcover, or a kindle ebook, if you would like a transportable version to take with you. I hope you like it.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Story of Tamar and Repeating Patterns of Domestic Violence

This weekend in church, I heard a story that is a good example of the dynamics that occur in domestic violence, specifically incest. The sermon was about Tamar, King David's daughter, who was raped by Amnon, her half-brother. Bearing in mind that this event happened thousands of years ago, what was most amazing is that the same dynamics happen today still, in secrecy and protecting family members who do wrong. Amnon was besotted by Tamar, who was a virgin. Under the pretence of being ill, Amnon got Tamar alone so that she could nurse him back to health with food, and then he forced himself on her and raped her. She begged him not to and said that they could marry to avoid what he planned, but he went ahead anyway. Once he had raped her, he was overcome by an intense hatred for her, and he threw her out of his room. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore her robes and went away weeping. When another brother, Absalom, encountered her he guessed what had happened and told her to be quiet for now and said, don’t take this thing to heart. Tamar was then taken in by Absalom, and she remained there in his house, a desolate woman. Her father, King David, was furious when he heard what had happened, but he didn’t punish Amnon. Absalom refused to speak to Amnon after that and murdered his brother two years later. The Pastor pointed out that that one event ruined Tamar’s life, and she felt so bad that she became a desolate woman. The story is contained in 2 Samuel 13.

In Jewish law of the day, if a woman who was pledged to be married was raped in the city then both would be killed, the woman because she should have cried out for help and the man because he violated another man's wife. If the same thing happened in the countryside where no-one could hear the woman cry out for help then the man would be put to death and nothing would happen to the woman because she was considered innocent, in the same way as a murder victim was innocent. However, if a woman who wasn't pledged to be married was raped and then they were discovered, the man needed to marry her and could never divorce her. The thinking for the latter was probably that the woman should also have screamed for help in this case, and the assumption seems to have been that she would have been helped. Another reason may be that the act of rape was an act of consumnation and because the woman wasn't yet pledged to be married the man had then shown he wanted to be her partner and would be burdened by her care afterwards. (I've copied the relevant verses below under References as per Deutoronomy 22).

Some thoughts around Tamar’s story:
·         She left a legacy even though her story is about pain: Tamar's story lives on in the Bible for all time as something we can learn from in patterns of domestic violence as well as the profile of an abuser. In addition, Absalom named his own daughter Tamar too in honour of his sister (2 Samuel 14:27).

·         Shame seemed the biggest problem: The rape itself seemed of lesser importance to Tamar than how people would treat her afterwards if the rape went ahead and a marriage didn’t. Sadly, Tamar never screamed for help during the rape, and this does stand out; perhaps it was because Amnon was her half-brother and she felt the need to protect him. Tamar reasoned logically with Amnon that he could make the problem right for both of them if he married her, but he refused; she was therefore more concerned about the social consequences than physical and emotional pain as a direct result of the rape. At least Tamar was cared for by Absalom afterwards when there seemed no way out of the situation and his concern for her had no legal consequences for himself. Tamar had the culture of the day to contend with and only with a cultural change would she have been truly free.

·         Amnon was the one at fault and used deceit to get what he wanted: Rape was illegal, yet Amnon did it anyway. The actions of Amnon weren't in any way a part of accepted culture and they were seen as wrong. Just because the story is in the Bible doesn't mean the actions were condoned; it was totally against the laws of the day; Tamar would be disgraced because of the laws that applied and Amnon would be considered a wicked fool. Amnon could have married Tamar to sleep with her legally, but he refused - he wanted to violate her, he wanted to destroy her, even if it meant he would be considered wicked and a fool.

“No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.” (2 Samuel 13:12-14 NIV)

Amnon only wanted to possess Tamar. He felt lust only, not love. Amnon lusted after Tamar but then he turned on her once he had taken what he wanted from her, which was a typical psychopath's position. The only way for Tamar to recover her honour would have been for her half-brother to marry her to save some face, but he refused to do so. Amnon wanted to destroy her at all costs in the end. Maybe he was jealous of her beauty and position or saw her as a threat. It is an illustration of the verse that says, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..." Deception seems a common theme in cases of domestic violence. Amnon tricked Tamar to get close to her, pretending to be sick and the one down and out and needing care, but then he ordered everyone that might have protected her to leave and then he raped her; he set a trap and used his authority to ensure it worked. After the rape, Amnon openly flaunted the rules without regard to the consequences, which is another hallmark of psychopathic behaviour. Amnon could have set things right for Tamar. The abuser could have helped Tamar, and in so doing he would have helped himself and his father's household, yet he refused.

·         Few people speak out about abuse: Tamar was so hurt and overcome by what happened that she told people, but no-one did anything. Absalom, the person who knew the most because he guessed the truth and asked Tamar what had happened, kept quiet. Absalom also told Tamar to keep quiet for the moment because Amnon was her brother, and Absalom also said not to take the action to heart. After that Absalom just never spoke to Amnon, neither a good or a bad word. Absalom did wait for an opportunity to take vengeance on Amnon though and murdered him two years later. King David was furious - he didn't just say, oh well it happened, King David was furious – yet he did nothing to punish Amnon. Perhaps if King David had enforced the laws of the day and ensured that Amnon married Tamar as the law said then the story would have ended well for both of these children of his.

·         Mindsets are important in overcoming trauma: Absalom said to Tamar, don’t take this thing to heart. Tamar however was affected by the rape because the Bible says that she was a desolate woman after that. If Tamar had kept quiet for the moment perhaps she might have recovered and dropped her burden. She had the added challenge though of the law of the day to contend with, where a rape victim and the rapist needed to marry to restore her standing in society.

·         Domestic violence (including incest) has been around just as long as murder has: The story illustrates our human, sinful nature and the depths we can sink to. Thankfully we are no longer living in times where rape or sexual abuse means that the victim is an outcast; this does still happen in some sectors around the world, but generally we see a rapist now as the one to punish, not the person who has been raped. We punish criminals, not the victims of crime. Tamar said "no", yet her brother still raped her by force because Amnon had devious intentions and was too strong for her.

·         The Lord must take revenge: Absalom was killed soon after he took matters into his own hands and murdered Amnon. Perhaps if Absalom had waited longer an answer might have become apparent. This story doesn’t mean though that one must keep quiet about abuse or rape; today we have different laws that punish rapists and abusers and these should be upheld. There are laws that man has created to punish wrong doing, and then God also makes situations right. Maybe Tamar’s situation changed after that, but we don't know what the rest of the story was; we don't know what happened to Tamar after Absalom died.


·         Perhaps speaking out against domestic violence and the ever repeating patterns is one of the answers to stopping it. The patterns that happened in King David’s time are the same patterns that happen today thousands of years later. Abuse thrives in silence and when condoned by those closest to the abuser. Abuse thrives when the abuser is free from punishment. Abuse thrives when possible victims are isolated from ears and eyes that could help and are alone with abusers.

·         We need to say “no” to boundary encroachments. We need to scream for help if someone grabs us and we don’t like it. If we say nothing and allow someone to rape us then we are seen as complicit. I wonder, if Tamar had screamed for help when Amnon had raped her, would he then have been put to death and she been free from retribution as per the countryside laws?

·         It is heartening that we are able to overcome the problems that Tamar faced with God's help. As the Pastor said, this one incident scarred Tamar, but we don't have to remain victims, we can become survivors and overcome any adversity with Jesus' help. At least we are also now free from the laws of Tamar’s day so we don't have to worry about having to marry our rapist, or about being ostracised from society; not legally anyway.

·         Tamar’s story may have had a surprise happy ending because it struck me that Absalom’s daughter was named Tamar, and the Bible says that she was a beautiful woman. And Tamar, his sister, was also a beautiful woman. Could it be possible that Absalom adopted his sister Tamar as his child to be an integral part of his family? Well, that would make a lovely twist.  Imagine how that would change the story; Tamar would go from rape victim who was desolate, to a key woman in the Bible.


Deutoronomy 22 (NIV):
"23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.
25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26 Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, 27 for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her.
28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekelsc of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

True love versus tolerance

Is she tame, someone asked recently when told we have a pet rat.

I looked at the woman for a brief moment as a few thoughts flickered through my mind. Then I nodded yes, but thought, how could I explain that the rat behaved as if she loved me when held but all she longed for was freedom. Our rat, Pepper, sat contentedly in my hands and ran up and down my arms, but if I put her down on the floor I knew she would run. The rat had escaped before. When cornered afterwards, she tried desperately to flee my clutches but soon settled down again into my arms. Sometimes I'd see her biting the bars of her cage still longing for freedom. Yes she was tame, but she would prefer to be free and away from me. She could never love me as the question implied.

On the other hand, I have seen many stories of stray dogs who have quickly turned scared and feral when chased by human after human they have approached to seek sanctuary. When trapped, such dogs try all they can to flee. Yet a few safe touches and love for people soon returns. Unlike the rat, most dogs never yearn for freedom and try their best to remain with their families. They hold true love for their human masters.

Such is the nature of the beast. One appears tame under certain conditions of captivity, the other is truly tame. Are you able to discern true love or merely tolerance?

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Shame and Guilt

I'm in the process of updating my book, Foundation Stone of Hope: Everyone Has Purpose. I am removing some of the "I believe" statements because these can stand alone and the book reads in an easier manner. Hopefully I'll be done in a few days and I'll publish a new version. In the meantime, here's a small extract of a slightly changed section - I hope it works better and that you agree with the changes:

Shame and Guilt

If you feel shame, it is a feeling you shouldn’t have to continue feeling, especially if you feel shame due to what someone else has done to you. Often, shame is the result of a secret that we hide and don’t want others to find out. The same applies to guilt, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you weren’t to blame for a problem. However, if your conscience reminds you of guilt, then you must right any wrong you may have done to another. This may be equated to the Christian terminology of being convicted of your sin, when the Holy Spirit brings a problem that needs attention to consciousness and this is an opportunity to make amends and then turn away from what you might have done, and not to repeat past mistakes, which is called repentance.
Shame is a feeling of being unworthy, of feeling condemned. You should never feel condemned and unworthy. In Christian terminology, this is when Satan has hold of you as only he will make you feel condemned as less worthy than you are. God wants you to step into His wonderful purpose for you, and He doesn’t want you to feel there is something wrong with you if you are following the right path.
There is a difference between feeling shame and feeling humility. Shame is a sense that there is something wrong with one, whilst humility is being humble and not having an over-inflated sense of self-worth. If you feel shame, work through this emotion, and don’t allow yourself to believe you are any less worthy than anyone else, for any reason.
Shame and guilt are often used in manipulation. Someone may try to get you to feel ashamed that you haven’t measured up to his or her standards or guilty that you haven’t accomplished as much as he has. Perhaps you could accomplish more. Resolve to try harder the next time. Know that you can turn situations around. If you feel shame because you have been sexually or physically abused or emotionally bullied, this is trauma that needs to be worked through and healed. We may carry shame for many years and may not even realise the impact events had on us as they are too deep within our consciousness. Shame could arise because, for example, people may discover family secrets. Believe in yourself as a person of worth, in spite of any past or in spite of your imperfections. You also don’t need to tell anyone about any of your past, if you don’t want to, unless this has a material bearing on your present. For example, if you have been abused, no-one needs to know because that is a personal detail of your life and is something that happened to you and is now over, but people might need to be informed if you were sentenced for a crime.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Why is it Difficult to Eradicate Bullying?

I read this article yesterday by Valerie Cade, of Bully Free at Work: 10 Reasons Why the HR Process Might not Work for You It's a great article, all ten points.

Bullying follows much the same pattern as domestic violence, including child abuse:

  • One cannot change what isn't acknowledged
Children will tell of their abuse, but often adults won't believe them or won't listen closely. A child will only try to tell someone a few times and then lose hope and may keep quiet thereafter for years. It is extremely important to listen to children who step forward and tell that something is amiss. The same may happen to adults who experience bullying. People may laugh their story off or tell them that they are imagining things.

  • Lack of a defined process to follow
Abuse and bullying happens in many places, but there isn't an allocated go-to person in organisations. Some children may tell their parents, who are the best people to fight for them, but others might pick random adults to tell. The same happens to adults who are bullied in their workplaces, they may go to HR, but often people they approach don't have a defined process to follow next.

  • Little authority over the people who may be bullies
As the article mentions,  80% of bullying occurs with a direct manager. If a boss is the abuser or bullier, e.g. the principal of a school, what can be done to stop the person? HR is often the place to report bullying, but HR may have little authority over key people in an organisation. At least with abuse, this can and should be reported to the police.

  • The reputation of an organisation where a bully works is often protected against all accusations
Unfortunately in many cases, the people who know of abuse or bullying will protect the organisation and its reputation, instead of the target, because people tend to blame the entire organisation if something bad happens there, instead of the individuals concerned. A school Principal who hears of abuse will protect teachers at his school. HR will protect the organisation they work for against expensive litigation.

  • The bully is often believed instead of the victim
Abusers often abuse for years and are never suspected. Bullies may bully for years without getting caught. These people are often charismatic and well-liked individuals. A bully often comes across as charming and capable in meetings to discuss problems, and the target is often an emotional wreck from the bullying and is seen as a liability. Employers seem to feel that if they get rid of the target then the problem will go away, but the bully will soon choose a new target.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A High Level Comparison of Two Major Religions to Show that Different Religions Have Different Gods

I recently blogged about God and gods, in a blog post called Is God as Defined by Different Religions, One and the Same God?

The blog post surmises that the gods spoken of by different religions are quite different and cannot be the same and, to further illustrate this point, I thought I'd give a synopsis of two major religions, Christianity and Islam. The respective Holy Books of these religions speak very differently about each god. This isn't a criticism of any religion all, it is a brief attempt at putting a few facts forward about each religion, and it is up to each person to decide which god is the one he or she will choose to follow.

  • The Holy Book of Christianity is the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, written by about 40 different people, over a period of about 1,500 years, first starting many hundreds of years BC and then ending sometime after Jesus Christ's death, for example, by Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Matthew, John, Paul, and others. Often the books of the Bible are named after their authors, who were often prophets of God in the Old Testament, or disciples of Jesus in the New Testament. The Holy Book of Islam is the Quran, which originated when Prophet Muhammad was given divine revelations between December 609-632 AD and these revelations were written down by numerous scribes and then compiled into one book shortly after Muhammad's death.
  • The Bible and the Quran are very different books. The Bible is taken as the infallible Word of God by Christians and they say that God's Word cannot be wrong. Muslims say that the Bible contains many inaccuracies and that only the Quran is the infallible word of their God, Allah. The Quran does hold some of the same stories as the Bible, but many of the facts given are different, for example, the Bible says that Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but the Quran says that Ishmael was the son who was going to be sacrificed.
  • The Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God, and that Jesus died on the cross. By this act Jesus became Saviour, a ransom for our sins, and Jesus is now the way and the truth and the life to the Father in Heaven, in other words, according to the Bible, a belief in Jesus according to the gospels points the way to truth and to God. From what I've read, however, the Quran says that Jesus, called Isa in the Quran, is a prophet of God, and that someone else died in Jesus' place on the cross, it only appeared that Jesus was the one who died and that only belief in Allah as per the beliefs given in the Quran is the way.
  • The Bible says that God (Jehovah / Yahweh / Our Father in Heaven) loves everyone, including people who aren't Christians, and Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbour as you love yourself, and a neighbour could be anyone, even someone of another religion, as shown in the story Jesus gave of the good Samaritan, and a Samaritan would have believed differently to Jesus' followers. Again, from what I have read, the Quran says that Allah loves his believers and hates unbelievers, which are very different commandments to what Jesus gave.

In conclusion, the Holy Books of these different religions are totally different and the underlying beliefs and commandments are totally different and therefore the gods must be different. The followers of each religion will of course believe they are right about the gods they respectively follow, which is okay, and ultimately, it is about respecting the beliefs of other people, but one doesn't need to agree with them.
I'd love to hear comments to see what people think. Do you agree, or not?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

How to Overcome Hatred Caused by Stereotyping

Negative stereotypes that divide people along group lines causes much misplaced hatred and, if we can overcome this type of group think, then perhaps we may obliterate most forms of discrimination, racism, and genocide.

One of the first steps in this process is the formation of "us and them" camps. People may be divided into groups due to many reasons. A major group will naturally be the citizens of individual countries, e.g. Americans, Australians, South Africans. Within countries and also across countries, people may see themselves falling into further groups, which may be due to ethnic lines and what people look like, cultural reasons, religious reasons, and more.

There is nothing wrong in having groups, and people are attracted to groups for various reasons, mainly to belong and feel part of the community. Often though, people who belong to certain groups are stereotyped, often on the basis of the behaviour of a few individuals of the group. If you begin to notice a stereotype forming, try instead to see only the individuals who are to blame for bad behaviour, and blame those people only. The stereotype isn't to blame for the actions of a few individuals, just as you personally aren't to blame if someone who looks like you or is part of your group does something wrong.

There is further danger when people of one group begin to feel they are superior to other groups based on these stereotypes, and especially when a power imbalance is in place. The group talk may state that people of a certain group, even all other people in general, are subhuman and worthless. This is a process called dehumanising. Yet, we all bleed the same, we all have feelings, we are all citizens of the world. Be aware when you begin to see a group valuing or devaluing one type of person over another type of person purely because of a group or a stereotype. It is normally illegal to do this according to the laws of most countries, because it may lead to hate speech. People are of equal value, irrespective of groups, especially as some groups can so easily be changed, e.g. when people move countries and adopt new citizenship.

Links to related articles:
International Organisation, Genocide Watch, has devised 10 steps on the road to genocide.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Is God as Defined by Different Religions, One and the Same God?

I once attended a citizenship ceremony where many people attested their new citizenship before God, and I realised there that each person might be referring to different god(s).

As an example, many religions say that God whom they follow created the world, but there are at least two conclusions that could be drawn from this:

1.) One God created the world, therefore all gods spoken of by the different religions must be one and the same, just worshipped via different doctrine, or
2.) One God created the world, but each religion worships a different god and each claims that their god was the one who did so

The Bible tells us that there are different gods: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15 KJV)

Only the Christian and the Jewish religions claim that the Old Testament of the Bible is God's Word; the Christian religion has added the New Testament to the Bible, which speaks of Christ's coming. No other religion, none whatsoever, says that the Bible is God's infallible, enduring Word. There are other religions that speak about events of the Bible and say their religion is based on the Bible, but none of these include the Bible as complete truth as part of their doctrine.

To a Christian and a Jewish person, only God as spoken of in the Bible is God (bearing in mind the New Testament inclusion). If other religions speak about the Bible, but don't actually accept the Bible as God's true Word, can the gods be the same God?

We should respect other people's beliefs, but honour our own, so essentially, if you do believe in God, you need to believe that your God is the true God, but at the same time, allow others to believe in their god(s) too. God will be the judge in the afterlife, so we only need to be true to our beliefs.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Dropping Emotional Baggage

Many people carry emotional wounds from past experiences. This may be due to a once-off event, or ongoing trauma. I also have experiences that I used to carry around with me and wherever I went, these happenings were somewhere in the background of my mind, an integral part of me. The experiences affected who I now am - etched into history, never to be forgotten - but the hold they had over me has lost its power. Only recently did I say to myself, yes, those events happened to me, but they are past and they don't define me.

Think of it this way perhaps: As a child you attended school and learnt much and now, as an adult, you look back on your school years and remember past teachers and friends, but you know it's all past. Assuming you had a good school life, you probably don't pay much mind to how each teacher affected your ongoing development and you are able to separate your childhood from where you are now. This in effect is leaving the past behind. Some people though lived through trauma, be this in a childhood family home, or in a classroom, or elsewhere, and the trauma marks their identity with an indelible, subconscious cloud of secrecy and shame. Traumatic events that happened to a person need to be separated out and they mustn't form part of the person's identity.

Leaving emotional wounds behind is a process that may take a long time and I leaned on God who helped me to do this - I don't know how I would have otherwise. People and the world may hurt us, even people we thought we could trust with our lives, and the only one we can trust implicitly is God.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The One Who Speaks First, Seems to be the One Who is Most Believed

Someone once said to me, I've heard that you <insert assertion>. I felt a twinge of guilt as the accusation hit home, but then I mulled the incident over, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that she was wrong, though it carried a vague thread of truth - I'd never done what she accused me of doing, or, I should say, what she said she'd heard about me. If I'd denied the assertion, would she have believed me or believed the other person? I suspect she would have believed what she'd heard about me, even without proof. And why was she so willing to believe someone else's assertion, without checking with me first?

I told someone else that I'd been accused of <insert assertion> and I thought she would feel compassion that I'd been being accused unjustly, but, instead, she looked at me, shocked, and I realised that she hadn't asked me if the assertion was true or not, she'd automatically assumed that it was.

This has application in law as well as in cases of bullying: If someone steps forward and makes an accusation about someone else, generally the accusation is seen as true. If someone is the first person to step forward to speak about a situation, generally that viewpoint is believed, because he or she was first to speak. Perhaps people should verify the authenticity of the accuser as well as the accused in all criminal cases, though of course, making an untrue accusation carries a huge risk of being found out and it's therefore bound to only happen infrequently.

The words we speak about others are powerful. Gossip is damaging. We may say we won't be influenced by gossip, but is that true? If I hear that someone is a backstabber, especially before I've met the person, will I be friendly towards such a person, or will I avoid getting close to the person? Of course I will most likely avoid the person. What do you think the person's reaction towards me will be should this happen? The person is likely to begin to act coldly towards me, because he or she will sense my reticence, and so gossip may become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Question what you are told about others. Maybe what you have heard isn't at all true.

Link to related blog post:

The Gossip Trap

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Giving to Charity

There are countless causes in the world today and there's bound to be at least one charity to support each. Charities save lives and help people: feeding famine starved people, getting homeless people off the streets, saving animals. I trust that the organisations I donate to will use my money wisely and send aid to where it's needed most.

But I've realised that some charities may not be helping the community as much as they are seen to do, because of the following:
  • Some non-profit organisations have large structures to support. They may own offices and employ a number of people. Money donated goes towards paying for the infrastructure of the charity first, before it gets given to the cause. This is necessary so that charities are able to provide advocacy and counselling and other services, but sometimes it means that the organisation could make a huge difference, but provides assistance selectively, due to budget constraints. As an example, this cancer charity is being investigated for allegedly only donating 1% of funds received to its cause: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/adelaide-based-national-cancer-research-foundation-under-investigation/story-fni6uo1m-1227164700449?sv=63692d8eca5960852e85bd6e72f8b54f
  • People who work at charities may forget the reason they work there. For example, workers may complain about the starving, homeless person who hangs about at the door during lunch time when the office is closed and the workers are on their lunch break, yet the homeless person is the very reason the workers have a job.
  • Large organisations may have the resources to help, but may use the resources sparingly and randomly. For example, I have heard of homeless people being placed into motels and given the food they need by a charity, but a homeless person I asked the organisation to help was given pamphlets only - I realised I could help the person more than the organisation was prepared to.
  • I've seen homeless people being used in fundraising campaigns to fight homelessness. One particular person has been homeless most of his life, yet has been in contact with a charity for years. He said, at least the charity is there to listen to him or he would have no-one. Why hasn't he been helped? He may prefer being homeless, but it sounded as if he wanted to turn his life around.
  • Choose carefully which charity to give towards - do you see visible results in the community? A large charity may provide more influence and resources than a lone spokesperson charity, but the smaller one may give more money directly to where it's needed.

Ultimately, make sure that any charity you support is doing the job it was created to do.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Reactions May Vary Widely Due to Outward Expressions of Anger or Anguish

Why do some people receive empathy for emotional anguish, whilst other people are ostracised? Recently I heard a psychologist say in a radio interview that it may be because some people show anger, which turns people away, whereas other people openly express sadness and pain and people have an innate drive to help those in obvious distress. Think of two dogs, both enormous. One dog bristles menacingly towards you when you reach out your outstretched hand, her snout drawn back as she growls softly. The only thing stopping her from biting you is a thick chain drawn taut. The other dog shivers as you approach her. She seems to wilt as you reach out and she yelps when you touch her. Your heart bleeds for this dog and you wish you could undo the abuse she must have suffered to so obviously lack trust. You stay as far as you can away from the first dog. You don't know that both dogs are pets who were mistreated in the same abusive background.

It is quite understandable that one would stay widely away from the first dog for fear of being bitten. This dog may be put down as a dangerous dog, yet perhaps she might become a family pet given enough time and love, but her behaviour may mean she is never given this chance. The second dog is obviously not a threat and is likely to find someone who is willing to devote energy to help her to recover. She may always remain reticent, but her obvious trauma ensures she will be treated with understanding and placed in a gentle home where her nature will be catered to. The exterior we show is what people see and they may react accordingly.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Iron Sharpens Iron (Proverbs 27:17) - hindsight, patterns, and being shaped by others

In writing and looking back, I've noticed a series of patterns in my life. It's akin to being in that oft spoken of forest, where one rushes into and then past towering tree trunks and where feet sink into hidden mud and then one is on solid ground across from heavy streams and only once one has climbed the mountain side can one see the path taken. In the midst of living, the patterns hid themselves, and only became obvious with distance and in retrospection. Part of the journey is bumping into people who may shape one along the way. The person who seems irritating to you now, may be someone who, over time, will help you to develop patience. Someone who seems unlovable when you first meet, may help you to change your world view. Perhaps the person who seems to run away from you without warning, is someone who will develop your ability to allow people to leave you, whereas before you have always clung on. Or maybe the person who seems to cling to you, is someone who will help you develop more healthy boundaries. God knows whom we need in our lives, and sometimes the people who seem to frustrate us the most, are the ones who will develop our characters most. What patterns may you see, if you step away from your circumstances and look back?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Your Past Doesn't Matter

I have heard quite a few church sermons recently that say a bad past doesn't matter if one changes for the good, for example, God used Moses even though Moses committed murder, and He did the same with Paul; Paul murdered Christians before his conversion, yet Paul went on to become one of the biggest evangelists for Christianity.The Bible tells of the bad pasts of many people, as historical fact, though this doesn't condone the behaviour, yet people move on from their pasts and many transform their lives. There are many successful people in the world today who openly tell of traumatic pasts, and some use this as the basis of their ministry.

Does this mean you should openly expose a past you may always have felt ashamed or guilty of? It is important to work through your past so that you overcome emotional trauma, for example, by working with a counsellor or talking to a close friend or by journalling, but no, you don't need to tell anyone about anything that may have happened to you. I read a story once of someone who went to therapy for years, but yet steered clear of discussing certain details of her past, yet she made progress and healed and often a positive relationship is the key to healing, not the details discussed. You may choose to disclose your past to people around you, but it isn't something you have to do, especially something that happened years ago, be it childhood abuse, a sexual assault, recovery from drugs or alcohol abuse, or anything else you may have done or experienced. That said, you probably will need to tell employers about acts that will have a material impact on your employment. But in general, people around you don't need to know, unless you feel telling is part of your journey and telling may be an integral part of your journey, due to the silence involved in many crimes of trauma.

What may happen if you begin to disclose your past to others? It largely depends whom you tell and who finds out. If you know people whom you trust and who trust you in turn, then they may be very supportive. But you may find that many people don't understand and may begin to hold your past against you and label you according to stereotypes, even if what happened to you was none of your fault. It is your decision whether you tell and whom you tell.

What if someone finds out about your past and holds it against you in any way? It hurts, especially when trusted people treat you differently due to facts you can't control. It may hurt even more if people spread rumours and malign you based on suspicion and stereotypes. You cannot control the opinions of other people, but you can decide what you think of yourself, and your past doesn't have to be part of your identity. Bad things may have happened to you, but you can separate those parts out and throw them away. And Jesus told us to turn the other cheek when others hurt us. There have been occasions when I discovered by accident that someone I trusted gossiped about me, but I took it as a lesson learnt and I was grateful, because I now knew what the person really felt about me, so I could untangle myself from unmerited emotional ties.

The past is past. It may have shaped you, but it doesn't need to define you. You are more than your past. Your past doesn't matter. Once you are able to be who you are, without thought of your past as a millstone you carry, you may truly be.