Saturday, October 24, 2015

8 Steps to Forgiveness

When the members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, publicly forgave the man who entered their church service, sat with the parishioners, then began his murderous episode, it set a stunning example of the art of forgiveness to the world.

Robert Enright, PhD, called "the forgiveness trailblazer," is currently "helping schools to establish forgiveness education in Athens, Greece; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Galilee, Israel; and Monrovia, Liberia, Africa," according to his biographical information from his latest book, "8 Keys to Forgiveness."

His essay on the Greater Good website states:

Sometimes the hurt is very deep, such as when a spouse or a parent betrays our trust, or when we are victims of crime, or when we’ve been harshly bullied. Anyone who has suffered a grievous hurt knows that when our inner world is badly disrupted, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than our turmoil or pain. When we hold on to hurt, we are emotionally and cognitively hobbled, and our relationships suffer.

Forgiveness is strong medicine for this. When life hits us hard, there is nothing as effective as forgiveness for healing deep wounds. I would not have spent the last 30 years of my life studying forgiveness if I were not convinced of this.

Many people have misconceptions about what forgiveness really means—and they may eschew it. Others may want to forgive, but wonder whether or not they truly can. Forgiveness does not necessarily come easily; but it is possible for many of us to achieve, if we have the right tools and are willing to put in the effort.

The 8 steps are:

  1. Know what forgiveness is and and why it matters.
  2. Become "forgivingly fit."
  3. Address your inner pain.
  4. Develop a forgiving mind through empathy.
  5. Find meaning in your suffering.
  6. When forgiveness is hard, call upon other strengths.
  7. Forgive yourself.
  8. Develop a forgiving heart.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Humus of Getting Along in Israel

A Middle-Eastern Humus Feast.  C. Coimbra photo
The owner of a cafe in central Israel is attempting to bring people together in the conflict-laden region over hummus.

Kobi Tzafrir is providing a 50 percent discount to Jewish and Arab customers who eat at the same table at the Humus Bar, his restaurant in the town of Kfar Vitkin, Al Jazeera reports.

The offer first appeared on the business’s Facebook page on Oct. 12, but started seeing international media attention this week. The post, translated from Hebrew by HuffPost, reads:

"Scared of Arabs? Scared of Jews? With us there are no Arabs! But also no Jews ... With us there are only human beings! And real, wonderful Arab hummus! And great Jewish falafel! And free refills on all hummus dishes if you're Arab, Jewish, Christian, Indian, et cetera ... Special discount: 50% off on hummus dishes for a table where Jews and Arabs are sitting together! *Valid Sundays through Thursdays."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Low-Tech Innovation Brings Prosperity to African Village

Photo from Family Collection

Not long ago, as the human population around Mozambique’s Moribane Forest Reserve grew and encroached on the forest, conflicts with elephants increased as the animals ravaged farm plots and banana groves. But with help from a Mozambique-U.K. foundation and the World Bank, residents
of the Mpunga area turned a liability into an asset and used the elephants as a draw for foreign tourists.

In this video — the second runner-up in the 2015 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest — filmmaker Denise Dragiewicz focuses on the villagers who made the ecotourism complex, known as Ndzou Camp, happen. As the residents explain, the benefits of Ndzou Camp, which opened in 2010, go well beyond the creation of 20 full- and part-time jobs. The revenue the camp provides has helped open a school and expand the horizons of women long kept down in this male-dominated, polygamous culture. “What I think will help the community is if we have more schools,” says 21-year-old Rute Fernando Ranguana, who works at the camp and now plans to finish high school and go to college. “Then things will change.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Zoo No Longer Sells Bottled Water

Photo by the Detroit Zoological Society

Royal Oak — Visitors to the Detroit Zoo have one less option if they get thirsty walking the grounds.

The zoo no longer sells bottled water, part of a multi-year effort to make changes that are environmentally friendly.

It’s an effort other zoos are watching closely, said Rob Vernon, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He said he believes Detroit is the first zoo in the nation to stop selling water in plastic bottles.

Instead of 20-ounce Aquafina bottles the zoo sold for $3.99, visitors will have to bring their own containers and can fill them up at filtered water stations. Or they can buy reusable green-and-white bottles with the zoo logo at $2.59 each.

The switch has had an effect on the zoo’s bottom line. The sale of Aquafina bottled waters brought in about $250,000 a year, which breaks down to 62,500 water bottles.

So far, only about 15,000 of the reusable water bottles have been sold in the two years since the phase-out of bottled water began. Their lower price point is designed to entice buyers.

But the switch was never about money, said Patricia Janeway, director of communications for the Detroit Zoological Society, which runs the zoo. It was about the environment. Taking 60,000-plus water bottles — many that would be thrown away, rather than recycled, and some that would end up as litter — out of circulation each year is a matter of the zoo being a good citizen.

Water bottles were phased out on Sept. 18, a year ahead of schedule.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Social Service Campaign to Benefit Syrian Refugees

WASHINGTON — As Syrian refugees continue to flee the violence at home, President Obama is turning to the modern tools of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship as a supplement to the more traditional means of humanitarian relief.

At the request of officials from the White House Office of Digital Strategy, the crowdfunding website Kickstarter has begun its first social service campaign aimed at raising money for the United Nations refugee agency on behalf of Syrian refugees.

Visitors to the site, which is better known for helping inventors and filmmakers, can contribute $15 to buy a sleeping bag, $70 for an emergency rescue kit, or $160, which the site says could pay for a refugee’s shelter in a “well-built group tent, complete with sleeping bag and mat.”

The weeklong campaign, which began Tuesday, had raised more than $550,000 as of that night for a nonprofit organization that supports the United Nations refugee agency, an amount the site said had already helped more than 2,000 people.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Superheroes of Peace

From Spiderman to the Hulk, numerous superhero origin stories tell of a character’s interaction with an unknown element that effects a radical transformation. This change often leads to heightened senses, enhanced abilities, and the sense of a greater mission that transcends our individual selves. Although this path is a familiar trope in the realm of “fantasy,” it exists in the real world as well. It is a profound yet simple notion: each of us can be a superhero.

Like the spider that bit Peter Parker, we can tap into a real life element called mindfulness to have better concentration, self-awareness, and impulse control. Mindfulness has also been scientifically proven to help us feel calm and increase empathy for others.

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1957 comic book The Montgomery Story, which informed and influenced a civil rights movement, the animated film The 5 Powers tells the story of three inspiring individuals who used the power of mindfulness for peace during the turbulent Vietnam War. We learn about our main character’s journey towards mastery of the five powers through the experiences of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Sister Chan Khong, and their friends Alfred Hassler and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

- See more at:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Foundation Fulfills Over 7,000 End of Life Wishes

Ambulance Wish Foundation photo
In 2006, Kees Veldboer, who was an ambulance driver at the time, was moving a patient from one hospital to another. The patient was a terminally ill man who had spent three straight months confined to a hospital bed. During the trip from one hospital to the other, the patient told Veldboer that he wanted to see the Vlaardingen canal one last time. He wanted to sit in the sun and wind and smell the water again before going back inside.

Veldboer made the patient's last wish happen, and as tears of joy streamed down the man's face, Veldboer knew he had tapped into a powerful way to bring peace to people in their final days.

Soon after, the Ambulance Wish Foundation was born.

Based in the Netherlands, Veldboer's organization scoffs at the logistical hurdles of transporting terminally ill patients who need high levels of care and, often, lots of medical equipment. The Ambulance Wish Foundation employs a fleet of custom-built ambulances and always has highly trained medical staff on hand for emergencies.

Their message? Positive end-of-life experiences are far too important to pass up.

Today, the AWF has over 230 volunteers and has fulfilled nearly 7,000 wishes.

--from Upworthy

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Jimmy Carter and 1,500 Volunteers Set for Nepal Project

Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter.  Habitat for Humanity photo.

Happy Birthday, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Celebrating his 92nd birthday today, (October 1), the former president and his wife, the former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, will travel to Nepal for Habitat Humanity's 32nd Carter Work Project the week of Nov. 1-6.

From a Habitat for Humanity media release:

ATLANTA (Sept. 29, 2015) President Jimmy Carter recently received consent from his medical team to travel to Nepal for Habitat for Humanity’s 32nd annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The build will take place Nov. 1-6 in the Chitwan district, which is located 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu.

“Since Rosalynn and I first volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in 1984, we’ve never missed a single year,” said President Carter. “I am grateful that we can join with other volunteers in November and continue to help shed light on the critical need to address inadequate housing around the world.”

During the week, 1,500 volunteers from within Nepal and around the world will help build permanent homes in partnership with low-income families in the Nayabasti Gairigaun village. A majority of these families are Dalits, who are considered the lowest group in the Nepali caste system. Many work as construction laborers, farmers or garbage collectors, or work at a nearby poultry farm, earning US$5 to US$7 a day.