OMAN: Four reasons to raise awareness on parenting issues

Raising awareness

As I find my way between my career and parenting, I try to make the fewest mistakes possible. It’s not that mistakes aren’t good sometimes – I just try not to go beyond the useful ones.

Fortunately, I am good at observing, analyzing and indulging myself in learning. The moment I became a mother, I realized that motherhood is not something you take for granted. Indeed, parenting is hard work. I am not even talking about the early hardships: the feeding, cleaning, and staying awake at nights. As tough these aspects of parenting can be, what comes later is much more challenging, and requires a great deal of awareness.

It is more important – and so much more difficult – to work on values, principles, education and maintaining a good connection with your children. It also requires more work to prepare your kids for the outside world. Sometimes it seems that we as parents will be working on that forever.

The hands-on experience I had gained as a parent, along with reading continuously helped me all the time. Having empathy for other parents who might eventually go through the same parenting struggles I had experienced, I decided to dive into the world of raising awareness. Here’s why:

  1. Like all parents, I experienced various difficulties and challenges at each stage of my children’s development. Thus, as part of my social responsibility, I decided I should share what I am learning to raise the collective awareness of parents around me. My goal is to help other parents out there, and also to help each child I can to live his childhood in a better way whenever possible. As Robert Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others.”
  2. I love sharing knowledge and raising awareness. Giving lectures and running courses has always been my thing, so why not? I could still remember the fun I had reading a novel, and going to work the next day to narrate it to my colleagues in my own style. They looked forward to hearing it and I enjoyed sharing it.
  3. We became parents between two different generations. Before us came a generation that mostly believed in a strict, authoritarian parenting style. After us came a generation that is overwhelmed by the modern, hectic life, and trying to find a balance. I have been there, and if I can help one parent increase their awareness and manage that period with less stress then I had, I would willingly do it.
  4. I love children and I want to give them better life opportunities. This has always been a reason that does not need any justification.

Specializing on issues related to parenting and childhood are not enough to make you go further into the awareness spectrum. You need the passion in order to take this road.

What do you think?

 

 

Ibtisam Alwardi

Ibtisam (at Ibtisam's musings) is an Omani Mom of three, living in the capital city of Oman ,Muscat. After working for ten years as a speech and language therapist in a public hospital, she finally had the courage to resign and start her own business. She had a dream of owning a place where she can integrate fun, play and 'books', thus the iPlay Smart centre (@iplaysmart) was born. Currently she is focusing on raising awareness through social media about parenting, childhood, language acquisition. She started raising awareness on (the importance of reading) and (sexual harassment) targeting school-aged children. Ibtisam enjoys writing, both in Arabic and English, reading and working closely with children. She plans to write children books (in Arabic) one day. Contact Ibtisam at ibtisamblogging(at)gmail.com.

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WORLD VOICE: No Time for Silence About Hate Crime

WORLD VOICE: No Time for Silence About Hate Crime

It happened. Again. On February 26, for the second time in a week, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated by a hate crime in the United States…this time in Philadelphia, known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” Headstones were toppled and damaged. Families were outraged. All of this happened alongside five waves of bomb threats toward Jewish community centers (JCC’s) since the American presidential election. If these facts don’t send a chill down your spine, then click on this link – “This is What a JCC Bomb Threat Sounds Like.” It contains a recording of what the people protecting our Jewish children have to put up with on a regular basis, not knowing which threat might be a real explosive in the midst of innocent victims.

The first time an act of vandalism in a Jewish cemetery occurred this week, it was in my own city of St. Louis where members of my husband’s family are buried. Over 150 headstones were knocked over or broken at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. As a Christian, I know that sometimes people in the majority need to see a hate crime as personal before it touches their hearts. I sought to break down that barrier for others by posting about it on Facebook and asking people to comment with what action they would take about this hate crime. Some friends posted supportive comments that comforted me. Yet I was saddened by comments (even from one Jewish person) on other Facebook walls basically saying, “What’s the big deal? It’s a cemetery. Those people are dead.”

The big deal is that these are the memories of loved ones and a sacred space. The big deal is that these are hateful actions anti-Semitic cowards take because they figure the dead can’t come after them. But history shows us that when people are silent, the haters are emboldened and go after living people next.

Sometimes I’m skeptical of social media awareness posts for various causes when they don’t call for specific action, but I do think that they can serve this important purpose: They publicly let people know where you stand. I’m of the opinion that if others don’t know how you feel about racism and hate-crimes, then you probably haven’t said enough.

How can We Speak Out Against Hate Crimes?

I urge everyone to take on one of these actions against hate crimes as it makes sense for you in your country:

  1. Post on your Facebook about hate crimes in your community, your country, or around the world, so that people know what is happening and that you are against it.
  2. Write a letter to the editor about it to be published in your local paper, so racists in your community know that their feelings are opposed. Here’s an opinion piece I wrote after Indian-American families were targeted in my neighborhood.
  3. Tweet or write to the President of the United States (@realDonaldTrump). Let him know that only one statement about hate crimes isn’t enough. His silence is perpetuating these acts and that is not okay. The White House address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20006.
  4. If you are a U.S. resident, thank your U.S. senators for speaking out against the hate crimes in Jewish cemeteries. On March 7, ALL 100 US Senators signed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday asking for “swift action” over repeated bomb threats against Jewish organizations around the country. It is extremely rare for the entire Senate body to send a letter on any topic.

A Silver Lining

To end on a positive note, I am heartened that there are many people who do understand both the enormity of what is happening in America today and the need for people of different faiths and ethnicities to support each other. A Muslim group leapt into action immediately with an on-line fundraiser to help repair the damage with a goal of $20,000. “Through this campaign,” the website read, “we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.” They reached their goal within three hours. They now state that they will donate part of their total, currently $135,316, to the Philadelphia cemetery that was also damaged. An impromptu cleanup crew worked at our cemetery the very next day, including Muslims, Jews, Christians and even U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Pence happened to be in town for a scheduled visit to an area business.

Use their story as inspiration to find your own voice in your own community wherever you are in the world. As the late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Don’t be silent.

How do you speak up against injustice?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Cindy Levin. Photo: SKDK-TV.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin took her first advocacy action in 2001 with a hunger event at her church. Years later, after resigning from her position as an automotive engineer to raise her newborn daughter, she searched for a way she could better the world from home while caring for infants. She returned to advocacy and is now a dedicated volunteer activist with RESULTS, Shot@Life, ONE, and Bread for the World. Levin involves her young children in her advocacy activities, including face-to-face lobby meetings with members of Congress, letter-writing, and classroom advocacy projects. She shares what she has learned about advocacy through her Anti-Poverty Mom blog and training other activists with RESULTS. Her op-eds and letters-to-the-editor have appeared in Chicago area newspapers as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Post, the New York Times and the international Financial Times. Levin has served on the Board of Directors for RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund and on staff with RESULTS Educational Fund as a fundraising coach for grassroots volunteers.

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An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part II

An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part II

This is part II of the two-part interview with Victor Kannan. Part I is also on World Moms Network’s blog, and some of Mr. Kannan’s own written work can be found Here and Here.

PART II:

S: When you observe today’s youth, from a child of about 8 years to early 20s, what are some of the traits you’ve noticed that seem ‘new school’ that are good and different from traditions we have had before? I know that’s a wide spectrum, but based on your own experience, what are some of the new traits you’ve seen that are good and some that seem to be detrimental to spiritual growth?

V: You know, they have to be looked at in the context of their environment. If I take a broad stroke, I’d say that on average families are smaller. On average the continuity of flow between grandparents, parents and children is getting weak, if you think of it as a river, where the water flows, where the whole thing has the flow of love and life, of knowledge, of caring relationships. There would be four grandparents present for every grandkid and maybe 15 grandchildren for every grandparent. That kind of a breadth of continuity is becoming thinner and thinner.

If you take this river as the flow of energy, of love, of knowledge from grandparents to grandchildren, that river contains less water today than it did before. And naturally what happens is the children have to look externally for their emotional fulfillment. Both of the parents work these days, and many of them are single parents; it’s like a river with very little water.

So somewhere this generational flow of the river of knowledge and love seems to have dwindled. No single person can take the blame, but it is ,unfortunately, the generation that is evolving, because of our value system and because of our excessive materialistic orientation. So, I think that these children are really starved for love and togetherness with their grandparents, and if the parents are both working, the quality of their time with the children is also limited.

Naturally, they are looking for external things and, unfortunately, or fortunately, there are plenty of them. Now, what does that mean? They get lured by the things that gave them company when parents were not available.

The children are with their parents because they are dependent. They can be from a wealthy family, where they may be hanging around for inheritance or expanding the family business. However, if they are born in a poor family, the modern generation will leave the house. There is nothing in the house for them to hang on to. So, under the circumstances, children are struggling to find their groove.

Suppose you take the so-called typical middle-class family: the children go to school, both parents work, and there is not much time, right? The time spent with the children is also compartmentalized with vacation and programs and schedules. There is no free time singing in the garden together on a Tuesday evening. So, I think the children are becoming more and more isolated. Their behavior is not rooted in some kind of value system, whether of a material ambition, or a family where they have given and taken and sacrificed; look at parents having sacrificed, the grandparents sacrificed, the wealth of upbringing, the richness of upbringing… If the children do not see these sacrifices, they take life for granted and become more materialistic in their orientation.

I am thinking that even though today’s children are isolated and feel lonely, and they are more responsive to the senses and the world around them, the situation can be changed around, by parents and schools adopting a value-oriented education system and a value-oriented relationship system, where you begin with spiritual values. You highlight the spiritual values, and not the material success as what you talk about at the dinner table. Then it will slowly change. So the children can be reoriented and possibilities exist because the 30/ 40/ 50-year-old parents today are more exposed to the science and spirituality combination. Not the religious dogmatic type of thing, or rituals without meaning.

In the modern era, due to stress in life, more and more people are adopting meditation. More and more people are beginning to realize that there is neuroplasticity; that it is never too late to grow. It is never too late to change. These kinds of established new scientific facts are giving hope to people. And again, many of these processes are trans-generational in nature, so it will take 20, 30 years before it changes the society.

So the trend for the youth today, is, that they go after what satisfies them sensorily. They lack a depth in their goals that they want to achieve for themselves. There is also a lack of a properly meshed fabric of love, care, duty, responsibility, and relationship in their lives. They are in a very nebulous, tricky situation, But the families that have spiritual values and can inculcate them into the children should be able to quickly reverse course and become stronger individuals in the future.

S: The analogy of the river was quite impressive, I must say. It helped to visualize what you were saying in a very tangible way. Thank you for putting it that way.

V: I do feel worried and anxious for them. They need direction and inspiration to sustain them. Love and care are the roots of such inspiration from parents, teachers, and role models. So when moms embrace spiritual values and spiritualized material existence, including putting meaning behind activities, and have one or two aspirational goals to shoot for and a few practical positive values they can adopt, they will create a solid foundation for their future and hence the future of any society.

S: You said you have a daughter. Does she practice heartfulness meditation?

V: Yes she does. She is also a trainer. We never forced anything on her, but she was part of what we did. When she didn’t like it, we didn’t force her, and fortunately she came back with a lot of interest, and she has expressed some of her thought and experience in articles on meditation.

S: Where could we find them?

V: If you go to heartfulness magazine, you can look for Dr. Swati Kannan. She has written two articles for the Heartfulness Magazine. So, we are quite happy. But again, I take everything with gratitude. Not with expectation. See, the other thing in our association with any type of meditation system is that expecting an outcome is a seed for disappointment. Especially when it is not rational. What I mean by that is if I go to the gym and if I have a trainer, and if I do the routine I am supposed to do, I will see results in myself. That is the correct expectation. But if I go to the gym and do exercise, and then think that I am going to find a star to marry, or that I will swim across the Amazon, that is not a realistic expectation. So in many systems, including the heartfulness system, you will come across people who say that thanks to the meditation system, or the teacher, or their blessings, “my child became a valedictorian” or similar things. I cringe when I hear that. I cringe when I hear that, because we also know that tragedies happen. In any association or group of people. Things we don’t like happen. Right? If we don’t take these things as milestones in our journey, then we have a wrong understanding of life.

Let’s think about the day. The day starts cool, it gets hot, then it becomes cool again. It starts dark, it becomes light and it gets dark again. But if we don’t accept the seasonality of a day, seasonality of life, the ups and downs, we have a wrong understanding of life, a wrong understanding of the systems that we follow to expand our consciousness. So, I don’t know which question I have answered right now, but it’s very important that we don’t have dogmatic, religious overtones to our expectations from a meditation system. In some way, as our consciousness expands we shoot ourselves in the foot less often, and that is a tangible benefit. As our consciousness expands we develop a 360 degreevision – a wider view of life in its wholeness. This makes us less volatile and reactive and calmer and better responsive. And this alone will make for growth, progress, happiness and joy in life.

S: I can see how what you just said also translates in how we raise our kids or however we live our lives, whatever practices we have and our expectations in what we want our children to do.

V: It’s like saying that if you go to temple, or a church, or a synagogue, you are a better person. But if you make that statement to the children, and they take it seriously, they will either look at others who are not doing that as bad, or they will look at parents and say, “Hey, it doesn’t work.” So it’s a problem.

S: Switching gears a bit, again: Being that you are in finance, what are three things you would tell a child, that could help a child be financially aware, or money aware. For instance, I wasn’t told anything about money. I was given a piggy bank but didn’t know about managing money.

V: Sure. Money is a means of exchange. Exchange things. Sometimes time is measured in money, and the value of products and services is measured in money. So a child needs to know that the things that they use cost money, and that to make money, one has to put in energy. If they waste things, they waste money, and they waste energy. And suppose you say that if the parents go out and put in the energy to make the money to bring in the things that they enjoy, then if they waste that money, they are wasting their parents’ energy. Then you can say that if you don’t waste, the parent can save that energy, spend that energy with the child, going out for a football game, or you know, going out to a movie, or otherwise spend time together. This is how some level of appreciation of what the parents do is inculcated in them that will, in turn, help them when they grow up. The child can tell the parents to spend more time with them and make less money for both require energy to be spent! Energy spent with the children is the greatest investment parents can make. So automatically everything gets balanced with that perspective. So saying money is energy. Save money, save energy. Spend it wisely where it is needed.

S: If you could tell your younger self, anything, what would it be?

V: I don’t know. I am quite content today as I am where I am. But if I were to go back and tell myself anything, I’d say “just think twice before doing anything”. It’s not that I have wasted a lot of time doing this, that, or the other, but I think that would be a general statement that I could make to myself. I could have avoided a few mistakes, and I could have definitely saved time, money, and energy, and that could have been put for my own personal growth, my family’s happiness as well. So that’s what I would tell myself. Think twice before doing anything. Not to procrastinate, but to pause; have a reasonable awareness of the decision that we are making. After doing the best, we accept what comes afterward.

End of Interview.

This is a post for World Moms Network by Sophi at ThinkSayBe. Photo used with permission from Victor Kannan.

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part I

An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part I

2017. My, how time flies!  In 2010 in the office of an amazing human being, I read a sign that said: ‘Time flies like arrows; fruit flies like bananas’. I didn’t get it when I read it, but when I did it stuck with me. I was reminded of this when thinking over my interview with Victor Kannan; Director of the Heartfulness Institute. Firstly, I will mention that it was an absolute pleasure listening to Mr. Kannan. His sincerity, love, and humble self-confidence was refreshing and I don’t think any listener could have listened without a smile in his/her heart and face. Secondly, as I re-read his transcript I saw that there were concepts I hadn’t quite looked at in the way I could see them in this new moment. I believe it was important for me, personally, to hear certain things explained in a certain way, and they have stuck with me since!

This is Part I of the interview. I thought of truncating it to make it fit one post, but I do not want to deprive anyone of hearing Mr. Kannan’s voice in the way in which he spoke. I wish for you to hear, even if it is in text, and feel what Victor was speaking about.

PART I:

S: How long have you practiced heartfulness meditation?

V: I started in ’82. So how many years ago was it?

S: Let’s see: 34

V: Yes, 34 years and 8 months.

S: Were there times during the 30 years when you were more or less consistent, and why do you think that was the case?

V: I have been pretty consistent with it for the most part; of course, I have missed a lot of it. Still, I have tried to be consistent with my practice.

When I started, I was a bachelor and working at a bank. I was more consistent then. Between the ages of 22 and 25, I was consistent. Then I came to the US, got married and started a family. I wanted to build stability for my family, so I began to focus more on my career. Even though I understood that this practice of meditation would help me even materially, I found it difficult to be disciplined. I would try to incorporate it as much as possible. I was a heartfulness trainer and wanted to make sure I was available to people. But my personal practice suffered a bit. Now my daughter is on her own, and we are in good health, physically and materially, and even though I spend enormous amounts of time volunteering, I am able to spend sufficient time with personal meditation. Now I am very consistent.

S: I don’t want to assume… is the majority of your volunteering involved with heartfulness meditation?

V: All of it.

S: Okay. So have you, or do you practice any other type of meditation? And if not, why have you chosen heartfulness meditation as opposed to any other type?

V: I think I stumbled into it, and so far, it makes me feel that I am continuing to grow. So far I haven’t felt the need to look for anything else. It’s not that I don’t read books or that I am not open to others, but in a nice way, this practice has continued to enrich me and I am satisfied with it.

It’s a very important question, actually. How do you know we are on the best route for us? Somewhere along the line, if you make a habit of searching, you may not appreciate what you have found. So it is a thing of the heart. If you trust your heart, you will know. You will have ‘come home.’ Now make the best of what that offers.

I feel lucky and content. After many years of practice, I know that I am on the fastest and best route for me.

S: I see. Okay, thank you! Switching gears just a little bit, what is your career?

V: I work as a CFO, and have been since the early 90s. I am currently working for a gaming company, which is basically a technology application company.

S: In connection to that, I’d like to ask you: what is your take on the place of material things and spiritual things, and is it okay to have both?

V: I think so. I don’t think you can have one without the other. I think it is the material plane that gives you the possibility of spiritual progress, spiritual growth, spiritual engagement, and also spiritual adventure. If you ask a hungry man which he would prefer, bread or God, he is going to ask for bread. Bread represents the material life that we live; the basic needs of life, including financial needs, have to be taken care of first. One of our teachers of the Heartfulness system, Babuji, used to say: “Don’t let the dogs bark when you meditate”. So what does it mean? When you are consistent with your spiritual endeavor at the core of your existence, that consistency expands the consciousness to feel unconditional love. And at the end of the day, that expanded consciousness is going to give you the freedom to enjoy life the way in which it should be enjoyed. It also gives you access to knowledge, as it is more intuitive, and all of your faculties that are externally oriented will act as a filter. When the consciousness is expanded, the right filters will kick in and so you will obtain the right knowledge, which Babuji calls “Real Knowledge” versus just plain knowledge. Real knowledge is defined as the knowledge of one’s soul, spirit or the universe, whereas knowledge as we commonly understand it is about how to live well.

I also got this revelation that at times knowledge is nothing more than a layer of ignorance. Right? That is one of the reasons why in science sometimes, they keep on disproving what someone thought was the truth before. That is how we advance. But to hang on to something, even if it is scientific, is equally dogmatic.

This material life is necessary because we are made of matter. Matter interacts with energy to produce something else, and in the field of manifestation of life, it produces the base of consciousness. Consciousness is like a big canvas, with your faculties, such as ego, intellect and mind, acting as paint and brush on this big canvas. Your mind and soul, which are the seeds of life, make you creative, and then you paint with those tools on that canvas, creating the life you desire.

In some way, then, that life becomes beautiful, not because others say so, but because you feel it to be real inside yourself.

That’s the tricky part about spirituality. It has to be self-realized. That’s why it’s called self-realization. So material life is necessary, but if we live for the sake of material life, then we are becoming slaves of our lower desires and lower tendencies. For a lack of a better term, I use ‘lower’ because anything that shackles you, to my mind is lower. Anything that frees you is higher.

Again, we have to be careful in terms of temporary fixes people have, to feel free. So, material life is necessary, but what I think we should do somewhere along the line, is spiritualize the material life. How do we do that? Make sure that our material circumstances, occupation, and relationships become more conducive to this overarching purpose of the spiritual pursuit or the spiritual life.

The saying is that ‘you are judged by the company you keep.’ Now forget the judgment part. You are going to be helped by the company you keep. So we should carefully choose the people and circumstances around us (as best as possible, knowing we cannot control everything). Simultaneously we should accept responsibility for the past. When I say the past, I mean that we cannot change the minute that just passed. But we can embrace it, spiritualize it, not fight it, and accept it and ‘make lemonade’ out of it. And not all these moments are lemons, as so many of these past events are good and we are grateful for them.

Today, we are more composed. Today, we have tools that will help us realize the core of our own existence. When our center is disturbed, when we lose our equilibrium, we have tools to achieve that equilibrium. These are spiritual tools like meditation. Meditate with a teacher, or with a trainer, or read a book that is conducive to reestablishing the equilibrium. Call a friend that will help you reestablish the equilibrium. And strengthen yourself. Go within yourself. Self-help is the best help. Or, when we are not able to help ourselves, we seek outside ourselves.

So we accept the past with gratitude, for the past brought us to the present, to where and what we are. And we use everything we have in the present to propel ourselves to a beautiful future. We don’t have to continue the same trajectory from the past to go to the future. We can choose things that are conducive and complimentary to our spiritual endeavor. And we can change the trajectory of our past.

Life, unfortunately, is what it is. We find ourselves in the middle of our lives when we are awake in awareness. And the responsible thing to do is to say: ‘Okay if I have taken 20, 30, 40 years to come here, I can easily change it in the next 5 years to go where I want to go’. Sometimes we want things instantaneously. But if we change that perspective, it will be helpful.

S: Okay, thank you. Now, what is your view on detachment? Is it more your thought as Victor, or has heartfulness meditation helped you form your idea of what detachment means?

V: I don’t know. I try to understand these words in a manner that make sense to me. So as far as detachment, as a word, goes, it has to be understood properly. What do you want to be detached from? You want to be detached from everything that is not conducive to your goal. So suppose you set a goal of having a spiritually expanding consciousness, and to me that means that I want to have unconditional love for myself and others, I want to accept my weaknesses in a manner that I can let go instead of fighting them, and I want to have real knowledge of what is important in life and what the goals in life should be. Also, I recognize that I am on a planet, in an environment, in a situation, which I want to embrace and make the best out of. So where is detachment coming in? The detachment comes in to reinforce the attachment. You cannot say that I am attached to everything, or that I am detached from everything. We are attached to life because we are living. When we become detached from life, we do stupid things. We do irresponsible things. Right?

So detachment or attachment, they go back to the same idea: What is the goal in life, what are my responsibilities, and how do I fulfill my responsibilities that help me achieve my goal? So you know, I think that it requires a proper understanding of the word ‘detachment’. Attaching ourselves to things that are unnecessary is a process, right? Detachment is also a process. Giving freedom to the things you are attached to, for the purposes of those things to flourish, can also be called a detachment. Giving freedom to your children to grow, while giving them love, is detachment, but when we expect them to be a doctor or a musician, or a billionaire, that is attachment. So how can you be detached from the duties that you’re in the middle of, and how can you do your duty without love?

So these concepts of attachment and detachment, renunciation, and annihilation, negation, I think all of them have to be understood in the proper context. They have a purpose, of course. They are going to define a situation. But the wrong understanding of any of it will not be productive. Especially in the heartfulness system of meditation: it says that detachment is basically the sense of discernment. In Sanskrit, it is called viveka. It is a sense of discernment, progressive knowledge of what is right and wrong, what should be done, and what should be ignored, how much to do, and how much not. 

….

End of Part I

If you would like to know view more of Victor Kannan’s virtual written works, please Click Here

Please stay tuned for Part II, in which Mr. Kannan speaks of the state of children in this age of readily accessible technology, among other topics.

This is a post for World Moms Network by Sophia of ThinkSayBe. Photo used with the permission of Victor Kannan.

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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World Voice: Sensitivity Is not a Flaw – Indifference Is

World Voice: Sensitivity Is not a Flaw – Indifference Is

I have always been told that I am too sensitive. Even as a child, images, stories and movies that most young children could watch with little to no effect, would leave me upset for weeks. As an adult, this still holds true. I am sensitive. I can’t brush off experiences like many can. I am haunted by people and places. With each trip to Tanzania, I come back emotionally drained and to a suffering bank account! It takes me months to re-calibrate and function properly again. I am told that I think with my heart and not my head, and that maybe I am just not cut out for this type of charity work.

So on this last trip to Tanzania, earlier this month, I built a wall of self-preservation. I decided to focus on all of the positive aspects of Tanzania  including the beautiful mountainous landscape, the incredibly kind and generous people, the new infrastructure being built that would improve lives, the success of our current students and graduates, and the refreshing Tanzanian culture where family comes first. I was going to focus on the good and transition easily back into my Canadian life. It sounded like the perfect plan. Keep my focus on “happy thoughts”.

Enter Milambo, also known as Rambo!

Milambo aka Rambo, Tanzania

Milambo aka Rambo, Tanzania

While visiting the local market to order food packages for Mom2Mom Africa families, he approached us in dirty and ‘barely there’ clothes. He was hungry. So we bought him lunch. He wasn’t done yet. He followed us through the market, asking to be sent to school and explaining a life of begging on the streets. And just like that, my walls came tumbling down. He is the same age as my youngest daughter. It hit me hard. We drove to his home. The smell was overwhelming. His father had left the family. No one had heard from him in years. Milambo’s mother was illiterate; actually the entire family, including Milambo, could not read or write. He was a beggar on the street. That was his job. He was required to provide for his family at 9 or 10 years old (no one knew his real age as they couldn’t read the birth records). He left us all shaken.

Milambo and his brother

Milambo and his brother

Milambo is now a student in our program thanks to the generosity of my friend and travel partner, Brenda. His brother is also a student, in order to prevent the job of beggar to be passed on to him. Their lives are forever changed. They will lift their family out of poverty at some point. They have teachers and our partners on the ground watching out for them, monitoring their progress and health, and making sure they are successful at school. A few short weeks since that chance meeting, Milambo is reading. He walks to school every day with his brother. It is a 40 minute walk and they are always on time and have never missed a single day.

My point is that there is no such thing as being too sensitive. Imagine a world where sensitivity prevailed! Good would happen. I am just the right amount of sensitive to see the world for what it is and to hopefully make a difference.

Sensitivity is not a flaw; indifference is.

If I had kept that wall up, would I have even noticed Milambo? Would his story have affected me? Probably not.

Shout out to my sensitive travel companions and kindred spirits Marieke, Brenda, and Corrina who let me cry, get frustrated, get incredibly angry and then melt again because they do the same… so get it! And special thanks to Milambo, who made all four of us realize that being sensitive is okay and might just be more of what this chaotic world needs.

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Alison Fraser of Mom2Mom Africa

Has there been a time in your life when you were grateful for your sensitivity?

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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Indonesia: Explaining Trump to my American Child

Indonesia: Explaining Trump to my American Child

You are an immigrant Mommy…is that mean you can’t come to America?

There’s a concern in his tone. A frown showed up as he tries to make sense of his new elected president.

Well…technically I am no longer an immigrant, Alex. I once was when we were still living there until you were 2 years old.

He searched my face for more answer.

But right now, for the time being, we will not be living in America. We are living here in Indonesia. Of course, one day if we want to, we may come there for a visit to see your Grandparents, your Uncle Greg, and his family also your brothers.

But Trump won’t let you come because you are not American!

I’m sure it will all be alright when the time comes. Let’s not worry until then ok? With the right paper works, of course, I can still come with you. I will need a visa first.

What’s a visa, Mommy? How come you don’t have one?

A visa is like a permit to visit a country. Every country has different rules when it comes to visa. I don’t have one after my conditional resident permit ended.

Then I went on to explain what a green card is, how I got one in the first place many years ago while I was still married to his father. Of how I returned the card post-divorce.

My almost 10 year old boy was worried that his mother, a non-US citizen may not be able to go to America with him one day. He overheard the news while I watched the whole campaign and how Trump has been voted in as president of the United States.

Why is he so angry all the time?” was his first question when he asked who Trump is.

Being a mother to a dual citizenship child, I have been following the whole election period. Why? Because my son is an American citizen. Whoever won the election will have a lasting impact on his future in one way or another.

Yes, we are living thousands of miles away from America but trust me, being a third world country citizen what happens in America will greatly impact everyone. I still vividly remember how scary it was post the September 11 tragedy. I was working in a hotel in Jakarta and an emergency plan was set in place because a hardline Muslim group was sweeping hotels looking for American citizens after the attack.

Being of the minority religion in Indonesia  (I am a Christian) any time there’s a religious uproar going on in my country, we are living in danger to say the least. So Trump’s anti-Muslim propaganda will greatly impact everyone. With Indonesia being the most Muslim populated country, declaring war on my Muslim friends will cause scary consequences.

Not all Muslim are terrorists so it is truly unfair how Trump is making his blanket statements. I have Muslim friends living in America who have received discriminations ever since he ran his campaign and I fear for their safety too.

There’s little that I could do other than telling my son that hatred will not help anyone, that what the world desperately needs at the moment is more love, more compassion towards one another regardless of race, the color of peoples’ skin, religious beliefs and sexual orientations. I can only pray that my son will grow up with great respect and kindness to the many differences we all have as human beings.

How do you explain the American election result to your children?

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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