High Heels, High Hopes

It is right around the time of year when we are all being shoved into the shoes of an adult whether we like it or not. For a child who grew up in the same city, the same street, the same house and the same school, going to college was a terrifying thought and initially I loathed the idea of it. I didn’t want to leave my friends behind. I didn’t want to walk into a place where I knew absolutely no one and had no idea which way was what. Emotionally, I qualified as a wreck. The feeling of absolute uncertainty is so unnerving. I wanted to be sure of everything so that I didn’t get left behind. For the first time in forever, I felt like I was in kindergarten all over again. I was asking all the same questions. Will I find someone like me? Will people hate me? How am I supposed to behave? What if I make a bad impression? The week before college was the worst. I had to actually come to terms with the fact that I had to say my goodbyes to school and the friends I loved so dearly and go make new ones. I remember promising myself to just sit quietly and not talk to a soul. My plan was simple; I would go to class, sit, listen and then leave. It was as simple and as stupid as that.

My earlier apprehension of being plucked out of the comfort zone I was in (school) for fourteen years and being put into a completely new environment had disappeared. I walked into the sylvan campus at 7.30 a.m. and it was perfect. It wasn’t too hot yet and the morning sun touched my cheeks in sweet reassurance that everything else would be fine too. The sunlight bounced of the lush greenery everywhere. The campus was so beautiful. I had begun to feel that school was home, but somehow as I walked in, something about it felt so familiar. I watched the other students trickle in through the grand entrance.I saw such beautiful young girls – dressed fancy , with their high heels and make up and perfect hair, but I also saw the people dressed simply with their flats and salwars and flowers in their hair. This was a potpourri of people from different worlds. Each one of them had a story, each one of them had a past, and each and every one of them, including myself were there for one reason – a better future. I slowly opened my mind to the possibility that maybe I had a lot more in common with these strangers than I had expected to have. Miraculously, the place I had feared so long, the place that I had anticipated to hate, didn’t seem so scary. I almost smiled. Then it hit me. I knew why I felt so comfortable. Granted, everything was new and unexplored, but at the same time, it’s so similar to school. This was my opportunity to start fresh, to make mistakes and avoid the ones I’ve already made. It’s no longer me, no one knows me here. I don’t know anyone here either. We are reborn into new surroundings. That’s what put me at ease. I could reshape myself and find my own person here. I could be anything. It’s a fresh slate. It’s new. It’s unexplored. Earlier this week, I had been rejected by the college of my dreams because I didn’t make their cut off by .25 % and I was pretty upset but that no longer seemed to haunt me. I was here, I could do whatever and be whoever. I could be the class topper or the Student Union President. I could do it all over. The day was pretty basic. We got let off early as well. It was just attendance, the Inaugural assembly and the Friendly Senior Program assigned us seniors to take us around campus and, that was about it. I don’t know why but as I lived every minute of my first day, the walking in through the gates on a Monday morning, the roll call, the assembly, the faculty, a strange sense of déjà vu flooded through me. It took me some time to realize why, but I figured it out eventually. School was my home for so long. It was where I met people I know I will keep close to my heart for a very long time. It was where I made some of the memories that have been embossed in my heart forever. It was where I discovered myself and what I was capable of. It was where I had moments of failures and glory that defined me as a person. I have had some of the best years of my life there. That was the reason behind the déjà vu. I had seen this before. I have lived this before. Each and every time, it was a more beautiful and enriching experience. And, now, walking into the campus of college on my first day, I got to watch it all begin again.
I no longer felt the walls closing in on me, but that didn’t mean I was any less crazy. I took down over twenty pages in notes – of the orientation program. I was listening so intently to every single word. I swear people thought I was insane. They laughed, I laughed too and then something magical happened. I barely even noticed it, but suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I met such amazing people, who were as stupid, as lovable and as crazy as I was. They were my life jacket and now two months in, we share a lot more than just lunch.

College has been a lot more than monotonous learning from text books. We have been encouraged to enhance knowledge through discussions and suggestions and debates. we have opinions and our opinions matter. It isn’t all about the learning anymore. We are being placed on a platform of responsibility and fun. Be it cribbing about the continuous assessments or talking about the universe and it’s creation, college is certainly entertaining in its own way. I mean who wouldn’t love getting on the good old fashioned MTC (Madras Transport Corporation) bus even when it is overflowing with people, threatening to capsize. It has even got me losing weight – something months of irregular visits to the gym hasn’t achieved. Who wouldn’t want to walk home in the scorching sun? Who wouldn’t want to complain about it after, or sneak out your on-campus dwelling friends. It has been a once in a lifetime experience. My apprehension has melted to reveal anticipation – I want to know what happens next. I want to reach out to the world and make a difference as a person and increasingly I find myself being enabled to strengthen character and personality. I have hopes and dreams that aren’t so vague anymore. This is as certain as I have been about anything. I believe I’m learning to nest in what will be my home for the next three years. So now, I am actually glad to say I walk into campus every morning, waiting to know what meeting will pop up or who will be guest lecturing us on things we haven’t even heard about. Surprisingly enough, the ones in the high heels and pretty clothes aren’t as intimidating as the same sort used to be in school. Everyone is so nice and welcoming that it feels like a breath of fresh air. i cant wait to write on the remaining pages of this story. I sense potential in this endeavor. I’m going to have to pass on the high heels, but I certainly have high hopes.

Work vs. Talent

Success is not a one time achievement. It is a habit. All of us are born with capabilities that are unique to us and that will set us apart from the rest. However, in today’s over achieving world innate talent is a given. Therefore, what sets you apart and gets you to the top is the willingness and ability to labour diligently in order to hone the skill set you possess. Success is a flame that is ignited by inherent capacity and that is kept burning by hard work.

The world today markets talent as the “thing” they are looking for. If you are not exceptionally talented then you aren’t worth talking about. This is why it is easy to fall under the misconception that talent alone will get you places. Although the inherent capacity to excel at something would be favourable to you in your climb to the top you cannot rely on it alone.  Talent is amplified with your ability to work hard on it. For example, the NBA legend, Michael Jordan, is known for his exceptional prowess on court. However, when Jordan joined the league his jump shot wasn’t good enough. So he spent his off season taking hundreds of jump shots every day until it was perfect. Successful people in every field are often termed as “blessed” or even “lucky” but this is a gross injustice to the amount of hard work they have put in to get where they are today.  There is no substitute for working hard, not even exceptional skill.

Hard work in itself can be called a talent because not many people are capable of it. It requires grit and determination. These are not things you are born with but things you inculcate.  So even if you aren’t an unbelievable talent you get successful with just one big push towards your goal. For instance, the current world champion at chess, Magnus Carlsen, mastered the game just because he wanted to beat his sister. His parents narrate that they knew their children weren’t geniuses; however, Carlsen was driven by the need to be better than his sister.  This shows us that in the end you don’t really need to be a Beethoven or have an IQ of 170. You need to shun lethargy and find yourself a driving need to get down and dirty and get work done and you will soon find yourself on the top. If you keep reaching for and relying on the talents you were born with to support you, one day you may reach and not find anything left. On the other hand hard work is a well that doesn’t run dry.

The path to success is never happy go lucky. It is a meticulously planned, well charted out path. People who’ve made it big are those who have stuck to the plan, put in long hard hours and worked on their existing skill sets endlessly. They have worked very hard and then worked harder. Work is that thing that brings all the other pieces of the puzzle together. You can be a believer of luck, miracles, and even God, but God himself wouldn’t help you if you haven’t put in enough work to deserve his help. Thomas Jefferson once said, “I am a great believer of luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” So in conclusion, working hard is a prerequisite for success. Talent is integral to success as well, but as the saying goes, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”

 

Caveat Emptor

It is a common belief that when we are at crossroads of a difficult decision that asking for advice benefits; when in actuality we have already made the decision for ourselves. What we actually seek is not advice but absolution from the guilt of having to make a tough choice. If the advice given isn’t in tandem with our sub-consciously pre-made decision we seldom follow it. This is because all of us know, deep down, advice givers are usually wrong.

For one, leading psychologists believe that people who are mentally closer to the event at hand have a better understanding of how to deal with the situation they are put in as compared to those who have low proximity to it. Though we look to people emotionally detached from the situation to give us unbiased advice what we fail to see is that emotional attachment plays a major role in decision making. Advisors are usually well-wishers but they will not be able to view the circumstances in its entirety. They will be unable to give you the best tailored advice for your predicament, because they will always look at your situation abstractly. For instance, in any airline, they advise you to secure your own oxygen mask before you secure your child’s but by nature the mother would be instigated to ensure her child’s safety first where her emotional attachment to the child inevitably plays.

Furthermore advisors are usually wrong because despite being well intentioned are unconsciously in competition with you. They are usually insincere because the act of giving advice is more ego-gratifying than magnanimousness. They have the upper hand when they tell you what to do because you usually seek advice when you are vulnerable. It might even be as simple as giving you the wrong advice just to watch your demise. In this case, ulterior motives will be your ruin. Pandora’s Box is a beautiful example. Zeus wanted to punish mankind and so gave Prometheus’s brother a woman and as a wedding gift gave her a jar (now called Pandora’s Box) he advised her not to open it. She however out of curiosity opened the box that contained all the evil in the world which now spread all over the earth. She expected Zeus to be angry because she hadn’t followed his advice. However the wrath of Zeus was not upon her as he intended for it to happen.

Lastly, people who give us advice lack practicality. They get caught up in the theory and usually fail to look out for the practicality quotient of the advice they give. Hence the saying came about, “Easier said than done.” While all great ideas originate as theories, advice needs to be practical in order for it to be effectively implemented. For example: The time and motion study developed by Fredrick Winslow Taylor. This is a business efficiency technique that was introduced in the 20th century. It broke down a complex task into small and simple steps in order to observe and eliminate any wastefulness or redundancies. So each labourer would be assigned a small task and would be asked to repeat it for all of the working time. When all the employees follow through on their specific tasks, a marked production increase would be seen. Though it was an innovate management idea that would greatly increase production it was theoretical as it overlooked the aspect of human beings being incapable of repetitive tasks for long periods of time. Monotony would therefore retard the quality of work they employees put in resulting in a negative impact on production.

Oscar Wilde once said that there is only one thing you should do with good advice and that is to pass it on because it is never useful to oneself. People never use their own advice. Having said so don’t you wonder how you could possibly trust anyone’s advice when they themselves wouldn’t use it? So while seeking advice gives you unbiased, experienced solutions to your problems remember that it might be aimed at your detriment. Advice is like any other commodity. Caveat Emptor holds.

 

Standing on the shoulders of giants

The twenty first century man is undoubtedly indebted to his ancestors for their contributions towards making the world all that it is today. We live in an age of accelerated growth, development, innovation and creation and it is very tempting to take all the credit for our accomplishments. However, the truth still remains that we would not have reached the current levels of advancement had it not been for the work of our predecessors.

Invention is a tedious process. It involves working long hard hours putting together all the components, discovering that you were wrong and starting all over again. It took Thomas Alva Edison one thousand different attempts to get the light bulb right. He toiled diligently not giving up or getting disheartened by his failed attempts and now thanks to him we can light up our world. But more than his invention of the light bulb itself, by getting it wrong a thousand times he has shown us what will and will not work…We now know a thousand different ways that would result in failure. Therefore, even in the transition from that simple light bulb to the big powered lights we have today, Edison has saved us a lot of time by showing us what went wrong. Learning from the mistakes that people have made before us saves us the time that we would have otherwise spent rediscovering those mistakes for ourselves.

Furthermore, certain amenities that people have created or discovered for us in the past have resulted in today exponentially growing rate of development. Better infrastructure jump starts the engine that drives today’s world of innovation. For example, take anything you would consider a great achievement of this generation and undoubtedly you will find that it would not have been possible if Benjamin Franklin hadn’t discovered electricity.

So far we have only seen the technical side of it; we as a nation are indebted to our freedom fighters for the work they have put in that makes us the country we are now. We would also be indebted the founders of the great religions in the world today for promoting an overall sense of peace and inculcating good values in us as men, making us a more tolerating race.  We would also owe a great deal to the masters in the fields of fine arts have diversified our repertoire today. For instance, Dan Brown’s best seller, Inferno was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Our indebtedness therefore is not limited to just the inventors, but all our ancestors and our fellow men because have and are contributing in some way or the other to make tomorrow a better place. It is therefore imperative that we look at laboring arduously as a duty, just as our ancestors did so that we move from the ENIAC (the first digital computer) that took up thousand eight hundred square feet to the Macintosh that sits so elegantly on your lap, or from the chariots to the Ferrari. Whatever it may be man has always been one to discover and not be content. He discovers and improves, invents and enhances. He builds on what his predecessors have done. Like Isaac Newton said if we have seen any further it would be by standing on the shoulders of giants. We are where we are today because someone before us gave the fruit of their lives’ work so that we may eat and hopefully plant the seed.

The Civic Sense

So a friend of mine had just finished dining in a restaurant in Germany and had paid his bill. He was getting up to leave when an elderly gentleman stopped him apologized and said, “My dear friend, today you have wasted a lot of food. Maybe you can afford it but as a nation, we can’t.”

Look around you, what do you see? You see the world’s largest democracy, you see the second most populous country on the planet, you see the people, the governance and the infrastructure. You see an emerging super power. The world looks at the western countries and conveniently tags them developed, and then they look at us, and by default we are under developed. I’m quite confused actually, I mean if you really look at it, 38% of the doctors in America are Indian, 36% of NASA scientists are Indian, 34% of all Microsoft employees are Indian. And while America suffered severely from depression in 2008, we remained fairly stable. I mean look at us, from Ayurveda to Algebra to chess, you name it, we made it. And yet here we are. We are under developed, we are economically backward, we are poor. We are the third world. Don’t you wonder why?

Well, while India is all that, it is also the home to one-thirds of the world’s poorest, one of the highest ranking countries facing the pangs of malnourished children, the host to the largest number of illiterate adults in the world. Now add to that an exponentially growing population and a corrupt and misleading government and there you have it. We are back at square one.

So why aren’t we a super power yet? Well it would be easier to blame the government. It’s their fault anyway! I mean, why should we do anything for the uplifting of the country when they were appointed to take care of us and provide us with everything from cradle to grave right?

What we as a population fail to see is that a government, any government cannot function without the cooperation of each and every citizen. So yes, go ahead make a thousand laws but it will be of no use if we don’t abide by them but search for loopholes instead. Set up a hundred school and again it will be futile if parents don’t invest in their children’s future but use them as income sources instead. It is easier to say, they’ll do it, they’ll take care of it…. They, they they…. They who? Want to see a change? Well stop being lazy, turn off that TV, stop texting and go be that change you want to see. Start with the man in the mirror. We are probably, by far, the only generation that can say we have the resources, we have the potential but we’ve not yet made it big. This is only because we sit there refusing to do anything about the problems we face. We’re not that far from extraordinary…. It’s just a matter of that little extra. But then, in the end it all boils down to that big question. Why put in the effort? Well, think about it, 2000 ethnic groups, 1652 different languages, and an 8000 year old civilization with over a billion people with tremendous potential. I think it’s worth it.

The Secret to Communal Harmony

Tolerance is the willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that you don’t really agree with. It means attempting to understand the other and his point of view. Today the world is torn apart by people who are incapable of living and letting live. They believe that their point of view is the right one. The inability to tolerate others has brought our world to war. All the great religions preach the virtue of tolerance and yet even the religious fanatics are unable to follow what their religion preaches. Let us take the examples of the two most opposing religions. In Islam the name al- Halῑm or ‘the tolerant’ is one of the names of Allah. In Christianity, Exodus 22:21 says: “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” It is clear that religions have tried through the centuries to imbibe in man the art of tolerance so that one day mankind may live in peace and harmony. But tolerance doesn’t just mean tolerating other religious beliefs. Not getting into interpersonal conflicts at home or in your work place or in your neighbourhood may sound insignificant but in fact is a very crucial part for the promotion of the normal functioning of a society. It is the peace maintained at these levels that in the end contribute substantially to world peace. In the end the only way to achieve peace is to understand and accept the fact that tolerance is a virtue, it is an art. It doesn’t mean you’ve become the lesser person. It means you have decided to take the high road. Tolerance enlightens you to views and ideologies that are different from your own. It makes your knowledge of the world richer. When you become ready to accept people for who they are and understand them you will experience holistic development. Tolerance is the secret behind every functioning society. It is the sole proprietor of peace and harmony.

Tempus Sede Vacante

April 19th 2005, the conclave had begun. Joseph Ratzinger was the Great Elector and presided over the conclave that was held shortly after the death of His Holiness John Paul II. The Conclave ended in two days and though there was a delay in the ringing of the bells, they rang fourteen minutes later confirming the election of the new Bishop of Rome- Joseph Ratzinger or more popularly known as Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. Pope Benedict has successfully stunned the 21st century with his abdication and has ensured that the year2013 would definitely end up in the history books. Despite his public statement that it was incompetency of mind and body that led him to quit, papal abdications are rarer than blue moons and so, there has been much speculation on the underlying reason behind the resignation of His Holiness.

The story actually begins on 13th December 1294, when Pope Celestine V resigned from his post. One of his surviving edicts was his confirmation of the right of a pope to resign or abdicate. Unlike what many people believe quite a few popes have resigned through history. The last pope to have abdicated was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, his reason being to end the Western Schism or the Papal Schism where two men claimed to be the true pope… His abdication however, was over six hundred years ago and the funny thing we all know about history is that it tends to repeat itself.

On February 28th 2013 Pope Benedict XVI officially resigned and since then the Holy See has been facing Tempus Sede Vacante or ‘The Time of the Empty Seat’ referring to the empty papal office.

Benedict XVI will be now addressed as Pope Emeritus and continues to wear the white papal robes. He has retired to the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae, a monastery as his retirement home.

The conclave began on March 12th 2013 at 4:45pm Central European Time, and the cardinals were sealed in within the walls of the Sistine Chapel sworn to secrecy owing to the Latin origin of the word ‘cum clave’ meaning with a key. By ancient Vatican law that holds till today any Catholic man who has been baptized can become pope but since the 1300s it has always been a fellow cardinal.

The successor of Benedict XVI was elected on March 13th 2013. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is said to be the first non- European pope in 1,272 years. He is also the first Jesuit pope. The Islamic community welcomed his election as pope as they claimed this simple and humble man was a friend of the Islamic community. The conclave this year was expected to break after three days for the cardinals to rest if no pope had been elected but Pope Francis was elected on the second day itself and is the first pope to bear that name.

Tempus Sede Vacante has come to an end as the seventy – six year old Vicar of Christ has donned his papal robes and responsibilities. The Church has found their new leader and hopes that he leads the Catholic community in wisdom and love for years to come.

Fueling Tomorrow

Why? Why search tirelessly for the best alternatives to our current fuels? Approximately 95% of world transport is powered by oil and besides, for a very long time Man has depended on the ever popular source of energy – black gold. So why bother changing it? Ignore the fact that burning fossil fuels is a very generous contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions, that it causes global warming, that they are non-renewable sources of energy and that sooner or later we’re going to run out of them. Most of us would have heard a million slogans and catch phrases on energy conservation, global warming, and so on but would not have given it a second thought, so where would it affect the average human being of today who couldn’t care less about going green, as far as he’s concerned petrol gets him from point A to Point B and that’s all he needs. So here’s why. Once upon a time in the Middle East, on May 26th 1908, in Persia (now Iran) to be precise, a British company found oil. At that time with the concept of automobiles being at its infancy and everything running on coal, investors didn’t really expect to get rich from an oil strike, until they realized that petroleum was a more economical fuel source and almost everything that ran on coal could run on oil as well. The change was easy and inevitable. Explorations led to discovery of more oil reserves in the Middle East, and today a hundred years later the Gulf countries have the world’s largest share of petroleum. The Middle East exports 58% of the all crude petroleum and many countries depend on them for oil. This is where the problem arises. There is a stark monopoly in the market where many countries depend on the regions like the Gulf, Canada, and Venezuela. Countries that are rich in oil therefore can monopolize and manipulate markets. In normal terms, the countries that are rich in oil can create artificial scarcity and cause price rise. This is where you would be concerned about finding cheaper more economic sources of fuel. To find the ideal fuel is anything but simple. There are so many factors you need to take into account. The potential candidate must be available in abundance, it should be safe, easy to transport and store and it should be legal. Many such restrictions have our scientists and researchers still in their labs searching relentlessly for the ideal fuel replacement. There have been so many proposals for fuel alternatives but to find the right fuel alternative is still work in progress, so here’s your sneak peek at the creativity scientists have used in an attempt to tide over the energy crisis.

Water:

Nearly two-thirds of the earth is water. The chemical composition of water (H2O) has hydrogen in it. If we are able to extract hydrogen along with the oxygen gas it becomes suitable for the IC engine applications with some modifications. It is an economical fuel source due to its abundance. Due to its purity it is neat, clean and eco-friendly.

Used Diapers:

An Organization called AMEC in Canada is in the process of building a pilot plant in Quebec that will process used diapers (plastics, resins, fibers and poop) by a pyrolysis process and produce a mix of oil and char. Considering diapers take a very long time to decompose in a land fill, it seems like a good alternative.

Liposuction:

Dr. Craig Alan Bittner is a Beverly Hills Cosmetics Surgeon who saves the left over fat from the many liposuctions he conducts and converts it into a perfectly good biofuel with which he powers his SUV. The fact that this is illegal is a minor deterrent.

Turkey Gut:

Thanksgiving in America plates about 45 million turkeys. An interesting query would be, what happens to the turkey guts? A group of entrepreneurs at Carthage got together and decided to open a plant that would convert turkey waste including feathers and converting it into a fuel oil that can be converted into gasoline, jet fuel or diesel.

Cows:

Cows can produce 50-130 gallons of methane every day. Since Methane burns easily, what if they could use this Methane as a fuel? Blue Spruce Farm in Vermont is putting their cow waste into anaerobic digesters to produce electricity. This also produces useful fertilizers.

The Usual alternatives:

Bio- diesels which are animal fat based or vegetable oil based diesel fuel, Biogas technologies which are concerned with the converting of biological waste into energy, Propane (otherwise known as LPG) which is a domestically abundant fossil fuel that reduces harmful emissions, Hydrogen which is an easily combustible gas available in abundance, and ethanol that has emerged in the recent years as a very good fuel alternative, are all good solution to our current energy crisis.

Hemp:

Hemp is a very versatile plant, it improves the soil in which it grows without the aid of any chemical fertilizers and chokes weed by its rapid growth. By virtue of it versatile nature hemp is a really good fuel alternative and production at large rates and at low costs leads many to believe that it alone can make America energy independent. However, though highly profitable the Federal government banned the growth of hemp. There are many alternatives for our current fuels, but they have many draw backs as well, that is why none of these alternatives have been implemented. The answer is out there somewhere, all we need is more people to think outside the box for a change, and find the best fuel source to run our world. We hope to be a healthy world one day, a world that can sustain itself. With the need for finding different fuels to use becoming more and more prominent, we’re looking at a someday, not very far away when we will find an economical fuel source that will save the planet and go easy on your wallet.

Mind Your Heart

The brain is at constant war with itself, where one part tells you to follow your heart the other cautions. We are born a part of this time because of capacities that are unique to us, to become agents of positive influence and change that have the power to shape humanity and manipulate destiny. The mind is the conscience, the chalice of logic, reason, judgment, perception and moral values. Subconsciously, our mind assimilates various elements of our surroundings, like the people we talk to, previous incidents, popular belief and so on to discern the outcome of every situation thus giving out warning signals in times of danger. Therefore, the logical part of the brain is what we call our mind. Noetic Sciences believe that the mind can become a vast expanse of knowledge and power and has the potential to make visible changes around us. The full power of the mind, however is latent, and is yet to be tapped… In our day to day existence we have efficiently closed out the unimaginable by terming it ‘impossible.’ It stunts the ability to grow, to discover, to invent and most importantly to think differently. The depth and strength of human character is greatly defined by the moral reserve we call our conscience or our mind. In the ordinary course of events our mind is not tested. People only reveal themselves when they are thrown out of their comfort zones. It is at these times the strength of character is tested to see if we fall back on our moral values to guide us.

Our inner reserves of emotion that season every judgment we make, that alters reason and believes in the unbelievable is the heart.  Contrary to popular belief, the heart is a very vital part of our being. The latent power of the mind can be exploited only when we open up the doors to our hearts. Opening our hearts to courage, belief and faith lays the foundation for development.  Edison would be a wonderful example, he tried to invent the light bulb and failed a number of times but his heart believed, it opened to the possibility that the right way to invent the bulb was just around the corner and in the end he did harness light. Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a life threatening illness at the age of twenty, and yet we still have him with us today, aged 71, contributing greatly to the world of contemporary science. It was his heart that kept him going, that convinced him that giving up was not an option… That the world would benefit greatly from his knowledge. When the heart believes, all obstacles are removed; nothing can stand in your way. However, when the heart lets in negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, fear, and lack of confidence, it brings out the opposite effect. Pessimism will lead to your mind closing up. You will hesitate to dare, to dream and discover new things in the fear of not succeeding. Negative thoughts can stunt intellectual growth and curiosity severely.  Restrictions form unnoticed and you’ve set your boundaries, when there shouldn’t be any. There is no limit to possibility.

It is when the heart opens, when it believes that we witness miracles. The universe provides in abundance and it is up to us to extract from it what we need. Seek and you shall find. It simply means all you need and ever will need is all there in and around you; you just need to take time to notice it lying dormant and activate it. Sarah Ban Breathnach says, “Whatever we are waiting for, be it peace of mind, contentment, grace, inner awareness of simple abundance- it will surely come to us but only when we are willing to receive it with a grateful heart.” When you open your hearts to confidence, blind faith, and optimism the unseen forces of the cosmos will automatically begin to work together in order to achieve what you’re working towards. It’s actually a very simple concept, if your heart is in whatever you are doing then your mind opens up to it too.  The amount we can achieve if our hearts and minds work together is unfathomable. It won’t matter how different we are because all differences will melt into nothingness if our aims are identical and our hearts are open. In the end, emotional strength is one of Mankind’s oldest weapons and when used to the fullest it will lead to visible and remarkable changes in society and in turn the world. We are on the verge of great change and at this point the world needs people to innovate with their hearts as well as their minds. We need hearts that believe in change and minds that work towards it. We need people who are crazy enough to believe with all their heart that they can make a change in the world no matter how stupid and ‘impossible’ it sounds, because like Steve Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

The Hunger Project

In a world of 7 billion people, 870 million do not have enough to eat, this is the population of the United States of America and The European Union combined. It is time to face the truth, we live in a world where there are people who cannot afford to buy food, and yet on the other side we have an annual wastage of 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide. Even though it is only one third of the world’s total food production, it still is a very substantial amount. Another interesting point of view, is that inside all this food we waste is a stunning 45 trillion gallons of water, which represents the water used for agriculture. And agriculture is already the largest user of fresh water.

It is cruel that human beings are capable of committing the atrocious sin of food wastage when we can see so many of our brothers and sisters suffering starvation, malnutrition, and various other diseases due to chronic hunger. Pope Francis, on world Environment day puts forward a very valid point. When a person or rather many people die, of hunger it doesn’t seem to hit the news but when the stock market drops ten points everybody is talking about it. World Hunger is an imminent concern that we have refused to look at for too long. It is a very nasty picture but all the same it cannot be ignored. We need to do a better job of redistributing the food we cannot eat to people who would probably appreciate it more. Serve in small portions, make in small portions and buy only what you need. Like the pope very rightly put, food wasting is like stealing from the tables of the poor and hungry. It is an unforgivable sin.

The thought of someday being to say we live in a world that is free of hunger everywhere might seem increasingly impossible as the world population increases in large numbers every day. You may ask, “What difference can I make?” but this is just another way of shirking responsibility. Hunger is the curse that haunts our global community and Man is finally accepting he is helpless. We are on top of the food chain and possibly the most developed beings on the earth and yet the pangs of hunger seem to bring us down to nothingness. Hunger can be eliminated and getting started is as simple as this, if each one of us can commit to one person and their need. Just one…. We will soon be weaving an intricate web of culture that imbibes in people the arts of love, care, giving and compassion. We will reach that point in time when there will be a complete shift in paradigm and we will become a part of a world free of hunger, with people finally being able to sustain themselves. We will finally renew hope.