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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

BECOMING #MICHAEL_PHELPS...

I woke yesterday morning feeling mildly over-indulged from the previous night's dinner. With what the Afrikaners describe as lang tande (lit. long teeth, or general reluctance), decided to go for a swim at our local gym. The motivation was largely to neutralise the effects of the big meal the previous night which, with hindsight, may not have been the greatest motivator.

There was no part of me that especially wanted that swim, and the performance in the water for my first couple of hundred metres suggested that my body's willingness was equal to my mind's: pretty low on the willingness scale. Tired shoulders from the outset, no rhythm, bored and just wanting to get it over with.

After 10 lengths I stopped and questioned whether this was the way I wanted it or indeed whether it was doing me much good. I could think of other times where I had exercised out of obligation rather than out of willingness and how little satisfaction I had got at the time. So what was the opportunity on offer here? What would transform a lang tande swim into an outing that I could and would enjoy?

The strategy I chose was to forget about how far I still had to swim and simply to focus on each stroke and the sensations on my body in the water. I immediately started seeing the bubbles around each hand every time it entered the water and the shape of my hands and arms in the water. I felt the cool flow of water down my flanks, and the way my body rotated with each breath to the left and right. Within a length or two I could feel my rhythm was back, any muscular discomfort was minimal and I was swimming with purpose again. 

So then I started feeling grateful for the opportunity to swim, thinking about people who were injured, those who didn't know how to swim and those who simply had no access to a pool.

All of a sudden I was swimming beautifully (well, in my own estimation anyway) and loving the experience. The lengths passed by quickly and then it was time to get out.

The possibility which Life had offered me (or perhaps which I had offered myself) was the opportunity to transform and enhance my physical performance simply by changing the way I was approaching the exercise. The wonderful thing is that that is on offer to all of us, whether we're battling with exercise, weight loss or any other particular undertaking.

So, move over, Michael Phelps: your secret is out!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

"THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS THAT GOOD MEN DO NOTHING"

@Eusebius McKaiser recently wrote an excellent article "'Good' guys at the top shockingly silent" about #Zuma getting away with #Nkandla whilst everyone in the #ANC remains silent. We also see that #Blatter was overwhelmingly re-elected as President in the face of the biggest scandal to hit #FIFA. And #Mugabe could rule forever.

McKaiser makes a good point. How can this stuff happen when there are ostensibly good people in the organisations behind these people? Surely they aren't all rotten to the core? Surely some people behind the despots have an inkling of what integrity means?

Because, if there are such people, how do they make it okay for evil to triumph and still feel congruent within themselves if their consciences are even faintly pricked by what is going on? 

No doubt, many people benefit from the patrimony of their leaders, so the conflict of interest between personal benefit and personal integrity is simply resolved by expediency. However, given for instance that the ANC has it sfoundations rooted in integrity and a man who was arguably the greatest statesman of our time and a model of integrity, #NelsonMandela, how is it that there is apparently no one left in the organisation who can purport to emulate him or call him or herself congruent in terms of thoughts and deeds?

And don't for a moment think that this phenomenon is limited to corruption, or to those in high positions of power. It occurs wherever evil manifests itself and at every level of our society. 

We are each called to examine carefully the times when we keep our mouths shut in the name of expediency, avoidance of conflict, personal comfort and fear rather than speak up when we see or hear others acting out of integrity in ANY way whatsoever. Yes, sometimes it requires courage to call someone for being out of integrity, but courage is what we have as a resource. If we cannot find it in ourselves to draw on that courage, where does that leave us? 

However, if we can stand up, there may just be sufficient ground-swell to wake our leaders up to their own deficiencies in this regard. If we don't, we simply allow evil to triumph and ourselves to slide into a personal hell.

What do you choose?