20. September 2010 · Comments Off on The Leatherback Turtle and Suzan Lakhan Baptiste · Categories: Reference And Education · Tags: , ,

In the 1980’s Matura Beach on the east coast of the island of Trinidad,  was a killing field for Leatherback turtles. Today, on Matura Beach, there are no Leatherback turtles being killed and this  is now one of the largest breeding grounds in the world for these magnificent creatures. This is all thanks to one woman, Suzan Lakhan Baptiste.
 
The mass slaughter of the Leatherback turtle on  had a huge impact on both the Leatherback population and the community of Matura. The Leatherback population diminished rapidly and the economy of Matura suffered. The only people that who benefited from the slaughter of the Leatherback were the poachers, who sold the meat for high prices. Matura Beach was littered with disposed Leatherback carcases and was no longer attractive to tourists and day trippers.
 
Suzan Lakhan Baptiste, a resident of Matura, took it upon herself to change all this. She would bravely go to the beach at night and try to reason with the poachers, eventually getting through to them that what they were doing was wrong. She spoke to the residents of Matura, and convinced them that the Leatherback turtle was an asset to the community and should be preserved. Her efforts paid off and led to the formation, in 1990, of the Nature Seekers organisation which was set up to protect the Leatherback turtle.
 
Thanks to Suzan Lakhan Baptiste, Matura Beach once again has its tourists and the Leatherback turtle has made a healthy comeback. Suzan Lakhan Baptiste is certainly a very remarkable woman and an asset to her community.

16. September 2010 · Comments Off on It’s Not About the Bunnies · Categories: News And Society · Tags: , ,

Just when we thought spring had finally arrived, we got blasted with snow flurries and wretched weather all day Saturday. Rain mixed with snow and sleet…and spring spirits dashed right along with hopes of getting anything done outside in the garden…or of simply catching a whiff of fresh spring air. Because my calendar tells me that spring has officially arrived—we’re ten days into it for crying out loud and chocolate bunnies, eggs and marshmallow chicks line rack upon rack of grocery store shelves after all—yet my eyes tell me that winter is indeed, still in our midst—we cannot leave our homes without bulky overcoats and sweaters—I’m caught between the desire for celebrating spring’s freshness and vitality with the inescapable resignation that winter, at least up here in New England, is still here.

Such is Holy Week. We want so badly to celebrate the Resurrection at Easter, but we feel overcome with the passion and trial of the days leading from Palm Sunday through Good Friday. This season signals—around the world—time for reflection. During Holy Week, we move—day by day—from sadness to enthusiasm. From the valley of darkness to the tunnel of light. And that entails conflict.

Many of us feel conflicted these days. Overall, general “conflictedness.” The war in Iraq might be bogging us down in one way or another; college acceptance and rejection letters might be cause for overall malaise or even panic; and figuring out the calendar for summer activities for your kids in light of your own schedule might be more than you can emotionally handle.

I’ve been unusually conflicted lately. I’ll most likely be re-entering the official workforce in the next few weeks or months, and I’ve been interviewing, taking tests and talking with lots of different folks from varied areas of the work-world in an effort to nail down what I should be doing with myself, professionally, for the next oh, twenty years or so. A huge decision. We’re trying to figure out how to transition from having a mom in the home to having one gone during the day; how to shuffle kids to various activities without a mom-chauffeur yet with a new teen driver on our roster; and yet how to deal with the financial reality of multiple college tuition bills for most of the foreseeable future which, in and of itself is enough to cause discomfort. Perhaps my family just has too many balls in the air. Too many unanswered questions. Too many variables in the equation.

Yet as I look around, I see so many others facing conflict and discomfort. I cannot go one week without receiving an email or a phone call from a reader whose family member is struggling with one problem or another. Financial problems, health concerns, relationship issues. Most of us hate being uncomfortable. We hate conflict. Hate uncertainty. Hate dealing with the struggle in order to celebrate the victory. And yet that’s the real lesson of Holy Week.

However tempting it is to focus your thoughts and energies this week on the celebration of Easter—on resurrection and renewal—I hope that you allow yourself some quiet time to sort out the conflicts and discomforts of Maundy Thursday and of Good Friday. To focus on the sacrifice. For as you grow more fully aware of the sacrifice that Christ made on your behalf, you will gain immeasurable joy at the power of the Resurrection.

And if you are of another faith, please be sensitive to the fact that this week brings with it introspection for millions of people around the world. Passover will be celebrated by Jews and they will have rituals and holy remembrances, too.

So as tempting as it is when you’re in discomfort, confused…or just in a funk…to focus on spring’s lightheartedness and brightness, on chicks and on chocolate, remember that for a few days anyway, it’s not about that. It’s not about the bunnies. Even though, I admit, they’re taking up inordinate amounts of windowsill and tabletop real estate in my own home these days, and as much as they emotionally lift me out of the doldrums of winter, out of my own confusion and state of disequilibrium and into the sublime celebration of spring, they have little to do with the days ahead of us this week.

Go ahead and splurge on chocolate and on baskets. On flowers for your home or in a new outfit or on travel. This is a time for celebration, to be sure, come Easter Day. But allow yourself in the next few days, to internalize the conflict of Holy Week. It is one time of year when your internal struggle should be palpable. For we cannot get to Easter, to victory, without coming to grips with the sacrifice of Good Friday. Throughout life, we cannot get to true celebration without coming to grips with life’s struggle.

08. September 2010 · Comments Off on Blasphemy and Apostasy in History – II · Categories: Philosophy · Tags: , ,

Hasan A. Yahya, Ph.Ds

Few years back, before 21 years to be sure, Salman Rushdie wrote his novel The Satanic Verses. Was it an opinion expressed? Or on the manner in which it was expressed? Or is it the place where it was written and published? Or I might add, is it the audience who was supposed to read it? To answer these questions, it is imperative to describe how Islam shares other diseased, existed or will exist ideologies in appreciating those who conform with it and punish those who oppose it. Capitalism, as well as communism have their rules concerning outsiders and those who deviate from their rules. After the defeat of communism, the United States leads the capitalist world. According to this world rules, those who conform with globalization are rewarded through the World Bank, and future dreams, and those who deviate from globalization under capitalism are doomed and punished.

Salman Rushdie’s novel when it was written became Triode horse for both Khomeini and his enemies (westerners or otherwise). It was used by Khomeini to attack the west, and it was used by the west NOT to attack Khomeini and Iranian Islamic republic alone, but the west found it a great opportunity to publicized his attack and legitimize it to justify that attack on Islam and Muslims any where. As a result, the primary cause of the controversy became secondary. Whether Khomeini was right or wrong in his decision and “fatwa” (decisions about legal matters) , and whether the West has the right to be ethnocentric and defend blasphemy for the purpose of free expression, we believe, that both sides justified their opinion religiously or politically. Similar works have been authored in the past and can be easily found in the literature, and treated differently in the history of Islam and Christianity. In my opinion, there is no one is free to jump over the law or bend it for their own interest. I believe, it is not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of conformity to one’s own system of beliefs and norms. Even in a totally free country. It is the spirit of age and space, which determine the reaction to the act rather than the act in itself. In the process of social change, things almost always change and people’s perception change accordingly to the spirit of the age and space. To illustrate, people sometimes after a number of years might accept an idea was (rejected as taboo) several years back. In terms of Islam as a religion, the rules are protected by the survival of the Qur’an, even-though interpretations of its verses were varied among Ulama’ (experts of jurisprudence) and common followers of Islam. As an ideal type of conduct it is believed that it balances both spiritual and material sides of human life. Islam remains the Mizan (balance) which control human desires and their greediness from anarchy and individualism for material possessions. The individual conformity is appreciated in group prayers. Solidarity of faithful is highly recommended in terms of brotherhood and sisterhood. On the same token, disconformities is neglected and condemned. Apostasy and blasphemy are examples of this disconformities. According to Islam, blasphemy and apostasy are deviations in most public opinions. Others may have different view. In both cases, those who claim blasphemy and apostasy are used as a means rather than as an end. Blasphemy and apostasy are considered by some as wishes of free thinkers. (582 words) www.hasanyahya.com

05. September 2010 · Comments Off on Working Mom vs Stay At Home Mom · Categories: Home Based Business · Tags: , ,

In the “old days” women’s roles were clear. True, they might have been already chosen for them, but they knew what was expected. They could take pride in the job they did. They could bond together with the same concerns as coworkers do. They could live in a sisterhood and pour out their feelings of hostility towards a male-based society over the fences of their backyards. Ah, the good old days. Today those fences are gone and we are too busy to indulge in such frivolities as a sisterhood.

The women’s movement changed the face of America as surely as the Civil War did. Women were encouraged to go out, “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never let you forget you’re a man” (If you’re too young to remember this, it’s from an old perfume commercial). For many years women thrived under this encouragement. They became everything they wanted to be and they supported each other in their endeavors. They cheered each other on and rejoiced in the advances of women. It was a strong sisterhood. It was intense and it had a life of it’s own.

Something terrible happened in the midst of that success. The primary role of women in days past became scorned. Those in the throes of the successful women’s movement could not understand why a woman would lower herself and actually choose to be only a wife and mother. Women who stayed home to nurture their children and make their families their first priority became looked upon as oppressed, lazy, or lacking the intelligence needed for further advancement. Suddenly, in the span of 20 years the most important job in the world became a disgrace and a shame.

It’s seems that this movement has now come full circle. Many women are finding that they no longer want to endure the daily battle of trying to find a balance between having a full time job and raising a happy family. Filled with stress and guilt from both of these important arenas in their life they are finding they are not happy and fulfilled in either. For some, they find that the successes of the boardroom do not come close to salving the wound of missing their child’s first home run. So they make a tough decision. They go home. They raise happy families and everyone lives happily ever after. Not so.

Women have become their own worst enemies. Those that choose to work often look at stay at home moms as academically unchallenged and blind to the things they could become if only they had the ambition. They are seen as settling for the life they have and weak because they won’t stand up and take more. I’ve even heard it said that they are traitors to the women’s movement and have set it back decades. The other end of the spectrum can be just as judgmental. Some stay at home moms look at working moms as greedy and self centered. One wonders why a woman would have a child and then pay someone else to raise it. Their children are pitied and the time is counted until they become ax murderers and bank robbers.

We seem unable to accept that maybe both sides are right. Maybe it’s because we both envy each other a little. As women we often strike back at things which make us feel inadequate and there is no other topic more able to make us feel that way than mothering. In an area where we are our own worst enemies, always questioning our every chore given and discipline meted out it is no wonder why we would crush the opposite camp which makes us feel all those things with blinding and frighteningly accurate blows.

I believe in these facts. No one can replace a mother. No mother who loves her child wants to be replaced. There are some bad mothers out there who never should have had children. A happy mom makes her children happy. A mom who stays home to raise her children and is constantly resentful and moody raises children who feel inadequate and unworthy. So maybe all moms shouldn’t stay home and maybe all moms shouldn’t work either.

While we would never let our children be categorized or labeled we have done the very same thing to ourselves. We have divided ourselves into two camps. While we would rather not admit it, each has it’s best to give. Each loves its children. Each of us has our gifts and can offer unique things to our children. How nice it would be to support each other in our choices and help each other and our children to make their lives loving and complete. It’s no less than what we ask our children to do every day. We ask them to have tolerance and compassion. Maybe some day we can grow to accept our differences and our strengths and weaknesses and work together so that all our children can flourish.
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