Saturday, October 31, 2009

Movie Review: Osama

Osama is a 2003 film made in Afghanistan. The film is about a twelve year old Afghan girl whose mother is a widow without any surviving male relatives. Under Taliban rule, a woman is forbidden to leave her home without a male escort, leaving the family without any support. In desperation the woman cuts the hair of her young daughter and dresses her in male clothes. Now disguised as a boy, the young girl, who now takes the name Osama (apparently a popular male and female name in that region) begins to work for a friend of the family in a small store. However the Taliban gathered together all the local boys to train them as soldiers, including Osama.

The movie is fascinating because it was filmed in Kabul with local actors and gives a portrayal of life under the Taliban. This is not a feel good movie, it won't leave you with a sense of the triumph of goodness over adversity. Sadly, sometimes that just does not happen. The movie will, however, leave you with a sense of outrage over the injustices in a sometimes cruel world.

Unfortunately, I sometimes am left with a sense of helplessness over what to do in the face of such inhumanity. We can give money for schools to organizations such as Pennies for Peace, we can support international organizations such as Unicef which work for protection of children in conflict zones, we can volunteer for agencies which promote women's empowerment such as those listed in Half the Sky , but sometimes it just feels like putting a tiny band aid on a gaping wound.

The only thing I can hope to do is work little by little, day by day, to promote a culture of peace. We can guide and educate our children to develop a sense of responsibility for the well being of others and a motivation to improve the world. Perhaps if we all do some small part in whatever way motivates us, collectively we can make a difference. The first step is awareness, and the film Osama is a definite window into that part of the world.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shenandoah National Park

I just returned from a beautiful visit to Shenandoah National Park during the peak of Autumn foliage season.

My first day was a little bit drizzly so I spent some time in Luray Caverns.

The formations were amazing.

I hiked to the top of Stony Man Mountain.

Autumn foliage as seen from Skyline Drive.

Mountain views from every vista

Row upon row of mountains

A view of Old Rag, a popular spot for climbers

Yet another stunning vista

Can you see the profile of the Stony Man? Me neither.....

Last bit of sunlight on the mountain

On a clear day I hiked to Whiteoak Canyon Falls, at 86 feet the second highest waterfall in the park.

The path was covered with jewel colored leaves.

Another waterfall in Whiteoak Canyon

The woods were filled with gold and orange hues.

Beauty everywhere I looked

Lower Whiteoak Falls

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Movie Review: Whale Rider

Whale Rider was a beautiful story filmed in New Zealand of a young Maori girl, Pai, who is the only living child of the chief's son. She is a direct descendant of Paikea, who rode atop a whale from Hawaika, the mythical homeland. However, as a girl, she cannot inherit tribal leadership. Throughout the movie, she attempts to win the approval and acceptance of her grandfather, who had wished for a boy child.

The story is a glimpse into Maori culture, showing some of the spiritual beliefs, culture, dance, and music. Although not a children's movie, it is definitely family friendly. So get your kids, or your friends and their kids, and sit down to watch this touching movie with a big bowl of popcorn. There's lots to talk about afterwards: what traditions do we follow, can we expand to include loved ones of other traditions, does tradition ever change and evolve? Then watch this video of the fierce Maori Haka ("fiery words").


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change

Today on Blog Action Day 2009 I am joining my voice with thousands of bloggers who will be posting about the topic of climate change based on their own perspective and interests.

Solving the problem of climate change can only be based on our recognition that we are one human family sharing a collective fate. We need to mature as a human race and learn to solve problems cooperatively or we will face the consequences of irreparable damage to our environment.

As individuals, we will need to learn to take responsibility for the future of our community. Our individual actions and choices impact the entire world. For perhaps the first time we will have to view the Earth as our common homeland. Because our actions affect the climate, they can impact drought, hunger, and famine in all parts of the globe. We will also have to bear responsibility for our impact on future generations.

Not only must we mature as individuals, but as a community we must learn to solve problems cooperatively. We will need all of our collective knowledge and wisdom from the various fields of human expertise. We must learn to consult with each other and benefit from our diverse opinions.

We must also realize the power of unbiased scientific investigation. Science constrained by political motivations or traditions cannot be effective. We must learn to see things as they really are.

The unequal distribution of the impact of climate change is also a matter of justice. Affluent nations have a greater contribution to climate change because of their higher levels of consumption, while less developed nations disproportionately bear the consequences. They are more vulnerable to natural disaster and have less ability to cope with diminishing resources. As a human family, we must decide who is responsible for making changes and how we can help each other shoulder the impact. All of these decisions need to be made collectively.

These are difficult tasks for a human community struggling with disunity, conflict, materialism, lack of education, and competition for global resources. Solving climate change is not just about recycling bottles or turning off lights, important as these actions are. The real challenge is to change how we view ourselves as a human race, how we relate to our neighbors, and how we solve problems as a community.

How can we begin to accomplish this? Perhaps the best place to start is the education of our children. We can encourage scientific achievement and problem solving skills, and also cultivate an attitude of service to humankind and an appreciation of the human family and the environment in which we live. Another place to take action is at the level of our communities. Let's encourage participative problem solving and openness to diverse opinions in whatever community group we are serving in. Many of the changes required must occur in business and government, but we can facilitate these changes in our own professions where appropriate and also with our votes, letters to our representatives, and the purchasing power of our dollars.

The challenges are many and the risks are great. If we cultivate an attitude of responsibility for the entire human race with which we share this planet and the future generations we will bequeath it to, we can use our collective knowledge to come up with creative and comprehensive solutions. In so doing, we may even find that we enter a new stage in our social development, the realization of our unity as a human family.

Learn more!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ten Years

Years ago I overhead a conversation my husband was having with a friend of ours. They were discussing a recent book of stories of "life after life" experiences. Scott, being an artist, talked about a part of the book where colors in heaven were described as not being reflected light but actually emanating from within. I recall Scott saying that maybe in the next world when they're handing out assignments, it would be his job to paint the raindrops. Sometimes I think of this when it's raining and I wonder if he's nearby with his paintbrush and luminous colors....

Scott painting Cape Hatteras lighthouse

Featured artist at Musikfest

Art show in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

On the Harley

Wedding in Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Movie Review: The Bucket List

When I first started watching this movie, I realized I made a mistake, because it's a movie about cancer, and I have a lot of difficulty with cancer movies. However, I decided to stick it out and watch it till the end, and it was well worth it.

When Carter and Edward, two strangers sharing a hospital room, find out they are both dying from cancer, they come up with a bucket list, experiences they want to have before they "kick the bucket". They see the amazing sites of our world, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, an African safari, the Pyramids, and several others.

But, as you might imagine, what is most valuable to us in our lives is our relationships with our loved ones. Carter and Edward are able to help each other with their respective blind spots. They each must learn to truly cherish that which is closest to their hearts.

I enjoyed this movie. Anyone who has difficulty with illness or dying themes might want to make another choice. The movie lightens up with the journey around the world; I always love travel scenes. It is heart warming to see the relationship between these two men change. Sometimes a stranger can turn quickly into a dearest friend and teach us lessons about ourselves. In the end, that which is most meaningful is always close to home, and it's important to now and then have a reminder.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

French Creek State Park

Today we hiked French Creek State Park. It was drizzly in the morning, but with the foliage cover and our rain gear on we stayed comfortable. After our hike, we had a potluck picnic and some entertainment. A great way to start the Fall hiking season!

Canoes and kayaks lined up by the shore

Hopewell Lake

Beautiful early Fall foliage

Time for a picnic!

We don't always have music after a hike, but maybe we should. Mike and Lisa entertaining us. Mike writes most of his own music.

I loved how the sky changed during the day.

You never know what you'll see out in nature.

Canada Geese in the lake

Scotts Run Lake


Monday, October 05, 2009

Movie Review: Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief is the story of Susan Retik and Patti Quigley who lost their husbands in the 9/11 attacks. To heal their grief and move forward with their lives, they began to work to help Afghan widows. There are over 500,000 Afghan war widows. A woman without a husband in Afghanistan has lost her only means of support and the protection for her family. She cannot remarry or she has to give up her children to her late husband's family. Most are forced into poverty and rely on charity for basic subsistence.

Susan and Patti began to raise money to help these women. They wanted to help return these families to wholeness and help them earn their own money to feed and house and educate their children. They donated chicks for the women to raise to use for eggs for sale.

But Susan and Patti did even more than that. In spite of being single parents and facing danger, they traveled to Afghanistan to meet these women and understand their lives. They formed immediate connections. They witnessed the food lines, traveled to their homes, met their children, and heard their stories. Most of these women have never known a world without conflict and danger. Some of them have buried children who died from starvation. The organization Susan and Patti founded, Beyond the 11th, will help them with education and small businesses and help return them to self-sufficiency.

Susan and Patti both grew from their tragedy which opened their hearts to other women who have lost husbands. Patti's brother told how we make small choices every day, which turn into patterns, which eventually determine the course of our lives. These women chose courage over fear and love over hate. Our globe is interconnected, and grief and pain and loss in one part of the world will eventually effect us. Out of their own tragedy Susan and Patti resolved to help improve lives in another country, because despite our cultural differences we all know love and loss, and we all hope for our children to grow and thrive and inherit a better world.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Share, Be Happy, Be Nice to People

Today Baha'is all over the country had Unit Conventions to choose their delegates for the election of the National Spiritual Assembly in April. We also consulted on how to fulfill our role in rebuilding a broken world.

The children's class came up with their own contributions. The banner they created says "Share, Be Happy, Be Nice to People". Yup. That about sums it up.....

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