Peace

precarious peace, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

precarious peace, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

This is a drawing that I did out of an idea I call “precarious peace.” It depicts two men of distinct stature in life, with nothing to offer each other except each one’s word of honor in their pursuit of peace. However, they do not really completely trust each other. And yet, despite the shaky foundations, both are willing to make a go for peace and shake on it.
True peace, while absolutely attainable, is quite elusive. One wonders at times if it’s from the heart or from the hurt. Is it attained before any harm is done or after vengeance is wreaked on? If it is true that “wars begin in the minds of men,” then peace must begin in the hearts of men! Wars, because they are motivated by reasons lacking in humanity, are often equated with hate and prejudice. If one was attacked out of hatred, the victim is expected either to defend himself/herself or get rescued by other people to prevent harm from being inflicted! To preserve one’s own life is a normal human reaction under conditions of hostility. And peace stops all forms of violence dead in their tracks! (pun not intended) While this may imply that peace only ensues when violence sets in, it’s not at all the case; peace has always been readily available for everyone who trusts in the Lord, long before any plan of aggression is hatched! My belief is that all of us are created complete in the image of our Maker– with body, soul and spirit! As such, we are all born good and that every single human being is given the gift of free will– that during the most challenging times in our lives, we make use of this gift by acting on choices that we deem right for our own good. The choices that we make ultimately shape our character– the root of who we are and the fruit of what we become.
We are given our spirit– that part of our being that is bathed in the Holy Spirit when we truly believe– to equip us to know, understand, and love God. But somehow along the way, because of the personal choices that we make, we ignore our conscience as a result of pride. We get snared by the whims of this world instead of embracing the grace of His word! However hard it is to feel “human” in times of conflict, the choice to turn every wicked thing around for the sake of peace is always there! For all Christians, this is made manifest in their faith in God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace! Every time one chooses God’s will, his/her spirit becomes one with Christ’s! Hence, all good things become possible! And as a Christian myself, I believe that my true individuality is the totality of my body, soul and spirit: I exist with my body, feel with my soul, and experience the grace of God with my spirit!

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
”  Romans 14:17-19 (New International Version)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”  Matthew 5:9 (New International Version)

Where is the love?

Not too long ago, in the summer of 2003 in the U.S., a group calling itself “Black Eyed Peas” released a single entitled “Where Is The Love.” It would be the group’s breakthrough single– and it proved to be one of its biggest hits ever!

The song is about love and responsibility in achieving peace– love for our fellowmen and responsibility for our actions. What is very remarkable about the song are the lyrics. In the chorus, we can find the words “Would you turn the other cheek?” referring, of course, to the New Testament’s “Sermon On The Mount” by Jesus Christ. The reference to the bible verses can be found in Matthew 5:38-42 (as well as in Luke 6:27-31). In Matthew’s version, it says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” [NIV]

The song is very timely, now as it was then. Its message is universal, not just for the U.S., but for every nation! The world needs peace, if not for us, for our children.

Whenever I hear this song, I cannot help but move my head to its beat– to the sides, to the front, to the back, up and down. But mostly, I’m just nodding my head in acknowledgment of the trueness of the song’s message. This has got to be one of the best-written anti-war songs ever, hip-hop or not! Its social realism is dead-on!

I don’t want to be clueless and searching for answers when “people got me, got me questioning: Where is the love?” I can’t be answering “I don’t know” to this question every time. Because I know that deep in my heart lies the answer also: Love. And it has to start with me.

Where Is The Love?

by the Black Eyed Peas

What’s wrong with the world, mama

People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas

I think the whole world addicted to the drama

Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma

Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism

But we still got terrorists here livin’

In the USA, the big CIA

The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK

But if you only have love for your own race

Then you only leave space to discriminate

And to discriminate only generates hate

And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah

Madness is what you demonstrate

And that’s exactly how anger works and operates

Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight

Take control of your mind and meditate

Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach

And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us

Send some guidance from above

‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’

Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love

The love, the love

It just ain’t the same, always unchanged

New days are strange, is the world insane

If love and peace is so strong

Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong

Nations droppin’ bombs

Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones

With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young

So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone

So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong

In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’

in

Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends

Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother

A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover

The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug

If you never know truth then you never know love

Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)

Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)

Where’s the love, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach

And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us

Send some guidance from above

‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’

Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love, the love, the love?

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder

As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder

Most of us only care about money makin’

Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction

Wrong information always shown by the media

Negative images is the main criteria

Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria

Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema

Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity

Whatever happened to the fairness in equality

Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity

Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down

There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under

Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found

Now ask yourself

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Father, Father, Father help us

Send some guidance from above

‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’

Where is the love?

Sing wit me y’all:

One world, one world (We only got)

One world, one world (That’s all we got)

One world, one world

And something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)

Something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)

Something’s wrong wit the wo-wo-world, yeah

We only got

(One world, one world)

That’s all we got

(One world, one world)

lyrics credit: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/b/blackeyedpeaslyrics/whereisthelovelyrics.html

Fear and indecision

I. M. (Insightful Man), 11"x8.5", color pencil and graphite on Winsor & Newton 65-lb paper

Somewhere inside my mind, I want to change the world– for the better, of course. Somewhere inside my heart, I want to change myself– if not for the better, for the truth.
I wish I was a kid again whose world revolves only around toy soldiers, toy cars, cartoons, comics, and outdoor kids’ games. I almost stayed that way far too long, until I grew old. And somewhere in between being childlike and mature was a vast expanse of period deemed childish. Looking back, I felt ill-equipped for the challenges that were to be my baptism of fire into my passage to maturity. A carefree childhood didn’t translate to a responsible coming-of-age beset with careless decisions. But the weaknesses that proved disheartening again and again couldn’t cope with an unlikely ally that I would only lately recognize: time! That’s right– good old-fashioned “time”! Time became a tightrope on which I walked timorously, fell from and caught it by hand on numerous occasions, all the time dragging my weight as I grapple my way haltingly from one station to the next. In short, I just grew old! Now, wrong decisions don’t faze me as much as my indecision. If I knew I made a wrong decision, I feel down, but not out. In fact, it would even make me feel liberated that I had gotten a mistake over with, that I had only found a solution that didn’t work! Indecision, on the one hand, is dangerously different, in that it could make me feel less a man. Indecision is a “toy” of fear. It gives one a false sense of comfort in not making a mistake by not trying at all because of indecision. I think that in a man’s life, the period between being a child and being mature is a journey interspersed with wisdom and childishness. One eventually grows with time and by God’s grace. Mistakes made and lessons learned will give one an insight into his/her own purpose in life. But if you throw in fear and indecision along the way, you won’t get anywhere– nowhere near maturity and wisdom! When fear sets in your heart and indecision toys with your mind, your time is up because your future is gone!

President Obama’s speechwriter

Have you ever wondered who wrote U.S. President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech? Well, if you knew it already, good for you! If you don’t, then you ought to know. The speech was, of course, a collaborative effort between the speechwriter and president Obama. And since a president only gives an inauguration speech once every four years of his/her term, it better be good, if not great! Afterall, you can’t just stand in front of a multitude of people, deliver your first-ever speech as president, and all that would come out of your mouth is “ktnxbye!”
To find out more about President Obama’s speechwriter, here is the link.

Vision under the sun

While checking Googleblog, I came across a very interesting post. And I was amazed to discover that thirty years ago, the United States– then under the presidency of Jimmy Carter (he of the Habitat for Humanity fame, and a peace and human rights advocate)– already had the vision of the importance of alternative sources of energy. At that time, this country was of course feeling the pinch of the ’70s oil crisis. So to find ways of easing this country’s dependence on foreign oil, the government set its sight on solar energy. Now this step might seem just ordinary, as all governments understandably spearhead programs for the betterment of its people. But what set it apart from other bureaucratic decisions– and this was what stunned me– was the direction of the efforts the government took: somehow, in a visionary, forward-thinking move, it approved the installation of solar hot water panels on the roof of the White House itself! Such commitment– and genius! Initiating the effort right on the seat of executive power! What better way to show the people that the initiative starts with the government! (Incidentally, at around the same time, the Philippines was also immersed in the search for alternative sources of energy, with projects such as S.E.E.R. or Searchers Exposition on Energy Resources.)
Now, thirty years later, the call to the solution of the United States’ energy woes beckons even louder– with the beneficiaries of this program extending not just to homeowners and businesses but to automobiles as well. It is reassuring and important to remember that, somehow, at one point in history, this country seemed to be on the right track!
To find out what happened to those solar hot water panels in the White House, you can read it on Googleblog.

“. . .we intend to move forward.”

Congratulations, President Barack Obama!!!

“U.S. President Barack Obama’s Oath of Office”

“U.S. President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech, Part 1”



“U.S. President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech, Part 2”

Text of the inaugural address of U.S. President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun, and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater co-operation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men, and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“‘Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive … that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].'”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you! God bless you! And God bless the United States of America!

America’s Song (The O.B.A.M.A. Song)

“America’s Song” (The O.B.A.M.A. Song)

In honor of this historic moment– the presidential inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama– Will.i.am (of the famed Blackeyed Peas) teamed up with renown composer and music producer, David Foster, to create “America’s Song.” It premiered on The Oprah Winfrey Show on January 19, set in Washington D.C. in preparation for the inaugural celebration. Faith Hill, Bono, Seal and Mary J. Blige performed alongside David Foster and Will.i.am. The song’s official title is “America’s Song.” But we can also refer to it as the OBAMA song, for if we listen to the chorus well, we can actually also sing the words, “Oh Beau-ti-ful A-me-ri-ca, My Ame-rica, is beautiful!” Notice that the first letters of the first five words spell out O-B-A-M-A! It is just fitting because the song was especially made by Will.i.am and David Foster for president Barack Obama’s inauguration. It’s a beautiful song! Just a thought.