Tuesday 31 December 2013

Prayer and Leaders ... Hippocratic Oath ... Cockayne Syndrome ... Mandela’s song ...

On reading through all of Mark Koopman’s 76 blogging friends who contributed a post to his 50 States Of Pray blogfest ... and going through your comments on my posting ... I thought as 2013 turns into 2014 another similar posting would not go astray ...

Header photo from Soweto Gospel Choir's home page

... and so I hail the New Year in with a concoction of thoughts, quotes, and odd references that recently touched me ... and leave you with a wonderful rendition by the South African township of Soweto’s Gospel Choir ... it will entrance you.

A few of you mentioned from my prayer that our butterfly effect will spread widely ... as others and leaders are doing right now and continue to do ... I mentioned Ghandi, Mother Teresa and Mandela ...
Butterflies across borders - the
Butterfly Effect
c/o www.o-pie.deviantart.com

... then spotted two from our generational era ... Angelina Jolie: humanitarian, role model ...  “The Angelina Effect” became a recognised, measurable phenomenon ... which related to her work as a campaigner against sexual violence in war zones ...

... she addressed G8 foreign ministers and the UN Security Council ... both bodies responded with funding and a legally binding resolution.

As a special envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, she also travelled to the Jordan-Syria border and demanded more international aid for the people fleeing Syria’s horrific civil war. 

Condoleeza Rice and Angelina Jolie
at the World Refugee Day in 2005
I expect many of you are aware of her preventative double mastectomy after genetic testing revealed she faced an 87% chance of developing breast cancer ... she chose to share her story ... probably saving many women’s lives ... by opening up the lines of information ...

Then there is the Malala EffectMalala the young school girl cold-bloodedly shot in the head by the Taleban in Pakistan’s Swet Valley, near the Afghanistan border in October 2012 ... who had defied the Taleban’s edict that girls should not be educated.

Malala was brought to Birmingham, to be operated on and looked after ... she was discharged early in 2013.

She has to be the youngest and most influential teenager on the planet as a champion of educational rights for girls ...
Malala at Strasbourg to collect
the Sakharov Prize forFreedom of Thought
... and on her 16th birthday, 12 July 2013, she addressed the UN Youth Assembly in New York ... concluding with these words:

The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions”, she said.  “But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died.  Strength, power and courage were born.”

I think the butterfly effect is with us ... with us, and with leaders, who will in their own way rise to ascend above the hatred ... exposing the atrocities and unfairness in the world ... encouraging more of us to be further aware of how fragile life is and do something about it ...

Malala greets her audience with ‘Namaste’ (a reverential salutation ... widely used throughout Asia and beyond) and concludes her meetings with this generous gesture.
Mural of Peace by Gari Melchers, an American
artist, in 1896

While a number of you commented on ‘Ahimsa’ – mentioned by Theresa Milstein – its precept of ‘cause no injury’ includes one’s deeds, words, and thoughts ...

Then Jo, of Jo on Food, My Travels and a Scent of Chocolate, commented that ‘Ahimsa’ made her think of the medical oath “first do no harm” ...  which sent me off to Wikipedia and the Hippocratic Oath ...

... where the ‘definitive’ Wiki photo is of a 12th century Byzantine manuscript of the Oath, set out in the form of a cross ...  

12th century Byzantine
Hippocratic Oath

... which made me think of Robyn Alana’s (Life by Chocolate blog) comment .. that I’d managed to include a passage in Hebrew (which she could read) and the Byrd’s song based on a passage from Ecclesiastes ...

... and now this 12th C Byzantine Oath, originally written in Ionic Greek in the late 5th century BC, which requires a new physician to swear upon the healing gods that he will uphold a number of professional ethical standards.

The oath has been modified multiple times ... one of the most significant revisions was first drafted in 1948 by the World Medical Association, called the Declaration of Geneva ... in the 1960s it was changed to:

“utmost respect for human life from its beginning

 ... making it a more secular concept ...

Humans are a global mix ... we really are much more alike with the same needs wherever we are in the world ... food, shelter, living without fear or worry, having love, compassion and caring people around us ...
Sandie posted this on her
blog: Chatty Crone
The Best Things in Life are Free

Friendship isn’t a big thing ... it is a million little things

An Arabic concept .... Patience, “the key to happiness”, is a virtue prized above others, and you will need to cultivate it in yourself if you’re to do business successfully.

Robyn Alana reminded us of the concept called “Tikkun Olam” ... meaning a healed world, which we pray for, but each of us is obligated to do our part to bring about peace of earth.

We are so lucky ... we should, as many of you ‘prayed for’ in Mark’s blog fest, give back, and pay it forward ... we have the internet – which has proved a boon to many ... friendships formed through blogging; information available to those searching for the name of an illness, as ...

Amy Garton Hughes, with her
mother, Jayne - from the BBC
Radio Today programme
... in an earlier blog post ..... I mentioned Scarlett (from Texas) and her son Knox, who has Cockayne Syndrome, whom I was able to meet in the autumn at the Amy’s Friends support group and annual ‘conference’  ...

... we have the radio, and on Boxing Day I heard a health item on Radio 4’s Todayprogramme on Amy highlighting how her mother through the internet found out about the cruel illness, Cockayne Syndrome ...

... then there is this beautiful spontaneous musical video tribute to Mandela in a grocery store ... three minutes of stunning voices ...

Taken from Woolworths home page
... just a wee bit of background information ... Woolworths (the general store) was American, came to Britain, Marks and Spencers opened their stores in Britain becoming clothing and food retailers, but in South Africa Marks and Spencers morphed into the name of Woolworths ... please do not ask – I have no idea!

But the video – will entrance you ...     Big Think: A Beautiful Spontaneous Musical Tribute to Mandela in a Grocery Store ... video and post found here ...

My references to Angelina Jolie and Malala came from the Sunday Times magazine, the world in pictures articles ...

Happy New Year to one and all ... may we remember others, may we be happy and positive, and may we improve ourselves ... health, wealth and understanding ...

... to everyone in this blogosphere, to the butterflies who will touch many of our extended bloggers, their families and friends ...

A very happy 2014

... and especially to all of you who have taken the time during the year to read my eclectic mix of posts and ideas – this probably really does seal the 2013 knot of them!     
Thank you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday 24 December 2013

50 States of Prayer, including those overseas ...

A big thank you to Mark Koopmans who suggested that we post a Prayer or thoughts of praying to give us something extra to think about over our festive season ... 

A Time to Pray wherever we are in the world ... in Hawaii with Mark, across all the participating bloggers’ countries and States ... may we all take a turn to pray for those

  • -         in war zones
  • -         starving, frightened, homeless and freezing or sweltering
  • -         troubled by constant drought
  • -         surrounded by floods and flood waters
  • -         frozen up
  • -         repairing their homes after the typhoons or earthquakes
  • -         in despair and just desperate
  • -         coping with serious illness
  • -         adjusting to a sudden change – often through loss, or severe challenges
  • -         unsure of life ahead
  • -         who are lonely – give them comfort ... guide them to help
  • -         of us, who very luckily, are fine and who continue to enjoy life despite minor setbacks ... brief loss of electricity, delayed getting home because of the storms ... we will recover ...
  • -         who are our leaders – give them wisdom, guidance and kindness to lead others away from corruption and political dictatorship – so that they, who have the power, can do better at looking after their own peoples.

TheresaMilstein from her blog “Theresa’s Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts” – mentioned Ahimsa in her comment on my Nelson Mandela ABC post ...

Lord Mahavir - gold
see Wiki
... Ahimsa is a term meaning do not injure; its precept of ‘cause no injury’ includes one’s deeds, words, and thoughts ... and applies to all living beings including flora and fauna ...

We need to protect this earth and all that dwell on it ... as well as be much more compassionate to those around us ...

Let’s pray that our butterfly effect will land kindly on many nearby, and as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Mandela were able to do – set examples for others to follow ...

May we all have peace and be enabled to spread peace far and wide ...

Aleppo Codex Joshua 1:1
(Ecclesiastes - see Wiki)
For some reason I thought of the song by the Byrds “Turn! Turn! Turn!” – the words of which are taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes ... and cheered me, yet made me stop and think ... 

Byrds "Turn! Turn! Turn!" ... Youtube link

To Everything (Turn! Turn! Turn!)
There is a season (Turn! Turn! Turn!)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

.... continued see lyrics ... 

Lyrics to the song here:  Words adapted from the Bible, the music is by Pete Seeger

A very happy Christmas to one and all ... I'll be visiting over the festive season ... have a blessed, peaceful time ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday 15 December 2013

Mandela – using the A – Z format ...

I don’t think there can be many in the world who are not aware that Nelson Mandela, the freedom fighter to President of South Africa, died on 5th December 2013 ...
RIP Nelson Mandela
(1918 - 2013)

I could write loads ... but there has been sufficient, perhaps an elegant over-sufficiency of words, tv, radio et al ... so I will just add my take to all the other outpourings, or restrained commentary ...

A is for Adjectives ... are there any other superlatives that have not been used in the last ten days ...

A is for Anti-apartheid ... and African National Congress (ANC) – founded as the SA Native National Congress (SANNC) in January 1912 becoming the ANC in 1923.

B is for Boxing – Mandela was a heavyweight boxer before taking up arms to fight the cause;  he did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it ...

His cell in Robben Island

C is for Cruelty ... conditions of treatment ...

C is for Colossus and Courageous – the man who united rich and poor, black and white, and in the process of leadership, since his release, has taught the human race the power of forgiveness.

C is for the Children’s Hospital, a long held dream of his ... it will open late next year and will be a 200-bed facility providing world-class paediatric care.  He loved children and was particularly happy in their company.

C is for Charity - he carefully selected the charities and causes he would support ... ‘HIV/Aids’, ‘Make Poverty History’, the ‘Children’s Fund’ and the ‘Nelson Mandela Foundation’ ...

D is for Dock – it was from the dock in 1964, before he was once again imprisoned for 27 years, that Mandela made his passionate speech, saying:

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities ... "

E is for Exile - where compatriots living outside SA, particularly in Britain and Sweden, raised an international campaign against the apartheid regime.

The statue with its painted steel plates in shades of
grey black and charcoal, is a thing of beauty as
befits the late Nelson Mandela and boxing:
 it is outside the Magistrates' Court in Jhb

E is for Exercise - he was a long distance runner, who encountered the benefits of rigorous exercise due to his boxing training. 

E is for Education and Exercise of the mind - he kept fit ... his daily routine included hundreds of fingertip press-ups – he studied law, debated ideas, and honed his powers of persuasion on prison staff, many of whom were won over by his quiet authority, his dignity and his restraint.

E is for Education all the time ... to the crowd three days after his release ... vengeance does nothing ... go back to school to learn, to appreciate your history, to see both sides of the argument ... to understand ....
Education endorsed via his Foundation

F is for Focus on the cause – in prison he used his time productively.  Convinced of the need to understand his enemy, he learnt Afrikaans, read up on Afrikaner history, and absorbed the views and attitudes of his Afrikaner guards.

G is for Global icon – a giant who changed world history ...

G is for Gandhi – Mandela was influenced by Gandhi’s example in India, when through non-violent civil disobedience he was able to lead India to independence.

This is sold in Singapore today ...
the colour and container would I'm sure
have been considerably duller!
H is for Hair oil! – Mandela was stubborn too: when he ran out of his favourite hair oil, he harassed the authorities for weeks ... eventually “the Pantene crisis” was resolved when some was located.

H is for Hand of Africa – an inadvertent image found after Mandela had finished working on some art work ... now a part of South Africa’s cultural heritage ...

I is for the 2009 film ‘Invictus’ – where Mandela showed his support for the white Afrikaner game of rugby at the World Cup ... encouraging the Africans to support their persecutors ... it worked – the Springboks went on to win ...

J is Johannesburg, where Mandela studied law, and where his passion for politics was forged ... following the oppression and racism he encountered in the city.

Johannesburg is the financial centre of SA – the new Constitutional Court of South Africa, having been established in 1993, is based in Johannesburg. 

The country’s three branches of government are split over different cities: Cape Town, as the seat of Parliament, is the legislative capital; Pretoria is the administrative capital; while Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

Aerial view of sunrise over Johannesburg

K is for F W de Klerk – the last State President of apartheid-era South Africa ... he brokered the end of apartheid and supported the transformation of SA into a multi-racial democracy.  He jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for their role in ending apartheid.

L is for Leader, who grew up tending herds as a cattle boy ... but who moved on, even in those early days, to counselling the elders ...

L is for Lawyer, who with fellow lawyer, Oliver Tambo, opened a law firm in Johannesburg in 1952.

The book - well
worth a read

L is for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” a biopic of Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary early life ... had its premiere in London on the day Madiba passed away on his journey to the next world to join his ancestors ...

M is for Maya Angelou – who has written a new poem “His Day is Done”.  Mandela, while imprisoned on Robben Island, read her books and recited her poem “Still I Rise” at his presidential inauguration in 1994.

M is for music – the ‘Mandela Trilogy’  ... a work put on by Cape Town Opera (see end of post) ... the single ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ ... which became an anthem for the cause ... and was sung at the Wembley Concert in 1988.

King Protea
N is for names - Nelson Mandela was born ‘Rolihlahla’, which means “trouble-maker”, but was called ‘Nelson’ by a teacher; in later years he was also known by his clan name “Madiba”.

O is for Office – Mandela did something rare among government leaders: he stood down, as he had promised to do.

O is for the Observer newspaper – which on 8 December 2013 (I now spotted today – really!) did an A-Z on Mandela’s life ... I’ve used their “V” ...

Robben Island from Table Mountain,
Cape Town

P is for prisons – Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, Tokai and Victor Verster (farm) Prison, Paarl (in the vicinity of the Fairview wine estate (see my recent post).

Mandela as a child loved to garden, and continued to grow vegetables, herbs and plants as and when he could ... while waiting for freedom in the Victor Verster prison he had a private house in the compound and was able to freely garden ...

P is for Politician ... for all his charm ... he was a consummate politician ... he paid attention to all – his persecutors, to his drivers, to everyone who helped him before and after imprisonment ...

A cattle herder in the Transkei
... even as a freedom fighter he used his mental boxing skills and political nous ... he was a strategist too – when appointed President of South Africa, he knew he needed the administrative experts to keep the country running ... so asked that they stayed in their jobs.

Q is for Qunu – his village in the Transkei where he will rest for ever more ... with his ancestors on the wind-blown plateau ... the place he so loved and where he was able to have a house overlooking those green cattle strewn rolling hills and mud huts of home.

HM Queen Elizabeth II with Nelson Mandela

Q is for Queen Elizabeth II – Mandela was on first name terms with the Queen – no-one else addressed her as “Elizabeth” ... and he also decided that he need not wear a suit and tie ... turning up at Buckingham Palace  in one of his many luminous shirts ...

The Queen was known to ring him occasionally ... and Mandela always stopped and talked to her in familial tones ... how are the children, grandchildren ... mutual respect amongst leaders.

R is for Retirement – not a word known to Mandela.  He stepped down as President in 1999, after serving for five years.  He then retired from public life in 2004, at the age of 85, saying jokingly about any future engagements: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you”.

R is for Rain and Rainbow – the teeming rain at the Memorial Service was seen as a good omen, a blessing ... in the UK we say it is threatening to rain, in Africa ... it is the promise of rain – it is good!  Rain for the Rainbow nation is auspicious ...

R is for Regret – the chief regret he said was that his children had been sacrificed for the greater cause.

S is for the 1,000 volt Smile – a smile with a ready laugh always on show ...

S is for the Struggle – that Mandela did in prison in steadfast defiance, laced with dignity and charm that would win over the Afrikaans warders

Pathe'O with some of his shirts
c/o Africa Link

S is for Shirts – floral, beautifully coloured ones – his ‘trade-mark’ ... many made by Pathe’O – a man born in Burkina Faso, but made a future in the Ivory Coast, with limited skill sets forty years ago ... to farm or try his hand with a pair of scissors ... he chose the path of a tailor and on to fashion designer ...

Pathe’O believes firmly in Africa’s potential and works with African fabrics creating designs respecting the continent’s traditions.

T is for Tradition – Mandela has been buried in accordance with the traditions of his Xhosa tribal roots, as well as sharing a ceremonial service with fully military, political and international honours ... a mere 4,500, of which about 450 attended the final and actual burial in accordance with the Thembu royal family Xhosa traditions

U is for Ubuntu – a word mentioned in President Obama’s speech ... “a South African word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.”

U is for that rare Unanimity - unanimity when global leaders come together to give thanks for his life ... a life of one of the most courageous and influential peaceful person in recent times

Mandela Museum at Vilakazi Street

V is for Vilakazi Street, Soweto ... it is probably the only street in the world to have been home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners: President Mandela and Archbishop Tutu.

W is for (American) Watchlist ... President Mandela was only taken off the US terrorist list in 2008

W is for cultural World of references ...  the many books, articles, films, art works, operas ... that have and will continue to contribute to Mandela's enduring legacy on how life should be lived ... 
Coat of Arms of
Republic of Transkei

X is for Xhosa – Mandela, as a boy, was taken in by his tribal king, after his father lost his land and privileged position because he refused to compromise his principles in a dispute with a white magistrate – Mandela inherited the sense of fair play from his father.

Y is for Year ... as we near the end of 2013 and the loss of Mandela to South Africa and the world ... the most fitting memorial will be to make a success of what he helped to establish ... and that leads us to ...

Young Mandela at about 19

Z is for Zuma – President Zuma ... on whose shoulders South Africa rests ... and who it is hoped will let democracy and fairness reign ...

... in the townships there is only space for memories ... poverty and violence still haunt the many, but they relish their democratic freedom from the shackles of apartheid.

This is my A to Z on President Mandela ... may he now rest in peace and be with his ancestors.

Please see Judy Croome, a White South African’s reflective post on the death of Nelson Mandela

Films: “Invictus”,

Books: “Long Walk to Freedom” – Mandela’s early life autobiography – a very good read on leadership;

“In No Uncertain Terms” by Helen Suzman, who was the sole parliamentarian unequivocally opposed to apartheid for 13 years (1961-1974).  She visited Mandela in prison ... and to add to her outsider status – she was an English-speaking Jewish woman in a parliament dominated by Calvinist Afrikaner men. 

OperaYou Tube Clip on “Mandela the Opera”

Pathe'O: From AfricaLink ... "Fashion is Magic"

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories