It really is Appalling

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C3P0 comforting R2D2                               Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker

Amid a plethora of aphorism to cascade from the tall Irishman, one which constantly delights is I can resist anything but temptation. Bless his heart, Oscar Wilde.

Well, it’s been a struggle since hearing it and has now proved impossible to resist howling … cackle-ing even … at this no-brainer news.

The Health Secretary announced this week the Covid-19 contact tracing app trialled on the Isle of Wight would be superseded by a different model: seemingly, it bombed.

It’s plausible to say only a minority of the professional population take account of the impact the emotions have in determining the decisions we make: which still strikes me as odd as it ain’t a new idea.

Genial and rotund David Hume in the 18th century would tell you no decision was made without reference to emotion – “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

Expecting a Brit to obey a script received on a phone issuing life-style limiting instructions was not a plan in which emotional intelligence ever played a role.

How proud Mrs Hancock senior must be of her son’s vision, empathy, compassion and humanity. Such foresight into the hearts and minds of the population.

We are the human beings. Our phones are the Android. Seems vacuous even to have to say that.

By the by: Prince Philip who gives us the headline above, has been a life-long adopter of cutting edge technology. Mebbie he should be consulted on this?!

The nature of our nature

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©  Basic Elements Photography / Getty              Walls in Antelope Canyon        The smoothly eroded walls of both Upper & Lower Antelope Canyon are slot canyons located on land belonging to the Navajo Nation, near Page, Arizona.

Is it just me or do you idly anthropomorphize objects – you know, see human form in clouds, trees, … rock? Well, take a look.

The couple locked in an impossibly forbidden kiss simply breaks my heart.

To restore things, therefore, cheer yourselves up with this exquisite demonstration of virtuosic performance by Renaud Capuçon and Guillaume Bellom, musicians whose joie’d’vie simply splooshes over the brim.

Look at how they Listen to one other.

Bringing joy builds muscles for bringing joy. Listening builds muscles for Listening. …

Blinking marvellous

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© NASA                                           From 2016, a ‘supermassive black hole’

If a thing winks, so it declares itself to be an eye. Today, the Hubble Telescope, a miraculous gazing object which sees into an infinite past, celebrates its Thirtieth birthday: it is also the start of Ramadan.

© NASA, ESA, M. Sun (University of Alabama) and W. Cramer and J. Kenney (Yale University) via Yale News                                                                     The spiral galaxy D100, on the far right of this Hubble Space Telescope image, is being stripped of its gas as it plunges toward the center of the giant Coma galaxy cluster.    Hubble’s picture shows a colorful and poignant scene – the last of the galaxy’s gas being ripped out from its center in a massive stream of star-stuff that’s twice the length of the Milky Way Galaxy.
“It’s a 200,000-light-year-long tail of gas that you can see is very narrow connected to the center of the galaxy. You’re really seeing this galaxy in the last stages of its lifecycle of producing stars.”

Scale is incomprehensible: 200,000 light-years long? 1 light-year stretches 5.6 trillion miles. If I understood what that meant, it’d make me weak at the knees: “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment” (thankfully, happened on my behalf shortly before birth!)

With Ramadan, Rūmī waltzes and whirls to mind.

Persia brought early understanding of the Heavens. Rūmī, born in Afghanistan at the start of the Thirteenth century, would have had closer proximity to all things celestial than do we by virtue its principles informed the basis of life. Not surprising then, he stiffens the sinews with exquisite shatterings, en-couraging those who hear.

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

© NASA                                                       Hubble capture of “Pillars of Creation” The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revisited one of its most iconic and popular images: the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. This image shows the pillars as seen in visible light, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants’ trunks of the nebula’s famous pillars.
The dust and gas in the pillars is seared by the intense radiation from young stars and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. With these new images comes better contrast and a clearer view for astronomers to study how the structure of the pillars is changing over time.

In these uncertain days and weeks, I wonder if pondering the place of the heart in the universe of our soul might melt the barricades we build against life?

“The wound is the place where Light enters you.”

Quotes are Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī‘s, 1207 – 1273

Begging for Giveness

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Epiphany: dissolving the veil of perception behind which floats understanding. The Twelfth day of Christmas is when three magi, wise enough to make a detour on their return to the Orient, happed on the stable in Bethlehem. Today marks the end of the sacred fortnight.

This fresh Decade started violently. That don’t bode well.

However, if we learnt anything from the last twenty years, it is that evolution has quickened its pace and we aren’t catching up: melting ice-packs, smelting forests, oceanic plastic, drastic resourcelessness. We’re choking ourselves.

Consumption: de-link consumption from status and we augment the quality of what we produce in virtue of needing less of it. This gives the Earth a chance to catch its breath.

If I knew how to beg, I would sink to my knees and encourage all within earshot to look inside and share what they find. Giving of oneself opens the windows in ventilation of being meaningfully useful. Call it prudence or self-interest or humane or kind: all terms apply equally.

Giveness is not yet a word: might it become a deed?

Listening to what the inner life murmurs seems never more apposite by virtue of what, ever more clearly we discern, awaits us.

madeleinebaird.com/blogos

Gorillas missed their calling?

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Ndakazi & Ndezi                Twin, 12yr old Congolese female orphan Gorillas

The longer I gaze at this image, taken in April by their keeper, Mathieu Shamavu at Virunga National Park in the DRC, the more I tremble inside.

These pages are forever banging on about the dignity of animals, their intelligence, their de anima: but this?

This is different.

(Aristotle’s work Of the Soul (de anima) pertains to biopsychology, thus seems irresistible to acknowledge that Animal psychology is a thing.)

What is going on here? Are these adolescent females mimicking him; or stretching: or thinking ‘what the hell is he doing with that box?’; or saying to each other ‘Ooh, pucker up: a Selfie’. Whatever it is, there is thought behind it.

Mebbie by virtue of language, sentience – the capacity to reason – has been linked to sensory perception – taste, touch, smell and so on. Amid the scientific community, it is seemingly presumed that if unable to speak the Queen’s English (or all other national equivalents) an animal lacks the neurological network that transports signals of pain to the brain. This appears to justify inflicting annihilating misery on creatures with impunity. (Best not get me started on that one.)

So what are we saying here? Do you know, I’m not entirely sure. What seems important to highlight is that humans are one species of creature, gorillas another. The characteristics, biochemistry and physicality we share are largely self-evident. If two species of living creatures share functions essential to sustaining life, it’s not an extrapolation too far to posit all living creatures possess such corporeal operation. Pain is not a function of reason but a consequence of neurological pathways. If you step on a cats foot, the scratches up your leg will tell you it felt it. So, if we’ve the developed intellect to be kinder to all animals, why aren’t we?

Twelve year olds, of whatever species, appear happy to copy grown-ups. What else might we learn were they enabled to observe & experiment? Call it gorilla tactics.

Untangling the web

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Image                                                                          Funnel-web spider’s crib

One of the scintillating qualities the mind possesses is that of sieve. It allows the stuff of life to fall through until such time as we’re ready to see it or feel it … or hear it: know what I mean?

A wonderful mathematician & computer scientist was speaking of how she mustered support to save Bletchley Park by means of connecting with like-minded strangers through the twitosphere.

I’m not sure if being ‘very very pants’ is something that can be said in sentient company: nonetheless, it is an accurate description of my techné in this area. Her words had me dashing to squint at @emotionalresilience and #Empathy and … all those aspects of existence on which these pages comment.

It was a depleting experience: seems there ain’t many of us who reason these matters … matter.

The Materials that we supply – not only here but in universal encouragement to let lives speak – inform how generously we can contribute to the wider world. What’s done becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy: being gloomy causes one gloom just as a kind act ignites kindness.

It’s not rocket science: it’s more sophisticated than that.

Kindfulness

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Greek café opens its doors for strays during winter nights

Since the beginning of the year and p’raps even longer, it’s been hard to know what to write. The litany of misfortune has cascaded around our ears, propelled by the puzzling individuals who play on the global stage and who forget that being the bigger person is not about size or volume.

Across all the world’s solemn systems of thought, this is a sacred time of year. It prizes open an opportunity to soften the heart and be kind for kindfulness’ sake.

Celebrating cyclical transcendence offers hope and a chance to let our life speak. Flopping back into that great supportive armchair – taking responsibility for actions in order to control the outcome – has the consequence of floating out kindness to others as well as to oneself.

Kindfulness is the prudent, fulfilled ambition to act with kindness in order to germinate kindliness in others. This intended symbiotic reflection cultivates a generosity of spirit to dissolve darkness, transforming its lack into light.

I’m not sure Messrs Chambers or Oxford English, Collins or Websters are ready to recognize this idea of kindfulness; not yet …

Ubris

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Gilray's Excrescence

Gilray’s Excrescence

Gorgeous palaces that are melted into thin air hover all around us. Their shimmering essence, as their material substance, is but a hologram. Currently, it seems the most successful enterprises are as tangible as clouds yet wield power of an atom bomb.

Take Uber, for example. Travis Kalanick appears to have co-founded a company whose stratospheric creation and market capture neglected to put in place tangibly accountable operating systems for staff, protecting them from extravagant neglect of their humanity. Upon facing their complaints, he was told he had “to start listening to your own people.”

Hubris is the swagger of excessive pride that can lead to a downfall. Now, there’s nothing wrong in being deliriously delighted with an achievement; perhaps even for a moment being seduced into thinking oneself above criticism? But allowing that to inform how the producers of your bottom line are treated – to their detriment? That’s just shabby.

If long-term prosperity is to flow from our ingenuity, the ground from which we grow must be nurtured and returned to good heart. It’s all one thing, really. Kindness to the earth, brings forth healthy food and surroundings to nourish hearts and minds.

Kindness to one another: not so hard it is? Listening, on th’other hand, is hard work and demands attention ober und über the call of duty.

Empathy : word of the year

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I wonder whether the rise of interest in Empathy this year is in any way related to the dazzling number of truly miserable events by which the world’s been besieged?

In order to stretch one’s mind to try to understand how it is for someone else, there needs to be a motivation to do so. So perhaps the fact there are few who haven’t been touched by tragedy of some kind has generated this deepening of humanity?

Emotional intelligence is the American term for England’s Emotional literacy; reading the room if you will. Each and both pertain to the skill of recognizing others’ mood and using that knowledge to inform the nature of the ensuing dialogue.

Marshmallow, together with a few other focussed groups promoted these EQ skills since the mid-Nineties and Empathy was one of the foundation stones. In the same way a sculptor will look at a block of marble, see two figures entwined and then set about revealing them, so Madeleine Baird Materials emerged from Marshmallow’s block and continues to stand on those founding principles.

Why am I telling you this? Well, you might not have known how intrinsic empathic understanding is to self-raising flourishing.

Have a happy and compassionately empathic New Year.

The C word

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boscoanthony.com

Photo: boscoanthony.com

How many politicians go into politics, do you think, yearning to be the epitome of the oily, corrupt, elected representative their constituents eagerly line up to distrust? I’d posit a ratio of One in Ten thousand; if that.

Yet puzzlingly, it seems the ultimate fate of those who hold power. Why? What is it about power that corrupts: apart from the mountain of yes-minions, fat dinners, foreign trips and catering of all whims, what could possibly go wrong? The combination convinces the official theirs is the summum bonum of importance to their surroundings: without them, the world disintegrates. Who wouldn’t be seduced by all that?

I wonder if the answer isn’t rather simple? A word, in fact. It’s what I call The C Word. The word that begins with C and ends in Ompromise.

Now, I stabled my high horse before settling down to write so there’s no use mounting yours to decry this as arrant, myopic nonsense. Dialogue clearly requires diplomacy and generosity of spirit if agreement is to be reached between parties who start at opposite ends of a spectrum. But hold a moment. The C word requires relinquishing principles, values, ideals. Are they martyred for the greater good or mere expediency? Either way, this seems to me to corrode the spirit. Chipping away at foundations on which we stand eventually leads to sinking into the mire, all stability of balance lost.

Agreement within ourselves neither to inflict nor sustain harm – as sound a definition of Justice as any I know – [not mine, alas: Plato’s] has the happy consequence of a justly lived life. And by living justly, we treat others justly; such are the ripples in a sea of content.