On the aFa U.N.

I have written the following words on these pages on more than one occasion – The majority of the world is good.

I believe it. Even though the daily news across the world challenges that thought, I still believe it.

Think of all the conflicts across the globe centering on race, gender, religion, and ethnicity … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Think of the areas with armed conflicts at the moment: Syria, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Iraq, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mexico, Ukraine, Central African Republic, Yemen, Myanmar, Burundi, and more … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Think of the current challenges between groups as Sunnis and Shiites, Christians and non-Christians, Catholics and Protestants, Whites and Blacks, Males and Females, Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, the rich and the poor, and more … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Many, if not all, of the conflicts above center on power, greed, selfishness and getting people to conform to the ideals of others … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

My belief in humanity because of the interactions that I’ve encountered. I think of my dance friends from Vietnam, Lebanon, China, Guatemala, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States. They ground my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of my English Second Language (ESL) students that I help from China, Mexico, Guatemala, Syria, Senegal, Italy, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, France, Poland, Kuwait, Germany, Japan, Mauritania, Russia, and the United States. They strengthen my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of the many bloggers who have participated on these pages from Canada, UK, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Argentina, Malaysia, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Italy, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Finland, Norway, France, Lithuania, Ecuador, Pakistan, Ireland, United States, and others. They help fortify my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of the many nice people I’ve encountered in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, Russia, Portugal, Canada, Croatia, various Caribbean islands, and across the United States. They reinforce my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

It’s all these people demonstrate the goodness of humanity … and it’s these people who would make a wonderful United Nations.

On to 2016

As we move from 2015 to 2016, a toast …

To kindness, love, and patience … to family, friends, and the good people we don’t know …

To sincerity, honesty, and integrity … to prudence, justice, and restraint …

To generosity, gratitude, and humility… to joy, laughter, and friendliness …. to the positive, the compassionate, the brave, and the humble … and to the majority of the world that is good.

Wishing good health and happiness for all.

Salute! Yamas! Proost! Skål! Sei gesund! A la votre! Şerefe! Gān bēi! Terviseks! Kippis! Salut! Cheers!

On the Spirit of Christmas 2015

Although the daily news goes against these thoughts, but I truly believe the following:

  • The majority of people in the world are good.
  • Smiles are the universal language that crosses all language and cultural barriers.
  • Kindness is the universal action that everyone appreciates.

These points are constantly in my head when volunteering at the English Second Language (ESL) classes – especially with Arabs and Muslims. For me, Matt Harding’s videos support my thoughts. After all, all one has to do is watch the faces in the video. Maybe that’s part of the reason this video frequently waters my eyes.

You may wonder what this has to do with the Christmas season, but (to me) it demonstrates an important essence of the holiday season in today’s world.

Yes, Christmas is a Christian holiday … and yes, I’m a Christian. While some complain about the secular and commercial aspect by proclaiming “put Christ back into Christmas”, my contrarian nature sees another view. For those embracing that mantra, I say go for it – but not at the expense of others because the spirit of Christmas is for everyone.

Besides its religious significance, Christmas is also a celebration of goodness: The goodness that ties the entire human race. The goodness that crosses all geographic and cultural boundaries, including language and religion. The goodness that is for Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Sikhs, and all other religions. The goodness is for all ages, all genders, all races, and all sexual orientations … simply the goodness for all people everywhere.

Yes, the roots of Santa Claus lie deep within Christianity. From St. Nicholas (Nicholas of Myra), other traditions developed as baby Christkindl (eventually Kris Kringle), Father Christmas, and Sinterklaas. Europeans brought these traditions (and others) to the United States that serve as the foundation for Christmas today.

Several events in mid-to-late 1800s helped morph Santa: mainly Thomas Nast’s version of Santa in Harper’s Weekly, and Clement Clayton Moore’s icon poem, The Night Before Christmas.

Although Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and various Norman Rockwell paintings helped transform Santa’s image in the early 1900s, it was artist Haddon Sundblom’s portrayals of Santa Claus for Coca-Cola that cemented the image of Santa Claus that we embrace today. From 1931-1964, Sundblom’s Santa served as a brilliant marketing total for the beverage company giant.

All along the journey from Nicholas of Myra to the modern-day Santa, goodness is the common theme. Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas – the one who portrays goodness and kindness to all. If goodness is for everyone, it seems logical to me that everyone can celebrate Christmas. Santa Claus is the one who sees kindness across cultures, religions, races, and languages. After all, the majority of us want kindness, plus peace and goodwill for all.

In the spirit of Santa’s goodness, thank you for all the joys you regularly give to me. Thank you for helping me maintain my faith in humanity. One hand is sufficient in counting the number of visitors here I’ve physically met, but I am sure of one thing – You are the good of Santa’s spirit.

For my video gifts to you, enjoy two version of Silent Night. The first by Mannheim Steamroller accompanied by beautiful displays from the night sky is one of my long-time favorites. For those preferring a singer, Placido Domingo joins The Piano Guys.

Merry Christmas to those who accept Santa as the spirit of Christmas … Happy Holiday to those preferring that greeting … and to my Christian friends, a blessed Christmas to you.

Peace to all.

2015 aFa Holiday Blog Party

Welcome to my 2015 Holiday Party for my friends, their guests, and whoever stops by this weekend!

In the spirit of the holiday season, this gathering is for everyone: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, and others. I say everyone because I’m a firm believer that the majority of the world is good – and in spite of all the crap we get from the news each and every day, the WordPress community helps prove my point … so peace and goodwill to the global community of goodness!

My wish is for guests get a gift and mingle with others – which also means gifts can be traded!

Come back to mingle with the guest and watch available entertainment.

This is going to be a bit crazy for both readers and your host, so I request your patience! … but make sure you read the Overview and Directions below the next video.

Overview

  • Behind each number is a surprise gift. *
  • Once the number (gift) is taken, it’s no longer available (so state your number in the comment)’
  • While I hope to strike-through taken numbers, I do have to sleep and run errands – so I request readers check the comments for taken numbers. (See the Update note above the numbers for my progress).

Directions

  1. Pick (click) an available number for your surprise gift.
  2. In your comment, type your number (hopefully on its own line so all can see it) and tell everyone about your gift.

Positive cheers to all in the spirit goodness for the season! Have fun!!!!

UPDATE: (Marked out down through Tim)

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42  43  44  45  46  47  48

DogElf

* Gifts selected by visitors are for amusement purposes only, thus never intended for the host to purchase and send to those selecting.

On an Unexpected Connection

Saturday is Dance Day and Down Syndrome Day – thus the perfect opportunity for a post about special people. After all, I imagine many may not see a link between ballroom dance and Down Syndrome.

I volunteer at a weekly dance event that is not only fun, but one with ample opportunities for smiles because it is for adults with Down Syndrome. Some of the attendees are functional enough to have a job, but others aren’t. Some a more coordinated and able to move better freely, but others physically struggle. Toss in a wide range of speaking abilities, it’s quite a gathering of about 30 attendees and numerous volunteers.

My smiles come from an action or something said. From a person running up to me for a dance to receiving a smile given by someone who has difficulty speaking. Simply put, the 45-minute session is a weekly delight in my life.

However, these events are not about the volunteers, but about the attendees. First of all, it’s a social event. They arrive with smiles and race to greet their friends they haven’t seen in a week. That is followed by the power of music and dance as it speaks to them just as it does to the rest of us.

Each week is the same. The 45-minute session starts and ends with the same song – the group’s theme song – a version of Over the Rainbow to which everyone dance a group routine. After a line dance or two, the instructor reviews the dance, and then a song plays for dancing. Another song for the same dance is the sign to change partners. The pattern stays the same through Rumba, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Tango, and Merengue – with the latter quickly morphing into a predictable conga line. After another line dance or two, the session ends with the same theme song that started it all.

I want to toast several of the attendees for the joys they give me.

  • To T, one of the better dancers, and one with an infectious smile and positive attitude
  • To K, whose quiet nature always answers question and giggles
  • To S, who is always smiling and laughing as she thinks I’m a bit crazy
  • To C, who best communicates to me through her eyes and smiles that make me melt on the spot
  • To J, who runs to me with a smile for a salsa or cha cha
  • To R, who insists on being a lady
  • To Teddy, one that I’ve written about here before, whose positive attitude about life is a role model for anyone
  • To the parents and caregivers for being supportive
  • To Mary, our leader (the blonde in the opening video), and the one who has made this happen

I close with a collection of clips for the competition held last October for these wonderful people. (Because you want to know, I’m in Foxtrot, Swing & Tango sections with contestants 35 & 54 – but I think that’s me in the center of the still)

Other Related Past Posts

On Selma: A Perspective

Selma: The movie

Setting: Selma, Alabama, early 1965 during the Civil Rights era

Me: At the time, a 12-year old living in rural Ohio, and oblivious to the actual meaning of the movement, but aware of events at a 12-year-old level

The movie trailer

From the opening scene, Selma is a historical, powerful, suspenseful drama that took me through many emotions – shock, sad, joy, shame, pride, surprise, awe, and probably others. Although I knew elements of the story and how it ends, the film was absorbing and suspenseful. Although it appeared to creep through time, the film moved at a reasonable pace and kept me engaged.

The film centers on important names that I already know: Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy, Malcolm X, Lyndon Johnson, and George Wallace … and some important ones that I didn’t know. I don’t know what percentage of the film is factual, but I’m confident that enough of it is for historical relevancy.

I appreciated David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Dr. King, and wow … the voice and the demeanor! As Dr. King’s wife, Carmen Ejogo’s displayed someone stoic, solid, and supportive.

Tributes to the event with video and images

Selma is a cultural barometer that provokes thought. Because then and now are points in time, it shows how far American society has come since those dark days yet, it should help one realize how far we still have to go. Shamefully, events like Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and others still exist, but there is no way I can be convinced that the overall situation isn’t better today than 1965 and earlier … and Selma helps cement my belief.

With Martin Luther King Day being this coming Monday, this weekend would be an excellent time to see Selma.

Below is a short video that starts in the early 60s yet ends in 2009. It’s one of my favorite videos here because it speaks volumes to me about perspective, about growth, and about the hope that humanity can provide.

On Names

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

Names are an identity … and like it or not, we’re stuck with a name

Names come in many forms … There are personal names, first names, middle names, last names, birth names, forenames, given name, family name, nickname, place name, maiden name, married name, nickname, byname, code name, pen name, stage name, scientific name, surname

Synonyms include pseudonym, cognomen, anthroponym, autonym, nomen patronym, eponym, sobriquet, appellation, epithet, moniker, hypocorism, agnomen, alias, cover, moniker, toponym, designation, eponym, denomination, handle

Names can signify a heritage … such as my family tree includes Andrea, Basilio, Elisa, Gemma, Gino, Ida, Livio, Guido, Rita, Rosanna, Rosetta, Olvidio, Teresa, Torido, Verdiana, Vidia, and others .. but outside of family, I know very few people with any of these names

Names can be a connection to someone – a family member, a friend, a significant figure from the parent’s past, or someone popular at the time

Names have meaning, such as Frank means honest

Names are linked to a time, so we don’t meet many named Hazel, Bertha, Gertrude, Fred, George, Walter, or even Frank

Names carry power and reputation … in both a positive and negative sense

Names carry responsibility

 

What’s in your name? Who are you named after? What does your name mean?

Thanks for the music inspiring this post