Friday, 28 November 2008

Terrorism: An indictment of our generation

Once again, the terrorists have struck. This time, in Mumbai. There was a period, in the distant past, when terrorist attacks were a rare occurrence. However, it seems that these tragic events have become a part of our human landscape, eroding our human psyche – to the extent, that we now see terrorist attacks as the norm. Like the media depiction of the malaise that blights the continent of Africa: corruption, war, disease – it has come to the point, where we (me included) observe terrorist assaults and are immune, immobilised by the onslaught unfolding on our TV screens. I confess, that the sense of outrage and injustice that I felt on the dawn of 9/11 (in America) diminished with 7/7 (in London), and has ebbed even more with 26/11 in Mumbai. Of course, I am angry… and think that these acts are depraved and wrong… but, somehow… with every additional act of terrorism on the world stage, I'm acutely aware that I am becoming desensitised, as a part of me responds to these affronts with: ‘It (terrorism) is one of those things: an evil that we have to live with, and contend with in this century’. I find it frightening that my response, so obviously lacking in zealous rage, is an indictment of our generation. In my mind, when things like this happen, I find myself numbed by the horror, fettered by my powerlessness – and, after I watch the mayhem on the streets (as people cling on to fragile life) of this commercial and entertainment centre of India – I do nothing.

Interesting site - The Changing Faces of Terrorism:

Monday, 24 November 2008

Tinkering with a song!

I am not much of a songwriter, but this composition kinduv' tumbled out of my soul as I walked to school this morning. There is a tune going round and round in my head... and, I'm hoping that one of my more musical friends will help me get the music down soon. Let me know what you think!

Jesus give me a faith…

Jesus give me a faith that is true,
That comes from you
Jesus give me a faith that is real,
That can heal

A faith that makes me walk on water
A faith that will never falter
A faith that can move mountains
A faith overflowing like fountains
…and sees you more clearly, loves you more dearly

Jesus give me a faith that is true,
That comes from you
Jesus give me a faith that is real,
That can heal

A faith that fills and possesses
A faith that fulfils and blesses
A faith that praises your name
A faith that raises my game
… to see you more clearly, and love you more dearly

Jesus give me a faith that is true,
That comes from you
Jesus give me a faith that is real,
That can heal

A faith that grants eternal wisdom
A faith that glorifies your kingdom
A faith that is strong in every decision
A faith that gives me Godly vision
…and sees you more clearly, loves you more dearly

Jesus give me a faith that is true,
That comes from you
Jesus give me a faith that is real,
That can heal (X3)

Lyrics written by: Catherine Mark-Beasant
Dedicated to: Joel Beasant (24/11/08)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Melbourne Beckons!

Apparently, one of the top FIVE most stressful events (alongside divorce and death) is MOVING... and, boy don’t I know it! With an upbringing as a diplomat’s daughter (my father worked for the UN), MOVING is something that I am well accustomed to. As a child, we moved from Egypt, to Jerusalem, and then to Syria (which was my father’s final duty station). After boarding schools in Shropshire and then Kent, I went on to university in Virginia (US), and then returned to the UK to complete further studies in Hertfordshire. In adulthood, I have moved around a lot within the UK: London, Gloucester, and Birmingham. But now I am preparing for the biggest move of my life - a relocation to Melbourne, Australia - to establish house and family with hubby, Joel (who I married last July).

Despite the fact that I moved around a lot in my youth (which I did come to resent in my twenties), England has been home for 20 years or so... hence, this relocation to Australia is a huge upheaval. To be honest, it has taken me about a year to come to terms with this relocation; that is getting my mind and heart in the right frame of mind for such a mega move. However, now that D-Day is looming I feel my stress levels rising with all the things that still need to be organised between now and Jan '09. I finish my teaching term in four weeks, and around working fulltime, I am busy with packing up my current house to move into temporary accommodation until I fly out in Jan. To give you an idea of the things I’ve had to sort out in recent months: pack up all my books, CDs, photographs, bags, shoes, bike, etc. (38 boxes in all)... and put them in storage; sort out all my furniture, kitchenware, etc. and organise charity collections; and pack my suitcase for the move into my temporary digs. This week... I have arranged the final charity pickup, I will need to defrost the fridge, and then clean the entire house from ‘top-to-toe’... YIKES... so much to do, so little time. Well, I’ll be out of here on the weekend, and that will be such a HUGE relief. Then, it’s a matter of awaiting visas, organising my tickets for travel, and making arrangements to ship my things across.

I must say, that the way I have managed to keep my stress levels in check over the last few months is in the following ways:-
· Writing: I am working on some great short stories at the moment.
· Knitting: I have rediscovered knitting again in the last month (mum taught me how to knit when I was about 9 or 10 years), and I’m loving it. My current project is knitting a scarf for Joel.
· Scrapbooking: Yes – I’ve recently started a scrapbook, and again I’m enjoying the process of collecting my interests and memories in a collage.

Indeed, I am finding writing, knitting, and scrapbooking very therapeutic in keeping the ‘zin-zen balance’ of my soul. And of course, my friendships; daily walks to and from school; and lots of prayer is all part of what’s keeping me sane during this stressful juncture in my life.

Two nuggets of wisdom that I hold on to at this time:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful worldas it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things rightif I surrender to His Will;That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. (Reinhold Niebuhr)
Trust in the LORD with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3, 5-6)

Saturday, 8 November 2008

The Obama Odyssey!

Where were you when history was unfolding on the shores of America on the 4th of November 2008? On the other side of the Atlantic (here in the UK), I chose to watch on the BBC, minute-by-minute, the arrival of a new chapter in America’s history books. After an intense night, at around 4 am, the verdict was given. The American people (and indeed, the world) were rewarded for their desire for change and hope for a new and better future. The first black man, an African-American, was elected as president of this century’s leading superpower. Barak Obama has risen from obscurity to the global stage as the leader of the Western (free and democratic) world. It was a momentous victory that inspired pride and vision. Truly, it is rare occasions like these, which cause an outpouring of cliché and commentary. The media, minions, and millions across the globe were revelling in rhetoric such as: ‘dreams can come true’, ‘miracles do happen’, ‘fiction has become fact’, ‘the American dream concept (that long-held fantasy) has proved to be a reality’, and on and on. The cliché that continues to tumble out of my mouth in discussions with family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers, is: ‘I never thought I would live to see the day when a black man became president of America’. To be perfectly honest, I never perceived it, nor conceived it in the realm of my imagination. Not surprising, as I was raised in an era blighted by subtle and overt racial prejudices, encountered during my upbringing and schooling years in the Middle East, US and UK. In the main, for most of my thirty-seven years, I have been surrounded by the white populace (both in terms of my schooling and work settings). It is these white dominated environments that have been my daily truth, and fed my aspirations as a young black woman. Therefore, it never crossed my mind to dream or imagine that such an event could occur in this century, let alone in this decade.

For many black people born before the 80’s (I speak from my experiences), the truth of the plight of the black man globally, both in the first and third worlds, caused many to stop believing in the dream that one day a black man would ever have the ‘top job’. For most of the black masses in the West, the only grass-roots dream available to them is to: ‘survive life, have a good job, and raise a family’; in the developing nations, this dream is further muted. Decades of the deflowering of the black man has meant that the drive to dream for, and achieve the impossible has remained stifled, and a daily battle. Of course, countless many have continued the struggle in their various corners of the earth, be it as an activist in Australia, a teacher in England, a minister in South Africa, or a senator in America. Definitely, the face of the struggle that I talk about, is evolving: from slavery; to the right to vote; to equal rights at work; to what I would call, an eradication of the racist DNA that is endemic to the American gene pool (which of course, equally affects many other Western nations in a similar fashion). In light of this pervasive DNA, we cannot talk about an ‘ultimate victory’ for the black man at the entrance of President-elect Obama. However, what we can take away from this incredibly symbolic outcome is a shift in humankind that is moving from a place of discord and polarisation amongst racial communities, towards one of working towards greater unity and understanding. It is significant that Obama arrives at a pivotal moment in our times, to act as a key to bridging the divide between black and white, past and present, and play a vital role in moving people forward towards a post-racial American world.

In my time, I have witnessed three life-changing events of this magnitude, both incredible and incredulous: Nelson Mandela’s release and presidency in South Africa, the 9/11 bomb attacks, and now the election of the 1st black president of the United States. As an African and as a Westerner, I am proud to have played my part in the role of a witness to this historic event. Sure this is only the beginning, and the task that lies ahead for Obama is monumental in terms of rebuilding the wasteland that has been created by the Bush-Cheney years – particularly, in terms of the global economy, and international policy. In addition to this, he will encounter a lot of opposition from his critics (let us not forget that he won by only a slight majority, in terms of the popular vote), suffice to say that as he enters his term of office in the White House, he will in fact be entering a ‘lion’s den’ where many will seek to devour him. As a black man, he will have to work twice as hard as any of the 43 white presidents that have gone before him – to prove his promise of bipartisan and pragmatic leadership to the American people, and the world. It is unlikely that a term of four years will be sufficient to re-establish a paradise that recaptures the essence of the American Dream. However, in as much as, Obama faces a colossal task ahead, it is important not to minimize the symbolic victory that has been achieved by Obama because he has opened up the gates for people from every corner of the pigmentation spectrum, to make a bid not only for this ‘top job’ of presidency, but for top jobs in every aspect of industry and society. He has given people of colour (ethnic minorities) permission to dream again. Thus, his campaign manifesto ‘yes, we can’ has indeed raised the benchmark across the world!