IMAGINE

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photo courtesy of Jo Ann Brown-Scott, Singapore,  Buddha Tooth Relic Temple…..one of my favorite places on earth

I am having trouble finding words…eloquent words…to express my profound sadness at the world’s malaise. I am just one person, just one voice, and certainly a small one at that. I don’t understand the degree of violence and hatred that is ripping apart families and countries and causing a tidal wave, a tsunami of suffering.

This is the time of year when the word HOPE usually carries extra weight; the word JOY is meant to sound a joyous call of celebration and the phrase brotherhood of all men ought to bring us together as a collective world family here on the big blue dot that is planet earth. If that was the answer I believe we’d have it all figured out by now, but apparently we need much much more.

I keep thinking of the children. I see their faces and I die for them, wondering how they will ever find a place of safety and love upon which they might build a new start in life. So many children. Clothing, food. Jackets, shoes, hats and hot soup. Four walls and a roof. Warmth during winter. The unknown luxury of books and toys. The loving arms of parents and people who will hug them to sleep.

Can you imagine? In the words of John Lennon’s, “Imagine”…

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only skyImagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one
Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/imagine-lyrics-john-lennon.html#GGBowHGpdzw5j16G.99

The Creative Epiphany – Film Review, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

 poster image courtesy of linduslist.com

This film, directed by Steve McQueen, was difficult to watch in spite of the fact that I thought I was prepared. I had heard that it was brutal. It is beyond brutal – it is periodically and consistently horrific for almost the entire two hours and fifteen minutes. The story is beautifully filmed, gorgeously depicted, stunning in its impact – but beware the  pastoral southern scenery, moss hanging low over big oak branches and humidity you can almost taste, because something shockingly wicked this way comes.

I am a person who reads, and I read and I read. So I thought I was educated about slavery in the south. I have lived in the south, traveled through the south, toured historic plantations and seen slave cabins, and I have studied the Civil War. All that and more is what took me to see this film. For me it was a question of respect, and the fact that the film is well made. But still, I learned from this film things I had never known and I was given witness to atrocities I had never imagined.

The story is simple – Pre-Civil War, a prosperous and educated gentleman named Solomon Northrup ( played by the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor ) from upstate New York, once a slave, who has a family and has risen above his own early history, is re-captured, sold and enslaved again, for 12 long years, enduring and enduring, with the excuse that the papers granting his freedom do not exist. He experiences some kindness from strangers but then is sold to a slave owner ( Michael Fassbender ) who has slipped from pure and wicked malevolence into sick depravity, and who rules a plantation where even his wife, who has learned from a master, is sadistic and cruel.

Do we really need to see all the ways that a human being can be tortured in films today, returning now to even the old and basic, tried and true methods of cruelty? Is each new film – whether it is portraying battles, war, espionage, man to man conflict – attempting to one-up the ones before in regard to guts and gore? This historically accurate film is based upon a true story – and we learn in text updates at the end what happened to Solomon Northrup after he was eventually freed. Nevertheless, for me, it was a horror story. I could not watch at times, reminding myself that it is a FILM.

The acting is spectacular, the women as well as the men; and the children too. It is a Brad Pitt film, from his company PLAN B productions, and he has a cameo appearance portraying a character who sees slavery as wrong. I read that he is choosing responsible roles these days as his children grow old enough to see his work. Do his children have to see this kind of torture, I wonder? Still, there is Oscar buzz about it and I must say that I think it is an important film – a monumental film perhaps.

I saw the Oprah Winfrey film titled The Butler, in 2013, and I would place this 12 Years a Slave film about slavery, in spite of my shock in watching it, ahead of The Butler. I understand that The Butler, also based upon a true story, was so loosely based that it took liberties and exaggerated the plot to such an extent that the story was greatly altered from the truth. I do not like that, do you?

Should you see 12 Years a Slave? If you know you are lacking in information about this most disgusting period of our American history and you are responsible enough to want to learn what happened, then by all means see it. Please do not take your children who are under the age of 16 or so…and be prepared to answer their many questions in an educated way if you do invite them to see it with you. Be knowledgeable and have books to recommend, because our public school systems are lacking in time and resources to due this subject justice.

For Your Viewing Pleasure,

JABS

The Creative Epiphany – Albania’s Newfound Self-Esteem

th[9] photo courtesy of travelerphotographs

 photo courtesy of Pinterest

 photo courtesy of gadlin.com

 photo courtesy of Flikr

Here in the USA it is Sunday morning and several of the news programs aired segments about some tenement buildings in the capital of Albania – broken-windowed buildings torn by war, neglected, abused and abandoned, that have been transformed and revitalized by the bold and joyous colors of new paint. The EU apparently objected to this radical change – for reasons we are not sure. The Prime Minister of Albania objected to that proclamation, persisted, resisted and basically said, “We are going to go for it,” in a gutsy move.

He went on to say, in one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Beauty is more intimidating than brutality.”

What an epiphany we have here!

To think that pride, creativity, thinking outside the box and positive initiative manifested in the addition of simple, stunning COLOR in some coats of paint could bring about such a paradigm shift in public thinking and collective self-esteem. Drab, often mafia infested neighborhoods, wasted, forgotten and forlorn, accepted and rejoiced in the jolt of some paint and ….what resulted….was optimism, pride and hope. That absolutely can only be seen as great. Sometimes it is the simplest things that make the most monumental changes for the collective good.

The Creative Epiphany – Richard Blanco

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If you were fortunate enough to hear the poem that Richard Blanco wrote and recited at the Inauguration ceremonies then I would imagine you were as moved as was I by his eloquent words. Simple words. No lofty vocabulary leaving you eager to grab your dictionary – just humble, everyday words carefully selected and artfully arranged to describe ONE TODAY in our United States of America. You can read this poem to yourself, but far better it is to see the video of him reciting it in his own deep and reverent voice, pronouncing words with his own accent and placing emphasis where he wanted it to be. The poem is a celebration of the common man and common woman going about their business on a common day in a most uncommon country – the USA. It is a poem about quiet courage and consistent hope. It is a poem about continuing to persevere, doing what we do, adding our percentages to the common whole, all under one common sky, with the hope that change will gradually happen and our children and their children will see an even better time than we have seen.

It seems to me that if there is one common thing we all share, it is that hope.