Gathering

Mother Nature is confused. Birds in the Northern Hemisphere haven’t yet started their migration, and I see flocks of birds gathering everywhere, as well as green grass and flowers in the city parks, for the weather remains warm with temperatures around 14-16 Celsius.

While the Chinese were suffocating in smog at unprecedented levels, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference was happening in Paris. The odds were not high. Watching the gathering of world leaders made me think of a quote by Fred Alllen that says:

A conference is a gathering of people who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing can be done.

We cannot deny that the Paris Climate Summit, achieved a rare fate to…finally agree on something. But how about the content of their decisions?  And in more practical terms, how about any specific agreed actions? Nope.
  • All countries must participate.

However, countries committed only to communicate and maintain national plans 

  • Rich should help the poor meet the decarbonisation targets.

But the provision of finance is an aspiration not a commitment. 

  • Keep global temperatures rises below 2C and to pursue efforts to keep them below 1.5C.

No limits were imposed on emissions from aviation to shipping. No mechanisms to set global carbon price. No sanctions will exist. Their intentions are already insufficient to deliver the 2C goal, let alone 1.5C!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pessimist nor a doomsday prophet, and I’m happy that eventually they reached a common view, even including China. This is the beginning of a journey, which nevertheless has a rough path ahead and would have been better served with a more precise ‘travel plan’ and resources.

I for one agree with Martin Wolf, Financial Times columnist, who asked: “Is the Paris agreement a breakthrough in the struggle to limit the risks of climate change, as weary negotiators claim? Or is just another way station on the road to calamity, as critics insist.  At this stage is neither. It is far more than the world could have reasonably expected a year or two ago. But is also far less than the world needs.

The question is whether humanity has the will or even the time to finish a journey that it has started so late.

— Martin Wolf

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Submitted to:

WP Photo Challenge: Gathering

And to my favorite Wednesday’s (oops)  challenge from Colleen and Ronovan.

Silver Threading: Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Ronovan Writes: Be Writing on Wednesday

Sleep or Live

I wrote this poetry as an entry to today’s prompt of Writing101, Poetry: Sleep from Rohit Pandey.

Bio: Rohit Pandey (aka R ‘I’ P) is an Indian blogger / writer from New Delhi, and a self-proclaimed “man with a heart.” You can read more from him on his blog, Straight From Heart and on Twitter @officiallyrohit.

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I am also submitting this entry to my friend’s Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Not because it is a quote from someone but because I wrote the poem!  This is also a link to Ronovan Writes  #BeWoW

Rohit’s prompt:

Sleep: a world where our thoughts rule.

A place where reality is overshadowed by dreams.

A time when we transport our soul from the real world to the virtual.

For some, the hours we spend asleep, alone and in peace, are the best of the entire day; for others, whether haunted by nightmares or unable to fall asleep in the first place, not so much.

It’s time to think deeply about sleep. Dive into the pool of night and let whatever it is you find there take poetic form. (I hope this prompt doesn’t make an insomniac out of you!)

Autumn II

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Today I came across this quote from Albert Camus that fit perfectly with this photo.

This quote has however served me to make peace with last weeks’ lack of sunny days.  I miss Spring and Summer days but equally love Autumn. How otherwise could I see these colorful leaves and the little droplets resembling diamonds? Isn’t that extraordinary?

Each season has its unique beauty. Winter is going to arrive soon and is also welcome.

Would like to know more about Albert Camus? Here it is:

Albert Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French Nobel Prize–winning author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay The Rebel that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom.

Camus did not consider himself to be an existentialist despite usually being classified as one, even in his lifetime.

Camus was born in Algeria to a Pied-Noir family, and studied at the University of Algiers. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaison to “denounce two ideologies found in both the USSR and the USA”.

Posting for Colleen Chesebro at Silver Threading: Writer’s Quote Wednesday

What is Inspiration?

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While talking to a friend about inspiration, I said something like what I wrote above. Actually, I really meant it. And in this way, I wrote my quote for the first time for Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday!

I was saying that to my friend but it also served me well. Most of the times, it’s when I’m not satisfied or happy that I have the best ideas – provided that I don’t let myself be dragged down by dissatisfaction – and look for other alternatives and ways to get what I want.

That’s when I’m surprised by the limitless possibilities that are available to me, and which I wouldn’t have noticed, had I been so satisfied and happy with what I had before.

I’m in no way trying to advocate that suffering is good. I hate it too. I’m simply saying that it’s inevitable. But we can make it work for us, instead of against us, by using its (negative) energy to help us to move on. How? Accepting the reality and going ahead to the next steps of our lives. When I don’t accept a reality that I don’t like, I’m just giving it a license to exist, perpetuate itself and become my future too.

What all of this has to do with inspiration? What I can share with you from experience is that the moment I allow myself to think about, instead of ‘nurture’ my down moments, is the time when I see more than what I had perceived from my situation. Only then I see positive thoughts and energy back in. That is what I call inspiration… when I’m able to see or give new meaning, even to the same situation.

By the way, the background of this quote is the result of a failed photo, shot on manual and underexposed. I had a black image. I played with it by editing just for fun (increased exposure, contrast, saturation, etc.) and it went from black to a beautiful green abstract. I put an extra layer on it of a flower pattern, and also put text on it. It acquired a new meaning!  Et voilà, my failure is no more.

I hope to do the same also with my life’s failures.

#RefugeesWelcome

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This is one of the powerful statements made by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union President, in his State of the Union speech of yesterday.

Politicians’ speeches do not reach me often because they are mostly meaningless and lack authenticity. This one though, was objective, factual and heartening, and I felt it genuine. Particularly the words used to discuss the current refugee crisis, are certainly calling the European leaders and citizens, to look at themselves in the mirror, and hopefully, restore their memory, and their humanity.

I am not an European citizen by birth. I didn’t arrive here as a refugee. I didn’t leave my birth country as an economic migrant. I love my country and what brought me here was my adventurous spirit who made me accept a corporate expat assignment from my Swiss employer.

I have lived abroad since 1994. I moved from Brazil to Switzerland, then to the USA and finally to The Netherlands, always due to my corporate job. I made friends, I integrated, I learned the local languages. No one has ever asked my religion or beliefs. No one has ever asked about my family background and upbringing before accepting me as ‘one of them’.  Because that is how I feel.

No one rejected me in the Old Continent because I settled here, and never returned to my country. I was never told I took a job from an European citizen. I surely did.

Is the acceptance stemming from the fact that I migrated as a tax payer and not depending on the State’s welfare? This obviously plays a role in people’s mindsets and attitudes towards people like me.  But this is not all. There are many fears at play, which are driving the opposition and negative reactions.

Apart from extremists neo-nazis, racists and religious fundamentalists, which are a class of people I abstain from understanding their motives, there are other people who oppose the arrival of refugees because Europe has changed their lives for the worse, since the start of the Economic and Financial Crisis. There is poverty, homelessness, joblessness, despite the existence of a generous social policy.

There are also differences among the countries in the European Unions. They are all equals when belonging to the European Union, but some countries are more equal than others, as they are more mature and developed from an economical, social and financial standpoint.

This is a very complex issue and I won’t try to simplify it with emotional statements. This is a time to have a cool head and take distance from heated discussions. The best way is to try to be better informed about World’s history and events before voicing an opinion about them. And I am not saying that we get informed by reading personal opinions on the internet. We need to read books, if we have time, or credible papers.

How about starting to learn about European history and its waves of migration, which formed nations like Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, US, South Africa, etc. If we are really honest, we know that Europeans migrants have displaced the ‘locals’…

I will share with you a very important part of Jean-Claude Juncker’s speech,  which brings us to become aware of the need for historic fairness.

“We Europeans should remember well that Europe is a continent where nearly everyone has at one time been a refugee. Our common history is marked by millions of Europeans fleeing from religious or political persecution, from war, dictatorship, or oppression.

Huguenots fleeing from France in the 17th century.
Jews, Sinti, Roma and many others fleeing from Germany during the Nazi horror of the 1930s and 1940s.
Spanish republicans fleeing to refugee camps in southern France at the end of the 1930s after their defeat in the Civil War.
Hungarian revolutionaries fleeing to Austria after their uprising against communist rule was oppressed by Soviet tanks in 1956.
Czech and Slovak citizens seeking exile in other European countries after the oppression of the Prague Spring in 1968.
Hundreds and thousands were forced to flee from their homes after the Yugoslav wars.
Have we forgotten that there is a reason there are more McDonalds living in the U.S. than there are in Scotland? That there is a reason the number of O’Neills and Murphys in the U.S. exceeds by far those living in Ireland?
Have we forgotten that 20 million people of Polish ancestry live outside Poland, as a result of political and economic emigration after the many border shifts, forced expulsions and resettlement during Poland’s often painful history?
Have we really forgotten that after the devastation of the Second World War, 60 million people were refugees in Europe? That as a result of this terrible European experience, a global protection regime – the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees – was established to grant refuge to those who jumped the walls in Europe to escape from war and totalitarian oppression?”

What is happening in the Middle East, already for many years, has created lasting consequences, which are shaping one of the largest humanitarian disasters since WWII. Can we ignore it and just turn our face to the other side? Of course we can. Will that make the problem disappear? Nope.

Do you know that nearly 500,000 people have made their way to Europe this year? Do you know that the majority of them are fleeing from war in Syria, the terror of the Islamic State in Libya or dictatorship in Eritrea?

Would you still say that this “illegal” people are coming here just for the fun of taking your job and enjoy your social benefits? Would you ever travel with the help of smugglers, who are selling “first class” tickets in dinghies to cross the sea, for a journey which ends not at the destination, but as a one-way ticket to death?  Have you ever thought that what drives people in war-torn countries, is their will to live and protect their families?

I will share again some words of Jean-Claude Juncker:

“Yet, in spite of our fragility, our self-perceived weaknesses, today it is Europe that is sought as a place of refuge and exile. It is Europe today that represents a beacon of hope, a haven of stability in the eyes of women and men in the Middle East and in Africa.

That is something to be proud of and not something to fear.”

Let’s conquer our fears and just remember that we are all humans. This is a crisis that asks us to show humanity and compassion. Giving refuge is an obligation to comply with the fundamental right to asylum.

I truly hope that Europeans look at the refugees in the same way they looked at me when I arrived here. Like a human being…and as one of them.

Who could better put humanity into perspective than Carl Sagan’s speech at Pale Blue Dot’s video?

“The distant image of our tiny world, underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the only home we have ever known: The Pale Blue Dot.”


This post goes to Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday!