Prism Thinking – Design Your Mind

Archive for May, 2011

Parody of a Paradox: Land Ownership

How Far Back Does One Go?

I’ve been reading a lot for a while now about the agendas of certain groups promoting their idea of what they believe to be fair-minded rightful ownership of land.  In this they have swept masses off their feet all in the name of defending the “suppressed”.  While this may be an accurate issue in some cases, the more prominent ones, upon further inspection, are factually inaccurate. Upon studying this, I’ve decided to present, as a fellow immigrant from another hemisphere, some humorous yet poignant perspectives to some of the premise they promote.

Rightful ownership – United States – Mexico – Native America – Israel – Palestine – China – Tibet – Australia – Aboriginals – ancestral lands –   these are some of the sound bytes chanted by many in demonstrations. You see these groups spelling Texas as Tejas, you hear schools being taught “new history” all based on personal filters and beliefs of those that teach, ultimately undermining actual historical events and indoctrinating the uninformed with a new backdrop. Who are the rightful owners? Let’s really break this down according to what they preach.

So we have groups of people coming together from all races, nationalities and walks of life chanting protests like “give back the land”, “free the so-and-so’s” in righteous indignation—wait just a minute… First of all, if you or I were to get actively involved in a campaign of sorts, I would guess we would have to first be so totally clear in our intent as to be completely committed and aligned to the cause. I would first have to examine my own heritage and roots and decide upon conclusion that based on where I have come from, do I really have the right to be here too? Or should I go back to my ancestral land (for as far back as I can trace) and then commit to my cause from there? Seems logical, doesn’t it? If you talk the talk, then walk the walk—as far back to your land as you can.

As we experience a flash of the past, do we feel connected to civilizations lost? Are they just part of history or do they seem real today?

So let’s use the Tejas example.  Since these groups seem to believe that Texas was taken from the Mexicans, then do the Mexicans have a right to Mexico? I mean, the Spanish influence in Central and South America clearly indicates the Spanish conquering, oppression and maybe—apartheid with the natives at one time? Could it really be? But then the Spanish conquered most of the land from the Mayans and the Incans, the Aztecs and the numerous native tribes that resided all over the Americas… Oh wait… some of them are no longer here—to whom on earth do we return the land rightfully?

So let’s say that I’m an activist on this issue and I am…of English decent, a 10th generation American. Do I really have the right to be living here? Shouldn’t I just go back and preach? But then, am I really English or maybe a blend of an inter-marriage… maybe I’m a product of pre-British Empire…the Roman Empire…Greek…Celtic… Oh God! What am I??? Where is my land? The scenario is ridiculous, isn’t it? As ridiculous as negating human migration which has been occurring since before the Tower of Babel!

In all honesty, unless the average person today has a clear concept about geography, ancient geography, history and geo-politics do we really have the right to be righteously indignant about this? Should we commit to an ideal only if we commit to learning everything there is to learn about it and more, and are therefore certain we know with what we are dealing? Laughably I have watched many a Jaywalking with Leno to understand that some average Americans think that the bordering countries of the United States are Australia and Hawaii…  In many surveys, the average person has not much of an idea of what race or nationality of people belong to which country and which country actually exists—today! Would I be considered absurd if suddenly protested the migration of birds during the year? But they’re not indigenous!

Not just tourists visiting the past, but residents who bridge the past to the present.

For the rest of us humans, indigenous or not, the traditions we may carry till today still connects us to our ancestral past, our people, heritage and land. We blend, we mix, we become a part of a greater society as a whole while still maintaining our heritage if that’s what is important to us as individuals as well as a community.  It may just be that our true identities, where we came from and where we belong is a tapestry of a wonderful blend of this wondrous planet. Migration has occurred long since pre-historic times, some of us have been around for a long, long time, some of us less—a product of the old blended with the new, migration along with expulsions and exiles.  We are a tapestry of our living Earth, and a witness to what has once been and what will be—we, her Human partner from the very start – in  the Beginning…or are we?


“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

**Note: These are just a few perspectives.  I have more as should we all.

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Our Parents Seemed Old-Fashioned, So What About Us?

I look around, perceiving the changes I have witnessed and experienced over the near 50-year span of my life and I realize that some I have embraced, some to which I have been a catalyst, some of which I have been critical, some to which I am indifferent.  I look back and I think of myself, my sisters, cousins, friends at the time I was in my childhood youth and I remember us thinking and saying to my parents things like, “You’re so old-fashioned!”

Now looking back through the 60’s and 70’s which were my decades growing up in Singapore, while both my parents were really people of innovative minds, embraced new music trends, loved the ingenuity and advancements in electronics, and my mother with fashion and beauty trends, they also introduced us to much of what were their classics in the movie, music and literary industries, while of course never hesitating to make fun of what they perceived as ridiculous in some modern concepts of my youth.

Yet even in the balance, we managed to find some instances to focus on the generational gaps and situations in which to let them know we thought of them as old-fashioned in certain aspects of social mentalities, cultural traditions and even moral values.

So what is it that makes the youth label the older generation as old-fashioned or just plain old? I mean those of us now in our 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s—do we even feel old? Do we feel the same in age when we connect with our younger adult friends? Do we feel like no time has passed or do we feel the actual span of time?

Even today when I listen to or watch some “classics” from my childhood all the way growing up, I can perceive the “old-fashioned” element in having moved along with the times and wonder what we were thinking! Have we just seen too much? Been through too much? Heard too much? Have we just grown up? Grown old? Well that would be a limited view to come so simplistically to this conclusion.  And yet, the times in which I feel even marginally “old-fashioned” is when I see and hear what is considered acceptable today; views expressed, beliefs embraced, values warped, morals and ethics askew to what I had been taught and to what steers my own internal GPS.

But after I retort in indignation, just short of the “…back in my day…” bit, I pause, reflect and smile at the cosmic humor of life at its best and think back to my parents’ generation and realize, this is what they felt too.  It was never about being old-fashioned, it was always about having lived so much longer than our younger counterparts, seen all the changes that had taken place through our own generation, remember in fondness how we enjoyed the highlights -“back in the day”, what we believed in, what we had learned, and then realizing that they too will experience this moment all in their own good time.

The beauty of it all, whatever the results that the winds of change may bring along with them, the good and the bad, the highs and the lows—is to really stand in the moment and behold this irony in amusement.  It’s the cosmic flow of our life-cycles—maybe what was then was then and what will be will be, but time is circular and everything will eventually come back in full circle. Events may be different, circumstances and experiences will differ too, but we always will get to realize something vitally significant to us to link back to our generations past and connect with them on some profound level. Keep your perspectives open, appreciate the ironies in humor—it makes the ride a lot more fun!

**Note: These are just a few perspectives. I have more, as should we all.

Some of my "classics" growing up in Singapore (circa 1970s). Clockwise from top left: Much frequented Orchard Road; Singapore Hilton and Ming Court hotels; poster at many civil buildings during the male "long hair" ban; traditional classic dish Nasi Lemak.

More of my classics (circa 1970s). Clockwise from top left: Popular local celebrity artist Anita Sarawak; view of Change Alley, popular shopping area (named after the many money changers preferred foreign exchange rates); harbor view of downtown Collyer Quay; govt. campaign poster on family planning.

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Love – Conditionally Unconditional?

We hear so many declarations about unconditional love it’s easy to get lost in the cliché without really understanding its scope and true meaning.  To many, the phrase unconditional love, I’ve noticed means to love completely without reservation.  What does this mean in the cosmic or the macro sense? When you are used to comprehending this in a micro view, does it change with a grander perspective? When we begin to grasp the concept of pure love in the macro sense through our prism view we may come to the realization that what we thought we understood about unconditional love is really more blind love within our limited understanding.

Because divine love is vastly different from earthly human love, the kind we can perceive—we, even in our purest intent to give and receive it can never really fathom it. Even in unconditional love, there is condition or there would be no growth within our own spiritual evolution.  Yes we believe that divine or universal love is total and infinite, and yes, even in our limited knowledge, it most probably is. God loves us anyway; the Universe loves us anyway—with all our flaws and limitations; love is all there is; love is all that matters; divine love is the most beautiful thing there is—we’re all familiar with these concepts.  In the soul-sense on the grander scale we are loved unconditionally.  Human-wise and in the earthly sense, believe it or not, we may suffer even though we are loved unconditionally.  When I say we may suffer, I mean in the sense of how we may suffer through mistakes and bad decisions, but we learn from them and we grow.  Sometimes within these trying moments of recovering or moving on from mistakes we may perceive it as bad fortune, punishment and may foster resentment and even hatred.  Harsh derivatives from something as pure as love, aren’t they?

Can we at all fathom that even when we experience the lows in our lives that we are loved infinitely divinely through all of it as much as when we are on our highs? Sometimes limited understanding of why things happen, why things are and are not, what we deem as fair and unfair block our ability to give and receive love.  Our version of love is a limited one, but only for now, only within this time and space. Yet we proceed to equate the Universe and its Creator with this version, in a sense what we are really doing is limiting God and our understanding of the Divine.

So is there really such thing as what we have termed unconditional love?  Even when you think of ourselves as being loved despite our flaws, there is condition there somewhere.  How do we expect each other to love humanity the way God does? Because to love responsibly, with regard to humanity negates loving with abandon, that is, the abandonment of our faculties of knowledge and understanding which are precursors to wisdom.  When you love and care for someone deeply enough there is condition—for you to raise the bar so that they can be raised and lifted too.  Would there otherwise be sense in loving blindly, despite their flaws, making no contribution to their progress and evolution? That would be a disservice, wouldn’t it? I especially am amused when I hear parents say they love their children unconditionally. Really?  So when you take care of them, teach them in order for them to be the best they can be, when you say no and when you say yes to them are there no conditions?

Throughout the ages when we are fortunate enough to cross paths with teachers or masters who transcend the minutiae of earthly lives, live elevated lives and seem to love their students and followers in a purer sense, what do we seek to do?  We can learn and emulate or we can set them apart as being special souls and ascended masters put here on this earth for a reason. The reason is to teach us that we too can transcend and ascend; we too have that spark that shines in its purest form.  Isn’t that what we as humans aspire to reach?  It begins with your own conception of love and if you’re willing to make your box bigger or remove the box altogether!

**Note: These are just a few perspectives. I have more, as should we all.

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The End of Osama bin Laden, the Beginning Of…

With all the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise at the hands of U.S. troops sweeping the world, it’s too much an enigma to by-pass without writing about this significant event.  I would like to begin by stating that in the spirit of “closure”, much celebration in the U.S. has been taking place.  Have you been asking questions or going along with the flow? What exactly is the celebration really about? Is it the victory of this particular Administration?  Is it the relief of turning a chapter?  Is it the death of an evil man? Is it that we believe things will finally go back to “normal”? Is there really a reason to celebrate death the way our enemies do?

While it should be noted that hunting down the man behind what has been considered the most profane crime in U.S. history was always a necessity, bin Laden was never the be-all and end-all in our fight against terror. He was merely a leader of one group among many whose goal is one and the same in the advent of promoting a common agenda.  Let’s keep in perspective that while it’s easy to be swept away in the mass emotion, that our fight against terror continues and does not end with his demise.

One of the things that struck me when looking at videos and photos of Americans rejoicing at this justice, was the interspersing of interviews with families of September 11th victims, who once again are brought back to that fateful day with the pain of having lost their loved ones.  It is interesting and insightful to note that their sentiment was far from one of rejoicing, in the fact that this will never bring back their murdered loved ones. This is a solemn fight and a solemn victory, hopefully one of many, both in the past since 9/11 and in future endeavors to put an end to this terror-instilling dogma which has become in some way, our faceless enemy or more likely, our enemy with a million faces.

So is this closure?  Perhaps to some extent.  But like any other race, we are merely at one marker. While we are a people who would much prefer to have happy, prosperous lives, living in harmony with humankind whom we consider our friends and even brothers and sisters, we nevertheless have to remember that we are all a product of the summation of our core beliefs, experiences, culture and up-bringing. We look through our prism once again and view all the facets of humankind and acknowledge these differences, even though they are comprised within the same prism.  If we view all others in our own merits, then we risk stagnation of our own understanding as we keep our heads buried in the sand.

While we feel triumphant at the idea of putting an end to one aspect in our fight, know that the fight was not against one man, but against an ideology;  be assured there will be another and another and another, all in the name of continuing a vow in reverence and truth.   These may seem like virtuous sentiments, yet you might ask, “In whose truth are these acts carried out?” Why then don’t they match in action and integrity with my truth or yours?

When you begin to think multi-dimensionally, realize that there are many things in this world that we do not yet understand and cannot package neatly into our model of the world. Simply know that they are there and that we will gain the understanding when we decide that we finally are ready to see what has been always there for us to see and comprehend. Realize that love is also multi and inter-dimensional, where there are layers upon layers of understanding that may be a prerequisite before we are able to “love the world into peace”.

So in the spirit of closure, remember that the closure of one aspect opens the door to another, something new or different.  What will those doors open to? Be open and prepared for any and all possibilities, because they all exist. Exercise caution and keep your guard up where necessary and know when it’s necessary. Be open and yet be protective yourself and your own values and what’s important to you.  It’s not yet time for that breath of relief.