New Ways to Learn

Today I want to share another TED Talk with you, by the author John Green, who discusses how learning is a way to map the world, and how the Internet — and in particular YouTube — has provided a new kind of learning experience for anyone who chooses to engage.


I hope you like it — and that you’ll choose to engage in learning new things.







Life Inside Syrian Refugee Camps

Life inside Syrian refugee camps –

originally published, in part, in The Week by Lauren Hansen & Sarah Eberspacher.

[In March 2011], Syria began to be torn apart.

Syrians took to the streets, demanding democratic and economic reforms from the government of Bashar al-Assad. What they got instead was a civil war that has turned cities to dust, killed more than 100,000 people, and forced millions more to flee.

Jan. 9, 2013: A man stands on top of a water tank as clouds roll over the Al Zataari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan. | (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

For those who managed to escape — women and children, mainly, with whatever they could carry — some semblance of life continues in refugee camps throughout the region. Through grit, luck, or the help of others — and often a combination of all three — those displaced millions have sought to create moments of normalcy in the temporary rooms, mud-floored tents, and makeshift shelters they call home, waiting for the day their country stitches itself back together.

Here, a look at life for the millions of refugee-camp residents:

Aug. 12, 2012: Boys carry water for their family at Al Zataari, Mafraq. | (REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

Sept. 2, 2013: A woman bathes her child at Domiz refugee camp in Dohuk, Iraq. | (REUTERS/ Haider Ala)

Feb. 15, 2014: A girl washes her family’s clothes at Bab Al-Hawa refugee camp near the Syria-Turkey border. | (REUTERS/Mouaz Al Omar)

Aug. 21, 2013: Women wait in line for food at Kawergosk refugee camp in Irbil, Iraq. | (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Dec. 11, 2012: A woman cooks food for her family outside their tent at Atmeh refugee camp in Atmeh, Syria. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Dec. 23, 2013: Children attend classes at an unofficial camp near Amman, Jordan. A teacher-turned-refugee set up the makeshift school because the Jordanian schools are too far away. | (REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

March 2, 2014: A girl gets a snuggle and a smooch from a puppy at Kilis refugee camp in Kilis, Turkey. | (REUTERS/Nour Kelze)

Nov. 21, 2013: Children play on a makeshift swing at Harmanli refugee camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria. | (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

Sept. 17, 2013: Children participate in taekwondo training at Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, Jordan. | (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

March 25, 2013: Friends cut a young man’s hair at Bab Al-Salam camp near the Syria-Turkey border. | (REUTERS/Giath Taha)

Oct. 28, 2013: A family eats a meal inside their makeshift room in a mosque, which is being used as an unofficial refugee camp, in Shebaa, Lebanon. | (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

Sept. 2, 2013: A woman applies makeup to a soon-to-be bride at a makeshift beauty parlor in the Domiz refugee camp in Dohuk, Iraq. | (REUTERS/ Haider Ala)

May 6, 2013: An obstetrician holds a baby after delivery at a field hospital in Zaatari refugee camp near the Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan. | (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

According to some news sources, the Syrian Refugee Crisis is the largest refugee crisis to occur since the Nazis drove thousands of Jews, Poles, Roma and other “undesirables” to leave their homes in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.
I feel that it is the responsibility of every person in every country, and of every government, to show their compassion towards these people who, through no fault of their own, have lost their homes, their livelihoods and, in many cases, family members and friends to a war they did not start and cannot control.
These refugees are all human beings, all worthy of help and assistance, all our brothers and sisters in need, and it is shameful how many countries are refusing to help.  At the same time it is heartening that countries like Croatia — itself no stranger to civil war — is willing to open its borders in this time of need.

Harmony and Peace


I watched the Pope at the ground zero conducting a beautiful interfaith service. It touched my heart and sincerely was the best interfaith service I have seen in a very long time. The children’s choir sang and it was beautiful and appropriate as we work towards peace.




Where have all of the Children Gone?

It was a pretty day here in North Carolina. Lots of sun and the green of leaves are various shades of green due to the time of year. There is one leaf on the edge of the river which has lost all of its leaves.


It isn’t always pretty in many parts of the world. There are places in South America, Uganda, Sudan, the Congo where there is a disturbing lack of children. There are places controlled by the LRA, the Lord’s Resistance Army. In Uganda, they are considered the worst of the rebel or terrorist groups. For over twenty years they have been fighting a vicious civil war with the Uganda government in power.


I started doing research and I found that I though I understood child soldiers but I didn’t really. The LRA and other groups go into villages and torch them. They drag out all of the adults regardless of gender or age and they are killed. People sometimes get out and they  are part of the migrating populations wandering Europe looking for a place to be safe and secure.


They are running from torture, murder, abduction and rape. The LRA is known for its atrocities and they take the cake for sheer brutality.  They have been known to cut off the noses and lips of people as a warning to others who might try to resist them.


The real horror story is the children. Children are valued and needed for these ongoing wars. The UN has estimated that ten thousand children have been taken in the last twenty years. So a village is invaded, burned, adults are killed and the children are stolen. Can you imagine just how terrified a hand full of children can be after watching all of this?  Even children who attempt to resist are killed.


The children are then made to carry all of the stuff the rebels have plundered back to jungle camps. They may even been carrying their own possessions or their grandparents. The boys are then forced into the army, little ones carrying guns as big as they are. They are killed if they refuse. So we have child soldiers who will begin indoctrination but mostly I believe their fear is what keeps them there.


The little girls, if they are lucky, are married off to soldiers. It gives me shivers to use the term ” married off ” because it makes me want to retch. So these are the lucky girls and then there are the others. These little girls are used for menial tasks and labor or are sold as sex slaves for the rest of their lives.The LRA leader is Joseph Kony, who is a self-styled Old Testament prophet who feels God is a God of vengeance and retribution.


His second in command is considered more vicious. There is legend that he once attacked his home village, killing over two hundred friends and neighbors. No one is even trying to guess how many deaths and child soldiers he is responsible for over the past twenty years. His name is Otti. They are both wanted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


This group moved in Sudan apparently with an invitation of the government. These groups are like ghosts so they are not held accountable for their crimes.They are armed to the teeth and have surface to air missiles. Many of the groups fighting each other are using child soldiers.


Prostitution is rife, Aids endemic, corruption rampant, families dysfunctional and life expectancy is approximately forty years.


Then the are the children whose villages have not been attacked and who walk for miles from the camps into nearby towns to evade the LRA.Thousands of children, Night walkers. Thousands and thousands of frightened children who want an education and who want to live. They walk for miles to escape the LRA. They call them ” the invisible children.”They sleep wherever they can find a place to curl up. In the mornings, they walk back to school; usually without food. They do this every day. Day after day. I can’t imagine our kids being willing to do this for an education.


So now we know where the children have gone. Now what do we do to change the disappearance of all of these child soldiers and sex trafficked girls?


I am not able to do much to help. I write to you all so you can do what you can. But I do suggest joining Amnesty International and write letters, I suggest writing to the UN and asking what can be done by regular people like us. I am going to begin with Amnesty International. The more noise we make, the more often this is talked about, the sooner the official agencies will begin to dismantle these corrupt, brutal groups.










A child soldier who looks terrified.

A child soldier who looks terrified.


Ugandan child soldiers

Ugandan child soldiers

A Holy Day

Today, is the holiest day in the Jewish year. It is a day for assessing oneself and how we are doing living our lives. Adonai gave the ten commandments, but he had other acts in mind that he/she didn’t want people to do. Tonight, begins the high holy day, Yom Kippur. Jews worldwide will be in temple or their homes and they will be honestly looking inside of their hearts and souls.


On Yon Kippur, it is said that the names of those who will live through the New Year will be written into the book of life for another year. Wrong doing or sin, is looked at personally and as a community.


I like this concept that the community can sin as a whole and we all share responsibility. So what kinds of things is he/she talking about?


Assumed the worst in others and the best of ourselves.

Betrayed the trust others have placed in us.

Confused that which is essential with that which is not,

Destroyed ourselves with needless abuses,

Enjoyed the downfall of our adversaries with glee.

Felt superior to others by means of ability, wealth or power.

Given less than our full selves to our community and our world.

Hastened to decry responsibility for our own actions,

Instigated animosity among others,

Junked our world with trash, showing no retard for the environment.

Kindled misplaced passions.

Lied to cover our vanities.

Missed opportunities to better ourselves.

Negated the validity of others in an effort to aggrandize ourselves,

Observed persons in need, and ignored what we saw.

Perverted the blessings of our lives into dangerous obsessions and mere possessions.

Quietly slipped into lived defined by moral decay,

Refused ourselves and other our love.

Seduced ourselves with the lie that “no one is going to get hurt.”

Trivialized the power we represent in God’s Universe.

Unleashed hurtful words.

Valued strangers more than our family and friends.

Wished ill upon others,

Xeroxed in violation of copyright and trademark.

Yielded to temptation.

Zestfully pursued happiness to the exclusion of goodness.

—Rabbi David Greenspoon and Steve Kerbel



A Prayer For Peace


Let us live in peace, God.

Let children live in peace, in homes free from brutality and abuse.

Let them go to school in peace, free from violence and fear.

Let them play in peace, God, in safe parks, in safe neighborhoods; watch over them.

Let husbands and wives love in peace, in marriages free from cruelty.

Let men and women work in peace, with no fears of terror or bloodshed.

Let us travel in peace; protect is, God, in the air, on the seas, along whatever road we take.

Let nations dwell together in peace, without the threat of war hovering over them.

Help us, God. Teach all people of all races and faiths, in all the countries all over the world to believe that the peace that seems so far off is in fact within our reach.

Let us all live in peace, God. And let us say, Amen.

—Rabbi Naomi Levy






Jewish holy day

Jewish holy day

The Sister is Home

Last week my sister was in California for some training for her job. She reluctantly took some pictures. I wanted to share some of them with you. I hope you enjoy them.




A beautiful sunset. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

A beautiful sunset. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin




Walking in the water. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

Walking in the water. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin







A golden California sunset. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

A golden California sunset. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin



Sunset at beach. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

Sunset at beach. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin




Sea grapes. I assume they aren't edible. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

Sea grapes. I assume they aren’t edible. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin




Late afternoon at Laguna beach. Photography and copyright by Amy Halperin

Late afternoon at Laguna beach. Photography and copyright by Amy Halperin




Tsunami warning sign

Tsunami warning sign Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin






Laguna beach. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

Laguna beach. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin



Where she took classes. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

Where she took classes. Photograph and copyright by Amy Halperin

The Best Party Band in the Land

One of my favorite bands — and my sister’s very favorite — is Duran Duran, a band who has described themselves, many times, as the Band designed to make you Party.


The following video, party-ready, is from their 2001 tour and album Astronaut.  It includes the single Wake up to the Sunrise, one my favorite songs. My sister simply loves all their music. I hope you will enjoy it too.



I hope it makes you smile.



Grasping at Self

Many spiritual people believe that sickness, of the mind or the body has little to distinguish them from one another. As the years go by, and they do so quickly, we experience ailments. These ailments trigger our anxieties. Not feeling well is actually a magnet for anxiety. It reminds us of our frailty and mortality. Being aware of our mortality can often assist us in being in the now moment. Minor illnesses can help us to remember we are human.


The mind has a more difficult time healing the physical body than it does the emotional body. Neurologists are beginning to do case studies of the subconscious and the part it plays in healing the physical body. In some cases, the mind alone can heal physical sickness, even where conventional medicine has failed. I have personally experienced it.


In addition to Neurologists, Buddhists also believe that the mind can heal the physical and emotional body. For all of us, sickness can provide an opportunity to slow down, let go, and appreciate life even in the midst of suffering. Sickness can be a broom we are given to sweep our lives clean of the accumulations of negative attitudes and emotions.


Many of us have experienced tragedies in our lives and for some of us there have been multiple tragedies.These can cause real sickness. Conventional medicine often can not cure these illnesses. Doctors do all they can to the best of their abilities but nothing completely works. But by using the subconscious to help, the emotions and the physical body can be used to release the past from its control of the present.


When we experience tragedy, physical or emotional, even if we go to therapy and “work it through” often the subconscious continues to hold on to it. The mind’s conscious level has let go of the incidents but the subconscious still has a grip and it can be strong. It can make you very ill, even for years.


I am excited that conventional medicine is beginning to study how our minds make all of this happen. I am excited that there are doctors who are studying this with their patients. This is more than “thinking positive.” Positive thoughts make anything somewhat better and easier to tolerate. Meditation can help. For instance, I found that Transcendental Meditation often helps with chronic pain. It also helps to remember that sickness is impermanent.


Neurologists have found that talking to the subconscious can help. Reassuring it that you are safe, whatever has happened in the past will not occur again and if it did; you would handle it differently. Chanting ” Thank you” for your body a hundred times several times a day can make big changes.


Take good care of yourself and your body. Eat healthy, exercise and remember there is no blame in the work of healing. Do not grasp at self as this can cause illness and suffering. Remember that a good joke can help with healing. Be open to any approach which might help. This should definitely include conventional medicine as well as alternative forms of healing. Also remember that balance in life helps us to heal and to remain healthy.


Be kind to anger, fear, or discouragement as they arise. Even if they are strong or persistent, be patient with them and it helps to bring them into balance. This assists the body in its healing.








Botanical Garden, Asheville, NC. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2013

Botanical Garden, Asheville, NC. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2013

Mensen maken de samenleving en nemen daarin een positie in. Deze website geeft toegang tot een diversiteit aan artikelen die gaan over 'samenleven', belicht vanuit verschillende perspectieven. De artikelen hebben gemeen dat er gezocht wordt naar wat 'mensen bindt, in plaats van wat hen scheidt'.

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