Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to Know what You Mean to other People

Relationships are seldom, if ever, mutual. And hard as it is to accept this reality, it all starts with what you are to other people. What you think you are to others, and what they know you are to them, are two different things.




More than a decade ago when I was in college, I made a rare, albeit serious attempt at dating. CM was her name, and this was a relationship I hoped would be enduring, even lifelong... sorry, I digress.

During one of our numerous conversations, and in a moment I consider among the most profound in my dealings with CM, she looked at me straight in the eyes and asked, "Peter, what am I to you?"

Luckily, this was not during a 'fight'. But I did not answer immediately, given my penchant for reading between the lines. It took a moment to digest the all-important question.

I then gave her my candid answer.
(Sorry, you ain't CM and my answer is beyond the scope of this post... hehe).

Looking back, I now realize that is the one question I always ask myself in all my dealings with other people. And it has saved me from a lot of trouble.
Be it professional or informal relationships, taking time to actually find out what my place is in the hearts and minds of whoever I am interacting with is a priceless realization.


Why do we love oranges?


I still recall the day when Pinky Ghelani challenged her listeners to reflect why we love oranges. That was many years ago on her show 'The Fuse' on 98.4 Capital FM.

Pinky then proceeded to explain that almost every person who loves an orange does so because of what one can get from it. Specifically, the nutrients and the taste. It has nothing to do with how colorful oranges look, or how perfectly round they may be.

And this reminds me of Jesus's 'barren tree' parable in Luke 13:6-9.


Is the Juice worth the Squeeze?

It seems I'm on a roll with these fruity metaphors. But not to worry.

For interactions that are one-sided, where genuine affection is unrequited, good people have every reason to walk away. Letting go and moving on is in fact the most apt thing to do, only that it should not happen sans reflection. This ensures that there is no haste, and enough time is first spent appreciating all that has been and learning from whatever failed to work well or as expected.

A fearless and searching moral inventory is therefore recommended every once in a while, to forestall the risk of being used by others, or passing across the wrong message. A common problem that faces exceedingly good people is their good deeds being misconstrued as being desperate, clingy or needy. And of course being taken for granted, only to be missed when the well runs dry.

Every time you feel like you're in a situation where the other party is not living up to what is expected of them - be it a friend, love interest, business partner, client, colleague at work or school, etc - be courageous enough to do an objective and candid cost-benefit analysis with a view to setting things right.

I must admit that I do walk away from people the moment I realize what they take me to be is something that adds no value, is inappropriate or at great cost to me and my person.

For the record, a cost-benefit analysis is not a walk in the park, especially in situations where one has invested emotionally. But it is always worth it.




I end this post with something I once heard on 103.9 Family FM a long time ago. It is about what an ordinary man is to those around him.

To his dog, he is like a god, and the provider of all things nice (read meat, bones and macaroni). To his wife, he is Mr Money. To his teenage daughter, he is an overbearing tyrant who just can't let her be. To his boss, he is a good employee, but one who can be better. To his MP, he is just another vote.

You get the drift...

Finally, the key question is, what exactly are you to those around you and those whose lives you touch? And more important, are you to them what you think you are?



* * *

It does take two to tango. And I bet giving as good as one gets is for the most part, a core component of mutual interaction.
That said, how about meeting halfway?








Thursday, July 9, 2015

Seeing Only what We Want to See, or Not See.

Two years ago, I wrote this post about how we see things as we are and not as they are.

Today, we revisit this issue, thanks to a discussion I had this morning with one of my closest friends.

We See, but do not Notice/Perceive

It all started with the usual early morning pleasantries, and then this forward on WhatsApp.

I request you to read this message before you delete.

After reading this message I made a full research (NIV & NLT) about this information. Really this is a shocking information to me and I like to pass it on to  you.

Please read, research and decide. If God is speaking to you, please forward to your friends and family members.
Kindly use KJV or NKJV.


Quite alarming & devastating - pls read this: "If you own a New International Version (NIV) Bible
Did you know that it was written by Zondervan and
they are OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publishes the The Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex.
NIV has removed 64,575 words from the bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name but a few...
NIV has also removed 45 complete verses. Most of us have the Bible on our phones. Try and find these scriptures under NIV on your phone right now if you don't believe me:
Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14
Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46
Luke 17:36, 23:17 John 5:4
Acts 8:37

You will not believe your eyes.
If you continue reading the NIV after this, then truly you are blinded by Satan, or just don't care.

 [...]

Refuse to be blinded by Satan, and do not act like you just don't care. Let's not forget what the Lord Jesus said in John 10:10 (King James Version‬)

THE SOLUTION

If you must use the NIV, BUY and KEEP AN EARLIER VERSION OF the BIBLE. A Hard Copy cannot be updated. All these changes occur when they ask you to update the app. On your phone or laptop etc. Buy and KEEP EARLIER VERSIONS AND STORE THEM.

There is a crusade geared towards altering the Bible.


For the record, I often ignore such sensational forwards, and I would have done the same with this one but decided to check it out.
I already read some hidden agenda, thanks to this:

I'm sure you know that NIV was published by Zondervan but is now OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex.

We shall come to the Zondervan/Harper Collins twist in a bit...


Is Matthew 17:21 missing in the NIV Bible?


My Bible is the Devotional Study Bible, NIV Version. On the phone, I use the YouVersion Bible app. Following are my findings about the alleged omission of Matthew 17:21 and Matthew 18:11. You can try locate the others as outlined above.

At the end of Matthew 17:20 is superscript "b"
At the bottom of the page, is the following:

b20 Some manuscripts you. 21 But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.


That aside, this is is how Matthew 17:21 on the phone Bible app looks like.

ASV version:



 NIV version:


Now notice the small grey box with three dots after "impossible for you" at the end of verse 20.
When I did the same for Matthew 18:11, this is what happens...
Clicking on the grey box with the 3 dots reveals the following at Matthew 18:10:



And when you go to Luke 19:10, you see the verse that in other editions, is Matthew 18:11.


And this is how Matthew 18:10 looks like on the hard cover NIV Bible.


Notice the "a" superscript at the end of verse 10?
Looking at the footnotes at the bottom of the page, we find the "missing" Matthew 18:11 verse included. See below:


All said and done, you be the judge if the NIV Bible no longer has some verses.


The Zondervan Corporation, Harper Collins Situation


Back to the original forwarded message above, we learn that The Zondervan Corporation is owned by Harper Collins. This is true, as reported here and here.

The company was bought by HarperCollins, a division of News Corp, in 1988, and is the company's principal Christian book publishing division. Scott Macdonald was appointed President and CEO in May 2011.

This change of hands together with other acquisitions by Harper Collins was widely discussed in Christian circles, and Zondervan Corporation through spokeswoman Tara Powers did find it necessary to issue a statement that said in part,

"This does not present an ethical dilemma for Zondervan as we will continue to operate with autonomy as we always have...

“While we are obviously aware of the matter at hand, it does not distract or detract from our work at hand and we will continue to pursue our mission and operate as we have for the past 80 years."


My argument in regard to who owns Zondervan Corporation will comprise two important facts:

[1] We have choice

Harper Collins does have its reasons for acquiring these Christian publishers. I do not hold their brief and so wouldn't delve into the why and why not. That is not my business. Both Zondervan and Harper Collins got into negotiations and made choices and business decisions that work for them.

Should I feel that I no longer like my NIV Bible because of Harper Collins and whatever else this company publishes, then I have ever right to exercise choice and stop using their products (e.g. the NIV Bible). Nobody is holding a gun to anyone's head

There are so many versions of the Bible readily available, and we are all free to  read whatever version we feel is genuinely unadulterated.

[2] We are all not the same

The fact that I do not like what gays do does not give me any right to stop them from publishing their books. They have an equal right to read whatever rocks their boat, the same way I have every right to read my Bible or any other book that I would like to.

In the course of my discourse with my friend, I pointed out that Adolf Hitler's Mien Kampf is one of the most disturbing and hate-filled books I have ever read. It however remains in circulation despite it's controversial content. The reason is simple: Hitler had every right to publish that book, and whoever opts to read it also has an equal right to do so.

We are different people with varying tastes. It is for this reason that some are Muslims, others are atheists while others are agnostic.
That I don't like what some person else is, believes, says, reads or does should in no way be a reason to consider them foolish, lacking in common sense or lost.

We should all learn to appreciate that it is our differences that unite us. We do not have to like a lot of the things that we do not agree with. But we have a duty to respect and accommodate people, situations, views, things and opinions that differ from our own.


Finally, the last comment on this blog post takes us right back to the forward upon which this post is based.
Take time and read the 17 comments above fati's comment. Then you be the judge.


* * *

There's this song by Nicole C Mullen, about how different we can be and yet still be the same. Here is a live performance video, but the sound is quite bad and so I'll embed the following, titled White, Black, Tan.
The song has a very interesting introduction. Check it out and enjoy!







Monday, July 6, 2015

The Sound of Silence

"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers [and sisters].
The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them….
Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers [and sisters] for what they are, not for what they say."

- Thomas Merton.



Every once in a while, those close to and in touch with me experience something that greatly baffles them.

I simply disappear for days or weeks. No calls, sms, chats... etc.
I then suddenly materialize, seemingly from ether.

In this post, I'll try to explain why this is, and even more important, why I have come to embrace and now have absolutely no problem with this most uncommon of happenings.
I do realize it is necessary. At least to me, as weird as you may find it.


Solitude

That I still live alone is not an accident. It is deliberate.
You see, I learnt from an earlier time to make the most of time alone. And no, I have never been incarcerated.Some of my other reasons are beyond the scope of this post. But here is a hint.

Back in High School, I revelled in solitude. I would often go to the classrooms during weekends, not to read the prescribed stuff (Math, English, Chemistry etc) but novels and other random reads such as this book I chanced upon in the school library. It is still a top favorite.


Reading thus became the one thing I totally loved to do, and still is.

The same thing continued in college, where I became even more averse to crowds. The JKUAT library, plus my room were hideouts I spent hours reading Psychology books, history books and other random titles.

In my Senior years, the Microsoft Encarta was an amazing companion on my desktop.

Being alone often means loneliness to many people. The two are not to be mistaken. According to May Sarton:

Loneliness is the poverty of self,
Solitude is the richness of self.

To me, solitude is that time you can be with truly authentic company - yourself.


Silence

It is only in silence that you get to hear things really well. As a writer, there are times when it becomes necessary to switch off the radio and work in silence. All I get to hear is the natural sounds of birds chirping outside.

Writing is a very personal affair, and given that it demands a lot of reading, time spent alone and in silence creates a most conducive environment for the two engagements.

Silence is also necessary when one wants to reflect and simply listen to what can only be heard sans external distractions.


Wherefore art thou, Pete?

Back to the crux of this post... why do I disappear every once in a while?

The honest answer is that it just happens. I get to this point where I need to be with myself again. So I switch off the phone, disconnect from social networks and retreat to my den to enjoy my own company.

At times, it is a consequence of, and coincidental to those days when I want to have a moment to myself, to have a conversation with me a la Macy Gray.
It is at such times that I do a searching and fearless moral inventory of my life. During this time when reflection is paramount, when rejuvenation is essential, external influences are most undesirable and therefore kept at bay.

The only drawback to all this is that some people, those who really care and relish engaging me, find it insensitive on my part to simply disappear and then suddenly come back... all without explanation.

I have no idea when I will next be drawn to silence and solitude. I can only hope that it doesn't end up consuming me, as a moth is by a flaming light.
Currently, I am happy that these episodes make me a better person. The hardest thing upon my return is explaining to loved ones that my disappearance had nothing to do with them, that it is for the greater good.

It is my hope that this post somewhat explains this uncommon phenomenon.



* * *

It becomes necessary at times to get away from the noise and haste, and actually take time to live. To live a life without all the pressure and distractions that modern society imposes on us.

Taking time to listen to one's heart presents a moment of clarity and an opportunity to reflect and rejuvenate. The sound of silence is the one thing you can never miss!






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