As a writer, am I not expected to have a book club? My READER’S CLUB enables me to share with you all the books, articles, journals etc that I am currently reading. I will also share the theme and how it is changing my life. What I learnt from the material and what I will do differently after the material. I will bring you guys in on all the fun. You ll love reading even more than ever before
Why It Is Crucial For Us To Fight Poverty Rather Than Terrorism. “Terrorism’s Fertile Ground” By KENNEDY ODEDE
NAIROBI, Kenya — Terrorism is a global reality, and for me as a Kenyan, this struck close to home in September with the siege of the Westgate mall. Yet in many ways, growing up in Nairobi I was always in the midst of terror. As a boy living in extreme poverty in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, I learned early on that I was disposable, that human life is not equally valued. Life expectancy in Kibera is estimated at 30 years, compared with 64 in the rest of Kenya and 70 worldwide. In Kibera, people are desensitized to death. Living is understood to be the exception.
I am 29 years old — on the threshold of a new decade of life. All my close friends from childhood, save for two, were robbed of this experience. Some took risks to feed their families; for stealing bread or charcoal, they were shot by the police. Others, who worked for as little as $1 per day, fell from construction sites or burned in factory fires. Still others perished in the violence after the 2007 election. Violence and loss became part of day-to-day life.
These are more than singular tragedies; they contribute to the psyche of being poor. This psyche inculcates hopelessness, dispels a belief in the possibility of tomorrow’s being better than today, compels a resignation to the fact that you may suffer the same tragic fate as your peers, and fuels anger because there is no escape and you did not choose this — you simply drew life’s short straw.
This, perhaps, is terrorism’s fertile ground. Because if you grew up as I did, self-protection requires coming to terms with violence and terror. Violence becomes a vehicle of survival. My friend Boi was 16 when he joined a gang with the goal of supporting his mother and sister. If stealing or fighting was the only way, he was ready. In the end, he was shot dead.
An environment in which you cannot get a job despite ability, ambition and persistence fosters anger. My friend James and I used to leave the slum together each morning to look for work as day laborers. We always hoped we’d be lucky, only to be told “not today” — day after day after day. Then one day, James and I got construction jobs. While carrying heavy stones, two of James’s fingers were crushed. He was not compensated and was out of work for more than two years. Later, James caught another break and got a job as a security guard at an upper-class estate. The estate was robbed, and James was fired and never paid.
Something broke in James. In the constant degradation he saw that for people like us there was no justice. He joined a local group infamous for terrorizing the community, robbing and stealing. James was ready to die, willing to do anything to provide what he could for his family. Today, this world of violence and uncertainty remains his reality.
News reports inform us that Kenya’s slums are ripe for terrorist recruitment. No one is born a terrorist. But being paid a reported $1,000 to undergo militant training in Somalia is more than enough financial incentive; the young people in Nairobi’s slums are accustomed to taking risks that pay far less.
A 2011 study in the Journal of Peace Research found that the perpetuation of Islamist extremism was more significantly associated with urban poverty than with variables like religiosity, lack of education and income dissatisfaction. The urban poor are so close to the city’s opportunities — but they always remain out of reach.
Given the link between urban poverty and terrorism, the best strategy to limit the power of militant groups to seduce recruits is to fight poverty, not terrorism. Instead of investing billions of dollars on drones, let’s focus on augmenting economic opportunities and providing basic and essential services like health care and education.
Every day, more and more people arrive in Nairobi, drawn by the hope of a better life, only to settle in slums. More than half of those living in Africa’s urban slums are between the ages of 15 and 24. Without access to education, this generation has little hope of escaping its straitened conditions. We must capture the potential of urban youth before they are led to believe that the path of violence is their only option.
Over the past few years, the Shabab, the Somali militant group that took credit for the Westgate massacre, has inflicted terror on the citizens of Kenya, throwing grenades into local bars, bus stations and villages near the border — places frequented by the poor and lower middle class. Only Westgate, however, garnered enormous international media attention. This was of course because of the scale of the tragedy, but also because of the affluent demographic it primarily affected.
Westgate was a place marked by economic prosperity, wholly inaccessible to so many, including those who might be recruited from Nairobi’s slums to undertake similar acts. As we condemn those who have carried out these heinous acts, so too must we condemn the systems that perpetuate extremism. We must install new systems of urban promise.
If we pursue an antiterrorism strategy based on tactical strikes, it will only further a cycle of violence. The perpetual sense of anger experienced in urban poverty will ensure that there are always new terrorist leaders to replace those who are killed. The war on terror can be won only through education, promise and real opportunities.
It is time to give young men like my friends, and like those today living in urban slums, hope. That is the only way to end the violence that preys on our cities’ most vulnerable.
Kennedy Odede is the founder and chief executive of Shining Hope for Communities, a social services organization, and a 2013 New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Just the way it was published on oprah.com. I didn’t add a word. Love me some Oprah though.
Sixty. I’m turning 60 this month! I’m so glad I’ve lived long enough to say those words and celebrate their meaning.
I’m turning 60. I’m alive. Healthy. Strong.
I’m turning 60, and—please don’t take offense—I no longer have to be concerned about what anyone thinks of me! (You know, the old Am I doing it right? Am I saying it right? Am I being what or who I’m “supposed” to be?) I’m turning 60, and I’ve earned the right to be just as I am. I’m more secure in being myself than I’ve ever been.
I have reached the moment Derek Walcott describes in his beautiful poem “Love After Love”: “…with elation / you will greet yourself arriving / at your own door, in your own mirror / and each will smile at the other’s welcome.”
I am in awe of the way my journey here on earth continues to unfold. My life has been marked by miracles for as long as I can recall—and even before. (My entire existence is the result of a onetime frolic under an oak tree.) My early days speaking in a Mississippi Methodist church—Baptist leanings, shoutin’, and Holy Ghost included—prepared me for a future of speaking in a public arena I could never have imagined.
And now, at 60, I simply want to share what I’ve been given. I want to continue to encourage as many people as I can to open their hearts to life, because if I know anything for sure, it’s that opening my own heart is what has brought me my greatest success and joy.
My highest achievement: never shutting my heart down. Even in my darkest moments—through sexual abuse, a pregnancy at 14, lies and betrayals—I remained faithful, hopeful, and open to seeing the best in people, regardless of whether they were showing me their worst. I stayed open to believing that no matter how hard the climb, there is always a way to let in a sliver of light to illuminate the path forward.
We go through life discovering the truth about who we are and determining who has earned the right to share the personal space within our heart.
This I also know for sure: God—however you define or refer to Him, Her, or It—is for us. The forces of nature are for us, offering us life in abundance. We humans narrow what is an open field of wonder and majesty to the myopic reality of our day-to-day experiences. But there is extraordinary in the ordinary. Every day and every breath is magic—if we can only see it for what it is.
Some days the awareness of the sanctity and sacredness of life brings me to my knees with gratitude. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that the little girl from Mississippi who grew up holding her nose in an outhouse now flies on her own plane—my own plane!—to Africa to help girls who grew up like her. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!
I approach this milestone, the landmark of 60, with humility, supreme thanksgiving, and joy. Knowing for sure grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
Love and abundance for all.
Opens the heart chakra–activating peace, harmony, and love.
“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” —His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Welcome to the bonus day of our 21-Day Meditation Experience. Today we offer a special guided meditation to ignite a ripple of peace and abundance out into the world.
We are all connected through pure consciousness, and the ebb and flow of pure potentiality envelops all of us. In today’s meditation, we will focus on that flow of giving and receiving, sharing our gifts and offering gratitude in return to enable everyone in the world an opportunity to benefit from this amazing journey.
Our centering thought for today is:
Love and abundance for all.
We look forward to sharing abundance with the world today.
Today as you enter the stillness and silence of meditation, hold the intention that everyone in the world will realize abundance. Consider the many gifts you have to offer and do so freely while accepting gifts from others with gratitude, love, and joy. In this way, we enter the dynamic flow of the universe and share the experience of pure Spirit with our fellow human beings around the globe.
My destiny is joy.
Om Bhavam Namah
I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman
Congratulations on completing this 21-day journey with us! We are delighted that you have ventured on this path to fulfill your destiny and experience abundant joy.
We hope that spending time in stillness each day has reawakened you to the thrill of being alive, the gratitude for everyone and everything you share this life with, and an understanding that a life of fulfillment and abundance is your birthright.
As you continue along this marvelous path of meditation, always remember that your true destiny is joy—for yourself and everyone around you.
Thank you for inviting us to travel this road with you. Namasté.
Continue to focus on the many people and things that bring you joy in this life. Your true destiny is bliss and joy, as it is for everyone around you. Spend time contemplating the many lessons you have learned on our journey together and see how they can help manifest joy in your life and in the lives of everyone you meet. As you make your way through your day today allow yourself to share your smile with others freely. Be the ripple of positivity and light that will change the world.
The world is waiting for my vision.
I am the universe.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
When we think of networking, we likely see ourselves at a cocktail party, handing out business cards, meeting new acquaintances, and sharing a little bit about ourselves. But networking from a spiritual perspective is something quite different.
As we spend more time in stillness and align ourselves with intuition, we understand our roles as visionaries and are eager to connect with everyone around us in an entirely new way. Instead of “getting out there” in order to make something happen, we embrace opportunities to venture out because we want to meet new people, experience things we have never done before, and share what we have learned with everyone we meet.
All of us are visionaries with something to share. Connecting fulfills us and enables us to help others find fulfillment as well.
Make a point today of reaching out to someone you have never had a conversation with before. For instance, there may be someone in your office to whom you’ve offered a polite greeting every day but never learned his name. Take a few minutes and talk to this person; get to know him or her and share something about yourself. Notice how much richer your life feels after you have enjoyed this person’s company.
Joy is my highest purpose.
Sat Chit Ananda
Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.
“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” Mother Teresa
Today we will spend time reconnecting with our true bliss, that part of ourselves that many of us will best remember from childhood. Think about what it was that brought you the greatest joy, that made time fly, and that you could do forever without a care in the world. That is bliss.
While our childhoods may be behind us, our opportunity to reconnect with our bliss is right in front of us, ours for the taking. When we find ourselves engaged in the activities and with the people who make our hearts sing, we are grounded in the present and deeply connected to pure Spirit.
Spend a moment today connecting with bliss in an everyday moment. When you are eating a meal or taking a shower, practice acute mindfulness and allow yourself to experience this activity with all of your senses. Do this as slowly as you can, delighting in the smells, tastes, textures, colors, and sounds. What do you notice? Note how you feel after you spent time in this way. How does bliss feel in your body?
I play. I create. I succeed.
Om Bhavam Namah
I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice
will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh
How often have you had the experience of struggling to remember a person’s name only to have the name effortlessly revealed to you when you were engaged in something entirely different? The same thing happens when we wrestle with our minds for ideas or solutions. Once we let the challenge go and engage in something that frees our minds, the lightning bolt strikes!
This is the value of play. Play opens the pathways for creativity to flow freely. When we are engaged in play, we connect with the heart, rather than leading with our minds. As we access the essence of pure potentiality, transformative ideas and solutions come to us spontaneously, and we are boundlessly creative.
Take some time today to engage in a playful activity that you really enjoy. Challenge some colleagues to a pickup basketball game at lunch or after work. Walk with your friends, or dip your feet into the office-park fountain. Whatever you choose to do, allow yourself to enjoy the freedom of playfulness and notice what unfolds.
I embrace the teacher within.
Om Varunam Namah
My life is in harmony with the universe.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Albert Einstein
Think about the people and experiences that truly inspire you. What is it about them that makes you feel this way? For many of us, we are inspired when we feel something we have never felt before. We feel uplifted when we gain a new insight that changes our perspective completely and when we learn something new that forever transforms us.
Each of us has that power to inspire another. Within all of us lies a wonderful teacher, a soul that greatly inspires others to seek the highest good and to engage fully in life, merely by expressing your authentic self. Embrace that inner teacher and know that you have something very valuable to offer everyone around you. Share your lessons freely and receive wisdom from others with openness, joy, and love.
Today recall a teacher who really inspired you. Perhaps this individual was a person who taught in a classroom, but perhaps it was someone else—a grandparent, a neighbor, or an athletic coach. Take time today to reflect on the ways that this person transformed how you saw the world, then without over-thinking it, consider how you can offer something of yourself to others so that they too can be inspired.
Bliss be my guide.
Om Varunam Namah
My life is in harmony with the universe.
“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”
The expansion of happiness in this lifetime is our birthright. Finding what it is we are meant to do and be and identifying that which brings us the greatest happiness is our highest purpose in life. This is our dharma, our truth and, our destiny. Each moment presents us with a unique opportunity to express ourselves in ways that only we can. When we answer the call of our heart in each moment, we have the opportunity to experience pure joy.
Today’s meditation explores what it means to live our lives blissfully in each moment, understanding that the true reward is not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the journey along the rainbow itself.
Allow the bliss of being who you are, living as the unique soul you were born to be, carry you along the path of this lifetime and you will be living your life to the fullest.
Today make a commitment to be who you really are and choose one thing that allows you to express yourself in a way that is like no one else. Sing a song. Paint a painting. Share a heartfelt conversation with a dear friend. Whatever it is that makes your heart sing, choose to engage in one activity that is uniquely yours and enjoy where the journey leads you!
How Can I Serve?
Serving others serves me.
Om Vardhanam Namah
I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Today we delve more deeply into what it means to be of service. When we serve others from a place of love, we are also serving ourselves.
For many of us, when we think of service, we envision great feats, sacrifices, large philanthropic donations, and other grand gestures. While service can be all those things, service can be much more accessible in our daily lives. Giving to others through service is simply recognizing what you do best in any given moment and offering that as a gift to someone else. For instance, in this moment, you may be sitting in a coffee shop across from someone who looks like she could really use a warm smile and, in this moment, you offer a smile in service to brighten her day. Giving can be that simple.
Think about how good you feel when you give someone a gift in this way and notice how serving someone else is a gift to yourself as well.
Let today be your day to share random acts of kindness with generosity and joy. If you encounter someone in need offer a gift from the heart, be it a kind word, a joke, or a cup of tea. Hold the door open for someone, just because. Call a friend and share a kind word. When you are engaged in activity, give your full attention to it, knowing that when you are fully present, you are doing something with love and serving the world with your time and talent. Enjoy the energy that comes back to you as you walk through each moment with a giving and caring heart.
Gratitude is my prayer.
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” Maya Angelou
Congratulations on completing the first two weeks of our 21-Day Meditation Experience! Spending time in silence is an act of powerful self-nurturance. Through meditation, you are connecting more deeply with your heart, understanding its desires, and clearing a path to realize your dreams.
Today’s meditation focuses on gratitude. When we appreciate all that we have in life, our egos step out of the way, inviting even greater abundance into our lives.
Practicing gratitude for our lives as human beings – for the air we breathe, for our magnificent bodies, and the beauty of being alive – is a wonderful place to start. From this point of view, we can expand our gratitude outward, like ripples in a still pond, appreciating everything and everyone we encounter and those who touch our lives as well.
Set the intention to greet each moment of the day in gratitude. As each encounter and situation crosses your path take time to pay attention to all of the things that you can be grateful for in the moment. May you cultivate the spirit of gratitude with effortless ease and enthusiasm, for as you do so you transform your world.
I believe. I trust. I let go.
Om Bhavam Namah
I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings
When we hold tightly to a goal, we often find it to be elusive. We may say to ourselves, “I want this so badly. I can see my goal. Why can’t I reach it?” The answer lies within the fine art and practice of detachment.
As we detach from the outcome of whatever we desire, we let go and gently surrender to the wisdom of uncertainty, which holds our freedom from the past, the known, and the limitations of any preconceived notions. In our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we give ourselves over to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe, trusting that what we desire will come to us.
Take time today to explore the thoughts, feelings, and sensations connected to your experience of letting go. As you travel through the day, practice the fine art of detachment and let life flow. Invite yourself to shift your approach perhaps taking a different route as you make your way to work or school or by staying calm when you might otherwise not. Tune into what it feels like to let go; practice over and over today and see how your body, mind, and spirit begin to shift.