Tuesday 9 December 2014

An IT Prayer

There's no doubt that many of us, certainly those reading this, would be lost without their internet connection. And IT generally brings us so many wonderful insights and ideas. But. It sure does challenge us at times! I've had all sorts of problems with my new PC which have severely tested both my patience . ..  and my faith.

It struck me that all this amazing technology needs a prayer of its own. So here's one I prepared earlier:

The IT Prayer

Oh Ascended Masters of Microsoft
Oh Angels of Apple and Adobe
Bring heaven to my virtual worlds

Oh cherubim of Chrome and the Clouds
Oh devas of Dropbox and deities of downloads
Bring Wisdom to my Web-site

Oh Gods of Google
Oh Alpha & Omega of Outlook & Office
Bring Peace to my PC

Oh Fairies of Firefox and Facebook
Oh seraphim of software
Bring Blessing to my Blogs



Tuesday 11 November 2014

The Wars we all Fight

Many years ago, there was a popular bumper-sticker in the UK:

Be Alert . . . Britain needs Lerts

I was reminded of this the other day whilst seeking the advice of my local computer shop: faced with a new PC I was re-installing all my favourite programs and, in downloading the Firefox browser had inadvertently also downloaded some ad-ware: persistent pop-up ads. We had agreed how alert we have to be for things that are not what they seem; how aware we need to be of potential deception and how ready to take decisive action against those with ulterior motives.

Whether it’s bullying from a colleague, aggressive door-to-door or telephone salesmen, IT based spams or scams, we are pretty much all exposed, day-in-day-out to individuals driven to get one over on us. Whether we like it or not, we have to be constantly on our guard against those for whom co-operation and compassion are alien concepts. If we were to look at the background of such individuals, at their upbringing, we would probably find reasons galore for their attitudes and behavior. There may be selfish genes at work, but it is almost certainly conditioning and circumstances that have taken hold of the ‘survival of the fittest’ motivation and run with it. They probably had little choice. In the same circumstances we, you or I, may have done the same.

But, as any fan of Disney or Pixar animations will affirm, it is possible to overcome the tyrant, the evil witch . . . or their real-life equivalent, whatever form they may take: physical or virtual. Courage and compassion, we know, deep down, will win out in the end. Somehow we have to be a-lert to cunning plans, aware of selfish intent and stand-up for the greater good. It’s often not easy, but we owe it to those who have given their lives for such causes.

On this Remembrance Day, as we reflect on the courage and sacrifice of those who have had to fight real, physical wars, we might ask ‘how can we best show our respect, solidarity and gratitude?’ By being alert, by showing compassion; by being firm . . . . but kind.

Keith Beasley: www.onereality.co.uk

Key words: remembrance, war, compassion, spam, scam, ad-ware, love, respect, solidarity, courage, alert, aware, Firefox, pop-ups, ads

Friday 1 August 2014

A Transcendent Read

Review of Men at Arms: A Discworld Novel: 14 (by Terry Pratchett)

Pratchett’s Discworld novels are always an excellent read (we rely on them to help us through long train and plane journeys) and this is one of the best. With Ankh-Morpork threatened by a magic super-weapon (which the wizards have nothing to do with) so the eccentric yet believable Watch save the day. With Carrot, the 6’ 6” dwarf, courting and his boss, Vimes, getting married into the gentry, duty still comes first. 

Light yet deep, this Discworld volume, perhaps more than others explores so many real-life issues with insight and awareness. You think we, in human society, have problems with ethnic issues? Try adding trolls, dwarfs and werewolves to the mix! And what about this: wolf + human = dog. Fascinating.

As I laughed and cried reading Men At Arms, I wasn’t consciously thinking of the parallels between Discworld and Earth, but my mind was inevitably making them . . .and I smiled even more! Thinking of studying sociology or psychology? You might learn just as much reading Pratchett  . . . and probably have more fun in the process.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

To Be a Pilgrim

As I write this, soccer fans from all over the globe will have just returned home from their pilgrimage to the World Cup in Brazil, Tennis fans will be reliving their pilgrimage to Wimbledon and Cricket fans are at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Committed gardeners will be planning their pilgrimage to next year’s Chelsea Flower Show. It is not just religious faiths that have pilgrimages: but what is it that makes a good one? 

What sporting, religious and any other pilgrimage have in common is that they are journeys to somewhere meaningful to the pilgrim; they are a special, usually long-distance, trek to somewhere or something that it beyond the ordinary. Pilgrimages are about stepping outside our daily existence, giving ourselves the opportunity to experience this particular journey with more depth, more meaning that we would normally engage with life. Given how routine and ordinary day-to-day worlds tend to be, probably explains why so many individuals choose to make a pilgrimage at least once in their life. It is a personal quest, a commitment as much to oneself as to whatever our end-point is.

And, in good paradoxical manner, pilgrimages are also about companionship: they are shared journeys with companions who share the passion and intent of this particular journey – be it  a world championship or sacred shrine. Through common commitment and interest a pilgrimage enables each individual to feel what it is like to be part of a collective: that unique sense of being part of something greater than oneself.

Pilgrimages also, by their nature, tend to be long journeys lasting many days, weeks or even months. Often over unknown and difficult terrain they test our resourcefulness, patience, courage and faith. As such, the real journey of a pilgrimage is a ‘journey to self’, an opportunity to find out what we can do . . . when freed from life’s routine. How do we cope with the back-pack or throbbing blisters that threaten the enjoyment of the process? On a pilgrimage there is no turning back, no denial of such pains: but an honest facing of the realities of the moment, be it whilst lost and alone on a deserted mountain . . . or during a profound moment of bliss  . . . as you feel at one with your fellow pilgrims.