Only protecting my own

Written by Suraj Shah.

When trouble’s brewing in your neighbourhood, what’s the first thing you do?

Mayhem has kicked off in London and across the UK. Riots are taking place, shops are being looted, buildings are set alight and innocent people are getting hurt.

Business owners have suffered great financial loss, through damage done to their property, goods stolen and loss of trade.

Families, the elderly and the vulnerable are terrified about the damage done in the world around them. They are scared about the harm that may come to them and those close to them.

Communities are shocked that their own locals are doing so much damage to their neighbourhood.

Reports say it’s the poor fighting against the rich. I say it’s the deluded battling with themselves.

As news reports roll though announcing trouble that has erupted, with security forces deployed, and total confusion about the cause of the riots, there is immediately one question on everybody’s mind:

“How will this affect me?”

Will I be in any danger? Will my family be ok? Will my friends stay safe? Is my house ok? Is my shop ok? Can I still get home from work or will the roads be blocked off?

We contact our wives and husbands and children and parents. We check with our neighbours that our homes and possessions are ok. We frantically scour the news reports to see how widespread the riots are, and whether we or our loved ones are likely to be affected.

Less thought is given to all the people suffering due to the riots – the victims and indeed the rioters themselves.

We tend only to focus on looking out for and protecting our own – those we consider as “me” and “mine”.

Looking beyond ourselves

However, once we are satisfied that we are ok and our own people and possessions are ok, then, and only then do we give consideration to how others in the community are, and whether they or those important to them have been affected in some way. Or do we…?

Hiding from the truth

The truth is that we tend not to care much about those people and things that we don’t have a strong relationship with. We hide behind fake sentiments and insensitive jokes. We try to create disconnection and escape from the graveness of the situation. We busy ourselves in our work and mundane worldly matters, hoping that we are not affected by the situation in any way.

This is real

There’s no hiding from it. This is real. What’s happening in the world around us is real. It’s on our doorstep, and we must face it with eyes open wide. Yes, we need to protect our family and those who depend on us. Yes, we also need to care for the well being of our neighbours and those in our communities. At the end of the day, we need to care for one another, with true friendship, for everyone.

Forgiveness settles anger

Friendship, true friendship, cultivates a sense of care for all living beings. It reduces the worry about our own possessions and relationships, and enhances care for everyone and all things, all at once.

Friendship, true friendship, cultivates forgiveness. It brings downs our egos and expectations, and encourages more acceptance and understanding. It doesn’t allow for even a glimpse of spite, malice or revenge.  It wipes out anger and replaces it with peace.

By enhancing friendship with all those in the world around you, it helps you develop understanding, trust and a deeper connection with your local and global community.

How to enhance the quality of friendship

Enhancing friendship means we:

  1. Smile at everyone we meet, rather than ignore anyone who is looking for connection.
  2. Appreciate the qualities of those we come across rather than focus on their faults.
  3. Care for those who are facing difficulties, rather than insult them with “I told you so”.
  4. Adjust to other people’s actions rather than demand our way all the time.
  5. Listen intently to what is being said, rather than carry out our own internal chatter.
  6. Communicate words of positive encouragement rather than contribute to fault-finding.
  7. Immerse in the conversation and make them feel special, rather that it being all about “me, me, me”.

Enhancing friendship is more important now than it has ever been before.

What do you do to cultivate friendship within yourself?

(Photo courtesy of Andy Armstrong)

The ultimate mark of friendship

Written by Suraj Shah.

compassionate, straightforward, centred, fearless… a true friend.

They come, they go.
What makes the ultimate friend?

Takes me to true happiness.
That is the ultimate friend.

Points out my faults.
That is the ultimate friend.

Warns of the obstacles.
That is the ultimate friend.

Harbours no spite.
That is the ultimate friend.

Like a mother.
That is the ultimate friend.

Rises above the situations.
That is the ultimate friend.

Reminds me of impermanence.
That is the ultimate friend.

In birth, old age, death.
That is the ultimate friend.

(Photo courtesy of glassblower)

Brian Haw – purposefully stubborn to end innocent deaths

Written by Suraj Shah.

Love, Peace, Justice, Stop killing my kids.

For 10 years, peace campaigner Brian Haw sat firm in Parliament Square, helping London’s people, politicians and the global community at large increase awareness about the hundreds of people dying every day in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, killed as a result of greed, deluded fear and ignorance.

Brian didn’t want to stay away from his family for so long (his wife eventually divorced him), but he remained at his tent in Parliament Square, nomatter how much physical abuse he had to endure from drunks and thugs, endless harrassment from the police, or eviction attempts by Westminster Council.

Keen observers from around the world would film and photograph Brian and would ask how he slept. “Badly…”, he would respond, “how would you sleep if 200 babies were dying every day?” They fussed over how he ate (mostly chips and sugar-loaded coffee bought by people who visited him or were passing by). When he talked, he sounded tired… tired of people not taking responsibility for the inhumanness of their fellow man. (source: The Economist)

Regardless of how he slept, how he ate, how tired and worn he was, he would not move from his campaign spot in Parliament Square. However, in March 2011, a high court ruling by London’s mayor forced him to move his camp to the pavement. A few months later, Brian Haw died in Germany where he was receiving medical treatment for lung cancer.

In a tribute to the peace campaigner, a member of parliament noted: “Brian Haw’s 10 years of 24/7 protest in all weather against the futile wars in Iraq / Helmund deserves the nation’s thanks and admiration.”

Brian had lived in Worcestershire with his wife Kay and seven children before starting his protest in Parliament Square. he had said the children of Iraq and other countries were “every bit as valuable and worthy of love as my precious wife and children.” He added: “I want to go back to my own kids and look them in the face again, knowing that I’ve done all I can to try and save the children of Iraq and other countries who are dying because of my government’s unjust, amoral, fear – and money-driven policies.”

Can we take lessons of love, compassion, and firm resolution from Brian’s life? Can we see the world’s children as our own? How far do the qualities of friendship and compassion extend for each of us? What are we willing to do to speak on behalf of those facing violence and death due to our own ignorance?

(Photo courtesy of David Martyn Hunt)