Erenlai - Daring to Take Risks 勇於冒險
Daring to Take Risks 勇於冒險

Daring to Take Risks 勇於冒險

True wisdom helps us to take risks… True wisdom weighs the risks and shows us how to face them.Here is advice and experiences that will help you to decide when to take risks and how to survive them. An alternative cookbook for success!

有趣的人生不是多少冒點險的呢?我們活在這世上的短短數十年裡,你是隨時迎向挑戰,還是躲在安全的框架中希望人生就此一帆風順呢?帶著冒險精神生活是需要智慧跟勇氣的!

 

 

 

Friday, 28 March 2008

如何成功执政?

2008台湾总统大选由马英九胜选。
大选过后,中央、地方、立院几乎都掌握在国民党手中。
国民党切莫遗忘人民自由,如言论自由、媒体自由、新闻自由…

魏明德 撰文

马英九的胜利并不出人意外。然而,新总统拿到胜利之后将做些什么,才是真正的问题所在。不管台湾居民投谁一票,都希望往后好运站在执政者这边,因为这块土地上的人需要愿景、动能、团结。接下来的四年如果失败,不将只是一个团队、一个党的挫败,而是整个台湾的失败。成功执政有其要求与条件,最好是能够条列出来,再说新总统将政见付诸行动分秒必争。舆论的评断取决于执政者的第一次行动,而成功执政的起始需要四个条件。
成功执政的第一个条件在于踏进一个新年代的决心,绝不能念旧或复旧。每个人似乎都在追讨这八年的政治缺失,但执政者也必须懂得接收过去的结果,重新出发。即将建立的政府团队不应该找过去年代的风云人物,不应该找党中大老,而应该任用有才能的年轻人,让新气候与新主意开创新台湾。
第二个条件随著第一个条件而来:如果政府团队清新而年轻,那将是一个懂得和解的团队。新政府应该扫除所有使人民分裂的障碍,尊重这几个月不同而多元的意见表达。当个尊重者、聆听者、聚合者,而且这不应该被当成空话或是口号。接下来的政治作为应以此为先,文化与教育层面的发展(凝聚人民认同)应以此为重,决策的制定与施行应以此为准。
我们接著谈第三个条件,那就是新团队必须重视市民、地方政府以及民间团体的参与。如今一党独大,中央、立法院与大部分地方政府被掌控在同一政党手中,这不能不说是一项隐忧。对于这项隐忧,新政府必须在讨论与协调的过程多付出心力,再统合大多数人的意见。新的政治风格若要形成,端赖新政府是否能够活络地方民主并鼓励市民参与。举例而言,台湾是资讯科技的天堂,而资讯科技提供的服务必须能够用来帮助民主革新。
坚持市民参与使我们看到成功执政的最后一个条件,落实新的生态与社会模式势在必行。新政府不能只想著经济成长率,最迫切的事在于质的提升与人性的成长。从这点看来,竞选期间两位候选人的言论尚不够令人信服。我们衷心期望执政者能带领台湾成为一个模范国家,实现社会和谐与环境和谐。如此一来,在国际社会上台湾将会被重视、被尊重、被聆听。
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附加的多媒体:
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Thursday, 27 March 2008

如何成功執政?

2008台灣總統大選由馬英九勝選。
大選過後,中央、地方、立院幾乎都掌握在國民黨手中。
國民黨切莫遺忘人民自由,如言論自由、媒體自由、新聞自由…
魏明德 撰文

馬英九的勝利並不出人意外。然而,新總統拿到勝利之後將做些什麼,才是真正的問題所在。不管台灣居民投誰一票,都希望往後好運站在執政者這邊,因為這塊土地上的人需要願景、動能、團結。接下來的四年如果失敗,不將只是一個團隊、一個黨的挫敗,而是整個台灣的失敗。成功執政有其要求與條件,最好是能夠條列出來,再說新總統將政見付諸行動分秒必爭。輿論的評斷取決於執政者的第一次行動,而成功執政的起始需要四個條件。
成功執政的第一個條件在於踏進一個新年代的決心,絕不能念舊或復舊。每個人似乎都在追討這八年的政治缺失,但執政者也必須懂得接收過去的結果,重新出發。即將建立的政府團隊不應該找過去年代的風雲人物,不應該找黨中大老,而應該任用有才能的年輕人,讓新氣候與新主意開創新台灣。
第二個條件隨著第一個條件而來:如果政府團隊清新而年輕,那將是一個懂得和解的團隊。新政府應該掃除所有使人民分裂的障礙,尊重這幾個月不同而多元的意見表達。當個尊重者、聆聽者、聚合者,而且這不應該被當成空話或是口號。接下來的政治作為應以此為先,文化與教育層面的發展(凝聚人民認同)應以此為重,決策的制定與施行應以此為準。
我們接著談第三個條件,那就是新團隊必須重視市民、地方政府以及民間團體的參與。如今一黨獨大,中央、立法院與大部分地方政府被掌控在同一政黨手中,這不能不說是一項隱憂。對於這項隱憂,新政府必須在討論與協調的過程多付出心力,再統合大多數人的意見。新的政治風格若要形成,端賴新政府是否能夠活絡地方民主並鼓勵市民參與。舉例而言,台灣是資訊科技的天堂,而資訊科技提供的服務必須能夠用來幫助民主革新。
堅持市民參與使我們看到成功執政的最後一個條件,落實新的生態與社會模式勢在必行。新政府不能只想著經濟成長率,最迫切的事在於質的提升與人性的成長。從這點看來,競選期間兩位候選人的言論尚不夠令人信服。我們衷心期望執政者能帶領台灣成為一個模範國家,實現社會和諧與環境和諧。如此一來,在國際社會上台灣將會被重視、被尊重、被聆聽。
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

游牧记忆的所在

【游牧记忆─康巴的艺术体验】双人联展活动侧记
蔡玫芳 撰文

在记不清起点为何的因缘际会下,「人籁论辨月刊」的总编辑魏明德(也是『游牧记忆』中笔名笨笃的游牧人)遇见了蒙藏基金会的郭玉琴秘书长,两人的相遇相知,催生了这次在蒙藏文化中心为期五十天的【游牧记忆─康巴的艺术体验】双人联展……蒙藏文化中心是我们串起游牧记忆的所在。

游牧记忆之串起与散落

游牧人,记忆从这一段流浪到那一段,段段相连,拼成了生命拼图的全貌。幸好,拼块组合的方式不一,组合的形式万化,而且可以重新切块……

2007年12月28日,游牧人的生命拼图增加了一块:透过蒙藏委员会与蒙藏基金会的支持协助,游牧人的记忆得以让外界进一步地来探索;游牧人那颗忐忑不安的心,却在进入蒙藏文化中心的一刹那间得以抚平,如此似曾相识、熟悉的物品、景象、氛围……游牧人于是打开了心防,尽情地挥洒、徜徉,好像又回到了记忆中那片草原,游牧人笑开怀了。

游牧人,记忆随著影像、言语、韵律、香气、味道而飘游、丰厚,记忆会将它们重新洗牌、组合。在草原和山巅之间,在重新出发的时刻,记忆沉淀片刻,由此创作新的图文。

这回,有了徐主任的细心随和、郭秘书长的爽朗亲切、美惠的热心、奕旭的协调,以及其他工作人员的全力配合……游牧人知道,这里的每一位都与他站在这山边,大家愉快地谈著、笑著种种属于你和我的一切,这一段尚未成为过去的点点滴滴却早已在游牧人心中化为美好的记忆。

游牧人,记忆会哭、会笑;记忆会彼此吓唬、相互安慰。我任由记忆的节奏摇摆,就像把自己托付给一匹马儿--马儿有时发呆,不怎么赶路,有时奔驰如飞。

2008年1月5日,到了向所有人娓娓道来春夏秋冬的记忆之际,游牧人却在前一晚失眠了。来自四面八方的人涌进,游牧人不知所措,游牧人想逃回记忆中最深处。所幸,有了陈式武委员的引导,他的话语鼓舞了游牧人,接著听到郭秘书长熟悉爽朗的笑声,游牧人不再犹豫,虽非活力十足却愉悦地细诉著这组生命拼图的心路历程,说著说著,他彷佛又回到了每个曾经流连忘返的场景,从这里走到那里、从那里回到这里,游牧人兴高采烈地告诉所有人他的心情点滴、喜怒哀乐,引导大家进入了游牧记忆中,在那里,我们说著相同的语言,一起听著耳边呼啸的风声,远眺一望无际的高山……他感谢在生命的拼图中寻到了这拼块,让他看到原来记忆也可以这样组合、这样完成,他更加期待下次这同样的拼块也能摆放在不一样的位置,再造就出令人眼睛一亮的不同生命图案!

游牧人,游牧记忆。游伴在我耳旁悄悄说话,呢喃说著永远更新的誓言。

共享游牧记忆
2008年1月18日,蒙藏委员会许委员长风尘仆仆抵达展场,心有所感地在一幅名为「格萨尔王」的画作前停驻思忖……虽然游牧人未能亲自为委员长解说,两人却已透过画作进行了心灵层次上的深度交流;对这难得的缘分,游牧人不假思索地捐出「格萨尔王」画作,希望能成为蒙藏文化中心永久之收藏,让大家共同来分享这段「游牧记忆」。
最后,「人籁论辨月刊」全体工作人员衷心感谢蒙藏委员会、蒙藏基金会的支持,首次合作如此愉快,无论是展览或者开幕酒会都进行地十分圆满,我们欣喜在文化推动上遇见了有志一同的好友,愿未来能再迸出另一段文化结合的绚丽火花 !

【游牧地:康巴王国】

康巴,或者说是东藏,与安多(北藏)、西藏本区构成藏区三大地理区。今日,康巴分布于四川甘孜、阿巴、云南北部边境以及青海南部。过去,康巴地区居民的认同感来自达赖喇摩的精神领导,政治上分成众多的小王国,甚至曾被认为是没有国家的社会。
本展览展出笨笃水墨画与数位化作品,以及梁准的摄影作品。他们两人同在藏区高地,在极端奇谲的地理天候下,撷取神话、梦想与苦痛的渊泉。两人的作品聚焦在三个地方:一是理塘寺院,海拔四千四百公尺;一是木里,彝族与藏族的交界,曾是神权统治的王国;一是石渠,四川省海拔最高、面积最大、位置最偏远的一个县。石渠含氧量只有平原地区的46%,世界上最长的史诗——《格萨尔王传》发祥于此,《格萨尔》是世界上最长的一部活形态史诗,由藏族人民集体创作,氏族、部落、部族和民族之间的战争是格萨尔故事的源头;石渠草原深处藏著一座完全用一块块刻满佛教经文、六字真言和佛像的嘛呢石刻垒砌起来的嘛呢石城——松格嘛呢石经城,全长四千五百六十公尺。

【游牧人:笨笃与梁准】

水墨画家与数位画创作者
【笨笃】
笨笃是魏明德(Benoît Vermander)的笔名。1993年,他在辅仁大学举办第一场书法作品展,之后陆续在北京中国美术馆、四川美术馆、成都画院、旧金山大学、欧洲议会(史特拉斯堡)、土鲁斯、香港光华中心、南韩釜山大学等地举办水墨画展。画册有《天路历程》、《夜搏:笨笃中法诗画集》《笨笃图解创世纪》、《圣所何在》等作品。
魏明德是法国籍耶稣会士,一九九二年来到台湾。现任台北利氏学社主任,《人籁论辨月刊》总编辑,人籁网址为www.erenlai.com。来台后他专注和平研究与少数民族研究,特别是彝族宗教仪式田野调查,出版《驱鬼经》等相关著作。

成都摄影家
【梁准】
出生于广州,1989年转向研究西南少数民族,至四川成都发展定居。现任中国国家高级摄影师,并在成都几所大学教授摄影学。她长期致力于民族原生态民风民俗的摄影与纪录,除了康巴藏区之外,还包括羌族、苗族、白族、傣族、回族等各族。作品多次参展并获奖:文学暨摄影作品发表于《中国民族》英文版、《民族》、《中国西部》等杂志,散文曾收入「当代四川散文大观」,并与他人合著《香格里拉之魂》一书。
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附加的多媒体:
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Monday, 25 February 2008

遊牧記憶的所在

【遊牧記憶─康巴的藝術體驗】雙人聯展活動側記
蔡玫芳 撰文

在記不清起點為何的因緣際會下,「人籟論辨月刊」的總編輯魏明德(也是『遊牧記憶』中筆名笨篤的遊牧人)遇見了蒙藏基金會的郭玉琴秘書長,兩人的相遇相知,催生了這次在蒙藏文化中心為期五十天的【遊牧記憶─康巴的藝術體驗】雙人聯展……蒙藏文化中心是我們串起遊牧記憶的所在。

遊牧記憶之串起與散落

遊牧人,記憶從這一段流浪到那一段,段段相連,拼成了生命拼圖的全貌。幸好,拼塊組合的方式不一,組合的形式萬化,而且可以重新切塊……

2007年12月28日,遊牧人的生命拼圖增加了一塊:透過蒙藏委員會與蒙藏基金會的支持協助,遊牧人的記憶得以讓外界進一步地來探索;遊牧人那顆忐忑不安的心,卻在進入蒙藏文化中心的一剎那間得以撫平,如此似曾相識、熟悉的物品、景象、氛圍……遊牧人於是打開了心防,盡情地揮灑、徜徉,好像又回到了記憶中那片草原,遊牧人笑開懷了。

遊牧人,記憶隨著影像、言語、韻律、香氣、味道而飄遊、豐厚,記憶會將它們重新洗牌、組合。在草原和山巔之間,在重新出發的時刻,記憶沉澱片刻,由此創作新的圖文。

這回,有了徐主任的細心隨和、郭秘書長的爽朗親切、美惠的熱心、奕旭的協調,以及其他工作人員的全力配合……遊牧人知道,這裡的每一位都與他站在這山邊,大家愉快地談著、笑著種種屬於你和我的一切,這一段尚未成為過去的點點滴滴卻早已在遊牧人心中化為美好的記憶。

遊牧人,記憶會哭、會笑;記憶會彼此嚇唬、相互安慰。我任由記憶的節奏搖擺,就像把自己託付給一匹馬兒--馬兒有時發呆,不怎麼趕路,有時奔馳如飛。

2008年1月5日,到了向所有人娓娓道來春夏秋冬的記憶之際,遊牧人卻在前一晚失眠了。來自四面八方的人湧進,遊牧人不知所措,遊牧人想逃回記憶中最深處。所幸,有了陳式武委員的引導,他的話語鼓舞了遊牧人,接著聽到郭秘書長熟悉爽朗的笑聲,遊牧人不再猶豫,雖非活力十足卻愉悅地細訴著這組生命拼圖的心路歷程,說著說著,他彷彿又回到了每個曾經流連忘返的場景,從這裡走到那裡、從那裡回到這裡,遊牧人興高采烈地告訴所有人他的心情點滴、喜怒哀樂,引導大家進入了遊牧記憶中,在那裡,我們說著相同的語言,一起聽著耳邊呼嘯的風聲,遠眺一望無際的高山……他感謝在生命的拼圖中尋到了這拼塊,讓他看到原來記憶也可以這樣組合、這樣完成,他更加期待下次這同樣的拼塊也能擺放在不一樣的位置,再造就出令人眼睛一亮的不同生命圖案!

遊牧人,遊牧記憶。遊伴在我耳旁悄悄說話,呢喃說著永遠更新的誓言。

共享遊牧記憶
2008年1月18日,蒙藏委員會許委員長風塵僕僕抵達展場,心有所感地在一幅名為「格薩爾王」的畫作前停駐思忖……雖然遊牧人未能親自為委員長解說,兩人卻已透過畫作進行了心靈層次上的深度交流;對這難得的緣分,遊牧人不假思索地捐出「格薩爾王」畫作,希望能成為蒙藏文化中心永久之收藏,讓大家共同來分享這段「遊牧記憶」。
最後,「人籟論辨月刊」全體工作人員衷心感謝蒙藏委員會、蒙藏基金會的支持,首次合作如此愉快,無論是展覽或者開幕酒會都進行地十分圓滿,我們欣喜在文化推動上遇見了有志一同的好友,願未來能再迸出另一段文化結合的絢麗火花 !

【遊牧地:康巴王國】

康巴,或者說是東藏,與安多(北藏)、西藏本區構成藏區三大地理區。今日,康巴分布於四川甘孜、阿巴、雲南北部邊境以及青海南部。過去,康巴地區居民的認同感來自達賴喇摩的精神領導,政治上分成眾多的小王國,甚至曾被認為是沒有國家的社會。
本展覽展出笨篤水墨畫與數位化作品,以及梁准的攝影作品。他們兩人同在藏區高地,在極端奇譎的地理天候下,擷取神話、夢想與苦痛的淵泉。兩人的作品聚焦在三個地方:一是理塘寺院,海拔四千四百公尺;一是木里,彝族與藏族的交界,曾是神權統治的王國;一是石渠,四川省海拔最高、面積最大、位置最偏遠的一個縣。石渠含氧量只有平原地區的46%,世界上最長的史詩——《格薩爾王傳》發祥於此,《格薩爾》是世界上最長的一部活形態史詩,由藏族人民集體創作,氏族、部落、部族和民族之間的戰爭是格薩爾故事的源頭;石渠草原深處藏著一座完全用一塊塊刻滿佛教經文、六字真言和佛像的嘛呢石刻壘砌起來的嘛呢石城——松格嘛呢石經城,全長四千五百六十公尺。

【遊牧人:笨篤與梁准】

水墨畫家與數位畫創作者
【笨篤】
笨篤是魏明德(Benoît Vermander)的筆名。1993年,他在輔仁大學舉辦第一場書法作品展,之後陸續在北京中國美術館、四川美術館、成都畫院、舊金山大學、歐洲議會(史特拉斯堡)、土魯斯、香港光華中心、南韓釜山大學等地舉辦水墨畫展。畫冊有《天路歷程》、《夜搏:笨篤中法詩畫集》《笨篤圖解創世紀》、《聖所何在》等作品。
魏明德是法國籍耶穌會士,一九九二年來到台灣。現任台北利氏學社主任,《人籟論辨月刊》總編輯,人籟網址為www.erenlai.com。來台後他專注和平研究與少數民族研究,特別是彝族宗教儀式田野調查,出版《驅鬼經》等相關著作。

成都攝影家
【梁准】
出生於廣州,1989年轉向研究西南少數民族,至四川成都發展定居。現任中國國家高級攝影師,並在成都幾所大學教授攝影學。她長期致力於民族原生態民風民俗的攝影與紀錄,除了康巴藏區之外,還包括羌族、苗族、白族、傣族、回族等各族。作品多次參展並獲獎:文學暨攝影作品發表於《中國民族》英文版、《民族》、《中國西部》等雜誌,散文曾收入「當代四川散文大觀」,並與他人合著《香格里拉之魂》一書。
-----------------------------
訂閱人籟

附加的多媒體:
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Thursday, 31 January 2008

集中营后六十年

叶姿吟 声音

请您聆听著集中营幸存者侯兰德(Magda Hollander-Lafon)女士的见证,我们步履沉重地走入历史,翻开深埋灵魂深处的创痛,以存在的勇气,与历劫归来的人们共同面对宽恕的挑战。

全文请见【人籁论辨月刊第46期,2008年2月】

附加的多媒体:
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008

集中營後六十年

葉姿吟 聲音

請您聆聽著集中營倖存者侯蘭德(Magda Hollander-Lafon)女士的見證,我們步履沉重地走入歷史,翻開深埋靈魂深處的創痛,以存在的勇氣,與歷劫歸來的人們共同面對寬恕的挑戰。

全文請見【人籟論辨月刊第46期,2008年2月】

附加的多媒體:

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Monday, 17 December 2007

The other side of the moon

Have you ever wondered about what is on the other side of the moon? I haven’t. I just presume that it is as pockmarked and empty as the side we see. I have no desire to go and take a look. It is sure to be as terribly dark and cold as the front side is unbearably hot. I’m just not the adventurous type. I get nervous just watching dangerous scenes in a movie, to say nothing of enduring the perils of a rocket hurtling through space.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy looking at the moon and it doesn’t stop me from wondering why it doesn’t revolve on an axis like the earth so that we would see different parts of it instead of the same old face all the time. Does it have something to hide that it doesn’t want us to see? Or is it ashamed to let anyone find out there is nothing on the other side worth seeing? Actually, the moon is just a big hunk of rock with no feelings or thoughts. I feel sorry for it. It can never enjoy the pleasant views of earth that satellites show us.

There is one special characteristic of moons, namely, they don’t manufacture their own light. To shine, to be seen they need a sun somewhere to illuminate them. When the sunny side is not exposed, the moon disappears from sight. But we know it is still there. I wonder how many moons are out there we never see? Are they waiting for some passing sun or are they hoping that we will come by with our searchlights and inquisitive minds?

Now if you ask me if I would like to see the other side of a river or the other side of the country, I might take up your offer, because I like to travel and sightsee. But don’t ask me to climb a cliff or wander through a dense jungle full of poisonous snakes fighting off biting insects or soaked to the skin by an afternoon downpour. A safe, comfortable seat in the front of a car with a good unrestricted view is more my style. I don’t mind crowds or noise. I love to watch people and experience the hustle and bustle first hand.
Life is full of moons. Some are out of reach, so we just let them be. Some have mysteries and hidden sides that cry out for exploration. Some seem to draw us to them, so that we cannot rest until we have seen for ourselves what is on the other side. Some we are content to let others visit alone. Everyday is like an adventure on the face of the moon and every night is an excursion into its dark side. The only difference is that in the daytime we have the light provided for us and at nighttime we must provide the light ourselves.


Monday, 05 November 2007

Expecting the unexpected

Anyone who would like to do the best thing in the best possible way is faced with a terrible dilemma, namely, that there are as many opinions about what is best to do as there are people to say nothing about the fact that most people even have trouble agreeing on the best way to do it.  No matter how convinced you are that the only way to do something is to do it your way, there will be others who insist on doing it their way. No matter how right some people seem to be they almost always eventually do something that turns out wrong; and no matter how wrong some people seem to be, even they sometimes do something brilliantly right. The dilemma is, of course, when should I do it my way, in spite of what others say, or do it the other’s way, in spite of what I think?

Another fact of life we have to face is that no matter how well we prepare and anticipate possible problems, something will often go wrong anyway. The solution of our problem often causes problems for others. No matter how ready we are to handle the expected, the unexpected is sure to sometimes happen. The only way to expect the unexpected is to expect that when the unexpected happens we will manage to come up with some way of coping with it.  The best consolation and hope we have is the fact that some good things always seem to emerge from the bad things that happen.

Not long after President Eisenhower replaced President Truman in the White House, a crisis erupted in Hungary, when the Russian army invaded the country. For a while President Eisenhower seemed hesitant, not knowing what to do. Just about that time a reporter interviewed Mrs. Truman asking her what she thought her husband would have done. Without a moment’s hesitation she replied “He might not have done the best thing, but he would have done something.”

I think there is a good lesson in this for us. We don’t always have the luxury of research and planning. When something needs to be done, we just have to follow our instincts to accommodate the situation as we see it and act. Even an imperfect response is often better than no response at all. We just have to remember that we are not God. We can and do make mistakes. But in another way we are like God. As the saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” I would paraphrase it differently: ”To err is human, to correct one’s mistakes is divine.”

Here is a fable I wrote that illustrates these points.


WHICH KIND OF ANTHILLS IS BEST?

Once upon a time there was a colony of ants that constructed the highest anthill in the whole region. It towered over all the nearby anthills and its ants were very proud of their achievement and thought themselves far superior to all the other ants. This, of course, made some of the other ants so mad that they began to enlarge their own anthills building them taller and taller, each trying to surpass the others.

Some ants, however, refused to be intimidated and were quite satisfied with their average size anthills. “Let the other fellows, if they want, spend all their energies and resources on construction. We are perfectly content with what we have. Let’s take advantage of the situation and go out to gather more food and provisions while the others are busy building.”

And there were also some colonies that had just begun to establish themselves and their anthills were still quite small. “Let’s keep ourselves small,” declared their leaders. “Look at how hard those other anthills have to work to enlarge and maintain their structures. Does it really help them to eat and stay alive? I say let’s just go gather food and come back and enjoy ourselves.”

Thus it was that all the level plain of the region was soon filled with three kinds of anthills: there were the skyscrapers rising above all the others; there were the little low ones dwarfed by all the others; and then there were all those in between which were not as small as the small ones but not as big as the big ones.

Each kind thought it was the most fortunate. The tallest ones believed they were so big they had nothing to fear from bad weather or attacking anteaters. The middle-sized ones felt they were protected from the wind and rain by the skyscrapers around them and that anteaters, of course, would first attack the biggest anthills since there were so many more ants there to eat, which would give them time to escape. The lowest felt secure in the shadow of all the bigger ones around them and were sure that no anteater would bother with a little anthill when there were so many others around with so many more ants in them.

Then one day a terrible storm descended on the plain with lightning, hurricane-force winds and torrents of rain. The anthill that was originally the tallest and which had caused all the competition was lucky. Since it was no longer the highest, the lightning struck its neighbor instead frying all the ants inside. The anthills within the perimeter were indeed spared the worst effects of the wind and driving rain, but some of them were crushed and destroyed when the anthills open to the full brunt of the storm toppled over on top of them, because their wide walls weakened by the pounding rain were no longer any match for the powerful gusts of wind.

Then the floodwaters began to rise. The skyscrapers with their broad bases were least damaged. The average-sized were harder hit and many of the smallest were washed away, though some were saved by the piles of debris from the larger structures fallen down around them keeping the floodwaters away.

When the storm had passed and the damage assessed, it appeared that only half of the smallest, half of the middle-sized and half of the skyscraper anthills had survived. The rest were gone.

The ants who remained barely had a chance to clean up the mess, because they were soon attacked by a bunch of hungry anteaters. Some anteaters went straight to the biggest anthills knowing that there they would find the greatest number of ants. Others avoided the biggest anthills expecting that their thicker walls would make it harder to get to the ants, so they turned to the middle-sized hills where there were also plenty of ants. Finally, some anteaters made a beeline for the smallest anthills, which didn’t contain so many ants, but would be very easy to destroy.

Fortunately for the ants there were many more anthills than there were anteaters, so by the time the anteaters left half of the anthills remained untouched and there were enough inner chambers and subterranean chambers in those attacked that about half of the ants in them escaped harm.

When it was all over, the ants got together in a big meeting to decide what to do, but no matter how long they debated they could never agree on which size of anthill was safest and best. To this very day all over the world ants of every kind are still discussing this point without any solution in sight. Likewise, the anteaters still argue about which size of anthill is most efficiently attacked first. As for the weather, storms don’t talk to each other. The wind doesn’t consult the rain, the lightning ignores both wind and rain and the floods just come and go as they please.

There are lessons hidden here.

For every pro there is a con. Whoever wins, someone loses. Not everyone who goes comes back. Not everyone lost is found.

Lightning won’t strike twice is no consolation for the one stuck once.

Annihilating ants would only drive anteaters to eat something else.   Would you like to have that on your conscience?

If you want to annihilate anteaters because they eat ants, why stop there? What about all those humans who eat meat?

It’s OK to live in an anthill, if you are an ant. All others are strongly advised to live somewhere else.

No matter how safe you make something, there is always something unexpected that might happen. My poor friend had a terrible accident    when he tripped on the Safety Manual he wrote that had fallen on the floor.

No matter how well you prepare for an expected storm, it brings along something you didn’t expect.

Since you always expect the worst, why do you complain so much when it happens?

It’s a good thing that we have another life to look forward to, because we never know when this one is going to end.

We can’t always choose what is going to happen to us, but we can almost always choose what to do when it happens.

Any anthill is better than camping in the open just because you can’t decide what kind of anthill you want.

It’s not the kind of house you live in that counts most, but the way you live in that house.

The biggest tragedy is not that tragedies strike, but that so many of those struck might have been saved had more precautions been taken or preparations made.

Many of the ants who survived were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. But many more survived by doing the right thing when they found themselves in the wrong place.

The life of an ant is beset with dangers. That doesn’t keep them from being good ants.

On judgment day we won’t be asked how many accidents we managed to survive, but we might be asked why we didn’t do more to escape the one that killed us.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Sidewalk Vendor

Once upon a time there was a conference of disabled persons.

Every year they met to nominate the Handicapped Person of the Year. Physical condition didn’t matter. They were looking for an appealing and well adjusted individual who did something meaningful.


“It should be someone blind,” said a blind man.

“Why?” demanded someone else.

“Because I am blind and I am the happiest and cleverest person here.”

“No, no, no,” said everyone almost at once. “You’re too proud.”

“Then how about me?” said a deaf man manually while an interpreter translated what he signed with his hands.

“I’m not proud. Neither am I envious nor angry nor lustful nor greedy. In my humble way I am as good as the blind man was proud.”

“No, no, no,” cried out everyone almost at once. “It isn’t enough to have done no wrong. What outstanding memorable good deed have you ever done?

“Look at me,” said a middle aged fellow.

“I had polio as a child, but I have exercised and worked out and see what a wonderful muscular body I have. I have overcome weakness, conquered the odds.”

“No, no, no,” said everyone almost at once. “The people giving the award are not looking for what you did for yourself, but what you did for others, so you don’t qualify either.”

“I have many outstanding achievements,” said an amputee.

“Look at all the awards I have gotten over the years in spite of my limitations.”

“No, no, no,” someone shouted out almost at once. That was all before you failed to curb your appetite for food and drink and allowed obesity to slowly undermine your energy and effectiveness.”

“What about me?” asked a lady in a wheelchair.

“I am always sacrificing myself for good of others.”

“No, no, no,” said those she helped almost at once. “You spoil the good you do by always being so crabby and complaining about your sorry lot.”

“Consider me,” suggested a man with cerebral palsy.

“I am one of the richest and most successful handicapped persons in the whole world. I donate millions to handicapped causes.”

“No, no, no,” said several business persons almost at once. “You may be a financial wizard and generous with your earnings, but you have the reputation of being a merciless cutthroat competitor with no compassion or restraint.”

Finally some one got up and asked:

“Is there no one who just selflessly does what he or she can in spite of the physical limitations? We need to find someone who fulfills all the demands of ordinary family life and still has energy and determination to extend to others the same blessings and success.

There must be some man or woman who is so outstanding in a low key way no one notices at all until one day everyone seems to see at once that somehow their hand has been behind all the good things that have been happening to others. Do we have any such persons in our midst?”

There was a moment of silence.

Then all of a sudden everyone started to point to their neighbors, who shook their heads in disbelief and honest humility.

Then suddenly a voice cried out, “If you want someone who is perfect in every way, the search will never end. But if you want someone who will shine almost as brightly from every angle, then I nominate Jonathan.”

“Jonathan? Jonathan Who? Where is this Jonathan? Is he here? What’s so special about him?”

“No, he is not here. He is out selling towels and toothpaste and pencils and toothpicks on a street corner. What is so special about that? Well, you just wait and see. Let’s call him.”

When Jonathan arrived, his appearance made quite an impression, but it wasn’t what everyone had expected.

Jonathan was neatly rather fashionably attired, sitting in a rather expensive top of the line wheelchair, hair carefully groomed as though in an expensive salon.

None of this compromised the general impression that here was a man sure of himself, with competence and pride in what he was doing, friendly and somehow eager to relate and communicate. In spite of his disability which did not seem too deforming, he appeared quite healthy, comfortable, well fed and prosperous.

It just didn’t seem to fit the profile of a street vendor. It is said that the spot where he sells is often filled with people who are crowding round him.

He seemed to be both too good to be true and too insignificant to matter.

What makes a good person?

Are they born that way or do they become that way because they just happened to be at the right place at the right time and made some decision or did some action that just happened to turn out to everyone’s advantage?

Was Jonathan like that? What did he do that people thought was special?

“Mr. Jonathan, sir.

You don’t look poor, why are you engaged in an occupation that is generally reserved for the poor? Are you taking a job away from someone who deserves it and needs it more than you do?

You seem so over qualified for such a low level job? Tell us about yourself. We are really puzzled and curious.”

“Well,” said Jonathan, there is a quite simple exclamation.

“It is precisely because I am not poor that I can afford to engage in such a low paying occupation.

And I am not taking a job away from someone. I am taking his place because he is no longer able to work.

And as for being over qualified, you misjudge and underestimate the patience and skills and hard work needed to attract and persuade prospective buyers, especially those who do not want to buy anything, to buy from you in this lonely corner rather than from the dozens of others selling the same things on every sidewalk in town.

And don’t be fooled by all the people who stop and talk to me. I am not some super salesman. Most of them buy nothing at all. They don’t come to buy. They stop to talk. I’m friendly and outgoing. I have a sixth sense when someone is troubled or sad and often with just the right attitude or question you get someone to open up and get something off their chest and I can offer a bit of advice and encouragement, so that thereafter every time they pass by they come over for a chat or a greeting.

When I go home at night, it doesn’t matter to me at all whether lots of people bought what I was selling. In any case I always make a good sized payment to the poor fellow whose place I am taking.

The most satisfying aspects of every day are the memories of confidences shared, problems solved, or encouragement given. I wouldn’t want to trade what I am doing for any other job no matter how well it paid or brought me fame.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” said everyone spontaneously almost at once.

There are lessons hidden here

One needs much more than a handicap
to become Handicapped Person of the Year.

For the Handicapped Person of the Year,
the handicap was not really a handicap.

We should all be proud of what we do,
so long as we don’t believe
that it makes us better
than those who are doing something else.

Charity should always begin at home,
because only then do you have something to give.
Charity should always leave home,
because only then can its seeds be sown.

It’s alright for your right hand
to know what your left hand is doing
so long as it doesn’t interfere
or complain about being left out.

The first thing we usually know about something is
what we see or hear.
The trouble with some people is that
they thereafter close their eyes and plug their ears.

If you only do what others want to see
or say what others want to hear,
the world will never know, not even yourself,
the real you being denied emergence.

The truth won’t make you free
if you don’t freely follow it.

Friday, 19 October 2007

The twisting and not so narrow road

Life is sometimes depicted as a road, which implies that we are all travelers. If it is a real road then it should have a direction and if we are really travelers then we should all have destinations.

The truth is, however, that many people don’t really know where they want to go and/or have no idea where the road they are now on is actually heading. Some, on the other hand, know where they should be going, but put off going that way or they are distracted by the attractions of side trips that lead them astray. Then there are those who seem to change direction every time something new appeals to them.

If contentment with one’s life depends upon the knowledge that one’s life has a valued purpose and that in one way or another one is on the way to its realization, then many of life’s travelers today are wandering about disoriented, discontented and quite unhappy.

It has been said that the road to hell or to destruction is paved with good intentions, such as “I mean to do the right thing, but later.” “I intend to pay my debt, but next year.” “Let me sow my wild oats first and then I’ll tow the line.” If we are lucky that later time comes, but often enough it is too late.

Actually it is just as true to say that the road to heaven or to success is also paved with good intentions, but in this case not postponed.

In the Christian Bible, Jesus is quoted by Matthew (7:13) as saying “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.”

Keeping to “the straight and narrow” is often depicted as the proper way of doing good and avoiding evil. So long as you don’t deviate from the right path you’ll end up in heaven. But beware, the road is not wide. Be very careful how you step. There are many temptations and it is easy to be misled.

That is true, but in reality, the roads of life are seldom straight, but full of twists and turns and obstacles and detours. Neither are the roads of life so narrow that there is no leeway for personal freedom and individuality. And there is not one single road traveled by everyone. There are as many roads as there are individuals. Everyone has his or her particular abilities and aspirations to develop and a personal mission to accomplish, if possible.

Perhaps we could even say that heaven (as well as hell for that matter) has as many gates as there are people traveling different roads. But in any case all these entrances, as Jesus said, are narrow. It is as difficult to get into hell if you were trying to be good as it is difficult to get into heaven if you chose to be bad.

The question is not which road you are traveling, but whether you are going in the right direction. If you don’t know what to do with your life or how to reach your cherished goal, now is the time get a map and consult a trustworthy travel guide for advice and planning or rely on an enlightened guru. Travelers with strong religious faiths and convictions and those with strong philosophies of life have a great advantage because they know what the destination is at the end of their roads and carry with them directions how to get there.

The lyrics of the famous Scottish Ballad “Loch Lomond” have a refrain that says

“O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road,
and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.”

The high road and the low road go their own ways and take their own time, but they both end up in Scotland. That is all that matters.

So, whether you are on a new road charting your own course or following in the footsteps of others, it is your road and you are the one responsible for it.

(Photo: Roy Berman)


Wednesday, 17 October 2007

What is “spiritual empowerment”?

“Spiritual empowerment” might sound like a catchy, fashionable expression. If you look up the Web, you’ll find an array of techniques and topics under the term. Spiritual empowerment seemingly covers conversing with angels, excelling at yoga or taijiquan, taking hot baths, managing anger feelings, finding out the inner child within you, and much, much more… Furthermore, there is something tricky in associating” spiritual” with “empowerment’; is not real spirituality about making oneself vulnerable, open, weak among the weakest - and is not any talk of “Power” indicative of a misguided perception of what spiritual life is about?

Yet, I like to speak about “spiritual empowerment”, and I’d like to explain why.
First of all, it means for me that “spirituality” is not reserved to an elite, be it clerical, social, cultural or ethnic. Real spirituality is democratic: everyone has a right to be enabled to lead a fulfilling, exciting, adventurous spiritual life, to be “empowered’ in the attempt to reach the deeper layers of his or her being. In that respect, speaking about “spiritual empowerment’ means that there is still work to be done in order to make humankind share in its manifold quest towards its own humaneness, which might be also– who knows- a quest of the Divine that dwells within us

Second, the “empowerment”:’ that spiritual life provides us with is not for our sole benefit, it is akin to an accrued capacity for discernment. A person who is spiritually awakened will be more conscious of the challenges that threaten the future of Earth and the human species. She or he will be more sensitive to the miseries, sufferings, contradictions and violence that shape our collective existence. “Spirituality” is not a haven, it is a set of resources for improving and maturing not only as an individual but also as a community. “Spiritual democracy;” should naturally lead to more international and social fairness.

At Renlai, we like to point to the triangular relationship that links together “spiritual empowerment’, “cultural diversity” and “sustainable development.” Spirituality fosters sensitivity, sense of discernment and mutual respect. Diversity means that we mobilize the whole array of humankind’s resources for devising solutions to the urgent and grave challenges that we are meeting at the start of this century. And sustainability is the imperative that we are trying to achieve in order to avoid a catastrophic turn-around. The three dimensions reinforce each other, and the goals they are pointing to will be achieved only as an organic whole. Let us not forget that our action will be void of direction and meaning if we do not work towards our own “spiritual empowerment”, then sharing what it brings to us, so that such strength may become the invisible link that groups humankind into One.


Friday, 28 September 2007

竞技场上容不下女人?

运动的精神在于自我挑战,而不是你输我赢的竞争;体育运动应是充满人性的,而不是培养自私、攻击与暴力的性格。

现在的体育运动强调竞争与输赢,追求「更高、更远、更快」,但是却不强调肢体的柔软、协调、优美与团队合作。因为,当运动与男性特质画上等号,情感表达的特质就会遭受压抑。而且运动教练往往是男性,以胜利为最重要的目标。运动,原本应该是一种最忘我的身体高峰经验,却变成你输我赢的竞赛。
此一现象在选手的训练过程中最为明显。在球队中,男子球员必须绝对服从教练(年长男性)的指导,必须将球队与胜利放在最高的位置,要杜绝外界的诱惑(尤其女性),并且要经得起痛苦的训练与比赛过程,选手受到要求不断地施加痛苦在对手甚至队友身上。在运动场上要展现出最阳刚且坚毅不屈的精神,在球场上表现得「像个娘们」成为男球员最大的耻辱,而某些教练还会利用摆放女性衣物(如胸罩)在球员的衣柜中来表示该球员太过软弱。在这样的价值观底下,女性如果强调人际互动或道德价值更胜于个人成就,会被认为没有好胜心;如果强调个人成就,又会被视为没有女人味。
运动中的男性价值也展现在为男选手加油的女性啦啦队角色。啦啦队除了十分强调身体外表,更加强了女性「陪伴」的刻板印象。啦啦队员当中虽然也有男性,然而都属于「竞技啦啦队」,而非纯粹在场边加油的角色。在啦啦队里面,男性通常必须负责诸如抛、接等动作,展现其肌力与耐力,而不是搔首弄姿、舞蹈性成分高的「女性」动作。参加啦啦队的男性,即便他是如何的轻盈,都不可能被抛掷或像女生一样站在人形金字塔顶端,洋溢著可人的微笑,因为没有人能够接受男人如女性般轻盈。总之,在运动世界里,男性气概的展现在于身体的强壮,拥有肌肉代表拥有权力。
无论如何,运动应该是人性的,参与运动的结果,不应该在培养自私、攻击与暴力的人格;运动的精神应该在于自我挑战而不是彼此竞争。
很多男同志小时候很难想像自己以后可以成为运动员,因为男同志与运动员形象是互相抵触的,这也使得他们缺乏正面典范。既使有运动员是男同志,他也必须隐藏蒙混(passing)像个异性恋者,因为这是一个异性恋主宰的社会,尤其在运动界。若不如此,可能会危及他在团队中的地位或工作。
台湾的性别研究在近二十年来辛苦经营,其成就已经超越许多邻国的表现,然而在体育学术界仍然著重选手技能的研究,甚少关心运动中的情意表现,从女性主义观点来研究运动与体育,恐怕轻则被认为不够学术,重则让人敬而远之。期许有更多的女性主义者能够加入运动研究的行列,因为我们都是体育教育的接受者,以及运动的主体。
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注:本文部分内容发表于《两性平等教育季刊》2006年7月号。

附加的多媒体:
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