Sunday, 31 July 2011

No News is Good News

"99.99% of what happens is not in the news." - Unknown 

‘Kills dozens’, ‘hopeful’, ‘nine die’, ‘killings’, ‘pardoned’, ‘suicide attack’, ‘unrest’, ‘famine’, ‘plane crash’, honoured’, ‘killed’, ‘lottery win’, ‘killer’, ‘unrest’, ‘protest’...etc.

And so goes a brief and unscientific summary of the World news listed on the BBC website today, Sunday 31 July 2011. I think it’s pretty conclusive:

The news is bad, very bad with a tiny smattering of hope.

The news is hard to avoid, emblazoned on newspapers, repeated again and again on TV and radio and all over the internet. But what is the ‘news’? Of the just under 7 billion people living on the Earth, only a fraction would have been directly affected by any of the headlines above. That’s not to belittle the importance of any of those events, it’s just that:

Monday, 25 July 2011

How Big is the Sun?

"A penny will hide the biggest star in the Universe if you hold it close enough to your eye." - Samuel Grafton

When I was a child, I remember playing with the power of perspective. Of course, back then I didn’t even know what the word meant but like most children, it didn’t stop me being fascinated by some of its strange effects. 

I realised that if I held my thumb in just the right position, I could make a whole person invisible. The more I practiced, the more things I could make disappear behind that little thumb - trees, cars, buildings, if I got it just right I could even make the whole sun disappear. Amazing, my tiny child’s thumb could make the mighty sun disappear and cast a shadow over my entire world. 

Maybe in the end I got too good at it because as an adult I spent many years not being able to see past the end of my thumb. Then I remembered what I intuitively knew as a child:

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Happiness at the UN

Much happiness is overlooked because it doesn’t cost anything. - Unknown.

In a small fishing village, a local fisherman blearily opened his eyes as the first rays of the morning sun streamed into his simple family home. 

A short time later he was walking towards the beach enjoying the peace and solitude of the early morning and the fresh sea air that filled his nostrils. Pushing his wooden boat into the breaking waves, he set out on the ocean to make his catch.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Giving Thanks

"All that we think we own was given to us by someone, somewhere, sometime." - Unknown

There is an old story of a Zen Master in Japan who needed a larger building because his students had grown to such great numbers. A local merchant decided to donate a large sum of money toward the new school and one day he brought the money to the Master.

‘All right, I’ll take it,’ the Master said.

The Merchant felt a bit disgruntled at the Master’s cool response because it was a large amount of money, considerably more than a lifetime’s salary. The Merchant pressed the Master by repeating the exact amount of money he was donating.

‘Yes, you already told me,’ replied the Master.

The Merchant pressed further, ‘Well I may be wealthy but even to me it is a lot of money’.

‘Would you like me to thank you?’ the Master asked.

‘Yes you should,’ replied the Merchant.

‘Why is that?’ the Master asked. ‘It is the giver who should be thankful.’

Image courtesy of Mr Kris