Category Archives: humanity

Money for Notre Dame? A skewed debate

Why donate for a building when millions are going hungry?

With almost a billion euros donated for the restoration of Notre Dame cathedral, which was almost destroyed by fire last week, the political moralists on the gallery are crying foul.

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Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

France’s super wealthy families opened their pockets for Notre Dame, triggering a heated debate on the wealth gap. The money should’ve gone to the hungry, to the poor, to the refugees etc.

Such a debate is comparing apples with oranges. In comparing things that cannot be compared with each other, the divisiveness in society is being fanned. It is the game of the ego-driven populists. They care less for the poor than for their own aggrandizement.

Notre Dame is much more than just another cathedral. It symbolizes the ingenuity, innate spirituality and genius of man over centuries. It is a powerful symbol that unites mankind beyond the confines of a single religion. The outpouring of horror and grief as the flames engulfed the ancient cathedral, is indicative of the power of Notre Dame.

I referred in my previous blog to why the ancient builders chose this particular spot where once stood an ancient Roman temple and before that probably a Celtic worship site. When such a sacred site is harmed, it tears at the heartstrings at a deeper level.

Victor Hugo, who played a key role in saving Notre Dame with his novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in the early 19th century, wrote:

“Great buildings, like great mountains, are the work of centuries.”

Notre Dame embodies the best of man’s creativity and higher sense of purpose over centuries. It is an achievement of many individuals embodied in one work of art, with the common goal transcending individual glorification. It is not a building belonging to the church or an institution but to all of mankind.

Notre Dame will be restored. And, at some time in the distant future it will continue to inspire, unite, and excite generations to come. The narrow-minded current debate will be but a forgotten footnote in history.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

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Thoughts on Notre Dame

When a significant world heritage site such as the Notre Dame in Paris is in flames, a nerve is struck on a global level. The miracle of this tragedy is that the cathedral has once again survived.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Every tragedy both on a personal and global level comes with a deeper meaning.

The most significant aspect that springs to mind is that this happened during the Easter week, one of Christianity’s most important events. It recalls Jesus who died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later more than 2,000 years ago. It is a celebration of the cycle of life: death, resurrection and rebirth. The resurrection of Christ could now become a metaphor for the rebirth of the cathedral.

Fire is one of the most powerful elements. When out of control it burns and destroys, reducing everything to the basic elements. But from the ashes springs rebirth. The old has to be destroyed for new life to begin.

Notre Dame is at the heart of Paris and of France. At the front entrance to the cathedral is embedded in the concrete pavement a copper plaque marking the point zero from which the distance from Paris to all other places are judged. Notre Dame is a sacred site that connects with humanity at a deeper level beyond religious doctrine.

Notre Dame is steeped in many myths and mysteries. Like most of the ancient sacred sites, it was carefully chosen by the builders who had great knowledge of the earth’s energy fields or meridians. It was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. Four churches then preceded the building of Notre Dame. French philosopher John of Jandun in 1323 described it as “that most glorious church” that “shines out, like the sun among stars.”

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The western mind has in many respects lost its soul with religious institutions in the western world in deep crisis. We are on the brink of a raising of human consciousness.

The mindset of the Middle Ages is almost symbolically burned with the collapse of the roof of Notre Dame, yet the cathedral has been in dire need of repair for years. Curators have had trouble getting the funds for the repairs needed.

But here we see within hours hundreds of millions of euros pledged for the reconstruction.  First reports said it would take at least a generation to restore the cathedral. Later reports said that with the necessary will and funding it could take less than five years. When humanity focuses on a single objective so much can be achieved.

It would indeed be a powerful symbol: A new roof spanning an 850-year-old cathedral, symbolizing the beginning of a new age of raised consciousness.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

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Hate or Love: The language we speak

Much of social media has become a global ghetto-blaster of hate speech and vile language. We should not be surprised that deranged minds run amok with assault weapons in mosques, synagogues, churches and schools.
The language we speak can either unite or divide. A thought brings forth words and words trigger action. It is a frightening reality that there is a thin line between language that stirs toxic emotions and the violence on innocent people. Masses can be manipulated at will by fear-mongering demagogues.
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Hate speech is dividing communities across the globe. It is the downside of the digital revolution. The seeds of genocide are planted by the seeds of hate speech. Psychology has determined seven stages of hate speech leading to the final stage of killing. The boundary has been crossed in several countries with scapegoating of refugees, racial groups, religious minorities and ethnic minorities.
History has taught us lessons that cannot be repeated. There is an old black and white news documentary film of chief Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels stirring the masses in Berlin with fanatical screams of, “we want total war!” that cost the lives of about 50 million people in World War II.
The Nazi party in Germany was initially seen as a joke when it started parading through the streets of German cities in the 1920s, blaming the Jews for the economic ills of the country. But the hate speech escalated. Jewish shops were ransacked, then synagogues were torched before the mass-killing started at an unprecedented industrial scale.
Negative language not only spreads the fans of hate. It also does something to those who utter vile language. We can and should defuse hate language with words that have a healing energy.
In differential language analysis psychologists have found a correlation between language in social media and general well-being and health. Words such as “human, beings, nature, spiritual” suggested something larger than oneself and an important determinant of psychological well-being.” Happiness is contagious:
There is a stronger feeling of happiness living in a community with people who influence each other in their general feeling of well-being. Through geolocation researchers also determined a link between cardiovascular disease and language used in tweets. https.aaai.org/ocs/index
Negative words associated with disengagement and a feeling of lack of meaning and purpose in life were defined as “sick, hate, bored, chill, wtf, bored, soooo, freakin…” The karmic effect of hate language is that it will eventually trigger serious mental and health issues in the body of the perpetrator.
We know from our own experience that words with a harmonious ring such as love, harmony, beauty and light trigger an expansive energy, especially if they find expression in a choir sung with other people.
Humming the syllable OM has a particularly strong vibrational power. Many of the ancient Sanskrit, Aramaic and Latin syllables are known to have immense healing power across time and space. They also create a matrix of positive neuronal links in the brain and the vital body functions.
Hate language divides, separates and destroys. Positive language unites, heals and transforms.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

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Dragon from the underground

While much of North America is experiencing Arctic temperatures we here on the island of Majorca are seeing the valleys below the Tramuntana mountains covered in the “snow”  of blooming almond trees that signal the  first signs of spring.

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Chinese mythology compares spring to a gigantic dragon rising from the depths of the underground. It is symbolic of the powerful earth energy that rises from deep below, expanding and finding space to express its true beauty and power.

The Majorcan legend tells us that a king brought his beloved to the island from a snowy country. Problem was that the poor lady got very homesick, missing the snow this time of the year.  So the king went about planting almond trees all over the island that indeed look like the valleys are covered in snow when they start blooming in February.

We can learn so much from nature if we really observe and hear her whisper.  The Chinese teaching of the Five Elements, deeply rooted in Daoist philosophy, is all about the yielding to nature, and finding the right time and place for every action.

Spring is the time of year when energies are expanding, and action is called for. Any vision or dream will remain a dream if we don’t take concrete action. If we want a harvest we need to prepare the soil and plant the seeds.

In the cycle of the elements, Spring is associated with the element of wood, like a tree sucking up the juices from the roots deep below, expanding and feeding the sprouting blossoms and leaves.

If we want to become what we are destined to become, we need to have that room and space to expand. All too often the voices of parents, friends, teachers and family members want to push us into a direction that might fulfill society’s image of what success is, but not what intuition and heart desire are yearning for.

Spring is therefore a good time of the year to do check list on whether you are being true to yourself.  Look into the mirror and ask yourself:

  • Am I taking daily action, even  with small things to pursue my dream?
  • Do I have a support group of friends and family positively empowering me?
  • Am I being distracted by other things such as a job that is taking so much energy from my life that I don’t have any energy left for anything else?

Taming the dragon is about harnessing its power in moving forward in the expression of our true and unique individuality.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Abundance and gratitude

The rise of extremism in much of the western world comes at a time where there has never before in the history of mankind been so much material abundance which bodes the question why many people remain frustrated and angry.

Obviously the comforts of the modern world are not providing the contentment and inner peace that is desired.

Even until the late 1960s owning a car was regarded as a luxury. If a family owned two cars it was considered extremely wealthy. It wasn’t until the  mid 1970s that most households started owning a TV. I grew up in South Africa which only introduced nationwide television in 1976. Travelling abroad for a holiday was likewise considered a privilege for the very few.

When I tell the youth of today that we always carried a pocket full of coins for the phone booth around the corner, they look at me in disbelief.  My grandparents were self-sustainable farmers. My grandfather was regarded as progressive because he produced his own electricity from a water wheel. Few people owned cars and most traveled with a horse cart or ox-wagon.

Technologically mankind has made a huge stride forward but it has come at huge personal and environmental cost. Our lives are extremely high-paced and stressed-out. We have more time than any other generation at the same time it has become our most precious commodity.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Most people live in crowded cities, resulting in a disconnect with the natural rhythm of nature. Modern man is constantly in a hurry, anxious and fearful. It is the perfect breeding ground for frustration and radicalism.

We can’t go back a generation. We are rather at the threshold of another technological revolution that will create and destroy jobs.  Much of the social frustration we encounter probably stems from the cultural gap in absorbing the changes of the past decade – Donald Trump`s most ardent supporters are from the rust belt and coal mining areas.

The technological revolution confronts us with the age-old question: What makes me a contented and happy person? The fascination with a shiny new object at most lasts a few days.

Every extreme carries the seeds of a new beginning. The technological revolution rides the wave of left-brain analytical, “excel-sheet” thinking while the right side of the mind lies neglected. It is the intuitive side of our human nature that needs more attention.  As human beings we have a “juvenile” playful, creative, spiritual and artistic side. Bringing both sides of the brain into balance is the challenge.

I only need to look at my dog’s joyful playing with a simple stick to appreciate that frustration, happiness or contentment is all in the mind. Appreciating that moment of deep gratitude of what we already have is the first step. Happy Thanksgiving!

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Climate: No time to lose

Two weeks ago the northeastern part of the Mediterranean island of Majorca was hit by a freak storm. Within a matter of hours the area was hit by so much rainfall that dry streams were soon flooded and a five-meter high wave swept away cars, bridges and buildings. Twelve people died.

Such a catastrophe hits the world headlines for a day or two and then is forgotten. In this case it happened only a 40-minute drive from my home on the island.  It was a stark reminder that climate change is real. It is happening and it is affecting all of us.

Behind the news of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing civil wars in Latin America and the Middle East is the story of agricultural devastation as a result of unprecedented drought.

Unfortunately the debate on climate change has become so partisan and emotional that even sound science is losing the argument.

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Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

When I was working as a journalist for an international news agency, I attended the first series of conferences of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) nearly two decades ago. In one of the workshops climate scientists were showing slides of predicted extreme weather patterns by the year 2030. Freak storms, floods and massive hurricanes would become the norm, they argued. The sad truth is that they were wrong.  These weather patterns are already happening twelve years ahead of time.

Nobody in the year 1996 could predict that the fast growing-economies of China and India and the unprecedented destruction of rain forests would fast-track carbon dioxide emissions. In the year 2013 they surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere for the first time.  Now get this: For ten thousands of years the level was stable at around 280 ppm. The level only started increasing at the turn of the last century as the industrial revolution gained pace. This is not a natural cycle. What we are seeing is human-induced climate change. It is part of the bigger picture of our human impact on the planet.

I was born in Paulpietersburg, South Africa . This is how much the temperature has risen in the small town during my lifetime: img_1143-e1540994626687.png

Humanity seems to move to the edge at the brink of a new evolutionary cycle. We were there before during the Cold War when the superpowers were very close to annihilating most of humanity in a nuclear war. It is my firm belief that on at least three occasions missiles were not launched because of divine intervention. The crisis had to happen to make us aware of the madness of the ideological walls in our minds.

If the world had not come together in signing the Montreal Protocol in 1987 banning substances that deplete the world’s protective ozone layer, we would be in a dire state today.

Hope springs that we will manage it this time around as well.  It is a close call. We have no time to lose.  It is up to our generation to preserve our planet for the generations ahead.  On a deeper level environmental consciousness is all about self-awareness and self-love – without the shadow of ego and narcissism.

We are treating our bodies in the same way that we are treating our planet. Mindfulness to self is how we exercise, cope with stress, and the choice of foods we eat. It magnifies to the world around.  We seem to know very little about ourselves. Its time for a real game changer.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Reconnecting with ancestral roots

Our ancestors from centuries ago might be influencing our lives in more ways than we might be aware of.

Cultures steeped in tradition and ritual, place great value on their history and ancestral roots. Much of this has been lost in the modern materialist world−which then finds an unhealthy avenue in extreme nationalism.

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There is a long tradition on the Camino in Spain that reminded me a lot of the Zulu culture in South Africa.

The Zulu greeting “sawbona” means “I see you” to which the fellow being greeted responds with “yebo”, or yes and I see you too.

In the rural Zululand of my childhood the conversation would then continue with strangers exchanging their names and asking each other the names of their parents and grandparents and from what village they came from so that the ancestral tree to the tribe or clan could be recognized.

The Zulus journeyed mostly on foot, and would pile stone cairns at key junctions as a mark of respect to the ancestors and asking them for a safe journey. In the Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal there is a massive stone cairn that dates back to the stone ages.

I was surprised to find this tradition also on the Camino and learned that similar rituals also exist in other cultures such as the Inuit, American Indians and Celts from which the practice probably came in Spain.

In medieval times it was common for one member of a family to walk the Camino to atone for the sins of the entire clan. The family would in return collect funds to finance the pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage began after crossing the threshold of his front door, and after being granted permission to leave by his local religious authorities. Before leaving he had attended mass where his staff and scrip were blessed by the priest.

It would be months, sometimes more than a year before he returned−if he was lucky. Many pilgrims did not survive the journey, making the ultimate sacrifice.

Along the Camino, the pilgrim would add a rock to the cairns at the wayside, saying a prayer for a member of the family going down the line of the family tree, starting with the parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the other members of the clan.

Today the tradition continues and many of the cairns have rocks with prayer inscriptions for a deceased loved one, someone going through a serious illness or a special wish.

Genetic research is still a young science but some scientists believe that some of our habits, traumas, memories and survival instincts are imprinted in our genes from our ancestors. An ancestor born centuries ago could still be impacting your life. Ancestral memories could be passed on for 14 generations, according to one body of research.

We are who we are not only because of the influences from our immediate friends and the environment in which we live but it also appears, that some of our habits, fears and talents are inherited from our ancestors.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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