Bloggers Unite for Peace

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

We are normal, everyday hard-working people with a common hobby, blogging. We hail from far and wide. We reside in different lands, on different continents. We speak different languages, eat different foods, and are of varying ages, professions, and religious and cultural backgrounds.

We do have one thing in common…

We believe that terrorist attacks, wherever they may be perpetrated; whether in France, Tunisia, Canada, Iraq, or in Denmark, Turkey, UK, Algeria, Yemen, USA, Lebanon, or in the skies over Egypt, or in India, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Bangladesh, Syria, or Mali are nothing less than attacks on humanity itself. The list is long, and probably many more besides. In every place, in every country, we, as a community of human beings, are always the innocent victims.

However, we, as members of this humanity, have found we have much more, not less, in common than those who seek to polarise our global community through indiscriminate murder of our fellow brothers and sisters.

These attacks are carried out in the name of, or in support of, a cause few of us, irrespective of religious conviction, can even start to comprehend. Murder is murder, irrespective of whatever motive or cause. As a community of bloggers, standing together for peace, we say simply this…

We will not be separated or forced to cease our friendships.

We will not change our ways – we are happy as we are.

We are all different, and proudly so, and stand together as one.

We respect each other’s right to life.

We want to live in peace.


The Fight

You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have.” – Cayla Mills

I’m going to tell you something no motivational speaker would ever dare tell you: genuine strength can’t be taught, learned, bought, borrowed, or understood. Genuine strength, defined as the ambition, courage, and stamina to do whatever you want to do most in this world comes from the realization that you are the only one who’s going to pay the price for success.

That is it.

You really don’t need someone to keep you motivated, someone to keep an eye on you so you don’t become lazy. There’s no point in doing something if you can’t do it by yourself, for yourself, because you can and want to.

I enjoy watching those motivational videos on Youtube, or reading about this or that person who reached a breaking point in their life. I like to read about struggles that makes us human. But it never really helped me achieve anything.

The truth is, you have to do this by yourself. The moment you can’t find any more excuses, the moment you can’t blame anyone else for your mistakes, that’s when you can either give up or try again. You can run and hide, or simply try to take over the world.

It’s really simple.
You can only climb to the top if you climb alone. The sooner you realize this, the better. Yes, some folks are going to help you on your way up or try to stop you. That’s inevitable. But you have to keep telling yourself that if you want it, you can have it, as long as you try harder and harder each time you fail.

We’re like Sisyphus and his boulder. That’s probably the best way to look at life: repetitive to the brink of madness, always one inch away from Heaven, always one second too late or too early.

Most people expect things to happen. That’s a mistake. Things rarely “just happen.” You have to make things happen.

Sadly, the only way you get to realize this is on your own terms. It might take a while, and even if you read these words and think I’m right, it’s still going to take you some time (or maybe forever) to realize what it’s really all about.

Because, you see, when you feel tired, that’s when you give up on doing whatever it is you like doing. You don’t want to fight the pain, the boredom, the routine. You’re not willing to give up sleep or food or a comfortable life to become who you’ve always thought you were meant to be.

The only difference between people is related to how much they really want something, how much they’re willing to fight for what they want. Make no mistake, because everyone on this Planet wants something. Wishes for something. How we fight, how far we’re willing to go, how much of our comfort we can sacrifice in order to to get what we want most, that’s what makes the difference.

Faith and Facts

Before we talk about the methods of studying the Bible, we need to consider our purposes. This is not a theoretical question. It is about checking our motives and shaping our attitudes before we enter into the spectacular and challenging task of hearing the voice of the living God.

One can approach Bible study as a search for facts. Who wrote this passage? Where was the author writing from, and to whom, and for what purpose? When was this written? What is the exact meaning of the language used?

We look at history and geography and language. We need to do this because the only way to thoroughly understand the texts of the Bible is to pay careful attention to the content and circumstances of the texts.

This is a matter of respect. Wondering how the words will impress me, or if they will make me happy. We must not read Scripture that way either. We read it respecting the author and the context. We use the rules that apply to the use of ordinary language because God’s word comes to us in the diverse and amazing forms of poems and songs, oracles and proverbs, simile and metaphor, gospels and epistles, etc. We read Scripture naturally.

We read a passage in context because that is the way we see its meaning. In the same way that we hope people will take the words we use in speech or writing in context so that they will truly understand our meaning, we read the biblical authors in context in order to get the true meaning. This is to respect them.

And it is to respect God.
That is the other side of the equation. We read Scripture, seeking to understand the facts, but we do not need to stop there. We read Scripture with faith. Many people, of course, are not interested in a faith journey. They are only looking at the facts. Not everyone who studies the Bible believes he or she is listening for the voice of God, and that makes all the difference in the world. It is possible to study the Bible as a purely academic exercise, and obviously many people do. In their view the texts in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek portions of the Bible are no different than any other ancient texts. (Although many have started to read the Bible with no faith, and have been startled by the light of truth that awakened them to the reality of God.)

We are assuming in this series that we are reading the Bible with faith, not apart from faith. We can and must read Scripture for facts and for faith.
Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) said: “I believe in order that I may understand” (Credo ut intelligam). The principle is otherwise known as “faith seeking understanding,” as it was expressed by Augustine of Hippo in the fourth century.

These leading thinkers and many others have said it is when our lives are connected with our Creator, when our minds and hearts are awakened to his power and presence, when we are “believers,” that we will begin to understand the way things really are.

Knowing the Bible is not the ultimate objective. Knowing God is. Really knowing God. And knowing God via the revelation God has given of himself, not our imaginary constructs. Studying Scripture in this way is about both facts and faith.

Jesus Is a Refugee

Jesus is a refugee. Or at least, at one point in his life, he was.

No, this is not some contemporary argument that takes parts and pieces of Biblical text, and frames them in some type of modern or postmodern theological perspective.

If you know your New Testament, then you know that according to Matthew 2:13:

“When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”

In today’s terms, this sounds very much like the UNHCR’s definition of refugee:

“…a refugee is someone who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

Jesus was a refugee, and if this is so, then does it not mean that all those who now call themselves his followers – Christians – ought to have a special reverence for the stranger? The foreigner? The immigrant? The refugee in our midst? If the Lord you serve was once a refugee and indeed found refuge in a place, then does it not follow that all who find themselves in that position in this new age should be offered a refuge too?

But if looking at the very example of an event in Jesus’ life does not make the point, then let us look at really simple contemporary arguments that take parts and pieces of Biblical text(s) to frame a modern perspective.

There is of course James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Arguably, keeping oneself unstained from the world is the hardest part of that decree because we’re always dealing with the parameters of what that means in terms of sin and grace – complex subjects. Looking after widows and orphans though? That seems fairly straightforward. Notice it does not specify the religion, the race, or the country said orphans and widows should come from.

Then of course there’s the parable of the Good Samaritan, from the Gospel of Luke. You know the story – a traveller is left for dead after being beaten. A priest and a Levite – supposedly decent people who believe in goodness and righteousness continue on and pass him by. But it was the Good Samaritan – the person with the worse reputation who unexpectedly helped him. An interpretation of what Jesus is trying to teach here is that it doesn’t matter what you are known for and what you think you stand for and what you preach. In the end, what matters is what you do. It matters most of all what you do when you see another in need.

But if I still haven’t convinced you, we’ll go back to Matthew 25: 44-45: “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs? He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'” At this point, Jesus is basically commanding that in order to follow him, it means taking care of the most vulnerable in society. Indeed, does that not include the refugee?

It goes without saying, as one priest put it in a homily once, “that the Bible can say anything you want it to.” And indeed it can. It is not my intention to twist texts that many hold holy and fundamental to their faith, for the purpose of mere political statement. Nor do I enjoy engaging in oversimplification of Biblical texts to make theological arguments. Still, sometimes the lessons are simple – take them for whatever they’re worth.

Moreover, it is my prerogative to recognize that Jesus was indeed a refugee. His divinity did not take away his humanity, and indeed as the perfect man I believe he was, whose concern was always for the most vulnerable and persecuted in society, it’s worth asking, if your faith demands that you ask, what indeed would Jesus do in our current refugee crisis? The texts are glaring at us with answers.

I’m anything but a perfect Christian, much less a perfect person. But if I cannot look at the suffering face, the vulnerable face, the refugee’s face, and see Jesus in him or her, my Christianity is worthless. And I would have failed not only in my faith, but also in my humanity.

Jesus is a refugee


For everything you have missed, you have gained something. For everything you gain, you have lost something else. It is about your outlook towards life. You either regret or rejoice.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life’s simply a matter of perspective. Everyone’s fighting a hard battle, every single person we meet has lost someone they’ll never get back. Each and every one of us wishes for something that, most probably, we’ll never have.

But what we think about all this is crucial.

I’m going to be honest. When I think about the whole half-full/half-empty glass thing, I’m usually the one who thinks of himself as being without a glass.

And it’s not about envy or greed or whatever, because I don’t like to compare myself to others. It’s just that I have this grand vision of who I should be as a person, and most times I fell short of that. I always see myself as I really am when I look in the mirror, and yet I can clearly see who I want to be.

And the two are not alike.

Funny thing, but those two are never alike. What we choose to do about it, though, is what really matters.

Do we panic? Do we give up? Do we make ourselves miserable?

It’s not about the destination, but about the journey. It’s not about reaching a place, but about realizing that the long road toward that place is, in fact, the place itself.

There’s no pursuit of happiness. There’s no reaching for something.

It’s just us and the long and winding road.

It’s just us and life.

And the way we choose to see things.

But maybe it’s worth remembering once in a while that we never see things as they are. Our vision is distorted by who we are. We perceive everything around us through a lens composed of qualities and flaws. We compare and we remember and we analyze.

The things that no longer are will always be compared to what is. Or what could be. Or what will be.

We try to make sense of things. To find meaning.

But let me ask you a question: do you think that “meaning” is something to be found? Or given? Created from all our previous experiences?

Do you think that we find who we are after years and years of wandering or do we create that self?

What I’m really trying to say is that how we look at things is how we look at ourselves. What we see around us is what we see inside us. If there’s no beauty and magic in the world, you’ll never find beauty and magic in yourself. Or happiness.

Be Kind

I woke up to the news of the attacks in Paris. It’s so hard to get any kind of perspective on this sort of tragedy, especially since these sorts of tragedies seem to happen all the time. Just a few days ago, Beirut was also rocked by suicide bombings, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

Nobody close to me is affected by these tragedies, so I have the luxury of a more detached, general sadness, rather than the acute grief at losing someone I love. I know that this is the case for many people–there is no direct link with the attacks, and yet, the sense of loss and our empathy for others caught up in all this is overwhelming. In light of that, it’s hard to know how to cope with all that information. How does one process such terrible scenes? As I pondered that, while doing the washing up, I came up with some thoughts:
There is so much anger. Those people who blow themselves up, or who go on shooting rampages, or who hit out with weapons or fists: they’re so angry. And you know, some of the time, this anger is justified. Just think back over even the last 100 years. There has been such a lot of wrongdoing, from so many sides. People have been massacred, their rights completely abused, families have been torn apart. Those coordinating any of these attacks, whether it’s a well-organised terrorist group or an individual with a grudge, or just some person who’s had too much to drink… they probably have a right to be angry. Everyone does, don’t they? If we feel slighted, we have a right to be upset about it.

We don’t have a right to kill or hurt other people for it. That’s not OK.

This general sense of being able to get nasty when you’re offended is not limited to terrorists, though. All you have to do is look at what happens when someone says ‘the wrong thing’ on Facebook or Twitter, and how nasty the internet can be. What righteous indignation, what ridicule at the utter ignorance/rudeness/racism/whatever else! How justified we feel, at taking someone to task for their idiocy! Most of the time, this doesn’t result in violence, but the sentiment is the same.

I’m right, you’re wrong.

You’re stupid. I’m superior.

So this is what I take away from all of this tragedy: those people who are perpetrating such violence, they have a right to be angry, to be offended. They don’t have a right to kill or injure people. But what can I do, personally, about what’s happening in so many other parts of the world? I think of it all as a ripple effect. I can’t change the anger of someone in an ISIS camp who’s preparing to kill as many people as possible, or someone who’s stockpiling weapons to carry out a mass shooting, or someone who’s brewing over a feud and wants to go out and hit anyone they meet. I can’t stop domestic violence; I can’t prevent pub brawls; I can’t curtail gang warfare.

But I can be kind. I can be kind to those around me, regardless of what they look like or how they speak. I can be welcoming. I can be charitable. I can listen. I can be fair. And it won’t stop that mass shooting or that suicide bombing. Not this time, not next time either. The tiny ripples of kindness from me might take forever to do anything, but they will have have an effect. Whether it’s big enough to make a difference, I just don’t know. But I have to try, because the alternative is despair, and that won’t do anybody any good.


“People should know when they are conquered.

Would you, Quintus? Would I?” – Gladiator

There are many things you can do to another person. You can defeat them, time and time again, you can conquer, control, inflict pain upon. But you can never destroy them. Not entirely. They tend to hold on to that last remaining piece of their humanity, not matter how broken their hearts are, and they don’t want to let go.

People really don’t know when they’re being conquered. They just can’t accept a definitive defeat.

And, yet, in a world where so few have what it takes to be brave, in a world where few are capable of recognizing courage, there are a lot of people who’d like to avoiding fighting any battles at all. They stare at the mountain and they say to themselves that there’s no point in trying to climb to the top. They avoid conflict at any cost.

We like to believe that we are born into this world to be judged by others. Our fear is limited by what we believe is the perception others have about us. It seems, at times, that the world is trying its best to conquer our feelings and emotions, to turn us into what it wants us to be. And we give up on so many dreams, aspirations, and ideals because of that. It’s the easiest thing to do; we call them compromises.

Of course, there are always consequences to our actions. And we do need to think about those. We’re also social creatures, so we need to try to fit in.

But, ultimately, you should at least be aware that the choice is yours.

I’ve always believed that people should fight for their right to at least try to create the life they think they deserve. They should at least pursue their dreams. Don’t give up without a fight. Don’t live a life filled with regrets over the things you didn’t do.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

This is what courage is all about: the ability to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Even when you’ve lost all hope, even when you’re sure of your impending defeat, you still keep going. Why? Because you can’t accept it, because you know, deep down, that a man can never be destroyed. He can only destroy himself, once he’s given up the fight.