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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pay it Forward

From Time is Love:
The Idea Behind Paying it Forward
The term Pay It Forward represents an act of kindness that will positively impact another’s life. This term is usually designated to small and random acts of kindness that anyone is capable of achieving. Sure, you could donate 1,000 to charity, and that would be a wonderful act of kindness, but paying it forward is more geared toward simpler tasks that are encouraged on a daily basis.
According to the original post by Belinda Munoz, author of the blog The Halfway Point: Choosing Positivity, the main goal of paying it forward is to take the focus off of oneself and analyze how they can brighten someone else’s day. Looking out for number one and taking what is offered and what you’ve earned is human nature. Giving is much less intrinsic in our nature, but the benefits can be just as rewarding. Knowing that you brightened someone else’s day and asked nothing in return is a gift in itself and worth experiencing.
Photo courtesy of

50 Ideas for Random acts of Kindness

  1. put a quarter in a meter, any meter, that’s about to expire
  2. leave a copy of a really great book you’ve read in a cafe for someone else to enjoy
  3. be nice to the customer service people who are trying to help you with your technological difficulties
  4. tip your restaurant server generously
  5. thank the cooks, waitstaff and bussers personally
  6. say something nice or funny or goofy to the toll booth attendant (like, “Don’t drive too fast, now” or “Glad to have encountered you today”, or something less hokey)
  7. forgive a driver directing road rage at you
  8. buy or pack a meal for a homeless person (or give him/her your to-go box from a restaurant)
  9. give a warm coat to a homeless person
  10. offer to do pro bono work on a project where your skills are needed
  11. mentor someone
  12. make a donation
  13. say a prayer or whisper a kind wish for someone
  14. compliment a stranger
  15. send a box of donuts or bagels or muffins to a construction site
  16. next time you leave a foreign country, give all or some of what’s left of your currency to someone who resides in that country
  17. next time you’re at the airport, offer to pull the bags belonging to a woman or a mother with child out of the conveyor belt
  18. praise generously
  19. give local tips (re: restaurants, sights, etc.) to a tourist
  20. show respect equally to all human beings
  21. put a tip in a street musician’s jar
  22. let someone cut in front of you at the grocery store
  23. tell a funny joke to a stranger
  24. give someone a chance to prove him or herself
  25. encourage someone to pursue their dream
  26. allow someone to let his or her light shine
  27. show support to an artist or writer or musician
  28. hold the door open for someone
  29. tip a cab driver generously
  30. teach a child something you wish you knew at that age
  31. smile at someone who’s sad
  32. smile at strangers
  33. offer sincere, kind words to someone who’s hurting
  34. visit a hospice and spend some time with a terminally ill patient
  35. volunteer at a battered women’s shelter
  36. spend some time with a senior citizen living alone
  37. give up your seat on a crowded bus or train or ferry
  38. inspire someone to be the best that they can be
  39. give someone the benefit of the doubt
  40. offer to babysit for a single mother
  41. offer the FedEx, UPS or DHL delivery person something to drink especially on a warm day
  42. help a pregnant lady
  43. sit and talk with a homeless person and learn their story
  44. loan something to someone and forget about it
  45. loan money on Kiva
  46. contribute to a friend’s child’s education fund
  47. give blood
  48. show respect to a soldier regardless of your pacifism
  49. donate to or volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation
  50. replace an angry or bitter thought toward someone with a loving thought (or at least try)
Just think about the difference it would make if everyone did at least one of these things every day. Most of them don’t cost any money and have the ability to brighten the day of one or more individuals. As a society, it is about time we took the time to love others; it just might solve some of the social crisis we are faced with. It’s at least worth a shot right?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Nobel Peace Prize

On Friday, the Nobel committee will announce the 2010 winner for the Nobel Peace Prize. I think this must be one of the most difficult awards to choose of the Nobel subjects. Here is a list of ten controversial Nobel Peace Prize winners from listverse that I thought was interesting. This was published in 2007, but I definitely think Barack Obama would on here now as well, considering all the controversy on the topic last year. 
Anyway, the thing about the Peace prize that is interesting is that I think people assume that the winner has to be a saint... perfect and focused on peace at all times. But prize winners, like all people, are fallible human beings... but they are doing something to promote peace and I think this should be commended. While this list refers to the winners faults, we should try to remember that none of us is perfect. The founder of the prize, Alfred Nobel, invented dynamite, which he later realized was being used for all kinds of negative purposes that he never intended. But he did something with his fortune.. he left a legacy by creating the Nobel Prize.
The Nobel Peace Prize was created by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Nobel asked that the prize be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. This, unfortunately, has not always been the case. Here are the ten most controversial recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize:
10. Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter’s 2002 Nobel Peace Prize—awarded for the “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development”—had from the start wrought controversy that was exacerbated further by politically-tinted statements offered by the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee (seconded and affirmed by Gunnar Staalsett, another member of the 5-member, secretive Nobel Committee).
9. Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai, 2004 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, created controversy by appearing to lend credibility to the theory that HIV was invented by white scientists to destroy black people but later apologized for giving the illusion of being a conspiracy theorist.
8. Al Gore
Al Gore won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on raising public awareness of Global Warming. There has been some contention on whether the work was related to the stated purpose of the prize or not. In addition, there is much controversy surrounding his work in the area of Global Warming and, in fact, even controversy over whether Global Warming poses a real threat to mankind. Recently a UK High Court judge decreed that the government could only send a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth” to every school if it was accompanied by guidelines to point out “nine scientific errors” and to counter his “one-sided views”. In his film, Al Gore called on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home. In August 2006, Gore’s electricity bills revealed that in one month he burned through 22,619 kilowatts – more than twice what the average family uses in an entire year.
7. Rigoberta Menchú
3 Rigobertamenchu
Rigoberta Menchú won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. There has been some evidence pointing to her as a fraud in her purported autobiography of her life in Guatemala in the late 1950s, portrayed in her 1987 book I, Rigoberta Menchu—where some facts regarding her family history and circumstances were specifically altered by her to supposedly better propagandize her leftist-leanings (brought to light through exposé by anthropologist David Stoll’s researches).
6. Henry Kissinger
395Px-Henry Kissinger
Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his work on the Vietnam Peace Accords, despite having instituted the secret 1969–1975 campaign of bombing against infiltraiting NVA in Cambodia, the alleged U.S. involvement in Operation Condor—a mid-1970s campaign of kidnapping and murder coordinated among the intelligence and security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay—as well as the death of French nationals under the Chilean junta. He also supported the invasion of Cyprus resulting in approximately 1/3 of the island being occupied by foreign troops for 33 years. Some peace activists go so far as to suggest that the Nobel Peace Prize has become irrelevant due to Kissinger being a laureate.
5. Yitzhak Rabin
Rabin won the prize jointly with Shimon Peres and Yasser Araft in 1994. Rabin, while in the Israeli military, had ordered the expulsion of Arabs, from areas captured by Israel during the 1948 War. He had also been responsible for the aggressive Israeli crackdown of the First Intifada while Defense Minister. Rabin also continued to authorise the construction of settlements in the occupied territories despite the peace agreement.
4. Shimon Peres
Awarded the prize jointly with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Peres was responsible for developing Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal, and was later blamed for the Qana Massacre. The Qana Massacre occurred in 1996 when the Israeli military shelled a villiage of 800 Lebanese civilians who had gone there to escape the fighting. 106 were killed and around 116 others injured. Four Fijian United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon soldiers were also seriously injured.
3. Yasser Arafat
Arafat won the 1994 prize along with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. Arafat was regarded by critics as a terrorist leader for many years. Kåre Kristiansen, a Norwegian member of the Nobel Committee, resigned in 1994 in protest at the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to Yasser Arafat, whom he labeled a “terrorist”.
2. Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull was awarded the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1945 in recognition of his efforts for peace and understanding in the Western Hemisphere, his trade agreements, and his work to establish the United Nations. In 1939, the ship SS St Louis sailed out of Hamburg into the Atlantic Ocean carrying over 950 Jewish refugees, mostly wealthy, seeking asylum from Nazi persecution just before World War II. Roosevelt showed modest willingness to allow the ship in, but Hull, his Secretary of State threaten to withhold their support of Roosevelt in the 1940 Presidential election if this occurred. Roosevelt denied entry to the ship. The ship was forced to return to Germany and many of the passengers ultimately ended up dying in Concentration Camps.
1. Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin (6th Prime Minister of Israel) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 for his contributions to the successful closure to the Camp David Accords in the same year (the award was jointly given to Begin and Anwar Sadat). Unfortunately, Begin had also previously been head of the militant Zionist group Irgun, which is often regarded as a terrorist organization and had been responsible for the King David Hotel bombing in 1946.
Final Thoughts
While the controversial people listed above enjoy (or enjoyed) their Nobel Peace prizes, Mahatma Gandhi was never awarded one (though he was nominated five times). In addition, in the fields of science, great men such as Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison were not awarded prizes because of their animosity towards each other. If Tesla had won, the money would probably have prevented him from filing for bankruptcy in 1916, and the face of modern society may have been very different.