Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Be the REAL Change... Not the Tattoo Change

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" ~Gandhi

This quote is often thrown around on various self-improvement websites, Facebook statuses, World Peace blogs etc etc. Somewhere in your life you have probably come across or heard this quote being uttered. We all have that friend who says, "Well just like Gandhi used to say, 'Be the change you wish to see in the world'".... as if they have just cured you of your existential woes and humanitarian burdens. 

I look at this quote and see something so powerful that the mere mention of it inspires me. I often naively get excited when I see someone with a "Be the Change" tattoo and then immediately become skeptical when I ask them how exactly they live that out. Simply because you tattoo something on your body does not make you an immediate activist. For instance, I have plenty of tattoos but just because my Arabic tattoo is for my Lebanese mother does not mean that I pretend to speak the language, understand the culture or have an inherent insight into the Arab Spring. If your "Be the Change" tattoo is merely there to show people the hipster, laid back liberal in you then we need to have a sit down chat sometime. 

This quote boiled down is a call for ACTION. If Gandhi were the type of man to simply jot something down on paper and leave it at that then there would be no history of this quote and no meaning behind it. It was Gandhi that said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” 

On March 12, 1930, Gandhi began what is known as "The Salt March." This nonviolent action was meant to oppose the tax monopoly on salt that Britain had at that time. After 23 days and 240 miles of ACTION, Gandhi broke the salt law and immediately sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience all across India. 

Now we all know that we can't just throw on our homespun Indian Cloth and march 240 miles to make a point... but what we can do is individually embrace small changes in our lives in order to "Be The Change." 

Here are some ideas that Gandhi proposed: 

1. Change Yourself.
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

2. Forgive.
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

3. Don't be afraid to be human. No one is perfect so just go for it. 
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

4. Don't Give In. Changing the world means sharp criticism may be ahead. 
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

5. Be authentic. Stay true to YOURSELF. 
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Obviously there are many more ways in which you can "Be The Change" in the world but as a starting point those will do you just fine! 

One Love, 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

12 Inspirations Through Music

Music is one of the most powerful tools to inspire, mobilize and positively effect people all around the world. So today I have compiled a list of songs that are on my "Inspiration" Playlist (in no particular order). I certainly recommend listening to each one and if you have any more songs that really speak to you or move you emotionally then please let me know!

1. "Imagine" by John Lennon
2. "One Day" by Matisyahu
3. "Changes" by 2Pac
4. "This Is Why We Fight" by The Decemberists
5. "Save the World Tonight" by Swedish House Mafia
6. "Songs of Hope" Mashup by K'naan, Matisyahu, Michael Jackson, and Akon
7. "Paradise" by Coldplay
8. "Galaxies" by Owl City
9. "Miracle" by Matisyahu
10. "Love Love Love" by Avalanche City
11. "If You're Out There" by John Legend
12. "Chances" by Five For Fighting

I know there are so many more that I would love to share with you but I'd like to see what other songs inspire YOU. Hope you enjoy!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Guide for Real Men

As Caitlin and I travel the world and put on camps for children, we come across one prevailing theme where ever we go: the inferior treatment of women and girls. Anyone who travels the world can attest to the fact that still in most societies, religions and cultures women are looked at and treated as inferior to men.

One of Peace Pandemic's most serious focal points is the phrase "You can judge a true man on the basis of how he treats the women in his life." We share this with boys worldwide, often to their own astonishment because they have never thought about how treating a female with respect could translate to being a better man.

As a man, I see the world through a masculine lens (naturally) however, I do not ignore the reality of our skewed tendencies, thoughts and actions towards women. Some men reading this already may be feeling defensive, sarcastic or territorial (all common traits) because as men we do not like to give up our command and influence over a certain situation. This is why many men don't like to talk about their "feelings" or stop and smell the proverbial roses.

Society has even attributed the notion of "Peace and Love" as a feminine trait in most cases. This discourages boys and men from even approaching the subject and turns their focus more towards "masculine" attributes: war, fighting, defense, ruggedness, domination etc.

I do not write this to appeal to the feminists and the soft-hearted. I want to address and enroll the boys and men who think that "getting in touch with their feminine side" is a taboo idea. Men should not look at the treatment of women, peace and love as their feminine side rather we should look at it as our EVOLVED side.

Yes, for centuries men have waged wars and strutted their physical prowess on the battlefield and in the arena. Today, more boys and men are taking this ape-like bravado and using it at home. Domestic violence, rapes, murders, feeling that women should be subordinate to men... all of these things are REAL in today's world.

If you are a man reading this then I encourage you to be different. I applaud those of you who do see women AND other men as your equals. You are pushing the human race forward towards tolerance. Bravo!

Here is a short list of ten things I believe REAL MEN do and should do in regards to the women in their lives:

1. Real men remember that women have different physical and emotional needs than us.
2. Real men see women as their equals; not inferior or superior. This means that no woman is subordinate to you in ANY circumstance and no woman should be put on a pedestal (except for your Mom).
3. Real men are accountable for their actions, thoughts, feelings.
4. Real men NEVER hit/strike a woman.
5. Real men have a level respect for every human being whether man, woman or child.
6. Real men listen but also HEAR what others are telling us.
7. Real men find a way NOT to use force if there are other options.
8. Real men always exude integrity, patience, kindness and humility.
9. Real men use language to show intelligence and sincerity, not gossip and aspersion.
10. Real men Love.

Be the Change


Friday, May 18, 2012

7 Quick and Easy Tips to Start Your Day Off Peacefully

Most of us know that the mornings can sometimes...ok MOST of the time be a grind. The alarm goes off and the only thing you want to do is throw it across the room and bury your head in between your pillows. If you're like me... you simply set 3 alarms so that when the first goes off, you hit the Snooze button and get another five minutes of serene, peaceful sleep... until the next alarm goes off (Repeat). 

Here are a few tips to making the morning routine somewhat more enjoyable and peaceful so that you can go through your day a bit more energetic (and joyful). I share these tips with you because often a simple tweak in our mornings can have a profound effect on how we act and REACT during the day. If we want to get out and change the world... we must change our attitude and outlook in the morning. Here are some tips! 

1. Get rid of that obnoxious alarm that you want to beat with a hammer! Think about it.. the first noise of the day that you hear is a loathsome, deafening sound that would make anyone irritated. Choose and alarm sound that is easier to wake up to and tranquil. (I personally like the Harp on the Iphone or some of the Free sleep/alarm Apps through iTunes work great as well). 

2. Take care of every chore, mess, disorder in your house before you go to bed. This is something that is so easy to do yet most people wake up and immediately feel overwhelmed with the tasks in front of them. If you take your lunch to work or make it for your kids, put it together at night and you will find more time in the morning dedicated to your own well-being. 

3. Avoid any rush by getting up earlier. This is often a hard one for anyone who already gets up early or is the first to rise in their household. I started gradually by waking up 15 minutes earlier every single week until I got to a comfortable time that I could consistently work with. You will be amazed at how much more peaceful you feel after a relaxed, easy-going morning routine. 

4. Spend this extra little time on YOURSELF. The day ahead of you may present countless challenges and barriers to your happiness but that is life. To combat this stress, start your day off with 15-30 minutes of quiet meditation, a walk outside or relaxing to a cup of tea in silence. I force myself to smile (through the tiredness) and think of a few things in my life that I am grateful for. This simple exercise will give you time to center yourself and focus on the beauty of the day ahead. 

5. Avoid TV, Email, Twitter, Facebook, business calls until you have had time to yourself. This one was difficult for me (and still is). My first inclination is to turn off my alarm and check my email while the phone is still sitting in my hand. If you can have the discipline to put the technology down and before you spiritually wake up, you will be thanking yourself later on in the day for it. 

6. Drink a glass of water when you get up. This has a lot of health benefits associated with will jump start your metabolism and it will leave you feeling more energetic and refreshed to tackle the day. Your body gets dehydrated during sleep so replenishing your body right away will give it that kick start it needs! 

7. Frustrations and unexpected events are bound to happen in the morning and throughout the day. Stay calm and carry on. The 15-30 minutes of focused breathing, meditation or relaxation will help you breathe through these moments and think clearer on how to move forward. First you must make peace within yourself and then you can make peace out in the world. 

"The day shall not be up so soon as I,
To try the fair adventure of tomorrow."
~William Shakespeare

Go change the World! 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Freedom Riders

The Freedom Riders were a courageous band of civil rights activists who challenged segregation, by travelling side by side on buses and trains from Washington, DC all the way to Jackson, Mississippi on May 4-24th 1961. Over 400 men and women, black, white and other nationalities were faced with mob violence and imprisonment, but they believed they could defeat it all in nonviolent activism.

"Your parents tell you don`t start something you cant finish. So finish it!"

- Carolina

Monday, May 7, 2012

10 Ways You Can Change the World Today

People always want to know what they can do to make a change in the world... not just making the hippie "peace, love and harmony" sign and putting it on the back of their car but REAL, practical change. I have composed this list of things that I personally have found DO work. If you have more that you would like to add please comment because the more we share, the more we promote change.

1. Give yourself to your family. 
As Mother Teresa said, "Love begins at home." With the massive expansion of technology in today's world, it is now more important than ever to focus your attention on PEOPLE. Yes, it sounds weird to take your eyes and ears away from the television, computer and smart phone... but donating your attention and time to the ones you love can be one of the most powerful things you can do. Take some time every single day to get present in the moment with your loved ones and spend quality time with them. LISTEN to what they have to say without all the background noise of the day going through your head. Get present to them and focus your energy on them.

2. Volunteer your time.
The most important thing we can give to other is our time. We all have the same amount of time given to us per day, per week, per month etc. We all can afford to give a little more of our time to others. Think of all the hours you spent this week checking emails, tweeting or watching your favorite re-runs on TV. Use one of those hours volunteering your time at a local charity, shelter, organization, church and just give your TIME to others. This can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself in the long run (try it).

3. Spend part of your day with the young and the old.
All of us want to be young, vibrant, energetic... and yet we all still want to be wise, experienced, "in the know." While we all can't exhibit these traits at every interval in life, we can certainly spend time with those who do exude these attributes. Spend time with people who are younger than you (could be children, teens, young adults) as well as people who are older than you every single day. The young will bring out that energetic spirit in you and rejuvenate your heart while the elderly will be able to share priceless wisdom that you can only get from experience. Whether you are the younger or older in this situation... remember that you bring more to the conversation than you think!

4. Choose to be positive.
If you are like me, then you watch 5 minutes of the local news and get disgusted with the negativity. Media outlets are like leaches on the negative happenings in the world today and amplify them to the point that the public is drowning in it. Go against the grain. Be the person who sees the positives in the world and its people. Don't give in to the Armageddon-speaking people who will tell you that humans are doomed and this life is simply hell. Don't give in. Be firm with how you live your life positively and always try to get others around you to see the beauty in things they might overlook.

5. Self-Educate.
Access to information is now easier than ever. We have all heard the phrase "people are afraid of that which they don't understand." Don't fear anyone or anything, get educated. Learn about other cultures, religions, languages, rituals, beliefs etc. In the end, we all breathe the same air, share the same Earth and have the same blood flowing through our veins. Our differences should be what fascinate us, not scare us. LEARN about others by asking questions not only of others but of your own beliefs and assumptions. Ask yourself where that assumption stems from and look into how it got there. Once you learn more and internalize the facts, your perception changes.

6. Adopt a pet. 
If you are looking at getting a pet for you and your family, look into adopting one from your local shelter. Thousands of animals are orphaned every single day, week, month and most are barely alive when the finally reach a shelter. Look out into your community at the respectable shelters in your area and visit them. Not only will you be saving a life but you will be saving money. Adopting from shelters is a fantastic way to make a big change in the life of the pet and the lives of your family members. Our family adopted a Great Dane/Mastiff mix (we think) named Gus and he has become one of our most beloved pets. Millions of animals worldwide are looking for a home, if you are ready for a pet.. answer the call!

7. Keep "spare" food and water in your car for the homeless.
I'm sure you know someone (if you aren't already this person) who says "I would give money to that homeless person but I don't want them to use it on alcohol or drugs." Coming from a person who has worked in numerous homeless shelters and soup kitchens, homeless people certainly don't all want to use money on those things. Most don't know where their next meal is coming from and haven't for years. Start keeping spare fruit, granola bars, candy bars, food from the meal last night that you were going to throw away and water in your car or handbag. The next time you pull up to that homeless man/woman you will have something nourishing and helpful to give them.

8. Share your talent.
We all have talent. I don't care if it's athletic, artistic, musical, lyrical, small talent, big talent... we all have something that we love doing and are pretty good at. Look at your own talents and ask yourself which talents you want to share with people. The world is WAITING for people to share their talents every single day and yours needs to GET OUT. I found that my talent and passion for soccer could take me worldwide and share the beautiful game with youngsters in different parts of the globe. SHARE your talent with others in a way that leaves them inspired and ready to share theirs.

9. Go that extra 1%.
When someone last asked you to do something, what was your reaction? Did you do what most of us do... take a deep breath, think of quick ways to get out of it, realize you can't get out of it, say yes you'll do it in a half-hearted way and then complete the task in a half-hearted way as well? This reaction leaves the you, others and the world UNINSPIRED! The next time someone asks you to do something or the next time you volunteer to do something, go the extra 1%. Do what they asked and OVER-produce. People who get angry with those who go above and beyond are simply upset at their unwillingness to do it themselves. BE INSPIRING.

10. Be kind.
This should be #1 in every list but being kind is one of the most underrated things we each can do to change the world. When was the last time you graced a stranger with a smile on the street? When was the last time a stranger made your day by a simple random act of kindness? We all know that when we are on the receiving end of those acts, we feel warmth in our hearts and our day instantly changes for the better. Do that for others and inspire them to pay it forward. You will be remembered for what you gave, not what you got.