Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ Part 1: Creating Room for An Expansive Heart to Dwell
Last night, my neighbors and I stood on our shared balcony and gazed together on the beauty of the moon. The moon reflects the sun’s light. In a lunar eclipse, the earth blocks the sun’s light. When we watch a lunar eclipse, as we look at the moon, we see the shadow of the earth as it moves in front of the moon.
Last night, the majesty of the moment captivated us. I am especially grateful to Wenjie (Harry) Wu who had a magnificent telescopic camera that helped us compare what we saw in the sky with what appeared in his pictures (his photo is above).
One of my neighbors asked me – “do moments like this make you more overwhelmed by how vast the earth is or do they bring you peace?” In truth, moments like this simultaneously fill me with wonder, awe, fear, comfort and peace. I step into an expansive and creative mind, heart, and spirit that lines up with what I feel in my own heart.
I feel the immensity of the earth blocking the sun’s light and sense in the awe and fear that fills me how I and the entire world are at the mercy of something much larger than ourselves. The earth’s shadow moving its way across the bright reflected sun’s light on the moon reminds me of the unnecessary suffering of so many people across generations of time because of the selfishness and brokenness of humankind.
And yet, simultaneously, I also feel a deepened intimacy with the creator of this much beauty. I feel like I am locking eyes with my creator. I feel like my creator is making Himself known to me, being fully transparent with me, filling my soul with life so expansive it never ends. I feel seen. Known so completely. Held. Loved. Covered by the one who knows the darkness well and has made a way for me to see that my creator holds the world in His hands, no matter how dark it gets.
And all I want to do is gaze into my creator's face and bask in my creator's beauty and hold onto my creator's generous love for me, learn again how to live for the rest of my life from this place of awe, gratitude, and love. I sense that even though the earth is blocking the light from the sun, the light has won. The darkness cannot put out the light. The light will always make its way to me.
I begin to hear again the inner dialogue that passes between me and my creator, and I open to how my creator’s spirit is showing me more ways to live and love so deeply that no matter what darkness I encounter, when I turn inward, I will always find the light and know how to let my creator’s reflected light reach through the earth’s shadow to those around me.
There is a Bible verse that has always been my guiding light. It has always spoken to me, called me into the expansiveness of my creator’s heart, spirit, and mind. It is the inspiration behind Community Allies and Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™. It is this Psalm from King David.
Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” A few verses later, in a way I totally resonate with because I too often need to speak to myself this way, David writes “My heart says of you, “Seek his face! Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8).
So much of my training from the world has oriented around self-sufficiency, independence, and individualism. So when trouble, confusion or hardship come, my temptation is to dig in, take it on, solve it myself, and triumph over it. It is in fact what the world would say is a healthy go-getter mindset.
For me, this training casts a shadow over who I am called to be and how I am called to create my life. When instead of intellectualizing every challenge I face, I build a life where my creator can dwell, I am freed up to root myself in hearing my own voice as it is intertwined with my creator's.
I can lean into my creator's spirit in what I create for every area of my life (friends, family, work, career, etc), and I am freed up to root myself in more and more of the expansiveness of my creator's heart, to step into the protection my creator's light brings, and to reflect more of my creator's light as I go.
This is my story. It is the spirit in me and behind the work I do. My faith and my worldview are not something I impose on others or on organizations who invite me in, but just as I invite others to share their stories in all I do, this is my story of the heart I feel beating through me that fuels my passion for people and for organizations.
I love to facilitate change-making teams who together create room for something larger and more expansive to appear. Inevitably, the change needed in our industries, in our communities, and in our families makes itself known through the team’s collective gifts and insights that are revealed as we learn what it means to build thriving communities.
The change-management approach Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ comes from many fields, the core fields being ethnodrama, literacy, teacher research, and community development. Each of these fields points to the power of intentionality, thoughtfulness, care, and reflection in building our lives and communities.
Each of these fields points to the individual as a member of a much broader collective, a broader collective than in our worldly training we often have yet to see or consider. Each of these fields helps us see more dimensions of ourselves, our families, and of the many communities who are shaping our lives and vice versa.
Each of these fields helps us get better at creating our lives in step with a more expansive mind, heart, and spirit. In the process, we discover the special gifts, talents, cultures, and skills we bring to the larger collective, and vice versa – all that people who may not look, talk and act like us bring.
When we slow down to build communities rooted in this kind of intentionality, we together step into places of transformation. We expand our inner and collective capacities to engage in change-making with those who see the world much differently than we do. We start down the path of building and sustaining communities and organizational cultures that support each of us individually and collectively in thriving.
In Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ Part 2: Cross-Sector Change-Making, you will learn how this change-making approach is taking hold in the mortgage industry.
Mom- Master Of Multitasking
Mother, Mom- Master Of Multitasking; is a title that comes with so many roles and responsibilities. Being a mom is a full-time job with no leave days or sick days, and moms try to do complete justice to all the tasks they face. Mothers mean a lot to us and are the ones that mostly set the initial foundation for us. Whether you’re a “work at home mom,” a “working mom,” you wear many hats, and in honor of Mothers Day, here are a few and why we love them so. (Momspresso, 2018)
A mother works hard to make sure their child is equipped with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make it a competent human being. Being a mother is perhaps the hardest, most rewarding job a woman will ever experience (Diranian, 2017). A mother helps guide their child to figure out their goals and values in life as well as teach them the importance of education, manners, and more. Providing your child with a safe and secure environment protects them from abuse and harm as well as helps boost their child's mental and emotional development.
On Mother’s Day, we celebrate women who have stepped in to take on a maternal role on so many occasions. Women are mentors, guides, supporters, and even rescuers. Women nurture, affirm, encourage, give solace and give us a reality check (Sirota, 2015).
To all the mothers in the world, those who gave birth to us and those who didn't, we appreciate you, we love you and your sacrifices don’t go unnoticed.
Diranian, S. (2017, June 13). The Meaning of Being a Mother. Retrieved from Hello Motherhood: https://www.hellomotherhood.com/article/536701-the-meaning-of-being-a-mother/
Mode, S. a. (2016, January 31). 10 Hats I Wear As A Mother. Retrieved from Sandy a la Mode: https://www.sandyalamode.com/2016/01/31/10-hats-i-wear-as-a-mother/
Momspresso. (2018, March 16). 20n hats that mothers wear. Retrieved from Momspresso: https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/indian-son-in-law-is-the-permanent-guest-of-honor/article/20-hats-that-moms-wear
Sirota, M. (2015, May 11). What Makes a Mother? Retrieved from Huffpost: https://www.huffpost.com/archive/ca/entry/what-makes-a-mother_b_7256794
A mother is the only person who carries you in her belly for nine months, three years in her arms, and forever in her heart (Eagle, 2020). What makes a mother a mother? Does it only denote “one who has a child” or is it something more? Does someone who has not given birth or has no child qualify to be called a mother?
The official definitions given to the term ‘mother’ range from one who “gives birth to a child” to adoptive or stepmothers to mothering meaning “to watch over, nourish and protect maternally.” This means that every woman can be a mother whether they have children or not. (Jessen, 2014).
Bearing children most certainly makes one a mother, but motherhood is much more than that. Traditionally, we were inclined to think of a mother as a selfless, loving, patient, warm woman. She might be, but that’s not all that makes a mother. A mother is not a devoted and submissive wife who lives patiently and tirelessly for the comfort of others; a selfless, giving, caring creature who ceases to exist outside of her children as soon as they are born. (Harrisson, 2020). A mother is not someone who gives up her entire life and person to raise children; because who are those children, if their mom has no life of her own?
Motherhood is the essence of who we are as women. Mothers are found in all shapes and forms and can be sisters, friends, aunts, leaders, teachers or anyone who is willing to reach out to another human being with love. Every mother has a special blend of attributes that she can use to lead, guide, and lift others, be it an adult or a child.
So, who are mothers?
People who mother the world are part of what makes a mother. These include mentors, foster parents, aunts, single dads who play the role of both mother and father, grandparents, nannies, caregivers, and people who mother their parents through sickness or old age. These are also stepmothers who have earned a bad reputation through fairy tales, but who knowingly choose to take on a child as their own, often navigating tricky adult relationships along the way.
Those who choose not to have children because they genuinely believe it’s not a fit for them, yet they work to improve the world and make it a better place to live in also deserve recognition and celebration. Not everyone wants to be a mother, and that is very much in order.
Mother's Day is a day that focuses on celebrating and honoring mothers and maternal figures for all they do. It's a day that asks people to show gratitude to maternal figures for their impact on our personal lives and their work in society at large. The earliest history of Mothers Day goes back to the ancient Greeks who dedicated the annual spring festivals to celebrating their maternal gods. The occasion was in honor of Rhea, wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek mythology. Ancient Romans, too, celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. The early Christians celebrated a Mother's Day of sorts on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ. In England, they expanded the holiday to include all mothers and named it Mothering Sunday.
Mothering Sunday started in the 1600s. After the church service in honor of the Virgin Mary, children were encouraged to bring gifts and flowers in honor of their own mothers. Servants, employees, and apprentices who were working away from their own homes were also encouraged to visit their mothers and celebrate them and with them (MothersDay, 2020).
In the United States, the idea of Mother’s Day was first suggested by Julia Ward Howe, an activist, writer, and poet, in 1872. She suggested that June 2 be annually celebrated as Mothers Day and should be dedicated to peace.
Present-day celebrations are held on the second Sunday of May annually. The day has become very popular in many countries with people gifting and appreciating mothers all over the world. Whether you are a mom with no children or many, an empty-nester or a new mother, a loving aunt or a friend, Mother's Day is for you. Your nurturing and caring ways qualify you as a mother. Mothering is a special gift designed to help and comfort others who need your strength. Regardless of how we mother, we are all doing our best with the circumstances and strengths we have. Though there are no perfect mothers, there are many great ones. (Jessen, 2014).
ReferencesEagle. (2020, April 24).
The Meaning of Life. Retrieved from Timeless Life: https://timelesslife.info/a-mother-is-the-only-person-who-carries-you-for-9-months-in-her-belly-3-years-in-her-arms-and-forever-in-her-heart
Harrisson, K. H. (2020, June 25). What Is a Mother? Not What You’ve Been Told. Retrieved from Undefining Motherhood: https://undefiningmotherhood.com/what-are-mothers/
Jessen, W. (2014, May 9). Who is a mother? Retrieved from Ktar: https://ktar.com/story/300500/who-is-a-mother/
MothersDay. (2020). Mother's Day History. Retrieved from Mothers Day: https://www.mothersdaycelebration.com/mothers-day-history.html
World Press Freedom Day
“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” Walter Cronkite (WACC, 2020). Press freedom requires a press free of government interference, free of corporate bias, and free to challenge and dispute. It requires candid journalism, investigative journalism that tells it like it is, and day-to-day reporting that is fair and balanced. Press is the medium that conveys the truth to people.
The idea that the press should be granted some form of freedom only emerged after the press became commonplace. The invention of mechanized printing in the 15th century led to the proliferation of books, newspapers, and other publications that spread ideas faster and farther than ever before. Publications have the potential of spreading ideas and information, eventually changing people. These ideas spread through publications and could challenge the power structures in place, including political and religious authorities that had autonomy in decision making. These authorities had to curtail these publications that they deemed subversive.
Americans enjoy the freedom of the press as one of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The First Amendment, which protects freedom of the press, was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights (History, 2018).
In the history of free press, before the thirteen colonies declared independence from Great Britain, the British government would censor the American press to prevent them from spreading or publishing unfavorable information against them. American free press ideals can be traced back to Cato’s Letters, a collection of essays criticizing the British political system that were published widely across pre-Revolutionary America.
The state of Virginia was the first to formally protect the press in 1776. The 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights stated, “The freedom of the Press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments. (History, 2018)”. The Virginia representative and later president James Madison would borrow from that declaration when drafting the First Amendment.
The annual World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the Reporters Without Borders campaign group, surveys that the top ten countries with the best conditions for journalism and reporting in 2020 are: Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Portugal respectively. The bottom ten are Cuba, Laos, Iran, Syria, Vietnam, Djibouti, China, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, and lastly North Korea (Power, 2020). The United States ranked 37 of 199 countries.
Reporters Without Borders ranks countries based on the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom. It does not measure the quality of journalism in the countries it assesses, nor does it look at human rights violations in general.
World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is an annual celebration of press freedom, observed on 3 May, and whose main celebration is organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This day is commemorated annually to remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics as well as to support media professionals, who are the targets of the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom.
The WFPD theme for 2022 is ‘Journalism Under Digital Siege.’ The goal is to underline the role of the information in an online media environment by focussing on the following; the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, access to information, and privacy (Ryan, 2022).
The media is a very powerful tool, they have the power to influence the views of a whole public. Freedom of the press is important for keeping people informed. A free press monitors the administration and forces them to work for the betterment of the country.
ReferencesHistory. (2018, August 18). Freedom of the Press. Retrieved from History: The First Amendment, which protects freedom of the press, was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights.
Power, G. (2020, April 24). The best and worst countries for press freedom. Retrieved from The Week: https://www.theweek.co.uk/the-week-unwrapped/106717/the-best-and-worst-countries-for-press-freedom
Ryan, J. (2022, April 26). World Press Freedom Day 2022. Retrieved from UK Parliament: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cdp-2022-0088/
WACC. (2020, November 2). Democracy is freedom of the press. Retrieved from WACC: https://waccglobal.org/democracy-is-freedom-of-the-press/
Free and Responsible Press
“To think is sacred; let every person think freely! To express what you think is sacred; let every person express his thought freely! If you do this, you prove that you are a conscientious and a moral human being! If you don’t do this, you just declare yourself being fascist!” Mehmet Murat Ildan (QUOTEFANCY, 2022).
In December 1942, President Robert M. Hutchins of the University of Chicago selected a dozen scholars under the guidance of Henry R. Luce of Time to form an inquiry into the freedom of the press: both its present state and prospects (Lyons, 1999). This was the first time the performance of the press was being reviewed by a highly competent, independent body with adequate resources.
The results of the study came out with a warning that, only a responsible press can remain free: separate from government and business and other institutional interests. Failure of the press to meet the needs of a society dependent on it for information and ideas is the greatest danger to its freedom.
Freedom of the press is important for keeping people informed. The media plays an important role in the building of public opinion and views of millions on various topics of regional, national and international agenda and bringing into light the hidden injustices. A free press has a huge responsibility of reporting the truth and shaping people’s opinions. Responsible journalism must be practiced to stop people from spreading hate and maintaining the harmony of a country.
The democratic integrity of a country is judged by the freedom that the media enjoys in that country. Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies, all nations are strengthened by information, debate, and the exchange of opinions. Freedom of the press is construed as an absence of interference by outside entities, such as a government or religious organization, rather than as a right for authors to have their works published by other people. Even a dictator cannot neglect the power press has since every political ideology demands propaganda and publicity which only the press can provide.
The freedom of the press remains so crucial to preserving our system of governance because the press acts as a fundamental check upon society and government. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Freedom of conscience, of education, or speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged. (Young, 2018)” Our founding fathers accorded freedom of the press such a prominent placement in our Constitution because it represented the inherent values and liberties that the United States was founded on.
A free press fights for the truth; there are many issues that journalists are trained to analyze and explain. Without newspapers, radio shows, blogs, etc, the average person would have little to no knowledge of what’s going on around them. Ordinary citizens often lack the time and expertise to research and investigate issues that may affect them. Armed with skills like research and critical thinking, the best journalists know what questions to ask, what leads to pursue, and how to fact-check to give accurate, credible, and relatable information to the public (Soken-Huberty, 2022).
One of the free press’ main missions is serving as a watchdog on power. Many entities can benefit from the truth staying hidden, including governments, so the press serves as the bridge between the people and powerful entities. Without freedom of the press, journalists who try to tell the truth when it threatens the state are not protected by the law.
A free press informs voters and strengthens democracy. It seeks out and circulates news, information, ideas, comment, and opinion and holds those in authority to account. Being informed ensures people understand the issues at hand and what policies and politicians best represent them. The press is the body that informs by analyzing information, encouraging discussion, and fact-checking. It would be very difficult and time-consuming for voters to do all their work on their own. A strong media makes the process less complicated and offers valuable insight.
The press is sometimes called the fourth estate. It suggests an important, coherent, and independent force in society. The press does not share the same aims as government, the legislature, the executive, religion, or commerce. It is or should be, an outsider (Rusbridger, 2011).
The press, when it does what it should, speaks the truth to power. It is a check on corruption, excesses, and stupidity in government and in business.
ReferencesLyons, L. m. (1999, December 15). 1947: A Free and Responsible Press. Retrieved from Nieman Reports: https://niemanreports.org/articles/1947-a-free-and-responsible-press/
QUOTEFANCY. (2022). Mehmet Murat ildan Quotes. Retrieved from QUOTE FANCY: https://quotefancy.com/mehmet-murat-ildan-quotes
Rusbridger, A. (2011, October 6). The importance of a free press. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/oct/06/importance-free-press-alan-rusbridger
Soken-Huberty, E. (2022). https://www.humanrightscareers.com/issues/why-is-freedom-of-the-press-important-in-a-democracy/. Retrieved from Human Rights Careers: https://www.humanrightscareers.com/issues/why-is-freedom-of-the-press-important-in-a-democracy/
Young, H. (2018, March 16). The value of freedom of press. Retrieved from NEWS PRESS : https://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/03/16/high-school-essay-winner-value-freedom-press/400711002/
Resourced Women Change the World
“Women's empowerment and their full participation based on equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development, and peace,” Barack Obama, “Within the United States, we are taking steps to support working families, encourage women and girls to pursue careers in the STEM fields, and provide additional opportunities for women entrepreneurs.” (UNWOMEN, n.d.)
In 2006, the U.S. was third in the world for economic gender equality. In 2016 it had fallen to 26th (ROTHY'S, 2018).There is a huge movement among women to empower one another, secure equal rights, challenge gender narratives, and establish a brighter future for our daughters. Women empowerment has caught pace around the globe with women helping each other grow.
Why focus on women? Women play a vital role in sustainable development. The 1995 Beijing Declaration and the 1992 Rio Declaration recognized that empowering women was key to sustainable development, yet discriminatory gender practices continue to be a key driver of poverty (Lefton, 2013). Putting an end to extreme poverty requires providing opportunities, especially for women through education, nutrition, and health.
The UN General Assembly introduced Millenium Development Goals in September 2001 to prepare a roadmap on how to eradicate poverty. There is MDG 3 which aims at promoting gender equality and empowering women, and MDG 5 which pledges efforts to improve maternal healthcare. These two goals touching on women are yet to be fulfilled decades later, though great strides have been taken.
For the Millenium Development Goal 3, the average gap in primary education is closing; however, there is not much progress in secondary and tertiary education. Women's employment outside the agricultural sector has increased from 30% to 40% from the 1990s to 2010 (Lefton, 2013). Women still make up less than 21% of parliamentarians worldwide. As much as there's some progress made, we still have a long way to go before reaching gender equality and eradicating poverty among women.
Progress towards the fulfillment of MDG 5 to reduce maternal mortality has also not been met. The target will not be met during the set timeline. The prevalence of contraceptives has also increased globally but remains very low among the poorest and uneducated communities. Adolescent or teenage pregnancy rates have also gone down albeit slowly due to high poverty rates and a lack of education.
Factors such as violence against women are also key obstacles to women's empowerment. Elimination of all forms of violence is integral to sustainable development. No country in the world can proudly proclaim that its women live freely without fear of any form of violence. As long as women face violence, discrimination, and hate, all the efforts to eradicate poverty, and achieve equality and democracy will not succeed.
For societies to thrive, women must have access to education, healthcare, and technology to give them the power to act freely and exercise their rights and the ability to fulfill their potential. When more women work, economies grow, and developing global markets for goods and services are expanded. When women are living safe, fulfilled and productive lives, they can reach their full potential. They can contribute their broad array of skills to the workforce and can raise happier and healthier children if and when they choose to have any.
ReferencesLefton, R. (2013, March 11). Gender Equality. Retrieved from American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment-are-key-to-addressing-global-poverty/
ROTHY'S. (2018, November 2). 15 ways to empower women. Retrieved from ROTHY'S: https://rothys.com/blogs/the-loop/15-ways-to-empower-women
UNWOMEN. (n.d.). The United States of America to work towards a world where every woman and girl can enjoy their rights and freedoms. Retrieved from UN WOMEN: https://www.unwomen.org/en/get-involved/step-it-up/commitments/usa
How to Resource Women
“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman,” Melinda Gates (Kidadl, 2021). Female empowerment is all about equipping women and allowing women to make all the decisions related to their life. This includes raising women’s status through education, career, literacy, training, and other aspects of life. Female empowerment is defined as promoting a woman’s self-worth and their ability to do things based on their own choices and their right to influence social change for themselves and others (Kidadl, 2021).
The combined voice of women is powerful and it can uplift all communities globally. In the United States, women comprise almost 47% of the workforce, control up to 80% of consumer spending and own more than half of the investable assets in the country (Ferasat, 2019). Globally, women have been dealt the short end of the stick across most sectors and facets of life, from leadership to salary equality to basic human rights. Women are the solution to the problems affecting them, and they can take steps to uplift each other to attain gender equality.
1. Support girls and women in crisisWomen and girls in war zones or unstable areas are at the highest risk of abuse, child labor, trafficking, child marriage, and other offenses. These women and girls can be protected by equipping skilled, local staff to offer training, education, counseling, medical care, small business loans, and other programs that reach women and girls as well as boys to end cycles of gender-based violence (WorldVision, 2020).
2. Mentor a girl Girls growing up in the United States and in other countries are held back by poverty, teenage unplanned pregnancies, drug and substance abuse, and teen violence. These girls could really use a mentor to guide them in the right direction and give them hope for a better future. Through peer-to-peer mentorship, girls learn to be confident leaders from a tender age. As the girls and their mentors build a supportive network, they learn valuable skills in a safe environment with peers who understand the difficulties and challenges they face (Girltalk, 2022).
3. Sponsorship at workIt has been said that the biggest decisions about your career are often made when you are not in the room (Ferasat, 2019). A sponsor goes beyond traditional, social, emotional, and personal growth and advocates on your behalf at the workplace. It takes a lot for a woman to be noticed at the workplace, even after meeting expectations and getting the work done. Sponsors are always fighting for you, in spaces where you can’t put in a good word for yourself.
Sponsors may also offer the much-needed career coaching and guidance that can help one in making informed decisions at the place of work.
4. Invest in womenInvestors have impact funds to power social and economic change by advancing women globally. Women-owned businesses are then able to get loans to grow their businesses. When these women-owned businesses grow, they create new opportunities and more profits for women worldwide, leading to financial growth and a more robust economy. Studies show that women reinvest 90% of their income back into their families and communities. Investing in a woman translates to investing in the whole community; when women thrive, we all thrive.
5. Stand up for womenWe all need to speak up and speak out whenever we witness injustices against women in our societies. Supporting each other helps everyone advance at work, start businesses, buy dream homes, reach big life goals and achieve even more. Advancing women in our communities and workplaces is important both for attaining gender equality and also for meeting a wide range of international development goals. Empowered women empower other women, which starts a chain reaction of empowerment.
The government needs to work hard to change the existing position of women and achieve gender equality, which will have a positive spillover effect on the sustainable development of the country.
Ferasat, K. (2019, March 12). The Secret To Women's Empowerment Is Women. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeslacouncil/2019/03/12/the-secret-to-womens-empowerment-is-women/?sh=58e4bd811291
Girltalk. (2022). GIRL TALK CREATES CONFIDENT LEADERS. Retrieved from Girl Talk: https://mygirltalk.org/
Kidadl. (2021, November 18). 100 Best Female Empowerment Quotes To Inspire You. Retrieved from Kidadl: https://kidadl.com/quotes/best-female-empowerment-quotes-to-inspire-you
WorldVision. (2020, October 8). 7 ways to empower women and girls. Retrieved from World Vision: https://www.worldvision.org/gender-equality-news-stories/seven-ways-empower-women-girls
The History of Earth Day
“I am the Earth, and the Earth is me. Each blade of grass, Each honey tree, each bit of mud, And stick and stone is blood and muscle, skin and bone” – Jane Yolen (Poetry Foundation, 1995).
Every year on the 22nd of April, the world comes together to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Up to 1970, as America was growing its industries, belching out smoke and sludge was a sign of prosperity. Air pollution was common and Americans were oblivious of the consequences of pollution to the environment and their health (EarthDay, 2022).
Our earth is a very wonderful place, but it needs our help to thrive. Senator Gaylord Nelson started Earth Day to enforce legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment. The first earth day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, which still exists today, and some of our most important environmental laws being passed such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
Earth Day is all about educating people about conservation, protesting against climate change and global warming, and encouraging volunteering for the good of the planet (Wurzburger, 2021). The Earth Day 2022 Theme is Invest In Our Planet. What Will You Do?
It is time to choose both a prosperous and sustainable future and time to restore nature and build a healthy planet for our children and their children. Unless we start acting now, climate change will deeply damage economies, increase scarcity, drain profits and job prospects, and impact us all (EarthDay, 2022).
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Through regulations, incentives, and public/private partnerships, governments hold the keys to transforming and building the green economy. Governments must also incentivize their citizens, businesses, and institutions to build a resilient future. What each of us does, and how we do it, has a huge ripple effect on our ecosystems. We have the power to lobby for and support businesses that take active steps to protect our environment through their practices and climate-friendly investments and to bring those who aren’t back to the earth that sustains their very being.
EarthDay. (2022). THE HISTORY OF EARTH DAY. Retrieved from Earth Day: https://www.earthday.org/history/
Poetry Foundation. (1995). Earth Day. Retrieved from Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54673/earth-day
Wurzburger, A. (2021, April 22). What Is Earth Day and Why Do We Celebrate? Retrieved from People: https://people.com/human-interest/what-is-earth-day-and-why-do-we-celebrate/
Happy Passover! Passover History
As the days brighten and spring kicks into full swing, Jews all over the world are celebrating one of their most important observances, Passover. Passover is celebrated annually commemorating the anniversary of the Jews’ miraculous Exodus from Egyptian slavery, as told in the Bible (Chabad, 2022).
The story of Passover can be found in the book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. Found in the Torah, the Passover story tells of the Israelites’ slavery, deliverance, and escape (“the Exodus”) from Egypt. The story begins with Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and arrived in Egypt as a poor, powerless servant. Joseph was favored by God, was very wise, and could interpret dreams. This made him rise to be a trusted advisor to the Egyptian kings. He rose in power and fame and his family eventually joined him in Egypt as well as many other Israelites. There they prospered and multiplied for many generations.
A new King ‘Pharaoh’ came into power in Egypt. He did not remember how helpful Joseph had been and was threatened by the number of Israelites who had now occupied Egypt. He was afraid that they would one day rise against him so he treated them harshly, forcing them to work as slaves in terrible conditions. The Israelites persevered and continued to multiply regardless.
Pharaoh was still dismayed by the fortitude of the Israelites and passed an even harsher decree that all sons born to Israelite women should be killed at birth. When an Israelite woman, Yocheved, had a baby boy, she feared for his life and placed the baby in a wicker basket and placed him floating on the River Nile. Pharaos’ daughter who was at the river, came across the baby and took him home. All this was witnessed by Miriam, Yocheved’s daughter.
The baby was named Moses, ‘drawn from the water’, and he grew up in the palace. As he grew up, he learned of the plight of his people and once killed a taskmaster who was beating an Israelite slave. On realizing what he had done, he fled to the land of Midian, where he married a Midianite woman, Tzipporah, and became a shepherd (REFORM JUDAISM, 2022).
One day as Moses was tending to his flock, he came upon a burning bush that was not being consumed by the fire. God spoke to Moses and told him that with the help of his brother Aaron, they would free the Israelites from the shackles of slavery in Egypt.
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and demanded that he “Let my people go,”. Pharaoh refused and instead made the Israelites work even harder. God then told Moses that, as proof of God’s power, the Egyptians would suffer a series of plagues until Pharaoh agreed to let the Jews go.
During the last plague, God killed the firstborn of each Egyptian family, but “passed over” the houses of the Israelites who had marked their doors with lamb’s blood, leaving their children unharmed. Following this last plague, Pharaoh relented and let the Jews go. The Israelites hastily left Egypt and did not have time to let their bread rise, leading to the holiday’s tradition of eating unleavened bread, matzah.
After the Jews left, Pharaoh regretted his decision and his army chased the Israelites to the Red Sea. God told Moses to stretch his staff over the sea, and, in perhaps the greatest miracle in all of the Jewish tradition, the waters parted, allowing the Jews to cross on dry land (REFORM JUDAISM, 2022).
Modern Passover celebrations try to commemorate the Biblical events. The seder, which is the ritual meal that is the centerpiece of Passover celebrations, incorporates foods that represent elements of the story. Bitter herbs represent the bitterness of slavery, roasted shank bone represents the sacrificial lamb, and an egg represents new life. Vegetables are dipped into saltwater representing the tears of the enslaved Israelites.
During a traditional seder, participants eat unleavened bread, or matzoh, three times, and drink wine four times. They read from a Haggadah, a guide to the rite, hear the story of Passover, and answer four questions about the purpose of their meal. Children get involved, too, and search for an afikomen, a piece of broken matzoh, that has been hidden in the home (BLAKEMORE, 2020).
Passover celebrations last one week in Israel and 8 days in other parts of the world. Passover celebration is important as it advocates for strength, hope, and triumph over adversity and anti-Semitism.
BLAKEMORE, E. (2020, April 7). A brief history of Passover, which honors resilience amid adversity. Retrieved from National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/history-passover-honors-resilience-amid-adversity#:~:text=The%20story%20of%20Passover%20can,newly%20born%20Jewish%20son%20murdered.
Passover. Retrieved from CHABAD.ORG: https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/default_cdo/jewish/Passover.htm
REFORM JUDAISM. (2022). Passover: History. Retrieved from REFORM JUDAISM: https://reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/passover/passover-history
Happy Easter! Easter History
Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.” S.D. Gordon (Rissel, 2015). Easter has always been a joyous season where the earth is reborn in a swell of new life awash with the vibrant colors of nature and renewed spiritual energy. Easter is originally a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Most major holidays have some connection to the changing of seasons. Spring is marked by the coming back to life of plants and trees that have been dormant for winter, as well as the birth of new life in the animal world. Given this symbolism of new life and rebirth, it was only natural to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of the year (Landau, 2017).
The holiday begins with Lent, a forty-day period marked by fasting, sacrifice and prayer, and ends with the holy week. The Holy Week includes Maundy Thursday which is the celebration of the last supper of Jesus with his disciples, Good Friday when Jesus was crucified, and Easter Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead (HISTORY, 2022). Easter typically falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox. The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is exactly identical, so you can tell that you're emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance.
Easter gets its name from a pagan goddess, Eostre, from Anglo-Saxon England who was described by St. Bede the Venerable (Travers, 2017). Other historians maintain that Easter is derived from in albis, a Latin phrase that's plural for ‘alba’, or “dawn," that became eostarum in Old High German, a precursor to the English language of today (HISTORY, 2022).
Christians celebrate Easter because they believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected three days after his crucifixion on Good Friday. They celebrate the victory of life over death with the resurrection of Jesus. “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9) (Lifestyle, 2021). Easter represents a "historical" Christian festival, which the Bible also reports about in detail.
During the Middle Ages, people would decorate eggs and eat them as a treat following mass on Easter Sunday after fasting through Lent. The custom of decorating hard-boiled eggs or blown eggs is still a very popular folk custom. Rabbits and hares are also associated with fertility and were symbols linked to the goddess Eostre.
The Easter bunny is the Easter symbol for excellence. The egg has always been a symbol of fertility and rebirth in many cultures. Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions. Children look for hidden decorated eggs and when the hunt is over, prizes may be given for the largest number of eggs collected, for the largest or smallest egg, and for the most eggs of a specific colour.
Easter is a time of renewed faith and new beginnings. "Whoever knows Easter cannot despair," Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said in dark times (Lignoma, 2021).
ReferencesHISTORY. (2022, April 7). Easter 2022. Retrieved from HISTORY: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/history-of-easter
Landau, B. (2017, April 12). Why Easter is called Easter, and other little-known facts about the holiday. Retrieved from THE CONVERSATION: https://theconversation.com/why-easter-is-called-easter-and-other-little-known-facts-about-the-holiday-75025#:~:text=The%20naming%20of%20the%20celebration,seventh%20and%20early%20eighth%20century.
Lifestyle. (2021, April 3). Easter 2021: Date, history, importance and significance. Retrieved from The Indian Express: https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/date-history-importance-significance7255299/
Lignoma. (2021). Why do we celebrate Easter - the meaning and traditions of Easter simply explained. Retrieved from Lignoma: https://www.lignoma.com/en/magazine/why-do-we-celebrate-easter-the-meaning-and-traditions-of-easter/
Rissel, B. (2015, April 4). One Writers Way. Retrieved from Wordpress: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/easter-spells-out-beauty-the-rare-beauty-of-new-life-s-d-gordon/
Travers, P. (2017, April 15). Origin of Easter: From pagan festivals and Christianity to bunnies and chocolate eggs. Retrieved from ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-15/the-origins-of-easter-from-pagan-roots-to-chocolate-eggs/8440134
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.