Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • ivanildotrindade 10:10 pm on April 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abuja, Allah, , , cowardly journalism, , Islamism, moderate islam, , radical islamists, real muslims, religious cleansing, Santo Daime, true islam, violent islam   

    Radical Islamists use Soda Cans to Killl Christians in Nigeria 

    I came home from church yesterday and watched some basketball games with my son. Sitting on a comfortable leather chair I felt thirsty and did something I had not done in quite a long time — I drank two cans of soda. I napped, read, wrote and shaved my head. Soda will do that to you! Later, I looked at the two empty cans on the table next to the couch and thought about how futile my attempt at killing my thirst was. The only thing I got was a caffeine-induced restless night.

    But a little earlier half a world away soda cans were being used for a different purpose, to kill a different thirst and spread a different kind of poison. Bearing the signature of Boko Haram, an attack on Christians worshiping at a university in the northern Nigeria city of Kano killed at least 16 people and left several more severely injured. The Christian group was composed primarily of young university students, who gather at the university every Sunday to pray and worship.

    The lunatics who killed them used soda cans filled with small explosives to create diversion and as the people started to flee, they were cowardly gunned down by men who had arrived on motorcycles, carried their heinous acts, and like angels of death, quickly disappered into the crowds, maybe to a “house of worship” nearby, where they could have been greeted by some evil masterminds who commended them for a job well done in the service of Allah — and gave them a bonus for going low-tech with the soda can solution.

    Before you judge me too harshly, I am not here condemning all Muslims — only those who use their religion to perpetrate violent against people of other religions. I am not saying Muslims are evil — only those who believe that innocent people must die simply for not being Muslims. I am not blaming Islam — only the brand of Islam that is intent on bringing chaos as a means to achieve a form of “religious cleansing” somewhere in the world, a goal that has been clearly expressed by the murderers of Boko Haram, the same group that claimed responsibility for bombings in the southern Capital city of Abuja last December, killing 44 people, and killed 180 people in January in the same city of Kano, their deadliest attack to date. And the body count keeps mounting.

    I am not going to sit here and try to pretend that the Church has not had blood on its hands in centuries past. I am not going to stick my head in the sand and deny that some individual Christians have behaved horribly at times. But we are no longer in the middle ages, the Crusades are over, the wars against the Moors of Spain are a subject for the history books. It’t time we step into the modern world.

    I am going to say it loud and clear since the western media’s cowardly coverage of the events in Nigeria will not: thank God, there are only a handful of religiously motivated wars in the world today, but whenever you find one, you can almost always bet (and win) that it is perpetrated by radically insane Muslim groups against religious minorities, usually Christians.

    There are no systemic efforts on the part of Christians to try to eliminate Santo Daime believers in Brazil, for example. In India the cases of radical Hindus burning Christians, though tragic, are few and far between. The war in Israel, no doubt with religious overtones, is more about land than religion. Buddhists are not persecuting anyone and atheists can care less what people believe (except they don’t want to hear the word “Christmas” around the Christmas holidays — a war I can live with). Radically violent Islamists, on the other hand, persist on killing at will, and will continue to do so, if we remain silent.

    I don’t know about you, but if I were a devout Muslim, I would be asking this question:  What is it about Islam that seem to offer comfort for people who believe they are advancing the cause of Allah when they commit these acts?

    Furthermore, where are the voices of those who don’t believe these people represent true Islam? And why are we so afraid to report these stories with the emphasis they deserve? Imagine if this kind of massacre was happening anywhere in the world against Jews or Muslims, would the media react differently?

    My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones yesterday and I am crying out to God to right this terrible wrong.

    And finally: Why not just let sodas do what they do best — killing softly?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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  • ivanildotrindade 11:09 pm on April 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Atatürk, , Islamic Action Front, Jordan, , Kuwait University, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, progress for women, Turkey, women in turkey, women's voting rights   

    Women in Islam — One Step Forward, Two Steps Back 

    To be sure, there have been some progress in the treatment of women in some Muslim countries, but as always, it’s the proverbial “one step forward, two steps back” dance.

    In Jordan, for example, the Royal Family has taken a courageous step condemning “honor killings” (in all fairness, a problem that goes beyond Muslim countries), but the government, fearing reprisals from conservatives, has done nothing to approve a proposal that would eliminate laws that are lenient to men who kill for “honor.” One conservative group, the Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, a powerful political party, has issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, saying the proposal would “destroy our Islamic, social and family values by stripping men of their humanity when they surprise their wives or female relatives committing adultery.” If that doesn’t get your hair to stand on end, I don’t know what will.

    Another example of progress fraught with obscurantism comes from Kuwait. In 1999 In 1999 the Emir of Kuwait, Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, bravely issued a decree giving women the right to go to the polls for the first time and to be candidates for the Kuwaiti parliament. Conservatives in parliament, however, blocked its implementation. They did more — they voted to segregate the sexes at Kuwait University.

    The law was finally approved in May of 2007, after 8 years, with 35 votes for and 23 against. Tribal and Islamist members of Parliament had consistently blocked it, insisting that Islam prohibits women from occupying positions of leadership.

    When it comes to civil liberties to women, no country with a majority Muslim population beats Turkey. Turkey went so far as to strip man of his role as the only authority over the home, solely responsible for making decisions about his wife and family. And recently Turkey changed the minimum age for women to marry from 15 to 18, again not without opposition from conservative elements in Parliament.

    The achievements in Turkey are due in large part to the tenacity of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of modern-day Turkey. If you are not familiar with this man, you should read about him. Against all odds, he succeeded at bringing Turkey from obscurity into the sunshine of modern civilization, to the delight of some and the horror of others who still hate him.

    His words about women and politics are now famous: “There is no logical explanation for the political disenfranchisement of women. Any hesitation and negative mentality on this subject is nothing more than a fading social phenomenon of the past. …Women must have the right to vote and to be elected; because democracy dictates that, because there are interests that women must defend, and because there are social duties that women must perform.”

    The only question is: will there ever be a Kemal in Saudi Arabia?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 8:25 pm on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: afghan women, Afghanistan, gender equality in islam, koran on women, , Taliban   

    Women in Muslim Countries 

    And there rose a man who prohibited the infanticide of unwanted baby girls who used to be buried alive for the simple “crime” of being female. He declared a sacred duty to educate girls, contrary to the practices of the time, and he even dared to say (gasp!) that women were entitled to sexual pleasure. All of this in 7th century Arabia where women were at best a prized possession and more normally a nuisance.

    You would think that a period of enlightenment would ensue after this remarkable innovator left the scene, but the fact is, after Muhammad’s death, a period of darkness fell over women in the community of believers he started, and the remnant of those dark shadows are still with us today. Part of the problem was Muhammad himself, as he enshrined in the Koran laws that are clearly unfavorable to women. Here are some examples:

    1. The Koran gives daughters only half the inheritance of sons;

    2. The Koran decrees that a woman’s testimony in court, at least when it comes to financial matters, is worth only half that of a man;

    3. Under Shari’a or Muslim law, compensation for the murder of women is only half the going rate for men;

    4. Women can only have one spouse while men are permitted four;

    5. The tragedy is that many of these religious codes are incorporated into civil law. In Pakistan, for example, the law says that in order for a woman to prove rape, four adult males of “impeccable” reputation have to witness the penetration.

    There are other examples of repression against women that claims, legitimately or illegitimately, Islamic laws as justification, the chief one being the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, and even the relative moderate Jordan and Egypt also have varying degrees of repression.

    The situation has been so grave through the centuries that Riffat Hassan, professor of religious studies at the University of Louisville, in an article on TIME, states, “The way Islam has been practiced in most Muslim societies for centuries has left millions of Muslim women with battered bodies, minds and souls.”

    Indeed it is patently clear that in countries where progress has been made, this was only possible due to the rejection of religious precepts. And conservative clerics have fought every step of the way against such changes. Such was the case with Turkey, the most secularized of all Muslim countries, and to a certain extent also in Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia, where religious laws had to be set aside in order for women to achieve even a degree of freedom they already experience in some other countries.

    On Friday I will write about some of the progress that has been made regarding women in Muslim countries.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
    • Julie 7:50 am on April 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Would you mind adding a link for WordPress blogs (for reblogging)? Pretty please?

    • Cristina E. Garcia 10:52 pm on March 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Actually, Islam and the Prophet did much to empower women. It gave women rights that women in the West didn’t get until much later. In the case of inheritance laws, you have to take into consideration the context. At that time, women depended on men to take care of them, that is why men got more; also, the money a man got he HAD to spend it on his family and whatever they needed whereas a woman didn’t have to spend her money — if she decided to contribute it was considered a charity.

      Even though Islam allows polygyny, the Prophet stressed that if one could not treat every wife equally, then it was best to stay with one. This was a measure to help more women, remember this was a time when women depended on men for income and to take care of them.

      I don’t know about the law in Pakistan, but it must stem from the verse in the Qur’an 24:4 which states that in order for someone to be accused of adultery, they must have 4 eye witnesses of good reputation. This was to safeguard women from people trying to tarnish their reputations. Also, it makes proving adultery nearly impossible unless the couple is into exhibitionism.

      As the comic at the top of the page demonstrates, it is really the male elite of a society that oppresses women. Islam is no worse than Christianity or Judaism, yet its often pegged as the oppressor of women. Any religion can be used to manipulate the masses.

      If you talk to any Muslim woman, she’d tell you right away that she does not feel oppressed. Take a look at Azizah Magazine to see all the empowered women speaking for their religion. Also, there are many Muslim feminists you might be interested in reading about such as Fatima Mernissi and Amina Wadud. Before anything, I think you should read about the religion and then explore the islamic feminist dialogue. I suggest The Everything Understanding Islam Book (http://www.amazon.com/The-Everything-Understanding-Islam-Book/dp/1598698672).

      Peace.

      • ivanildotrindade 9:26 pm on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        thanks for your comment. it is well reasoned. i have read the aforementioned book and found it very informative. i have also read professor barnard lewis’ book, “what went wrong,” which i also highly recommend. i am not going to argue with you on the topic of how women in islamic countries on the whole feel because it is virtually impossible to know, but i do find it at least curious that it is only now that women are being allowed to drive, for example, in some islamic countries. i also don’t know how to explain some of the more conservative practices about “honor killings,” etc. i am glad to see that some women groups speak vehemently against that, but i would like to see that level of freedom to permeate more broadly into the general culture of some of these more conservative countries. thanks again for your good commentary.

  • ivanildotrindade 7:14 pm on April 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aisha, Arabia, feminism in islam, khadija, , muhammad's favorite wife, muhammad's wives, muslim feminists, wife-beating in koran,   

    Was Muhammad a Wife-beater? 

    Today I continue my series on women and Islam. The question today is: Was Muhammad a wife-beater?

    I don’t believe he was. Look, it is no secret that 7th century Arabia was a hostile place for women. Women were considered the property of the men in their lives. They had no rights and could be disposed of as one disposed of an animal. In light of that, some of Muhammad’s actions toward women are remarkable.

    Muhammad criticized men for being too harsh on their wives. Women played a prominent role in his life and religion. His favorite wife, Aisha, became his spokesperson in many matters of religion. His daughter, Fatima, was an influential force after his death. He remained in a monogamous relationship with his first wife, Khadija, as long as she lived, and only took on other wives after her death, and even then, in the majority of cases, his marriages sealed political alliances or extended benevolence to poor widows . Under Muhammad, women were assured the rights to divorce their husbands and own property.

    Muhammad allowed men to marry up to four wives only after the battle of Uhud (626), when scores of men were killed, leaving behind orphans and unprotected widows. Even as permission was granted, the language is such that it discourages it. A man was supposed to do that only if he was capable of treating each woman equally. That, of course, opened the door for abuse as no man who ever lived could possibly do that.

    But there are some things that would make it hard to turn Mohammad into a poster boy for feminism even by 7th century Arabia’s standards.

    Here are some examples:

    1. In one of the hadiths, (“traditions”) of the prophet, according to his favorite wife, Aisha, in at least one occasion, Muhammad struck her and it wasn’t with a pheasant feather either. This episode refers to a time he thought she was asleep, quietly slipped out of bed and walked to another place. She followed him against his knowledge and then returned to her bed. Upon coming back, he asked her: “Why is it, O ‘Aisha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain…” (my emphasis). I am, of course, aware of the many attempts to make “struck” mean something else in this hadith, but many respected Muslim scholars do not buy it. In all fairness, though, Aisha also said in other places that Muhammad never struck a child, woman or animal, except when threatened in battle.

    2. In some other hadiths, Muhammad clearly gives permission for husbands to beat their wives and does not prohibit them from doing so. On one occasion a woman wearing a green veil came to Aisha and showed her a green spot on her body caused by beating. Aisha complained to Muhammad: “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!” This is important because she is stating that the women outside of Islam were being treated better Muslim women. On another occasion Muhammad allowed the fathers of two of his wives to strike them in his presence without any protest on his part.

    3. It is at least peculiar that Aisha was betrothed to Muhammad when she was 6 or 7 and he was already past 50. She became his wife when she was 9 or 10. I would never call this child abuse, as some have, but I would say that coming from a prophet of God, I imagine this took a lot of finagling with the Almighty. One can see how such practice, though common in those times, would later be cause for criticism against the prophet. Another controversial marriage was the one to the divorced wife of his adopted son. Even Muhammad was conflicted about that at first, and several of his relatives called it incest.

    4. Though Muhammad allowed only four wives to Muslim men, he himself married 10-12, a special dispensation accorded him by Allah. Oh, the joys of prophethood! Yes, 7th century Arabia may have been harsh for women, but at least one man was already living in “paradise” and he didn’t even have to die a martyr to enter it.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 7:20 pm on April 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , muslims, Old Testament, , wife-beating,   

    Is Wife-beating in the Koran? 

    This week I address several issues related to women and Islam. My purpose is to state facts not interpret them; to clarify, not defend or attack anyone. Today I want to answer this question: is wife-beating present in the Koran?

    The answer to this question is an unmistakable YES. Just like parts of the Old Testament are embarrassing to some Christians, this admission also troubles some Muslims. The responses, as expected, usually fall into four categories: a) ignore that it is there; b) explain it away by attributing a different meaning to the text; c) acknowledge that it is there but soften its blow; d) admit it and try to defend it in today’s world (a not so enviable task).

    Now to the text in question: “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.” (Dawood’s translation of Sura (chapter) 4:34).

    In this text Muhammad gives two reasons why men are “superior” to women: because God made them so and because money made them so! He goes on to say that the signs of a virtuous woman are her obedience to her husband and her adherence to modest dressing. Finally, he gives a three-step approach to dealing with a wife suspected of “disobedience”: a) verbal rebuke; b) sexual deprivation (which for some women might be no punishment at all!) and c) physical punishment (“beating”).

    For those who try to make “disobedience” only refer to adultery or other immoral acts, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that the best translation is “disobedience.” Also, the whole context deals with obedience vs. disobedience. For those who want to say that “beating” means something other than beating, like making a verbal pronouncement, for example, this does not explain the three-step process, each step being a little “harsher” than the previous one. A verbal pronouncement would be the same as a verbal rebuke. Again, most scholars translate the word as “beating” and that is how that word is translated the vast majority of times it appears in the Koran.

    Later, silly notions such as “beating” them with a big toothpick or a folded handkerchief arose, no doubt to try to make the whole idea more palatable to westerners. No matter, the fact remains that even though Muhammad in other occasions admonished husbands not to treat their wives too harshly, even though he defended the rights of women to divorce and own property, even though he went to great pains himself to please his multiple wives, by letting that slip into the Koran, he gave comfort to the men who were already up to no good when it came to their views of women. The rest is history and it is not a pretty one.

    I am giving you the facts. Pure and simple. Tomorrow: Was Muhammad a wife-beater?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 1:42 pm on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dealing with pain, , Pain Management, what is pain   

    Pain 

    Pain

    There is pain so real you can die and still feel it

    Pain stamped by rejection

    Fueled by scorn

    Accented by indifference

    Perfected by injustice

    Pain that comes from being…

    And from being what others do not desire

     

    There is pain for every thought, every step, every creative interchange

    Pain that lodges itself in the conscience, closing doors that invite the sun in

    Pain knows no limits, asks no permission, seeks no reward

    The scourge of pain is its familiarity

    Pain wins when it is no longer rare

     

    Show me a man this side of life who can cure all pain

    And I will show you a villain

    For one who destroys all that is unpleasant

    Will also with it bring an end to struggle

     

    For there is struggle as old as the world

    And struggle as deep as the thoughts of men

    Struggle that harpoons the heart and

    Guillotines the mind

    Struggle is pain dressed in Sunday’s clothes

    Without it we simply go on living

    If we are lucky at all

     

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
    • Julie 1:47 pm on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Where’s that “Love” button. Thank you for addressing pain in such a short, simple, beautiful and poignant way. I feel gratitude when someone or something gently surfaces my pain. Feel, shed tears, feel some more, express and move on. This poem shines a wise light on a natural part of light. Thank you.

      • ivanildotrindade 10:32 pm on April 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thank u, julie. this poem was written for a friend who battles severe pain every awaken moment. natural part of life, right on, more natural for some than for others. but common to all. i will get on that reblog link. some reason your comments ended up on the spam folder. sorry. wordpress is my protector, i shall not want.

    • Julie 1:49 pm on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful. Gorgeous. Real. Our buddy, pain. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful poem — and surfacing tears. It makes me think how grateful I am that my relationship with pain is shifting.

    • Julie 9:33 am on May 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your response. Gave me another opportunity to revisit the poem. I believe we talk too little about pain, which often aids in keeping it buried. It’s as though we’re ashamed of it. Ashamed of a human condition. I’m very sorry for your friend. My severe pain has been emotional. I can only imagine it in physical form — and the strength that that battle must require. I appreciate very much the topics you cover and the heart and soul you cover them with.

      • ivanildotrindade 9:56 am on May 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks,julie. Sorry about your pain, but I trust u have become stronger as a result of it. But I know from experience that it is not as simple as that. There is no simple formula, it is just living day by day by the grace of God, stepping into our fears, and not letting them control our agenda. Blessings.

    • Julie 5:13 pm on May 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, I have and am grateful for the pain. The grace of God: yes. Stepping into our fears: must do that more.

      • ivanildotrindade 6:06 pm on May 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        me too. stepping into our fears is like feeding our bodies — we have 2 do it again and again. but when we do it, we see that fear is a bully, a usurper. God’s best 4 u. i am always fascinated with the words of Jesus when he said that he came to give us life and life to the full.. in other words, not just half-lived, half-enjoyed, hurried up and do the next thing kind of life. it’s fully engaged and living. i guess that is the real meaning of an extravagant life (not in the material sense) and i strive to live that way.

    • Julie 8:46 am on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I really like your explanation of what Jesus said. Never pondered on that one. Thought about it, but just couldn’t grasp it. “Extravagant life” — very nice. I think that I will now focus on an extravagant life — lived fully-engaged — and making a habit of multi-daily stepping into fears. It could make all the different. And “stepping into our fears is like feeding our bodies” — that’s really deep. Will take me some processing to digest ( 🙂 ) that one. To let that thought develop into a core belief could be really powerful.

      • ivanildotrindade 9:23 am on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        hey julie, the comment about feeding our bodies was not meant to be “deep.” sorry. i only wanted to say that just like with our bodies, we don’t feed them once for all (we get hungry again!), so with our fears — they return and we deal with them again. there is no magic pill, only the certainty that they don’t have to rule us, just like hunger doesn’t (or shouldn’t). so u don’t need to chew on that one for much longer… unfortunately, there r 2 many people in this world 4 whom hunger is an all-consuming thing — my metaphor wouldn’t work with them.

    • Julie 1:32 pm on May 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Deep is good. My profession is nutrition, so your metaphor hit the spot (hee hee).

      • ivanildotrindade 3:02 pm on May 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        glad 2 hear. i have read some of your writing. keep it up. the one about cyber clutter, though… not ready 2 go there yet!

    • paultheservant 9:56 am on June 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Pain endured makes one stronger. Pain endured makes one more beautiful. Pain is a gift a God is disguise.

      • ivanildotrindade 10:51 am on June 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks for your comment on my post about pain. yes, pain is often a gift from God, even if it is one we don’t wish to have at first. God builds character in us through pain.

  • ivanildotrindade 1:39 pm on April 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bully, Dr. Gus Sayer, Haylee Fentress, MA, Marshall Middle School, Mentor High School, Paige Moravetz, Phoebe Prince, Sladjana Vidovic, South Hadley, stop bullying in schools, Suicide of Phoebe Prince   

    Bully Epidemic 

    I don’t know why but it seems that in the last couple of years stories about young people killing themselves allegedly because of excessive bullying in school have become more frequent in the media. It could be that we are becoming more aware of the problem or it could be that the world of media storytellers is finally populated with people who want to put that problem on the forefront of our conversation. Regardless, we are learning more and some aspects of that knowledge have ripped my heart.

    Just today we learned that a school in New Jersey agreed to settle a lawsuit for 4.2 million dollars stemming from a student who was paralyzed after being punched in the stomach by a known bully. The suit alleged that the school knew about the bully and did nothing to protect the student.

    And why would the school settle? Well, for one thing, three months before being punched the student, then only 12,wrote his guidance counselor. He said, “I would like to let you know that the bullying has increased… I would like to figure out some coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, and I would just like to put this on file so if something happens again, we can show that there was past bullying situations.”  

    Lesson #1: report, report, report. Get it in writing. Make sure it is filed somewhere.

    Of course, this is no consolation to someone who lost the ability to walk, but still he and his family did the right thing. Many states have laws that obligate schools to report and record every incident of alleged bullying. Find out what the law says in your state, use the law to the full extent.

    Another settlement story comes from the now infamous school in South Hadley, MA. A student there, Phoebe Prince, who was originally from Ireland, ended up killing herself — again for allegedly excessive bullying in school. That case, however, is far from over, as there is a Federal Investigation going on now and there are six students who have been accused of a variety of offenses related to bullying Prince and their case is proceeding with possible trials on the  horizon.

    Lesson #2: make sure your child is not among the ones doing the bullying!

    From Minnesota comes another tragic story of bullying. Two students from Marshall Middle School, Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz, both 14, died in an apparent suicide pact, and left notes complaining of ostracism and bullying in their school. I don’t know about you, but when I read about a 14-year-old leaving a suicide note with instructions about her funeral, something inside of me wants to scream, “What’s wrong with this world? Why are kids so brutal to each other?”

    Finally, a story that absolutely broke my heart. A student, Sladjana Vidovic, whose family emigrated from Croacia when she was only a little girl, died at her own hands at least in part because of what she complained was daily torture at Mentor High School in a suburb of Cleveland, OH. She said she had food thrown at her, she was mocked because of her accent, she was called “Slutty Jana,” etc., etc. Again, the parents complained, again little or nothing was done. Sladjana was the fourth student from that school to die at their own hands in the last two years and if you believe the accounts, bullying at the school played a big part in their decision to commit suicide.

    Dr. Gus Sayer, superintendent of the school Prince attended, is quoted praising the progress that the school has made recently and makes this statement: “I think there is some belief that we are going to stop bullying, and that’s very unrealistic, it exists in every school.” There you have it. The highest school official, in the midst of terrible losses in the community, indirectly giving comfort to potential bullies. I am outraged. Believing that you can’t stop bullying is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can’t accept it. Besides, this is the wrong thing to say at a time of great grief. How about no more bully related deaths? Can you make that your goal, doctor?

    Lesson #3: some administrators, no matter how educated they are, will never get it, so you must keep pressing the issue.

    Talk to your kids about this. Read these articles with them. Ask about their friends. Find out about what the law says in your state, talk to other adults in your circle of friends, and don’t ever give up the fight. One last thing, check out this new website, which was created to help people who are dealing with bullies: http://www.bullyville.com/.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
    • Julie 9:53 am on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hello. This is really fabulous information. I don’t see a Press button for reblogging. Do you mind if I reblog this post on my domesticviolenceantidote.wordpress.com blog?

  • ivanildotrindade 7:56 pm on April 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cremation, , , Funeral home, mount zion baptist, my funeral jazz funeral, planning your funeral, rev. e. v. hill, weird funerals   

    "Don't Surprise Me At My Funeral" 

    Do you ever think about your own funeral? Maybe I am weird, but I do sometimes.

    I once went to the funeral of an acquaintance, a man in his mid-sixties who died of a heart attack. As I entered the church, to my surprise, I was greeted by a jazz band playing loud music. The tone was festive, the people were wearing brightly colored clothes, and the air was almost celebratory. More than once we were told “this is how he wanted it,” almost as a veiled admission that something was amiss. I mean, blame it on the deceased. Even the dead are entitled to bad taste.

    Ever since that experience, I have given much thought to how I want my funeral to be. So if you attend it one day, and somebody says “that’s how he wanted it,” bring these notes and feel free to cross-reference them with the funeral. Feel free to protest too, if things don’t go as I asked. I don’t want my funeral to surprise me. So here are some notes to my funeral:

    First of all, while the “jazz funeral” is at one end of the spectrum, at the other end are the uncontrollably sobbing and screaming that goes on in some other funerals. I want neither. Sometimes in Christian funerals people are so quick to play the “absent from the body, present with the Lord” note that they end up suppressing what is a natural, genuine human feeling — the pain of losing a loved one. So at my funeral, I don’t want people to put on an artificial face of comfort but neither do I desire for them to “lose it.” If you are sad, show sadness; if you are happy, show happiness. Just don’t embarrass me at my funeral.

    Secondly, don’t go looking for highlighted texts in my Bible. First of all, while I own many Bibles, most of my Bible reading is done online these days. Also, I am not one who likes to mark books — I am still old-fashioned about approaching books with a certain reverence, whether sacred or not. And when it comes to the Bible, I have never been a “highlighter” because when I used to read more from the printed text I never liked to condition my mind to only look at passages I had previously highlighted. I always want to discover the hidden treasures in this precious Word.

    Don’t look for favorite verses. For all my adult life I have tried to read three chapters of the Bible every day plus one chapter of Proverbs, corresponding to the day of the month. So I like them all, but you could say that if I have a favorite it is a book and not a verse. The most practical and true to life lessons you can find in the Bible are in the Book of Proverbs. Just like the Geico commercial, five minutes of Proverbs can save you from ruining your life — a slightly better advantage over saving 15% in car insurance…

    Thirdly, I have seen a lot of dead people in my life and no matter the expertise of the funeral home, none of those people looked as good dead as they did alive. And I haven’t seen anyone who was already bad turning out to be prince (stiff) charming in the casket… So by all means, no open casket for me. I would rather prefer that the last image people have of me is one of the time I was still alive.

    Fourthly, cremate my body. Some Christians are afraid of cremation because they know that God is going to do something with the body in the resurrection. So if my start-up kit is nowhere to be found, how will they be able to rise again? Silly. Don’t you think that the same God who created you might just have an idea of what your DNA is? God doesn’t have to be a grave-digger to revive your fine constitution. Plus, Paul said that this will be a spiritual body not a physical one. I don’t care where you spread my ashes, all I care about is that I reduce the costs for those left behind.

    Finally, a program note. No long sermon. Music is okay, but no favorite hymns. No exaggerated eulogies. I don’t want people to make me a saint when they talk about what I did. If anybody talks, my preference would be for them to talk about who I was and not what I did. Look for people who can say that felt my  heartbeat. Find someone who cried with me at a long intersection in their lives, someone who saw me when tragedy struck and when life was good. Let them talk about how I handled those situations.

    Then, if you have a moment to spare, show this video by Rev. E. V. Hill, part 3 of the sermon “If I Only Had One Message to Preach” (don’t play parts 1 and 2, only part 3). You may wait until the funeral or you may chose to watch it now. It’s about 8 minutes long.

    How about you? Which notes will you leave for your funeral?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 10:53 pm on April 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: last day on earth, one day to live, proactive about dying, saying good-bye, staring death in the face, thirty days to live   

    How My Day Would Change If I knew I was dying tomorrow 

    I have written here about choosing a way to die. I don’t remember all that I said, except a tad bit about eating Brazilian barbecue before the inevitable. Today I heard a story about a man who had dinner with his wife, felt a burn, took an anti-acid, then heard his wife say, “I will come up later. Hope you will feel better in the morning.” When the wife came to bed, the husband was sound asleep. In the morning, she knew something was wrong. He had a fatal heart attack in the middle of the night and died suddenly at 44 years of age.

    The wife then reflected on how that event impacted her. The last conversation, the last dinner, the last kiss, the last laugh… and she didn’t know it! And she concluded that this is just about the way it usually is — we don’t realize that it was the last … (fill in the blank) until after there is nothing we can do about it.

    This story also made me reflect, “What if I knew that tomorrow was my last day?” I am sure it wouldn’t be a typical day and I am sure the day wouldn’t go exactly like I write below, but here are some of my thoughts…

    1. I normally get up between 6:30 and 7:00, look at my wife lying next to me, thank God for the joy of looking at such beautiful face every morning when I get up, and say a quick prayer for her. But if I knew this was the last, I would linger much longer, looking at her beautiful gaze, and I would pray a more focused prayer, “May you live the rest of your life with contentment and fulfillment. May you remember the past with fondness, but embrace the future with abandonment. May you laugh hard even when you don’t have to and when you have to cry, may you cry only a little, quick enough for God dry those tears so you can see clearly the path ahead.” Then I would probably just stay there and do nothing also.

    2. But if I didn’t, I would go to the bathroom, brush my teeth one last time. My Listerine tooth paste! Would I miss it? Okay, the good news is that I wouldn’t have to go to the one store in my town which still carries it. I would weigh myself. Wait, I would probably not worry about that. Once, I would look at the scale and say, “I don’t care!” I would pick a pair of jeans, maybe one of my favorite, the one with the buttons instead of a zipper. A black undershirt and a nice black and grey long-sleeve shirt would complete the attire, except for my long brown fake Italian shoes which I bought in Cambodia.

    3. I would then get stuff ready downstairs. At times, when I go to work, my son is still by the computer, having been up all night. I normally say a few words to him, usually hearing only brief grunts and sighs back. But this morning it would be different. I would make him breakfast, making sure he got his boiled eggs buttered with manioc powder, a Brazilian food. I would tell him how much I love him and would encourage him to not be afraid of seeking the truth, wherever it may lead. I would be certain to let him know that I had no doubt he would love his mom and sisters no matter what and that he would certainly be loved back. I would ask him to forgive me for the times I was not there for him.

    4. I would call my daughters, make arrangements to have them come to the house and tell them how incredibly proud I am of the young women they have become. I would assure them of my love. I would tell them that their mother was now their priority. I would not ask them to “take care” of her, but to make sure that she would never have any reason to doubt their love. And I would tell them that with their encouragement their brother could be a great success at whatever he chose to do.

    5. If I did go to work on this day (unlikely!), I would ride my bike. Without a helmet. No, I am not trying to rush anything here… But if this is my last day on earth, I would ride free and unencumbered.

    6. At staff meeting, which we have every Tuesday, I would be unusually quiet. Then, toward the end, I would make sure everybody knew how much I loved working with them and by all means I would look for a funny and borderline edgy joke to tell. Then I would say something like what Jesus said to the disciples in the upper room. “What I do now you don’t understand now, but you will understand later.”

    7. On this day, I would go to our local grocery store and buy a special cut of meat called picanha. I would come home and ask my wife to marinate it. Then I would barbecue it to perfection, make Brazilian vinagrete, invite my sister, her family, and have all my family there. I would have some red Porto and listen to Brazilian popular music. Then I would let everybody know how much my life had been meaningful to me and would give them a list of all the great things God had done for me.   I would assure them that I was a happy man. (Oh yes, I would remind them not to forget to return the library materials I have that are due this week!).

    After that, I would dance with my wife and swear to her my eternal love. And the rest I hope to tell you when we are both at the other side…

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 4:28 pm on April 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , pepperdine university, , , , , , , vacation with a purpose,   

    Go and Do – a little book with a big dare 

    It’s not every day that you get a book for free and you go home and you read half of it before you go to bed on the same day, but that’s exactly what happened to me last Friday!

    Just before I went home, as I always do, I checked my mail box and found a yellow envelope from Tyndale Publishers. Inside it was a brand new copy of Jay Milbrandt’s book Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time with a note from the author. The book is outstanding and I can’t recommend it enough. You can pre-order it on Amazon now and it will be available on Barnes & Nobles starting this coming Thursday.

    Jay Milbrandt is a young attorney and serves as the Director of the Global Justice Program and Associate Director of the Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion, and Ethics at Pepperdine University School of Law. He is also a friend and more importantly, he is a friend to Faa, the young lady with whom I co-founded G.R.O.W., an organization that is rescuing children from the sex trade industry in SE Asia.

    For this reason, I am partial to the book. I knew it was being published and I even got an advanced copy of some of its contents. Gosh, I even made some suggestions to the author, a couple of which made it to the final version of the book. But I am biased for another reason: every purchased copy of Jay’s book will generate a contribution to the work of G.R.O.W.

    And here is why: I met Jay in Thailand. He already knew Faa and had been working with her on some projects rescuing at-risk children and advocating on behalf of some landless, displaced youths who had no place to go. Jay had his life changed by the children Faa introduced to him on the streets of Chiang Mai and in fact in the first 55 pages of his book, he tells the story of how me met Faa and how the children she was helping on the streets changed his life.

    Jay is convinced that every change starts with us first and he tells the story of how this happened to him. Faa played a big part in it and thus his tale is filled with stories of redemption and chaos from the life of children with no voice. You will laugh and cry as you read Jay’s story, and I hope it will inspire you to go and do something.

    It could start with a trip overseas. Not simply a vacation, but a vacation with a purpose. Perhaps your journey will parallel Jay’s. If nothing also, you will be helping G.R.O.W. build a learning center in Wiang Pa Pao, Thailand, which is how Jay is going to use part the funds generated through the sale of his book.

    I hope you will buy a copy of this book. It is not a long book, in fact, as books go, it is a little book. But there is a big dare inside of it. Read it to find out. You may find yourself, just like Jay, asking the question, “What Am I Here For?” And the journey will start.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
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