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Sunday, December 29, 2013

GoodBye 2013! Hello Hope!

Here's hoping 2014 is less complicated than 2013, but with lots of choices as suggested by the HOKUSAI 2014 Calender!

We have not had a year that the general population was sorry to see pass into history for a very long time. When we said goodbye to 2007, little did we know that would become one of the good ole years of our lives. Of course we accept that life is subject to cycles, the ups and the downs, but this down has lasted so long, and will likely last for so much longer that it has become the new norm. That is not good.

Still, all things are comparative, and our own depression has to be properly set alongside what our parents have suffered through in their time. I have learned that life will hand us disappointments whether we are ready to accept them or not. We just have to learn to take them on board with more grace.

It is usual at this time of year to look back over the past twelve months and to review the things that have happened. All of the major stories are well known and are thoroughly depressing so I would rather not go over all that again, except for one thing: that is the matter of the most powerful typhoon/hurricane ever that struck the unfortunate people of the Phillippines. I refer to this because as a part of global warming I believe that we shall see ever more destructive events around the world, including parts of the world that normally is not affected by storms of this sort. See, more bad news!

For my family 2013 did bring forth one significantly good development: our son had met a young woman whom he finally deemed to be of sufficient quality to introduce her to us. Our feeling is that his choice is well grounded and that we are impressed by his common sense, especially when it comes to love. I think she is a keeper and we are very happy for them both.

We have now all but covered the complete cycle with our new son who arrived in 1990. I was fifty at the time and I was criticized for becoming a father at such a late stage in my life. It was said that I would leave him far too soon for him to have come to know me, but as things have turned out he only now needs to marry and present us a grandchild to finish the cycle. (Where did the time go?)

As we begin to close the door on 2013 we look forward to 2014 with some degree of trepidation. There are no signs that even suggest that the new year will bring us happiness and economic growth, but that need not stop us from thinking positively and hoping that the year will be an improvement over the outgoing one. Some things will happen naturally, such as growing older. I like to think that we also grow wiser, but that won't help us much if we lose our ability to remember what it was that we learned.

Why does life have to be so complicated?

Happy New Year!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Speaking about South Africa

Frederick DeKlerk-Man of V ision

In 1986 I was working as an acountant/manager of reinsurance companies. Consequently my books could only close after inspection by an independent auditor. A young curly haired blonde man walked into my office and announced that his name was Brum, and that he was there to audit one of the companies. "Hold on!" said I, "you're South African aren't you?" He confirmed that he was and I saw red. We got off on the wrong foot, and I asked him why the hell he thought I would consent to work with him?

His answer changed everything and gave me an insight into white South Africa that was very enlightening. "Perhaps if I explain that I have escaped from S.A. you might see things in a different light." This is a long story that I must condense by saying that he told me that as a young graduate from formal studies he was conscripted into the Defence Force and was made to bear a whip and oppress the blacks with gusto, whether he was in agreement or not. The problem with totalatarian systems such as that in S.A. at the time, to be white was to be on the side of the National Party, and any show of reticence was viewed as possible treason.

He said that he was aware that many people who lived well on the backs of the blacks would talk among themselves in whispers about how wrong it all was. Even to get out by leaving was seen as letting the side down. In his case he was in Bermuda as part of his international training, but hell would have to freeze over before he went back.

Now fast forward a couple of years and along came F.W. DeKlerk who could see a bloodbath coming that would even embarrass South Africa's enablers, such as The United States of America under President Ronald Reagan, and Britain under Margaret Thatcher, both of whom described Nelson Mandela as that terrorist! There was no doubt that South African forces would win but there would be so many bodies to bury that the world likely would ostracize S.A. even further.

He concluded that the policy of apartheid was wrong and was leading the country in the wrong direction. He came to the obvious conclusion that something had to be done to turn things around. He set about to convince his party that a very radical move must be made, and as we now know, he was successful. How did he do that?

Most people are unaware that the talks between the ANC and the government took place in Bermuda under complete secrecy that even the media observed. Officials flew in and out and no-one uttered a word in public. However, after Mr Mandela's release Mr DeKlerk did come back to visit to thank the Bermuda government and the people of the country for our hospitality and cooperation. It was while he was going walk-about with a friend of mine that I bumped into him on the street.

Normally, that would have been a real surprise that would leave the average person speechless, but I had mused to myself that if I ever got the chance to meet him I would express certain specific thoughts to him. I did just that while thanking him for releasing Mr Mandela, and I also expressed my wonderment at his superb salesmanship. Perhaps, now that he had so much time on his hands he might like to sell life insurance for me?

His words to me will linger in my memory perhaps for all time: "Convincing the people of my party, overall, was much easier than perhaps I could imagine."  Those words underscored what the auditor had told me a few years earlier.This was exactly what they had been hoping for.

As if more proof was needed it was abundantly provided following President Mandela's death when all people came together to give thanks to a man sent from Heaven as a modern day saviour.

President F.W. DeKlerk deserves nothing less!

Copyright (c) 2013   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, December 15, 2013

WoW !!! What a Splendid way to say "Goodbye until we meet again."

Well Done! Oh Good, Valiant, Visionary, Peacemaker and Unifier!

The end has come to signify all formal responses to the death of President Mandela after ten days of observerances. The outpourings have been so immense that even for those people right there I doubt if they were able to take it all in.

I think it was all fitting and appropriate that such a larger than life man be honoured to the outer extent of human endeavour. Never before have I seen the passing of a man, or woman, be the opportunity that so clearly defined his entire life's work. Mr Mandela was born into apartheid, and he hated the system more than anything. His life's work was to overcome racial hatred. He was firmly against white oppression and black domination.

You would have to be very sincere to convince the children that are called the "born frees" that there was once laws in South Africa against whites and blacks inter-mingling, but there it was,  everywhere you looked, blacks and whites, and people of every ethnicity together, grieving over the natural passing of the father of modern South Africa, living proof that his struggle was for all the people.

In a perverse kind of way it could be argued that his life was perfect. A child from rural Africa, untainted by city ways was able to see not only the difference between right and wrong, but was also sufficiently moved to actually do what had to be done to fix the problem. He took the pain of indignation and insult, and he had the good sense to know that the best way to take revenge on the enemy is to do a far better job than they in making the world a better place for all. This he did, leaving the whole world wanting for more.

It is natural that the body wears out and the end of the individual's life here on earth comes to an end. However, it need not mean that the individual's spirit dies. It think that the spirit is eternal and recycable. Mr Mandela received his spirit from one of his ancesters, and he has passed his to another. He now becomes An Elder in Perpetuity. He will be found in every history book about South Africa and readers will be consulting his wisdom 5,000 years from now.

So, yes the time came when he needed to lie his burden down and to receive a well earned rest. He was accorded appropriate respect and dignity, and his mortal remains lie in what must surely be the most beautiful hills of Africa.

Anyone who can command the respect of such a diverse cross-section of the world's people when the end comes can be truly said to have lived a life well worth living.

"Well Done thou true and faithful Servant." Now, Rest in Peace and Love!"

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, December 7, 2013

President Mandela is Dead! Long Live President Mandela!

Mr. Troublemaker!
The Great Unifier

At birth, the parents of Mr. Mandela gave him a name in the tribal language that I can neither spell nor pronounce, that translates into English as Troublemaker. An arrogant white man who had the same problem as I do, arbitrarially  changed his name to Nelson Mandela. However, his parents were right, because throughout his life whenever he confronted inequality, injustice and unfairness there would be trouble.

We have now come to the end of President Mandela's life, a time for reflection to review his life that was well worth living, and to ask ourselves how did his life impact upon our own? This is truly a huge subject that can occupy volumes, but it is the classic story of good triumphs over evil. Mr. Mandela was David, and his Golith was the National Government of South Africa. They left their homes in Holland and Britain and entered the home of Mr. Mandela and poisioned South Africa and did unspeakable things to the natives.

As  is widely known Mr. Mandela was sent to prison for at least 27 years of his life just because he made trouble by objecting to such treatment. However, Divine Guidence directed the hand of the judge not to put him to death because it was absolutely necessary that he be spared to rise from prisioner 46664 to become President of the country and The Great Unifier that he was.

He was born into an evil system of apartheid. So was I. We were forever told that we were worthless, and that we were unable to achieve anything of value. But Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of U.S. President Roosevelt declared that no one can make you believe that you are inferior without your personal cooperation. Mr. Mandela apparently believed that; I believe it, and obviously so does President Obama.

The world is challenged to find adequate superlatives to describe what we feel in our hearts. I think that Archbishop Desmond Tutu perhaps said it best: Nelson Mandela was like a diamond, almost flawless. Now we find ourselves treating him as delicately. He would not have wanted that. His sense of humour would have us sing and dance and celebrate the fact that we spent time together and we achieved something substantial along the way.

I personally love his humour:
 Upon meeting Queen Elizabeth II, it is reported that he walked up to her and exclaimed, Ah, Elizabeth, you are looking wonderful. You've lost weight! He insisted on addressing her by her first name. His advisors suggested he should be more formal as she is a very formal person. Supposedly he replied: Why? She calls me Nelson.

In a conversation with a music producer he is reported to have said that music is so important as a way to reach young people. They listen to music. They don't listen to old men and politicians, and I am both of those things.

When he became aware of the worldwide campaign to free Nelson Mandela, he replied, but my first name is not free.

Many people now speak of the great loss of this wonderful man, and truly the world has been a better place with him within it. However, I say that so long as we live by his ideals he will live on. He, will never die!

Archbishop Tutu asked, now what will happen that our father, the father of modern day South Africa, has passed on? The sun will rise just as before, but as usual it is up to each individual to do his best to make the world a better place, day by day. And if we do that, no matter where in the world we are, we honour his life, his struggle, and all his suffering.

Mala Yousafzai, a young woman whom I believe is the new Mandala, described him as an icon of equality and love! I think she's right.

President Obama said that President Mandela now belongs to the Ages. We love him so much, but it is time to love him enough to let go.

Rest in Peace!

95 years

Copyright (c) 2013   Eugene Carmichael  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Life and Death of Canal NOU! (Canal 9)

In 1989, the autonamous government of the Community of Valencia established the broadcasting station of Radio Television de Valencia, (RTVV), popularly known as Canal Nou, (Canal 9). There were three television channels, Canal 9, Punto Dos, (.2) and Canal 24, a continuous news channel broadcasting in thirty minute loops. In addition to that there was the popular radio channel, and all broadcasted in the local language of valenciano.

It was a very popular creation and served the people well and was well received, even by the Socialist opposition as the station was created by the Party Popular, (the PP) even though that political party unashamedly used the station as its mouthpiece, hardly giving the opposition a look in.

When we first came to Valencia it was the channel of choice from which to learn this strange dialect of spanish that is sufficiently different from castillian to be a seperate language, in my opinion. Our son tuned in every saturday morning to watch Babala, with Maria Abradela, and in the process he learned a good deal of valenciano. For me, I watched the evening news and got my information particularly about events taking place closest to me, although even to today I am having to join up pictures with audio and assume I have got it right.

So, what went wrong with Canal 9? As with so many things that involve politics, simply put corruption took over and the rot set in. The broadcasting company allegedly became the dumping ground for influencial politicians to get their relatives and friends jobs, and as a result the burden on the broadcaster became ever more impossible to bear. At one point the company had very nearly two thousand people on its payroll. By comparison, the national broadcaster RTVE had only a fraction of staff. Something was terribly wrong.

Enter Alberto Fabra as presidential successor of the entire community following Francisco Camps, and President Fabra sees his mandate to turn around the state of being of the economy of Valencia and to turn over a new leaf in the way that things have been done in the past.

Consequently, his edict to the television station was that it materially reduce its staff and run itself properly, or close. All sorts of moves were undertaken in defiance but simply put the station could not be continued as it had been, and so, the order was given and voted on by the Valencia parliament, and in a midnight move, agents of the government had to push past guards put in place to stop them to pull the plug. Now, the station is silent. It has been one of the saddest things to watch, although no sadder than the closure of any business with the impact upon staff. In this case the step by step process has been so public. The news has been mostly about the doom overshadowing the station, with a lot of clips from past events to remind viewers and listeners of how important the station has been to our lives.

Ironically, just before the storm broke the news channel completely revamped its image, having dumped some popular personnel such as newsreaders and on-air sports personalities. We can only imagine how those people are feeling today.

I believe that we have not seen the last of broadcasting from Canal 9, although when it returns, and I'm sure it will as a private business that will closely watch its bottom line, it will be called something else. The former company that has debts, some say, over a billion euros can sell the premises and the rights and equipment, and even the goodwill, and from those proceeds they can pay perhaps one penny in the euro to creditors. Valencia will see the return of something, although we do not know what.

This is a classical when we say, Stay Tuned! For everybody who has been so badly hurt as a result of the corrupt interference of unnamed culprits in the past, I say that is a complete shame and is so sad. However, it is a lesson that we had all better learn and apply across the board.

 Corruption has a price that has to be paid in the end, and no-one is ever happy when the bill comes!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael