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AFRICA-"THE CRADLE"

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WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

My first introduction to the word "Africa" came as I sat in my grandfarther's lap and he opened up the pages of. the "National Geographic Magazine". I was one or two years of age. This became a monthly routine as each issue arrived. At the end of my second year and the beginning of my third year, grandfather started to teach me how to read.  I would point to a picture and he would say the word and spell it.  Then I would point and say the word and spell it.  I was taught the alphabet and the numbers out of the pages of the NG.  My second English teaching textbook, was one of his favorite authors (James Allen) book entitled "As A Man Thinketh".  Grandfather had a fairly extensive library.

Well, back to Africa. 

l am finally out of the Kalahari Desert. The sand is out of my boots; not out of my mind. Like some women, the desert lingers on. The awesome proportions of this oversized "sand-box", dwarfs ones' presence. As immensity embraces minuteness. Repeatedly, I stood speechless in the middle of this "nowhere".Yet in the middle of everywhere. As always words blanche in the light of experiencing. This same feeling has brushed my soul in the past. Remembering back to standing at the railings of a twisting, tossing ship in the middle of both oceans and a number of seas. As I searched the depths of the murky mass that surrounded and miniaturized both ship and occupants. Or while sipping the heady wines of ecstasy, while perched on Hemingway's beloved Mt. Kilamajaro.. 

In these peak experiences "a la Maslow", the connective-ness, the unity of "all and everything" becomes the truth of the moment. During these momentary silences. "Self-realization" was followed by a long overdue thanksgiving. For all the opulence, given by design. This Creation, we have been given contains within its' tapestry of design. A golden thread for those who can see it, and this thread can lead one back to their origins, their who and what they are. If they will make the conscious decision and  effort.

As the shifting desert sands, rose and filled my footprints and hurried elsewhere. A voice told me; "to walk into the setting sun. And I would come upon a small village that would have water" (the liquid gold of the desert). Now, on this perpetual journey, I have been given all sorts of directions. Some very dubious, others amusing and then a few, very few correct ones. But when one is in the middle of a desert, in need of water. And a stranger riding a camel appears out of nowhere and announces; "Walk into the sun". You, question both his sanity and yours. The camels' state of mind, was never in question.

The Rest of the Story:

The village was where it was supposed to be, as was the water. Again, I silently thanked my mysterious benefactor, who had disappeared as he had appeared. On entering the village, eyes widened, steps halted and the voices became whispers. As the camel rider; I too, seemed to have materialized up out of the sands.

Since water had become a priority item, several miles back. I did my best imitation of a thirsty man in need of water. And a little girl about ten years of age brought me an earthen jar of water. After thanking her, which she did not understand I gave a slight bow, this she understood and did likewise. I popped two iodine tablets into the jar and slowly began to quench my much overdue thirst. About the same time a young man approached me and asked in broken phrases of English: "If I would have something to eat with he and his family." I accepted his gesture of hospitality with reservation, which I didn't reveal to him.

During this trek of more than fifty countries and nearly ten years. I have had a variety of ethnic foods offered up to me in villages, towns and cities. A variety of fruits, berries, roots nuts and various questionable liquids. Delicacies of roasted flying termites, ants in honey, strange vertebrates, fish, and fowl. An assortment of animal meats: monkey, baboon, crocodiles, impala, snake, Cape Buffalo, plus others which I have conveniently forgotten their names. Plus names I can't pronounce. There were those times when my stomach questioned my powers of choice and rebelled. I have reached an unscientific conclusion. One has to be borne into certain food cultures to fully appreciate the daily fare of the foods of the world. But for a Westerner there are some other considerations that affect ones' gastronomic delight. The hygienic conditions; food storage (meats left in the hot sun, with a variety of insects having a feast.) all sorts of contamination. All these can affect ones culinary appreciation or at least mine.

One just has to see to believe and even then one asks themselves, whether they are seeing what they are seeing? To say that some of the conditions are primitive, does not say it all. But yet, it is primitive to us, but not to those who are living in the said conditions. To them it is just life. It is the way it is. There is a story that says it well;

A riot had broken loose, and a street rug-seller had acquired a fine rug from one of the looters for a nominal fee. And he started hawking his new possession. "One hundred dinars, only one hundred dinars, for this lovely rug." As he walked up and down the street. Finally a friend came along and asked him; "why, are you selling such a priceless rug for only "one hundred" dinars?. The rug-seller replied; " "is there anything more than one hundred"?

Whether it be in Africa, or in some other part of the world. Many are like the rug dealer, a hundred is all there is. It is very difficult to stand outside your existence and see the reality of your own life. We are not only in it, we are of it and it of us. And of course this is a "no, no." A truth, a reality, that we are surely in the world, but the greater Truth is, we are not of this world. We need to see ourselves for who we are and what we are? Not as we are, not as we are in our limitations. If we could observe ourselves, watch as an outside witness. Observing the observer, as a subject interacting with other subjects and objects. It is just possible that this type of being aware could help us to realize that one hundred is not all there is. That reality is what we make it, that one does not have to accept, that life only goes to a hundred. The mold can be broken! But to break the mold, we need to ask ourselves how is it, that we have come to believe in this limiting and confining approach to life? Why are we, so prone to look at life in such a narrowing way? How can we expand our horizons, our consciousness, so we can see reality as it is? Not, as we have been programmed to see.

Back to th story:

I have said this in speaking to groups. That usually I sent up my tent as soon as possible and start the preparation of food. Partially in light of, the existing conditions which we have spoken about. And also because the people of the villages are quick to offer food, even when they themselves have so little. As one man apologized to me in a thatched hut community, saying; that he didn't have much, but he would be glad to share what he had. Which echoes the words; "Silver and gold, I have none. But what I do have, I will give". There have been those situations where they have offered me  their children's food, in befriending me. It is not uncommon for children within a family to take turns in skipping meals, some eating ever other day. People with so little giving so much to a stranger can be very embarrassing.

How often does one find this graciousness? Anglo to anglo, not often. This is rare in the Western Hemisphere, in ratio. For peoples of the more populated areas, have a tendency to be more exclusive, clannish, or reticent. And less motivated to invite a stranger into their "comfort zones". This is not meant to be critical or derogatory, it is merely an observation. People have got to do, what people think they have to do. The extended hand has not as yet, become a universal trait. But it is gaining ground and someday; the cynics of the world will be a dying breed.

As I walk; I wonder, as I have done all my life. I wonder about those in the past who have walked the same path, road or direction. As I now walk, in the silence of their steps. What had been their thoughts, dreams and aspirations as they walked? Did they also ask of themselves, who and what they were, what they were to be about and where they were going?

And now I ask; is humankind any closer in answering these eternal questions now, than then? Or have we de-evolved instead of evolved? As disturbing and frustrating, as this cyclic de-volution and evolution might be. This very falling and rising, this descending and ascending, this backward and forward dance of life, may seem to us as being to repetitive. But it is a necessity, it is integral, a prerequisite in the 'relative' connective schema of things. Or we could say that without these contrasting cycles, it would not be possible for us to become and be what we were created to be. Which in Reaity we already are. A fact which we have forgotten

This RETURN to that which we already are, must be a conscious knowing, one of decision and effort. as the knower, the knowing and the known become as one. For to know and not know, you know, is but half of the equation. The other half is to know that you know this is and can be a possibility. To repeat, there must be a de-scension before there can be any ascension. The above is the below, and the below is the above. They are one and the same "substance".

Back to the story:

There is a wonderful strangeness, along with a prevailing awe and wonderment, that rises up out of the Deserts of the World. That meets each step, as the sand rushes to surround and engulf each step. They, the Deserts of the World are sisters in kind, especially their nights. Those unforgettable desert nights when the stars seem to be resting in the hollow of your hand. As you lie beneath the lacy canopy, whose very edges seem to reach out beyond the beyond. And you are privileged, to a breathless display of splendor that would strike dumb the most gifted poets and artists. We ask; are there any earthly words, paint or palette, that can begin to portray the matchless beauty of the desert nights in all their finery? And I think I hear a resounding "No!"

After leaving Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; I turned my steps towards Francistown, Botswanna to fulfill several speaking engagements, that had been prearranged. From Francistown, I headed towards Maun, which was approximately 427 miles, give or take a mile or two. With a full compliment of supplies, that rounded the backpack out at one hundred pounds. And yes, I have heard the expression; "strong back, weak mind." I am often ask, " How do you carry a hundred pounds?" Well you just do it. If for any reason you decide that you cannot do it. You will not be able to lift the backpack, let alone walk with it. Anyone who has ever pumped iron. Knows that as you slip underneath the weight to do a bench press. And you have told yourself, that you can do it. Chances are you will lift the weight. But if you convince yourself, you cannot do it Chances are, it will not happen. Even though your body strength is the same as it was the day before when you lifted the weight. The mind, body and spirit must be as one, when the "moment of truth" arrives. Here we are speaking about a state of attention, a centering, a focusing. Attending solely to the task at hand, a gathering together of all of ones' energies to do what must be done, at that particular time in space.

The 427 miles, took thirty days, with no complications. The first village I came to was Nata, which took approximately six days to reach, It was abut 117 miles from Francistown. The next four villages were fairly evenly spaced apart, all the way to Maun. As in most of the villages, towns or cities, I attract a fair share of curious onlookers. They are fascinated with the six foot staff which I carry plus the two customized machetes displayed on each side of my large red backpack. Along with a Twelve foot bullwhip and a large Bowie knife. Usually before I reach a village, a small entourage {mostly children of all ages} gather to follow me in. Many of the children, especially those of the Thatched Hut Communities, have never seen a white man walking their foot paths. As I enter these communities; their is a lot of grinning, smiling and hand gestures, the Universal language. If I say; " hello", they "hello" back and "hello", and "hello". This can go on throughout the day, or as long as you are there.

While setting up my tent, I am never without an audience of curious eyes watching my every move. And as often is the case, before leaving the village. The young and old alike, want to see the bullwhip, the throwing "hawk " and throwing knives in action.. In some of the villages the men have spears and knives of their own. And then we have a little throwing competition. Somewhere, in all these goings on, I amuse the children by dislodging my dentures, moving them in and out. Many have never seen false teeth before. And they are fascinated by the magic teeth. One day as I was entering a town in North Africa. I suddenly found myself surrounded by children. I couldn't move in any direction. And then I sneezed and my upper denture moved, peeking out between my lips. The children jump back as though, a shot had been fired. During their initial shock, I had taken a bandanna I had hanging on the side of my backpack and brushed my mouth quickly concealing the teeth in the folds of the bandanna. As they watched, I opened the bandanna, so they could see the teeth laying in the center of the handkerchief. As quickly as I had removed my teeth, I replaced them, with the bandanna hiding the movement. And then showed them the empty bandanna. They were convinced it was magic. They had never seen teeth like that before. They went and got their friends and anyone else they could find, to come and see the magic teeth. They followed me all around town, wanting to see the "teeth show".

From that moment on, whenever I would find myself knee deep in children, it was denture time, it never failed me. I have had a number of amusing experiences along the way. And my dentures have played a part in many of them. One such time, as I was relating this story to a group of second graders. A little boy during the question and answer period wanted to know. If I had purchased my teeth at a Joke Shop. And could I wind them up and make them chatter. I told him, my teeth often chattered as I walked over mountains in the snow. That seem to satisfy his curiosity. At least I thought it did, but as I was about to leave The same little boy approached me. And asked; "How much did they charge you for your teeth?"

In the final 310 miles to Maun, I traveled through and skirted several game reserves, plus the Nam Pam National Park, just beyond Gweta. Since I am walking I am privy to have seen all the game in their natural habitat, out in the bush. Not behind an electric fence, riding in a Land Rover or some other tourist conveyance. Large fenced acreage for the animals, are replacing their natural environment to keep the poachers from killing them off. The endangered lists are growing in Africa. It is possible that in a couple of generations, many of the "big five"in Africa will be close to extinction. But the sad part of this scenario, is that the animals can no longer migrate from place to place, as has been their way of life, since the beginning. They were borne to be free.

In my walking, most of the animals I see are on the move, going from somewhere to somewhere. If they venture near, it is usually out of curiosity. Animals are basically wary of humans. Of course this can change immediately if the animal or animals feel in anyway threatened. Or should someone do something stupid; like a quick movement, or encroach while they are eating, or come to close to their young. Or disobey the cardinal rule don't panic and run. For then you become a prey to chase. And this is especially true with the feline species or any of the other predator species. As with the wild African dogs, with their Mickey Mouse ears, or the Hyenas. Also the Rhino, Elephants and the Cape Buffalo can be spooked. Again, if one moves, it must be in slow motion. Around animals one must expect the unexpected at all times. For these occasions I carry firecrackers an a good dependable Zippo lighter. They are very effective. The bull-whip I carry requires more movement to operate, so the firecrackers are the best choice.

From Maun to Windhoek, Namibia the villages were spaced further apart which presented a little problem, as to my water supply. I carry two- half gallion containers. But where there is a will, there is a way. Two times I traded for some water from several water carriers. The barter I used was one of the oldest bartering substances in history, "salt". Before reaching Maun, itself I passed through the "Okavango Delta" and camped at Lake Nagame. If you are lucky, you will see some beautiful Lions But before reaching the lake, I had the rare privilege of seeing several families of the Pan tribe, Namibia's "bushmen". While camping in their camp, I saw several packs of the spotted African dogs. I left them alone and they left me alone. After that, it was on to Gobalis, Namibia.

Within the 527 mile stretch between Francistown and Windhoek, there are thousands of thatched roofed hut communities hidden in the bush. With their serpentine paths weaving in and out of their villages. Most of them are of the pre-Tarzan motif. They are much the same as during the Dr. Livingston era. It gives one that feeling of walking back in and through time. My words can not take you there. One has to see the primitive-ness of some of these communities. The sights and sounds, the tastes and smells need to become a part of ones' consciousness and thought. And even more, the moment needs to be savored, breathed in. So that the "essence", the "is-ness" of the scene touches one's "I am-ness".It is very, very difficult to equate all this, as we are about to enter into the 21st. century. It is very easy to say; " this just can't be," and yet it is. Believe me, when I say that this observation, is in no way an indictment on the peoples of these villages. If charges were to be brought, it would have to be brought and laid at the feet of those who have exploited Africa from within. As well as those who have done the same from without. The blame is humanity's blame, down through the years.

Even those who live in the larger towns and cities, who are several generations removed from this type of environment. Find it difficult to believe the living conditions of the bush communities. And as for the city children, the bush is like another world to them. Much as it would be for a New York city child to relate to a working cattle and horse ranch in Texas.

Post cards, documentaries, brochures, snapshots, CNN or the Tour guides' spiel can never portray the face of Africa. One must become and be a part of Africa. To better speak about the complexities of this vast land mass. But even then, the best witnesses of the real face of Africa. Would be those who were borne in Africa, and who have made the study of their homeland, their lifes' work.

To repeat myself, simply because it bears repeating. The living conditions in the greater majority of these hut communities would be inconceivable to the Western mind-set. Lives daily lived in sub-standard conditions, with little or no amenities which would cause even the hardest of hardened hearts to mummer. Conditions that daily affect the health of the inhabitants. One does not only see the physical maladies and the mark it leaves on the old and young, alike. But the signs of the poor in spirit is evident also. There are many emotional tugs of the heart strings of humanity. But none more poignant than the lives that are being played out in Africa, day by day.

In the thousands of hut villages that dot the landscape of Africa, there are hundreds of thousands of young boys and girls who will be denied the educational training needed; to enter the technological society of the twenty-first century. And at the rate the ruling Governments of most of these African countries are moving, in the solving of their infra-structuring problems. Three or four generations to come will also suffer the same scenario. Todays' generation is reaping the ineptness of their Government's apathy and indifference, to their plight.

To many of these Governments have a "Janus Face". One side is for the benefit of the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Governments of the Western World. The other half of the face, is what the people see and know, for those who can see and know. Meanwhile these Leaders and the interests they represent; friends, cronies and their own party members. Are becoming fat cats at the expense of their own people. When it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, most of these people who have been elected, do not have the know-how, to correct or to find a solution to the problems of their respective nations. And when they (the Governments) do get around to putting their finger in the dike. It is to little to late. 

In walks greed, self-indulgence, corruption, and a misplaced loyalty to their party. Instead of their loyalty to their constituency. And then, there is that constant bickering and fighting; to get a bigger piece of the pie, and the people be dammed. The propaganda many of these African countries give out, is worst than a shady tourist guide.

Case in point: The published literacy level of the education of these countries, may read 90-95 per cent, literacy. This is a guess, for the World to see. The census taking in most of these developing countries is inadequate. They have neither the facilities for accuracy, or the trained personnel. The questions asked of the householders are not understood, so any answer may be given by any one who might be opening the door. Literacy in most of these countries means, reading writing and arithmetic. Are there exceptions to this statement, of course, but not enough exceptions. In todays' World and especially in the World of the 21st. century. Reading writing and arithmetic, will not fuel the technology of tomorrow. A higher education is not in the cards for millions of African children. Now or even in the near future. How about the Leaders and the Politicians' children will they be educated. You betcha!, some in Britain, others in America. As they say in Africa; "No problem"!

Do the Leaders and the politicians want their people to be well educated? I seriously doubt it. Educated people are hard to control, very unpredictable. The uneducated can be misdirected and distracted by the politicians. So that the people cannot see what is really happening. Just throw them a bone now and then is the politicians' ploy. To keep them satisfied and pacified. And then promise them what they want to hear. What about the whites that were and are borne in these countries? Are they a plus or a minus, do they detract and add to the problems of Africa?. Or do they join in to help rectify the problem? Well, when you hear the words; "they", "them", and "those" and not "we." You have your answer. In most cases; it is them and those against we'ens. " Molly and me, and baby makes three", that's all there is.

Some of these countries have been at this job of running a country for a long time. And they still haven't got it right. When I was in Greece. There was a common saying. And it could well apply to the African leaders. The Greeks say; "Greeks are rich, but Greece is poor." Many of the leaders, politicians and the elite few in Africa, are the ruling class. Allowing their own kind to live in bondage. Will it change, yes! When? When the people rise up and say: "enough, is enough!" " We will no longer serve in bondage".

So we ask, the question that needs to be asked. Until a solution is reached, will the future generations of the many developing countries be denied the educational opportunities, which the children of the Western societies, have taken for granted all these many years?

In the past, the youth of these developing countries have been denied the much needed educational opportunities. Through no fault of their own. And in most cases, they have no recourse to change their impending destiny. As they become the disenfranchised. And the World will as in the past, never know and receive, the possible potentialities of this lost legion of children, who are mostly invisible to the World-at-large. The question that needs to be ask; "Do the Movers and Shakers of the world really want to do something about this inequity, this injustice?" We can only hope and pray, that the history books of the future will record a "yes"!, they cared. Or that someone at least cared enough. To give these young people a chance to choose their future.

I have often wondered on this trek, if the people of the more developed countries ever appreciate the fact. That they were borne at a more propitious time, as opposed to being borne in the seemingly wrong place at the wrong time. Where the odds are stacked against the possible possibilities and potentialities that could or might have been.

There is no doubt that the problems of illiteracy, improper infra-structuring, shelter, clothing, a rising birth rate and the increasing insidious epidemic of H.I.V., which has reached gargantuan proportions. Needs to be addressed; but when these things are put along side of one of the most unbelievable problems of our technological age. They pale in comparison.

We are talking about food in-security, the scarcity of food which contributes to the death of 40,000 innocent children per month. Can you imagine, if 40,000 children were put inside of a football stadium. And were not given food until they died of starvation? And this was on our nightly news casts all over the world, just for one night. Can you imagine, the hue and cry, by all of humanity? It would reach the outer edges of space. Those responsible would pay. And a solution would be found, "chop,chop".

This starvation and dying, is a monstrous absurdity, especially in the face of today's technology. Not only are we not solving this starvation holocaust. We are compounding the problem by our instruments of mass destruction. This figure of 40,000 is believed to be a conservative estimate There are no words in any of the human languages on the face of this earth, that can describe this insanity and irrationality on the part of our World leaders. Those who are entrusted with the welfare of the peoples of their respective countries. Those very ones who supposedly, have the wisdom and the power to deal with the sicknesses of our World. We are talking about those, who by all intent and purpose were and are intrusted to serve in the best interest of their peoples. And it is these very same leaders, who are unable to say; "enough is enough !." And to just stop talking about it. And do that which is necessary, to stop this insanity, this ongoing carnage. It makes one wonder, if we have the best of the best in leadership roles throughout the world?

We beat our chests and wail about the ethnic cleansing and the killing fields. We hear the exhortations, to remember The Holocaust, the Bosnia and Kosavo nightmares. Or Rwanda, with the Tusi and the Hutu blood-baths and the Algerian butchery. What about the half-million children dying of starvation each year, who cries for them. One has to wonder why those responsible for setting the media policy, do not take the same pains, the same effort and skill. That they so diligently use, when they make the policy regarding the coverage on the dying thousands via the Civil and the National wars that fill our newsprint and airways on a daily basis. Why can't they write a policy and speak with the same verve and passion about the 500,000 dying children each year. That will never breath the air or feel the sun on their faces, as they run and play. Here in lies the makings of a series of Pulitzer Prize articles.

We hear about all the deaths caused by AIDS. The need for a cure, a vaccine. And we know that researchers the World over are pressing for a break through. The price tag is already into the Billions. But what about the deaths among the just borne and the young. Not counting the older ones who are also dying of mal-nutrition. We have the knowledge, and the technology, to stop the existing hunger of the World. We don't have to discover a vaccine. We have to discover, to find our hearts, our compassion, our charity again. Maybe if they rewarded huge dividends, or a big payoff. Like, that which happens when a vaccine or a drug is discovered, and marketed. The cure for the hunger of the starving, might just become a fashionable fad, the thing to do. And eventually World Hunger would become a thing of the past, like smallpox.

We desperately need to flesh out, to put faces to all the numbers that are gathered by the statisticians Which are used over and over again. In all the rhetorical speeches, that flow so effortlessly from the lips of the higher echelon. That also appear in all the countless documents and memos. That have become part of the language of the endless repetitive gatherings of the professional Leaders of Nations, of Industry, of Commerce and Finance. Those, that "play ring around" the Worlds' suffering masses in body, mind and spirit. As they continue to bounce around those tired dog-eared, familiar buzz words. At the many costly Inter-national, one-up-man-ship games of the World. Those thread-barren tattered words of hunger, death, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, child labor and abuse, human rights, injustice, inequality and on and on, and on. But I guess to be fair. How could you have a meeting and rationalize all the goings' on, without these words that our spoken in such "hallowed" tones.

We know, but we conveniently ignore the fact. That there are millions going to bed each night without food. And that the water they drank, if they can find it, is unsanitary and that is an understatement. That death and pestilence awaits them. Today, tomorrow and who knows how much longer.

The existing sanitary conditions that millions live in and endure daily. Are conditions which we would not even let our Western "cats and dogs" live in. And while we are on the subject of dogs and cats. Which is more important, saving the lives of our dogs and cats, or the lives of 500,000 children per year? If everybody donated the price of three cans of dog or cat food, per day. How many lives would that save? Is a couple of cans of animal food worth a human life? Do I hear some; "No's?"

Note: We spend 17 billion, per year on dog and cat food, 12 billion on ice cream and 8 billion on cosmetics. Something is wrong somewhere!

Some children eat every other day, if they are lucky. And what they do eat is sub-standard, it falls far short of any thing close to proper nutrition. Many of the children have but a piece of bread, stale bread at that. Or bread out of a dumpsite or found in a garbage bag thrown out on the side of the road. Or if they are really lucky, they have a stick of sugar cane, or a piece of cloth dipped in a weak broth of some indistinguishable origin, that they suck on. Their eyes are sunken, their bellies swollen and they have those match stick bones, that are trying to work there way through the skin. And then we have those bodies which are covered with every imaginable sore you could think of. They make "Job" look like a piker. As has been said; one would have to see it, to believe it. And then you wish you hadn't seen it. Because it is beyond belief that this can exists on such a nightmarish scale. In a World, that is trying to conquer space and other worlds. While far to many are suffering in this World. Again we ask, is there not something, illogical, something missing in our fragmentary thinking? What a strange turn of the mind, we have at times.

I can still remember the words of my mother, when I was the age of some of these children, I have seen in the villages. Who look like death warmed over. She would say: "Eat your food, don't you know there are children starving in Africa. They would love to have your food." One time, after she had delivered her famous speech on the starving children in Africa. I said; "Is there anyway, we can mail this spinach to them. I'll even pitch in a few peas and carrots." Needless to say, I was sent to my room. Well at least I didn't have to eat the spinach. That was sixty-two years ago. And the children in Africa and other parts of the World are still starving and dying. And we ask, how can this still be so? As we are getting ready to move into the 21st century. And into Space to answer some of our questions, about out there? But what about some of our "now" questions, here on earth? What say we about the dying children, in a high-tech world? A World that could fed, clothe, shelter and educate all the children in need. Why do we penalize them. They were not asked if they wanted to come into a World which doesn't care if they live or die. In fact, we even have those who say; "good" the world is to crowded anyway. To bad that we cannot "zap" these idiots into one of these starving villages in Africa. So they can live out their existence there.

There are no quick easy simplistic solutions. But this problem has been with us to long. To long for us not to have a better track record than we have. We have a moral responsibility, when children become the victims, of our man made systems that spawn injustices and inequality.

As to the African plight; the causes and the effects are multifaceted. We could sight; illiteracy, unemployment, poor infra-structuring, tribal-ism, past colonialism, despotism and cronyism. Along with the greed and the corruption from on high down to the low. And the ever present exploitation by the many of those inside and outside of Africa.

And then there is that age old, cause and effect, the existing attitude of prejudices. That reduces everybody, both the victimizer and the victim into being sub-human. Any peoples who de-self and de-face others, in turn do it to themselves. Any and all that take part in this dehumanizing process. Are guilty and stand accused whether they be white, black or poka-dot. If we think that people need to be passed on, approved of, as in regards to their race, color, or creed. We should go to the blackboard and write. "We are family," one thousand times.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to remove all the stones from our pockets and our hearts, so that there would be none to throw.

Back to the Kalahari Desert;

As one comes up out of the desert, the city of Windhoek, Namibia, rises up from out the sands with it's trendy shops, Hotels, Restaurants and a modern Shopping Mall. With a Western architectural influence. The City seems almost out of place in comparison with all the villages with their mix and match motifs (of plastic, cardboard, corrugated tin and a wide assortment of this and that.) Along with their make shift utilities. All this you can see, within a stones throw from the center of the city.

The residents of the city have successfully formed an "Anglo island," which conveniently separates the villagers from the elite and the middle class. The greater majority of the services and the imported consumer products are from South Africa, Europe and the States. But most of these are beyond the means and the reach of the outsider, who lives in the villages. Many of the out-landers walk great distances to come into town to get their staples, so their families can be fed. As do many of the domestics, that walk back and forth.

Many of the whites would not admit, that there is a subtle and sometimes not even a subtle, exiting "caste system", an unspoken class distinction within the city of Windhoek, as well as in most of the African countries. But as we know most of the World, suffers in one way or another from this sort of snobbery, this malady of exploiting others. Some places are worst than others. But the sad commentary of this practice; is that in many cases, the ways and means used to accomplish this de-humanizing, this de-facing and de-selfing of humanity. Is wrapped in the guise of tradition, custom and sorry to say, religion, to give it respectability. The quote of the day, month or year. "What I pay them, is better than what they would get begging. They ought to be grateful to me for giving them a job."

After arriving in Windhoek, I was directed to a new Backpackers' Inn that was just about to open, called "Tuckers'". Strangely enough, it had formally been called the Globe-Trotters Inn. I say strange, because that was the name of the first backpackers' place, where I stayed when I arrived in Dublin, Ireland on March 16, 1992 to take on the rest of the "World Walk". The new owners of the new establishment; Red and Stan graciously received me. And made me part of their opening fanfare. From this fanfare, speaking engagements were forth-coming. As were other invitations. Stan and Red graciously refused payment for the room. The room had all the amenities, air conditioning, shower bath, a large desk which was moved in for my use. In their Bar and Lounge area, they had a special satellite large screen for viewing sports. How sweet it was, with the Super bowl just around the corner. And I must not forget, the jumping, swinging, honkey-tonk "Cowboy Bar", next door. With "swing your partner and dosey doe", every night.

Since the beginning of this "World Wide Trek". I have not missed a "Super Bowl" in the last nine years. While I was walking the fifty states, come Super Bowl time, this "happy camper" found a television set to watch the game. The first "Super Bowl" I watched overseas was in a Hotel lobby, in Algercias, Spain. The second one in Prague, Czech Republic. The third was in Jerusalem, the fourth in Nairobi, Kenya. The fifth in Windhoek, Namibia, the sixth in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. It is hard to believe that I have been watching the "Super Bowl" for thirty one years, since 1967. When the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super bowl One. Bart Starr quarterbacked the Packers and Len Dawson quarterbacked the Chiefs.

Back to the African Story

Before leaving Africa, I will be closing in on, 46,000 miles, give or take a mile here or there. Which adds up to about seven years of walking and two an half years of R&R, involving all the pleasures of the senses, via sight-seeing the wonders of the World. And smelling the roses along the way in all the cities, towns and villages. During these breather periods in the cities, I return back to a more gregarious setting, a different pace and rhythm of events, people and relationships. As opposed to experiencing the primal rhythms of the land, and the peoples of the land and the realities of both. Each setting has its' moments, but I must confess, the journey far exceeds the intermittent destinations. Destinations must not become a period, they should at best become but a comma. A momentary pause, a fleeting respite along the path. For should one succumb to the subtleties of stopping ones' pilgrimage, in turn for a state of permanency and its' illusions. One could quickly turn into a pillar of inertia which can bring with it; boredom, apathy, indifference and an odor of decay and in some cases, even death. And chances are we also may or can forfeit our return back, if we choose this inertia.

It is observable in the high density areas, where the name of the game is the acquisition of things under the guise of need. Where the true motivation in many cases stems from a need to be accepted, or conferring one with a sense of status, or for some this acquisition gives them an identify, which they seem to be lacking. In this acquisition game, there lies in wait the possibilities of both stress and anxiety. As the game players settle into their "quiet desperation." amid their comfort zones. With their juggling of quantity and quality, real wants and needs as opposed to the lesser wants and needs. Along with their inner and outer conflicts. Let's face it, our lack of happiness, is not due to something outside ourselves. Our problems and our reoccurring problems lie within our fragmentary lifestyles and our fragmentary thinking. We are not whole, we are pieces of this and that. We have partial glimpses of reality and especially, a partial knowledge of who and what we are?

On this journey, I find myself in the midst of so many gifts and graces, incessant sensory inputs and impressions that surface and circulate on all levels of my well-being. Many insights and nuggets of wisdom, along with those spontaneous challenges that have expanded my consciousness levels; my self knowledge and understanding. Not only of self but of the world at large. Along with the truth of our unitive connective-ness with "all and everything". That comes out of "All and Everything", the "All in All".

I am not quite sure of the extant of my original expectations at the beginning of this pilgrimage. But I am sure that whatever they were, they have been greatly exceeded. There is no conceivable way, in ones' wildest of imaginations, to predetermine all the impressions, input, happenings, and events when we move out from the safety of our comfort zones into new surroundings, new circumstances and new relationships. And in this new time and space, if we will keep our eyes and ears focused and open, along with an open mind, heart and spirit. As we breathe in the newness and freshness of each new "Now". Our lives become transformed before our very eyes. You can take that to the bank.

But if one insists on hanging on, to what used to be. On to ones' old hang-ups and negative ways. One can rest assured that when we look into the mirror again, staring back at us will be the old image, not the new one. We need to hear with our eyes and see with our ears. As we look and listen, we need to see and hear, cut down on the thinking, the chattering, the speculating, and all our theorizing. While we are seeing and hearing, forget the past (don't dragged it into the present) nor (drag the future into the present either). Let the present, the "Now" be the present, the "Is-ness" of the moment. On its' own merit, unencumbered without some hidden agenda or baggage of any kind.

Throughout my life, I have been privileged to have fleeting glimpses of insight as to my direction and as to why that particular direction. Which in turn has increased my awareness. I have always been the observer, watching the observer. And asking why do I think and act as I do? Why do all of us think and act as we do?

There are many answers and reasons as to why. And it would help in our lives if we would investigate these reasons and gain some self-knowledge and self-understanding as to the history of how our minds and brains have been structured and programmed. Not just from out of our own past. But how humanity's past, up to now, has affected and still does affects our way of thinking and doing. In every area of our lives, at all levels of our mind, heart and spirit. We are connected and we have always been connected.

My, how I do carry on, in my advancing years. It must be the spell of Africa.

My walk through Africa will no doubt be one of my most unforgettable experiences. What these eyes of mine have recorded, my ears heard and my spirit felt, have left their mark, their impressions, their very essence. I will never be the same for it. What a legacy, what a rare gift indeed. Many of my African moments have gone beyond the conceivable, entering into the realm of the unimaginable and the unexpected.

Who can tell the African story as it really is. The "whole truth and nothing but the truth". As I wrote in the fly leaf of my first journal nine and half years ago. "Words not only reveal the truth, they can conceal it even better. I have heard many of the voices of Africa. The out pouring of the outraged, the cries of the weary, the oppressed, the lost and the disenfranchised. The faint mummers of the starved and the diseased. And then we add into this mix. All the mellifluous rhetorical speeches of those Pretenders to power. And their "yes" men, those polished political puppets, who mouth the words of the Pretender. Refusing, to be that which they speak. Let us not forget those other saccharine speakers; the intelligentsia, and the Governments' "spin" experts, the news commentators and analysts. That speak the party line.

As we enter the 21st. century, with the Globe shrinking in front of us. We as members of the Human Race would be amiss to believe that Africa's problems are only her problems. Their problems and all the other problems of the World. Are humanity's problems. Until we can come to understand; that we are family, that we are connected, that we share the same heritage as a family. Irrespective of what we call ourselves, of our cultures, our traditions, our religions, our way of thinking and doing. Our heritage is not one of separation, but one of unity, cohesiveness, a togetherness. Divided, we will continue to suffer and have pain. Continue to have conflict and continue to be lost and confused. We cannot speak as though Africa is in her dilemma, all by herself. That she and she alone is the only cause for her now existing problems. We of this World, our World, with all of our past human history and now with our present thinking and actions, are  responsible; when ever there is a problem within the human matrix.

We are far beyond any policy of isolationism. We all breathe the same air, we all have the same blood flowing through our veins [in a general sense], all have been given the same basic intelligence, the same physical and psychological attributes. The same basic needs; shelter, clothing and food. To be loved and respected, to belong and to be accepted, to be a part of. And in todays' World, we should  have a choice, an equal opportunity to be educated regardless of gender, race or creed. Also an equal opportunity to work and receive a fair days pay for a fair days work. Lastly, the most important. The right to be free: to choose and speak, without fear of censure or reprisal.

We, and the forefathers of our past generations are guilty of being the progenitors of the conflicts, the confusion and of the many social ills that exist in our World today. We need to underline those last two words, "Our World". We are in this "given" World and consequently; we are the "Care-takers", all of humanity are the caretakers, for we are family. We are of one race, the human race. All of us, are in the image, the reflection of the "One," of That which just "Is" Choose your semantics. And should you be of another position another preference, per chance. Believing that their is no purpose in "Being," "who and what you are". That one just comes and goes and that's life. That there is no rhyme or reason; no design, no order. That chaos is the agenda for the day and all the days that follow; have at it. As they do say; "Different scenes for different genes" or "different strokes for different folks"; said the lady as she kissed the pig."

"We, as the Human Race need to get our act together."

Where were we?, yes. The immensity of this Continent and the eclectic nature of its' people defies description whether by speech, film or print. An outsider, whether myself or someone else, cannot tell the story of Africa, as it should be told. Even the indigenous speakers are hard put to portray their own countries in light of the World as it is today, with all its' complexities. If for no other reason this Continent is no longer isolated. And it must be seen and heard, not only because of its' vast potential, in both its' human and natural resources. But more importantly; Africa is part of the Human Global Village. It is part of the "Family" of the human race.

The peoples of Africa suddenly find themselves thrust onto the Worlds' stage. In the midst of all the World players. And the rest of the World is beginning to see and hear, Africa's problems, as their problems. Let's back up; some but as yet not enough, of the World sees and hears, the complexity of Africa's problems, as their problem also.

Both Africa and the rest of the World Family, needs to take a serious, conscientious look at themselves; if the problems of Africa are to come to an end. And this holds true for all of our Worlds' problems. The answers lie within the problem, or to put it more succinctly; we, humankind are and have been the problem since the beginning of civilization. We have and are, continually compounding the problems; partially because we haven't the foggiest notion about; "why we are here?", "who or what are ?" and where we are going?" And in most cases; the words" who gives a "tinker's damn, anyway!" Rings loud and clear. As the old prospectors used to say; "I am going to get it, while the getting is good. I'll beg, borrow or steal, if I have to. But I am going to get it". There is nothing more dangerous to the human race than gold fever ("Greed") All this getting, down through the eons of time. Has got us into the mess, that we as the human race are in at the present. And unless we start turning things around. We will continue to live amid our disorder.

Are there other reasons, "yes" many. But the truth is, we are at the bottom of all the extenuating circumstances and reasons. How we have thought in the past and think "now;" our thoughts, our words, our actions. Our perceptions of the past and "now", how we constructed and are constructing reality in our own image. How we seen ourselves, the peoples of the World and the things of the World, in our past and "now." All these have contributed to both the Worlds' and our own lost-ness, our sorrow and pain. As we have said recently. We are, all are, the inheritors of all the accumulative past. We have been spoon fed by our ignorance, programmed if you will. Down through the ages; we accepted the unreal for the Real, the untruths for the Truth and the darkness for the Light. In many cases, we have accepted without any investigation, while forsaking our given intelligence. Some of the most outlandish statements and concepts the world has even known. Has in turn blocked the needed truth. The reality of things as they are. During this dullness, we denied even our most basic common sense and reason. The list is great; (the misguided pre-suppositions, fanciful speculations, faulty perceptions, myths and superstitions, etc.) down through centuries. Causing undue misery and sorrow. Leaving behind a residue of chaos and utter confusion for each sequential, incoming generation. Two of the better asinine statements were; "The earth is flat. And it, (earth) is also, the center of the universe".

Let's see; we have had our Medieval Crusades, our Religious Inquisitions, our Witch Hunts, our Holocausts, our Ethnic Cleansing, Two World Wars, along with countless Civil and National Insurrections, all in the name of reason and sanity. And in some cases in the name of Religion. How great, our legacies? "As one thinks, so they are." And we also are, in a sense the progenitors of the now, the legacy givers. Since this is so; we need to re-present a different orientation for the future generation, for those which follow after. One that is not fragmented, one that is more whole. As is said; "we, each of us, have got to get it together"..."all" of it together. The totality of "all and everything". How? Well, this turns out to be the Sixty-Four-thousand dollar question?

Mankind has been struggling with this question, for...pick a time, a million years, how about 50,000 years? And we still haven't got it together, we are still fragmented, lost and disordered. Misery, sorrow, hurt and pain roam the face of the earth, looking for it's victims. And we have and are still looking for the enemy, the culprit which is responsible for all the ills that have and still do create unrest and disorder throughout the land and within the spirit {the essence) of all created things. Is the enemy; them and those? Is it over there, in front or behind us? "No, I saw the enemy and it was I".

Back to Africa:

To understand Africa's cultural diversity and its' pluralism, one would have to be in and of Africa and its past. Out of all the sights and sounds, this writer has been privy to, a witness to, an observer of, during this trek through Africa. Which has covered Morocco, Algeria to Tunisia. Then eventually from South Sinai to Cairo, to Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. There seems to be a pervasive trait that all African blacks hold in common. That being; an indomitable will to survive under the most, the starkest, abject conditions imaginable. Conditions of poverty, illiteracy, epidemics, civil strife, ethnic cleansing, et cetera. Along with an increasing population explosion, complicated by the rampant rise in H.I.V. Then there is always that devastating greed factor perpetuated by some of the whites and the elite blacks. Along with the Western Worlds' intervention via the World Bank and the International Money Fund that have reached a point of overkill. Case in point: Zimbabwe lays out one billion per month, for interest payments on borrowed moneys. Most of the newly formed nations are debt burden. And they practice the "rob Peter to pay Paul" method of payment Loans to pay loans, or rather to pay interest payments. It is a never ending cycle. Here the cure becomes worst than the disease.

If one was looking for a catalogue of inequalities and injustices, they can be found woven into the fabric of Africa, part of so many lives, so many tears and sorrows, misery and sufferings. Because of this; so many wake up to and lie down; come nightfall with a heaviness of heart.. All the freedoms that we in the Western World take so much for granted. Are non-existent for millions across the width and breadth of Africa. They are bounded, gagged, fettered and restricted by their own leaders. Who have set themselves high above their own people. These same leaders have learned the art of deception and clothe it in a rhetorical cloth of many colors; designed to placate the masses and impress the International Community, as the leaders feast and line their pockets. Corruption has become a fine art, practiced by all those who have the inside track so to speak. But what makes it even worse, is the daily denial by the Elite, who profess that their hands are clean of any wrong doing. That they are being maligned and accused falsely. The word is out;" get all you can, while you can. For tomorrow's "coup de' gras", could be for you."

There is a need for an impartial assessment of Africas' cultural differences, their historical values and their diverse ways of life, without any immediate condemnation or judgment. While at the same time the West needs to examine their motives and their responsibilities to Africa. And this is true for any of the other developing countries of the present. There is a need to question ourselves and ask; if our taking is exceeding our giving? And what is it, that we are giving. Is it that which will enhance and promote growth. Or will it hinder growth over the long haul. What are the motivations involved in our helping? We need to ask; "Is the dog wagging the tail or is the tail wagging the dog?"

Africa must be allowed all the necessary growing pains it takes in its' evolutionary process. The crawl, walk and run stages are necessary in all the developmental structures. To abandon, or to skip over a needed stage, within the triad (crawl, walk, run) usually causes problems at a later date.

But to parallel with the above; all the experience, wisdom and know how, that is relevant, to Africas' growth and development needs. Should be offered by those whose motives are above personal gain and exploitation. It is one thing to give, it is quite another thing to expect a return on the gift. Expectation on the part of the giver, is death, for the relationship. The growth and the evolution of any relationship asks of the parties concern to bring something to the table that will help in the nurturing and growth of each of the parties in the relationship. This is a core element for any ongoing relationship. In whatever form (personal, societal, national or international).

As a parent should not suffocate or over protect, or create a co-dependency. Or dictate out of their deficiencies and weakness, or their self-serving needs in the nurturing of their children. The same is true in the nurturing of a nation and its' people as related to the countrys' growth and evolution.

Let's carry this analogy a bit further. The nurturing of a child is predicated or needs to be predicated on the total welfare of the child. As to what is the best, the better or the more excellent for their growth and evolution. What are the most conducive condition for their journey from the cradle to the grave? We need to ask; how can the child best be nurtured? What means, ways and instruments can affirm, motivate, energize, engender and challenge the childs' latent talents and gifts. To be the best they can be? So they can affirm and celebrate, who and what they are?, why they are here and where are they going? So they might come to know how they fit into this unitive system, they were borne into. And how they might contribute to this connective-ness, they have with "all and everything."

And the last question; Who or what are the best catalysts or facilitators for the nurturing, for the growth and evolution, for the whole child. So that he or she might live in balance and harmony with "all and everything" and especially with themselves.

We can make this analogy applicable in many ways. Just by substituting the words; adult en-lighten-ment, community awareness, an emerging Government, or a Nation. In place of the words; "the nurturing of a child." This process of which we speak is not a maybe process, or a "catch-as-you-catch can" method, or a now and then procedure. It demands a focused attention, a focused discipline and a resolve to choose a methodology which is the most conducive to bring about fruition. If the results are poor, non-productive or of little substance. Then the process is faulty, as is the application.

If in this process of seeking out the best, the better or the more excellent way to achieve maximum growth and evolution, is ignored. Or should someone be foolish enough to believe that they can by-pass or shorten the developmental stages, without being focused, disciplined and determined. The consequences can be far reaching and repetitive all the way to the grave. We end this analogy in saying; whether it be an individual, a parent, a teacher, a leader, a Government, an institution, or a Nation. These words need to be heard; "To those who have been given much, much is expected of them".

As I walk across this sleeping/waking giant of Africa. I am always struck by the child-like simplicity of the villagers and their spontaneous generosity, mixed with their delightful curiosity. Unhampered by the bias temperament, so often displayed by the Westerner. I have said so often during interviews and speaking engagements; the peoples of the world by in large are most generous and hospitable. Most of the problems, I have had during this trek stem from a variety of political and religious posturing. Mixed with anger and frustration brought on by a social content of want and starvation, illiteracy and unemployment

In speaking to students and also to the business and professional organizations on both sides of the oceans. I have asked the same question of them. "How many people out of the seven billion plus, that inhabit this terrestrial space ship would you guess to be of a criminal or of a deviant nature? In that they would maim, injure or kill another human being, for little or no reason. I have heard thousands of replies; ranging from a half a million to a half a billion. I believe a half a billion is to high. Regardless of the media's blitz, in portraying violence. Most people are just trying to make ends meet and get on with their lives, the best they can. Is it not strange that we have so many "henny-pennys, who believe "the sky is always falling." Along with the gloom and doom people who walk around with their little cloud, waiting to rain all over some one, who is unfortunate enough to be in their presence. Most of these gloom characters spend most of their time, seeing only the negative aspects of life. They see neither the color of joy or hear the sound of music, that life is re-presenting ever moment for them, for all of us. We have allowed ourselves to become blind and deaf. What a shame!

We have hinted at the media's role in magnifying the dark side while paying little or no attention, to the sunny-side of the street. If we were to believe the media's hype.  And some of the religious exhortations, "the world is going to hell in a hand basket". "That evil rules the day." How utterly absurd! For those, who seem to enjoy the shadow-lands, I pity.them,  Such a waste of energy, a way to go through life.

Its'. amusing, that according to a minority group. You have to watch out for the faceless ones. They, them and those. But they, them and those are saying the same thing about the first, they, them and those. It gets a little confusing with all the; they, them and thoses. I wonder if a song could be written about this?  As the saying goes; "what or who we don't know, we sometimes fear"? If this is true for us, if our fears our faceless and at times, nameless we need to confront them and find out. Who and what they are and come to terms with them and walk away? Never to fear them again. We need to stop breathing life into things that try to take life away from us. Those things that deplete our energies, that give us the "blahs". We need to take a stand.  Enough is enough!

 An inwardly shout; "Here I stand. I was not created to shrink into the shadows. "I am", the expressed image of the Creative Will, the Force, the Spirit of All and Everything. I will not relinquish or bow to my lesser instincts. For I was created to stand in the Light not the dark".

A Side Note

Most of our fears, our overworked anxieties, doubts, conflicts, etc..Are self-induced; all part of our fragmentary thinking, consciousness and mind. We lack the self-knowledge, the self-understanding and certainty, of who and what we are. In light of this and some other factors, which we do not have the time to go into at the moment. We allow ourselves and our fears to diminish our lives, curtail our awareness and suffocate our alive-ness. As one of our Presidents said, a long time ago;"The only fear we have to fear, is fear itself."  We blow to many things, out of proportion. Wasting a lot of  energy. Making a mountain out of a molehill.

One of the favored questions I am asked, in speaking about the journey.  Do I have a fear for my life? Do I worry about being robbed or attacked by the wild animals in the bush? Only fleetingly, when imminent danger unexpectedly arises. But at that moment, one must learn how to master whatever comes up.  And hold it in check, so one can act and do that which is called for when a specific situation appears.  If one should panic or become paralyzed. It might be to late.

In  my ten years of wandering in and out of the cities, towns, and villages of the World. Over mountains, through deserts and jungles. In and out of the wrong places at the wrong times. The risks are there, as are the potential dangers. If for no other reason than the random odds of becoming sick, or having an accident or some other unfortunate happenstance. One cannot live in fear, life is to precious. There are so many things to see, hear and be in the flow of life.

I remember after leaving Belfast, Ireland and entering Scotland. I picked up a newspaper and read about and account of an IRA ambush in Belfast. Where a British soldier was gunned down, along with a lady who was unfortunate enough to be coming out of small grocery store. Just three days prior to the shooting. I was in that same grocery store.  I had stopped there frequently on my way back to the Hostel where I was staying. Or while being in Jerusalem; there was a certain bus stop where I would stand to catch the bus back to Bethlehem. One day at the precise time and the same spot where I had been standing just the day before. Twenty Israel soldiers and four civilians were killed by a bomb carrying Islamic fundamentalist (Jihad) who was also killed. Both of these just happened on a random basis.

Unfortunately there have been those  "fight or flight" choices on this sojourn.  But only seven of these incidents have surfaced: which is minimal for 4,380 plus days of exposure. Which speaks highly to those who would have us to believe that the human race is more animal than human. That we are no better, in fact many believe, we are worst than we were in past history. What rubbish! My experience on this "walkabout" denies this pasttime of short changing mankind.

My two-legged adversaries in my seven confrontations were armed with knives, staffs and machetes. But the six foot, five pound solid oak staff with steel at both ends which I carry was more than adequate to get the job done. I have been down once. Soldiers in the area happened on the scene just at the right time. The Jihad extremists were the adversaries, in these  little skirmish. My only injuries up to now have been a very sore head, some bruised knuckles and a knife scar on my right forearm. I have jokingly said in speaking before groups, that if ever I am faced with a gun. "And I haven't got what they want. that I will go to the store and purchase it. If they will just wait."

The five pound staff has been with me, all the way. As has my Bowie knife, bull whip, a throwing "hawk" and two balanced throwing knifes. When I was in Cape Town, South Africa, I had two custom broad swords made. When I am walking, each are displayed on each side of my backpack. All the weaponry acts as a great deterrent. They have stopped or prevented would be serious attacks. When I am lecturing. Before I leave the students want a live demonstration with the Bull Whip. And if we can arrange a set-up, I do some knife and "Tomahawk" throwing.

Although I am very optimistic about the future of the human race and the World that my great, great grand children will inhabit. I am at the same time  aware that the World as we know it today is sadly in need of repair. Our direction at times is suspect. And, as we scan this great land mass and its' peoples.  Our sightings speak of many and varied conflicts and utter confusion, across the face of the earth. Of a lost-ness that lingers and permeates in and out of to many relationships both individually and collectively.  In light of this feeling of lost-ness; our sense of security weakens and our fears arise. We ask; in what and who do we find our security, where do we turn for solace?

One only has to search out the media: listen to the songs of the generation, surf the net, listen to the "chat sessions" and view the propaganda of our advertising age. Name your illusion, all are available. Do you want to rid yourself of your sadness and sorrow, your lost identity, a missing love and acceptance, a need to belong. All can be solved momentarily. A fix can be arranged, for a price. The price is your sanity and your very spirit.

We have heard the word before. Correction the word has been spoken; the hearing of it is questionable. The word is, "fragmentation". Our society has been called fragmented, as has the family and we as individuals have also earned this unflattering name. A quick definition; we haven't got it together. Society, the Family, the individual, the nation, the countries, the World, all are in a sense scattered. We are in pieces and the pieces are out of order, disorienteded, confused. Which is strange, seeing that we live in an orderly Universe, an orderly Kosmos. Without this order which is quite visible you and I would not be here nor would we be able to survive for one moment, unless there was this order.

What is the problem? What is the solution? As always the solution is found in the problem. The problem holds the answer. Problem: "Fragmentation" Solution: Un-fragment. Get it together. Well for the moment I have said enough. How did I get off on this tangent?

Back to The African story:

Long before my entry into Africa, I was under the impression or better still, the illusion which now seems ludicrous. That these eyes of mine had seen a good part of man's inhumanity to his fellow beings. The havoc, the destruction of the mind, body and the human spirit. Caused by the ever present ageless greed, conflicting ideologies, exaggerated utterances of ignorance and cruelties beyond the bounds of the rational. And all the other insanities that surface and play themselves out from time to time. Which we tolerate and vehemently deny on both a collective and an individual basis. Not only as participants but as spectators and victim as well.  How strange we are at times!

I had also assumed that I had seen the desperation, the utter despair, the sense of hopelessness, and the resignation, that many face as their day by day reality. Along with those many external pollutants out of the political and socio-economic menus that de-self and de-face the integrity of the human spirit. But my assumptions were wrong. One only has to walk through, in and across the tear stained face of this troubled Africa. To sleep, eat and just be in the midst of the tears. To see and hear the sights and the sounds of the human sufferings, with all its'indignities and grievances.

My steps have carried me in and out of the ethnicities of the World: of all ages, shapes, sizes, creeds, colors, likes and dislikes, the rich and the poor, the illiterates and the literate, those who are up and those who are down, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, the walking dead, the aware and the alive. In and out of all the different persuasions, rhetoric, customs, traditions and cultures. And the one question that continue to surface over and over, out of this seeing. Asks why? Why is it, that our reach does not exceed our grasp? Our grasp of knowledge, our understanding, our know how and our sense of good will to all.

We as humans, have been on this earth a long  time. And we still haven't got it together. We see but we do not see, we hear but we do not hear the inequities, the injustices that run rampant. Not only in Africa but throughout the World. And I am not just speaking about the blindness and deafness within, but also that which exists without, in the world- at- large. We cannot afford to isolate and insulate ourselves to the existing ills of Africa. Or for that matter, anywhere in the World today. The Global Village is here, we cannot bury our heads in the sand, any longer. We are a Family and we better start being and acting like a family, now. If one suffers we all suffer, if one is lost we are lost, if one is in sorrow, we are in sorrow, if one is hurt we hurt. No longer can we say; it's over there, they or it is not our problem.

If we would just take a moment to stop and ponder, ask and investigate. I feel assured that one would find, that all of us are inheritors of ideas, concepts, assumptions, creeds, dogmas, icons, symbols, myths, customs, and traditions. Which have come to us out of the past. And that in one way or the other, the past thinking then and now was and is still fragmented to some degree. We accept a fact as being a fact when it is not a fact, we accept a truth as truth when it is not a truth, we accept a reality as a reality when it is not a reality, we accept love as being love when it is not love. Down through time.  Mankind has accepted many things, believing that his or her sequential linear thought, was the truth and nothing but the truth.  Whole, final and complete.  If this had been true;  the World would not have had to suffer as it has in the past, with all the strife, conflict, sorrow.  Or the injustices, inequalities, brutalities and the human err that goes on and on.   

All the great thinkers, philosophers, masters, teachers gurus, enlightened ones, righteous ones. All the creeds, dogmas, encyclicals, ecclesiastical utterances, churches, mosques, temples, ashrams and shrines have not been able to bring order out of the disorder. Why?  Because humanity has not been able to shake its' own disorder, its' fragmentary thinking. Even in the above list of things mentioned. All suffered, due to this fragmentary, hit and miss approach to life. Adding to the confusion and conflict that has existed and still does. The very insights and truths of the many religious' offerings, have been so distorted, diluted and tampered with. That they are unrecognizable as being the "Truth". Religion has made the spiritual into its' own image. The describers of these religions, have attempted to describe, to define the Indefinable. The builders, or those behind the building of the earthly churches, the temples, the mosques, the shrines, sites and other places where man worships his God, or whatever semantic he has chosen to give to the Ineffable, the Indefinable, the Un-pronoun-able. The Source of "All and Everything". Have in their fragmented thinking. Allowed all the trappings to become and end unto themselves. Whether we are talking about symbols, rituals, creeds and even the "Word". As has been said before in past writings;"the blossom must fall before the fruit can appear."

All the lights along the way, all the benchmarks, all the revelations, insights, affirmations are pointing beyond themselves. The great "Truth" of the Christian Affirmation, pointed beyond himself. And to all who have the ears to hear. The insight that disallows fragmented thinking, lies in these words" Not my will but His Will Be Done. " Please do not ask, how. Do not analyze, investigate, or even think about it. Just become and be "THE WILL" Just "be still and"just do it." Do not bring in all the fragmentary thoughts out of your past, stop all incoming calls from the past and the future. Dis-attach, dis-identify. "BE STILL AND KNOW" AND YOU WILL KNOW "THAT" which just IS. Is their a process, a method, a how to? No, No a thousand times "no". You are the method, the process. You have been given everything you need, to "know".

Are there points of light in Africa, is there daylight for the darkness of this Continent? "Yes, the darkness is receding. On this journey I have met those whose reach does exceed their grasp. They are in Africa for all the right reasons, their motives are not of self-interest. They are not takers, they are givers. They are not their to find themselves or their identity. They are simply there to find those who need help and to reach out to them, in what every way is needed. They have learned to go beyond the written word, the directives, the endless meetings and the sea of rhetoric. They are the doers. They act instead of react. Compassion, care and love are not words to them, they are acts. They have learned to become and be the definitive definition of these words. They are the Word. This is how transformation takes place for the doer and the recipient.

It is sad but, true, helping Africa has become big business. There are thousands of these alphabet organizations, criss-crossing this Continent in their big Land-Rovers and Toyota Land Cruisers, flying their humanitarian flags. With their vehicles carrying their acronyms and slogans. A book could be written about the waste and the reduplicating of services. The style and comfort of the upper of these helping organizations, where 75% or more of the moneys received goes towards operating costs and salaries. Leaving very little for the grass roots need. Many of these smoke and light shows are done in the name of love and concern. I came across a Church outside of Khartoum in Sudan. That rented out there facilities. Even to the point of changing the name of the church, so brochure shots could be made. So that the Church that was being promoted back in the states. Could show where the buildings funds were spent. They even had stand in children, to show the missionary work that was being done. I saw the finished brochure, quite slick as were the promoters. I wondered at the time, how often this is done. Not only in Africa but elsewhere.

But back to the more positive side, as to those who are making a difference, while living in the midst of the needy. The moneys they receive is minimal. They live, eat, laugh, cry and suffer; 'a la' Father Damian and his lepers. As they offered their expertise and services. There are those who have families. Living the same austere life as the villagers. It seems evident that these worker teachers are the embodiment of their commitment. And those around them have caught their spirit. These workers have proven that more is caught than taught. They teach by being their commitment..

For the selfless and the concerned, there are no words to express the service they are rendering and the ripple effect that will live on, inspiring and affecting future generations. Many of these light-givers speak of that special someone, who lit up their lives and the fire in their minds and hearts. Giving meaning and life to their lives.

There are forces at work in the World, in the most unlikely places. Moving segments of humanity little by little towards a Global village concept. Even though many will have to be dragged, while screaming and kicking about losing their identify. One would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see that the World is in transition and that the future of the World lies in the "One World" concept. The handwriting is on the wall and visible inroads are happening in the Communication field and in the area of E-Commerce.

Within the Twenty-First Century, no country will be able to isolate, control and limit their peoples' freedom. Between World wide television, inter-net and satellite capabilities, the chains that have made the mind a prisoner will be broken. The unchained melody of the peoples of the world, will carry the words; freedom for all people, where ever they might be. The enslavement of the mind and the will of the people will become an anachronism. Dictators and power structures will topple. The truth will indeed free the imprisoned of the World. De-structuring will replace the old for the betterment of all. We can no longer carry the deadness of the past; we "need to let the dead bury the dead". The New World dawning, is for the living, and it will move on, with or without us. This dawning is in the making. We will see a World of food security for all, where starvation will become a thing of the past. A World where illiteracy will be eradicated, along with poverty. A World where there will be a level playing field for all peoples, countries and nations. A World where all the inherent inalienable rights, all the freedoms and the pursuit of the good, the better and the more excellent will be open to all and everyone, should they so choose.

This World vision is an evolving, growing consciousness which is gaining adherence across the various disciplines of the social and the geo-political sciences, the academic and the religious, the philosophical and psychological sectors of the World. Plus the beginnings of a grass root movement of the citizens of the World, who envision this. And believe it can and will be a reality. The time table is unknown, but the womb is being prepared and the birth will take place. But as with all births, there is a certain amount of risk and labor. And in some cases a difficult time with complications. And yes, even death but not the extinction of the birthing cycle. We must always remember that the World we live in, along with all the other solar systems and their planets. And we as the human species of earth, took a long time to come to this point in time and space, eons and eons. More than the mind can fathom. But finally we arrived and took our place in the evolutionary scale. And we are growing and evolving, each tiny step along the way. Not as fast as we would like it to be, but we have always been impatient. It takes time for quality. The "Original Intent" will come to pass.

The human birthing process has its' own rhythm, the Worlds' process is no different, It has its timing. There is a time for crawling, for walking and running. The Creation of the physical World started fast and ends slowly. Evolution starts slow and ends fast. This we can observe, in the technological World. Once we entered into the Industrial arena. We began to pick up momentum and now we see the increasing acceleration that is moving at an unbelievable pace. Which makes it exceedingly difficult to keep abreast of the daily innovations and advancements. You buy something today it is obsolete the next morning.

It has been said; "there is a time and season for everything". I have heard the cynics of the world, since the age of twelve predicting the end of the world, or the extinction of the human race. I have ask myself, time and time again. How does one live out their life caught up in such a negative posture, such a down beat.

We cannot give psychological or spiritual awareness or life to another. They need to lose their pain, sorrow, hurt and loneliness themselves, death must come to these things. Before a new birth can take place. All of life is in a constant process of dying and rebirth.

Let us just place a comma here. In looking back to Africa, it has given me an experience, I will never be able give enough thanksgiving for all its' gifts of insight, of its' peaks and its' valleys. I have delighted in its' people. In its' grandeur and beauty of the land.. And my spirit has wept for the spirit of Africa. There were so many moments, when I felt that my eyes, my ears, my very soul, could not see, hear or feel anymore. That I could not hold, nor feel any more pain and sorrow, and yes, pity. How much longer are we as humans going to keep on living in our comfort zones and remain immune to the suffering, the anguish, the pain and sorrow of millions upon millions. To be even more specific. When are we going to see those, whom we refuse to see daily. Those we dismiss so flippantly with our tired worn out phrases and jokes, that are so degrading not only to those whom we believe are sub-human, but so degrading to ourselves. The verbal assault, the abuse is not in their best interest or in ours. For eventually we become lesser than those we abuse in whatever way. Be it subtlety or blatantly.

We are on the threshold of a new dawning, a new millennium. How shall we fare, in this new era? Will we break the chains of bigotry, prejudice, separateness and isolationism? Will there no longer be a need for such words as; caste systems, class distinctions, the "have" and the"have nots", the washed and the unwashed, the literate and the non-literate, the chosen and the saved? Or any other type of phrasing that relegates any human being, whoever they might be or not be. To a status that is sub-human, that is beneath ones' human dignity.

We have practiced our fragmentary thinking far to long, we need to be done with it. And enter this new millennium, as peoples who devoid themselves of the pasts' way of thinking and doing business as usual. And it's programming of our minds, hearts and spirits in the way it was. We as the human race have been at this business of trying to right the ills and conflicts, the sorrows and the miseries of this World of ours for a long, long time. With little to show for it, in the psychological and spiritual departments.

It is time we see ourselves, the world, and its' people. And the things of this world and all the worlds beyond, as family. We are one, we are connected. "All and everything" is part of a unitive system. It is out of this unity that balance and harmony will come. And our fragmentary thinking will become whole.

And it will truly be; " One for all and all for One".

 

 

 

 

 

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