Saturday, July 9, 2011

Signposts on the Information Highway

Moving from a one room schoolhouse to a one world schoolhouse is now a reality.
        - Cisco Systems

I came across a really interesting video on Twitter recently. Its name is “Did you know?” The video link was posted by a fellow educator, Richard Byrne ( The short video details the changes being brought about via the internet and social media. Just to name three of those changes: the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004; there are over 200 million users on MySpace – that would equal the fifth largest country in the world; and 4 exabytes (a billion gigabytes!) of unique information will be generated this year – more than in the previous 5,000 years!
Isn’t that amazing? But here’s another point to consider. The video ended, almost ominously, with an intriguing question (for which no answer was supplied). The question was: “So what does it all mean?” That got me thinking, so I decided to watch the video a couple of more times.
Here’s what I think it means. I believe it’s an incredible advantage for humankind to have this “new knowledge” multiplying at such a rapid pace. It’s like what I’ve often heard or read in pedagogical discussions: all knowledge builds upon prior knowledge – the more knowledge you have, the easier it is to accelerate the process.
That brain thrust of new knowledge can only augur well for possible breakthroughs in medical research and other fields of endeavor. But, coupled with this evolution of human intelligence, there has to be a parallel growth (at the very least) in our sense of moral certitude. As the information explosion continues on its upward spiral, our ethical compass must be likewise directed to its true north. The apostle Matthew pointed in that direction when he said in chapter 16, verse 26: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”
One night last summer I read, as a bedtime story to my youngest daughter, an adapted version of the classic children’s tale Alice in Wonderland. The story took quite a while to read and my daughter’s interest, because of her sleepy state, was beginning to wane. I hurried my pace a little and tried to pique her continued interest by saying that an important part of the book was contained near the very end. With her interest mildly renewed, I quickly arrived at the section where Alice had come to a fork in the road. She then asked the Cheshire cat which road she should take. He asked her: “Where are you going?” Alice replied that she didn’t know. The Cheshire cat quickly responded: “Then it doesn’t matter what road you take.”
Contrary to Alice's predicament, on the information highway it’s important to illuminate our way with frequent signposts. For the purpose of clarity and direction, these signposts – displayed in flashing neon colors – should read something like this. Attention: objects on the horizon are closer than they appear. Always filter new discoveries through the triple sieve: the Ten Commandments; the Golden Rule; and the advice from Jesus found in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Intervention through the Lord's Prayer

I'd like to share this story from the summer of 1985. At that time I was a student at the University of Nice in France. After spending about four weeks immersed in the French language and culture, and then two weeks traveling around Europe on a Eurorail pass, I was ready to head back home to NL, Canada. My departure date was around mid-August. Of course, that's the height of summer holidays in France and all the hotels in and around the city of Nice were filled to capacity. The situation I was in was that I had moved out of my residence room on campus and had just enjoyed visiting several countries in Europe - from Italy to Ireland.  After descending from the TGV train in Nice (I had taken that speedy train from Paris), I proceeeded to look for a hotel room for my last two nights in France. After spending several exhausting hours walking around the city in search of a room, I had almost resigned myself to the fact I might have to sleep on a park bench for the next two days.

Speaking of a park bench, I decided to sit on one for a while, just so I could collect my thoughts and explore my options. Well, the more I thought about it the more I realised my options were few and far between. So at that point I simply closed my eyes and recited the Lord's Prayer. Feeling a new sense of confidence, I crossed the street from the park and walked into a small hotel. I approached the counter and requested a room for the night. But, unfortunately, the response was the same - they had no rooms. I turned around and was about to leave when I was suddenly stopped by this lady. She introduced herself and kindly said she would be glad to offer me a room in her family's home for two nights. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and accepted her generous offer.

All these years later that pleasant memory is in the forefront of my mind. So is the confidence I have in the power of the Lord's Prayer as a way of creating special "coincidences" in my life.

One key ingredient in the recipe for peace

I've started this blog with the hope that people who follow it will share their stories of how the Lord's Prayer, the Golden Rule, or the Beatitudes had some significant impact on their life. Maybe there was a time when you prayed the Lord's Prayer and it resulted in some "coincidence" that can only be explained by attributing it to divine intervention. Or maybe you or someone you know used the dictate of the Golden Rule to positively influence a situation in your life or that of another. How about the Beatitudes?Maybe you took heed to one of these eight blessed virtues that Jesus taught us in his Sermon on the Mount and used it to make a difference in the world around you.

By providing a forum to create these postings, it is my fervent desire that the people who read them will gain some inspiration for their own life. Not only that, hopefully a ripple effect will be created whereby many people around the world will both contribute to and learn from this blog. By doing so, it is my prayer that the sharing of these powerful stories will have the added benefit of bringing the world community together around the notion that prayer with purpose is powerful; and purposeful prayer is one sure ingredient in the recipe for peace on the planet.