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CIVIC EDUCATION


Has Science Discovered God?     Click to watch this FASCINATING, MIND-BLOGGING video with breathtaking images and you learn science in the process!   Read transcript             God in the Cosmos
Veritas Forum at Yale University  [ ... ]



Columnist - Theary Seng's BLOG
Friday, 07 May 2010 20:58

 

PRACTICING GRATITUDE


Recently, I have decided to be more intentional in "practicing gratitude", to be thankful in all circumstances in a conscientious, deliberate manner that it grows into a habit -- an echo of, a page from Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God, if you will.  It's a practice fraught with many lapses, I am quickly realizing.



Charles River, 13 May 2010

 

Yesterday (May 13), spring sprung into action, the sun shone gloriously and the world, pristine and magnificent, bustled with runners, strollers and revelers soaking in the beauty of the earth.  I gingerly strolled across the verdant Boston Common and Edenic Boston Garden, along tony Charles Street, beside the glistening Charles River as rowers and sailboats glide across the glassy surface, toward the iconic Harvard Square to meet up with friends for dinner... the  amazing Mimi  Edmunds, a former producer of CBS 60 Minutes who went to Cambodia with Ed Bradley in 1985 and the dynamic Lauren Shaw, photographer and filmmaker now of all things Cambodian.  The only notable Cambodian restaurant in the U.S. of non-Cambodian, diverse clientele--the Elephant Walk--did not disappoint.

 

Boston Garden, 13 May 2010
Edenic Boston Garden, 13 May 2010

 

Afterward, we all went to Lauren and Paul's Belmont home and did a bit of filming before turning in after a soporific evening/night of amok, wine, chocolate and much Cambodia talk.  We have much to be thankful about !!

 

Mimi Edmunds, Lauren Shaw, Theary Seng at the Elephant Walk (Cambridge, 13 May 2010)
Mimi Edmunds, Lauren Shaw, Theary Seng with owner of The Elephant Walk in Cambridge, 13 May 2010.

 

This Friday morning I woke up to Burma VJ, the most powerful film I have seen in awhile!!  Talk about courage and the need not to take things for granted and be thankful for basic freedoms!!

 

I am very blessed as an aunt with many beautiful nieces and nephews, two with whom I had the pleasure of having dinner.

Sam, Chantal, Theary at dinner Cheesecake Factory (Boston, 14 May 2010)
A very proud aunt Theary Seng with Sam Seng, Chantal Seng at the Cheesecake Factory (Boston, 14 May 2010).

 

On this glorious Saturday (May 15) morning, 18 year-old beautiful Eliza Edmunds reminded me of the beauty and richness of life, DESPITE...  Despite early abandonment resulting in adoption.  Despite being struck blind suddenly several years ago.  Despite all the challenges that once-sighted blindness entail...

Mimi and Eliza Edmunds, Theary Seng, Phloeun Prim, Lauren Shaw, Carol (Belmont, 2 May 2010)
Mimi and Eliza Edmunds, Phloeun Prim, Theary Seng, Lauren Shaw, Carol (Belmont, 2 May 2010)

 

At still such a tender age, she is teaching us the secrets of life, that beauty--the kind that lasts--comes from being chiseled and hammered by the anvil of trials and tribulations.  Now, she is the much-loved daughter of supermom Mimi; she sees more clearly than many of us with sight will ever be able to see; she radiates sunshine; she smiles with her whole face and personality.  Her paintings could be museum pieces.

Eliza Edmunds being cheered on by mom Mimi and Lauren Shaw, Perkins School for Blind track meet, 15 May 2010
Eliza Edmunds cheered on by supermom Mimi and filmmaker Lauren Shaw during the Perkins School for the Blind track meet (Boston, 15 May 2010)


This morning, Eliza competed in a track meet with other  students from schools of several states at her Perkins School for the Blind.  These students are our teachers of humanity and gratitude; they cheered each other on and do not take fundamentals for granted.  They are our teachers for they can teach us to see, if only we are willing.

Perkins School for the Blind track meet (Boston, 15 May 2010)
Perkins School for the Blind track meet (Boston, 15 May 2010).  PSB, established in the 1820s,  sprawls spaciously on the banks of the Charles River, nestled among the bucolic gentrified neighborhoods hugging Boston.  Eliza counts as her classmates the son of the Celtics owner (who competed) and daughter of Mia Farrow (who came out to cheer on her classmates).  Helen Keller was an alumnus.

 

The exquisite Dr. Sughra Raza amazes me with her intelligence and humanity.  Within a matter of days while here in Boston, I am pulled into an orbit of strong, brilliant women, all friends of Lauren Shaw, who inspire and renew my faith in humankind and peace-building.

Lauren Shaw and Dr. Sughra Raza, Boston, 21 May 2010
Best friends Lauren Shaw and Dr. Sughra Raza on the rooftop of Sughra's Beacon Street apartment overlooking the Charles River with MIT and Harvard in the background (Boston, 21 May 2010).

 

..........


In the article below, Joel Brinkley (son of iconic David Brinkley; an amazing writer I met a couple of years ago in Phnom Penh) reminded me once again to count my blessings, to frame the journey of life through the prism of thankfulness.


- Theary, passing through Boston


..........


Thai Protesters Should Count Their Blessings

Sunday, May 2, 2010
Joel Brinkley
San Francisco Chronicle (California, USA)


Southeast Asia is a frustrating part of the world for anyone hoping to live in a democracy, as the violent protests in Bangkok right now make perfectly clear. But take a close look at Thailand's neighborhood and you come away wondering: Why can't the Thai people appreciate what they have?



To Thailand's west lies Burma, which last held democratic elections in 1990. Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, the National League for Democracy, won a sweeping victory. But the ruling military government refused to accept the results and instead locked her away in her home. The next year she won the Nobel Peace Prize, but that changed nothing. She is still under house arrest today. Now the military junta is planning new elections this fall, but it recently released rules structured so that Aung San Suu Kyi cannot participate. Last month, her party's leadership announced it would boycott the vote. No one anywhere regards these planned elections as anything but a sham.

 

To the north of Thailand lies Laos, a closed, impoverished little nation where hammer-and-sickle flags fly above government offices, perhaps the last place on Earth where that is so. Schools and offices display posters of Marx and Lenin, and in a speech earlier this year, President Choummaly Sayasone opined that "Marxist-Leninist theory is practical and is suitable for the current situation in Laos."

 

Laos last held an election in 1955, but the coalition government collapsed in 1958, and the country hasn't experienced even a breath of democracy since. Meanwhile, half of the nation's children are so malnourished that they are stunted, meaning they are not growing, either physically or mentally.

 

To the east lies Cambodia, whose people received an extraordinary gift from the world almost 20 years ago. The United Nations, recognizing the tragedy the nation faced under the Khmer Rouge, occupied Cambodia for two years and spent $3 billion to redeem the state, giving it a democratic constitution. The United Nations staged national elections and, obviously hungry for democracy, 90 percent of the Cambodian people voted. But all of it was for naught.


Today, Cambodia is ruled by a kleptocratic, elective dictatorship. Emblematic of its behavior, the government sold a beautiful lake, a landmark in the center of the capital city, to a developer for $79 million and pocketed the money. The buyer began pumping sand into the water intending to fill it up and build a new development. But to do that, the government had to order the eviction of 4,000 families from their homes on the water's edge. Angry about this, one resident painted a declaration on the side of his home that said "Stop Evictions!" The government sued him for defamation.

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