Author Archives: Glen Dallas

Thought for the Week – 08.07.19

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”

WALT DISNEY (1901 – 1966)

Walter Elias Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film producer, Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and an Emmy Award, among other honours. Several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Born in Chicago in 1901, Disney developed an early interest in drawing. He took art classes as a boy and got a job as a commercial illustrator at the age of 18. He moved to California in the early 1920s and set up the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy. With Ub Iwerks, Walt developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928, his first highly popular success; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. As the studio grew, Disney became more adventurous, introducing synchronised sound, full-colour three-strip Technicolor, feature-length cartoons and technical developments in cameras. The results, seen in features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942), furthered the development of animated film. New animated and live-action films followed after World War II, including the critically successful Cinderella (1950) and Mary Poppins (1964), the latter of which received five Academy Awards.

In the 1950s, Disney expanded into the amusement park industry, and in 1955 he opened Disneyland. To fund the project he diversified into television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club; he was also involved in planning the 1959 Moscow Fair, the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the 1964 New York World’s Fair. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, the heart of which was to be a new type of city, the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT). Disney was a heavy smoker throughout his life, and died of lung cancer in December 1966 before either the park or the EPCOT project were completed.

Disney was a shy, self-deprecating and insecure man in private but adopted a warm and outgoing public persona. He had high standards and high expectations of those with whom he worked. Although there have been accusations that he was racist or anti-Semitic, they have been contradicted by many who knew him. His reputation changed in the years after his death, from a purveyor of homely patriotic values to a representative of American imperialism. He nevertheless remains an important figure in the history of animation and in the cultural history of the United States, where he is considered a national cultural icon. His film work continues to be shown and adapted; his namesake studio and company maintains high standards in its production of popular entertainment, and the Disney amusement parks have grown in size and number to attract visitors in several countries.

Thought for the Week – 01.07.19

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty”

MAHATMA GANDHI (1869-1948)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā (Sanskrit: “high-souled”, “venerable”) was applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa and is now used worldwide. In India, he was also called Bapu, a term that he preferred (Gujarati: endearment for father, papa), and Gandhi ji, and is known as the Father of the Nation.

Born and raised in a Hindu family in coastal Gujarat, western India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for various social causes and for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.

Gandhi led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and political protest.

Gandhi’s vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India. In August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace. In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto death to stop religious violence. The last of these, undertaken on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan. Some Indians thought Gandhi was too accommodating. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest.

Gandhi’s birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.

Thought for the Week – 24.06.19

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies”

MOTHER TERESA (1910-1997)

Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), commonly known as Mother Teresa and honoured in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She was born in Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia), then part of the Kosovo Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. After living in Skopje for eighteen years, she moved to Ireland and then to India, where she lived for most of her life.

In 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that had over 4,500 nuns and was active in 133 countries in 2012. The congregation manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children’s and family counselling programmes, as well as orphanages and schools. Members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and also profess a fourth vow—to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.”

Teresa received a number of honours, including the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She was canonised (recognised by the church as a saint) on 4 September 2016, and the anniversary of her death (5 September) is her feast day.

A controversial figure during her life and after her death, Teresa was admired by many for her charitable work. She was praised and criticised for her opposition to abortion, and criticised for poor conditions in her houses for the dying. Her authorised biography was written by Navin Chawla and published in 1992, and she has been the subject of films and other books. On September 6, 2017, Teresa and St. Francis Xavier were named co-patrons of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta.

 

Thought for the Week – 17.06.19

“There is little success where there is little laughter”

ANDREW CARNEGIE (1835 – 1919)

Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was a Scottish-American industrialist, business magnate, and philanthropist.

Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and is often identified as one of the richest people (and richest Americans) in history. He became a leading philanthropist in the United States and in the British Empire. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away about $350 million to charities, foundations, and universities – almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming “The Gospel of Wealth” called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and stimulated a wave of philanthropy.

Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1848. Carnegie started work as a telegrapher, and by the 1860s had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, bridges, and oil derricks. He accumulated further wealth as a bond salesman, raising money for American enterprise in Europe. He built Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J. P. Morgan in 1901 for $303,450,000. It became the U.S. Steel Corporation. After selling Carnegie Steel, he surpassed John D. Rockefeller as the richest American for the next couple of years.

Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education, and scientific research. With the fortune he made from business, he built Carnegie Hall in New York, NY, and the Peace Palace and founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, among others.

Thought for the Week – 10.06.19

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR (1929 – 1968)

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, tactics his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi helped inspire.

King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organise the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped organise the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organise the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. Sentenced to 99 years in prison for King’s murder, effectively a life sentence as Ray was 41 at the time of conviction, Ray served 29 years of his sentence and died from hepatitis in 1998 while in prison.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honour, and a county in Washington State was also rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.