Author Archives: Glen Dallas

Thought for the Week – 25.06.18

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

MOTHER TERESA (1910 – 1997)

Mother Teresa, known in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, Albanian: 26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She was born in Skopje (now the capital of Macedonia), then part of the Kosovo Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. After living in Macedonia 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 which had over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries in 2012. The congregation manages homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s- and family-counselling programmes; orphanages, and schools. Members, who take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, 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 was named co-patron of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta, alongside St. Francis Xavier.

 

 

Thought for the Week – 18.06.18

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”

THOMAS A. EDISON (1847-1931)

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America’s greatest inventor. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park”, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Edison was a prolific inventor, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. More significant than the number of Edison’s patents was the widespread impact of his inventions: electric light and power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures all established major new industries worldwide. Edison’s inventions contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures. His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialised world. His first power station was on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York.

 

Thought for the Week – 11.06.18

“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 1954 until his death in 1968. 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 organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped organize 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. He 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, and as a U.S. federal holiday 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.

 

 

 

Thought for the Week – 21.05.18

“Educating the mind, without educating the heart, is no education at all”

ARISTOTLE (384-322 BC)

Aristotle (384–322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidiki, in the north of Classical Greece. Along with Plato, Aristotle is considered the “Father of Western Philosophy”, which inherited almost its entire lexicon from his teachings, including problems and methods of inquiry, so influencing almost all forms of knowledge.

Little is known for certain about his life. His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, and he was brought up by a guardian. At seventeen or eighteen years of age, he joined Plato’s Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven (c. 347 BC). His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, politics and government – and constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy. Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip II of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great beginning in 343 BC. Teaching Alexander gave Aristotle many opportunities. He established a library in the Lyceum which helped him to produce many of his hundreds of books, which were papyrus scrolls. The fact that Aristotle was a pupil of Plato contributed to his former views of Platonism, but, following Plato’s death, Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted from Platonism to empiricism. He believed all concepts and knowledge were ultimately based on perception. Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.

Aristotle’s views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship. Their influence extended from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages into the Renaissance, and were not replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such as classical mechanics. Some of Aristotle’s zoological observations, such as on the hectocotyl (reproductive) arm of the octopus, were disbelieved until the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, studied by medieval scholars such as Peter Abelard and John Buridan. Aristotelianism profoundly influenced Islamic thought during the Middle Ages, as well as Christian theology, especially the Neoplatonism of the Early Church and the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. Aristotle was revered among medieval Muslim scholars as “The First Teacher”. His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics.

All aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy continue to be the object of academic study. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues for publication, only around a third of his original output has survived, none of it intended for publication. Aristotle has been depicted by major artists including Raphael and Rembrandt. Early Modern theories including William Harvey’s circulation of the blood and Galileo Galilei’s kinematics were developed in reaction to Aristotle’s. In the 19th century, George Boole gave Aristotle’s logic a mathematical foundation with his system of algebraic logic. In the 20th century, Martin Heidegger created a new interpretation of Aristotle’s political philosophy, but elsewhere Aristotle was widely criticised, even ridiculed by thinkers such as the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the biologist Peter Medawar. More recently, Aristotle has again been taken seriously, such as in the thinking of Ayn Rand and Alasdair MacIntyre, while Armand Marie Leroi has reconstructed Aristotle’s biology. The image of Aristotle tutoring the young Alexander remains current, as in the 2004 film Alexander, and the Poetics continues to play a role in the cinema of the United States.

Thought for the Week – 14.05.18

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance”

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (1856-1950)

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist, and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor’s Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra.

Shaw’s expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success. In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion for which he received an Academy Award. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian Society gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin. In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours, including the Order of Merit in 1946.

Since Shaw’s death scholarly and critical opinion has varied about his works, but he has regularly been rated as second only to Shakespeare among British dramatists; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of English-language playwrights. The word “Shavian” has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw’s ideas and his means of expressing them.