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Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

“A lot of people say they want to get out of pain, and I'm sure that's true, but they aren't willing to make healing a high priority. They aren't willing to look inside to see the source of their pain in order to deal with it.
– Lindsay Wagner”

For the past few months I have been struggling with chronic back injury. To be fair I shouldn’t really call it an injury because that kind of suggests that there has been an accident of sorts or I have done something to cause harm…when what I am dealing with is really wear and tear or to use an accepted medical term – degenerative disc disease.

My symptoms are lower back pain and stiffness which can get so intense that it interrupts my sleep – which is super irritating as I am bad sleeper anyway. I have tenderness in my lowers spine when it’s pressed (I press it all the time to check it still hurts) so basically, I have constant back ache. How is this affecting me? Well obviously, my exercise regime, specifically yoga which has been central to my life has had to be ditched – for the time being at least.

You would think yoga would be good for it but except for the yogis, everyone is telling me it isn’t. And, where once I was a demon with gym exercise I am reduced to a rehabilitative exercise routine which is humiliating. I am struggling with accepting my new limitation, part angry that I can’t exercise the way that I want to and wondering what miracle pill I can take to fix it all.

I am confused about balancing acceptance and change. I am reminded of the words of psychologist Carl Rogers “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” But it’s just not sinking in – Denial is a river in Egypt, where all the Chiropractors come from!  I’m told I am not alone as this is very common in people over a certain age but that only makes me more determined to buck the trend, to be the exception and not the rule.

I have always approached my life like a series of projects and fixing my back is just another one. In my endeavour to restore myself to my former glory I have, working on my behalf, my personal gym trainer, Andy, my chiropractor, Machere, my Alexander Technique Consultant Thea, my Physiotherapist, Sue and my homeopath Dr Sanua, and the young girl who puts me on the reformer machine twice a week whose name I can’t remember because there are so many people in this picture…

I am, if not just a sore back, an industry! But last week after countless consultations and bending everyone’s ears on how we have must fix this problem it dawned on me to ask myself what role I was playing in all of this? Sure, I am actively running to this one and that one – asking for advice and remedies – all offering me different ones based on how they view the world and been trained and conditioned.

And, apart from passively allowing myself to be manipulated and putting my hand in my pocket to procure this sage advice for my healing, what I have been ignoring is my part. I know about the mind-body connection which says that If you are sensitive of your body, you understand its deep wisdom and natural ability to renew and heal itself.  Yet here I am looking for everyone to do what I should be trying to do myself. .

You can take antibiotics to combat infections, dose yourself with myprodol to reduce pain or take cataflam for inflammation but these medical ‘interventions’ do not heal you. Sure, they reduce inflammation, battle bacteria and may make proper healing easier, but your body heals itself. Through some process which scientists admit to not fully understanding yet; the body has an amazing, innate ability to repair itself. What medical science can explain is the neurological and biochemical responses involved in healing – nerve messages to the brain, white blood cells to combat infection, platelets to clot the blood, formation of a scab as the skin grows back beneath. But medical science does not know how the body knows to do this, and it doesn't know what force powers this healing process.

Modern thinking is trying to break ground, asking the questions ‘what if you could learn to harness the most vital component in this process, the healing energy that your body uses to repair itself? ‘   ‘What if you could learn to increase and direct that healing energy to improve your general well-being and relieve specific health problems?’ Read the book ‘You Are The Placebo’ if you want to get some insight into this.

The author, Dr. Joe Dispenza, shares numerous documented cases of those who reversed cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and even the tremors of Parkinson’s disease by believing in a placebo. Similarly, he tells of how others have gotten sick and even died the victims of a hex or voodoo curse—or after being misdiagnosed with a fatal illness. Belief can be so strong that pharmaceutical companies use double- and triple-blind randomized studies to try to exclude the power of the mind over the body when evaluating new drugs. In a nutshell the book shows how the seemingly impossible can become possible.

But I have been passive in my healing looking for others to sort what I am probably most capable of fixing myself. I am not saying that these interventions don’t help me because after my chiropractor session with Dr Venter I am skipping out of the surgery with a new lease on life and my physical alignment in check – but the longevity of the healing rests with me and with my intention.

While my advisors =- who clearly haven’t read the book – are telling me no more yoga and change my attitude toward the acceptance of my new body (old body), it would seem that I am faced with two options; accept my degeneration completely and without judgment or get on my programme to start healing and stop being a passenger on the healing bus.

In a very real way, this experience is an extended metaphor for life itself.  When we fall on hard times, lose our job or struggle to find work in the fist place; save up to buy a house only to be gazumped; invest out money in a sure-fire project which goes down the pan; commit to a relationship only to have it fail, it is so much easier to accept it all as bad luck and allow yourself to wallow in self-pity, bemoaning your fate and seeking sympathy than to look on these setbacks as one more challenge to overcome and to move forward and fight another day.
Throughout my life I’ve never let anything or anybody get the better of me for long and that applies to this thing and this body too.  Like Lazarus, I will pick up my bed and walk, or any rate pick up my yoga mat and take up the position, even if it’s just Mindful Breath for now.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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Columns

A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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