Sunday, October 12, 2014

Truth of friendship

Life is journey where we meet a lot of people. Some people are too busy to bother to help and care about others. Some are just standing by, not doing anything even for themselves. Others have empathy and offer you what they have without expecting anything in return.
 I call this last group of people friends.

Friends are an important part of our lives. They always extend their hands to help you, they give you hope when everything seems bad. They light the road when it's dark; they help you find your path.  

Having empathy allows you to open your heart to others. It brings you to understand how they feel, how they see the world, and how things seem inside their minds. The ability to let others come before you is not act of inferiority, but the act of a true human being. A being that uses
his own intelligence to understand the world, a being that does not seek recognition but accepts that some life situations have more priority than others. Our human intelligence allows us to see that we are not so different from each other. Ethnical groups, beliefs, traditions, religions and nationalities are only the flavors of live that make our world colorful. Its always so interesting to share ideas with others that think differently. It requires an open mind and an open will to see the world through the  eyes of others and learn more about ourselves.

Society has shaped us to be competitive and dictates what’s right or wrong.  It makes us worry about trivial things like how we should look to be attractive or accepted. All the while, deep inside we have no values, compassion or kindness. We must make an effort to stop rushing our lives for a second to see the others that surround  us, and try to understand that they also have problems, families, dreams and goals. Then and only then, we will able to open  our hearts to meet those who may become new friends in our lives willing to help make us better people.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tolerance: a Simple Recipe for Harmony

Many world problems originate from intolerance. People do not tolerate one another simply because one seems “different”. You are judged based on your race, religion, political preferences, or simply because of the way you see the world. Perhaps several years ago when the world was not connected through the internet, you could encounter a situation when a traveler from a different part of the world was considered abnormal. Fortunately this has changed a lot; the internet has helped people become aware that there are others that think and look differently. Unfortunately, we still find many people that still find it hard to accept those differences.

How boring this world would be if we all looked the same, had the same skin color, hair and eyes. The beauty of our human nature originates from the diversity caused by tiny changes in our DNA, changes that give us color and shape. How boring this world would be if we all believed the same, if we all had the same costumes and agreed to a single way of understanding the world. We must accept the fact that we are not identical, and that there’s not an absolute true for anything. You have to be a fool, an ignorant or lazy person to not even try to understand why others think and look differently. Several human lives could have been saved already if we all had empathy, putting ourselves into other’s shoes, trying to respect and understand why others disagree on what we believe is logical. Open your mind and heart to understand others, try to see the world through the eyes of those who disagree with you. Explore other paths, other cultures; do not be afraid of being  in their shoes.

A person’s life is shaped by experiences, some tougher than others. Our families, surroundings, the date and country where we were born, create a particular set of conditions that define most of what we are. You can not judge a person without even trying to consider their origin.  Your human nature makes you biased to what seems comfortable to you. You were taught in a certain way that seems right to you, but perhaps others that were taught differently might have other great insights to offer you. 

Tolerance is powerful weapon that has helped different ethnical groups become accepted in our society. If you tolerate the ideas of others and accept that we are different by nature, then, and only then, we will be able to create a better tomorrow for the upcoming generations.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

To the Crazy Ones

Some time ago, I read an interesting quote about crazy and wise people: “There are more crazy people than wise, however in every wise person there is more craziness than wisdom”. You might think that craziness is a quality that you don’t want to have, but sometimes it can allow you to think out of the box and see things differently. The fact that you go against what seems obvious might be seen by others as being crazy. But we owe thanks to those who questioned what we were taught, who questioned the vague perception of the world through our senses and intuition. Because of them, big changes happened that made the  world a better place to a certain extent *.  

Galileo, with his Heliocentrism theory, totally changed the perspective of the world at that time. Darwin, with his theory of evolution, proposed a scientific and rational explanation for the origin of the species (which is still seen as crazy by many today). Several other intellectuals have proven through history that being crazy can bring a lot of sanity to our lives. They found explanations beyond average perception; solutions that lie right in front of our eyes but we were too blinded by our sanity to see them.

Do not judge those who seem crazy to the rest of the world, but try to put yourself in their shoes. Understand their point of view, be crazy yourself and see how it goes. “Crazy people are not crazy if one accepts their reasoning.” -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

*There is still a lot to improve, perhaps our consumerist habits? A more equal and fair distribution of the wealth, food, resources, knowledge and education? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Power of a Community

A community can be defined as a group of individuals who share the same values and have common goals. Communities have the potential to build things that you cannot do by yourself. Every individual has a different set of  skills and perspectives that can help. For example, you can see a football team as a community that has the goal to win a game. Every player on the field has a responsibility that contributes to the team’s win. If you play a game without a goalkeeper or defence, your opponent has a higher chance to score against you. On the other hand, if you don’t have strikers or midfielders, your chances to score are also very low. In the end, you will never be able to win the game without a team with the right skills.

We find all kinds of communities in our society. However, there’s one particular type of community in the Software world that I find very interesting; perhaps you haven’t heard of it yet but actually benefit from it. Communities of this type work with a very interesting model known as Open Source. Open Source projects are started usually by a small group of developers, or even a single person, who want to solve a specific problem and are willing to share their solution with the world for free. Many of these projects have become enormous and complex applications that shaped much of the technology that you are using right now while reading this blog. 

One of the interesting things about Open Source projects is that people from different locations, who speak different languages, and have totally different backgrounds collaborate together and create amazing products. 
Being part of a community that does good for the people is a great opportunity to learn something new, to gain some work and other experiences, and to help the world and others that we don’t even know. 
I encourage you to find and contribute to a community that does something of your interest. In many communities, you will always find interesting people willing to share their knowledge and help you to get started.

Some interesting Open Source organisations that perhaps might have some interesting projects to offer you:

I also encourage you to share with us if you know any other interesting communities or projects.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Light the Leadership Within

Leadership is a word commonly misunderstood by people. A manager might have some leadership skills, but not necessarily all managers are leaders. Many people believe that a leader is a person who controls and directs a group of people towards achieving a common goal. One can argue that such a definition feels correct, however the concept of leadership goes much further. 

A real leader should empower people to act on their own, to align for a common goal. To fight because they believe it is right. To persuade people to do their tasks with passion, to be emphatic, humble, to feel compassion. A good leader encourages a collaborative atmosphere where all the team works towards the same goal. 

Although many people believe that you are born as a leader, several authors argue that leadership skills can be acquired with experience [1]. These skills can not only help you to make positive changes in an organization, but also in a community, a group, and the society itself. Being a leader is not a matter of demanding others to complete a task on your behalf, but of doing it yourself with their support. 

Every individual has their own valuable skills that can contribute to a common goal. It is your task as a leader to identify the skills of your team and use them properly. There’s some leadership within all of us, therefore you should not underestimate anyone, including yourself. You have the potential to make things happen, and others have the skills that can make it so.

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”  —Nelson Mandela

[1] Mumford, Michael D., et al. "Leadership skills for a changing world: Solving complex social problems." The Leadership Quarterly 11.1 (2000): 11-35.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Philosophy of Ubuntu

Today I'll start by telling a story I read that gives me a lot of inspiration, and perhaps it will inspire you too. Several years ago, an explorer came to a tribe in Africa. When he arrived, he was welcomed by a large group of kids.  The explorer wanted to give them a bag of candy he brought, however the number or kids was too large. He decided to challenge them to race to closest tree so the winner would get the entire bag of candy. Surprisingly, they walked together to the tree holding their hands and singing. When they arrived and received the bag of candy, they sat down together and shared the prize. The man, amazed, asked them why didn't they run. One of the kid responded, "How can one of us be happy if all the others are not?" 

The Ubuntu Philosophy resembles a very interesting way of seeing life. Human kindness must be a shared value in order to make us care about others. We are not different from each other, but our ideas and values can make us believe that we are.

Several leaders in Africa support and follow this philosophy by standing and fighting against oppression and racism. Among these leaders, I highlight Nelson Mandela. He opposed apartheid and spent several years of his life in jail as a result. Only after he was released, he became President and saw his changes become a reality: "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The power of an Idea

An idea can be defined as a possible cause of action, a message that holds a thought and inspire others to do good or bad. Our ideas are what define who we are and represent what we want to project to the world. An idea broadcast a vision that can be shared by others, and when it occurs monumental changes can be achieved. Mahatma Gandhi once said "anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding", an idea that clearly aligns with his vision of a free India. When I used to live in India, I was always surprised how so many people with different religions, ethnicities and even languages shared a strong feeling of patriotism for their fatherland. For example when movies are shown in India, the audience will stand and proudly unite in their national anthem. Just like when playing charades, before the first question a quick thumbs up or down will indicate whether the person in question is recognized through a role in a Bollywood production. They are one of the few countries not completely influenced by the Western culture. Their women proudly boast colorful sarees to go to work everyday. Despite this, there are many social problems in India when you live there for some time. You understand more how the legacy of this idea remains after more than fifty years. This initial idea of Gandhi shared by many others led a nation to the independence from the British Empire. 
We have the power to define our own ideas and inspire others. We can also follow the ideas of others, but be aware that you are as responsible as the creator of the idea and therefore of its consequences. Follow your own convictions and act as you think, follow ideas that support what you believe, but more importantly strive to create a positive change in this world.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A first step forward

Achieving a goal in life is an incremental process, it requires effort and commitment to take a step forward to get closer to your goal.  Every milestone gives you satisfaction of your hard work, a place to rest and meditate about your progress but also about what is ahead of you, a closer look to your goal.

Big achievements in life take time and require work and commitment. Being intelligent is not enough to get where you want to go, it requires discipline because like Japanese say "one day discipline will defeat the intelligence". Therefore, trying to follow my own ideas and convictions, in order to prepare for writing my master's thesis, I decided to start writing a weekly article about different topics. This will not only take me closer to one of my goals of being a good English writer but also will be a great preparation for writing my thesis. I hope this journey that starts today in Amsterdam brings you closer to get to know how I see the world, and perhaps I get the chance to inspire you and make you join my fight for a better place to live, for a world with more equality and justice, where we share in harmony the world with ALL the living beings.

Finally I want to thank you for your time and effort to read what I wrote. Also encourage you to give me any feedback because without your opinion and criticism I will never be able to improve and reach my goals.