sometimes I just don’t understand.

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It’s hard for me to understand when people act deviously and without integrity, I can’t see the motivation. Over my 65 years of life I’ve seen the inevitability of these things boomeranging back. “You reap what you sow” has proved true in my experience, if not in physical losses then in an embittered and lonely old age.

The last two weeks have hit crisis point for my youngest daughter’s family in a year long struggle to get their landlord to properly fix the heating. Penny wise, but pound foolish he now has severe damp, mound and rot in one of the rooms, plus they are moving out as the house is rapidly becoming uninhabitable. Even this move was only possible due to a threat to expose them to the local council. It’s ugly to have to use such leverage and they hate it, but they have a young child.

God, as ever, has taken care of them providing a super nice apartment close by with a more responsible landlord, but I feel sad for the pretty little house going to rack and ruin and the landlord, who repeatedly lied, has lost all credence with the estate agent that manages the property. They loved the tiny house and were good tenants. Now he has to do the work anyway while the house sits empty and word has spread. It will be hard for him to get good tenants now. So sad.

Good old advice.

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Looking back on a long and somewhat unusual and adventurous life, one of the most important things for me is not how much money I have in the bank, how many of my goals I accomplished etc. No, when you become old it’s important that you have a peace with yourself, to look back and know you did the best you could. You may not always have gotten it right, but you tried. That you might have blown it a lot of times but you didn’t chicken out or pull your punches, that you lived in integrity as much as you were able.

These things bring peace in old age. I know some who do not have this peace, though they have been forgiven they find it hard to forgive themselves. We tend to lose our critics along the path of life, but our own heart ever holds the mirror.

What is success?

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What do you picture when you think of a successful person? Media prompting – we’ll most likely picture a well healed business man/woman dressed in the best money can buy, or maybe a celebrity living the high life in a palatial mansion. I’d challenge that concept though.

Firstly the notion of success first requires a choice of what goal you desire to be successful in. Talking to young people, I’ve noticed an alarming trend to simply accept the goals promoted so often in the media (as stated above) without conscious thought or choice, often not even perceiving there are other goals. This is a mistake, not only because not all are fitted for these particular callings (thank God!) and may feel discouraged and lacking when they can’t attain them, but also the ones who do succeed have a tendency to be the saddest, most miserable of mortals.

There’s a great saying – “Before you climb the ladder of success make sure it’s leaning against the right wall!”

I like my son’s goal – to marry and make a happy family (sadly he’s yet to achieve that one having discovered you need a woman with the same goal – his ex being a bit of a gold digger!) Then there are my daughters’ goals. Some went for financial goals and succeeded, (it came at a price though – it always does). One choose ethical teaching ( succeeding and becoming a successful business woman as a result, without compromising her integrity). Another wanted to help her autistic son realize all he could of his potential (I honor her choice highest of all.) She’s succeeding miraculously but there was a lot of sacrifice involved. My youngest wants to leave something of value behind in the way of literature (she’s still setting out.) Even in my own family goal can vary greatly.

I have a second reason also to challenge the accepted notion of success. As a Christian (and human being) I believe in the end we are rated on our degree of love, humanity and integrity. Whether you believe appraisal will come in a look of pity and disappointment by an all loving God or the legacy you leave behind in the way of fond (or not so fond) memories.

I somehow don’t think most financial high fliers and celebrities are going to score high on those ratings. I rather see the struggling, single mum, the street sweepers who greet everyone with a sunny smile on the rainiest of days, the relief worker who cries himself to sleep under the weight of care for others, these are the one’s I see who are the real successes of life, who bring a radiant smile to the eyes of God, who are treasured in the lives of others.

So don’t feel bad if you don’t see yourself as “successful” maybe you score higher than you know!

food for thought. (I always wondered how they recovered so quickly. Here’s the story)

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Iceland Sentences 26 Corrupt Bankers To 74 Years In Prison
by Maurice Bedard | Jan 8, 2016 | News – LoanSafe.org

(Source: AmericanNewsx) – Iceland just sentenced their 26th banker to prison for his part in the 2008 economic collapse. The charges ranged from breach of fiduciary duties to market manipulation to embezzlement.
When most people think of Iceland, they envision fire and ice. Major volcanoes and vast ice fields are abundant due to its position on the northern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (A hot July day in Reykjavik is around 55 degrees.) However, Iceland is also noted for being one of the Nordic Socialist countries, complete with universal health care, free education and a lot other Tea Potty nightmares. Therefore, as you might imagine, they tend to view and react to economic situations slightly differently than the U.S.
When the banking induced “Great Recession of ’08” struck, Iceland’s economic hit was among the hardest. However, instead of rewarding fraudulent banking procedures with tons of bailout money, they took a different path.
Prior to the recession, Iceland had one of the more thriving economies in the world, in spite of the fact that their total population (327,000) wouldn’t even fill a mid-sized American city. When the recession struck, they were among the earliest and hardest hit. However, instead of running to the vaults to shower the banks with money, they let the banks fail. They also resisted traveling down the European/Republican austerity road. Instead, they kept their social programs intact at a time when they were most needed.
And, they sent fraudulent bankers to jail.
When Iceland’s three major banks collapsed, it resulted in defaults totaling $114 billion in a country with agross domestic product (GDP) of only $19 billion. In October, 2008 the parliament passed emergency legislation to take over the domestic operations of the major banks and established new banks to handle them. They did not, however, take over any of the foreign assets or obligations. Those stayed with the original banks, right into bankruptcy.
They then brought charges against several banking executives for fraud and market manipulation, resulting in sentences ranging from four to five and a half years. As the special prosecutor said,
Why should we have a part of our society that is not being policed or without responsibility?
In the U.S., we simply tapped a few wrists with small fines, that ended up being paid by their respective banks.(Can you say “got off scot free?”)
Sending the bank executives off to play rock hockey for a few years didn’t solve the problem, but it did send a message not to do that again.
At its worst, Icelandic currency, the Icelandic krona (ISK) was trading at around 250 ISK per Euro. In order to qualify for an IMF (International Monetary Fund) loan, Iceland raised interest rates to 18%, which, of course, attracted bank deposits. Iceland also received a $2.5 billion loan from Europe’s Nordic countries.
To power its recovery, Iceland utilized its natural advantages such as its clean, cheap geothermal energy to attract the tech industry. Icelandic commercial fishing remained strong and as the general world economy picked up, the tourist industry bloomed. The deeply depreciated krona also helped make Iceland and Icelandic products very attractive, economically. On the banking front, they facilitated domestic debt restructuring and fiscal adjustments as conditions changed.
As to how it has all turned out, here’s what the International Monetary Fund Survey has to say about it:
Iceland has rebounded after the 2008/9 crisis and will soon surpass pre-crisis output levels with strong performance in tourism and fisheries. Debt ratios are on a downward path and balance sheets have broadly been restored. The financial sector is back on track though with some important items remaining on the docket.
As the above survey also states, Iceland is “the first 2008-10 crisis country in Europe to surpass its pre-crisis peak of economic output.”
The krona is now running 142 ISK per Euro. (up from 290/1 in 2008) The 2014 inflation rate was 2.05%.(down from 12.59% in 2008) The wage index is running at 190.9. (up from 132.8 in 2008)
Btw, they did all this while keeping their social welfare intact. (There goes another bagger day-dream.)
Iceland’s President, Olafur Ragnar Grimmson explained how the country managed to recover from the global financial disaster,
We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we provided support for the poor, and we didn’t introduce austerity measures like you’re seeing in Europe.
When asked whether or not other countries, Europe in particular, would succeed with Iceland’s “let the banks fail” policy, President Grimmson gave his answer,
Why are the banks considered to be the holy churches of the modern economy? Why are private banks not like airlines and telecommunication companies and allowed to go bankrupt if they have been run in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bail out banks is a theory that you allow bankers enjoy for their own profit, their success, and then let ordinary people bear their failure through taxes and austerity. 
People in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run.
(Source: AmericanNewsx)

Unsung hero. (A true life “Fairy Tale”)

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from November 2014 (yet again this seems appropriate.)

Song Bird Songs

fairy tale

There were a lot of medals in my mother’s family including 3 Victoria Crosses (the highest British award -quite rare) and I grew up hearing about them, but this is a story about another kind of courage.

My grandfather  took part in one of the WW1 Christmas Eve cease fires so well depicted in “Joyous Noel”  (If you have yet to see it this year is the perfect time!) It tells how the war stopped for a while on Christmas Eve and both sides met to celebrate Christmas, play football and show pictures of loved ones, thus realizing their common humanity.

Soon after this he and a friend were trapped behind enemy lines. Unable to break through back to their unit they began to wave their arms above the trench they were trapped in, in hopes of being shot (they’d heard the injured were sent home). Eventually they were captured…

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