Will be in Australia for awhile. Look out for my travel stories!
Blogging is hard work. Getting a new blog out there everyday is PRESSURE! But then, I have always thrived on a bit of pressure and writing a blog is a great way to let off steam when you see things happening around you that really p*** you off. At the moment, I have a list of things that are giving me grief. Top of that list is dealing with people who lie, and believe me, there are a lot of them about.
Second is reading stuff in tabloid newspapers that is so stupid that you think the journos are writing for readers who morons. We are able to think as well as read, you know. It’s sad that people are so willing to accept the lowest common denominator when it comes to what they read. What’s happened to integrity?
Third is the way the current debacle at the BBC is being handled. I won’t go on again about it, because if I do, I may start to float upwards like an over inflated balloon, reminiscent of the those in high places at the Beeb, so full of their own self-importance in the face of the real truth: children were abused and their institution was involved. Okay, I am not saying that every person that ever worked there is implicated, but for heaven’s sake, start taking this issue seriously. It is not about whether or not George Entwhistle gets a quarter of a million quid as a golden handshake! It should not be about defending the position of the BBC. It’s about an objective, non-partisan investigation, unemotional and clear thinking, with the focus on finding out what happened and who is guilty!
Fourth moan is about the way we all seem to have lost the will to make a stand. Thank God for blogs! But please, use this wonderful opportunity to speak your mind about what is happening around you and not use it to simply spout trivia! Please! I hear you say, there is nothing wrong with a bit of trivia. No, there isn’t. But when you have the chance to let others know about injustice, blogging is a great platform.
I could go on and on, but I am trying to remember that we are near the festive season and I should be thinking about fairy lights and plum pudding. No such luck. I am still seething about all the injustices around me. What a miserable human being I am! There is a way out of this mood. I will simply have to resort to chocolate.
Social networking might help, too. I can look at what my friends are doing and hopefully, I will be encouraged by their fascinating lives – or not. I’m likely to feel horribly inadequate and have to show a narcissistic side of myself in order to keep up. I love them all, but at the moment, their wonderful successes feel like brickbats! No, that’s not true. See, I too am capable of telling porkies, but all in a good cause. Self preservation.
Unpacking a box of decorations this morning, I discovered a piece of last years’ Christmas cake. It had nice green mould on it and smelled horrible. But underneath the penicillin was the fruits of my labours. Yes, I made that cake and for awhile it was delicious and produced great compliments from all who ate it. Then the rot set in. A bit like life, really. Writing about it here helps regenerate the happy times. Blogging does that as well.
The BBC is under attack today. The Director General has resigned and the ship is floundering. Long interviews are happening, both on radio and TV. The newspapers are having a field day. There are good and talented people working in the BBC, but it looks as if there are also people who might be disloyal or grossly incompetent otherwise why should George Entwhistle not have been made aware of the content of that Newsnight programme? It beggars belief.
In all these discussions about constitutions, managers, Newsnight, journalists et al, are we all in danger of forgetting what the real issue is? Children have been abused. That is the what this is all about. I really am not interested in whether or not a new Director General will be found within weeks or months, whether or not Lord Patten is for the chop, or what is going on in the corridors and offices inhabited by what appears to be an army of incompetent managers. I want those people who suffered the horrendous crime of abuse as children, to be be listened to and receive justice. I don’t care how long that will take, but it is really all I am interested in.
The BBC is a creaking institution that needs an overhall; that is clear. The fact that over a period of more than 30 years, no one blew the whistle on what was going on in those dressing rooms used by Jimmy Saville and Gary Glitter and heaven knows who else, is an indictment of a culture inside the BBC. Somebody must have known. Why did those who knew keep quiet? How many other institutions, businesses or public bodies in this country, have people in their employ who are, at this very moment, covering up crimes?
Tim Davey, the Acting Director General will have to get his priorities right. Top of the list must be to focus on the victims of the child abuse that happened within its walls and by those in the employment of the BBC who carried out the abuse. But I doubt that this will happen. The focus will be on getting back the trust of the audience and on sorting out what appears to be an archaic management structure.
The BBC needs a gale of fresh air to blow through its hallowed halls and quick.
Social networking sites and blogs have made those in power more accountable. People can say what they think, particularly about their elected representatives. Of course, there are dangers, as we have seen in the past week when unproven allegations of child abuse have been made against a political figure. We have a judicial system in this country and it states that you are innocent unless proven guilty. There will be miscarriages of justice, that’s inevitable, but until a better legal system is created, the one we have is all we have and assumptions should not be made.
Accountability, on the other hand, means that all those who have a say in how we ordinary souls live our lives, must answer for their behaviour. This has always been so, in theory, but now technology makes accountability something that powerful people are confronted with online, every day. Secrets and lies cannot be kept under wraps any more and will not be revealed only by the newspapers, who often distort the truth. Everyone can be a critic. We can respond to and express our views about what is promoted as the truth, online.
The extent to which global information technology affects the transparency and accountability of government and other public institutions is growing. Beaurocracy has always acted as a shield that has protected people and organisations. The technological revolution has enabled us to scrutinise the websites of public bodies and comment online on what they say. We can communicate our views to the rest of the world. This promotes accountability in a way that we have not seen in the past. We can have a real voice. It also makes us think about our own integrity. Just to publish views that vilify or denounce in a spiteful and uniformed manner, will show us up and will do more harm than good. So this is a call for all of us to become more knowledgeable about governments, powerful people and those who run public services.
With the coming elections of a new police commissioner, millions of people in the UK will be asked to choose a person to do this job. We are told this will be the biggest voting exercise since the general election. How many people will vote? How many people really understand what this new person will be responsible for and how it will impact on our lives? There is little information available. Unless this improves, voters will not leave the comfort of their living rooms to vote for something they do not feel engaged in, because they have not been given the facts. The Electoral Reform Society is predicting that voters will stay put and not bother to vote.
The Labour Party to date, have opposed these new plans for how the police force is run and want more reforms. That’s enough for me be unsure about voting. But the government have pushed on with this election and I am aware that major decisions about policing will be overseen by the woman or man who is put in post.
No doubt, when it comes to the day, I will leave my house and go to the polling station. After all, I am accountable, in some way, if the wrong person gets the job. I know that the new commissioners’ first task will be to make cuts. Isn’t that really what this is all about? This government will cut the police budget by 20% next year and I believe that 15,000 police officers will be cut, too. The new commissioner will have to deal with the response that he will receive from the public to these cuts; not something I envy! The new police commissioner will be accountable. But so will our Prime Minister and Home Secretary for creating the post. And we will be accountable too, if we don’t take the opportunity to make our views known and vote.
Technology gives us a new freedom. If we use it wisely, we will engender a more moral and egalitarian society, where we can have a real say in how we are governed and what those in high office are doing. I hope…
PRETENDING is the story of six actors and a director convinced that theatre will change the world. Based at a converted chapel in rural Devon, the theatre company struggles with a lack of funding and local prejudice. Invited to tour a new play about global warming to small town America, they succeed in upsetting their benefactors and audiences. They return to Devon and an uncertain future, where they are forced to confront reality and their own relationships, including inconvenient pregnancies, gender issues and fraud. In this parallel universe of fantasy and truth, the actors search for a way to compromise, without losing the thrill of pretending. Life, they discover, can be as ephemeral as theatre, unless they accept responsibility for their actions. Humorous, with a serious undertone, the book takes a sideways look at how these theatre practitioners think, behave and interact with each other and the community, on and off stage. Events change everyone, though strangely, pretending prevails…
Published by Feedaread: http://feedaread.com Thank you to their team for making the experience of writing and editing almost stress-free!
The book is also now available at:
Also on Kindle.
Writing this book has been a HUGE learning curve for me. If you read my blog, you will see that I have been a writer for some time, but in the past my work was all about raising awareness of health and social issues and I have never attempted a novel. I had no idea how difficult it would be.
I’ve always loved to write. Since I was a child and got top marks in a competition at primary school, writing has enthralled me. I am not brilliant at either spelling or grammar, but I love the way I can create a unique world and people it with all sorts of odd balls. I love how the characters talk to me and at times, seem to lead me through the story. I like the puzzle that writing becomes; never more so than when you try to write your first novel.
Some writers make copious notes and have a very clear plan. I used to do that when I was writing to a deadline and using research given to me by commissioning organisations. Now, I want to experience freedom. I am sure I will be criticised for this ‘free’ approach, as writers infinitely better than I am, have written tomes about structure, plot and character.
To sanction myself too much at the start, restricts me. So, I simply write and write and write and usually the first draft is utter drivel. The second, not much better and by the time I reach the third, there is a glimmer of hope that I might be on the right track. That’s why the publisher Feedaread is so great. They allow for that process to happen.
I am about to take the plunge and put my book out there in the wide world. You must be mad, you might well say. I am opening up my book to a barrage of criticism. Well, that’s the only way to learn. I hope there will be some encouraging remarks, but I am happy to take the flak, too.
Writing this first novel has been a fantastic experience for me and I hope it will be a good one for my readers. I have already started the next one and I know it will be far harder to complete. I will be tougher on myself and my expectations are higher. The Lottery and The Arts Council have funded Feedaread so that new authors like me can stretch their literary muscles. I had something to say and I have found a way to say it to readers. It’s a small miracle. Thank you Feedaread.
Lyn Ferrand 2012
There is an acute cynicism in the way the High Street banks work. In the last seven days, they have cut the best-buy deals in an attempt to avoid a place at the top of the lists customers look at, when deciding where to go to deposit their savings and get a decent return on them.
Millions of savers in this country will have their incomes slashed because of the cuts in interest made by the banks and building societies. Why is this happening? Because the government has made cheap money available to the banks, in a vain attempt to get them to start lending again – the perfect time for them to cut rates to savers, as they don’t need their money any more. Again, we are held to ransom by these financial blackmailers.
There is a twist to this tale, however. All the banks are jumping on this particular band wagon, so savers must be savvy. Interest rates on savings could go up and down like jumping beans in this battle of the lists. Everyone with savings must keep watch on their money as if it were in the hands of a conjuror and likely to vanish at the tap of a wand.
Pensioners and savers have always been the groups that suffer from these financial games and it will get much worse. It’s all part of the plan to pull us out of a recession. Billions of pounds in cash has been printed. This is known by those musical words: Quantitative Easing. This always sounds to me like something that should happen behind the door of a toilet cubical, but there you are – I have a strange sense of humour.
Actually, I have very little sense of humour left when it comes to the banks and my hard earned money. True, the bank rate has been very low for the past three years, and that has helped those paying large mortgages. But if you are in that group, you are probably on tenterhooks wondering when the bank rate will start to creep upwards. If you have or are likely to lose your job, it will be a fear that will haunt you constantly. This is not right. Financial instability is debilitating. When there is a sense that the banks are not to be trusted, there is little hope that a sense of security will prevail.
There is little security anywhere, anymore. I remember the days when the threat of a nuclear annihilation was on my mind. I knew that once that red button was pressed, I wouldn’t know anything about the horrors of a nuclear war. But today, we have other threats that manifest themselves like a huge boulders strapped to our backs, and there is no sign at the moment, that those rocks can be dropped and we can start relaxing.
In the meantime, it will take up precious time every day to monitor what the banks are doing. Bank accounts have to be checked, so that we know where our money is and what the bank is doing with it. It’s a good time to ring them and ask, ask, ask. After all, it is YOUR money. Check the rate of interest you are getting on any savings, no matter how small, on a regular basis. The bank does not tell you if there is a better account that will pay you more. It’s buyer beware, again! Check any bonuses that you may be entitled to. Bonus payments are always on a time-line, so make sure you are up to date, and transfer your money when the bonus ends. There is nothing stopping you moving your money to another account or even another bank if you think the service is not up to scratch. If you have banked with the same bank for many years, you may feel you are being disloyal. DON’T! Banks are there to make money, I’m afraid; not to be ‘nice’ to you.
These days, you need a degree in accounting to run your life, or so it would seem. But if you don’t have one, just get clued up. Age doesn’t come into it. It doesn’t matter if you are seventeen or seventy, treat your money as if it was your baby. Okay, I know what the bible says – eye of a needle and all that, but we are long past the days of beans and groats and it’s not about grand wealth, it’s about protecting yourself and your future in the face of these monolithic institutions. Remember, they see you simply as a profit generator and an account number.
When you are facing death, the way you are treated by those caring for you, both staff and families, is paramount. At birth, there are trained professionals helping you into the world. You will hopefully have been treated with dignity and respect and your needs met. This should happen at the other end of life.
The Liverpool Care Pathway gives people dignity at that final curtain. Today, over 1200 doctors and other medical professionals, as well as carers, signed a letter in support of the pathway that seeks to assist those caring for the terminally ill, so that they may be cared for properly during the dying process. The pathway is now in use in very nearly every NHS hospital, but it seems to have caused some controversy. Families of those facing the end of their lives, have said that they were never informed that their relative was on the pathway. There have been suggestions that the pathway had helped people to die more quickly than they might have and they want to press charges against the doctors involved.
In the letter, doctors have stated that the pathway ‘is used to care for patients and not to hasten their death.’ They also insist that the method has nothing to do with financial constraints. It is sad that at a time that all of us will experience, there is an argument about how best to deal with this most natural of all human processes. The 21st century is a time where death is a dirty word; where we seem to want to avoid any discussion about it until it is something we are forced to confront when a loved one is facing their demise.
I can remember my grandmother talking to me about her mother’s death in Italy and how the family prepared for weeks before. True, she was in her nintieth year and her death was expected. But the family still faced its inevitable approach with equinimity and dignity, both for her and for them. Her spiritual needs were very important. She had asked for a priest and he visited her every day in her final week of life. Her physical needs were tended to with compassion and tenderness, as if she were a baby entering the world again. There was never any sense that it was time she left; that her life was over so she better well get on with it so that everyone could get on with their lives. Instead, so my grandmother told me, the process of death was seen as a ritual that the whole family, young and old must go through, in order to show their love and respect and enhance the memory of a life well lived.
For an event that every single one of us will go through, it seems strange that we have not addressed the manner in which it will happen in a more pragmatic way. There is no excaping it, yet it is the elephant in every room. It’s a bridge we say we will cross when we come to it. I believe we should all think about how we might treat someone we love in those final hours. I think we should all inform those close to us how we would like to be treated, so that when the time comes, there is a ‘pathway’ to follow.
I hope that the Liverpool Care Pathway is more than ‘a one-way street’ to death, as one newspaper quoted as the view of some families. Clarity is so essential when grief makes it hard to think rationally. It’s all about love, really.
When I heard this morning that Obama was still the President of the USA, I was very relieved. I have always maintained that he needed another term to pull his country out of the mess Bush left. I have no doubt he will do a good job. He is, I believe, a man of wit, compassion and great intelligence. But we shall see. He has just four years to work miracles.
Miracles are needed all over the place at the moment. I’m not talking religion here. I am talking about the miracles that good people work when they do right by themselves and everybody else. As a mum and a grandmother, I am looking to make miracles happen on a daily basis. Wishful thinking, I’m afraid. I know that my kids have to make their own and also, their own mistakes. That’s how life is lived. It is full of miracles and mistakes and how you deal with them will decide whether or not your life is a happy one.
Mistakes are the stuff of every life. Obama will make many. He already has, according to some pundits. But the manner in which he recovers is what is crucial. Millions depend on it. In family life, parents make mistakes every day. As long as those mistakes are not based on a deliberate desire to hurt anyone, recompense is possible. There is always a light at the end of every tunnel. The problem is often tunnel vision. You have to see the global picture and understand how your mistakes fit into it. As you emerge from any painful mistake you have made, your vision should have widened, so that next time, you will take avoiding action by recognising that the mistake is about to happen.
Does that sound too complicated? To put it into context, raising kids is fraught with the possibility of getting it all wrong. As you get older and look back at your parenting, mistakes are what you remember; at least I do. It’s hard to persuade yourself to see the good things you did. The mistakes glare at you across the years and you find yourself looking for the damage you perceive you created by those mistakes. But in the great scheme of things, in the global view, if you loved your kids and most parents do, you will feel the weight of those bad decisions far more than your offspring will.
Genetics as well as nurture have an impact on how your kids will live their lives. Scientists have known for years that genes will impact on how a child develops. Of course, how you nurture a child will make an impression, but combined with those pesky genes, you can feel free to shift some of the blame!
Barack Obama is the Big Daddy of America again. He has to hone all the attributes of a good and patient father, and then some. He has to be a role model and show he can be strong but has the wisdom and judgement of a brilliant philosopher. He has to listen and to be able to express his views clearly and without prejudice. He has to be all things to all men and women. Not a job I would like. But then, those are the attributes I aspired to as a parent. Wishful thinking again? That’s probably why I made so many mistakes!
I’m about to fly. Is there time for the engine to be checked before the plane does the turn around? Never mind cleaning the loos, what about the engine? I can drive my car a dozen thousand miles but then it needs a good rummage under the bonnet and things need changing, renewing, testing. Are they really going to ask hundreds of people to get inside that tin tube without making sure everything mechanical is in tip top condition? Why can’t that flat-faced woman in uniform reassure me that every nut and bolt and computer chip is in the right place?
I have waited in this boarding queue for hours. The girl who eventually takes my boarding pass, scowls at me. She is making a collage for her GCSE art exam and I am interrupting her progress. She is wearing a uniform, so I guess she is over the age of consent, but I have no faith in her. Just glimpsed the pilot. He must be older than he looks. Do they take them straight from primary school? Once inside, I fight with other passengers to find a seat. I haven’t booked; far too expensive. I end up sitting between nice lady suffering from air sickness and horny old gent who touches my leg as he puts his bum-bag under the seat in front.
The plane taxis to take-off point. Pretty, thin member of crew checks my seat belt. Pretty, thin member of crew waves arms about in the aisle, puts on yellow life jacket and shows me his whistle. Lady next to me mutters something about sick bags. A baby is wailing behind me. Time to suck a mint. My ears pop alarmingly as the tin tube rushes down the run-way in its brave attempt to defy gravity. Even though I am sure they haven’t serviced the engine to my satisfaction, we become airborn and the rush to sell begins.
On this short haul flight, I pay three pounds for a cup of tea. Why? because the stressed-looking young man has eyes that tell me he MUST sell or he might be made redundant. He NEEDS this job. I pay another three pounds for a cold croissant that sticks to the roof of my mouth like denture putty. There is a brief hiatus and then the trolley appears again. More stuff, this time inedible. Thirty pounds for a miniscule bottle of perfume. We’re in a recession, for God’s sake! But I succumb. I hand over my credit card and shove the over-packaged commodity into my flight bag. Nice lady next to me is discretely sick into a small paper bag.
The flight is coming to an end, but the coda is going to be loud. We are flying into a thunder-storm. Pilot must be bored – fancies a little excitement. Turbulence threatens to toss the planes into the stratosphere. Was that lightning? No, just the sun beams flashing in and out of the black thunder clouds. I have made my will. I can see it now, in the filing cabinet under my desk in my study. But will they find it? I should have left a note pinned to my fridge, telling them where it is. I should have checked that all my old knickers were thrown out; don’t want my family to know that I am a person who wears knickers until they crumble into dust around my bottom.
The plane drops another few hundred feet. Black clouds continue to swarm. Screaming baby is having a fit. Woman next to me clutches my arm and begs me to find her another sick bag. Pilot’s voice tells us we will be landing in ten minutes. He must be joking! I’m trying to remember the faces of my children.
A flight to the USA means your face and thumbprint are captured and kept in some data bank in a vault that you will never visit. I am standing in the customs queue. Am I a European citizen? Of course I am. I feel like a law-breaker. I feel like an immigrant. I feel uncomfortable. No one speaks in the queue. It’s like being in church. This is serious business. The gun strapped to the waist of the policewoman standing near me, tells me so. I smile at her. She stares at me. She can see my underwear.
You must never smile at officer at the immigration desk, or make a quick quip about anything contentious, if you know what I mean. You must enter the hallowed ground of America as a submissive pilgrim, humble and reverential, doing exactly WHAT YOU ARE TOLD. I don’t mind at all, if it means that air travel is safer, but I sometimes long for the innocent past, where you could have a jolly chat with anyone in uniform and they joined in and smiled back at you.
Any long haul flight needs intense preparation. There is a check list of things you must do before you reach the airport, and I don’t mean cancel the papers. My list starts with those fetching socks that prevent you from growing mobile clots of blood in your legs, or so they say. I always have at least three pairs in my flight bag, just in case. Best to put them on before your board, unless you are a trained contornionist. Next is a few snacks, but remember to consume them all before you land, as some countries refuse you entry if you haven’t declared a stray peanut. I take fruit; good for the gut. Bananas are not recommended, however. They change colour within minutes of take-off and start to smell like acetone. It’s imperative, if you are over 35, to take an Aspirin, so they tell me. The little white pill thins your blood. I believe a glass of good red wine will probably do the same, but I always take a couple of packets of pills with me, just in case. Finally, prepare your reading list. Nothing too exciting – there is nowhere to exercise away unfulfilled desires in a plane – the loos are far too small. I usually plump for a celebrity life story; always good for a laugh.
Food is provided by the airline at regular intervals on long-haul flights, but a plastic tray covered with plastic food wrapped in plastic, can be off-putting. Be thankful. It is not flying protocol to complain about anything once you are in your seat. Your crew member, hopefully a cross between Mother Theresa and a nurse, will expect good behaviour. Your fellow passengers will look to you to set the standard. If you jump up and down in a frenzy of whining, they will take this as a cue to do the same and chaos will ensue. My strategy is to say nothing, just nod and look grateful.
Landing takes particular skill and I am not talking about the pilot. He has a book of rules and a co-pilot. I mean the white-knuckled, stone in the pit of the stomach, clenched-buttocked experience that you go through as a passenger. Landing lasts forever. From the moment you hear that ping that tells you your hostess is scurrying up the aisle to her seat, time stands still. The plane lurches up and down like an intransigent lift, while your insides do the same. You dare not look outside the window, as that would make you face the truth – landing is DANGEROUS! No, it isn’t, says sensible, rational right side of brain. Millions of planes do it every day. They would say that, wouldn’t they? They want my money! The pilot and his crew are all about fourteen years old! What they hell do they know about anything? Have I really made my will? Why didn’t I Hoover the house before I left? Everyone will know I am a total slut at my funeral. There is a bang, a bump, a sigh from my fellow passengers – the plane is down. I am still alive.
My legs emerge mottled and sulky from the blood clot stockings. The banana in my bag has turned to brown mush, I can’t remember how many Asprin I have taken and I didn’t find out if my celebrity took part in an orgy on Brighton beach. Never mind. I have arrived and I am ALIVE!
What exactly is truth? It gets progressively harder to differentiate between truth and the ‘other stuff’. Reading the reports of the texts between Cameron and Brooks is a case in point. Innuendo is as thick as the marzipan on my Christmas cake. When is a horse not a horse? When does ‘riding’ mean something not polite enough to mention here? (I care about the sensibilities of my readers, you know.)
There is a lot of guff escaping into the atmosphere in the USA at present. Romney and Obama are at it, big time. (my attempt at American speak. Sorry.) Some of the escaping hot air will be as near to the truth as the stone in my engagement ring is to a diamond. Some will clearly be ‘the other stuff’. Poor voters. How to work out who to believe and who to laugh at so much that your chest hurts.
My money is on Romney for the laughing pain. Poor chap, he’s all confused; mostly about American politics. Obama seems to have found his freeway and is hurtling down it at the speed of light and he needs another four years to reach his destination. Give him a chance! But what do I, a mere English woman, know about the truth as it is seen across the pond. Do the voters there understand what is really going on anymore than we do in the UK?
Since the deregulation of all things, this country has been slowly sinking into oblivion. The boundaries have disappeared and we are all now frequently at the mercy of unscrupulous people, whose one aim is to prize money out of us. Take Banks. Does anyone understand how they got away with criminal behaviour on a huge scale? Take local Councils? Are they as corrupt as some citizens think they are? Take the BBC? What the hell has been going on in their hallowed hallways and dressing rooms?
And it’s all about recognising what is truth and what is – yep, you’ve guessed it – the ‘other stuff’? We seem to be living in a culture where, like the earth’s magnetic field, our perceptions can be flipped over. Do we really have to keep silent when we see injustice? That’s what has happened, otherwise how would that evil, little creep, Savile have got away with abusing children under the very noses of large and powerful institutions?
Why are we all so frightened of identifying the truth and speaking it loudly, so that others can hear? In the past, the BBC has been a champion in reporting the bad stuff and exposing the people who need to be exposed. It just shows how easily Rome can fall. Cameron, take note.
On my own patch, I see this veering to the side of truth economics all the time. I see people willing to stay quiet and compromise. I see businesses with no morals. I see people screwing each other and being screwed. When did it get this bad? Of course, there are good people making good things happen out there. But surely, there must be a committment by all of us to show that we won’t stand for the bad stuff any more?
We will blow those whistles loud and long and that the truth will come out.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead