Ray Bradbury | Iconic Fantasy Writer | Dead at 91

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 17:27 PM EDT, 6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury, by MP, 3.18.2011 (Photo by Poditty 444)

LOS ANGELES, California – Ray Bradbury, the prolific writer who is considered one of the prophets of science fiction, lived his life doing the thing he loved. According to published reports, Bradbury died at age 91 and up until the end he was an inhabitant of all the universes found in literature. Today, his daughter informed the Associated press of he died during the night of Tuesday, 5 June 2012.

In the video at the end of this post, “A Conversation with Ray Bradbury,“ viewers are given the pleasure of watching a man in his 80’s who is sharp, vibrant, and as exuberant as any man half his age. He starts the interview with a quote that should be a mantra for each one of us.

“Love is at the center of your life. The things that you do should be the things that you love. The things that you love should be the things that you do. So that’s what you learn from book.”

First and foremost, Bradbury did not classify his writing as science fiction, because his initial exposure to writing at age 3, when he learned to read, was in the realm of fantasy. According to interviews the wonderful aspect of fantasy was that in enabled the reader to totally inhabit the world that a writer creates.

“I'm not a science fiction writer,” he was frequently quoted as saying. “I've written only one book of science fiction [“Fahrenheit 451”]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can't happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen.”

Though the stories in his books often occurred in far corners of the universe or in dystopian societies, ultimately, it was as much about the construct of the environment as the reactions of the characters which inhabited those worlds. More along the lines of a sociologist, Bradbury explored the character of man when placed in untenable situations.

Author of more than 27 novels and story collections and more than 600 short stories, he was a prolific writer until the end. A humanist and optimists, it was a strange juxtaposition that most of the characters in his stories descended to their baser natures when given a choice.

As seen in his collection of short stories titled “The Martian Chronicles,” and most famously, his classic novel "Fahrenheit 451,” one might get the sense by reading his books that Bradbury was a cynical misanthrope, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Through his beautifully rendered universes, he provided his characters and readers with a choice, a fork in the proverbial road, whereby we could choose to elevate our thinking and thus our actions to benefit the whole, or descend into the tyranny that accompanies selfishness.

That is why so many of his stories though set in alien locations are ultimately fantastic extrapolations of post-war towns and cities everywhere in  America. In a 2000, New York Times Magazine article, Bradbury said, “When I was born in 1920, the auto was only 20 years old. Radio didn't exist. TV didn't exist. I was born at just the right time to write about all of these things.”

And write he did. Bradbury is a titan in the American literary landscape and though he has passed, he shall live on though the words he loved so much.

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In His Mirror | Nick Vujicic

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 03:46 AM EDT, 15 February 2012

Nick Vujicic, Oman, Photo by Vigor Enterprises

Nick Vujicic, Oman, Photo by Vigor Enterprises

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, it is a cold but relatively mild day.  After months of financial difficulties I have finally started working but it seems as if it has been a little late. But, things never happen early or late but always right on time.  However, when one is in the midst of a crisis such as I and many other Americans are currently facing, we pull in and embrace fear.  It is a hard place to be, to trust in God when one is on the verge of loosing one's home.

When I originally wrote this post I was in a different frame of mind in terms of how I interacted with the universe.  I believed at that time that things happened to me versus my envisioning and creating the experiences that subsequently happen to me.  The idea of active creation does not negate God, in whom I am an ardent believer; however, we must do our part in order for Him to do His.

That is why Nick Vujicic story is so important and why it was selected to be featured on our site.  It is a basic human tendency to teach ourselves and our children to speak about those things that we don't want, to vent and talk about what ails us, and to view ourselves as a victim while others prosper. We have moved beyond the 'Me Gen' to simply "Ego Driven."  We make no pretense at caring about others feelings or needs unless they can further our goals and objectives or assuage a present pain or discomfort.

Vujicic story stops most people in mid-thought because of his physical condition, but then it is his words, his life in action that is what truly captivates and reflects back to us our utter lack of respect for the sanctity of human life and gratefulness for all that we have not been called to struggle with.

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I have so much to be grateful for - in an economy where more than 8% of American are unemployed, I have finally secured a job. I have a wonderfully supportive mother and sister.  My son is healthy, extremely intelligent and beautiful.  I have good friends and after years of struggle I like who I am.

So why was I complaining?  Because that is what we do.  We complain.  It is like a computer virus, one can go on vacation to disconnect from the daily grind and totally recover through the antibiotics of peace, tranquility and centering; but upon return, once we plug back in we are easily susceptible to reinfection.

Our office mates complain, our friends and family complain, the people on the elevator complain, the people commuting on the train complain, the news delivers a stream of complaints and bad news ad nausea; and because human beings are social creatures, it is easier to conform and so unconsciously we comply.

Only through a shock to the system can we return to consciousness. Vujicic is a man who is living life fully on his terms, but not just for his benefit but for the inspiration and improvement of the lives of so many other people. Instead of wishing for conditions other than what he has, he embraces what he has been given and leverages his gifts and abilities to their fullest potential.

His story is phenomenally inspirational and the impact of his life is transformational in a way that other stories of survival though impressive tend fade with time.  I am a big fan of the Discovery Channel series "I Shouldn't Be Alive" and the Biography series "I Survived" because both feature individuals who survive horrible situations and tragedies through sheer will and determination.  It is a feeling that I am intimately acquainted with because I am a survivor.

However, to overcome a challenge over a brief span of time, though laudable and miraculous, it does not equate to sustained accomplishment. Vujicic would appear to have so much less than many of us and yet he has and continues to achieve everything he sets his mind to do, while helping others achieve similar freedom.

Vujicic is a living proof that “everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity.” ~ Viktor Frankl

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My mother often speaks to me about my attitude because she is a firm believer in faith.  Thoughts create reality and what we constantly think about we become or it occurs.  She often chides me about "meeting trouble halfway" and counsels me against this because "it usually dies somewhere in between;" meaning that the solution to far out problems almost always manifest before trouble arrives at ones' door.

I appreciate the mirror that Nick Vujicic's life, presented to me. My reflection in his life has challenged me to continue to be the best, to think the best, and to interact with people and the universe by giving my best. I hope this post inspires you, to attempt "to get up each morning with the resolve to be happy... and to set your own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” ~ Ralph Waldo Trine.

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Lioness of Iran's 'Strange Fruit'

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:25 PM EDT, 29 May 2010

Anonymous Iranian Hanging VictimIRAN - Five Kurdish political prisoners were executed 9 May 2010 in Iran. One of the prisoners was a young woman named Shirin Alam Holi. Arrested in May 2008 in Tehran, the twenty-eight year old was sentenced to death for her alleged support of Pezhak, a Kurdish opposition group.

Convicted and sentenced to death on the charge of moharebeh (enmity with god), during her two-year incarceration she was repeatedly subjected to torture and degrading inhumane treatment to confess to supporting Pezhak. She had no legal representation during her long and grueling interrogation period and her rights as an accused were never observed. Neither Alam Holi, her family, or her lawyers were informed about the planned execution.

In the same month, Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced exiled women’s human rights activists Shadi Sadr and Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh in absentia to 6 years imprisonment and 74 lashes, and 2.5 years imprisonment and 30 lashes, respectively, for participation in peaceful demonstrations in 2007.

On 8 March 2010 Simin Behbahani's was leaving Tehran Airport for Paris to deliver a speech and read a few of her poems on the occasion of International Women's Day. Her passport was confiscated and despite her physical fragility and age, she was interrogated all through the night and told to report to the Revolutionary Court. For now, Behbahani is under country arrest. She is virtually a prisoner in her own country.  Source: PBS News Hour

Simin Behbahani, also known as the Lioness of Iran wrote a poem about the horror of the execution of Shirin Alam Holi and her fellow prisoners.

NOT ONE, NOT TWO.......THEY WERE FIVE By Simin Behbahani (translated by Fatemeh Keshavarz) Not one, not two ...they were five and yet I don't know why In my mind, they were more like fifty. And, how is it possible that gallows [on which they were hanged] Were, someday, trees that did not surrender to axes? Tell me how to write about the treehood days of the gallows: Standing firm for freedom, they dug their heels in the meadow. When the breeze found them in the orchard and wrapped itself around their branches Their message reached everyone in soft playful dances. Now, heads have grown on them, heads hanging from broken necks, Heads of full-bodied figures, perhaps champions in their own way. Left waiting, feet-dangling-in-the-air, utterly robbed of their words, These heads whose stories could have filled many books! Only clouds could now rain tears on their broken bodies, For mothers were not united with them even after their death. Don't waste a complaint on the faithless judge, who Was the enemy, not of darkness and tyranny, but of the Giver of life.

Source: Payvand Iran News

Behbahani's poem is eerily reminiscent of another famous lament of human rights abuses.  Abuses that occurred in the United States made famous by Billie Holiday in the song 'Strange Fruit' which decried the  abhorrent practice of 'lynching' in the South. Listen to song here.

Duluth, Minnesota, June 15, 1920

Lynching is extrajudicial punishment carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake and shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people, however large or small.

It is related to other means of social control that arise in communities, such as charivari, riding the rail, and tarring and feathering. Lynchings were more frequent in times of social and economic tension, and often were means by the politically dominant population to oppress social challengers. Nearly 5,000 African-Americans were lynched in the United States between 1860 and 1890.[1] Source Wikipedia

America has come a long way since these heinous acts, though racism and xenophobia by fringe groups is on the rise. However, it took the concerted effort of individuals and groups to highlight such atrocities as lynching and to valiantly fight to eradicate them.

Unknown to many Americans the women's movement in Iran began in the early 1900's.  Since that time Persian women have played a significant role in the quest for equality.  During the "White Revolution" in 1962, important women's rights measures, including suffrage and the Family Protection Law of 1967 were ratified. Later these laws were amended more heavily in favor of women in 1975, which ended extrajudicial divorce and restricted polygamy.[2]

Though the women in Iran continue to be faced with the daunting task of achieving equality, they persevere in challenging a theocracy dominated by a rigid religious machinery with deep cultural beliefs about the limitations of women. Sometimes this comes at the cost of their lives, at other times the cost of their freedom, yet they still prevail. Below is a photo montage of Persian women who have advanced the role of women in Iran, followed by a list of their names with hyperlinks to their biographies.

Some of the most notable activists are:[3][4]

Between the 'Nuclear Fuel Swap' brokered by Brazil for Iran and Turkey and the 'Moms of the Detained Hikers' returning home without their children, this contentious nation very much in the public's eye. Iran is a country plagued with human rights abuses and under the current government Women's Rights in Iran continue to erode as the government cracks down on women like Behbahani who are viewed as subversive.

We may yet know the fate of Simin Behbahani, however, her voice is an inspiration to all who seek to promote peace through the exploration of our commonalities versus our differences. As a woman and a writer, she is a testament to the power of a single voice to change lives.

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