Imagine

Imagine

Epiphany

 

I really want to write about imagery but since we are focusing on verbs and action this Epiphany season, I elected a verb form of the word family.  Then I realized that that word  “imagine” was really want I wanted to discuss.

 

There are purportedly seven major types of imagery, each corresponding to a sense, feeling, or action.  These include visual imagery which pertains to graphics, visual scenes, pictures, or the sense of sight.  Then there is auditory imagery, a form of mental imagery that is used to organize and analyze sounds when there is no external auditory stimulus present. This form of imagery is broken up into a couple of auditory modalities such as verbal imagery or musical imagery.   It also includes the imagery of onomatopoeia, using sounds or words about sounds to evoke images of such things that create those noises.  Olfactory imagery pertains to odors, scents, or the sense of smell and the less known gustatory imagery pertains to flavors or the sense of taste.  Tactile imagery pertains to physical textures or the sense of touch while the lesser known kinesthetic imagery pertains to movements or the sense of bodily motion. 

 

Finally there is organic imagery or subjective imagery which pertains to personal experiences of a character’s body, including emotion and the senses of hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain.  It is this last type of imagery that often poses the greatest threat to us because it can also raise an awareness of fear.  Recently, over the past eighteen months, this type of imagery has been most prevalent worldwide.  Fear is defined by the website and magazine Psychology Today as “a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.”

 

Laughter is also a response.  Psychology Today says this about laughter:  “Laughter just might be the most contagious of all emotional experiences. What’s more, it is a full-on collaboration between mind and body. Although laughter is one of the distinguishing features of human beings, little is known about the mechanisms behind it.  Scientists do know that laughter is a highly sophisticated social signaling system, helping people bond and even negotiate. Interestingly, most social laughter does not result from any obvious joke.”  Laughter is also beneficial, as is fear.  Laughter “has numerous health benefits: It releases tension, lowers anxiety, boosts the immune system, and aids circulation.”

 

So today I am asking you to imagine both fear and laughter.  Both are vital responses necessary to the human condition and yet, while they seem very far apart, both serve essential functions.  Carl Sagan, though, reminds us to be certain of that which we consider fearful as well as that which makes us laugh.  “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

 

In other words, just because we laugh does not mean something is great.  While Columbus, Fulton, and the Wright Brothers proved themselves to be correct, the laughter they received had little to do with their success.  Their actions were backed by just that – real action.

 

We need to make sure that those things which create fear are also real.  Recent news stories have been built upon fiction, not fact.  Certainly there is shame to be heaped upon those who fabricate such false stories, attempting to engage our imaginations and create fear, but there is also shame on those who readily accept such rather than taking a few moments to fully imagine what might be truth.

 

What if we stopped trying to create fear and simply lived today in the best possible way we could, not worrying or being fearful… just being as productive as possible?  Imagine that, as John Lennon did, please.  “Imagine there’s no heaven.  It’s easy if you try – no hell below us, above us only sky.  Imagine all the people living for today.  Imagine there’s no countries.  It isn’t hard to do; nothing to kill or die for and no religion too. 

 

Imagine all the people living life in peace.  You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.  Imagine no possessions.  I wonder if you can; no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.  Imagine all the people sharing all the world.  You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.

Take Five

Take Five

Pentecost 99

 

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.  Two years ago this month I had to do a bit of parenting I never thought I would ever have to do.  I had to answer a text from one of my sons at college and on a church retreat regarding a news story he wanted to know about, more specifically if I had heard or seen on television.  Was there a report of a body found in an area lake?  I answered yes and then asked why.  Two days later I was hugging him as he came home for the funeral of one of his closest friends who had committed suicide.

 

Every year more than 800 000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds globally in 2012.

 

Let me repeat that number – eight hundred thousand.  For every person who commits suicide there are many more who attempt it and even more who have thought about it.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among those ages fifteen to twenty-nine years of age.  While seventy-five per cent of all suicides occur in love and middle-income countries, suicide is a problem that touches all socioeconomic levels.  The ingestion of pesticide, hanging, and firearms are some of the most common methods of suicide worldwide. 

 

Suicide is a serious public health problem, one that is completely preventable.  Today and tomorrow I will focus on this health problem and hope you will take five minutes to connect and show care to someone in your midst.  Trust me – Someone is counting on you and you might just be a life-saver to that person.

 

Everyone is at risk for suicide.  The link between suicide and mental health disorders, particularly depression and substance abuse such as alcohol is well-known, especially in high income nations, many suicides are impulsive acts.  They occur in a moment of crisis and exemplify a breakdown in the ability to cope with the stresses of life.  Financial problems, relationship breakups or chronic pain and illness are often the leading stressors that result in suicide.

 

There are some events associated with suicidal behavior, events such as conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss of a loved one.  Suicide rates are also high among those groups often bullied or targets which are seen as being outside the mainstream.  These vulnerable groups experiencing discrimination include refugees, migrant workers and their families, indigenous people, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/intersex (LGBTI) people, and prisoners.  The strongest indicator and risk factor for suicide is a previous attempt.

 

Someone you know has thought about suicide, possibly even yourself.  Each and every life is too precious for us not to take five minutes out of our busy day to connect with someone, everyone, and show them we care.  I will post more tomorrow on how you can be a superhero and save the life of someone who know and care about.  For today, please know that suicide is not an answer and that we do care.  You are a valuable member of mankind.  We need you, not just your memory.  Your life has meaning and purpose. 

 

What Works

What Works

Pentecost 26

 

For the past several days this blog has been silent, paying respect to the fifty who died, the fifty-three who were injured, and the families who are grieving.  The carnage occurred in Orlando, Florida after an evening of festivities.  No one has been reported as a casualty that had committed some grievous act.  No one had broken any laws of the country or state by being there.  The group present represented the diversity of the nation, a nation in which people from all walks of life came to in order to live as their belief systems proposed within the confines of the constitution of the United States.

 

The constitution is a guiding set of principles.  Given its age, it is remarkable that it has stood the test of time with few changes.  Those changes are brought about by the people, voted into law by the majority and enforced by the elected and chosen representatives of the people in law enforcement, government, and the judiciary who sole purpose is to interpret the constitution of municipalities, states, and the federal system.  It is not a “Do whatever you want” card nor is it a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

 

This constitution was written by men who had no inkling of the world in which it would be applied.  Like all of us, they only knew the history they had been taught and the present time in which they were living.  For some of those people, the world consisted of what passed for large towns at the time.  For others, the world consisted of rural farmland.  For still others, the world was uncharted territory, living under the shadow of their horse as they tentatively shared the wilderness with the American Indians who had lived there for tens of thousands of years.  The present rang with the cacophony of different dialects.  The air was perfumed with different recipes being prepared, and the visuals included varieties of clothing.  Different people went about their daily lives in many different ways all doing, in spite of their differences, the exact same thing – living.

 

The constitution affords people the opportunity to live and that living requires responsible behavior.  It requires understanding that one’s neighbor is not going to be a clone, might like to eat something you have never head of or tasted, probably has at least one name in their family tree you cannot spell, and might, if given the chance, just introduce you to something that is fun or tastes good or will assist you.  Remove from the history of the United States all contributions made from separate and distinct cultures and the landscape of this country changes drastically.

 

There would not be two houses of representation that was adopted from the American Indians of the northeast.  We would not have the polio vaccine invented by the son Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Poland nor the early research he, Jonas Salk, did on AIDS.  An English immigrant and Belgian orphan would never have met and given birth to a son so we would not have the automobile nor the assembly line production that made Henry Ford famous.  The British son of a Puritan minister who became a painter would not have been able to change careers in midlife and develop Morse code.

 

The immigration policies of the United States allowed people to find a home, people whose mixed ethnicity sometimes made that impossible.  When the son of a Dutch and English couple married the daughter of a German-Swiss couple, no one thought it wrong.  It was considered American since the United States was a haven for those seeking a better life.  When two of their sons invented a flying machine that worked, no one refused to fly in it because of their mixed blood.  Instead, they praised American ingenuity.

 

This is a nation of immigrants and its businesses are kept in business by those immigrants, people of different races, cultures, and belief systems.  Take away that diversity and you have no nation.  Where would Florida be without the “snowbirds”, those northern residents that flock to the warmer climate each year?  Where would the casinos be without the tourists from other countries?  Where would the flavor of this nation be without the spices of those different cultures?  Where would a nation have found the ability to feed its people without the invention of a young man named Cyrus working with an African-American slave named Jo and their mechanical reaper machine that was the birth of a company called International Harvester?  Indeed the history of this family reads like a history of the country: one son a proud Confederate soldier, another family member an ambassador to Europe, and a grandmother who was a leading advocate for new ideas and established educational foundations in Chicago.  There are many such families in this country build upon differences.

 

Every now and then, however, we are reminded that some forget our beginning and history.  They forget this is not a land in which one single idea will ever reign supreme, no one religion suffice for all, no dictatorship or kingdom but rather a nation of differences.  Such differences require tolerance.  When that is lost, then anarchy rears its ugly head.  Last Saturday, amid the revelry and celebrations of the Latin culture, one rebel acted irresponsibly.  Was his ex-wife not one of the #WithStrongGirls and did that prevent her from talking to an official about her ex-husband’s plans?  Was the reality of their son’s possible mental illness too much for parents to accept?  Was the lack of mental health care to blame?  Is the gun lobby too strong and their voice overriding the actual intent of the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America?

 

In the past week this blog has been dark.  It was a time for remembering and honoring, a time for vigils and candles, a time to grieve.  The grief process includes moving forward and that we must do.  We must put away our candles and take positive, affirmative action, action that affirms all this country is and that for which it stands.  We must give honor to those who perished, many of whom had come here as immigrants themselves.  We must honor the reasons the shooter’s family came to this country and not focus on the misrepresentation their son has given to their lives.

 

This was not about gay rights, excessive partying, or the political rants of presidential candidates.  This was the action of a disturbed young man, unhappy with his life and far too volatile to responsibly deal with the weapons available to him.  It was an incomprehensible act that has become all too well-known in recent years for us to call it a ”once-in-a-lifetime” happening.

 

We need to donate blood.  We need to be tolerant of others.  We need to have faith in our faith and let others do the same.  Confident people do not need to prove their point with ugly words or weapons.  They are confident their “rightness” will prove itself.  They move forward.  This works.  It has worked in the United States of America since 1776.  We need to be helping, not hurting and bullying.

 

There is no need for fences that belittle the reasons we are all here.  One does not win an argument with a gun pointed at another.  That just shows how little faith you have in your beliefs.  What works is working together with respect, showing dignity to others, especially those who are different.  All we do when we isolate ourselves in create a smaller pot which will boil over faster.

 

Let us pay real respect to those who perished one week ago by doing what works, by living a life that gives their deaths dignity.  Let’s make respect, kindness, dignity, and compassion the ordinary behavior of us all.  To do so will then create an extraordinary world for all.

Up, Up, and Away

Up, Up and Away

Easter 49

 

When discussing unlimited potential, the cliché “The Sky’s the limit!” is often used to indicate that anything is possible .  At the time, reaching for the sky was to go beyond reality.  Today, though, it is not uncommon for men and women to do just that – go beyond the sky and into outer space.

 

On April 9, 1959 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the names of seven astronauts that would take part in Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program of the United States.  These seven men were nicknamed the Mercury Seven.  Thirty-four years later in 1995 a Hollywood Produced borrowed from the nickname in discussing the Mercury Thirteen.

 

Mercury Thirteen refers to the thirteen women who were part of an Air Force project.  With space a premium in any space craft, two researchers wondered about the advisability of sending women into space rather than men since women tended to have smaller body frames.

 

Our final installment of this series about female inventors will focus on those women who helped make the space program that the international world has today.  Some were true inventors while others invented thought, potential, and possibilities by their participation.  In this last frontier of gender inequality, the Mercury Thirteen helped pave the way and prove that women could do whatever the men did in outer space.

 

IN 1960, one year after the announcement of the Mercury Seven astronauts,  Dr. William Randolph “Randy” Lovelace II and Brig. General Donald Flickinger invited accomplished polot Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb to take the same physical tests that Lovelace’s foundation had developed for NASA to select the Mercury Seven.  Cobb passed with flying colors (no pun intended!) and other female pilots were invited to participate in the testing.  Within the next year, nineteen women had undergone the rigorous testing.  The oldest was the forty-one year old wife of a United States senator and mother of eight children while the youngest was twenty-three years old and a flight instructor. 

 

With the testing completed, thirteen women passed the same physical examinations that the male candidates for astronauts had to pass.  Those thirteen women were: Jerrie Cobb, Wally Funk, Irene Leverton, Myrtle “K” Cagle, Jane B. Hart (now deceased), Gene Nora Stumbough [Jessen], Jerri Sloan [Truhill], Rhea Hurrle [Woltman], Sarah Gorelick [Ratley], Bernice “B” Trimble Steadman (now deceased), and Jan Dietrich (now deceased).  While none of these women ever went into space, their participation and success in this program proved women could and would one day become astronauts.  The first female astronaut was Sally Ride but there have been forty female astronauts that have gone into space from the United States with the first woman in space being a Russian cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova.  Eileen Collins was the first U.S. female astronaut to pilot a spacecraft.

 

Having someone to go into space was just a piece of the puzzle of space flight, however.  Some of the earliest and most innovative computer programmers were women.  We’ve already discussed Dr. Grace Hopper and her inventions and contributions to computer science.  She was the one who, upon learning a computer was not working because of the moth that had somehow gotten inside the processing unit, coined the term “debug”.  The female innovators of computer science and programming were not afraid to try something new.

 

“When I first got into it, nobody knew what we were doing.  It was like the Wild West.”  That is how Margaret Hamilton describes her days as one of the first programmers for the Apollo Space Program.  Margaret would take her four=-year-old daughter to work with her at M.I.T. and while the child slept on the floor, Margaret would try out new things and write new code.  “We had to simulate everything before it flew.  Once the code was solid, it would be shipped off to a nearby Raytheon facility where a group of women, expert seamstresses known to the Apollo program as the “Little Old Ladies,” threaded copper wires through magnetic rings (a wire going through a core was a 1; a wire going around the core was a 0). Forget about RAM or disk drives; on Apollo, memory was literally hardwired and very nearly indestructible.”  The seventy-pound computers on the Apollo crafts would also employ the first auto-pilot systems that now are commonplace on commercial airliners.

 

I mentioned at the beginning of this series that I was chagrined to realize I could not think of forty-nine female inventors.  History tends to lean towards the men in its reporting and I felt that was a great reason to do this series.  In the past forty-nine days we have discussed a total of seventy-seven female inventors, just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg of proof that intelligence is not gender specific.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this series and perhaps learned something.  I most certainly have!  The true take-away, though, is that nothing should stop us from becoming the best we can be.  Margaret Hamilton is now her own boss as the head of the technology company Hamilton Technologies.  In an article in “Verne” two years ago she discussed the differences between then (1960) and now for women.  “It depends on who the woman was, who she worked for and what the culture was in a particular organization. In general, some things were more difficult then and some more difficult now. On hindsight, some of the things that were accepted back then, because we (men and woman) did not know any better, are not accepted now; and they often seem quaint and even astounding when looking back. We still do other things out of ignorance today, such as continuing to pay women lower salaries than men.”

 

Today software is a common term but fifty years ago it did not even warrant a line item in the budget for a space project.  Today women still make less than men when doing the same job at the same level of performance.  We still have a long way to go.  The good thing is we still have a way to go at all, a chance to improve and invent a better tomorrow.  Speaking of tomorrow, a new series starts.  See you then! 

 

Inventing Courage

Inventing Courage

Easter 40

 

This post was not something I intended to write.  When I first thought about this series I could not name fifty-six female inventors, I am sad to say.  I could think of fifty-six female role models but inventors?  All too often history is just that – his story.  It was not until the late 1960’s that one women opened her mouth and began a movement.  She fought the system and prevailing attitudes about femininity to start a movement about women.  She turned history into narratives that were also her story and the story of women everywhere.  Her name is Gloria Steinem.

 

Many of us think about Gloria Steinem and think about burning undergarments or women marching to government offices or in public parks.  We forget that while those were great marketing tools for the core subject, the theme behind everything was gender recognition.  Let me say that one more time – gender recognition.

 

The gender equality issue came about later but at first Gloria Steinem was simply saying that women were valuable citizens of the world.  She took a stand for women everywhere.  A recent advertisement in a clothing company’s catalog succinctly put it this way – “Gloria Steinem:  She paved the way.”

 

It took courage in the 1960’s to veer away from the cuteness of Annette Funicello and the sweetness of Sandra Dee.  The British influx of fashion models were just starting to attract attention when the former Playboy bunny Gloria Steinem stood up and said she was as good at some things as any man, especially about deciding about her own body.  The job at Playboy was actually an undercover job with very little cover involved.  Steinem had been assigned the job by her editor at a local magazine.  She wrote the article and was quickly deemed unemployable. After all, serious professional women did not parade around in little bitty uniforms.  Serious journalistic outlets did not want a Playboy bunny and Steinem wanted to be a serious journalist.  Proud of exposing how women were treated in the men-only social clubs, she refused to back down.

 

In the mid 1960’s Steinem garnered an interview with John Lennon as the Beetles were just becoming known in the United States and then obtained a position writing for an NBC television news satire.  She finally obtained a writing job at “New York” magazine and in 1969 was assigned an “abortion speak-out” event to cover.  The gathering was life-changing for Steinem and she felt for the first time that she had the responsibility to take control of her life and should be able to make all decisions related to it.

 

So why did I not want to write this post?  Gloria Steinem invented a particular type of feminist courage that had led many women world-wide into a greater sense of self and helped take a stab at eradicating gender inequality.  It would seem like she would be the ideal subject for this series, right?  She is.  Let me state that unequivocally that Gloria Steinem is someone to whom all women owe a big debt of gratitude.  Many would never have had their stories told if not for Gloria Steinem.  Many would still be prevented from being educated if the feminist movement had never begun.

 

I did not want to write this post because the need to do so is absurd.  The true merit of Gloria Steinem was stated in that clothing company’s catalogue advertisement –“Gloria Steinem: She paved the way.”  It would have been great and it should have been great … except that the clothing company pulled her page.  Land’s End, a company whose bottom line profit margin is dependent on the women who shop there decided that Gloria’s contribution to women was not worth upsetting those who think differently than she does on the very issue that gave her the zeal with which to fight for women.

 

Land’s End not only pulled Gloria Steinem’s ad, they apologized.  I think the apology upsets me more than anything else.  It seems to give value to a woman’s vagina rather than acknowledge her brain.  While the company does sell garments that cover a woman’s nether regions, they sell more that cover other parts of her body.

 

They pride themselves in appealing to all women and yet, they only want their advertisement to target those who disdain the feminist movement and gender equality.  There are no laws that specify that women have the right to determine what a man does with his body.  The passage of such laws regarding women that give men, often legislators, such a right is discrimination and it is illegal in the United States because it is inequality.

 

I personally do not shop at Land’s End.  I prefer to buy clothing in person because I care about texture as well as fit and I don’t want to have to return things if I order them online and don’t like how they feel or fit.  The nearest Land’s End store to me is one hundred miles away and I don’t dream about their product to the point of driving one hundred miles for it.  I could claim I have not bought anything from them since they pulled the ad but that would be a lie by implication.  I haven’t bought anything from them in over fifteen years.

 

Many have called for a boycott but I think something more must be done.  I think we have to follow Gloria’s example of courage and speak out.  Whether you agree with her on every issue is not the important thing.  She invented a new brand of courage in discussing a thing called feminism.  She did not invent feminism but she did take a stand for women.  As Land’s End said, “She paved the way.”  Women are worth more than just eight inches of the lower abdominal area.

 

We are all responsible and accountable for our actions and should be allowed to make decisions for those actions and because of them and yes, even when facing the consequences of them.  Why?  Because we are mature human beings of value.  Because women have value.  Because we have brains and dreams, and hopes that should bear fruit, not just children.  Because bearing children is not the only thing women can do.  This series will by May 14th have celebrated fifty-six female inventors.  Women are strong and capable and no one said that louder than Gloria Steinem with her own female brand of courage.  She paved the way.  Now we need to walk it.

 

 

To Protect

To Protect

Easter 39

 

Next week is National Police Week and the week after is National Emergency Services Week.  While the past several years have illustrated the need for perhaps greater diversity training, more funds allocated to scenario-based trainings, and better public relations and community functions between law enforcement and the citizens they serve and protect, no one should deny the bravery needed to do the jobs these two weeks commemorate.

 

Life is messy.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  Law enforcement agencies and their accompanying emergency services department such as the fire department and emergency medical personnel help keep it as clean as possible.

 

For anyone to run into a burning building to save a life takes courage but to do so for a total stranger, one whose identity is unknown, whose religion is not an issue, who sexual orientation is unimportant…That takes a hero.  Not every hero is perfect.  Stan Lee has made a fortune creating imperfect heroes in his comic books.  Usually it is the imperfections that make these heroes so loveable.

 

When our law enforcement heroes prove to be human, though, we often rebel.  We want them to be perfect because it would take a perfect person to care that much about humanity, it sometimes seems.  The truth is that these community police and medical personnel are very much human.  They bring to the job their skills and talents as well as their flaws.

 

The greatest detriment to them doing their job, however, is their status as human beings.  They are vulnerable to weapons and often these weapons are being aimed at them and fired.  In a job where even mechanical robots and other devices fall victim to the bullets and bombs used by unlawful persons, these high energy humans were easy targets.

 

Then salvation came along in the form of a female chemist named Stephanie Kwolek.  The daughter of polish immigrants, Stephanie grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  As was typical for the period, Stephanie attended an all-girls college that was part of a larger university.  She majored in chemistry.

 

With a shortage of men due to the draft of World War II, Stephanie procured a position working at the DuPont Company.  She planned to work and earn money for medical school.  At DuPont she worked with polymers.  There are naturally occurring polymers in science such as amber, wool, silk, and natural rubber.  Synthetic polymers are manmade substances with repeating patterns of many molecules which makes for a very strong substance.

 

After World War II, Stephanie kept her job at DuPont and in the early 1960’s was in charge of a project whose purpose was to develop a better tire for automobiles.  Trying to develop a strong, lightweight fiber that could be used in the making of tires, Stephanie’s solution turned cloudy instead of staying clear.  Interested, she convinced another scientist to test her solution.  They discovered that it was strong, five times stronger than steel by weight. 

 

Stephanie not only had invented a new type of nylon, she had invented a new branch of science known as polymer science.  The project was quickly assigned to a man and Stephanie Kwolek had little to do with her invention commonly known as Kevlar.  During the week of her death almost two years ago in 2014, the one millionth Kevlar vest was sold.

 

Kevlar is most commonly known as being the material which makes up bullet-proof vests but is actually has over two hundred uses.  Everything from tennis rackets to skis, boats to airplanes, ropes and cables to tires, gloves to hockey sticks – all are made from Kevlar.  Even hurricane-safe rooms and bridges utilize the fiber once considered a mistake.

 

Usually Stephanie’s cloudy mixture would have been thrown out in the garbage, considered a victim of an over-heated oven.  Perhaps the lesson here is that mistakes happen but good can come from them if we apply ourselves.

 

 

Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun

Easter 37

 

It was one of my most favorite Beatles’ song and one of their hits written by George Harrison. “here comes the sun; Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces; Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here; Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say  “It’s all right.”

 

Sunshine is often seen as the enemy nowadays and we certainly should respect its power to harm our skin.  Tanning may seem fashionable but it really is a sign that our skin has suffered harm.  The sun is not the culprit, however, and does have many beneficial qualities for us.  The simplest, of course, is indicated in the song above.  When we see the sun, things just seem happier and the world shines brighter.

 

The sun is a source of great power and no one realized that and used it more efficiently than the “Sun Queen”, Maria Telkes.  Maria completed her undergraduate degree in physical chemistry at the age of twenty in her home country of Hungary.  After earning a Ph.D. four years later she immigrated to the United States and worked as a biophysicist performing research involving life-transformative energy.  Fourteen years later she accepted a position in solar energy research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  She would also become a professor in metallurgy while at MIT.

 

During World War Ii, Maria Telkes was a trusted civilian advisor to the US Office of Scientific Research and Development.  She invented a distilling system which utilized solar energy in the conversion of the salty seawater to safe potable drinking water.  Salt was separated from the ocean water through vaporization and then recooled into drinking water.  Maria’s system was invaluable as the scale of its output could be changed so that enough fresh water could be provided to a small ship ort an entire town.

 

Two solar energy houses were built under Maria Telkes guidance, both of which are in use today.  The advantages of using solar energy as an energy source are indisputable.  We could discuss such for hours but the point of this post is to honor the efforts of female inventors like Dr. Maria Telkes and think about how their examples can apply to our own lives.

 

Maria Telkes cared passionately for finding a renewable energy source.  As humans we have our own way of sharing energy with another person.  It is called a smile.  A simple smile can also brighten a person’s day, much like the sun does the earth.  The common courtesy of a smile can warm the heart and provide psychological fuel to keep someone believing in themselves.

 

I hope we do not think the world revolves around us like the planets revolve around the sun.  We can, nonetheless, be a bright beacon in someone’s universe by sharing courteous smiles and displaying good manners.  Like the sun, such an energy force costs very little – just a wee bit of effort that gives enormous dividends!  First try it on yourself.  Before you answer the phone the next time, smile in a mirror and then answer.  You’ll see.  Your voice sounds cheerier and no matter the news, you will feel empowered.  Be someone’s energy source tomorrow.  Be your own renewable energy today and you’ll discover “It’s all right.”