I left the United States when I was 19, because I'd grown afraid of
the seemingly overwhelming violent society around me. I found freedom
from fear by furthering my education and living in Britain where the threat
of guns and physical confrontations seemed less.
I attribute much of the aggression, unhealthy competition and violent
trends in our society to television's harmful messages. Advertising
often creates a need in us that wasn't there before.
Understanding crime involves further complexities of economic, psychological
and historical situations, I'm aware, but sensationalised news reports,
talk shows, advertising, even soap operas have exacerbated a culture of
insensitivity, alienation and spiritual deprivation in America.
I am, like others, angered by the manufacturing of such a society and
disturbed by the suffering of American youth. It is so frustrating
that people in the media industry keep producing harmful messages either
because they don't care or because they are too ignorant to understand
the effect. The other aggravation is those who come from privileged
backgrounds and perpetuate their lifestyle at the expense of those less
fortunate than themselves. Unfortunately, many of them do not know
the damage they cause because they've never experienced the damaged society.
My answer to finding a way to help this situation was studying documentary-making
to provide broadcasting material aimed at societal regeneration.
I was fortunate to get work in this field right away and complete my first
documentary on conflict resolution in Kenya.
During the months of production I visited some sixth form colleges
in the country to talk about why I left America and how it influenced my
career decision. My story was as strong as my film! Teachers
asked me to come back. In response, I began this academic year visiting
sixth form general studies classes and colleges, one or more per day across
the country, telling my story.
Now I am trying to build a network of people and organisations, public
and private, who share this conviction. Together we are so much more
powerful than individually.
I used to work in Washington, DC and lived in a dangerous part of town.
There I was enlightened to the realities of being 'disadvantaged'.
Now, always in my mind, is the truth that I could get out and others could
not. I hope the work I'm doing now is like a rope to those I met.
I am still actively in contact with those working to cure these problems
in the States, specifically a researcher from the University of Pennsylvania
who 'used to stand at the edge of the water saving the drowning but decided
to walk up the stream and see who was pushing them in.'
Fortunately, there is a tremendous amount being done in America, but
after living here I can see the susceptibility of British society to the
same fate as her American counterpart. Therefore, I believe that
prevention may be the most valuable investment.
My passion continues to be easing the unnecessary suffering of our
generation by learning from our mistakes.
Allison Kenny, USA
Some people have commented on the amounts of ice cream that I am capable
of consuming. I do like ice cream, but it's not the leading passion in
my life. My real passion is opera. I love both theatre and music, so opera
seemed a good combination of the two. A day with no singing is a day in
which I have not existed, just done some sleepwalking.
The desire to sing on stage was a surprise, because I was very shy
and used to be teased. Singing, however, can actually lift your spirits
(scientifically proven!) and this helped me through some awful years.
For various reasons I had to devote too much time, it seemed, to things
not related to singing. As a result I stressed too much and this harmed
my whole 'instrument'. Add to this ill health and low spirits and you have
a deep, gloomy well.
Last spring my situation was so bad I could hardly do anything physical
without collapsing. The only thing that came out of my mouth was thick,
yellow phlegm. A doctor said I would have to accept having reduced strength
for the rest of my life. My singing teacher put me on a diet of no practising
for two months. Facing a future as an invalid with no serious singing was
very discouraging. What else would I do?
Miracles, however, do happen. Through a friend I got in touch with
a specialist who could untangle the medical problems. After a few wobbly
lessons due to the long pause in training, something happened and my voice
came out as never before. My teacher exclaimed that hope was restored.
A lot remains to be done but I have hope in the future again. The passion
is still there, but I'm not clinging on to it with tight fists anymore.
In the newspaper I saw a tag-line for an airplane engineering company
that stated, 'Engineered with passion'. I found myself pondering how this
simple statement could radically relate to life. The company thought that
passion was a positive element in the production of superior flying machines.
What if we could say that our lives were 'engineered with passion'?
I define passion as an inherent, soul-driven desire to follow a particular
career path or opportunity. Passion is the quality which guides us
into the most rewarding of experiences. It is what constitutes the core
of our being, the gut instinct that animates, invigorates and motivates.
Passion brings recognition to who we really are and ultimately inspires
us to push humanity forward. Sadly, many of us do not listen to our passion
or pursue its subtle persuasion. Often, we spend so long silencing our
inner passion that we do not even know how to identify it.
While driving with my father the other day we began talking about his
future career goals. I asked him my 'passion question' - the question I
ask others to enable them to identify their core passions in life. Until
then I thought I knew my father (a successful insurance agent and financial
planner) quite well. His response revealed that I did not. 'If you could
do anything,' I queried, 'and you knew you would have all the money you
needed to support you and your family, what would you do?' He hesitated
and then replied, 'I would be an abstract artist.' I was shocked! I had
no idea he had a passion for art. In fact, I discovered that for several
years he had drawn many of the abstract art pieces he saw in his mind's
eye in hopes that one day he might have the courage to pursue his passion.
What held him back was fear - fear of not making enough money, fear of
what others would think, fear of failure. We cannot live an inspired
and fruitful life if it is directed by fear.
When I graduated from college I found myself fearful for several months
as I tried to figure out which career path I should pursue in order to
make enough money, build a good resume, and start on the road to assured
success. Finally, I decided to get really honest with myself. I silenced
all the voices in my head - those of my parents, my professors, my friends
- regarding what they thought I should do and asked myself the 'passion
question'. I did not have an instant answer, but it was gradually revealed
the more I put aside my pre-packaged life plans and listened to my inner
compass. I soon realised that I was passionate about helping people to
establish free societies, live democracy and embrace universal values.
As soon as I gave myself permission to pursue what I loved, knowing that
if it was right I would naturally meet with success, then the necessary
direction to proceed became clear. I decided to start a non-profit company
called World Dynamics, Inc., working with young, emerging global leaders
to establish and live democracy politically, socially and economically
in their countries. Today I find that pursuing my passion nourishes both
my soul and intellect and provides me with a feeling of profound fulfillment.
Allowing oneself to follow one's passion is a liberating experience.
Cultivating passion is not the same as pursuing your dreams. Dreams often
comprise our passions, but passion is the substantive, core feeling inside
that directs one toward what one loves most. Opening thought to one's passion
is the first step towards identifying it, because we naturally gravitate
towards that which we most love. I believe pursuing one's passion is the
fulfilling of a divine law, and obedience to divine law meets with assured
success. When we follow our passions we actually give ourselves permission
to be ourselves. Perhaps then we will truly be able to say our lives are
'engineered with passion'.
Traci Fenton, USA (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I have always been passionate. When I first learned to crawl,
I crawled with a passionate speed and disregard for anything that stood
in my way. Passion can be like that - bulldozing over obstacles and
loved ones until the goal is reached. But passion is also what produces
beauty, ingenuity and commitment without which the world would be a dull
place. To be passionate is to be alive. It is just a matter of channelling
My great passion is the relationship between the West and the Middle
East. I first visited the Middle East in 1987. As I looked out over
the West Bank where the Palestinians live under Israeli occupation, I could
feel the pain my Palestinian friends felt at seeing their land taken. Eight
months earlier, the death of my best friend had forced me to think about
the meaning of my being alive and I had decided to use my life to try create
a better world. This decision had begun to take me out of my little world
and sensitise me to the feelings and needs of others. The pain of the Palestinians
struck me therefore doubly hard.
A passion took hold of me for the Palestinian cause - to the point,
I am ashamed to say now, that I felt justice had been done when Israeli
soldiers died in skirmishes.
When I visited Lebanon in 1992, felt the pain of 17 years of civil
war, brother killing brother, often for the sake of foreign powers playing
their game in Lebanon, it struck me how much of the problems of todayís
Middle East can be traced to European meddling, first as colonial powers,
now as masters of the 'New World Order'. This realisation made me long
to improve relations between the West and the Middle East, change the relationship
from 'divide and rule' to one of genuine respect and service.
This passion was flawed, though, because it excluded Israelis and anyone
pro-Israel. My passion fed on injustices - I sought them out, seethed with
anger and felt virtuous because I was on the side of the victim. My passion
craved success - I would not feel satisfied unless my vision of justice
was implemented. Though born of compassion, it had become bitter and self-righteous.
It was self-centred, for I did not give much thought to how my passion
helped or hindered my Palestinian friends.
Then, a friendship with an American Jew made me confront how destructive
I had become, like the child crawling like a bulldozer and how one more
passionate hatred merely further inflamed the passions in the Middle East
without solving anything. My passion needed re-channelling. I decided to
open my heart to Jews and Israelis and began to visit Israel - as well
as Palestine - regularly. I still long for a just solution for the Palestinians
and mourn when a Palestinian youth is shot dead for throwing stones at
a heavily armoured Israeli army post - but now I also long for a just solution
for the Israelis and mourn for the death of an Israeli child, blown apart
because his parents wanted to live with their own people. Slowly I began
to gain admiration for Judaism and compassion for all that the Jews suffered.
I started to see the people behind the cause I had so identified myself
with - the Palestinians but also the Israelis with their fears and hopes.
Now that I was more concerned with people than a cause, I began to appreciate
the beauty of Arab civilisation and Islam more than, ironically, I did
before. I long even more for peace but have less answers than before.
I long even more for reconciliation between the West and the Middle
East but realise how much I as a Western Christian have to learn - from
the past, from Judaism, from Islam.
Passion is what gives life much of its meaning. But it needs regular
check-ups. When it excludes others in the name of a grand goal, we become
destructive. When it makes us feel self-righteous, we are cut off from
reality and compassion for others. When it becomes disillusioned because
the goal is not reached, it dies and takes joy out of life. Passion needs
constant balancing with compassion and humility, constant distancing from
the goal so that even if the goal is not reached - or reached differently
- passion still remains.
This is a never-ending process full of new discoveries. Recently
those close to me told me that my passion was blinding me to their needs
and made me ignore them. Recently, too, I was depressed for days
because I felt so traumatised by a year of living in Palestine and sharing
the pain, that my passion was giving way to disillusionment. Iím still
wrestling with this one but know my disillusionment comes from a naive
understanding of the harshness of reality. The way of passion can be painful.
But it is always enriching. It is what makes life worth living.
Jeroen Gunning, The Netherlands/UK
On Sunday nights I'm not particularly passionate about life. The TV
goes on and the brain switches off. Eggs on toast for dinner.
The dog yawns comfortably in front of the fire. No-one can be passionate,
creative and enthusiastic all the time.
Passion is a demanding creature. When you are passionate about something
it becomes almost fully absorbing. You find yourself thinking about it
a lot, playing around with ideas. I've been known to drive off the
road at such times.
For me, farming in New Zealand is my passion. It's my job, my lifestyle
and my interest. I love the challenge - making a living from the
land, finding ways to produce better wool and lambs. I love watching things
grow and change with the seasons. I chat to people who share my love for
farming whenever I get the chance.
Farming is more than turning grass into dollars. As an agricultural
writer I'm lucky enough to immerse myself in the new technologies of farming
(organic production, cloning) and to spend time thinking about how the
world's farmers can feed the world, make a decent living and protect the
environment. Don't get me started on that one.
Sometimes our farm business can give us a kick in the teeth - an horrific
drought with the army carting water to us and our stock for two months,
a drop in wool prices for the second decade in a row, a world economic
So why do we go on? Madness? No, it's passion. A desire
to live out a dream, to do something you think is worthwhile and to do
something you enjoy.
I'm an outdoor person, so I like sports and travelling. At the
moment I'm mad about tennis. When you get an ace and that ball hits
the line on the other side of the court, it's the best feeling.
As a South Korean, I've committed myself to working for the peaceful
reunification of the Korean peninsula. Korea has been divided into
North and South for the last 50 years. Many Koreans are shouting
'Reunification' without doing anything. I really want to see our
divided nation and families join together in my lifetime. For this
I will do everything I can.
I'm also passionate about learning Japanese and Chinese because I'd
like to improve relations between Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.
I long for a better understanding and a better future for our region.
I have a passion for computers. It all started when I was ten, and we
got our first computer at home. It was an impressive machine in those days,
an XT with an 10 MB hard disk. First, I loved playing games, but
soon I started to learn how to program. Very quickly, I got addicted to
the idea that, when writing programs, you can actually make the computer
do what you like! In those days, I used every free hour to program and
realised that this passion for computers would be a big part of my life.
At the end of 1995, I discovered the Internet and realised that this
network of millions of computers was even better! Not only can you let
your own machine do what you like, you can show what you are doing to millions
of other people and spread what you write very easily. It's an absolute
superior means of communication, which is why I enjoy running the Global
Express website so much: http://globalexpress.initiativesofchange.org
Check it out!
At 22, I've just started my first job which involves the Internet and
security. I have no car, but I have four computers, and I hope to start
my own Internet business eventually. I let my passion lead me on the path
of life and have not regretted it yet!
Sade's 'Diamond Life' was the first song I heard on the radio this morning.
I'm not sure what it's all about, but in a wild way, it gave me a starting
point to this piece. In the last week I had been grasping for inspiration,
for catchy words. But I was stuck - pathetically short for words. And I
thought to myself, 'Is this the make of a passionate person'?
When I worked for a department store, I learnt how a diamond is valued.
It is in the C's - the colour, the clarity, the cut and the carat are amongst
the defining characteristics. The value of a single precious stone lies
in the combined quality of each characteristic.
I'm not saying I'm a gem. Goodness no! Nor that I have a 'brilliant'
life. What am I trying to say? Allow me to let my emotions flow freely...
I love being caught in the rain and hail on a long mountain hike -
the cold and wet sensation against my skin. But that's only because I can
look forward to warm clothes and dry socks. I like stillness, and I like
noise pollution. Give me blazing sunshine so that I may sleep in the shade.
But give me falling snowflakes so that I may slip and slide to catch. I'm
enjoying my home-away-from-home here in London, yet I am happily preparing
to depart for the streets of Mumbai in India. And chocolates and chips...
Yes please! Well, maybe I have been blessed with a beautiful life.
Life is precious. Each person's is a uniquely cut gem. I'm not passionate
about anything I can name. I'm passionate about everything in life - my
Goretti Nguyen, Vietnam/Australia
Debate continues as to whether music is a means for the expression of
ideas, experiences and feelings or a distinct system or way of thinking
in its own right. For me, it is a form of personal expression, communication,
common understanding and a mode of thought. It will be my passion for eternity!
It is precisely the mystery of her origin that accounts for the charm
of her beauty. The chief delight of every living creature, all are attracted
by the magnetic magic of music. It was with music that Orpheus could win
back his beloved wife from the hands of death. So sweet is music, even
wild beasts forget their nature under its magical influence. There is music
in nature too. The stars, the sea, the wind, the clouds have their own
Music purifies and ennobles. It is a balm for the sick heart, a remedy
for worries and woes and it breathes peace into the soul. When tired of
my dayís work, I amuse myself with songs. Music is the fountain of
purest pleasure... adding a few notes of sweetness to the sad song of life.
Since the age of three when I first learnt to ride, my passion
has been horses. It's hardly surprising because my grandfather won
The Grand National in 1882! My father's philosophy about life (as
a steeplechase rider himself) was that life is like a steeplechase.
To win the race and complete the course, 'Throw your heart over the fence
first. Then you and your horse will follow. Hesitate and doubt
that you can really get over the big jump, and you will end in the ditch!'
A helpful philosophy I have found in making big decisions or even small
Sally Baynard-Smith, UK