1.Western Civilization Faces a Stark Choice Ⅰ
In 1900, most westerners were confident and optimistic, full of pride about their civilization. Since then, the west has made enormous strides in economic, scientific, military, political and social terms. Yet the earlier confidence has gone.
We stopped believing in the ideas that drove earlier generations to improve the world. Six main ideas made the west, century after century, progressively successful, powerful, and attractive?Christianity, optimism, science, economic growth, individualism and liberalism. Are these ideas past their sell-by date? Optimism The importance of optimism in driving success? of individuals, of whole civilizations? has been greatly overlooked. Optimism comes from three Greek and Christian “myths”? the myth of autonomy, the myth of progress and the myth of human goodness. Creation is ultimately good. So, too, are people?God's creation. We have stopped believing people are good. After 1760, our stories began to feature bad heroes? egotistical people, amoral or immoral. The last century confirmed a dim view of human nature? Freud's ideas, Hitler, two world wars,
horrific and hateful societies. A diminished view of people facilitated these horrors. Optimism and pessimism, however, are fancies, not facts. Only if we recover belief in human goodness can we resume building a better world. Christianity
Western secular values, above all the gods of consumption, have trumped Christian ones. Doubt is rampant. And Christians today are deeply divided. Yet perhaps we need not worry. Christianity transformed the west. It was the world's first individualized, activist, self-help movement. Ordinary people were encouraged to clean up their act and given God's help to do so. Everyone had a “soul”; individual human dignity and responsibility were greatly enhanced. Today many of us do not believe in the soul or Christ. In a way, however, we all still believe the Christian message. We believe we have a self, just like we have arms and legs. With the idea of the soul safely transmuted in the idea of the self, Christianity has permanently changed the west. The modern self-help movement best exemplifies the central Christian innovation-personal responsibility. Christianity's crisis does not threaten the west. But the attacks on the other five ideas do. Science Science is preeminently western. It arose through belief in a perfect, rational Creator,
and in our ability to figure out the perfect universe that God created. Since 1900, we have lost our faith in science. Superstition and mumbo-jumbo abound. Science seems to have become weird. It portrays a baffling and inscrutable universe, ruled by mystery, uncertainty, random chance. Also, the dark side of science has emerged: monstrous weapons, poisoning the planet. Yet science is still fundamentally benign and rational. The micro-world might be weird. But scientists still follow the scientific methodreason and investigation. The challenge to understanding is greater, but logic and research still hold the key. We cannot give up our trust in rationality and sciences, for the best forms of civilization depend utterly upon them.

  2.Western Civilization Faces a Stark Choice Ⅱ
Economic Growth The west's stunning economic advance over the past 1000 years, and especially the last 200 years, has made mankind an ecological success and the west dominant. Victories over hunger and disease are unprecedented. Yet, if non-western countries eventually reached
western consumption levels, the damage to the environment would be multiplied 12 times. The planet cannot cope with that. Happily, a new factor is emerging? the “personalised economy”, driven by imagination and intellect, not capital and hierarchy. Growth today can be increasingly “weightless”? we consume software and services rather than hunks of metal. In the last century the US economy grew to 20 times its earlier size, but the weight of output stayed roughly the same. Averting ecological suicide requires growth using far fewer finite resources. Individualism This has always been the west's most striking characteristic. Now many inside the west are worried by individualism. Our highly atomistic society makes it easy to feel a failure. Every civilization has had self-made people. Ours is the first to foster millions of self-destroyed people. Yet selfish individualism is a recent heresy, a contradiction. Historically, individualism has advanced higher standards of personal behavior, with community building, with leadership. We have stopped requiring that.
If we do not demand truly responsible individualism, from our leaders, role models and ourselves, our civilization will disintegrate. Liberalism The greatest threat to the west comes from liberalism's decline and from the “liberal imperialists” and neo-conservatives so influential in America. Also from the “ultra-liberals”, the relativists who see nothing special about western liberal society, who deny personal responsibility and incubate the “victim mentality”. But the greatest threat to liberalism is that few still believe passionately in it. Liberalism's successes have blunted its appeal. Western civilisation has reached a fork in the road. Down one road lie cynicism, aggression, indifference, neo-conservatism and ultra-liberalism. Down the other lies a recovery of nerve, confidence in ourselves and our culture, unity within and between America and Europe, a society of individuals held together by self-improvement, striving, optimism, reason, compassion, equality and mutual identity. The road chosen will determine whether our civilization collapses or reaches its destiny.

  3.The Tao of Coffee
What exactly do you do when you make a cup of coffee?
● Take one cup ● Put in a spoonful of dark, bitter powder ● Add a spoonful of sweetness ● Pour in hot, clear liquid ● Add whiteness Alone, each item has a complete flavor of its own. The only item that cannot be consumed alone is the bitterness, the coffee powder. Why is this so significant? Because a cup of coffee represents life, it represents you. You are both the vessel and the contents. You are the one who chooses bitterness, sweetness, life, spirituality. Spirituality and faith are like the milk in coffee; without it the coffee is too bitter and sharp, with no depth to its flavor. Imagine the cup: when you add the bitterness (coffee) and the "waters of life", you have a sharp, bitter drink, with no sweetness, no depth. It is shallow, it is incomplete, it is missing many factors. For some people this may be what they choose, this may be the life they settle for. You add a spoonful of sugar. With the addition of that sweetness the bitterness is gone! But the depth is still missing. It is still a shallow drink. Again, some people may settle for this. You add the whiteness?spirituality, belief in yourself, or belief in something greater than yourself to the drink. The drink lightens in both color and flavor. It is rich and deep. It is complete. The only remaining ingredient that could lift this drink to a new height,
that could transform the drink into something more magnificent, is a more powerful whiteness, a more intense and undoubted spirituality and faith, a greater passion for life itself, a commitment to your own dreams and goals: whipped cream! The cup of coffee is perfect without the whipped cream, it can stand alone against the world, and know its glory. But, a coffee with whipped cream is even more magnificent. Once you have known coffee with whipped cream, you will not desire anything less. You will look upon a whipped creamless coffee and see it as lesser?satisfying, but lesser. The ingredients in your coffee are of your choosing, just as the ingredients in your life are of your choosing. You choose the amount of coffee powder that you add to the vessel, just as you choose the amount of bitterness you add, or create in your life. You choose the amount of sweetness you add to the vessel, just as you choose the amount of sweetness, joy, laughter, love and happiness that you bring into, or create in your life. You choose the heat and amount of water, just as you choose the quality of energy you bring into your life through diet, attitude, and addiction. You choose the amount of milk you add to your coffee, just as you choose the amount of faith, spiritual understanding and truth that you bring or invite into your life. You choose, or do not choose, the whipped cream, just as you choose to believe, or not to believe, in a Divine energy or in your own passions, dreams and goals.
You do not need to put that bitter coffee powder into your drink, but you do so because you find the drink more interesting. You relish the aroma, the flavor, the depth, the intensity of the experience?both of the coffee, and of your life.

  4.On Learning English
A correspondent from the Czech Republic asks a powerful question:“How would you encourage English language learners at secondary and postsecondary schools;
what do they have to be careful about and what joys can they expect when dealing with a language of some 2 billion speakers worldwide?” In a way, the question answers itself. English enables you to communicate with
a third of the world's population, and that has to be a plus on the agenda of anyone with an international outlook. That third, moreover, is hugely diverse. English is present, as a first, second, or foreign language, in every country in the world. So, in using it as a tool, you have an unparallelled opportunity to explore the individuality of nations and peoples.
The metaphor of the tool is important. English is not a prism, through which you see others. It is a tool which enables you to have a close encounter with others. Culture is not wholly dependent on language, but it does need language to explain its uniqueness? an experience all travellers have had, as they watch, say, a local folk dance and wonder what it is all about. However, the metaphor of the tool only goes so far, because you can change the character of the tool to suit your purposes. If you have adopted English as one of your languages, then you are able to adapt it?
to take personal ownership of it. One of the great joys of making headway in a new language is that you can use it to talk about what you want to talk about?and if that means inventing new words, to express your local experience, then do not hesitate to invent them. Just translating the culture of your school and town into English?such as the names of localities and personalities?will immediately add dozens of new expressions. Don't restrict yourself to the words that are already in the dictionaries. English is yours now. The words and expressions
you and your fellows invent today might be in the dictionaries of tomorrow, if they catch on. You're doing nothing that hasn't already been done thousands of times before. New words were added to English within days of the first settlers arriving in America from Britain, and the same pattern has been observed in all countries where a community of users has evolved. What you find yourselves doing you will see being done elsewhere. So to adopt the motto of the scouting movement?be prepared. Be prepared for linguistic diversity, change, playfulness, and creativity wherever you listen and look on radio and television, in the press,
literature, film, pop music, the internet... Develop a sense of the kind of English that is appropriate to particular circumstances. And make it your major aim to be so in control of your own English that you can vary it to suit the circumstances in which you find yourself. Your goal is not to learn English, but Englishes. The same principle applies to any language, of course, but it is particularly important in the case of English because of its global reach.

  5.How to Have Less Awkward Conversation
What is assuming rapport? Basically, instead of going into a conversation or meeting nervously and thinking “how will this go?” you take different approach. You assume that you and the person will establish a good connection. How do you do that? You simply pretend that you are meeting one of your best friends. Then you start the interaction in that frame of mind instead of the nervous one. I have found that this advice is surprisingly useful and easy to implement. This also helps you and the other people to set a good frame for the interaction. A frame is always set in at the start of an interaction. It might be a nervous and stiff frame, a formal and let's-get-to-the-point kind of frame or perhaps a super relaxed one. The thing is that the frame that is set in the beginning of the conversation is often one that may stay on for a while. First impressions last. If it's a very stiff frame then it may very well continue to be so until the end. It can be quite difficult to, for instance, change that frame into a more relaxed one. Often people?you and the others?adapt to the frame
that is set and interact within it. Breaking or changing that frame may feel uncomfortable or a bit weird. And so you and the others can become reluctant to do so and instead just play along. When you're with your friend you don't think about what you should say next or what funny comment you could pull out of your sleeve. You just stay in the present moment, moment by moment, and the conversation flows easily and naturally.
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