B.R. Ambedkar quotes

Dr._Bhim_Rao_AmbedkarB.R. Ambedkar was an Indian politician born in the Mahar (untouchable caste). He dedicated his life to opposing the caste system and improving the welfare of the poor and marginalised groups of society. He was chairman of the commission for drafting the Indian constitution.

Quotes of B.R. Ambedkar

Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.

– B.R. Ambedkar

What are we having this liberty for? We are having this liberty in order to reform our social system, which is full of inequality, discrimination and other things, which conflict with our fundamental rights.

– B.R. Ambedkar

A great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.

– B.R. Ambedkar

A people and their religion must be judged by social standards based on social ethics. No other standard would have any meaning if religion is held to be necessary good for the well-being of the people.

– B.R. Ambedkar

History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them.

– B.R. Ambedkar

For a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights.

– B.R. Ambedkar

Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.

– B.R. Ambedkar

The Muslim Society in India is afflicted by the same social evils as afflict the Hindu Society. Indeed, the Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women.

– B.R. Ambedkar (1)

This high-flown and ingenious sophistry indicates why these institutions were honoured, but does not tell us why they were practiced. My own interpretation is that they were honoured because they were practiced. Any one slightly acquainted with the rise of individualism in the 18th century will appreciate my remark. At all times, it is the movement that is most important; and the philosophies grow around it long afterwards to justify it and give it a moral support.

– B.R. Ambedkar

“My study of the Caste problem involves four main points: (1) that in spite of the composite make-up of the Hindu population, there is a deep cultural unity; (2) that caste is a parcelling into bits of a larger cultural unit; (3) that there was one caste to start with; and (4) that classes have become Castes through imitation and excommunication.”

– B.R. Ambedkar

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U Thant Quotes

U Thant – the UN third Secretary-General was a supreme diplomat and peacemaker. His Buddhist practise helped him to cultivate the detachment, equanimity and compassion which turned helped tun philosophy into a practical peace-reality. Striving to deal with the turbulent world of the 1960s and 70s, U Thant was widely respected for his promotion of world peace and world oneness.

Quotes-U_Thant_war-peace

 

” Two world wars were fought to make the world safe for democracy. Today we have to wage a war on all fronts. This war has to be waged in peace time, but it has to be waged as energetically and with as much total national effort as in times of war. The war we have to wage today has only one goal, and that is to make the world safe for diversity.”

– U Thant

“The concept of peaceful coexistence has been criticized by many who do not see the need to make the world safe for diversity. I wonder if they have ever paused to ask themselves the question: What is the alternative to coexistence?”

– U Thant,  Address of 1964, republished in Portfolio for Peace (1968), p. 14

“Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves. This, as the sages of many lands have taught us, is a golden rule in individual and group, as well as international, relations.”

U Thant, Portfolio for Peace (1968), p. 92

“As a Buddhist, I was trained to be tolerant of everything except intolerance.”

– U Thant, View from the UN (1978)

“It is far from my intention to claim that I have reached a very high stage on the path to attainment of the highest wisdom, or that I have attained complete “inner peace.” However, I can claim that I practice bhavana every day. I try to cultivate the ethical aspects of Buddhism, and I believe that I have attained a greater degree of emotional equilibrium than most people.”

– U Thant

For are not birth and death the two phases of the same life process? According to the Buddha, birth is followed by death, but death, in turn, is followed by rebirth.

– U Thant p. 23

“To understand my feelings — and my conception of the role of Secretary General — the nature of my religious and cultural background must first be understood. I should therefore like to outline not only my beliefs but also my conception of human institutions and of the human situation itself.”

– U Thant p. 23

“As a Buddhist, I was trained to be tolerant of everything except intolerance. I was brought up not only to develop the spirit of tolerance but also to cherish moral and spiritual qualities such as modesty, humility, compassion, and, most important, to attain a certain degree of emotional equilibrium.”

– U Thant

“Many of the problems that we face today are due to, or the result of, false attitudes – some of them have been adopted unconsciously. Amongst these is the concept of narrow nationalism – ‘my country, right or wrong’. It is lack of truth in international relations that leads to the conscious or unconscious adoption of double standards. It is therefore essential that, in international relations as in human relations, we should practice, as we preach to others, the universal principle of truth. “

U Thant – Muller, R. (1977). The Example of a Great Ethical Statesman: U Thant. New York: Agni Press (printed as a special supplement to the United Nations Meditation Group Bulletin).

“Many of the problems that we face today are due to, or the result of, false attitudes – some of them have been adopted unconsciously. Amongst these is the concept of narrow nationalism – ‘my country, right or wrong’. It is lack of truth in international relations that leads to the conscious or unconscious adoption of double standards. It is therefore essential that, in international relations as in human relations, we should practice, as we preach to others, the universal principle of truth. “

U Thant – Muller, R. (1977). The Example of a Great Ethical Statesman: U Thant. New York: Agni Press (printed as a special supplement to the United Nations Meditation Group Bulletin).

“It is understandable that the major powers should pursue objectives which seem to them to be in their own national interest; but they should not be blind to the existence of a larger goal, the common interest of all countries, larger and small, in the survival of the human race. They should, at least occasionally, pause to reflect on the course of history, which has seen the rise and fall of so many great empires. Generations to come will judge the conduct of those in positions of authority today by the effect that their actions had on the course of human peace and progress. If they wish to have an honored place in human history they must appear as men of peace and not as mere victors in war.”

U Thant – Muller, R. (1977). The Example of a Great Ethical Statesman: U Thant. New York: Agni Press (printed as a special supplement to the United Nations Meditation Group Bulletin).

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2014 Nobel Peace Prize

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.  Children must go to school and not be financially exploited.  In the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age.  It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected.  In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.

Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.  He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.  This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances.  Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.

The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.  Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed.  It has been calculated that there are 168 million child labourers around the world today.  In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher.  The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labour.

The struggle against suppression and for the rights of children and adolescents contributes to the realization of the “fraternity between nations” that Alfred Nobel mentions in his will as one of the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Oslo, 10 October 2014

Famous rebel leaders

A selection of famous rebel leaders throughout history. People who have led a rebellion against the existing power system – seeking greater freedom for themselves and their people.

SpartacusSpartacus (109 BC – 71 BC) A Thracian gladiator who was a slave of the Roman Empire. With other slave leaders he led the slave revolt in the Third Servile War – this was a major slave rebellion which saw significant defeats for the Roman army before his final defeat by Crassus. Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ followers on the road to Capua.

William_wallaceWilliam Wallace (1273 – 1305) A Scottish landowner who became principle leader of Scottish forces in the Scottish wars of Independence. He defeated an English army at the Battle of Sterling Bridge, before his later defeat and capture. He was hung, drawn and quartered on orders of King Edward I of England

hongwu-emperorZhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu Emperor) (1328 –1398). Born into a poor peasant family, Zhu joined the rebellion against the Mongol, Yuan dynasty. He rose through the ranks of the military to successfully lead the Han Chinese in overthrowing the Mongols and establishing the Ming dynasty.

wat-tylerWat Tyler (1341-1381) Leader of the 1381 English peasants revolt. The revolt was a protest against the ‘poll tax’ – an unfair tax levied on all people regardless of income. The revolt also sought to gain greater rights for peasants. He was decapitated after marching on London to meet with the Mayor of London and King Richard II.

j-RohrbachJakob Rohrbach C. 1490 – 1525. One of the leaders of the German peasants in the Peasants war of 1525. He was captured and burnt alive for his part in the violent disputes.

yemelyan-PugachevYemelyan Pugachev (1742 – 1775) A Russian who led the Cossack insurrection against Russia, during the rule of Catherine II. The insurrection was initially quite successful, but he was later captured and taken to Moscow where he was executed.

crazy-horseCrazy Horse (1840 –  1877) A Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He led a rebellion against the US federal government who he felt were taking territories from Native Americans and harming their way of life. He achieved a notable military victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. He was fatally wounded in 1877 after surrendering to American forces.

giuseppe-garibaldiGiuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882) Garibaldi was a key figure in the Italian independence movement. He led Italian forces to help create a united Italy. He also led rebel movements in South America who were fighting for independence.

Bhagat_SinghBhagat Singh (1907 – 1931) Indian revolutionary who became involved in a violent opposition to British rule. His determination and courage made him a great hero of the Indian independence movement. He was executed aged 24 for his role in the killing of British officers.

che-guevaraChe Guevara (1928-1967) An Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who became a major symbol of Twentieth Century Marxist rebellions in Latin America and Africa. Guevara played a key role in the Cuban revolution and later travelled to the Congo in Africa and Bolivia in South America where he was caught by CIA and summarily executed.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. + “Famous Rebel leaders”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 26th September, 2014.

 

Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements

Book Cover

 

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The man who said “No” – Ian Paisley Quotes

Ian Paisley Ian Paisley was a hardline Ulster Unionist politician who was famous for opposing any peace settlement or Irish intervention in Ulster (Northern Ireland)

For many years, Ian Paisley’s war cry was “No, No, No”, “Never, never, never! – “NO surrender”

He bitterly opposed the Catholic civil rights movement. The failure of this civil rights movement led to the IRA taking up arms and a campaign of violence in the province. Paisley was guilty of inciting anti-Catholic feeling.

“Catholic homes caught fire because they were loaded with petrol bombs; Catholic churches were attacked and burned because they were arsenals and priests handed out sub-machine guns to parishioners”

– Paisley at a loyalist rally in 1968 following attacks on Catholic homes.

“They breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin”

– Paisley talking about Catholics at a loyalist rally in 1969.

Ian Paisley was highly critical of the Catholic Church. In 1988, he had to be physically removed from the European Parliament after interrupting a speech by Pope John Paul II – Paisely, never a man for mincing his words, denounced the Pope as the Antichrist

“I denounce you, Anti-Christ! I refuse you as Christ’s enemy and Antichrist with all your false doctrine” – addressing Pope John Paul II on a visit to the European Parliament October 1988.

– a cry he repeated many times.

Paisley vociferously opposed the 1985 Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty. He campaigned against the Good Friday Peace Accord of 1988.

“I will never sit down with Gerry Adams… he’d sit with anyone. He’d sit down with the devil. In fact, Adams does sit down with the devil” – on Adams in February 1997.

Yet, in the evening of his life he had made a u-turn and agreed to a power sharing agreement with Sinn Fein – his long-term bitterest enemy. He formed a working relationship with Martin McGuinness (a former IRA Commander) and the two became good friends as they worked in a new Stormont Parliament.

“If anybody had told me a few years ago that I would be doing this, I would have been unbelieving”

– inside Parliament Buildings, Stormont, after agreeing to enter a power-sharing government with former IRA leader Martin McGuinness.

“People have come out of a dark tunnel and they can see there is a path out there for us. I think it has put a lot of faith and hope into people”

– on the eve of being sworn in as first minister of the power-sharing government.

Part of the radical transformation in Paisley was the fact that the IRA had announced a ceasefire and given up its weapons. Sinn Fein also came to accept the Northern Irish police force. With these concessions from the Republicans, Paisley was able to come to a power sharing agreement.

“Today, we can confidently state that we are making progress to ensure that our two countries can develop and grow side by side in a spirit of generous co-operation. Old barriers and threats have been, and are being, removed daily”

– After meeting Irish PM Bertie Ahern 2007

He even told McGuinness on their first day of working together than ‘We don’t need any Englishman coming over to tell us what to do.’ McGuinness paid a moving tribute to his former adversary, shortly after Paisley’s death

“In rising above old enmities, we pointed the way to a better and peaceful future.”

Some argue Paisley’s conversion to power sharing should have come many decades earlier. His vitriolic rhetoric against Catholicism and Republicanism has still left an indelible mark on Northern Ireland creating a sense of sectarian divide that still is deeply entrenched in the culture and politics of the province.

Nevertheless, the fact the man who said “NEVER” came to a power sharing agreement with his ‘enemies’ is still grounds for hope. It is a sign that even with the deepest enmity and bitterness, there is the chance to work together with people of a different tradition.

Northern Ireland still has deep sectarian divides, but the future is more hopeful and more optimistic than for many decades. The fact that the man who said ‘No’, came to say Yes, let’s work together is part of that jigsaw.

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Erasmus Quotes

 

“The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war.”

Adagia (1508)

“War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Bis dat, qui cito dat.” – He that gives quickly gives twice.

Adagia (1508)

“I am a lover of liberty. I will not and I cannot serve a party.”

Spongia adversus aspergines Hutteni

“He who allows oppression shares the crime.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Bidden or unbidden, God is present.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“I put up with this church, in the hope that one day it will become better, just as it is constrained to put up with me in the hope that I will become better.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“No Man is wise at all Times, or is without his blind Side.”

– The Alchymyst

“By burning Luther’s books you may rid your bookshelves of him, but you will not rid men’s minds of him.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Only a very few can be learned, but all can be Christian, all can be devout, and – I shall boldly add – all can be theologians.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Wherever you encounter truth, look upon it as Christianity.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“There is nothing I congratulate myself on more heartily than on never having joined a sect.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“I am a citizen of the world, known to all and to all a stranger.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity. The only difference is one of degree. A man who sees a gourd and takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Do not be guilty of possessing a library of learned books while lacking learning yourself.”

Letter to Christian Northoff (1497), as translated in Collected Works of Erasmus (1974), p. 115

“In regione caecorum rex est luscus. – The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“In the country of the blind the one eyed man is king.”

– Adagia

“I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their store-chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Next to the theologians in happiness are those who commonly call themselves the religious and monks. Both are complete misnomers, since most of them stay as far away from religion as possible, and no people are seen more often in public. They are so detested that it is considered bad luck if one crosses your path, and yet they are highly pleased with themselves. They cannot read, and so they consider it the height of piety to have no contact with literature..”

The Praise of Folly (1509)

“The merchants are the biggest fool of all. They carry on the most sordid business and by the most corrupt methods. Whenever it is necessary, they will lie, perjure themselves, steal, cheat, and mislead the public. Nevertheless, they are highly respected because of their money. There is no lack of flattering friars to kowtow to them, and call them Right Honorable in public. The motive of the friars is clear: they are after some of the loot. . . .”

The Praise of Folly (1509)

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Brief lives – the tragedy and beauty

I recently compiled a new post – Famous people who died early.

Jimi_Hendrix_1967These are a diverse selection of famous people who died tragically early, but at the same time achieved much in their short life-pan. It includes famous celebrities of the Twentieth Century – James Dean, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, but also poets and musicians, such as John Keat, Wilfred Owen and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

One thing that is hard not to notice. Famous film stars and musicians were much more liable to dye early. It was hard to find a scientist or famous author, who died early. But, famous celebrities, seem to have a higher likelihood of passing away early.

Part of this is simply a reflection of the nature of their area of influence. Perhaps several immensely talented scientists have died early. But, they never had the time to develop their theories. Scientific discovery can be a life-long process. It can takes years of studying and experimentation to make progress. Many great scientists have achieved much in the evening of their lives.

With the film and music industry, a star can be born over-night. By their early 20s, pop and film stars can be very famous.

Another issue is the lifestyle. Many tragically early deaths in the music industry are related to drug misuse. The entertainment industry seems to be more prone to encouraging unhealthy lifestyles where drug use is more common.

Sportsmen who died early are quite rare – unless they met with a tragic accident, such as Aryton Senna or they suffered from drug misuse themselves – such as the Italian cyclist Marco Pantani.

Read On…

Would you fight in the First World War?

August 2014 is the Centenary of the First World War – a dreadful war which cost the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. An estimated 9 million soldiers were killed and countless more civilians.

canadian-troops-over-top1-first-world-war

First World War

The first thing is to feel grateful that we didn’t live through such an appalling catastrophe, and waste of human life. War is undoubtedly man’s greatest tragedy and the emotional suffering of this ‘Great War’ is incomparable. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the choice that many young men of the 1914-18 period did.

However, if we could go back in time, would you fight for your country of birth or would you be a conscientious objector?

Would I fight for Britain?

I am British, and have often thought about this question.

Firstly, I believe the British Empire was wrong. Britain had no right to be ruling in India, African countries, parts of Asia and parts of the Middle East. I would not fight to save the British Empire because I would support the independence movements in Ireland and India.

If I joined the British army and found myself in India or Ireland, I would feel compromised because I wouldn’t want to be party to supporting an Empire which denied the democratic rights of the inhabitants.

However, the First World War wasn’t primarily about promoting the British Empire. Most soldiers were sent to the Western Front to fight the German army.

Defence of Belgium and France

Sometimes, the First World War is portrayed as a senseless war where we fought for no reason. However, in 1914, there seemed to be a certain moral necessity for Britain to be involved.

Although the causes of the First World War are complex and multifarious – in August 1914, Germany were invading Belgium and France. This violated Belgian neutrality and also French borders. Britain had signed a guarantee of Belgian independence, and should Belgium request support from an invading army, Britain had a treaty obligation to support.

This makes it very difficult not to join the British war effort. It is true, Britain was fighting for self-interest. We didn’t want Germany to dominate Europe, we wanted to protect our trade interests and also the rule of international law. But, it wasn’t entirely selfish. It was wrong for the Germans to invade Belgium and France. In that sense, the First World War could be seen as a defensive war against an invading army.

If Britain had stayed neutral, it is very likely that ultimately Germany would have defeated the French and occupied both Belgium and France. Germany was not a democracy but ruled by an autocratic military state and powerful Tsar. A military victory would arguably have strengthened the militaristic tendencies within Germany and the occupation of France and Belgium would have violated the rights of the Belgians and French.

German atrocities

German atrocities were definitely exaggerated by the Allied powers. Yet, they did occur. Belgian civilians were shot. The Germans did sink neutral shipping with civilians on board. It is inevitable that an invading and occupying army commit atrocities; another reason why the invasion of German forces needed to be opposed.

The Allies were definitely not blameless; for example, there are reports of shooting German prisoners of war soon after capture. But, when an invading army occupies a neutral country and kills innocent civilians – it becomes hard to refuse to fight.

The senseless nature of the conflict

In August 1914, there seemed to be a clear case for war. If the Allies had prevailed by Christmas – defeated the German army, reigned in imperialistic ambitions and restored the continent to peace – we may look back and think ‘What a wonderful war.’

But, the First World War didn’t end quickly and decisively. For the soldiers in the trenches it seemed a senseless slaughter with lives needlessly sacrificed for inevitable failures. Sitting in a London coffee shop, it is easy to say the war was justified. But, when you are drowning in the mud of Ypres with death and destruction all around you – many soldiers (on both sides) started to ask – is it really worth it? Why are we fighting? They just wanted to go home.

“the old lie:
dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori”

Wilfred Owen

The long and bloody conflict meant the initial idealist aims seemed lost in the mud and death of the trenches. Both sides became increasingly desperate in their quest to win. The media was used to whip up hatred of the other side. People of German descent were abused in the street and there was a growing intolerance of any dissent from the official line.

Even if you see a moral justification for fighting for Britain, it is impossible not to sympathise with the horrors of the soldiers and their desire to just see the war end.

The difficulty is how could Britain have ended the war in 1916, 1917? It would have essentially meant giving into German demands and allowing the German army to occupy France. The death would have stopped, but it leaves a militaristic regime controlling most of Europe.

It is like a terrible Hobson’s choice – both continuing to fight and stopping fighting had terrible consequences.

Conclusion

I admire the courage of conscientious objectors. But, at the same time, I am not a pacifist. I do believe war can be justified to protect your country from an invasion.

I dislike the patriotic vitriol that was created in Britain and (all participant countries). Yet, despite that there were still reasons to fight for Britain.

I don’t support the British Empire, and many actions of Britain in the First World War (such as promising the Arabs a homeland in return for fighting against the Ottoman Empire – show how Britain could be deceitful and ignore democratic ideals when it felt like it.)

Yet, however, many failings Britain had – the alternative of a militaristic Germany dominating Europe was much worse.

Would I fight for Germany?

If I was born in Germany, I would like to think I would be a conscientious objector. I believe following orders and fighting for your Fatherland is no excuse for supporting an illegal invasion. There are greater ideals than nationalism. Your country isn’t right, just because you were born in it.

Citation : Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of William Shakespeare”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 18th May. 2006

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Ingrid Bergman Quotes

ingrid bergman

“I have no regrets. I wouldn’t have lived my Life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say. ”

― Ingrid Bergman

“It’s not whether you really cry. It’s whether the audience thinks you are crying.”

- Ingrid Bergman

“Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.”

― Ingrid Bergman

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”

― Ingrid Bergman

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”

― Ingrid Bergman

“Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better!”

― Ingrid Bergman

Read On…