"We don't want to change - we just want our circumstances to change for the better. That is why we spend our lives trying to avoid the consequences of our actions; instead of confronting them." - Joseph Osei-Bonsu
PicturePhotography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu
   'Change Agent' is a modern-day, dramatic, silent film about a man who pursues a woman he desires to the point of violating her. Haunted by his grievous crime, he embarks on a quest for personal redemption, only to meet the full consequences of his actions on the way.




Watch 'Change Agent' - a modern-day, dramatic, silent film about a man in search of personal redemption - here: http://apokapicturesinc.weebly.com/apoka-dimiourgiacutea-creation.html


   

   Change is simply anything that upsets the status quo. It is one of the very few things in the Earth that is completely guaranteed and constant. Hence, what we call life is simply a sequence of phases and changes. Life is change. There are somethings we cannot and mustn't change. E.g.s, we cannot change our need for oxygen. We mustn't change our sex - if a human being has a womb, she is a female human; if the human does not have a womb, then he is a male human. Nature does not care what cosmetic surgery says, does or thinks. There are some things, however, that should and must change. And before any of these changes can occur in our world or in our lives, they must begin within ourselves.

    Have you ever heard of the saying, "Nobody's perfect."? Well if you have, then you'll probably concur with me when I say that, that saying has become the glorified excuse of all humanity for refusing to change our: bad habits, evil thoughts, selfish motives, disrespect for authority, mistreatment of others, irresponsible living, criminal activities, loss of moral and ethical values, lack of sanitation, abuse of the Earth's resources, and corrupt leadership. Somehow, we've convinced ourselves into thinking that our irresponsible actions and our wrong decisions must be condoned and excused, upon the mere fact that: "Nobody's perfect." If that is the case, then there is no need for the establishment of the government, the economy, the law, human rights, social life etc. If "Nobody's perfect.", then nobody should be given the power or authority to sentence another man to death. Do you see how using this pathetic excuse for our failure to change can become a problem in our lives, societies and nations? Yes, we all have imperfections, and the imperfect state of our world systems such as Democracy, reveals them. However, I believe we are given hours, days, months and years to live, in order for us to confront these innate ills that plague we and our fellow human beings. If life is a series of changes, then life is a gift and a source of hope for humanity that we CAN change - for the best!

   If we will change, we must first accept that we HAVE to change. We can only do this by exposing ourselves to the truth about ourselves. Facing the truth about ourselves is difficult for us, because it makes us uncomfortable and demands a lot from us; which in most cases, we're unwilling to do. We would rather busy ourselves with work, facebook, traditions, religious activities, school and television, instead of taking some time off in order to face the 'demons' that irk and destroy us everyday. And so the truth about humanity is that:



We don't want to change - we just want our circumstances to change for the better. That is why we spend our lives trying to avoid the consequences of our actions; instead of confronting them. 

This is the bane of all human beings.

 
 
"Love is the inspiration to intentionally choose someone or something, with the unyielding determination to keep that choice;  in order to cultivate and care for that choice, and never to keep or use the choice you made for any other purpose other than this." - Joseph Osei-Bonsu
PicturePhotography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu







   Tomahawks, or better still, hatchets, were normally buried when two native American Indian tribes, who were warring against each other, had suffered very serious or numerous casualties as a result of there warfare against each other. The chiefs of the tribes opposed to each other would meet and bury their axes under an underground river; and the washing away or sinking of the axes symbolized the vanishing of any matters that had formerly been the bones of contention between the two tribes. It was a sign of peace. Sometimes, the axes were just buried under a tree or in a notable field. Always, and I repeat, always, the reason for which these native American Indian tribes did this was because they had suffered great losses, or they deemed the loss they were about to suffer as not worth each other's while. 

Hatchets were buried to avoid loss through war, and not to achieve any gain through peaceful productivity. 

This why more often than not, the erstwhile feuding tribes would in the future dig up the buried hatchets (if they axes were buried in the ground), and wage war against themselves again. They would 'dig up' or 'raise up' the hatchet: the opposite of burying the hatchet. Obviously, doing that means that now, they both consider the losses that will or can be conceded as worth their while, again. Whatever the case maybe, it always take another tragedy of loss, or the certainty of tragic losses for the two tribes to bury their hatchets, again. We are no different from the native American Indian tribes of the 16th, 17th, 18th 19th and early 20th century. It always takes a great tragedy or loss for us to realize that most of: what we're fighting over, who we are at loggerheads with, and the forgiveness we're refusing to ask or give, will eventually destroy us. Until the losses become unbearable for them, most people never bury the hatchet they have raised against other people or themselves.

   As I mentioned earlier, the native American Indians buried their hatchets in order to avoid loss through war, and not to achieve any gain through peaceful productivity. The same holds true for us. We are ever so quick to put all our differences aside with the people we have rejected or opposed, when we feel uncomfortable, insecure, uncertain of the future or threatened by their presence or power. We want peace so that we will: live and not die, be at peace and not suffer with guilt or sorrow, receive mercy instead of condemnation. We choose to bury the hatchet because our human survival instincts feel threatened by the great loss we have suffered, and then, it forces us to seek for penance, shelter, and relief wherever it can be found; even if those things are with our 'enemies'. Burying the hatchet does not give life, rather it prevents death. It does not bring change, instead, it only stalls crises. This is the reason why peace treaties, truces and cordial agreements between nations, companies and individuals never last longer than their own whims and caprices. 

It is a fallacy to believe or think that by signing a peace treaty or agreeing to a cease-fire, the differences of the two feuding parties have been or will be settled!   

Yes, burying the hatchet between the parties paves the way for better relations, and possibly, cooperative ventures between them - this is true. However, that is seldom the reason for burying a hatchet of any sort. This is because, again, most people primarily bury the hatchet to prevent loss, death, destruction, crisis, lack of comfort, apprehension and tension - period! If two warring states, families, companies, or individuals will truly bury the hatchet, it must be because of a motive and a reason that far outweighs any personal agenda, profit or interest. It must be because of love. At this juncture, I shall attempt to define 'love' as best as I possibly can:


Love is the inspiration to intentionally choose someone or something, with the unyielding determination to keep that choice; in order to cultivate and care for that choice, and never to keep or use the choice you made for any other purpose other than this.


   With this definition of love in mind, we begin to understand that love has very little to do with emotions and passions; but it has everything to do with purpose and motives. To successfully bury a hatchet, at least one of the feuding parties must decide that the reason why he is doing this is because he or she is intentionally choosing peace with the enemy, through an unyielding determination to keep this peace; in order to bring out the best from his 'enemy', cater for his 'enemy' and never to use the peace he now has with his 'enemy' for his own advantage, or any other ulterior motive other than this. This, is tough for most people, because it takes a lot of courage to do love an enemy or a betrayer. And the reason why it takes much courage to do this is because of the fear of rejection. The fear of being hurt again, by making an already broken heart vulnerable to the one (or similar one) who broke it in the first place is what breeds distrust and lack of forgiveness in the broken-hearted. And so it should! For example; will you ever in your right mind trust your daughter with your friend who slept with your spouse? Let's say that after throwing your spouse out of the house and severing all ties with your friend, the tragedy of losing you causes your wife and your friend to seek the burying of this adulterous hatchet. They come to you for a second chance to make things right; you decide not to give them a second chance, because of your present hurt and your fear of being hurt again. Once bitten... However, if you intentionally choose to make and keep peace with your spouse or your friend or both, in order to help them recover from the setback of the relationship - to help them change - then you are burying the hatchet for the right reason: love. Should your wife and friend ever reject your act of love again, it would be on their consciences, not yours. Contrary to your fears, you would rather be TRULY free and vindicated of any hurt, pain, guilt and heartbreak that their actions might have brought. Love buries all things...especially, hatchets.

 
 
"To err is human; to forgive, divine." - Alexander Pope
PicturePhotography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu





















   The phone kept ringing, like it had every morning and evening for the past 13 days, until it finally went to voicemail. "Hello my love! It's Giovanni...again. Today's Sunday, the beginning of a new week, and my feelings for you haven't changed. I'm sorry for hurting you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I love you.", confessed a depressed-looking Giovanni after the beep from Antonella's voicemail had toned. Before he could hang up, he heard a voice speaking inaudibly on the phone. Frantically, he put the phone back to his ear and half-shouted, "Hello?! Antonella?! Are you there?!. "Antonella isn't her!", a stern, feminine voice replied from the phone. "Who is this?", Giovanni responded. "It doesn't matter who I am.", the woman replied. "Well, it does to me! I'm her fiancé! Who are you?", an infuriated Giovanni retorted. "Why do you want to know? Do you want to bed me too?!, was the sharp response of the mysterious woman on the other end of this telephone conversation. Giovanni could feel an indignant rage, pushing him to respond to his latest critic but alas, he was dumbfounded. Giovanni broke the momentary, awkward silence between him and the mystery woman with a sigh. "How can you possibly refer to yourself as her fiancé, after cheating on her with somebimbo you swore meant nothing to you?", queried the mystery woman. Giovanni remained silent. "I'm Antonella's friend, I'm house-sitting for her. I know everything - all the lies you told her. I even read the nasty text messages and emails you sent that slut. I bet you thought you could keep it a secret forever. You men think women become idiots when we fall in love, don't you? You guys...". "Where is Antonella?!", Giovanni interrupted. "You said you're house-sitting for her. Why would she need a house-sitter? Where did she go?". To this, the mystery woman said, "She's been admitted at the Ospedale di Santo Spirito. Antonella had an anxiety attack last night." There was silence again. "Hello? Hello?", the mystery woman called out but her calls were all in vain - Giovanni had already bolted out the house, en route to the hospital in question.
    Somehow, Giovanni managed to beat the Mass-inspired traffic jam of Sunday morning Rome, while driving absent-mindedly. Upon arrival at the hospital, Giovanni was informed that Antonella had not eaten for more than 10 days! A duration of time in which she had soaked herself with only alcohol and tears. Her body was bound to crash. When Giovanni revealed himself as Antonella's fiancé, the nurse on duty finally agreed to let him see her. As Giovanni approached the weakened but awake Antonella, he cringed and stopped in his tracks as their eyes met. Antonella looked away to the table beside her bed. She tried to reach for the cup of water on the table but she was too weak to do it. Giovanni rushed to her aid and placed the cup of water in her hands. At this, Antonella summonsed every joule of energy in her and poured the water on Giovanni's face. The nurse quickly rushed to Giovanni and began to escort him out of the room. As he walked away, Giovanni looked into Antonella's eyes. Her eyes were like the eyes of a dragon - ablaze with a fiery rage that couldn't be quenched. Outside the room, the nurse offered Giovanni a towel to dry himself and some words of wisdom. This is what the nurse said, "Look, Mr. Insua. I don't know why you did it. All I know is that you're not the first to do it and neither are you the last. The truth is, more than 50% of the men in Italy have cheated, are cheating or are about on the women in their lives. Whenever these women find out what their men are doing behind their backs, they usually react to it in insane ways. We see it all the time here in this hospital. The women think that by doing this, their men will feel sorry for hurting them, and consequently, change for them. Unfortunately for both the hurt women and their cheating men, this never works out. You know why?". Giovanni looked at the nurse and shook his head in ignorance. The nurse continued, "Because all the tears of all the women in the world cannot wash away the filthy nature of a man who cannot control his libido. Only that man can decide to change himself." Giovanni pondered on the nurse's words as he walked to his car. He knew that he would never see Antonella again. Only this time, he had decided it for himself.               

 

    Have you ever heard of the  sayings: "Forgive and forget" and "To err is human; to forgive, divine"? Of course you have! As long as, you are a human being who understands the English language, you already know these sayings. Granted that you might not know them word for word, however, throughout your life, you will be introduced to several variations of these sayings, at least once. Examples: "Let go and let God", "Live and let live", "Nobody's perfect", "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die", "Everyone makes mistakes" etc. These sayings are the bitter pills our concerned physicians(whom we sometimes call friends, family, pastor, counsellor, shrink etc) prescribe for the healing of our deeply-offended souls. The Offended is encouraged to 'forgive and forget' because 'to err is human; to forgive, divine'. While the Offender is simply asked to apologize and atone for the offence committed if possible or necessary. This, to the Offended, always seems like an unfair exchange. An apology, a prison sentence, financial restitution, acts of remorse, the acceptance of responsibility and even the death of the Offender virtually does nothing to appease the hurting Offended. This is because forgiving a deeply, hurtful offence is an alien practice in the human world that takes a lot of time to get used to. Yes, Alexander Pope was right: to forgive really is divine, because humanity is not accustomed to this practice of God, yet. As a result of this, what most Offended people tend NOT to do is looking for an apology or a recompense from the Offender. Their true desire is to see the Offender suffer equally as(or, in most cases, more than) they have suffered, or are suffering. As far as the human soul is concerned, the only way to heal its pain is by expressing pain. This irrational 'expression of pain' takes the form of retribution, venting, the 'silent treatment' or even denial. The most common route an offended person takes is Retribution. This is usually done in two ways: Vengeful Actions or Emotional Manipulation. This essay seeks to address the art of Emotional Manipulation as a passive-aggressive means of retribution.

    Emotional manipulation is the art of getting someone to accept and believe in 'who they are to you', by convincing them to make amends for 'the wrong they've done to you', repeatedly. The emotionally manipulative person employs SHAME as his or her number weapon. Not the manipulator's shame, but the pressure-induced shame of the manipulator's victim. Shame is simply a feeling, belief or predominant thought that there's something wrong with you. The person feeling shame thereby renders himself or herself as unworthy, dishonourable or an embarrassment to themselves and others alike. Unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong. You can only be guilty or feel guilty for doing something wrong, and not for who you are. No human is ever born a mistake! The things that happen or are done to us, and the things that we do may cause mistakes to us, in us, to others or in others. However, I reiterate, no human is life is a mistake. Therefore it is counterintuitive for any human to believe that their existence is just a fluke in the Universe; because they 'feel', or, they were told that there is something wrong with them. Of course, there will be some who may mistaken this above statement to mean that we should encourage serial killers, rapists and genocidal dictators to continue to 'be themselves'. That is far from the point. My point here is, the killer, rapist or genocidal dictator was never predestined to be so as he or she may feel, think or believe. Who we become is based on the responses we choose for life's questions. Apologizing can remove guilt but apologizing cannot remove shame. You can and must apologize for whatever wrong that is done by you. You cannot and mustn't apologize for who somebody thinks you are; even if they're right. "Why?", you ask.

It's simple, an apology can never change the past, and neither does it have the power to alter a person's identity.

We think we know how other people are, when in reality, we haven't even figured out who we are ourselves. Therefore, it is completely foolish of anybody to close the chapter on another person's life, because of what that person has done or is doing. Yet, this is exactly what an Emotional Manipulator does. The Offended, who has now become the Emotional Manipulator, sees the Offender in a negative light because of the offence in between them. The Offended assumes that he or she is more righteous than the Offender because of this and decides to take advantage of the remorseful Offender. The Emotional Manipulator/Offended tries to convince the Offender that the Offender owes the Manipulator a debt by constantly reminding the Offender of the offence. Sometimes, the Manipulator may use the silent treatment as a way of getting the message across. The objective of this is to blackmail the Offender's emotions into guilt, again and again, for the selfish purposes of the Emotional Manipulator/Offended. If the Offender has already rendered the acceptable atonement for his or her wrongdoing, then there should be no room for guilt anymore. The debt has been paid. If the Offender is still feeling guilt, then that isn't guilt. That's called shame. The shame becomes a dare: a dare to the Offender to prove his or her 'righteousness' to the Offended who is emotionally manipulating him or her. By doing this, the Offended-turned-Emotional Manipulator simultaneously 'punishes' the Offender, while profiting at the Offender's expense. Killing two birds with one stone: retribution and subjugation, dished out in style. This is how most offenders become victimized by the people they have offended through emotional manipulation.

    Most of the time, we think that by apologizing and doing acts of remorse to appease the people we've hurt, we can somehow change. All we are actually doing is trying desperately to make ourselves feel better from our own guilt or shame. The one in wrong must engage in a tete-a-tete with his or her own soul before reaching out to whoever may have suffered from his or her actions. If not, he or she is more likely than not, to become a victim of emotional manipulation. If what you did wrong is a reflection of who you are, it is not up to the person whom you've wronged to change you. Every doctor will tell you that treating a symptom will never cure its underlying disease, even if you do it with all the love and care in the world. Who you are, what you've done, and the changes you need to make is between you and your God. It doesn't matter whether the people you've offended are right or wrong, punishing yourself by agreeing with them doesn't solve YOUR problem. Instead of seeking self-absolution for your 'transgressions' at the hands of another error-prone human, here's what you should do first: buy yourself some flowers, write yourself an apology letter and WALK AWAY from your old ways. Then buy some flowers for the one you've hurt, write an apology letter to them, and whether they accept and believe that you have changed or not, KEEP WALKING AWAY from your old ways. There's no point in proving yourself to, arguing against or negotiating with an Emotional Manipulator - they will always feel that they're right, and that there's something wrong with you.

 
 
"A thousand saints cannot stop one imp from wreaking havoc: they can only hope and pray that it doesn't. After all the 'amens' have been said, the imp wreaks havoc anyway." - Joseph Osei-Bonsu
PicturePhotography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu
"For twenty years I served your father and this bank very well. In all that time, your bank never lost a lawsuit. In all those years I never asked for a single thing, other than the hours I billed the bank. If any of your customers, employees or competitors tried to bribe me into undermining you, I never betrayed you. Nor did I ever ask you to meet or beat their offer. No, I remained loyal! You made me put in extra hours that I never billed you for. I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. Yes, for twenty years I slaved for this bank! I worked for fourteen years for your father: six years for you. And you barely gave me a raise on my salaries! In fact, if it wasn't for the company's policies, you would probably be sending me away empty-handed!", complained the bitter lawyer.

The owner of the bank in question nonchalantly looked at the lawyer and said, "I'm not sending you away. Only you can do that. I just gave you an ultimatum. Either you find a way to make those taxes go away, or, I find myself another lawyer. It's as simple as that."

The lawyer replied, "I have told you time and again: I don't do tax-evasion! I'm not a crook; neither was your father, nor are you!"

The bank owner said, "I guess your perceptions about me were wrong." At this, the bank owner exited the lawyer's office; leaving the lawyer to ponder his fate.






It is a universally accepted fact that the original purpose of all pain is protection: protection against one's volatile self, harmful environment, dangerous circumstances or people. Pain prevents the eventual, complete loss or destruction of something valuable to us. It is the natural way of crying out for help and healing in places which, to the person in pain, had, until recently, been fine. Since pain prevents total loss, it's de facto function is to engender wholesome gain. Hence, the coining of the old adage, "No pain, no gain.". If pain only results from the ab(normal)use or the presence of danger, induced by doing wrong things or being in a wrong state; why then do we still feel pain, even when we are doing the right things or living in a right state? From my experiences, it seems as if the more right you are or the more right you do, the more life rewards you with unfavourable upshots. This contradicting statement is the crux of the paradox which human life is. E.g. an honest, tax-paying employee gets laid off from his or her job, while the cunning, tax-evading C.O.O. of his or her erstwhile company is promoted to the position of C. E. O. It seems as if Righteousness rewards its disciples with, "Mo' pain, and, no gain." Why is this so? Because the only way to eliminate pain in one's world is not by doing a lot of 'good' things, nor is it in being more of a 'good' person; pain can only be expelled from your world when you, and ALL of the people around you, do ALL the right things and live the right way, ALL the time. As long as there is one criminal hiding amongst a 100, law-abiding citizens, everybody, including the criminal himself, will never be immune to pain. As long as you are able to only do 99 out of a 100 things right, you, the people around you and your environment will suffer the pain from your failure to do that one, last thing right.

    It is important to remind ourselves that pain only exists because something or someone is in the wrong. Absence of right is not wrong: the absence of right is pain. The hope of a pain-free world is predicated on the creation of a wholly right-living world. Since you and I know that this is completely impossible in our present world(except in a utopian fantasy), we can only conclude that pain has come to make its abode with humanity - permanently; or so we think. This staggering truth has rendered the pursuit of a life 'lived by the rules' to be a complete waste of time. My perception was this:

 "A thousand saints cannot stop one imp from wreaking havoc: they can only hope and pray that it doesn't. After all the 'amens' have been said, the imp wreaks havoc anyway."

Hence, most people in the world have concluded that: since a right, just and perfect society is nothing but a na
ïve superstition, there is no point in living life by the rules all the time. And for the sake of temperance, one must make or choose some rules to follow, otherwise, one would self-destruct. However, the truth of the matter is that, the adherence of rules has never been for self-appeasement or for self-pleasure. Living right has very little to do with self but it has everything to do with others. When a criminal breaks the law, automatically, at least one person becomes victimized by the criminal's action, and that person suffers pain at the expense of the criminal's personal pleasure. When a law-abiding citizen obeys the law, automatically, at least one person becomes secure by the law-abiding citizen's action, and that person enjoys gain at the cost of the law-abiding citizen's personal pleasure. The outcomes of both scenarios are clear and vivid: the former scenario worsens our already degenerated world, the latter scenario alleviates the world of some of its degeneracy. This is an absolute truth! Having said this, I then put it to you:

Must we be laissez-faire in our approach to the laws of right living because we can't see our 'wrong' world becoming completely right? Or, must we strive to learn, understand and adhere to the laws of right living because there is a chance we can make our world better?

    Yes, bad things happen to 'good' people, while the scum of God's green Earth are having an orgy. However, if 'good' people choose to stop being 'good' or doing 'good' things, even worse things will happen to their 'good' posterity. Dare to live right; because if you don't, there'll be mo' pain and no gain - at all.