CONFUCIUS – THE MOST INFLUENTIAL CHINESE PHILOSOPHER

The Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius was the founder of the school of philosophy known as the Ju or Confucianism, which is still very influential in China. He was born on 551 B.C.E in Tuo, China.

INFO OF HIS LIFE

Confucius is the Latinized name of K’ung Fu-tzu (Great Master K’ung). His original name was K’ung Ch’iu; he is also known as K’ung Chung-ni. The most detailed traditional account of Confucius’s life is contained in the Records of the Historian (Shih chi) by Ssu-ma Ch’ien, who lived from 145 B.C.E. to 86 B.C.E. Many modern scholars have dismissed this biography as only legend. Nevertheless, from this manuscript one can reconstruct a satisfactory outline of the philosopher’s life and influence.

According to the Records of the Historian, Confucius was a descendant of a branch of the royal house of Shang, the dynasty (a family of rulers) that ruled China prior to the Chou, and a dynasty which ruled China from around 1122 B.C.E. to 221 B.C.E. His family, the K’ung, moved to the small state of Lu, located in the modern province of Shantung in northeastern China.

It was believed that Confucius’s father divorced his first wife at an advanced age, because she had borne him only daughters and one disfigured son. He then married a fifteen-year-old girl from the Yen clan, who gave birth to Confucius. Ssu-ma Ch’ien refers to the relationship as a “wild union,” which very possibly indicates that Confucius was an illegitimate child, or a child born out of wedlock.

In the Analects, Confucius’s book of teachings, he writes that during his youth he was poor and was forced to acquire many different skills. It is clear that even though the fortunes of his family had declined, he was no commoner. Confucius unquestionably belonged to the aristocratic (ruling) class known as the shih. In the time of Confucius most shih served as court officials, scholars, and teachers. Confucius’s first occupation appears to have been as keeper of the Lu granary. Later he worked as supervisor of the fields. Both were low positions but consistent with his shih status.

CAREER AS A TEACHER

It is not known exactly when Confucius began his teaching career, but it does not appear to have been much before the age of thirty. In 518 B.C.E. he is said to have met the famous teacher Lao Tzu (sixth century B.C.E. ), who reportedly bluntly criticized Confucius for his stuffiness and arrogance. Confucius eventually returned to Lu around 515 B.C.E. For several years after his return he does not appear to have accepted a governmental position. Instead it appears he spent most of his time studying and teaching, gathering a large number of students around him. Although one can only guess about the school’s exact course work, it undoubtedly included instruction in ritual, music, history, and poetry.

Around 498 B.C.E. , Confucius decided to leave his home in Lu and embark on a long journey throughout eastern China. He was accompanied by several of his disciples (followers). They wandered throughout the eastern states of Wei, Sung, and Ch’en and at various times had their lives threatened. Confucius was almost assassinated (killed) in Sung. On another occasion he was mistaken for the adventurer Yang Hu and was arrested and held until his true identity became known.

Confucius was received with great respect by the rulers of the states he visited, and he even seems to have received occasional payments. He spent much of his time developing his ideas on the art of government, as well as continuing his teaching. He acquired a large following, and the solidification of the Confucian school probably occurred during these years. Not all of his disciples followed him on his travels. Several of them actually returned to Lu and assumed positions with the Chi clan. It may have been through their influence that in 484 B.C.E. Confucius was invited back to Lu.

FINAL YEARS

Confucius was warmly received in Lu, but there is no indication that he was given a responsible position. Little is known about his last years, although this would have been a logical time for him to work on the many texts and documents he supposedly gathered on his journey. Much of his time was devoted to teaching, and he seems to have remained more or less distant from political affairs. This was an unhappy period for Confucius. His only son died about this time; his favorite disciple, Yen Hui, died the very year of his return to Lu; and in 480 B.C.E. another disciple, Tzu-lu, was killed in battle. Confucius felt all of these losses deeply, and his sadness and frustration must have been intensified by the realization that his political ideas had found no support among the rulers of his own state. Confucius died in 479 B.C.E in Qufu, China. His disciples conducted his funeral and observed a mourning period for him.

CONFUCIUS’S TEACHINGS

Although we cannot be certain that Confucius wrote any of the works he is credited with, it is still possible to know something about the general nature of his philosophy. Shortly after his death his disciples compiled a work known as the Lun yü, commonly translated as the Analects but more accurately rendered as the Edited Conversations. This work consists of conversations between Confucius, his students, and an occasional ruler. The primary emphasis of the Lun yü is on political philosophy. Confucius taught that the primary task of the ruler was to achieve the welfare (well-being) and happiness of the people of his state. To accomplish this aim, the ruler first had to set a moral (good character) example by his own conduct. This example would in turn influence the people’s behavior.

Confucius is the first Chinese thinker to introduce concepts that became fundamental not only to Confucian philosophy but to Chinese philosophy in general. The most important of these are jen (benevolence), yi (propriety, or being proper), and li (ritual, or ceremony). Confucius believed that the chün-tzu, or “gentleman,” must set the moral example for others in society to follow. In the Lun yü jen, what has been translated as humaneness or benevolence (being kind) is a quality a chün-tzu should develop and attempt to encourage in others. Li is considered the rules and ritual that are observed in religious and nonreligious ceremonies and, as applied to the chün-tzu, composed rules of behavior. Yi represents what is right and proper in a given situation. The chün-tzu, by observing the ritual and because of his good nature, always knows what is right.

Confucius was basically a humanist and one of the greatest teachers in Chinese history. His influence on his immediate disciples was deep. His students continued to explain his theories until, in the first Han dynasty (206 B.C.E. –8 C. E.), the theories became the basis of the state ideology, the body of ideas reflecting the social needs of a culture.

WILL ALLEN – URBAN FARM INNOVATOR

Will Allen (born February 8, 1949) is an urban farmer based in Milwaukee and a retired American basketball player. Will Allen was a high school state champion in basketball, playing the forward position. Allen played collegiately for the Miami Hurricanes at the University of Miami, where he was on basketball scholarship. He was the first African-American to play basketball for the University of Miami. After college Allen was selected by the Baltimore Bullets in the 4th round (60th pick overall) of the 1971 NBA Draft. He never played in the NBA, but appeared in seven games with The Floridians of the ABA during the 1971–72 season. He also played professionally in Belgium. Allen retired from basketball in 1977, when he was 28. Upon retirement, Allen moved to Milwaukee, his wife Cynthia’s hometown.

Will Allen’s parents were sharecroppers in South Carolina until they bought the small vegetable farm in Rockville, Maryland, where Allen grew up. Finishing a career in marketing, Allen left a job at Procter & Gamble in 1993 and purchased Growing Power, a derelict plant nursery that was in foreclosure, located on the north side of Milwaukee. Around this time, Allen also purchased a 100-acre farm in Oak Creek, previously owned by his wife’s parents. Allen currently serves as director of Growing Power, a now mature urban farming project in Milwaukee, with a 40-acre acre farm west of Milwaukee in the town of Merton and an off-shoot project in Chicago run by Allen’s daughter, Erika.

In 2005, Allen was awarded a Ford Foundation leadership grant on behalf of his urban farming work. In 2008, he was awarded the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” for his work on urban farming and sustainable food production. Most recently, in 2009, the Kellogg Foundation gave Allen a grant to create jobs in urban agriculture. Will Allen appears in the documentary film, Fresh. The film refers to Allen as “one of the most influential leaders of the food security and urban farming movement.”

At one time, the term urban farm sounded like an oxymoron. No longer. A new movement is sprouting up in America’s low-income neighborhoods. Some urban residents, sick of fast food and the scarcity of grocery stores, have decided to grow good food for themselves. One of the movement’s (literally) towering icons is Will Allen, 62, of Milwaukee’s Growing Power Inc. His main 2-acre Community Food Center is no larger than a small supermarket. But it houses 20,000 plants and vegetables, thousands of fish, plus chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits and bees.

People come from around the world to marvel — and to learn. Says Allen: “Everybody, regardless of their economic means, should have access to the same healthy, safe, affordable food that is grown naturally.” The movement’s aim is not just healthier people but a healthier planet. Food grown in cities is trucked shorter distances. Translation: more greenhouses in the ‘hood equals less greenhouse gas in the air. Just as important, farm projects grow communities and nourish hope. The best ones will produce more leaders like Allen, with his credo “Grow. Bloom. Thrive.”

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ROGER FEDERER – THE SEXIEST SWISS TENNIS PLAYER

Roger Federer was born on August 8, 1981 in Basel, Switzerland. He is a famous tennis player who is currently World’s Number One. He has German, Swiss and South African origins and his parents’ names are Robert Federer and Lynette Federer. He grew up in Switzerland and he speaks fluently German, French and English. The person who is always next to him and supports him is Miroslava Vavrinec or Mirka. She is an ex tennis player and they met in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics. He likes children and likes to take care of them, that is why he does a lot of charity actions and is involved in the UNICEF programs. On April 3, 2003 he was named Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF.

His career as a tennis player started when he was six years old. In 1998 he won the junior Wimbledon title and soon became professional. Until now (2007) he won three of the four Grand Slam titles. The French Open has not been in his hands yet and in 2007 Rafael Nadal managed to beat him. He won four times at Wimbledon: in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2007 he is the favourite player there and specialists give him great chances to win the fifth consecutive title. At the Australian Open he won three times: 2004, 2006 and 2007.

The US Open was conquered three consecutive times 2004, 2005 and 2006. Tony Roche is his last coach and probably the most famous. Federer has renounced at his services in 2007. He received many awards and also won tournaments at Indian Wells, Toronto, Hamburg, Miami, Cincinnati, Madrid or Dubai. As you can see his results are amazing. He surprised everyone and famous names in the tennis history see him as a legend and consider that his career is just getting started. We can say that he is phenomenon as many records were smashed by him.

In April 2006, named UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Carried Swiss flag in opening ceremonies of Athens Olympics in 2004 and Beijing Olympics in 2008 (on his birthday). Named ATP Player of Year and earned Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award from 2004-07 and ATPtennis.com fans’ favorite from 2003-07. I.T.W.A. Player of the Year and Ambassador for Tennis award winner in 2004-06. Named 2003 “Swiss of the Year” by his country’s TV audience. Won 2004 Laureus World Sportsman of Year. Listed in People Magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” issue as an “International Man of Sexiness” in November 2005.

One year later, was featured in the same in the “Sexy Surroundings” category. Also featured in Vogue in December 2006. Is close friend of Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour. She has attended his matches at Wimbledon and the US Open and he accompanied her to Fashion Week in New York City following 2006 US Open. Named GQ’s “International Man of the Year” for 2005 in Germany. Speaks English, German, Swiss German, French and some Swedish and Italian. Fitness trainer is Pierre Paganini. Golf superstar Tiger Woods attended ’06 US Open final and both athletes met for first time. Received 2006 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of Year award and named 2006-07 BBC Sports Overseas Personality of Year (also in ’04).

In October 2007, voted No. 30 in a list of “the 100 most influential people in the world of sports” in BusinessWeek Magazine in U.S. (one of six athletes in Top 30). Named in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in World” in May 14, 2007 issue. Recipient of U.S. Academy Outstanding Athlete in 2005-06 presented by USA. Today and MSNBC (voted by fans). Had a stamp of him released by Swiss Post on April 10, 2007 in his birthplace of Basel. Elected to two-year term in June 2008 to ATP Player Council.CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Current ATP Champions Race Position: 2
Current Doubles Rank: 326
Career titles for singles: 62
Career titles for doubles: 8
Career matches won: 705
Career matches lost: 169
Year to date matches won: 27
Year to date matches lost: 8
Career prize money: $56,063,966.00
Year to date prize money for singles: $2,701,897.00

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LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA – THE 35th PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, born on October 27, 1945, commonly referred to simply as “Lula”, is a Brazilian politician. He was elected President of Brazil in 2002, and re-elected in 2006. He is a liberal politician who often adopts centrist positions. He has been a very effective president, avoiding scandals and allowing Brazilian industry to prosper while taking steps towards combating Brazil’s legendary poverty.

EARLY LIFE

Lula was born in October, 1945 to poor parents in the town of Caetes, Pernambuco, but soon moved to a coastal city in São Paulo province. There was little time or money for young Lula to get an education, and he was working in the streets as a shoeshine boy and street vendor before he was in his teens. He was a hard worker and soon found full-time work in Sao Paulo’s booming automotive industry.

UNIONIZER

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, there was a lot of work in the industrial factories of Sao Paulo, but little in the way of worker’s rights. Lula became very involved in the movement to unionize the workers, and due to his natural leadership he rose quickly in the ranks of the union leadership. In the 1970’s he led several strikes, and was jailed for a while. In 1978 he was elected head of a steel-workers union. He became convinced that the true path to fair treatment for workers was not through unions and strikes, but through political power.

WORKER’S PARTY

In 1980, Lula became one of the founding members of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (“Party of the Workers,” known in Brazil by its initials PT). Lula was its first president. Brazil was at the time under a right-wing military dictatorship and organizing unions and political parties could have been very dangerous for Lula and his companions. The Party was not formally recognized by the Brazilian Electoral court until 1982. The PT was very popular with the working class and its growing political clout helped restore democracy to Brazil in the late 1980’s.

LULA’S EARLY POLITICAL CAREER

Lula first ran for office in 1982, for a seat in the São Paulo Province legislature, but lost. In 1986 he was elected to Congress, and by the time a new constitution was needed in the late 1980’s, the PT was powerful enough to demand a seat at the table to influence its provisions. Although the PT helped create the constitution, they refused to ratify the final result, as they felt it did not do enough to ensure workers’ rights. Lula ran for president in 1989, 1994 and 1998. He lost all three elections, although many believe that he only lost due to election fraud.

PRESIDENCY

Lula continued to run for president and finally won in 2002. Although many feared that Lula would immediately implement radical socialistic reforms and perhaps even default on some of Brazil’s debt, he has proven to be a progressive moderate, preferring slow but steady social change. He quickly identified some very real and serious problems in his country and attacked them directly and effectively. One example is his campaign against malnutrition. Under this program, the poorest Brazilian families get food aid, but only if their children stay in school. He has also efficiently managed the Brazilian economy, managing steady growth without making any drastic reforms, while still paying off foreign debts and funding badly-needed social programs.

Internationally, he has not become the ranting demagogue that many feared, instead perfecting the role of respected statesman. He has become a very important figure in Latin American politics, as he has taken great pains to be friendly with other nations. Lula’s Brazil is a leader in Latin American diplomacy: for example, Lula has sent a peacekeeping, humanitarian mission to Haiti on his own initiative.

He is a very forward-thinking leader, and under his administration Brazil has become a leader in the worldwide search for biofuels and clean energy. In December of 2008, Newsweek magazine named him the 18th most influential person in the world.

Lula will leave office in 2011 and has already announced that he will not seek to change the constitution to allow him to run for a third term as many other South American politicians have done.

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