opinion

ON THE BRING OF A TRADE WAR?

July 8, 2018

I asked this question already several times in my previous columns. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Fact is, the European Union fears divisions as China woos Eastern European nations. As the world prepares to tackle trade tensions and tit-for-tat tariffs, the summit between leaders of China and Central and Eastern European nations offers a chance for Beijing to present itself as a free trade champion. Yes, China's Li Keqiang pushes trade with Eastern Europe amid EU concerns. The Chinese premier is meeting with leaders from Central and Eastern European countries at a summit in Sofia as he aims to boost Beijing's trade interests in the region. But let's face it:  Li cannot afford to offend the European Union. The Chinese Prime  seeks to expand business and trade ties with Central and Eastern European countries at a summit in the Bulgarian capital yesterday. But Li must reassure the European Union that Beijing is not trying to divide the 28-nation European bloc. Li's participation in the seventh "16+1" summit coincides with an escalating trade row with the United States. Last Friday, the US and China slapped tariffs on $34 billion (€29 billion) worth of the other's imports. China also threatened it could launch "the biggest trade war in history." Well, is the world really at the brink or are well all already in the middle of all mess? China, which seeks the EU's support in its trade battles with US President Donald Trump, has thus been careful in its dealing with Central and Eastern European nations. "The 16+1 cooperation is by no means a geopolitical platform. Some say such cooperation may separate the EU, but this is not true," Li told a joint press conference on last Friday with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. "We hope that through our cooperation, we will improve the development of all countries involved and help them better integrate into the European integration process," said Li, who will visit Germany after the summit. The 16+1 summit brings together China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), including 11 EU member states. Besides China, the 16 countries that participate in the summit include EU members Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as non-EU states Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Ever since its launch in 2012, the format has been viewed by Western critics as an instrument for Beijing to divide and undermine the EU by dangling the CEE states closer trade and investment opportunities with China. But analysts say that in Sofia, the Chinese premier will try to avoid issues that might irk western capitals and the European Commission in Brussels. Let's hope and pray for it. "I think that Premier Li Keqiang will adopt a low profile on the issues that might infringe on community affairs of the EU this time around," Francois Godement, director of Asia and China program at the European Council of Foreign Relations, told Reuters news agency. Despite the substantial rise in Chinese investment in CEE nations in recent years, the region accounts for less than 10 percent of total Chinese money inflows into Europe. Most Chinese investment still goes to Western European countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy. The EU and the United States, meanwhile, account for around 90 percent of investment flows to the CEE region, highlighting their far greater importance to the region. Interesting is to know more about the question if  China is  on course with 'Made in China 2025' amid trade row with US? China –really a free trade champion? With Trump adopting protectionist trade and economic policies, China is increasingly positioning itself as a proponent of free trade. Li said on Saturday that Beijing will stay on the path of economic reform, and would be more flexible about allowing foreign products to enter its domestic market. "For foreign products which meet Chinese consumer needs, we will open the door wider to them to come into the Chinese market," he told the 16+1 summit participants. "We will lower overall import tariffs to the Chinese market," adding that his country would uphold free trade agreements. Again: regarding this topic, my today's column can only end up with 'TO BE CONTINUED'! Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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ROUSED TO ANGER?

June 22, 2018

Anger. A day rarely goes by without us feeling angry. It is not necessary to cite examples. Sometimes, it's just a minor reason like we hate the fly at the wall. Sometimes anger has important reasons.  Anger seems to become main part in our daily life. That's why it is really important to talk (again?) about this phenomenon. As I said, anger is one of the most basic emotions. Everyone can really get angry. If someone told you, he won't get angry, better don't believe him. Anger is a terrible feeling of being against something or someone. It can be my neighbor, because he is still (!) burning poisonous plastic and rubber garbage. Many of us get angry observing some politicians during those days worldwide. Anger is a hostile emotion that sets people against one and another, or even against themselves. By its nature, anger involves opposition, hostility, hatred and dislike. Anger, however, is simpler to define that to identify. Emotions of antagonism can take a wider variety of faces. Expressions of anger range from the overt, in-your-face brand of open hostility to the cold indifference of a silent individual. Anger at the workplace is becoming very common nowadays. One of my good friends works as stewardess. Imagine yourself 35,000 feet up, pushing a trolley down a narrow aisle surrounded by restless passengers. A toddler is blocking your path, his parents not immediately visible. A passenger is irritated that he can no longer pay cash for an in-flight meal, another is demanding to be allowed past to use the toilet. And your job is to meet all of their needs with the same show of friendly willingness. For a cabin crew member, this is when emotional labor kicks in at work. A term first coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild, it’s the work we do to regulate our emotions to create “a publicly visible facial and bodily display within the workplace”. At times, anger can be felt like an inner fire. It hits you in the gut. You see red and feel hot and maybe sweaty. Your stomach gives you problems, our blood pressure rises, and breathing rate increases. Not only neighbors or politicians are the reason of anger. The silent withdrawal and lack of understanding and innumerable shortcomings of a partner or in the family are often an indication that one is angrily punishing the other for not doing things his or her way.  Back to the workplace: unhelpful attitudes such as ‘I’m not good enough’ may lead to thinking patterns in the workplace such as ‘No-one else is working as hard as I seem to be’ or ‘I must do a perfect job’, and can initiate and maintain high levels of workplace anxiety. When research into emotional labor first began, it focused on the service industry with the underlying presumption that the more client or customer interaction you had, the more emotional labor was needed. However, more recently psychologists have expanded their focus to other professions and found burnout can relate more closely to how employees manage their emotions during interactions, rather than the volume of interactions themselves. Perhaps just only today you turned to a colleague to convey interest in what they said, or had to work hard not to rise to criticism. It may have been that biting your lip rather than expressing feeling hurt was particularly demanding of your inner resource. But in some cases maintaining the façade can become too much, and the toll is cumulative.  In another friend's last position, the “customer was king”.  She was working in a shopping mall. Many times, she got a tirade of abuse from several customers. “When I explained what happened to my senior, I was told I must have said or done something to warrant this response… I was then told I should go and apologize.” Yes, that's how it is! As I stated earlier: Minor things could become the start of anger. Over the years, handling the stress caused by suppressing one's emotions became much harder. Small things seemed huge, we easily dreaded going to work and  anxiety escalated.  Across the globe, employees in many professions are expected to embrace a work culture that requires the outward display of particular emotions – these can including ambition, aggression and a hunger for success. The way we handle emotional labor can be categorized in two ways – surface acting and deep acting. A few years ago, the New York Times wrote a “lengthy piece about the “Amazon Way”, describing very specific and exacting behaviour the retail company required of its employees and the effects, both positive and negative, that this had on some of them. While some appeared to thrive in the environment, others struggled with constant pressure to show the correct corporate face. “How we cope with high levels of emotional labour likely has its origins in childhood experience, which shapes the attitudes we develop about ourselves, others and the world,” says clinical and occupational psychologist Lucy Leonard.   “Unhelpful attitudes such as ‘I’m not good enough’ may lead to thinking patterns in the workplace such as ‘No-one else is working as hard as I seem to be’ or ‘I must do a perfect job”, and can initiate and maintain high levels of workplace anxiety,” says Leonard.   Workers are often expected to provide good service to people expressing anger or anxiety – and may have to do this while feeling frustrated, worried or offended themselves. Take the example of a particularly tough phone call. If you are surface acting you respond to the caller by altering your outward expression, saying the appropriate things, listening while keeping your actual feelings entirely intact. With deep acting you make a deliberate effort to change your real feelings to tap in to what the person is saying – you may not agree with the manner of it but appreciate the aim. Both could be thought of as just being polite but the latter approach – trying to emotionally connect with another person’s point of view – is associated with a lower risk of burnout. Good thing: many offices over the last decade have created recreational or rest spaces in a bid to mitigate employee stress. When things get tough, you might be very lucky  talking to colleagues to unload. “It’s the saying it out loud that allows me to test and validate my own reaction. I can then go back to the person concerned,” one of my former office mates in Germany explained many years ago. Those who report regularly having to display emotions at work that conflict with their own feelings are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion Remaining true to your feelings appears to be key – numerous studies show those who report regularly having to display emotions at work that conflict with their own feelings are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion. Of course, everybody needs to be professional at work and handling difficult clients and colleagues is often just part of the job. But what’s clear is that putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand their position is ultimately of greater benefit to your own well-being than voicing sentiments that, deep down, you don’t believe. Where it is possible, workers should be truly empathetic, be aware of the impact the interaction is having on them and try to communicate in an authentic way. Easy to say, yes, I know. But let's give a try! Email me at doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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NEGATIVITY KILLS

June 15, 2018

Sometimes, we feel our life is turning miserably. Our negativity doesn't allow us to keep our eyes, ears - and, most important! -  our minds, hearts and souls opened. Were reaching our breaking point. As I said several months ago here: this breaking point can be the prelude to our strongest moment. It is when we reach our breaking point, that we discover our real strength. Allow me to ask you, my dear readers, "What happens to you or with you when you reach your breaking point?" Do you face it or do you run away? I'll be giving you a very simple answer: If you face it - you break it. If you run away (and/or close your ears, eyes and mouth) - it surely breaks you! Everyday - a dull reality! Many of us will answer this question with a big YES! Actually we do like to cover a newborn day already with grey veil? Each day has a new face, but sometimes we don't have the strength to watch its countenance. Of course, not every day has adventures and highlights. But we enjoy quarreling and arguing. With other people and even with ourselves. Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that, at the same time, seemed especially desolating and painful with a particular satisfaction. Indeed, everything I have learned, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness.  If it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from your earthly existence, the result would not be make life delectable, but to make it too banal and trivial to be endurable.  By observation, we can feel that many of us need help to manage the everyday life. We need something that would keep us going as we journey through life. Many times we can also learn from other people and their experiences. Blue eyed or very philosophical but so very true: If the world is to be brought to order, a nation must be first changed.  If  nation isn' t be changed, my home town is to be reordered and must be first set be right, my dear brothers and sisters. And, one step further: If my family is to be regenerated, I MYSELF MUST FIRST BE! And here is one more thing: Affection is the humblest love - it gives itself no airs. It lives with humble and private things: soft slippers, old clothes, old jokes, and the thump of a sleepy dog's tail on the kitchen floor. The glory of affection, the disposition of mind, the good will and tender attachment, is that it can unite those who are not "made for one and another", people. Who, if not out down by fate in the same household or community, would have nothing to do with one and another. For me life has been a thing of ups and downs in approximately equal measure. I don't have something sensational to report every day about my progress. Often, I wonder if fulfillment in life is necessarily tied to change for the better. You can email me: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit one of my websites www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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TRADE WAR OR NOT?

June 2, 2018

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini doesn't want to use the word "war" when speaking about EU-US relations. It's true that the EU has to defend its interests, she says, "but we're not at war with anyone." Fine. But fact is, the EU caught between desire for retaliation and calm. No wonder! The EU doesn't want to just put up with Donald Trump's higher import tariffs and is mulling retaliatory measures. But German firms, in particular, fear that no one would profit from an escalation of the situation. And that's indeed true. While being off to Manila due to several events (Philippine Independence Day is just around the corner!), I got this in mind: Is Trump's Korea policy calculated chaos? As the US scrambles to reorganize a summit with North Korea, positive outcomes are far from certain. Rather than a calculated strategy, the Trump administration's disorganized diplomacy is leaving the world in suspense. Latest news on my desk: June 12 is final for the Trump-Kim meeting. Who knows?    Fact is also: the European Commission is hopping mad, and it's ready to fight back. For its president, Jean-Claude Juncker, the higher US tariffs are "protectionism, simple as that." The US, he says, leaves the EU with no other choice than to initiate a WTO case. However, a ruling by the world trade body is likely to take months. Also, US President Donald Trump has already signaled his country would withdraw from the World Trade Organization, should it side with the EU in its ruling. In other words, Europeans shouldn't pin too much hope on the WTO. Juncker said the EU executive would come up with an adequate response nonetheless, as retaliatory measures such as higher EU import duties on US products had been prepared ahead of the US decision. Among the American items to be targeted would be ships and other products made with steel, whiskey, peanut butter, Harley-Davidsons and Levi's jeans worth €2.8 billion ($3.27 billion). That's far less than the EU steel and aluminum exports to the US - worth €6.4 billion annually - which are affected by the Trump administration's decision. EU countertariffs could only be implemented after June 20, and it's unclear whether they will come at all. The bloc's member states will have to come to a joint decision, but positions currently differ widely. Higher US tariffs on cars would be a blow to Germany's auto industry. That's for sure! Of course, some EU states are not affected at all. Good for them. The managing director of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA), Gerhard Handke, told Reuters that not all EU member countries were affected by the higher tariffs to the same extent. He said there are nations that do not export steel or aluminum to the US at all. Handke argues that those nations are not interested in retaliation. Fine, but where is the spirit of an UNITED Europe? Yes, I know. It's gone already - as many Europe critics voiced out. By contrast, Germany is hit hardest. "Against this background, keeping the EU's ranks closed despite different national interests among the 27 members will be a tall order," Handke commented. Instead of coming up with comprehensive realiatory mesasures, he suggests the EU keep negotiating with the US.  He fears that otherwise there may be a devastating, psychologically induced impact on the market alongside the damage that businesses stand to incur. The head of Germany's steel and metalworking industry group WSM, Christian Vietmeyer, doesn't beat about the bush. "Any EU response that could lead to a further escalation and more trade barries would do even more damage — Brussels should stay calm," he said. German carmaker Volkswagen agrees that a spiral of sanctions and countersanctions would see no winners in the end. Donald Trump has already threatened to impose higher import tariffs on cars, which would deal a serious blow to Europe's powerhouse. So, trade war or not? And please accept by apologizes for using the term "war". Bernd Lange, who heads the European Parliament's INTA trade committee, is trying to combine a certain readiness to compromise with what he believes is the need to counter Trump's latest move with determination and resolve. "Trump is attempting to blackmail us, and that's why we have to initiate an adequate response without provoking further escalation," he told German public radio. He suggested the EU should also raise import tariffs, but not to the same extent as the Trump administration. And that's what will most likely happen next. Lange criticized German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who he said wanted to strike a deal with Donald Trump at all costs. "But no, we shouldn't negotiate a dirty deal under duress." Altmaier himself said people should remain level-headed. He told German public broadcaster ARD (the first German TV channel after WWII) he hoped a process of contemplation would kick in in the US given that many goods would become more expensive there with the imposition of higher import duties. The minister added that people should not be fooled by Trump's threats toward German carmakers, calling on Europeans to stand and act together and possibly teaming up with Canada and Mexico, which have already announced countermeasures. But not eveyone is willing to stay calm and treat the trade spat as a purely economic conflict. French President Emmanuel Macron took a look back in history. "Economic nationalism leads to war, and that's exactly what happened in the 1930s," he said. Gabriel Felbermayr, the director of the ifo Center for International Economics, sees "a Cold War in EU-US trade relations" on the horizon. Strong words, indeed! Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com. 

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Rest In Peace!

May 25, 2018

Ten years ago, I was still a freshman, when it comes to Internet and blogging. When I started my first own blog as German expatriate living in the Philippines, a very special social network came across my path. The Facebook! I started chatting with some media friends from allover the Philippines. Actually I started with "Friendster". Friends from the whole globe! Facebook was introduced to me as new site for college kids. Nowadays, May 2018, we're experiencing different headlines, when we it comes to social media networks. Despite scandals over fake news and data privacy, one thing is for sure: the social network Facebook is unlikely to disappear any time soon. Fast forward to April 2018: founder and CEO of “The Facebook,” Mark Zuckerberg, sat before US Congress trying to convince lawmakers his social network, initially set up as a way for students to stay in touch with each other, does not pose a threat to the stability of Western democracy and does not treat its users’ personal information with disdain. The hearing saw him admit that his company had not done enough to prevent the service it provides being used for fake news, foreign interference in elections and data leaks. In March, it emerged that a political consultancy called Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from millions of Facebook users without their consent. The scandal rocked Facebook to its core and has forced its founder to reconsider how it does business. In the latest round of his grand apology tour Zuckerberg faced the European Parliament this week (it's Friday, May 25, 2018 while writing this piece!) and faced even tougher questioning, just as Europe is poised to introduce new laws that will give it some of the strictest data privacy rules in the world: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Actually, during the first year, I found Facebook’s evolution and societal function both equally fascinating and disturbing. The biggest question of all that gnaws at the back of my mind is whether there is any stopping Facebook in the future?  It looks increasingly like the answer is no. “Friendster failed for simple reasons: the time wasn’t right,” says Bernie Hogan, senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. “Not only is it about the readiness of people to participate in a social networking site, but it’s also just about the nuts and bolts.” Friendster and MySpace helped blaze the trail for Facebook's global popularity, but they failed to achieve even close to the same success as their successor. The kind of engineering that allows Facebook to function every day simply wasn’t available back in the early days of the new millennium. But by 2004, internet speeds had increased and the coding that underpins websites had become more sophisticated. The technical limitations of earlier social networking sites like Friendster and Friends Reunited cleared the runway for Facebook. But despite technical barriers, those other sites paved the way for Facebook at a time when people were still a little wary of putting too much of themselves out on the internet. In the 1990s, internet users were warned against even sharing their first name online, but now words like “oversharing” and “selfie” are so common they are recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary. Facebook - bone or ban? Fact is, Facebook is becoming that de facto, online identity provider. I am with Twitter and LinkedIn. But bear with me, most time, I spend being online in Facebook. Once the mid-2000s rolled around, Facebook was also able to hire a lot of talented engineers from Silicon Valley, which helped it put together the kind of website infrastructure that could scale-up with an exponentially growing user base. Your Newsfeed doesn’t curate and customise itself – its launch needed engineers to cook up algorithms that picked the most valuable updates from your friends’ updates. But Hwang points to another serendipitous factor in Facebook’s global rise: mobile phones. In a lot of developing countries, people only have cheap mobiles to access the internet. In fact, a lot of these users think Facebook is the internet. “We can’t discount the power of mobile,” says Hwang. It’s made “social networks much, much more pervasive. You have social media at all times in your pocket, which makes it this powerful platform for news and conversation that operated in a slower way in the desktop-only era.” People are describing Facebook and its nine lives. As Facebook’s popularity has spread, so too have predictions of an imminent “tipping point”. One 2014 study from Princeton University forecast that Facebook could lose “80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.” This prediction was made long before the Cambridge Analytica scandal did so much harm to the company’s reputation. So, how has Facebook managed to accumulate the business equivalent of a cat’s nine lives? For starters, it has become so engrained and intertwined in the digital ecosystem of the 21st Century that it is hard to now untangle it. Oxford’s Hogan points to a concept he calls “interoperability.” This is where a Facebook login is often required to use and operate other online services. “Just today I went out to buy concert tickets,” Hogan says. “I had to log into Facebook. I don’t use Facebook, but I had to dust off my login. Facebook is becoming that de facto, online identity provider.” I am sure, you experienced the same my dear readers. Facebook also taps into basic human needs, according to psychologists. Even with social media movements like #DeleteFacebook, mass privacy concerns or even just calls to leave the site on the back of pedestrian design tweaks, people just can’t stay away. “Almost everybody comes back,” says Catalina Toma, associate professor of communication science at the University of Wisconsin. “Social networking sites tap into what makes us human: we like to connect with others.” Yes, we don't go out and meet friends somewhere for a chat or a beer or coffee. We are connected with them via Facebook. But there are tangible benefits beyond those that keep people hooked. “Lots of studies show the more people use Facebook, the more social capital they derive – resources that we get from just being connected to other people,” says Toma. “There’s emotional support, asking for advice, asking for recommendations.” For many Facebook users, the pros outweigh the cons: tracking down long-lost friends, getting leads to a job, expanding their business. They can deal with the glamorized glimpses. All this keeps people coming back for more, despite the onslaught of what Toma calls “glamorized glimpses”. These are the carefully curated peeks into the lives of everyone else, who all seem to be doing better than you. “They feel worse, but they cannot stop,” Toma says. I strongly have to agree! Facebook is bound to have a grip on our lives. “Social media companies seek to exploit one’s attention for profit,” Hogan says. “It’s not even ambiguous. It’s exactly what Zuckerberg said in Congress: ‘Where do you get your money?’ ‘We get it from ads.’” Right place, right time: the rise of internet-connected mobile devices in turn fueled the rise of Facebook. But even after the Cambridge Analytica disaster – Zuckerberg eventually published an apology to the 87 million Facebook users whose data was inappropriately shared  – there’s still no stopping the social media steamroller. “Facebook’s business is still going to accelerate,” says Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at New York University who wrote The Big Four, a book about how powerful a tiny handful of technology companies are becoming. “Consumers talk a big game but where is the first place they go to express their rage? Facebook and Instagram. And with 2.2 billion monthly active users, advertisers have no choice but to be on Facebook.” That could change, though, as advertising dollars follow young users who abandon the platform. Still, there’s plenty of stability with older people – even among senior citizens. The site’s true future could boil down to what world governments decide to do, if anything, about Facebook’s growing influence. “I don’t think the question is [what is] ‘killing Facebook’,” says Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I think the question is what would get people to an appropriate use of Facebook. To the extent that we ‘knew’ about it before, we found ways to put it out of mind. Now, we can no longer do this.” We’re now all too familiar with the dangers of data leaks and fake news. Let's face it: there’s also the simple fact that Facebook has a monopoly. “Facebook’s sheer size and cash on hand means that they can either acquire or effectively shut down any competition,” says Galloway, pointing to examples like WhatsApp and Instagram, which were eventually absorbed into the Facebook behemoth. For now, Facebook is still so entrenched in our daily lives, there’s not going to be an immediate escape.“What’s more likely to happen is that people start to realize the markets and economy might be better off – by stimulating innovation, creating new jobs – if we were to break it up and have multiple firms instead of just one,” Galloway says. That’s the more likely outcome than Facebook just crashing, burning and disappearing altogether, according to the experts. For this to happen, governments will crack down on regulation to make Facebook less powerful. And while Facebook’s success has satisfied our human needs for connections, its sheer size, massive user base, and staying power has brought with it unprecedented scrutiny – like the kind we’ve seen this week in Europe. Rest in peace, Facebook? Surely a big NO! Email:doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook Twitter or LinkedIn or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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DO YOU PRAY?

May 19, 2018

When tragedy strikes, it's easy to harden our hearts and cry out, "God, why did you let this happen?" Maybe then, we started praying. Before, when everything goes smooth, we would not even think a minute about praying... . "To be a Christian without prayer, "said Martin Luther, "is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." Prayer is the only way of becoming what God wants us to be. This is the reason, why Jesus spent many hours in praying. Unquestionable, our needs bring us to a place of prayer. Confronted with danger or tragedies, as I mentioned earlier, we look for God's help. Difficult times always cause the hearts of men to turn to God into prayer.  Let me ask you: How long has it been since your're brought your burdens to God? Since you asked His forgiveness for your shortcomings?  In his very interesting book "People in Prayer", Dr. John White reminds us that prayer is a divine-human interaction and it is always God who takes the initiative. White write: "God speaks and we respond. God is always speaking. To hear his voice is not usually a mystical experience. It consists merely of a willingness to pay heed to God who lays a claim to our lives." Yes, God always speaks. It is up to us whether we will listen and respond to Him. Many think we are the ones who initiate prayer. But prayers begin and end with God.  There was a time, I wasn't in the mood to pray any more. It seemed that God didn't listen my prayer any more. I didn't get what I prayed for. Of course, not... ! That's not the meaning of praying to God. All my wishes will be granted? Heaven forbid! Sometimes, after we have prayed, God's answers may puzzle us. But as time times goes by and as events unfold we see God's purpose in his answers. We might get a larger vision, what HE likes. Not what WE like... . Think about it for a moment" How does the idea that prayer begins and ends with God affect me now? Do I have the habit of listening to god? How do I respond to Him? How do I usually pray? I confess that long time ago I have been trying to persuade God to change other people in my surroundings or circumstances. Nothing changed. Of course not, what a fatal attraction? I got confused because God never granted my requests. Meanwhile I got God's answers to my prayers. Maybe very simple: I was willing to let God change me... .This is how each one of us should start. Happy endings. Because I prayed according to His will... . Nowadays, I live a wonderful life in my second and last home, the Philippines. I never regretted to move here for good. I said this already many, many times. I have everything I could ask for. I can do everything I wish to do. Thank you Lord. Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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