Peace and the heart of blogging

100_0395Part of this has been re-blogged.  Life’s rich pageant, as a comedian used to say, has run me over this week, so I’ve returned to the thoughts in this blog.

I had read a novel by a distinguished prizewinning writer, polished it off in a few hours, turned over and went to sleep. And in the morning I awoke thinking how depressing it was… not one man or woman who was inspirational, kind, or good – everyone ambivalent and self-absorbed. Then I remembered one peripheral historical character, whose real life contribution to the care of the wounded in World War One is one of the more fascinating true stories of that time. He was a man of integrity, compassion and genuine goodness. And as I thought about him, I felt my whole body relaxing, and a smile on my face. I thought to myself how much I love reading about goodness.

I thought about Mildred Norman, the Peace Pilgrim, that amazing woman who for twenty-eight years walked the length and breadth of the States seven times. She carried nothing but a few items in the pockets of her jerkin which was emblazoned with the words: Peace Pilgrim. From 1953 until her death in 1981, she walked to remind people of peace.

She walked through the Korean War, all through the Vietnam War, and on through all the other conflicts, until the day she died. She had no means of sustenance, she ate when she was given food, and slept wherever she was, and usually people recognised her goodness and gave her a bed…” walking until given shelter, fasting until given food”. When she reached 25,000 miles in 1964, she gave up counting.

Wherever she went she talked of peace, saying: “We who work for peace must not falter. We must continue to pray for peace and to act for peace in whatever way we can, we must continue to speak for peace and to live the way of peace; to inspire others, we must continue to think of peace and to know that peace is possible.”

Ironically she was killed in a car crash while being taken to speak to a meeting. But her disciples carry on her message. She was seventy -one, a gentle, silver- haired blue-eyed woman with a tanned complexion.

Then there was Don Ritchie, ‘The Angel of the Gap’. I can’t read about this beautiful man without tears blurring my eyes. He retired as a salesman, and bought a house with a marvellous view of the ocean just outside Sydney, which also overlooked a famous suicide spot. He spent the rest of his life looking out of the window at that famous view. Not to enjoy the view, but – “for a far greater purpose,” as one obituary put it – to rescue those who came to end their lives.

As soon as he saw someone lingering there, he walked across to them smiling, with his hands out, palms up (what a beautiful, instinctive gesture of peace and non-violence). “Is there something I can do to help you?” he asked.  He talked to them until they were ready to pick up their shoes and their wallet and their note, and to come back to his house where his wife had a cup of tea waiting for them.

Sometimes he risked his life struggling with those who were determined to jump. The official count of the lives he saved is a hundred and sixty – four, but those who knew him believe the figure to be nearer five hundred. Bottles of champagne and cards arrived for him for years after from those whose lives he’d saved.

He used to say: “never under-estimate the power of a kind word and a smile”. He died last year at eighty-six, proof that no-one needs special training to serve their world, that love makes a difference, that great goodness is to be found in ‘ordinary’ people ( if indeed they are ordinary) as well as in spiritual mentors…

This goodness is what I’ve found in so many blogs I read. Some I never miss… not witty or intellectual or spiritual, but filled with a sweetness and a simple goodness that lights up my day… they make me think of that haunting little Shaker hymn ‘Simple Gifts’… because their goodness is a gift, and it’s a simple uncomplicated sort of goodness, spontaneous and undemanding. Reading these gentle blogs about ordinary events and everyday lives filled with weather and animals and growing things is like smelling a flower.

In the last few months I’ve come to a deeper appreciation of the world of blogging. I’ve come to see that for many people it is their life-line. There are those who are sick, but never reveal it, who use blogging as their way of meeting and communicating with others. There are those coping with family illness, death and other domestic challenges, who receive kindness and understanding and a listening ear from the blogging world, and who in their turn open our eyes to the depths of life, and teach us truths about the human condition. As they share their ordeal, their pain and questionings, we bloggers also gain from the perceptions and understandings and resolutions they reach. And there are some who use blogging as a comfort and a support as they search for a job, or a purpose, or tackle a new challenge.

And blogging is an education. As it links us all from around the globe, we learn about the lives and countries of other bloggers. More importantly we share their feelings and gain greater understanding of our global village. And in the year or so that I’ve been blogging, my general knowledge has expanded as I’ve read scientific blogs, climate blogs, artistic blogs, literary blogs, mystical blogs…

But the kindness of bloggers is the heart of it all. That’s why I think blogging has a part to play in raising the consciousness of the world. Even the self-imposed conventions of conduct that we observe, never criticise, judge or write anything hurtful … to be supportive and respectful, are habits that can make the world a kinder place. Kindness stimulates the flow of peace and goodwill which is what will in the end, transform the world into a village, where we know and care about each other, and where, in Thich Nhat Hahn’s words: ‘peace is every step.’ The heart of bloggers is becoming a part of the beating pulse of the world… Namaste, my friends.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Felled by a gruesome couple of visits to the dentist, I needed something to eat that didn’t need chewing. So I de-frosted 500gm of minced chicken and sauted some chopped onion and some celery in a little oil and some butter. When they were soft, I added a cup of grated carrot, some chopped garlic cloves, chopped thyme and a couple of bay-leaves, a squeeze of Worcestershire sauce (you can leave this out). Add the chicken to the pan to quickly brown, and then tip it all into a casserole with some chicken stock to cook slowly in the oven – less than 150 degrees.

This, eaten with creamed potatoes, and pureed peas was just what was needed, and also passed muster with the other hungry threadbare gourmet in the house. And there was enough for another meal.

Food for Thought

Life has a bright side and a dark side, for the world of relativity is composed of light and shadows.

If you permit your thoughts to dwell on evil, you yourself will become ugly.

Look only for the good in everything, that you absorb the quality of Beauty.

Paramahansa Yogananda 1893 – 1952  Indian guru and author of ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’

 

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62 Comments

Filed under bloggers, cookery/recipes, great days, life and death, love, peace, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

62 responses to “Peace and the heart of blogging

  1. In war there are no winners, yet peace seem so hard to embrace…maybe because it is so easy.

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  2. I think we have to do it ourselves – we can’t rely on politicians to make peace… so we have to start with ourselves, knowing that any hostile thought or judgement stops peace in its tracks – so mindfulness is probably the only answer to bringing peace into each life…

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  3. Blogging educates, entertains and inspires me. These global connections should give us plenty of opportunity to spread tolerance, patience, kindness and peace. You’re right, Valerie. It begins with each individual.

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  4. First: a joy to see the persimmons on the blue plate. I have half a persimmon on a blue plate next to me as a whole one was too large for me to finish at lunch time. I love the taste of persimmons but, even if I didn’t, I think I would still buy them just for the pleasure of looking at them. Second: I also find it hard to read books or stories or articles that are without goodness in them. Lastly, or really everlastingly, may peace be with you, and all of us, dear Valerie.

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    • Such a lovely comment, thank you… I don’t eat them, but do actually buy persimmons just to look at – have done every year for the last thirty ! but a few years ago I discovered that the birds, especially tuis, blackbirds and wax-eyes love them, so I nail one or two on the garden fence, and watch them out of the window! I so loved your last sentence, and wish I knew your name to wish you peace in person, dear friend !

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      • I am smiling from ear to ear that you do actually buy them just to look at. Do you not like their flavour? The secret with the NZ persimmons is to eat them when they are crunchy or just barely past crunchy. To me they taste like a cross between a melon and a papaya with a twist of smooth creaminess. As for my name, I will give you a little word game because you are very interested in words. My real name means lovable or capable of being loved.

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      • Oh alas, I’m no good at puzzles, riddles or crosswords… all I can come up with are words for love, like amor, or caro… not Caroline, surely….

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      • Well the amor is closest! As in amo, amas…..Actually that was naughty to tease you. I think you should have said “Rumplestiltskin” to teach me a lesson. Kind regards Amanda.

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      • Exactly… couldn’t get past the old conjugations !
        Love the idea of Rumpelstiltskin… if you are anxious to maintain your anonymity I can call you that !!!

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      • I really don’t mind too much. I am very fond of my name. It is fun to be Gallivanta though. I used to have an elderly Italian friend and he loved to call me Cara, cara Amanda It sounded divine in his lilting Italian accent.

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  5. “Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.”
    ― Paramahansa Yogananda

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  6. I remember the day that I read the final page and closed the book on a best seller autobiography and said to myself: “never, never, never again will I ever read something like that again!” We have so little time that we must be careful to read only what is edifying, challenging, even difficult, but where the words bring joy and hope into our lives.

    Another brilliant post that defines and extends the dimensions of our blogging community. I love the “angel of the gap.” A kind word, a smile make the different between hope and despair. I am glad that we are on a journey that builds bridges and creates windows of opportunity for everyone – not just a few…

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    • Rebecca, thank you for your lovely words… I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I found your re-action to the book you read fascinating… as you say, the negative is a waste of time, and also drags us down… The kitchen sink school of writing is rarely uplifting!!! Onward and upward is our path now !!!!

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  7. Juliet

    How wonderful to dip into your blog and to read good news about special people who make a difference to the world in the most humble way. This post was balm to my soul, Valerie.And at the top I feast my eyes on my favourite winter fruit: persimmons.
    I hope you are having a gentle recovery from the dental work.

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    • Hello Juliet, What lovely words, thank you…yes, persimmons are a treat for the eye…and I love their name…
      Yes, almost back to normal thank you, and then back again in a few days to the dentist… I’m looking forward to making that date to meet…

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  8. Clanmother and Valerie, indeed the Angel of the Gap story is amazing. I read it aloud to my husband and daughter and my eyes strung a leak. What an amazing man and what a mission he and his wife had. I also admire him for his willingness to change his open-arms-with-hands-up gesture into a firm struggle to prevent the desperate to jump. For ever desperate soul on earth we need an Angel of the Gap, don’t we?

    Valerie, this is your second positive post on blogging and you have made me see blogging in a more positive way. I have always been afraid for vanity and narcissism after I read degrading comments on blogging in general. It was Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times (I enjoy her articles) who said: ‘Everyone is blogging, carried away by the vanity of having an platform, and the fear of what happens if they don’t’. I’m afraid that for a whole lot of blogs she is right. I even tested myself to see if I felt bad about not blogging -taking a blog sabbatical- but I actually felt better with the anonymity. However, if you have a hobby or business or you love to share something, you are right in every sense that there is a kind and inspirational community out there willing to connect, give valuable feedback and share inspiration. Having said that, there are a lot of bloggers who mainly talk to themselves about themselves.

    Thank you for your touching stories and if there is one blogger who should continue to share, it is you.

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    • Paula, thank you for your long and thoughtful comment… I had n’t realised there was so much negativity around blogging… I came to it without any pre-conceived ideas because I didn’t know anything about it … but you’ve made me think, and I suppose it’s like any other human activity – a mirror for our souls…and each person creates a blog in their own image ! And all judgements like the writer you quote are subjective, and reflect the writer’s opinion’s and point of view
      I feel I’ve been so fortunate.that the blogs I’ve been attracted to and the bloggers who’ve been attracted to me are written by such lovely people..
      And thank you so much for your encouragement, it means so much to know that one is connecting with others who feel the same… and are travelling the same path…

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  9. Wonderful post as always.

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  10. Thanks for this post, couldn’t agree more with you!
    Food for Thought, reminded me of that Native Indian story of two wolves… Brief version 🙂 , a young man comes to his grandfather and says, “There are two wolves inside of me. One wants to kill and destroy, and the other one wants to make peace and bring beauty. Which one will win, Grandfather?” The old man answers, “Whichever one you feed.” xox

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    • Lovely to hear from you… I love that story of the wolves… I’d forgotten it, and it’s always good to have a reminder, thank you…And of course it is so true…and is almost the answer to everything !!!

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  11. Super post. There seems such a focus on the negative side of human nature and of life generally. How many ‘good news’ headlines does one ever see in the media? And, even with inspirational people, there is a tendency to scratch for, and trumpet, the Achilles’s heel.

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    • Thank you so much for your comment,. so glad you enjoyed it… yes, I think we just have to make a point of avoiding the negative… which isn’t hiding one’s head in the sand, but taking sensible evasive action to stay positive oneself !

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  12. The great joy is having the capacity to find a positive twist to many stories and experiences. The challenge is keeping positive when your spouse is negative and pessimistic.

    I love your post, and find it beautiful, sincere and uplifting.

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    • Thank you so much for your comment, Ronnie… I do know the challenge of living with a pessimist ! It’s a constant reminder in staying positive oneself !!
      Thank you for your lovely words, I’m so glad you enjoyed the blog

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  13. Dear Valerie, as always reading your post has given me not only food for thought but a positive start to my day. Some people don’t understand how standing for peace and kindness by spreading great human stories make a difference but it does. Every single thing counts. Today I am wiser and more determined than ever to continue to spread the word of peace, kindness and understanding. Thank you.

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    • Thank you Lesley for your lovely comment… yes, you’re right, hearing of the good that others do is inspiring isn’t it. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post… that word kindness has been coming at me ever since I posted my blog. I think it’s in the aether… that lovely word is everywhere…

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  14. Such a beautiful post, I had goose pimples on my arms reading it. I rarely comment but I just had to do this, you’re an inspiration Valerie and people like you do make a difference!
    Christy Nelson.

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    • Christy, what a lovely comment – thank you so much for connecting and for your encouragement… that’s the lovely thing about blogging, connecting with those who feel the same…warm wishes

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  15. Amy

    Hi Valerie, “And blogging is an education.” Reading your kind words, beautiful stories, food for thought.., like hearing “The Sound of Water” (your beautiful book). I always feel I am educated, inspired, and uplifted after visiting your blog. Thank you so much for the re-blog! Hope everything is going smoothly for you the rest of the week.
    Love the beautiful photo!

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    • Amy, you are such a loyal and encouraging friend, thank you so much for all your lovely words, not just today, but always…
      And I love it that you notice my photos – I’m having such fun these days with the camera… a new toy, and another gift of blogging. I would never have attempted it if I hadn’t started blogging ! XXX

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      • Amy

        Had not been the WP blog connection, I’d be staying in line forever to get to talk to you 🙂 I’m so grateful… Thank you so much for visiting my humble blog.

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      • Dear Amy – I love your blog, and am awed at the places you get to see and to share with us, as well as your discerning eye…

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  16. This post touched me deeply Valerie and I am sharing it with the few friends and family on fb today. Peace, Dohn

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  17. Oh, Valerie! Thank you once more for an outstanding post! I, too, think blogging is creating a village of us in the world. I have been so delighted and stunned by the goodness and the connection that I have had — and still have– with people near and far, here and there, all around the world.

    It truly is a small world after all!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    ¸.•°❤❤⊱彡

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  18. Thank you for sharing the story of the man who watched the bridge. What a beautiful soul.

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  19. Thank you Maggie… he was something, wasn’t he…

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  20. Luanne

    Valerie, this is beautiful. As I was reading a discussion on a recent post on my blog, I thought about a woman I have met who represents for me the sort of people you have written about here and decided to write about her this weekend. Thanks for reinforcing my decision to write about her for my next post!

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  21. Luanne, – first of all, how good to be able to use your name !
    So glad you enjoyed the blog… it’s the joy of blogging that we all spark and stimulate and inspire each other isn’t it !

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  22. You have such a great writing skill Velma and the part of this post concerning blogging is wonderful. I have also found love, kindness and fun. We are also giving the choice of pick and choose which blogs click with us and we are able to go even deeper by liking, commenting or emailing from which bonds of friendship form. Love to my friend.
    Ralph xox 😀

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  23. So beautifully said, Valerie, and so very true!

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  24. “Even the self-imposed conventions of conduct that we observe, never criticise, judge or write anything hurtful … to be supportive and respectful, are habits that can make the world a kinder place.”

    Another beautiful post, Valerie! I have been wondering if above part is a general truth, though. For example: if we don’t criticise the self-imposed world government (Bilderberg Group) who managed to ruin democracy world-wide and triggered the world-wide crisis (all details of evidence on my blog) and if we only write kind words about them – would they be so kind to stop their project, to stop killing many millions, and instead just live and let the others live? I seriously doubt it.

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    • No I was thinking of individuals. I agree that we have to resist tyranny in whatever form it appears…No – kindness is not the answer to tyranny !
      What bothers me is that too many people are too apathetic to resist,
      I think your blog does valuable work in bringing all the misuses of power to our notice….
      so good to hear from you…

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      • Thank you for your lovely, empathic response, Valerie. Your supporting words arrived at the time when I needed them the most.

        I do have to admit, what I am craving is peaceful blogging in havens like your inspiring pages, and it feels lonely to deal with those thorny issues. Yet, I feel I need to fill the gap, because with each day I discover more that confirms my concerns, and because I think we need more voices out there to preserve our freedom and reverse the current process.
        You are exactly spot-on: the majority is apathetic to resist or even deal with and think of these concerns. (Uncanny- I have been working on a post that has the word apathy in the title)
        It is probably because people tend to believe the myth that democracy something that is done for them, not by them. Another myth is equating democracy with casting our votes in every 4 years – not many are aware that people under the communist dictatorships were allowed to do that much: to cast their votes for their leaders.

        Any “democracy” where the majority don’t realise that they are the bosses, not their elected representatives, is doomed to death.
        If not even the free spirited bloggers can be moved to join the quest to save our freedom, then who can be?

        Thanks so much for listening and for your understanding – for allowing to pour my heart out.

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      • Apologies for not replying sooner I’m struggling with my second week of unresolved dental issues, and hardly coping !
        I really valued what you had to say, and it was a privilege that you felt like sharing it with me. I know it’s easy to feel discouraged, but know that you are in the right place at the right time, and what you do is really valuable…I just hope you know that the cause is not lost- that there are many others who in their own way are doing their best for the world too.
        I do believe that goodness and love will prevail, and use it as a mantra – ” may only love prevail” – warm wishes to you, Valerie

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  25. Brilliant post, Valerie, saying all that Ithink and feel about blogging and the friends I ‘m making through becoming a blogger. I was trying to explain to one of my daughters today why I make time to blog every day and how I love the comments and conversations that start. Tomorrow I shall give her your blog to read.

    Thank you for those two life affirming stories too and for another tasty sounding recipe though I’m sorry that your visit to the dentist was the reason for the meal. I hope your mouth is feeling much better by now.

    All the best to you and yours – love the quotations too! 🙂

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    • Hello Sally, thank you so much for your lovely comment… yes, it’s hard to explain to non-bloggers what a rich slice of life and enjoyment and stimulation we enjoy when we become bloggers, isn’t it ! Thank you, all is well after the dentist now – until tomorrow ! Last visit !

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  26. Well said Valerie. Smiles are contagious, spread it around! I always do… 🙂

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  27. Thank you for this beautiful post full of sweetness and wisdom! 😀
    Wishing you good health for the teeth, too.
    Much love and peace,
    Steffi

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  28. Thank you Valerie for taking the time to read and “like” my posts, which brought me here to read this beautiful post about something very dear to my heart. I sign off on all but a few professional emails with “Peace” in the hopes that even that small act may bring a little more of it into the world. I love that you have made the connection between blogging and the influence we can have on the world, if we so choose.
    Peace, Dawn

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    • Lovely to hear from you Dawn, good to be connected. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post… I do truly believe that we are part of the conscious raising of the world, and even in just a year of blogging, I’ve seen people becoming more open about their beliefs and sharing their spiritual selves, peace to you, Valerie

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  29. Reblogged this on euzicasa and commented:
    Oh, I love Persimmons…too bad they are so…sweet.
    I have to persimmon responsibly! Yes, that’s what I’m going to do!

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  30. Even the word persimmon is beautiful, isn’t it George!
    Thank you so much for re-blogging, a great compliment…

    Like

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