Defending free speech for all is terribly hard, but there is hope

Why are good and right things never easy to do? We seem to struggle to live out our principles even at the best of times, but catch us on a bad day and we can utterly fail in that endeavour. Whether it’s standing with the helpless, defending someone’s rights, or holding back our road-rage, we know we are weak and in constant need of a radical heart-change. So whether you do or don’t support Israel Folou’s position or behaviour or court case, if you stand for free speech for all, you must be consistent in your stand. Israel Folou is infamously known for stating his beliefs on Instagram with a post about those in sinful lifestyles and that hell is awaiting them. Since then, his contract with Rugby Australia was terminated, after his actions were considered at a Code of Conduct hearing.

The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract.

“Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union made the decision to pursue the termination of Israel Folau’s contract because of a serious breach of the Professional Players Code of Conduct. The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract. ” – RUGBY AUSTRALIA AND NSW RUGBY STATEMENT

NSW Warratahs

What has now followed has been a question of freedom of speech and whether Rugby Australia has breached fair work practices or laws by Folou’s sacking. Folou is currently seeking legal action for damages and, as he says, to defend his freedom of speech. He had a fundraiser to cover legal fees on GoFundMe, which was then subsequently removed by GoFundMe on the basis that it had violated their policy. The Australian Christian Lobby has since offered support to Folou and set up a fund for his legal fees.

Chief Executive Rob Solomon said Folau’s original request for donations was flagged as “high risk” within hours of going live with donations refunded in full.

He told News Corp Australia it was noted as “high risk” of violating its policies but said the company was “wide open for business” for religious causes.

Recently the online fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down Israel Folau’s legal defence fund and turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.

On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent.

I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer.

Australian Christian Lobby

Do you find it hard to stand by your principles when you have to stand up for people you don’t agree with? Free speech for all is a nice concept, but will you defend your enemy in their right to say what they want to say? My guess is you would find it hard. We are complicated, contradictory people, and loving our enemies is probably the hardest thing we will ever do. On this issue of free speech some people wouldn’t have a big problem. But how about loving your enemy in general? Jesus had some pretty tough words to say to his followers about his kingdom:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Bible Gateway (Matthew 5:43-45)

Our standards seem pretty weak compared to the ones of the eternal kingdom. We can’t even keep our own standards. But that’s why Jesus came, so hypocrites, liars, drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, etc. like us could receive grace through his death and resurrection. And Jesus, the King of this coming eternal kingdom, has given us the Holy Spirit to help us want to do the right thing. Now if that doesn’t give you strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, I don’t know what will. Keep fighting on behalf of your enemy!

Do you have thoughts or questions? Leave them down below! In terms of Folou, I’ve come across many a comment that this is not a freedom of speech issue. Regardless, my point stands, whose freedom of speech do you struggle to uphold?

I’ve donated my blood fifty times – you could do it too!

Have you ever reached a milestone you have been proud of? Maybe you finished something that took years or many long hours to do? This year I passed making 50 blood donations*. I’m not incredibly proud of this achievement, but when I consider all the decisions and efforts needed to get to that number, I am grateful for reaching it.

I just attended a celebration event with the Red Cross where people were thanked for donating blood and stories were shared of lives changed by donors. There were people there who had reached 50 donations, as well as 100, 150, up to 350 donations! The highest milestone in Western Australia this year was a person who donated over 700 times. It’s impressive how faithfulness to a cause can get you to reach such a point. It’s made me think how small steps over a long time can lead to great achievements. So here is my encouragement for you to continue or start a journey in faithfulness.

Pic: My dad and I, and a red blood cell

When I started my journey in donating blood I had no aspirations to reach a number, and I still don’t. It was just a matter of doing something I believed had value. It was something to do with family and something selfless to do for others. I was 17 or so when I first donated, and now I’m 28. Over that time I certainly wasn’t always a faithful visitor to the blood bank, but in the last couple of years I made a concerted effort to donate regularly. The numbers started to add up. It became a normal part of my routine. When I reached 50 donations, I was simply happy, as it was a sign I had been healthy and able to do that much.

*Most of these have been plasma donations, which meant I could donate every 2 weeks. Whole blood donations require a 3 month wait period between times.

Why am I commited?

I have many motivations for the different commitments in my life. With donating, I’ve found several. The more people I come across, the more I realise donating blood is an honour for the healthy and available. There are a plethora of reasons that much of my family finds it difficult to donate. I just happen to have big arm veins and healthy body and the willingness to do it. So I donate not just for myself, but also for those who can’t or find it hard.

At the Red Cross event we heard two very moving stories of the impact of blood and bone marrow products had on children and their families. It’s given me a renewed desire to give and to encourage others to do the same. One of the stories was from the Tate family. Their three children all have no immune system! They need blood transfusions every three weeks. Watch below for their experience:

What about you?

So I encourage you to find something worthwhile and sticking at it. It may be for a season of life or end up a lifelong commitment. For this post, may I encourage you to consider donating blood. It’s a relatively small commitment. For me, it takes at most 45 minutes to donate plasma, not including travel and the interview and health test. You will probably never meet the patient in need, but every person is worthy of the blood in their veins. Their family will be thankful.

I thank God for the way he has made us, so that we can help one another in this way. He is worthy of all the honour and glory I got at the event. My life, my blood, is not my own but was bought at a great price. So I must glorify the Lord in my body.

Head over to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (or to your own national blood service) for more technical info and to book your donation!

What I experienced in Lebanon last year

Last year in May I took part in a Muskathlon. In short, it’s a fundraising trip where you go to a country to support and learn about life-changing local ministries. You also take part in a walk, run, or cycle there.

In the lead up to the Muskathlon in Lebanon, I was asked a series of questions for the Open Doors blog. You can see my little piece (my name is Peter) along with something from the other members of the Aussie team.

At the same time, I received another set of questions to answer post-trip. Here are my answers.

After months of training and fundraising, what was it like crossing the finish line?

I ran half a kilometre to the finish line after 62km of walking. I was exhausted, but alive. I remember being fueled by anger at injustice, desire to finish well, and the joy of comradery. I also was getting very sick. (I’ll talk more on this another time.)

My experience of crossing the finish line was not straight forward. Yet, I’m glad I am able to still tell the tale with joy in my heart.

What has this experience done to your faith?

It’s made it all the more precious. To hear the stories of faithful believers, who have given up so much for their faith and ministry was a true blessing. To be with “muskathletes” who had all made sacrifices to be on this journey gave me such joy and encouragement. The power of prayer moved me and had a personal impact on me through my sickness. I am certain God used all I experienced to continue to grow me to be more like his Son.

Could you share one story (or one experience) that you will remember from this trip?

We were taken to a community centre run by a church. It was on the outskirts of refugee camps. The couple of hours we spent there were with Syrian and Iraqi refugee children, playing games and running activities for them. It was a chance to pour out love on these hurting kids for a little while. We had a blast, playing ball games, piggy-back chasey, and giving them snacks.

Everyone got a gift at the end, which was either sweets or a home-made crocheted toy.  I was struck with the thought of this being where love met suffering. Love came against suffering and swept over it with a force that would be felt for at least a little while. My hope and prayer for these children and other children like them, is for people to show love to them. They need a lot of grace and a lot of care. Life has been devastating for them, yet Christ is love and offers eternal hope.

What would you tell someone who was thinking about travelling with Open Doors, or doing a Muskathlon?

I would tell them a lot of things. Be ready for your faith to be challenged. You will see the faith of your brethren in Christ who’ve suffered through persecution. There is no doubt that persecution will come for believers if they are faithful and outspoken servants of Christ. Yet in some places in the world believers experience much higher levels of attack. Be ready with lots of questions and hearts ready to learn.

You must be ready to suffer. A Muskathlon is not a walk in the park. You are expected to aim for a half or full marathon, a 120km bike ride, or 63km hike, all to be done in less than a day. You are expected to aim for $10,000 in fund-raising for Open Doors*. All this effort takes its toll on your daily life when you are in the midst of it. Expect disappointments and exhaustion. Expect feeling like you can’t get the preparation done and wondering if it will be worth it.

You must be ready to be a team player. Trips like this stand and fall on team work. You need to be on-board with one another, supporting each other in your weaknesses, and loving each other. The leadership will be seeking to draw you all into a state of single-mindedness about the trip. They will guide with devotions, teachings, instructions, etc.

Finally, you must be ready to be filled with joy. Trips like this are a long journey that start with a prayer, a building of interest, or an invite, but will be carried by joy. Your team will support you and you will learn to depend on God more fully; the hard times will drive you to your knees and that will give you peace and joy. You will find reserves you didn’t know you had; you will discover your weaknesses and strengths. You will have joy as you entrust yourself to God.

 *Or Compassion International, depending on the trip.

Thanks for reading! Maybe you can consider going on a Muskathlon through Open Doors or Compassion.

Compassion Muskathlon in Indonesia – Deadline: End of May!

Open Doors Muskathlon in Jordan – Deadline: End of May!

Featured pic: Me running across the finishing line!

That Story Show! – Keeping It Real & Real Funny

Stories have always had an appeal for me. Whether it was growing up with fictional adventures in books or movies or real-life ones from around the world, I love stories. I even made a couple of my own short stories over my school years. After discovering the world of podcasts, my search led me to ones that told funny true-life tales. I found there were a couple of clean comedy podcasts to enjoy, and I was set.

A podcast I’d like to share with you is That Story Show (Formally Nobody’s Listening). It’s a show that ran from 2006-2016 with 260 episodes. It’s creator is James Kennison, who was a children’s pastor at one point, and he had a range of co-hosts, including his brother David and friends, plus other guests.

The Rundown

In the show, the typical format is of a Weekly Update section, then Featured Story, and Listener Stories. There is then a Recap Song at the end to run over some key stories of the podcast. James and his guests start by sharing funny things that happened during the week, and bounce off one another with similar experiences. The featured story tends to be from the hosts, but could be a special one from a listener. Throughout the show James interjects with quick one-liner puns or comments, infusing each moment with energy.


The dynamic nature of having two or more people on a podcast is what can make (or break) a podcast, and this show really works well with multiple hosts. As brothers, James and David had shared experiences, and were able to present the humour from both sides. Each co-host provides different perspectives and stories. I have yet to listen to all the 260 episodes with all the different co-hosts, so more fun is yet to be had! The longest running co-host was John Steinklauber, who was around for about 140 episodes. He stands out as my current favourite co-host with his genuineness, funny voices and laugh.

What I Enjoy


James Kennison, host of That Story Show

One thing I value from the show is the hilarity of hearing awkward true-life stories told in interesting ways. I love good story-telling, and this show does it well. There is never a dull moment. Another thing I value is James’ openness to talk about being sick. From 2012 to 2014 he suffered through extreme depression with multiple disorders and stopped the podcast. Yet once on the road to recovery, James started That Story Show up again, and was able to share bits here and there about his experience. I’m grateful he didn’t hide his health troubles and was able to return eventually to making people laugh, and maybe getting a bit of joy back from it, too. That’s all testament to the support of his family and wife, whom he thanks in each episode with, “…thanks to our spouses for letting us record…,”. The public face of a podcast are the hosts, who get the praise, but the silent support of their family and spouses normally doesn’t get noticed or appreciated. I like that this podcast acknowledged that support each week.

Some Things To Know

That Story Show contains an abundance toilet-humour and the hosts are also not afraid to poke a lot of light-hearted fun at how Christians act and think. While I think these are good reasons to enjoy it, I can imagine they might put you off. While the show was running, there were months and years of long silence due to James’ sickness, etc., but listening to it now you won’t have the frustration of waiting for a new show!

If you’d like to check out That Story Show, or another podcast of James Kennison’s, hop over to for his full list. I’m sure you could find one right for you!

Thanks for reading!

NOTE: Pics taken from Sticher and James Kennison’s website.

Why I need to memorize Psalm 139 again

EDITORS NOTE: This blog was written before the Muskathlon trip in May, 2017. Therefore in it I ask for support and prayer. The trip is over, but if you feel like supporting Open Door’s ministry in Syria, go to Cheers!


God’s Word never ceases to be helpful and relevant to my life. I would say all believers would agree to a similar sentiment. We always have new temptations, new pains, old habits that aren’t dead yet. God’s Word, by His Spirit, answers our questions, and rebukes or encourages us in living for Him.

I have a story about memorizing Psalm 139 and finding it so relevant and comforting for me.

I was in Kigali, Rwanda. It was back in January 2012, and I had just realised I had missed my flight home. I was devastated. I thought I’d really messed up. The strong control I thought I had on my life turned out to be very fragile.

Well, I gathered myself and booked flights home for the next day, using the Internet on the foyer computers in my hotel. That night I fussed and pouted around for hours. I was a mess. I couldn’t sleep or stop stressing. And then I took out a Bible, I don’t know whether it was mine or the Gideons from my hotel drawer. I went straight to the Psalms, as tends to be my prerogative when I’m stressed out |-/.

Well I landed on Psalm 139 and found it a boon to my tortured mind. It’s written by King David about how God is all knowing and in control of all his life, and how that frees David to honour Him with his life.

Here’s some of it here, plus listen to the whole psalm being sung by clicking on the video:

 “You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:1-6)

Youtube: Sons of Korah – Psalm 139 – Still with you

At the time I felt compelled to memorize the psalm to calm myself, and it did.

From then on it’s been my favourite psalm because of my experience and how God comforted me with it.

Now, as I head into the unknown with this trip with Open Doors, I feel I need a right perspective of life. God is my Lord, maker and heavenly Father. He knows all about my life and all I do which is good is thanks to Him. I am putting myself into other people’s (no doubt capable) hands and going into Lebanon, a “place of unrest”.

I think it’s time to again memorize Psalm 139 (and probably other passages), and this time I’ll be more equipped for any crisis before it happens! That is, if I trust in God to be with me.


Thanks for reading!


Have you any more questions about the Muskathlon and Open Doors? Click here to be briefed on most of the trip details you need to know.

The crisis in Lebanon and what I’m going to do about it.

EDITORS NOTE: This blog was written before the Muskathlon trip in May, 2017. Therefore in it I ask for support and prayer. The trip is over, but if you feel like supporting Open Door’s ministry in Syria, go to Cheers!

The Syrian and Iraqi civil wars have affected many people. Obviously the millions of people displaced and/or fleeing due to the conflict were the hardest hit and should be thought of first. But think also of the many nations whom have had these refugees rush in – and sometimes through – for protection and freedom from war and persecution. Many millions of people have been affected by this crisis and it has created a very complex situation. For this argument, and since I’m travelling there, I’ll focus on Lebanon.From what I’ve read about Lebanon and Syria, two bordering nations, there is a lot of bad blood due to religious persecution and other conflict. An Open Doors interview of a Lebanese pastor quotes him saying, “We have a history with Syria—they occupied our land and destroyed everything, creating a hatred in our hearts towards Muslims and towards Syrians.”


Not only that, but imagine if a fifth (over 4 million) of the population of Australia of refugees flooded over here, seeking food, shelter and jobs. We might be crippled as a nation.

Well consider Lebanon. It has an area of 10,452 km²*, and before the war it held 4 million people. Now it holds over 5 million due to refugees. The pastor speaks on this: “They create a very big burden for our economy. They are seen as taking our jobs, that is why the people don’t want them. I see that many Lebanese are not helping them. That means they end up living in tents in the camps, in garage boxes, or three or four families together in a small apartment. Many knock at our door for help, begging for whatever help we can give in their difficult situation.”

It’s not an easy road for anyone there. But it’s not hopeless. Churches are taking on massive projects to bear the load and share God’s love with the refugees. Border camps have been set up to take on the flow. Schools and food and supply rounds are being run. Much is being done, and much more is necessary.


So here I’m stepping in to change the world! Well, maybe just Lebanon and maybe just a very small portion of it. I have no thoughts of grandeur here; the job is massive and I’m one person. But I can’t let this situation pass me by. I must do something about it. I must support the Church in it’s role of God’s hands and feet in a place of crisis and hate.

My trip is paid all by me (with some support from Open Doors), and so all the money raised through this fund-raiser will be used in Lebanon. Primarily the money will go towards food packages as well as other emergency relief items to be delivered to refugee camps there. A smaller portion will go towards Open Doors materials which teach the gospel of Jesus.


As with most wise charities, I have been told by my team leader we won’t be bringing in any provisions/materials from Australia. We’ll let the experts who know how best to use the funds to do the shopping.

Please support me in any way you can! Whether it’s through funds or prayer or getting informed and telling others, I will appreciate it so much. Hit the big red button to donate and share this story on the socials (like Facebook). Thanks for reading!

Have you any more questions about the Muskathlon and Open Doors? Click here to be briefed on most of the trip details you need to know.

*For size comparison, Perth’s area is 5,386 km², and much of our land is habitable.

What’s up with me going to Lebanon? – A few thoughts.

EDITORS NOTE: This blog was written before the Muskathlon trip in May, 2017. Therefore in it I ask for support and prayer. The trip is over, but if you feel like supporting Open Door’s ministry in Syria, go to Cheers!

You may be wondering why on earth I’m going on a trip to Lebanon, visiting refugee camps, and walking 60 kilometres in less than a day. Well I wondered that too. Here

20170314_184830 (1)

One day of training

are my thoughts.


I’ve always quite liked physical challenges all my life. Whether it’s been ‘Little Athletics’ and water-polo, or trekking the Kokoda Trial with my dad and now this 60km walk in Lebanon, I’ve taken pleasure in challenging myself to do hard things.


I also quite like to travel to experience and interact with different places, people and cultures. In the past seven and a half years I’ve stayed in two different southern states of India (Tamil Nadu and Kerala), been to Rwanda, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and went on a road-trip through the USA by myself. Yes, I’ve been around, but never to the Middle East. I hope to learn and grow from my time in Lebanon.


I love and care for the plights of Christians being mistreated, even being forced to flee their homes and countries, simply because they are Christians. The July 2014 story in Mosul, Iraq, of militant Muslims making an ultimatum for Christians and an identifying sign being placed on houses of Christians ( awoke me from my apathy about what was happening in the Middle East.

Many years of dinner-time prayers for persecuted Christians around the world and faithful teaching at my local church of ten or more years have nurtured my developing care for the world-wide Church.

Paul teaches the church in Galatia to do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galations 6:10) I feel many of the the New Testament writers urge us to care for believers in need, whether it be spiritually, emotionally or physically.


So that’s why, I want to physically, emotionally and spiritually challenge myself with this trip. I want to serve my brethren (and all people in need) through Open Doors. I want to raise funds for them with your help! I want to walk 60km in under a day in Lebanon. For God’s Kingdom and glory. For the preservation of his saints. For Christ.

Thanks for reading!

Have you any more questions about the Muskathlon and Open Doors? Click here to be briefed on most of the trip details you need to know.

Why I’m Standing One With Them

The Church needs us and we need the Church.

As believers we have many gifts from God, and one of them is each another. Our fellow brothers and sisters in our local church, and in churches worldwide, are the body of Christ. We are all members of it. When one part suffers, all suffer with it. When one part is honoured, all rejoice with it¹. Have you experienced this? How well have you displayed this? I often stand condemned when I see the picture in the Bible I’m meant to fulfil. I fail every day to love my fellow believer as I should. Yet in Christ we are forgiven of our failings. We need to humbly confess them and seek to be obedient at the next opportunity.

The picture of a connected world-wide body of Christ is beautiful and exciting and hard to live out. And that’s why I love the work done through Open Doors. Through their ministry I have become more knowledgeable and filled with love for the Church in areas where it is experiencing the worst persecution. I need this connection, and so do they.

We can learn so much from the Church that assists members who’ve lost family to targeted attacks, children who are bullied at school for their parent’s faith, and believers who’ve been forced from their country. Some questions come to mind: What enables them to love so much and speak with such power? What do they pray for each day? Do they ever feel like giving up?

They are a part of the Church with much to teach us, and with a great need for support. We cannot ignore our fellow brothers and sisters. They might lose hope and give up or may die without our prayers to comfort them. Just like we have times of great struggle in our lives of service for God, they too experience trials and temptations, sometimes to the extreme. Who will stand with them in their situations? Who will care, but the Church? We are together the one body of Christ, and so let us support our members who suffer, and suffer alongside them.

Last year in May I visited a local Lebanese church with Open Doors. They are ministering  in Lebanon to Syrian refugees, who are in camps on their doorstep. The majority are Muslims, and many are questioning their faith and coming to trust in Jesus. We met a beautiful sister who shared how she came to believe in Christ in Lebanon and how she was experiencing serious persecution from her brother and family. We prayed for her then and there. It was such a sorrowful and beautiful time. It was the body of Christ in action! See some photos of my trip below. Click to enlarge.

This Easter Open Doors is seeking to provide support for the persecuted church at a time where it is especially dangerous to be a Christian. Celebrations like Easter are dangerous times for believers to gather in churches, as they can be and do get violently targeted by extremists. Two Egypt churches were targeted at Easter last year by suicide bombers, and other countries have experienced similar attacks. Open Doors is asking us to stand One With Them, praying for them, and donating a day’s wage for them. And I’m not standing one with them just because Open Doors has asked. I am standing one with them because we need them and they need us. To God be the glory. May his Church remain faithful this Easter.

¹1 Corinthians 12:20-32 (

My Personal Struggle with being a Slacker

There’s one character flaw that I constantly beat myself up over, and it’s my lack of self-control. I have other flaws I struggle with, of course, but I feel self-control is especially an issue in my life. I lose to sin all too often when I can’t control my desires. I soak in internet entertainment after work and on the weekend, emerging only when I’m thoroughly tired or there’s a meal to cook or eat. I procrastinate on a lot of obligations I have until it either becomes urgent or someone hounds me enough about it.


Now it’s not as if I’m always a slacker and can’t manage showing up at my work, or do house-work or even tax. I work five days a week as a painter under a boss I’ve known for nearly 7 years now, and have not missed a day to laziness (although I do often turn up a few minutes late). I try to keep the kitchen clean and mow the lawn, among other things. The issue is when there are no constraints, and my behaviour doesn’t seem to affect others or I’m quickly forgiven for it anyway. These are even things I enjoy doing, like writing this post, that I rarely/never get around to partly due not controlling myself.

I’ll be quick to add there are other factors to why I’m a slacker sometimes. My work is very physical and I tire from that. I also have early starts at 7am and sometimes travel for a while to get to work. These things play a factor in my behaviour, but don’t excuse it either.

What are the dangers about a lack of self-control, though? Surely we can survive a few weekends where we slack off and tune out the world? Or consume one too many snacks at a party? Well, I guess the parameters of where not having good self-control can be dangerous are complicated and apply to each person differently. What might be okay for someone to over do might become an all controlling addiction for others.

“A man without self-control
    is like a city broken into and left without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

One thing to also think about is whether something is sinful, regardless of the frequency of the behaviour. We aren’t called as Christians to easy living but rather to make “the best use of time”¹. If we are behaving badly because we lack self-control, we are disobeying God’s Word. Paul, in the letter of Titus, encourages a church leader to have the older, wiser woman teach the younger woman a whole list of things including “to be self-controlled”. The young men are just to be urged to have self-control². I can take a message like that. Focus on self-control. Fight for it, trusting in God to provide the strength to win. Teach others and show by my behaviour that it’s possible.

And that’s all, folks. As always, thanks for reading. God be with you. Pedrozki (Pete).

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¹ Ephesians 5:15-16

² Titus 2:3-6

Main picture: “Green Iguana” by Shankar S. Photo used under Creative Commons Licence 2.0 (attribution). I did not edit this photo.