Category Archives: Blogs

Nice to meet JEW!

By Liora Shleptastic (pseudonym) posting on behalf of Crossing Faith…

~

I often happen to be the first Jew many people meet. The fact that I am Jewish becomes apparent to anyone who asks for my name and realises that it has Hebrew origin. The most common reaction to my background usually involves a reactionary pause where I observe them conjuring up their most polite response, which often includes a big smile and a high pitched “Cool!”. The Jewish people make up 0.2% of the world population. This means that the majority of people on earth, especially in non-western countries, never meet a Jew in their lives. Representing such a loud yet small sector of the world I have learnt to welcome the 50 questions that follow the revelation of my identity.

  • So, you haven’t tried bacon? What about chicken parmigiana? You HAVENT tried parmigiana???
  • What’s with the little hats?
  • Does your dad have those curls and the long jacket?
  • Are all your friends doctors and lawyers?
  • What do you mean you don’t celebrate Christmas?

And my personal favourite,

  • “So why don’t you like Jesus”?

As I grew more confident with the process of explaining 3000 years of history, biblical text, religious commentary and the evolution of Jewish culture in casual conversation, I have started to appreciate the privilege I have in breaking former misconceptions and humanising a tradition that many may have previously dismissed. And I really do see a transformation in the course of the conversation.

The fact that the Jewish religion/ tradition doesn’t try to convert or project itself has shaped the way in which I interact with all people and discuss Judaism. When I answer questions about why I keep Kosher or don’t go out on Friday night, I am not trying to prove that this is necessarily the right way to live. I emphasise that the Jewish tradition binds me to my ancestors and brings beauty, inspiration and purpose to MY life. I don’t at all frown upon anyone who doesn’t follow the tradition. My relationship with Judaism and God inspires me to learn about how other people live and connect. I see no contradiction. I have been to every church, mosque and temple I had the opportunity to visit. I love seeing the faces of the devotees and being touched by their songs and prayers. I see religions and traditions as windows into the various human expressions of hope, devotion and community. And they are all beautiful!

If there is one message I would like to leave you with, it is that you should keep asking questions with an open mind and an open heart. Religion is a fascinating vehicle for the full spectrum of human capacity and we can all be inspired by taking a moment to genuinely inquire.

~

Liora Shleptastic (pseudonym) is a very close friend who brings light to all those, who she surrounds. We all have so much to learn from this beautiful individual- how to be gentle, how to be kind and how to be tolerant and loving even towards those who may at times not do the same for us. Liora Shleptastic- a beautiful representation of Judaism. A beautiful woman. A beautiful human being. 

Fighting bigotry with bigotry

I got carried away watching suggested videos on YouTube and came across a video titled “Cheating husband caught sleeping with his wife’s mother for four years*” (Don’t ask) I thought that this situation was pretty ludicrous so I decided to read some of the comments, just to see what other people think of the scenario. I stumbled upon the following comment:

“eat pork become like pigs usually westerners[sic], thanks God no such cases in muslims[sic]”

In response to the above statement, someone else wrote:

“muslim scum bastard, stick to what your [sic] good at, selling smack, and blowing shit up…”

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 3.17.20 pm *Face-palm* As I recently mentioned in my previous post, you don’t have to be of a particular race to be a bigot; you just have to be a bigot. Both of these comments upset me on the same level and to the same extent. As I have mentioned  in my post “But (s)/he started it”. you cannot justify your intolerance towards someone else simply because they were intolerant to you first. If we can just for a second accept that eating pork makes you become a pig (and eating beef makes you become a cow, eating a salad makes you become a leaf etc.) I wish there was something that people could eat to become tolerant, respectful and accepting of one another.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

Reclaim Australia

"Don't mean to awkward everybody out but heaps of non-white people rallying in support of Reclaim Australia."
“Don’t mean to awkward everybody out but heaps of non-white people rallying in support of Reclaim Australia.”

This post recently came up on my Facebook news feed. My equilibrium is deeply unsettled for the following reasons:

  1. That a campaign such as Reclaim Australia exists in the first place. especially given that it is not run by Australian Indigenous communities.
  2. That Reclaim Australia is actually a fancy term for anti-Islam.

Throughout my blog posts, I have mentioned time and time again that xenophobia, intolerance and bigotry are not exclusive to one particular race, religion nationality etc. You don’t have to be white to be racist and intolerant…you simply just have to be racist and intolerant to be racist and intolerant. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

You don’t have to agree with something to be respectful towards it. If you can’t be respectful, then be indifferent, but by no means actively go out of your way to be disrespectful. Is it really too much to ask for?

“We always have the choice”

Having experienced xenophobia and intolerance ourselves does not give us the right to be xenophobic and intolerant towards someone else. We need to learn from our negative experiences to create as much positivity in the world as possible.

“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. We always have the choice. “

– Dalai Lama

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

The irony of stereotypes

As I have already mentioned in my previous posts, like “Bikinis, Niqabs, oppression and assumptions” and “Good luck to him, he married a foreigner”, there are just as many stereotypes about the West in Middle Eastern countries as there are stereotypes about the Middle-East in the West. A lot, if not all, of these stereotypes are completely incorrect at worst, or distorted at best.

One of my Iranian friends (who lives in Australia) has a relative (who lives in Iran) who honestly believes that all Western women are prostitutes. The relative of my friend believes that all people in the West recreate pornographic movies by attending pool parties where young men and women walk around half naked, rubbing oil on one another and procreating with anything and everything that moves. Funnily enough, I have never been to such a pool party in Australia, but I have witnessed such an occurrence in Iran. The parties that I attended in Iran were 100 times more risqué than those I attended in Australia, or any other Western country for that matter. Either I have been going to all the wrong events in Australia (and have clearly been missing out) or the stereotype that my friend’s relative has set is not an accurate representation of Western social events.

To make myself very clear, I have nothing against people who are sexually liberated and choose to attend social events where everyone walks around naked and openly has sex with one with another, but it’s just personally not my thing. I was particularly shocked to see this happen before my eyes in the Islamic State of Iran. It wasn’t something I was expecting to see. It took a lot of willpower to resist the urge of filming what was happening around me and showing it to my friend’s relative and saying- “Do you see this? This happened here, in the country in which you you live, not in a Western country…. please explain”. Don’t worry I didn’t do it. The relative of my friend’s world of “Iranian is good; Western is bad” has remained intact. The only footage I retained is a memory of the hilarious irony of what I witnessed.

*Please note: I specifically restricted this post to dismantling a particular stereotype that some Iranians hold about Westerners. I can just as easily dismantle stereotypes that Westerners hold about Iranians, but the post would be too long. I acknowledge that this specific post is one-sided and does not give a balanced perspective of the various stereotypes people of different cultures hold towards one another.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

A plot twist to the “Not Without My Daughter” scenario.

To recap, the movie “Not Without my Daughter” is about an American woman (and her daughter) who needs to escape from her husband in Iran. This film has now apparently set a precedent for the fate of all Western-women who date/marry Middle-Eastern men (sarcasm intended). I discuss this particular phenomenon in one of my previous posts titled “Not Without My Daughter”.

Given the way in which this film has depicted Iran, I can imagine how it could seem somewhat unfathomable for a woman of Western origin to live in Iran with her Iranian husband and children by choice. Nonetheless, I met such a woman during my travels in Iran.

This woman I met was from England. Her husband was originally from Iran, but held a British citizenship. The couple has two children: a teenage son and a daughter under the age of 10. This woman told me that it took her a long time to convince her husband to move their family to Iran. Her Iranian husband was, at least at first, against moving with his wife and children to his motherland. When I asked the woman why she chose to move to Iran, she answered with the following simple statement- “to have a better life”. Usually this answer is the precise reason why Iranian people choose to live abroad.

The woman told me that her children faced racism at school in England from both peers AND teachers. The entire family unit experienced racism and Islamohobia in England. She went on to follow that neither she nor her children experienced any such racism in Iran. She also told me that the financial position of the family was improved by moving to Iran- her husband was able to make a greater profit, giving his wife the opportunity to work less and spend more time on their children, as well as giving the whole family an opportunity to travel more.

I am sure that there are unfortunate fates of Western women like that of Betty Mahmoody (the protagonist of the film “Not Without My Daughter”); the movie is after all based on a true story. Conversely I also presume that there are Western women, like the woman I spoke to, who have exercised their free will and have chosen to lead a happy life with their family in Iran. The only difference is that Hollywood won’t make a movie out of the fate of the woman I spoke to, as it did with the unfortunate fate of Betty Mahmoody.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

Is atheism a religion?

Sometimes in criticising that which we believe to be closed-minded, we become just as closed-minded as those we aim to criticise. For example, non-religious people can be very critical of the devoutly religious, but in their criticisms, they become just as closed-minded as the people they seek to criticise. It is important not to become closed-minded in seeking open-mindedness. In attempting to discredit something for being ignorant, intolerant and dogmatic; it is important not to become ignorant, intolerant and dogmatic ourselves.

Atheism can be just as dogmatic and impenetrable as theism. Believing that God exists or believing that God doesn’t exist can still be narrowed down to believing. Sometimes believing in something makes us so focused on our specific belief that we fail to take anything else into account, including the lack of logic in our own beliefs (I think the same can be said for knowledge). In the words of JP Sears*- “Rebel against dogmatic religious terminology by dogmatically using spiritual terminology…You don’t see that you are actually still subscribed to the exact same belief system, you’re rebelling against; because now you are expressing the same concepts just with new words.”

Theists believe in God and seek to prove that God exists, and atheists (who do not believe in God) seek to prove that God does not exists…both are trying to prove something- and this proof usually comes in the form of intolerance towards anyone who has an opposing belief. This intolerance usually manifests itself through venomous phrases such as- “Religion is the root cause of all the violence in the word” and “Genocides have been committed by atheist, like Mao, Pol-Pot and Stalin”

What makes atheism or religion either violent or peaceful are the individual people who subscribe to either atheism or religion. We cannot afford to make blanket statements like “all religious people promote violence” or “all atheists are immoral” because these stereotypes are simply not true. Both atheists and theists (hopefully) want to build a peaceful world without wars and violence, they just want to go about it in different ways- without God and with God. In putting each other down, we take steps further and further back from our goal of building a more harmonious and peaceful world.

For me personally, whether atheism is perceived as a religion or not is irrelevant. Forcing people to adhere to your ways, whether you are an atheist or a theist is wrong (For more on this point, please read my blog post titled “Do you prefer tea or coffee?” ) What matters most is finding a way for everyone to respect, appreciate, accept, understand and finally coexist with one another.

http://steve.rogueleaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/140308-Tit-For-Tat-Atheism-Religion.png
http://steve.rogueleaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/140308-Tit-For-Tat-Atheism-Religion.png

* Check out the video “How to be Ultra Spiritual (funny) with JP Sears- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kDso5ElFRg 

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

Laws, morals and humanity

In country A, it is legal to do X, but in country B it is not legal to do X. Just because people in country A can do X, doesn’t necessarily mean they should do X. The legality of doing X may not be as important as whether or not it is morally correct to do X.

If a law corresponds to what is morally correct and people oblige that doesn’t necessarily mean that people follow the law because it’s the right thing to do; they may be simply following the law, because the failure to do so will result in punishment. A law may be morally abhorrent, but people follow it anyway and justify their doing so simply because it is “the law”.

A simple example comes to mind from my personal experience. When I was travelling in Vietnam, I noticed a lot of Western tourists smoking inside restaurants and bars. It is illegal to smoke inside such establishments in the countries in which said tourists live and for good reason; however they chose to smoke inside the restaurants and bars in Vietnam not because it was the right thing to do, but simply because it was not illegal.

Quite frankly, I am scared of law-abiding citizens who do not question the morality of the laws they follow. If a law was passed today that made it legal to kill people with blue eyes, I am sure that it wouldn’t take long for a blue-eyed person to be “legally” murdered by a “good” law-abiding citizen.

https://gaudiumchristi.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/14-babies-left-to-die-wa/
https://gaudiumchristi.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/14-babies-left-to-die-wa/

History has been a witness to the various biases against certain groups of people. During the time of slavery in USA, people of African descent were legally treated as chattel, not as persons. In Australia, until quite recently, it was legal for a man to rape his own wife. In Nazi Germany racial segregation and extermination was legal. The list goes on. Clearly slavery, marital rape and racial segregation and extermination are morally wrong, but the laws were nonetheless maintained.

Furthermore, history has shown that the “good” law abiding citizens who participate in morally abhorrent activities are more often than not well educated. To quote Dr. Haim Ginott-

“I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education.

My request is:

Help your children become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.”

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

Do you prefer tea or coffee?

This post has been inspired by the following image that has been shared on Facebook-

subway bunnings

(*Subway is an American fast-food restaurant franchise that sells sandwiches; and Bunnings is an Australian hardware and household chain)

Whenever I have discussions with people about sexual preferences and religion, I usually always refer to the following analogy-

You like tea, and the person next to you likes coffee. If you convince the person next to you to drink tea, will your tea-drinking experience be somehow enhanced? Will it make your tea taste better? Likewise, if the person next you convinced you to drink coffee instead of tea, would their coffee now taste better as a result? Given that the obvious answer is “no”… converting a tea-drinking person to coffee of a coffee-drinking person to tea, will do nothing more than make a tea-drinker adhere to a coffee-drinker’s personal choice, or make a coffee-drinker adhere to a tea-drinker’s choice. A person, who freely elects to drink tea or coffee, should understand that others are just as free to make the same decision. There is a reason why both tea and coffee exist.

“Tea” and “coffee” can be substituted for “heterosexual” and “homosexual”, or “religious” and “not religious”, “vegetarian” and “not vegetarian” etc. I really cannot understand how people feel entitled to get “offended” by someone else’s decisions to prefer “tea” over “coffee” or vice versa. If you feel entitled to make a “choice” between “tea” and “coffee”, the person next to you is just as entitled to make the same “choice”. Their choice should not offend you, and your choice should not offend them.

As long as we have mutual understanding, mutual acceptance and a mutual desire towards peace and coexistence, it really doesn’t matter who drinks tea and who drinks coffee.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.