Category Archives: Recent Posts

“Won’t somebody please think of the children?”

Think-of-the-children

Image: http://memegenerator.net/instance/31914460

Marital rights have finally been granted to same-sex couples in America. It’s about time. While this is awesome news, there are some people out there who try to masquerade their intolerance towards the issue. They masquerade it by saying things like- “I’m all for gay marriage…but I just don’t think that gay couples should have children”. For me this kind of sentence is the same as saying: “ I support gay marriage, but actually not really…I just said that so you don’t think I’m homophobic”. It’s kind of like those people who say “I am not racist, but… [insert something racist here]” It also reminds me of one of my relatives who said “I personally have nothing against homosexuals, I just don’t want them around my children” (Refer to my post titled “Russian homophobia”)

The sorts of things I have been hearing from these “kind-of” supporters of marriage equality, is that we shouldn’t allow same-sex couples to have children, because (1) its not natural or physically possible for them to do so, and (2) their children would have a difficult time being accepted by society. Firstly, lets close down all the IVF clinics…if you can’t have a child naturally, you don’t deserve to have a child at all. Need I say more about point (1)? As for concern (2), instead of changing our outdated, backward social values and perceptions, we should just make everyone assimilate and adhere to them, because that’s the best thing we can possibly do for the children.

Perhaps children of divorced parents are in some way disadvantaged, should we make divorce illegal? Perhaps children of single mums or single dads are disadvantaged, should we make it illegal for single women or single men to raise children? Perhaps children of deceased parents are disadvantaged, should we make it illegal for people to die? The list of rhetorical questions is endless.

Clearly, the underlying issue is the intolerance and xenophobia in our society towards many things that are outside the perceived norm. But, instead of dismantling that intolerance and xenophobia we just come up with some Band-Aid solution. Instead of addressing the issue of WHY children of same-sex couples would be disadvantaged and how we can prevent that from happening, we just won’t let same-sex couples have children and avoid that kind of issue all together. We’ll just cover up our xenophobia and intolerance by “thinking of the children”.

It would be like my husband and I choosing not to have children because our kids might be bullied and disadvantaged for having parents with differing cultures, nationalities and religions. Yeah, our kids might fall outside the scope of what is considered “normal” by society, but we shouldn’t have to forfeit our parenting rights, we should instead challenge the social concept of what “normal” means.

I remember reading a Facebook post about a little boy who wanted to wear pink shoes to preschool. His mum was warned that he would be teased and bullied by other kids. The easy solution is to prevent the child from wearing the pink shoes, but the right solution is to challenge social norms. Instead of adhering to social norms to prevent our children from being bullied, we could just teach our kids not to be bullies. Instead of making everyone “fit in”, we could just dismantle the negative and destructive moulds that society has set up for us to squeeze into.

The real issues at play here here are xenophobia and intolerance. These are the issue that we should be addressing directly. We need to stop creating solutions that pussyfoot around the core of the matter. Precluding same-sex couples from having children will only exacerbate the very xenophobic and intolerant views that need to be eradicated from our society.

So what would it actually mean to “think of the children”? Make the children adhere to social xenophobia and intolerance, or create a society in which xenophobia and intolerance do not exist?

~

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…”.

“Islamic Extremism is a ‘Muslim’ issue”

Ahhh, the world of Facebook…full of wonderful insights and keyboard warriors- there’s never a dull moment. A Facebook “friend” recently posted a status stating that that issue of Islamic extremism needs to be confined to Islamic communities: “South Korea has their issues and they keep it within their borders. Jews have their issues and they keep it within their borders…why do these [Muslim] extremists feel the need to cause trouble outside of their own community? Unlike any other group of people.”

*Face-palm*

I have so many issues with the above sentiment but I won’t waste too much time dismantling the things that are obviously wrong, I will just say one thing before I get to the crux of the matter. I didn’t realise that South Korea had ‘their issues’…I am going to presume that the writer of these wise words meant North Korea but was temporarily geographically challenged. Irrespective, the oppression that North Koreans experience is not just the problem of North Koreans…it’s a global problem. In the words of Martin Luther King, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As I am writing this, I am experiencing déjà vu. This kind of mentality reminds me of a woman I described in my blog post “Collective concern, collective responsibility”, who said the following words- “what happens to Africans in Africa is Africa’s problem. Its none of my concern, its not my responsibility.”

The essence of what the Facebook user is saying can basically be summarised as follows: if Jews kill Jews its okay but if Jews kill Muslims its not okay; if Muslims kill Muslims that’s okay, but if Muslims kill Christians its not okay and so on. It’s basically like saying “if they kill each other that’s ok, but heaven forbid they kill one of “us”. I have concerns for this “us” and “them” division.

Labelling Muslims and terrorists under the category of “them” and everyone else under the category of “us” is not only a very primitive way of looking at the situation, it’s blatantly wrong. Islamic extremism is just as frightening to Muslims as it is to anyone else. Limiting Islamic extremists to terrorising other Muslims and no one else doesn’t actually fix the issue. All it shows, is that we are tolerant to violence that happens to “them”, but intolerant of the very same violence when it applies to “us”.

I feel like I am constantly repeating myself, I have already stated that not all terrorists are Muslim in my blog post “Do you have any Jihadi friends?”. But the sentiment of “Why do these [Muslim] extremists feel the need to cause trouble outside of their community? Unlike any other group of people.” – implies that Islamic extremists are the sole perpetrators of terrorism.

There are a lot of people who cause trouble outside and inside of their own community, but the media simply does not label these individuals as terrorists. The media labels them as ‘depressed’, ‘troubled’ or some other nice word other than ‘terrorist’.

When Dylann Storm killed 9 people declaring that “blacks are taking over the world” and “someone needs to do something about it for the white race”, his actions were described as “pure, pure concentrated evil”. His actions were not described as terrorism, even though they could have been. I am sure that if he were Muslim and substituted the word “black” for “non-Muslim” and the words “white race” for “Islam” the word “terrorist” would have appeared all over the media.

When Elliot Rodger shot 6 innocent people and proclaimed that he will slay every person he sees on the street, he wasn’t labeled a terrorist. When pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully crashed flight 9525 and caused 150 people to die along with him, he wasn’t labeled a terrorist. People actually went out of there way to try to prove that Lubitz had converted to Islam and crashed the plane for a jihadi purpose. People created lies to rationalise in their heads that someone other than a Muslim could intentionally crash a plane and kill 150 people.

When Anders Behring Breivik shot 85 innocent people and set off a car bomb that killed 7 he was seldom (if at all) described a terrorist by the media. Even though Breivik’s motivation behind the attack was to eradicate Islam and Marxism from Europe, you don’t really see the media throwing around the word “terrorist” next to his name. If Breivik were a Muslim, who’s actions were motivated by wanting to eradicate the world of Capitalism and Christianity the word “terrorist” would have been thrown around left, right and centre.

The media, along with a lot of people who buy into what it says are so quick to pair up the word “Islam” with the word “terrorism”. Terrorism is terrorism, however according to the media it’s only terrorism when Islam is in some way involved. Even if it is terrorism and Islam isn’t involved, someone out there will do their best to make it look like Islam was involved, exhibit A: Andreas Lubitz.

~

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…”.

Thoughts

As per usual I will start off with a story, which on this occasion doesn’t actually relate to tolerance, but I will do by best to weave it into the theme.

I was at the gym the other day and I had picked up what I thought to be a 10kg barbell. It felt significantly heavier than usual but I accredited that feeling to tiredness. After I completed my designated exercise, my husband pointed out to me that I had actually lifted a 20kg weight (the disks on each side weighed 5kg each but the bar itself weighed 10kg- do the math). I had attempted to lift a 20kg barbell before but couldn’t push through the pain. On this occasion I had done the same amount of sets and reps as I would have ordinarily done with a 10kg barbell, but I was in fact lifting 20kgs.

I was really impressed to find that what I had thought to be physically impossible for me to do (given my present strength, or rather a lack thereof) was actually a product of what my mind had created and believed. I had accidentally tricked my mind into believing the barbell was 10kg and my mind granted my body the ability to lift a 20kg weight. As my husband pointed out to me, for someone who has read “The Power of Now”, I shouldn’t consider this experience a revelation. To be fair, the experience didn’t reveal anything that I didn’t already know, but it reminded me of how powerful my thoughts are in affecting and shaping my physical reality.

I honestly believe that the thoughts we have about others and ourselves can play a big role in the events we encounter in our lives. As explained by the law of attraction “by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.” (Wikipedia).

As I have noticed from my own personal experiences, annoying things are more like to happen to me (such as tripping-up over thin air, losing my keys, getting articles of clothing stuck in the door, locking myself out of the house etc.) when I am in a bad mood. Usually the reason I am in a bad mood is because I have experienced negative thoughts about myself or someone else. Hence, I have attributed the majority of the annoying occurrences in my life to my own negative thought patterns. I am well aware that this is debatable and many may disagree, but at least for me personally, the ‘truth’ or ‘proof’ of the law of attraction is irrelevant, because I am much more positive and much less clumsy as a result of believing in the theory.

Thus, if we accept the law of attraction to be true (at least for the purposes of the last paragraph of this post), we will find that if we have intolerant thoughts we are more likely to attract intolerance to ourselves. If we attract intolerance to ourselves we are more likely to become even more intolerant, thereby being stuck in a vicious cycle of intolerance. Conversely, if we have tolerant thoughts we are more likely to attract tolerance to ourselves. In order to erase intolerance in the world, we need to erase our own intolerant thoughts. In order create tolerance in the world; we need to create tolerance in our own thoughts.

What is in your thoughts?

~

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…”.

Bikinis, niqabs, oppression and assumptions.

assumptions

Image:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/547539267167376074/

I recently had a conversation on a Facebook thread with a close friend of mine after I had shared an article with the following feature image:

WaterWorld-Stoke-on-Trent-waterpark-burqa-Muslim-584338

(The article can be found on http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/584338/WaterWorld-Stoke-on-Trent-Muslim-Islam-waterpark-women-only-bikini-ban-clothing-veil-burqa, but this post relates to the feature image, rather than the content of the article itself)

My close friend (who is a Muslim female) had left a comment stating that she found the image to be an ‘interesting’ depiction of what is ‘Islamically appropriate’. I followed on by saying that a niqab (a form of veil that covers everything other than the eyes, as depicted in the above image) is not the only form of female attire that is considered ‘Islamically appropriate’. My close friend followed on to say that what she meant by her initial comment was that the opposite of ‘Islamically appropriate’ doesn’t necessarily mean bikini.

My close friend went on to say that a lot of non-Muslims associate Islam with a niqab and opression in the same way that a lot of Muslims from Islamic countries associate non-Muslims with open relationships, provocative attire and prostitution. Obviously these sorts of stereotypes are intolerant and incorrect. Islam doesn’t equate to niqab and not-Islam doesn’t equate to open relationships and provocative attire. To quote my close friend- “I think we need more knowledge and less assumptions” I couldn’t agree more and I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Islam is much more than a niqab and non-Islam is much more than a bikini.

As I have already mentioned in my post titled “Does he drink alcohol? Does he eat pork?” religion can be followed to various degrees and there is no single unanimous expression of a particular religion. The same goes for culture, national identity and much more.

In my previous post, I suggested that the best way to combat intolerance is through education, positive reinforcement and love. Likewise the best way to fight assumptions is though actual knowledge, not further assumptions that only lead to more and more intolerance.

Below, is another image that highlights the unfortunate nature of assumptions, which also suits the given theme of bikinis, niqabs and oppression.

opression Image: Cartoonist Malcolm Evans

 Unless the woman on the right lives in a country that makes any other form of attire other than a niqab illegal, both women are exercising their free will (if there is such a thing) to dress how they wish; and both women are making assumptions about one another. The woman on the left probably doesn’t think she is oppressed and the woman on the right probably doesn’t think she is oppressed either; yet oppression is the exact conclusion they have each reached about one another’s choice of attire.

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”- Isaac Asimov

~

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…”.

“But (s)/he started it…”

Image- http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/

We are all capable of spotting someone else’s intolerance, but we’re not all that quick to spot our own. It’s particularly hard to stop ourselves from being intolerant towards someone who we perceive to be intolerant towards ourselves. However, we are not five year olds and the -“ but (s)/he started it” excuse isn’t going to cut it. Even in the face of intolerance, as hard as it may be, it’s probably best not to answer with intolerance. I’ve had to learn that the hard way (See my blog post titled “Tolerance Limits”).

Being hotheaded, self-righteous, stubborn and opinionated I have a tendency to accept almost every invitation to engage in a fight comprised solely of intolerance. I need to learn to choose my battles a bit more wisely and utilize my character traits for good, not evil. Like a five year old, I use the- “but (s)/he started it” excuse…and it’s simply not good enough. Even though I may not have been the one to start it, I chose to participate in it and that is just as bad.

If some kind of intolerant bigot (for the purpose of this example lets make them Australian) tells an immigrant to row their boat back to where they came from, can the immigrant accuse the bigot of having ancestors that were convicts or perpetrators of genocide? While it’s tempting (oh so tempting), it’s probably not correct and in the long run will create more problems that what it will solve. Intolerance needs to be dealt with in the right way, not the easy way. It’s like fighting racism with reverse racism, or sexism with reverse sexism…racism is racism and sexism is sexism. Irrespective of who the perpetrator and victim are, and whether or not their roles get reversed, it’s still intolerant and wrong.

When my husband was asked if he had any jihadi friends he didn’t lose it. When he was told that terrorists are Muslims that kill people just moments after, he still managed to keep his cool (For further details, refer to my blog post titled “Do you have any Jihadi friends?”). He didn’t rip apart his interlocutor with similar intolerant comments (like I probably would have) because he didn’t feel the need to stoop down to such a primitive level. If we defend ourselves in the same manner that we are being attacked, how are we any better than our attacker? If we know better, we need to act better.

If we want to dismantle intolerance and reinforce acceptance, it’s necessary for us to adhere to our own expectations. The right way to dismantle intolerance is through education, positive reinforcement and love. Fighting fire with fire in this sense will only reinforce intolerance further rather than dismantle it. As hard as it may be, when faced with some sort of bigotry, maybe we need to follow the advice that adults give five-year olds- if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

” An eye for an eye will leave the world blind.”- Gandhi

~

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…”.