Tag Archives: intolerance

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.

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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…”.

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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

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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.

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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 

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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.

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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?

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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

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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

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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…”.

Russian Homophobia

According to Wikipedia, “Public opinion in Russia tends to be among the most hostile toward homosexuality in the world—outside predominantly Muslim countries and some parts of Africa and Asia—and the level of intolerance has been rising”

If it wasn’t already clear in my prior posts- I’m heterosexual. However, the reason why I want to address this subject is because I am Russian and I have relatives in Russia who I love very much and who are very good people, but unfortunately they are SO blatantly intolerant towards homosexuality that it kills me. By no means am I trying to suggest that all Russians are homophobic. I am sure there are plenty of people living in Russia that are tolerant towards homosexuality. The purpose of this post is simply to discuss the homophobic sentiments I witnessed my relatives in Russia express.

The problem with my relatives is that some of them are in denial about their hostility towards homosexuals and that’s just half of the issue. Exhibit A-

“I personally have nothing against homosexuals, I just don’t want them around my children”

By saying you don’t want homosexuals near your children, you inherently have a problem with homosexuals. How is that not obvious? The sorts of people you don’t want around your children are paedophiles, rapist and murderers and that’s because they’re dangerous and abnormal. But homosexuals are not criminals, nor are they dangerous or abnormal; and I can’t reconcile within myself how a person I love and respect can be so hostile towards something so normal.

Unfortunately, above was the nice example, now here comes the harsher one. Upon telling one of my relatives that I teach Latin and Ballroom Dancing and have competed in dancesport competitions, he (my relative) asked me if my Husband ever gets jealous of my dancing partner (I also have an issue with this question, but I won’t go there…for now). I responded by saying that the dancing partner I had is gay so there was no reason for husband to get jealous. The look he gave me was the sort of look I would expect a Holocaust survivor to give a Holocaust denier. He was shocked and appalled by my answer and I was shocked and appalled by his reaction.

My relative then went on to say that he finds gays repulsive and that the mere thought of homosexuality disgusts him, that it’s a disease, a virus that needs to be beaten out of society. I replied by saying that his opinion is a product of the society in which he resides. I went on to tell him about the documentary called ‘Hunted’ which depicts heterosexual Russian men luring, abusing and to the best of my memory even killing homosexual men and posting the footage online. My relative denied that every occurring and said that no one in Russia actively goes out of their way to hurt homosexuals, the majority of the population just simply think homosexuality is wrong…because, somehow just thinking it’s wrong doesn’t hurt anyone? It definitely hurts me.

I honestly do believe that these sentiments are a direct reflection of the environment in which my relatives live. I think that if they moved elsewhere, their views would change accordingly. The reason I feel this way is because basically all the Russians I know in Australia (I know I’m a hypocrite for making this generalization but nonetheless) are not homophobic, or at least much more tolerant towards homosexuality than my relatives in Russia. When I was about 14, I recall my Mum exhibiting intolerance towards homosexuals…but that all changed when she actually met a person of a sexual orientation that differed to hers.

It scares me to think that had my parents not immigrated to Australia, I along with my parents would now be just as homophobic as my relatives in Russia.

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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…”.