Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

First a quick word for a blog post after 8 months, lately I have been working on quite a lot of things which I will slowly try to bring into some story. The current commitments and time constraints might not allow me to do it very soon.

Today I was not planning to write anything either until it poured my heart out to hear about ‘International day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade”. I decided to write few words before I again pick the biography of Olaudah Equiano from my collection of unfinished books. A quick word to those who don’t know, Olaudah Equiano was a slave who bought his own freedom and became one of the pioneer of abolition of slave trade in Britain. However, This day is not day to remember one person or few people, it is the day that we pay our deepest respect and sincerest remembrance to those 18 million slaves who sacrificed their lives and went through hardships while paving a way to freedom. It is important to note that one third of those slaves were women. This year, in the Women’s History Month, we must pay a particular tribute to the women who died and suffered during slave trade. 

We must remember and thank our heroes (men and women) who lead the movements of change and fought heroically on all intellectual and human rights front. Finally two cheers to all the heroes from all walks of lives who are still fighting against racism and slavery.

I must add, slavery is a worst crime against humanity whether in organized form or unorganized form. Today slavery still exists in its worst form and many people do not know about it. This modern day slavery exits in the form of human trafficking, sex trafficking, forced labour (general and debt bondage), child slavery, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude etc. I will quote only one line  from UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which might make us think.

“People trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organised crime.”

We need to raise awareness to put an end to the modern day slavery as well as to racism. It is only possible if we remember the suffering of 18 million slaves in slave trade. 

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Personal Pledge

Three months ago, I made a pledge with myself to not eat in restaurants whatsoever, today I feel happy to announce that I have successfully completed it and have extended this pledge to further six months. I have a simple thought to share with you.

It has been fairly easy experience without compromising my social interaction, most of the people have been supportive. I have been asked for my reason of not dinning and actually giving me opportunity to speak against food wastage. I had always felt guilty for two reasons.

1) The food customers waste as consumers

I always found it strange when people decide to waste left over food. It is very simple to get this food packed and take with you. I apologise to be blunt but I feel disgusted by such consumerist act of wasting edible food.

2) The left over food wastage by restaurants

I had many depressing moment when restaurants and food courts threw away all the edible and untouched food. I used to dine in a food court as a student, I would watch all the food on the counter and in the kitchen going in the waste by the end of shift. I tried to flag up this issue nothing I could do.

Even once I was eating in food court and I knew the food was about to be wasted, so I requested person over the counter to give me little extra food. She simply said she can’t because I had to pay for this extra food and after few minutes that food was in dust bin. This food could have been given for free to less fortunate or to homeless humans.

I made my pledge one year of this incident when I was eating a buffet, near the closing time I witnessed the horrendous act of food wastage.

How I maintained necessary social presence

I had to maintained my necessary social presence in these situations by having a tea, coffee, or a drink.

How I survived while travelling

Eating fruits, sandwiches from local stores, and eating from local take away and avoiding mega food chains where food wastage is likely to happen.

Will it change anything?

Probably not! but I have lesser moral conviction as I try not to participate in this food wastage phenomenon and try to create awareness by this little act. I know several objections can be raised but lets sincerely look within our own selves.

Pay it forward

If you think I make sense, please tailor some pledge for yourself. I would love to hear from you about similar ideas.

Empathy in human connection

I have  been thinking to write about ’empathy’ for many months. Finally while reading Prof. Simon Baron Cohen’s book ‘Zero Degrees of Empathy’ I decided to write on this simple yet most overlooked word ’empathy’ from very basic to bit advance level. In the end of the video I’ll make reference to book ‘Zero Degree of Empathy’ and a relevant video.

To start, I must say we often sympathize with people without really understanding their real emotions, situations and responding accordingly. This is the point where we actually confuse sympathy with empathy. I would start with a simple video from Sesame Street where Mark Ruffalo explains ’empathy’. Although it is meant to be for children but I have realized as a adult we often overlook empathy too.

Now lets take step further to understand difference between empathy and sympathy. How empathy is much powerful while sympathy is not really that helpful.

From above video we have seen empathy has four main elements (shown in following figure).

Now lets take conversation to bit advance level where Professor Simon Baron speaks about empathy while dividing empathy between two components ‘cognitive’ and ‘affective’. He further explains how psychopaths are different than rest of the populations. In addition to following video you might find his book ‘zero degree of empathy’ interesting to read.

The simple thought follow of the blog is that we have to realize the power of empathy in human connection while realizing other’ emotions (cognitive part) and should act accordingly (affective part). Without any of these two components we cannot really be empathetic.

Charity degrades and demoralises

Before you get angry over the title, let me clarify I did not say it, it was Oscar Wilde who said this. Through this post you will see what exactly Oscar Wilde meant by this.

I will start with a video “First as Tragedy, Then as Farce”, it talks about what is wrong with the whole business of charity or in other words why charity is no longer solving world’s problem. I encourage my readers to watch this video and also read the following excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s book “The Soul of Man under Socialism“.

My purpose of the blog post it is to give a different perspective which we mostly do not hear from mainstream media. My readers may agree or disagree but  I leave it to you to think over it and make your own judgment.

Now lets see what what Oscar Wilde exactly said.

“The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism – are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this. The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man’s intelligence; and, as I pointed out some time ago in an article on the function of criticism, it is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought. Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.

They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive; or, in the case of a very advanced school, by amusing the poor.

But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life – educated men who live in the East End – coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins.

There is also this to be said. It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. It is both immoral and unfair.

The Soul of Man under Socialism” by Oscar Wilde

Contract with the Christians of Jerusalem (The Second Caliph, Umar)

“This is the protection which the servant of God, ‘Umar, the Ruler of the Believers has granted to the people of Eiliya [Jerusalem]. The protection is for their lives and properties, their churches and crosses, their sick and healthy and for all their coreligionists. Their churches shall not be used for habitation, nor shall they be demolished, nor shall any injury be done to them or to their compounds, or to their crosses, nor shall their properties be injured in any way. There shall be no compulsion for these people in the matter of religion, nor shall any of them suffer any injury on account of religion… Whatever is written herein is under the covenant of God and the responsibility of His Messenger, of the Caliphs and of the believers, and shall hold good as long as they pay Jizya (the tax for their defense) imposed on them.”

 Source: 

Six Religions in the twenty-first century by Stanley Thornes

How not to get judged by others

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

In this article I’ll write few tips on how not to get judged by others. Actually you cannot control thinking of others but you can make following changes in yourself to avoid getting judged.

1) Over-thinking
Remember that you are not the most important person in the world. No one should have the time to make judgement about you, It is more likely that only your “friends” will make judgement about you the other times you are stuck into over-thinking about what others think.

2) Think who matters and who don’t
If you still think that people make judgement about you then think of the people who matters and who don’t. You should only think of people who matters and don’t let the people who do not matter, ruin “who you are”.

3) Put things into perspective
If you are too anxious about being judged then put yourself into others shoes and see why do you think others would think of you in certain way. If you find doing something odd which is not acceptable according to certain norms of society then re consider you actions. If you find yourself moral and right then do whatever you want to do. Don’t let others ruin a certain aspects of your personality and actions. Giving up and opting certain things is upto you.

5) Be confident in yourself
If you think your certain speech or actions are right then be confident in yourself. When people will find you confident in yourself they will be ready to give up their judgement. Become confident for who you are.

4) Like certain aspect of you
Sometime we can use certain aspect of our personality to make others like us even with being judgemental. If you are compassionate you can use this skill to working in favour of you. Communication skills can also work in your favour.

6) Control your emotions

If you let other give an authority to change your emotions then you are giving them authority to make you feel you are weak and they can take over your nerves. Nothing more pisses off your critics being looking calm and easy-going.

7) Don’t speak or act submissively
People will ride your nerves when they will find you submissive. Try to be assertive in your words and actions, don’t give others authority to tell you what to do when you don’t want them what to do.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Gospel of Matthew)

Does higher education spoil us?

It is a common misconception among less educated and culturally indoctrinated people among developing and low developed countries that education spoils youth. I will examine this stereo-typical thinking. If you ask me the same to me I will say it does not spoil majority. I deliberately have used word majority instead of “all”. Those who get spoiled it’s mainly their upbringing and they way they are raised and exposed to society.

Let’s move on to topic, the simple reason is that education brings enlightenment. With this enlightened  thinking its hard to fit into stereotypical thinking of society. We become aware of the wrong cultural, religious, socio-religious practices. We start protesting,rebelling against them or in the least capacity we start isolating ourselves because we cannot fit into thinking paradigm of society. The elders in the society see this as a sign of rebelling and they get the impression that youth is being spoiled.

With time many of these youngsters compromise to fit into society. Other go on with enlightenment and keep suffering, as most of them grow up they start losing hope and become a part of Stereotypical thinking. The remaining either keep revolting or silently watch. The rebel of generation generate leaders, watcher become followers. Rest keeps resisting the change. Any way this is a separate topic in itself. Let me come to the point, let me quote a simple example, many of youngster thinks that taking dowry is wrong. Do you know how many of theses youngster do no take dowry  while marrying, you can well understand  my point. Majority of them become the part of system.

So in conclusion I would say education does not spoil youth, it’s the enlightenment of knowledge which make youth the way they talk and behave in society. But yes elder you should worry not because many of them will join you soon or later and will become part of machinery and will lead the life, the way you lead. They will become stereotypic for next generation. But to add little to your worries, many of them will carry the legacy of change of society and will fight against your stereo-odds.