Monthly Archives: July 2014

Family isn’t always blood

family isn't always blood

Friends are important to us. In cases like mine, they feel closer than family. In many of my posts I’ve mentioned how I’m not close to my extended family because they regard people based on how much money they have and for the longest time my family has been holding the last position on the ladder so needless to say we’ve always been treated like pariahs.

When I look at the things they have done, they feel somewhat petty, but it’s the implication of their actions that make it really painful. I remember this one time we attended a get-together party and one of my paternal granma’s sister was the one serving food. Somehow she managed to serve all the people sitted in the same table with my small sister and I but ignored us.

We didn’t want to create any commotion so we just let that one slide. It was awkward being sitted amidst people who were eating while we weren’t, but since we didn’t feel free around them (based on previous meetings) we kept mum, even though we were extremely famished after travelling for hours to get there.

Later on when everyone was leaving, she invited all of our cousins to go spend the night at her place but again, she failed to invite my sisters and me. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. Devastated, and feeling rejected we drove back home. After holding back tears the whole day, when we got home, mom, who hadn’t attended the get-together opened the door and I just broke down in her arms.

I was a teenager, an age someone might consider old; nonetheless, rejection hurts. Almost all family gatherings I can remember have always left me feeling rejected; and basic conversations are usually targeted at my family, degrading us, making us feel like we’re simply nothing.

Based on this very wanting relationship, I’ve always felt disconnected from my paternal relatives. The cousins I have are the very condescending type, who only focus on one’s lows; what one doesn’t have and those little blasts from the past that make one want to cringe. Someone might disregard their behaviour citing frivolity, but what hurts is that they’re mainly inspired by disdain.

If for instance I have a phone that seems really beautiful, someone will point out it’s nice, then add, “But it only costs…” So if I was really confident I have a nice phone, I will leave feeling like it’s just a cheap phone. Normally what bugs me isn’t the fact that they only see bad things, it’s why they do it. They do it to hurt; to scorn, and that’s what I always find trouble adjusting to. Most of the times I just ignore them but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

And just to prove the point, they will come with new phones the next time there’s a gathering. So basically at the end of the day our relationship with them feels like a competition. I must admit, I do feel envious of big happy families; families where people love without discriminating; where one isn’t hated or loved based on how much wealth they have.

Last weekend, my cousin invited family members to introduce her fiancé. We only live a few blocks apart, but my sisters and I weren’t invited (not that we would have gone anyway, because our encounters always end up badly). We didn’t even know there was any gathering until one of my mom’s sisters-in-law called her to tell her how it went.

Later, my cousin’s mom told mom that my cousin had only invited people who are close to her. That statement hurt for two main reasons: Firstly, we’ve never had any particular disagreement with her that would make us apparent enemies. If we’re not close it’s only because she has always felt her richer cousins were better.

Again, that sounds petty but her actions have never proven otherwise. Secondly, she got pregnant a few years ago and since most of my extended family members are the judgemental type, they shunned her as they didn’t want any embarrassments. At the time her own mom wanted her to get an abortion but because she wanted to keep the baby she was kicked out and we took her in.

The entire time she stayed at our place we were very close. When finally mom managed to talk to her mom, she went back home and even after she gave birth we were still close. When she gave birth, everyone fell in love with the baby and all those who had abandoned her came back. The instant they did, she pushed us-my sisters and I- away.

Everyone was invited for her daughter’s first birthday, except us. We felt used, and ever since, we’ve never been close again.

Owing to that strained relationship I have with the rest of my extended family, I feel closer to some of my friends. Though we’re not related by blood, I feel they are my family, because they don’t judge me and are always there when I need them.

‘Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are.’ That’s a quote I heard some years ago and everytime I hear it I know just how true it is. My friends are my family.

 

VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD

Very inspiring blogger Award 2

The other day when I was checking my notifications I found this lovely comment on my about page: “I nominated you for the very inspiring blog award and I hope you don’t mind. Please forgive me if you don’t want awards, or already have too much. However I nominated you because I like your blog and I hope I made you smile.” (I’ve left out some parts of the comment).

I definitely smiled. Blog awards are special, because for me, it’s not the award itself that actually makes me happy but the thought that someone considered my blog worthy of one. For me, it’s the thought that really counts. And about me feeling like I have many awards; I don’t think the day will ever come when I feel I can’t accept more awards because I have too many. Each award has its own special significance to me.

Thank you nonsmokingladybug for the nomination. I feel so humbled. You made me smile. Please visit her blog athttp://nonsmokingladybug.wordpress.com, where she writes about her addiction to smoking and how she eventually quit.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven facts about me:

As a prerequisite to accepting the award, I should give seven facts about me, so here goes:

I’m a sporty person and at the moment inline skating is my favourite sport.

I love attending mass because for me going to church is not just part of a routine but a major source of strength.

It saddens me when I see someone in need and can’t do anything to help them, especially when what they desire is beyond me.

I love many animal products, but everytime I see an animal being mistreated I contemplate going vegan. Sometimes I feel some people forget animals have feelings too and therefore need to be treated with care.

I like to think of myself as a nocturnal because I am more active at night than I am during the day.

I looked up the definition of an introvert on Google, and it turns out I fit the description perfectly.

Watching movies is one of my favourite pastimes, but horror movies are my worst.

 

My list of inspiring nominees:

http://ashiakira.wordpress.com

http://panicyesterday.wordpress.com/

http://livingwithshadows.wordpress.com

http://knowmyworth.com

http://dietrying999.wordpress.com/

http://lookingforthelight.me/

http://threekidsandi.wordpress.com

http://live2laugh4love.wordpress.com

http://doctorly.wordpress.com

http://wildaboutegypt.wordpress.com

http://mytruthmyclarity.wordpress.com

http://findingjoyindarkness.wordpress.com/

http://thebottomofabottle.wordpress.com

http://newcreationsministries.wordpress.com

http://april4june6.wordpress.com

Since this post is all about acknowledging inspirational blogs/bloggers, I would love to give a special thanks toSusan Irene Fox, a lady who inspires me immensely. She would have been first on my list but her blog is an award free site. Thank you Susan, I really appreciate your constant encouragement.

There are many bloggers I would love to nominate for the award, but the requirement is only fifteen. I apologize to anyone who feels I left out their blog. I visit many blogs and I find some inspiration from each one of them.

I also want to thank all those who spare time to read my ramblings. You are my greatest inspiration because the desire to make my blog posts worth your while gives me the strength to sit down and write, even when I feel so down. Thank you all.

HAPPY BLOGGING

 

 

 

Demeaning cultures: Chinese foot binding

chinese foot binding 2

When I look at the world we live in today, of the things I appreciate most is the fact that women are more independent and empowered; unlike in past eras where a woman’s worth was solely determined by the type of man she could attract.

Sometimes when I look at some cultural practices I totally fail to see their relevance, because if one was to look at the reasons why such practices are carried out, it’s mainly to please men; foot binding for instance.

It’s a Chinese practice that was outlawed around 1912. According to Wikipedia, foot binding, also known as ‘Lotus feet’ is the custom of applying painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls between ages 4 and 9 to prevent further growth. I wasn’t aware of such a practice until yesterday, when on CNN I saw this elderly woman, who’s one of the few remaining survivors of the out-dated practice.

Her toes were folded in what appeared to be a deformity and as she talked to CNN correspondent, Kristie Lu Stout, she told her it was an ancient tradition practiced by Chinese women and one of the reasons it was encouraged was because it ensured women would always be dependent on their husbands.

Curious, I went online to find out more about foot binding, and I must admit, I cringed as I read in-depth accounts of how the practice was carried out: first each foot would be soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood; this was intended to soften the foot and aid the binding. Then the toenails were cut back as far as possible to prevent in-growth and subsequent infections, since the toes were to be pressed tightly into the sole of the foot.

Cotton bandages were prepared by soaking them into the blood and herb mixture. To enable the size of the feet to be reduced, the toes on each foot were curled under then pressed with great force downwards and squeezed into the sole of the foot until the toes broke.

The broken toes were held tightly against the sole of the foot while the foot was then drawn down straight with the leg and the arch forcibly broken down. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure-eight movement, starting at the inside of the foot at the inside of the foot, and around the heel, the freshly broken toes being pressed tightly into the sole of the foot.

At each pass around the foot, the binding cloth was tightened, pulling the ball of the foot and the heel together, causing the broken foot to fold at the arch, and pressing the toes underneath. The girl’s broken feet required a great deal of regular care and attention.

The most common problem with bound feet was infection. Despite the regular care, toenails would in-grow becoming infected and causing injuries to the toes. Sometimes, for this reason, the girl’s toenails would be peeled back and removed altogether.

The tightness of the binding meant that the circulation was cut off, and as a result injuries to the toes were unlikely to heal and were likely to worsen gradually leading to infected toes and rotting flesh. If the infection got to the bones, they would soften and eventually some toes would fall off. This, however, was seen as a benefit because the feet could be bound even more tightly. Girls whose toes were fleshier would have shards of glass or sharp tiles inserted to deliberately cause injury.

Disease inevitably followed infection, meaning that death from septic shock could result from foot-binding, and a surviving girl was more at risk of health problems as she grew older. Older women on the other hand were more likely to break hips and other bones in falls since they could not balance securely on their feet and were unable to rise from sitting positions.

In Chinese culture, bound feet were considered erotic and a woman with perfect lotus feet was likely to make a more prestigious marriage. Qing Dynasty sex manuals listed 48 different ways of playing with women’s bound feet.

pair of red lotus

Sadly, men preferred never to see a woman’s unbound feet, so they were always concealed within tiny three-inch ‘lotus shoes’ and wrappings. They understood that the symbolic erotic fantasy of bound feet didn’t correspond to its unpleasant physical reality. The fact that the bound feet were concealed from men’s eyes was considered sexually appealing, because an uncovered foot would also give foul odour as various microorganisms would colonize the unwashable folds.

A feature of a woman with bound feet was the limitation of her mobility, and therefore her inability to take part in politics and an active social life. Bound feet rendered women dependent on men and became an alluring symbol of chastity and male ownership, since a woman was largely restricted to her home and couldn’t venture far without an escort.

chinese foot binding

As I read this all I saw was excruciating pain, and I kept asking, was it really worth it? The Chinese women went through intense pain and sometimes succumbing to the resulting diseases just to fulfil some male fantasy. What did they gain from having their feet bound? In my opinion, nothing really! In any case, it robbed them off their freedom, making them just property, that men could lay claim to.

They were left taking care of self-inflicted deformities, and all for what? Just to impress men, who didn’t even want to see their bound feet, because they knew behind the beautiful lotus façades lay smelly wounds and deformed feet. Honestly, I’m so glad the practice was outlawed, because women shouldn’t live at the mercy of men.

When I think of such practices, I feel girls/women should be educated; because I have a feeling such demeaning practices would be mainly attributed to illiteracy on their part. It’s the only sound reason why loving mothers would put their daughters through such agonizing pain just so they could be eligible for marriage.

Understanding the man in the sky

the invention of lying

As I watched the ‘invention of lying’, I got the feeling the idea of the man in the sky had been blown out of context. He is portrayed as a cold and vengeful being. If I got a chance to speak with Mark and all the people in that movie, I would help them understand that God is merciful, and loves us unconditionally.

If God was actually vindictive like Mark and the rest of the cast made Him appear, there wouldn’t be believers in the first place. I would also help them understand that there is God, and there is Satan; two powerful beings fighting against each other. God builds, while Satan destroys. Ergo, from a Christian’s perspective, Satan is the root of all evil.

Later Mark finds out Anna is getting married to a guy he hates. She goes to see him at his place and finds him looking all unkempt with an overgrown beard and hair, and as he’s gotten right out of bed, he opens the door covered up in a white sheet. His ragged look depicts Jesus. After Anna leaves, his friend later comes and convinces him to attend her wedding and he accepts.

In the ‘church’ where the wedding is taking place, there is an image of mark holding the pizza boxes in place of the image of Jesus crucified on the cross. As the movie plays on, I get a lot of the religious stuff that is indirectly brought out, poking holes in Christianity; and the movie I had initially thought was some sought of fantasy turns out to be an anti-Christian thing, depicting Jesus as the greatest liar.

When Mark stands to oppose the marriage, they say only the man in the sky can stop the wedding. Anna goes ahead to ask Mark what the man in the sky wants. He refuses to tell her and walks out. He visits his mom’s grave and tells her, only he knows she is still there, buried in the ground, contrary to what he told the world about ‘heaven’.

Anna finds him and he tells her he lied to the world about the man in the sky, and that he made it all up; the man in the sky doesn’t exist.

Looking at it from Mark’s perspective, it’s understandable why someone would believe there is no God. There is so much evil in the world, and what’s the point of living a life full of misery so that one can live happily ever after in the afterlife?

Growing up, I always wondered why someone would believe there is no God. I was brought up in a very religious setting and my belief in God became the foundation on which my life was based. But with the advancing technology, the internet and all, I have met people and made friends who don’t believe in God. So now I understand that one’s disbelieve in God doesn’t mean they are evil.

I have tried researching on what atheists believe; what makes them come to the conclusion there is no God, and one thing I have come to understand is that basically the difference between atheists and Christians is that whereas the former don’t believe in the metaphysical world, the latter ‘see the unseen’, through the eyes of faith.

With this in mind, I know it would be difficult explaining the whole idea of an Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and an Omniscient God to someone who doesn’t believe in a ‘supernatural world’.

The people ask Mark, why the man in the sky had to wait that long to reveal himself. I imagine that would be indirectly, questioning Jesus’ arrival; why He came into the world when so many people had suffered and died? Previously, before Christianity began, God was there, and He used to make more indiscreet appearances, talking to people and sending prophets.

However, that didn’t seem to work. So He eventually sent His son Jesus, making Him the ultimate sacrifice, whose blood would cleanse us all and save us from eternal death-the wage of sin.

And about people making choices in life, like with Anna’s wedding, God gave us all free will, to do whatever we want. For a minute, let’s all say God is real. So what would happen if He didn’t let us choose? For starters, we would all be Christians, whether we liked it or not; however, because of His Omniscient nature, He knows things we don’t, and because He loves us so much, He helps us make the right choices.

When God created the world, everything was good. The world was untainted by sin and evil. But then, the devil came in, tempted Eve to eat the fruit, which would help them know right from wrong, and she tempted Adam. Subsequently vices like jealousy sprung up, making Cain turn against his brother Abel; and that was the origin of sin and death. Eve and Adam’s choice led to that and now we have to live with the consequences.

All in all, faith is a complex thing. It’s all about one’s personal beliefs based on their upbringing and life experiences. If, for instance, anyone asked me to give proof that God is real, I would say it’s because I feel His presence in everything. But would that be enough to convince someone who is sceptical about God’s existence? No.

Each one of us has valid reasons why they believe in God or not, and epiphanies don’t just happen; they are triggered by some experience. Something interesting I realized is that from a logical perspective, the arguments many atheists make for not believing in God actually make sense. So the principal aspect that makes all the difference is faith, which essentially defies logic.

In my opinion, this debate about whether God is real or not may continue for a very long time. What we need to do though, is respect each other’s choices and live in harmony, in spite of the varying beliefs.

Man in the sky

invention of lying 2

Recently I watched this movie: the invention of lying. It’s a 2009 release, starring Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais, where they try to show how lying started. My small sister had me watching it after telling me she always wanted to watch that movie and even though I found it slow at first, I got curious…

In the movie, people live in an alternate reality, where no one knows what lying is. As a result, they are brutally honest, always hurting each other’s feelings; because truth is, as much as we condemn lying, those little white lies help a great deal.

Ricky Gervais’ character, Mark, had just lost his job and had been kicked out by his landlord. Frustrated, he decides to go close his bank out. When he gets to the counter the teller tells him the computers are down; so she asks him how much money he has in his account. Then, a reaction in his brain causes him to lie. Instead of saying he has $300 in his account, he says $800; the money he owes his landlord.

Right then, the computer comes back online and the teller finds out he has $300; but since no one knows what lying is, she believes him, assuming the computer made an error and she goes ahead to give him $800. That becomes the world’s first lie. Amazed at being able to say something that is not true, he goes to a bar and tells his friends about it.

After that first lie, he tells more lies, after realizing that sometimes lying is good because it prevents people from getting hurt, especially when the truths are really bitter and difficult to handle. He prevents his friend from getting arrested for drunk driving by lying to the traffic police that he is not really drunk, and prevents his frustrated neighbour from committing suicide.

Excited about his new discovery-lying-he calls up Anna; a beautiful, wealthy woman he wanted to go out with, but who didn’t like him as much because of his bad financial status and his physical appearance.

Later, Mark gets a call that his mom has suffered a heart attack. He goes to hospital and finds out his mom is dying and is really afraid to die because she is scared of ending up in nothingness. Compassionately, he tells her not to be afraid because she will be happy where she is going. He introduces the concept of afterlife and heaven.

Soon after, his mom dies and the doctors, who were listening in the entire time he was talking to his mom marvel at the whole concept of afterlife. The whole world gets to learn of his new discovery and people camp outside his house so he can tell them more about life after death.

Obviously he knew he had lied to his mother so she could pass on peacefully, but Anna asks how his mom felt after knowing she would be happy where she was going and how he personally felt when he helped his mom die in peace. He says he felt good in both instances. She asks him to imagine how he would feel helping the whole world if he told them all he knows.

Giving in to the pressure, he sits down to write what he would tell the world; which eagerly waits to hear his revelations. Eventually he steps outside with the ‘ten rules’ written on pizza boxes. Here I get the impression he is mimicking Moses, when he received the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai.

He goes on to read the rules, which he claims have been given to him by the ‘man in the sky’. Mark tells the people gathered outside his house that when they die they will go to a happy place where they will all live in mansions and eat ice cream, but that will be if they don’t do bad things.

They ask if the man in the sky is the one who causes cancer and accidents, to which he says yes. Enraged, they say they should get rid of the bastard in the sky before he causes them more harm. Mark quickly adds that the man in the sky also brings the good things too. In response they ask, “So the man in the sky is sought of a good guy and a bad guy?”

Mark shrugs and says yes. He tells them that the man in the sky rewards them for all the bad things they’ve gone through here on earth when they die.

After that revelation, there are numerous headlines in newspapers: man in the sky continues to kill babies with AIDS; man in the sky helps woman live for 104 years; man in the sky kills 40,000 people in tsunami.

Mark subsequently finds himself questioning the same things he told the people; for instance asking Anna not to sleep with someone she is not married to, then realizing she was going to give him a gift voucher for sex with her for his birthday. He feels befuddled when he realizes he just missed a golden opportunity to sleep with her.

When relaxing with his neighbour, who wanted to commit suicide, he asks if he is happy since the discovery of the man in the sky and if he’s found love, but he says he is just taking things easy because he knows he will eventually live happily when he dies.

From what I understood, the neighbour indirectly says, there is no need for one to struggle to be happy on earth because all that will be given on a silver platter when they die…