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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

What Islam REALLY says about women UNMASKED! This sheikh says:
“You should ask the question, when men are married how can they teach and learn?
Because in Islam, men have the responsibility, not the women… In Islamic law, men have to provide accommodation and expenses. Women just sit around and do nothing. Women are free anyway! In Islamic law, women are free. It is men who should be worried and concerned about responsibilities post marriage. In Islamic law the duty of the house is for the men. That includes food. The women have only one duty in Islam and that is to teach. Ask any madhahb. And after marriage that becomes easier. Husband takes care of the house and women teach and learn – but we don’t recognise this!
When women do some of those work for us, when they cook your food – they are doing you a favour! And we never thank them! It is not her duty – it is your duty!”
*insert sacrcasm* No wonder it is incompatible with the western world!!!
Why aren’t lectures like this – that happen in almost every mosque or muslim gathering in the world – shown on TV?
All you need to do is broaden google searches and newsfeed settings to see the consistently amazing, knowledeable and overall badass women that have guided Islam and Muslims through millenia!
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Tjanara Goreng Goreng is a Wakka Wakka Wulli Wuilli Traditional Custodian from Central Queensland Australia, a PhD candidate and the Founder and National Convener of the Foundation for Indigenous Recovery and Development, Australia. An Adjunct Assistant Professor for UC, Tjanara has had extensive teaching and government experience.

Tjanara spoke about gender, politics and public policy to address gender and intersectional concerns in policy for the Australian Federal Parliament and provide recommendations for the participants to include in their report. Some insights from her included:

Women in the world

  • Gender is never about sex. It varies by dimensions of life. Basic condition of life, safety health education and work, access to markets and space and people’s own free expression identified by alignment to a gender or group.
  • Individual Bodies can be typed in many ways but social practices of gender appear unproblematic in some social contexts and therefore impossible to solve. In some contexts gender dictates power, professional structures, social norms, familial hierarchies and personal relationships among many others.
  • We live in a diverse world where power resides with the male western patriarchy for the most part. There are some countries and cultures where women hold social positions of power.
  • But fear of the capacity of women and what they can do has diminished women’s role in society. Women can bear and give birth and with the advent of technology may not even need men soon to procreate and continue society
  • Roman society instituted the stereotyped norms practiced today to disadvantage women. For example women used to live with catholic priests and more often than not inherited his property when he passed. To keep this wealth, the Roman Catholic Church forbade priests to marry. Property dictates much of the power struggles of the western world
  • Prior to Napoleon, many powerful women held salons where politics was shaped in discussions of philosophy, politics and public policy in the exciting context of the revolution. This happened to a lesser extent in Britain and the US.
  • There has been a significant increase in women entering public office in recent decades which has consequences for public office and the general public. Women differ not only in those two categories but within themselves. Who they are, their backgrounds, their ethnic ambitions and objectives
  • Women like Margaret Thatcher control their power much like men so what’s the point of them breaking the glass ceiling?
  • Women in local councils are more active in gender discussions and take policy positions in a wider range of issues than men. They are more likely to take leadership issues to translate feminist policy attitudes into change and make programs or initiatives around them
  • Men exhibit a more instrumental and women a more contextual attitude to policy orientation. Women’s approaches are broader and interconnected to facilitate interactions rather than control and direct debates.
  • Women public officials do have an impact on gendered public policy or bring gender into policy discussions. Women are making a difference and as they achieve more positions of seniority and influence they influence private sector as well as the public space
  • New institutions may not fulfil the objectives of their creation because they are trapped by gendered norms which they try to dispel
  • Women need to address:
    • How are formal and non-formal rules gendered?
    • How can we institutionalise change to stop gendered inequality?

The indigenous story

  • Women are equal to men because of their responsibilities of the sacred business (Chukapah), the rearing of children and the physiological wellbeing of the whole clan. This is still practiced by the Kata Tujia people of Uluru
  • Believe that all beings are sacred and born with the same innate qualities. You are spirit before you are human and you become human to interact with others.
  • First and foremost you need to accept your spiritual self and purpose of being which imbues a sense of respect for self and respect for others and their spiritual being
  • Purpose of life is to interact with people on the basis of their spiritual being rather than physical being (features) and respect and honour Nunjanatia (the land)
  • The aboriginal law of Kanini is the harmony and unconditional love of all things
  • Aboriginal culture has an express way of managing the biological differences of men and women including laws regulating violence, crimes and misconduct.
  • Women rear all children to teach them how to be friends and co-exist. As they grow older, the men teach the boys how to have sexual relationships with girls and women teach girls how to evolve into their roles and responsibilities
  • When you go to indigenous communities now, don’t go to the men. Go to the female elders who run the community and can tell you about the spiritual chukapah and structure of leadership (sacred leaders) in order to manage conflict, think of the whole and bring about relations between people.
  • Women keep certain information (childbirth) in the realm of mystery enabling men to respect women.
  • Systems of power, race, gender and class cannot be understood independent of each other. They mutual construct each other and reinforce our attitudes to them.
  • Considerable power in class structures is residual from British colonialism and will not change if we do not address them
  • It is the responsibility of future generations to use the wealth of knowledge available and advancements in technology to create change by addressing gender and racial inequality

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Day 2 began with Barbara Bickie using HDBI to “Discover your leadership style”.  She is an educator, at Charles Sturt University, a published author, PhD candidate, specialist in juvenile justice, child protection and the President of the National Council of Women Australia.

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is a system to measure and describe thinking preferences in people, developed by William Herrmann while leading management education at General Electric’s Crotonville facility. It is a type of cognitive style measurement and model which looks something like this.

 whole-brain-model-2016

The activity was to pick up cards that you most identify with, these were mine.

Capture

Read more about HDBI here.

Next we had Tjanara Goreng Goreng speak to us about gender, politics and public policy. A fascinating session that requires it’s own post which you can read here.

Our team activity output:

CaptureThe next speaker after lunch was Virginia Haussenger.  Virginia is the BroadAgenda 50/50 Chief Editor and the Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation. She is also an award-winning television journalist, writer and commentator, with a career spanning 25 years. Virginia facilitated a workshop on political communication, preparing us for media interviews and engaging with politicians. Insights from the session include:

  • Watch a documentary on Zelda D’Aprano who chained herself to the Commonwealth Building in Spring Street, Melbourne, to protest pay inequality, until she was cut free by the Commonwealth Police. The event drew enormous attention to the Equal Pay campaign. She tipped off the media that she would do this protest because she knew they would be interested in the drama of the situation.

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  • Australia’s first female Liberal Premier for NSW, Gladys Berejiklian was asked less than an hour into her role, if she was fit for her role as an unmarried woman with no babies – by a female reporter. In the ensuing cacaphony, she went off to the side and sat with her head in her hands till it died down.
  • The optics matter, COAG in 2011 had 4 women out of 11 and now we are back to 1/11.
  • The leadership model in Australia remains very male since they were designed by and for men. Over time we have tried to fit women into the model rather than redesign the structures and how we view leadership
  • Women in power quietly but fiercely own their own optics. Quentin Bryce wears colourful outfits, Hillary has her pantsuits and Christine Lagarde has made her dangly earrings and coloured scarf her trademark.
  • The debasement of the office of Parliament was alarmingly evident during Gillard’s tenure. Suddenly the rules changed for media across Australia
  • Progress is not inevitable and the hardest won gains remain the most vulnerable to being swept away.
  • Damned if you smile and damned if you don’t. – Me.
  • Women discussing their gender are not ‘playing the gender card’, they are discussing who they are. Facts.
  • When you have a strong sense of your purpose and values, they will allow you to deliver a consistent message. You can’t control the media, but you can control your message.
  • Leadership is more than dark suits. When women in leadership wear colour, they show diversity of leadership and in doing so affect change
  • When delivering a politcal message, focus on syntax and cadence to avoid muddying your message with extranneous words. Design your message for your audience. A great example of this is Emma Watson’s speech at the HeForShe Campaign 2014 to the UN.

And finally I want to leave you with something my mentor Sarah Elphick once said to me, ‘A woman trying to act like a man is a waste of a good woman.’

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In preparation for the #GirlsTakeover Parliament Program as part of Plan International’s global #GirlsTakeover initiative, we all participated in a 2 day training weekend to prepare for the takeover.

Day 1 was full of introductions and hesitant smiles which quickly turned into insightful discussions sparked by a speech by the Deputy Commissioner Operations in the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Leanne Close, who shared her experience of her 26 year career as well as the leadership qualities she’s learnt and looks for when recruiting.

Leanne’s tips for leadership qualities are:

  • Be inclusive in your thinking so that you are generating a wide spectrum of ideas
  • Seek feedback from those around you – higher or lower in the hierarchy
  • Develop people – learn who they are and be invested in their success
  • Understand not only your strengths and style but that of others
  • Build confidence within yourself and others
  • Become a global citizen by reading and building awareness
  • Anticipate and build for the future by thinking about the impacts of now

To do this:

  • Know your job well
  • Try new roles and opportunities
  • Seek opportunities for personal development
  • Understand your team

Following Leanne’s speech was Speaker Training from TedxCanberra’s Ingrid Tomanovits. Ingrid is the ACT’s consummate learning and development specialist and is now the Licensee of TEDxCanberra. Her session was such a privilege to be part of because through her two exercises she drew out from a group of 20 odd women such personal anecdotes, life stories and insights that made me proud to realise I was in the company of such inspirational women. Some tips I took from Ingrid’s session spoken by either Ingrid herself or women in the group are:

  • Public speaking is answering the questions:
    • What do you want people to know
    • What do you want people to feel
    • What do you want people to do
  • Say your name and why you are here to establish for yourself and the audience that you are relevant to the conversation
  • It’s normal to become anxious, have dry mouth and a rapid heartbeat before you speak. It shows you care and that you are invested in what you are doing. Own it.
  • Any strength overplayed becomes a weakness
  • Drink water 48-72 hours before your speech to avoid dry mouth
  • Include everyone in the room and change the dynamic (if you feel people are not participating or active listening)
  • You don’t have to be the expert, guide the conversation by telling your story
  • The congruence of the words you use, what you say and the way you say it is the sweet spot for good public speaking.
  • If you become overwhelmed when speaking, pick a point to focus on and think about the negative emotion then look to your peripheral vision and the emotion will dissipate.
  • Be memorable for the right reasons, saying your name is one of the ways to help people connect to the points you are making
  • Watch Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TedX talk, Your body language may shape who you are

After a lunch break of delicious pide from Yarralumla Turkish Pide House we were back. This time Saul took us through the findings of the “She Can Lead” report that Plan Australia commissioned Essential Research to do on the potential of girls to lead. We will be using the findings of this report to talk to members of Parliament.

Saul Zavarce is a Venezuelan Australian media professional currently studying a Masters of International Relations. He is the Media Officer at Plan International Australia and Head of Advocacy for Venezuelan Australian Democratic Council. Some takeaways from this session was:

  • Don’t mansplain and say you are trying to learn, if you genuinely want to learn – Google’s free.
  • 13 years of mandatory secular education (primary and high school) do not equip you to identify women’s sexual organs, issues, health concerns and discern between facts and fiction
  • Re: female sexual education – “Get a mirror, get acquainted” – Adriana
  • Animalistic male desire won’t stop you from becoming president but a period will – Saul
  • Women find it harder to negotiate remuneration and will more often than not settle for minimum wage or less than they deserve
  • Not only is there a disparity between the entry rates of men and women into professional fields, but the attrition rates are disparate as well with a huge number of women leaving the professional fields as the rank becomes more senior
  • Quotas are the demise of mediocre men
  • Women who infiltrate the boys club is either sexualised or ‘one of the boys i.e non-threatening’ or not part of the club and ostracised which has impacts on career development
  • We need education about what consent looks like to address the issue of victim blaming which is bigger than just the issue of consent. We need to address the social, cultural, religious and classist prejudice that implicitly and explicitly allows victim-blaming
  • Call out gendered language and behaviour to boys and girls. I.e. telling boys to ‘man-up’ if they cry or telling girls they need to look pretty rather than be smart.
  • As a youth, you can say radical things. Lobbiysts make deals. Your job as an advocate is to voice radical ideas
  • Venezuelan constitution states stay-at-home motherhood as an occupation in its constitution, which entitles housewives to wages and social security from the Government.

Recommendations that would make it easier for women to be leaders:

  • Gender studies in schools
  • Education regarding cultural concepts of love, relationships
  • Ban sexist advertising prohibiting public advertising that undermines the equal status of women
  • Job skills and negotiation training
  • Removing pictures and CVs from recruitment processes
  • Mentoring and support to provide more leadership opportunities
  • Remove gendered school uniforms
  • Address the gender pay gap by raising the minimum wage in public sector and providing incentives for private sector

Then we had a quick session on Media Training and how to have a successful interview.

  • Acknowledge a questions no matter how difficult
  • Bridge the gap to a topic you are comfortable with
  • Deliver your key messages succinctly.

Quick fire mentoring from:

  • Corporate: Rosanne Brand
  • Artist: Ruth O’Brien

The end of day 1 was celebrated by watching Bend it like Beckham and eating pizza.

Bring on day 2!

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The ‘Other’ is not a new concept. As a society we have marginalised minorities and those that we disagree with or misunderstand for hundreds of years. It is a social construct by which we develop not only our own identity but shape the identity of others. And it is the group or groups with greater political and economic influence that have the greater ability to shape and represent identities. It is important to note then – that an identity, especially the identity of the Other is not something we are born with – rather it is a social construct we step into and live in by design.

Zygmunt Bauman said on Otherness that Woman is the other of man, animal is the other of human, stranger is the other of native, abnormality the other of norm, deviation the other of law-abiding, illness the other of health, insanity the other of reason, lay public the other of the expert, foreigner the other of state subject, enemy the other of friend (Bauman 1991: 8). This is an awareness that we form our own identity through the inclusion of an element of exclusivity. In order to define the self or society you must also define what you are not. Man identifies himself as a superior being by comparison to the animal in attributes that are similar but also attributes that are different or lacking.

Societies have advanced through time by defining identities of civility as opposed to barbarity, colonial as opposed to indigenous, black as opposed to white and free as opposed to oppressed. These same societies have wielded their substantial political clout to shape and re-shape the identity of the other based on characteristics that would be most economically beneficial at the time. When Colombus ‘discovered’ America, the marginalisation of the Indian as Other was economically motivated. How else would Columbus and the ensuing British colonisation have been able to usurp land and build profitable a profitable society? How else would Manhattan be bought for $24?

 

When the British colonised India, Africa and Australia, the characteristics of being poor, dirty and inferior were associated to the colour of their skin and Black became the Other to White. This too was economically motivated. How else could the Dutch East India company convince it’s men that Indian were slaves to be herded onto ships bound for the fields of Africa? How else would the British have been able to commandeer and mobilise large contingencies of colonised peoples to work on infrastructure and fight in wars that were of no material benefit to them? How else were members of the Pakistani Army and society convinced that Bengalis were not Muslim, not human and thus ripe for raping, looting and killing? Man identifies with Man till society finds an economically beneficial reason to distinguish differences and draw boundaries.

Societies of economic influence wield the authority of their social institutions such as the law, media, education, religion to hold the balance of power through their representation of what is accepted as Normal and what is considered Other. Organisations such as the UN are a prime example of a selection of powerful economies distinguishing themselves as leaders and thus authorises to interfere in the societies and economies of other countries. This is not to say the UN is bad – No. Rather it is to understand that our world is governed by a man made awareness of who we are and who we are not based on the economically motivated decisions of the politically and financially privileged.

When we understand and are aware of this concept and remember that none of us are born as the Other, our minds can awaken to the political hegemony being played out on a global scale. Our minds can awaken to the realities of being the Jewish Other in 1940’s Europe. Of being the Asian Other in 1970s Australia. Of being the African American Other in America … always. Of being the Muslim Other in America, Australia, Europe and Burma. When we understand that we have a choice to accept or reject the identity of the Other, we can explore and seek to learn about the so-called Other. If we only venture outside of the propaganda sold 24/7 on mainstream media we can come to an enlightenment on what Islam really is and who Muslims really are. If we do this we can strip the fear we associate with the tag other. We can remove the animosity that drives decisions like the Burkini ban in France and we can celebrate the diversity through embracing our similarities as well as our differences.

What kind of society have we become when a 10 year old boy cannot feel safe in his own front yard? When the very figures of authority that are sworn in to serve and protect are the ones that run down and gun down first and ask questions (or provide weak justifications) later. What kind of society exhorts the values of Liberté, égalité, fraternité and yet leads the way in dictating how a woman should and should not dress? If you ban someone from covering, is this not the same oppression and banning someone from revealing? What kind of society have we become when we spin bias on everyday actions based on the attire of the individual. Would these women have been singled out as ‘members of Isis’ (a horrible thing to accuse someone of!) for being on their phones if they were not in Hijab? Surely there is logic and common sense left somewhere in the world?! Thank God for Canada where Hijabs are not part of the official uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Justin Trudeau who says the burkini ban has “no place in Canada,”

Allah swt says in the Quran, O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (49:13) We are encouraged to know each other for where there is knowledge and enlightenment there can never be fear and animosity no matter how profitable it is to the ruling elite. We are the masters of our own fate and we the masses shape the direction of our society. So don’t let an economically motivated Big Brother tell you who to like and dislike, don’t let faceless corporations teach you to hate – go out and talk to people who you don’t know, who you don’t understand and who you don’t like – you might just find you have more in common with them than you think.

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I recently finished a coursera course called, “Constitutional struggles of the Muslim world”. In it we had to write a final essay on our understanding of what was covered in the course. Here is my exposition.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The constitutional struggles of the Muslim world point primarily to indigestion. The constitution cannot handle the over indulgence of some countries in stark contrast to the severe lack of social, military and economic reform in other parts of the Muslim world. 

For a person’s constitution to be in a state of healthy balance it requires the body and mind to work harmoniously in sync. Similarly the struggles of the underperforming countries in the Muslim world point to gaps in reform that cause desynchronization. An under-performing country is one which lacks a clear state structure, an emphatic, enthusiastic and diplomatic ruler or heads of state and a country in which the people’s values and morals point more towards personal gain than collective progress. These countries struggle because they cannot compromise or find middle ground on religion (Palestine), Politics (Bangladesh), Economics (Pakistan) or social stability (Afghanistan).

In the same way that a tums tablet can ease indigestion of the bodily constitution, an institution which is fair, just and progressive can work wonder for the constitutional struggles of the Muslim countries in the world. The role of such institutions is to enter the societies which in which they seek to make a difference, entrench themselves in the local consciousness (both literally and figuratively through offices and physical presence and figuratively through campaigns, emotional investment and buy in from stakeholders),  and work with the collective society to enact change and empower others to do the same. Such institutions should look to provide services which enhance the self sufficiency of the people and bring stability and harmony to the region through social dialogue, military and rebel compromise and greater empathy between those who disagree.

The reason why a tums tablet or an institution would be unsuccessful in such worthy endeavours would be if the heads of state (Saudi Sheikhs) are swayed by external forces (the US) and extenuating circumstances (9/11 and the ‘war on terror’) to compromise their interest in their own region (assistance to the arab spring) which would have bought about much needed financial and social support, to instead focus on siphoning their resources to worthless causes (the UAE’s hotels, resorts and buildings which are primarily empty and feed the growing middle eastern debt crisis). This kind of extravagance and pandering to western whims leads to a disengagement from the collective consciousness of the region much like what happened to Turkey when Kemal Ataturk sacrificed the social, religious and emotional sentiment of the collective consciousness of the Turkish people to instil in his regime western trends that brainwashed whole generations and caused lasting dissolution of religious and nationalistic zeal for economic reform and cementing of foreign relations with growing superpowers.

The role of political Islam in Muslim countries is varied. In some countries, such as Iran, Islam is used to justify political agendas and political reform that would otherwise be protested by the public. In some countries such as Afghanistan it is used to emphatically marginalise the majority to enforce the wishes of a minority (Taliban’s).  In some countries it is used to enforce gender inequality by enforcing cultural impositions under the guise of religious guidelines (women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia by themselves… why? It is not written in the Quran anywhere that women are not allowed to drive). Such acts of wilful political, social and military hegemony from leaders of Muslim states under the banner of Islam leads to Islamisation campaigns that are successful in pushing forward their agenda but pushing down the collective consciousness of the people who form deep seated resentment to the religion used against them. A religion that promotes peace and harmony is forced upon people as a condition of rule and order to further personal gain. This is how Muslim countries become weak nation states with social and religious factions stewing in the juices of their discontent.

There is however a solution to such problems. Countries like Malaysia and Singapore were highlighted as exceptions from this general trend due to their recipe for relative success. They used a mix of diplomatic, religious, western and secular rules and regulations to form the basis of their constitution, political reforms and relative success. Such countries do not forget their roots in the basic premise of Islam and the laws that should govern them, and build on those foundations with strong secular and diplomatic guidelines and input from institutions to form lasting advancements in social, economic and military reforms which aid to cement their places as thriving countries in a highly globalised modern sphere. This is the recipe for the cure to the constitutional struggles in the Muslim world.

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“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passer-by would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

This is one of the most compelling extracts from a novel which uncovers such detail about human behaviour and how our perceptions of our lives forms the basis of our life trajectory. The Prince and his Rose have always represented for me the need to find what you are passionate about and invest in that love and passion to make your life worth living.  If you have noticed the dormancy of my activity on here, it is because of my recent apathy. A year that was started by me with so much fervour and passion has dwindled to an apathetic state from which I need respite. Today I seem to have gotten it from the unlikeliest of sources. Facebook.

I dislike Facebook. You wouldn’t know that by looking at my profile as I am constantly online, but I dislike it A LOT. Why? Here’s a few reasons why

  1. It’s killing privacy. There is no such thing as the public and private sphere anymore. I wonder what Habermas would have to say about Facebook. At a global level the CIA use it to ‘do their thing’ (not getting into ‘what’ it is that they do. That’s a story for another day) Here’s the video that explains it if you haven’t seen it yet. At a local level, every ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ is now on Facebook and wants to be your friend so conversations like this can happen:
    Mum – Who is [insert random guys name]?
    Me – A friend. why?
    Mum – You went to the same lecture as him?
    Me – Yes but why? and how do you know?
    Mum – [insert random name] aunty told me that she saw on your fb that you were tagged in a photo with him.
    And at a personal level, we are all now at risk of oversharing and becoming the annoying people we like to whinge about. See if you can find your fb self in one of the profiles articulated here.
  2. It’s bad for the economy. When ONE person earns a record $2.3 BILLION a year and more than half the world is dying of hunger, poverty, warfare or all three at once, it really makes you wonder at how your tacit involvement is helping this world go to ruin. It’s easy to dismiss your contribution as minute, but it is our collective minute contribution that is widening that gap between the rich and the poor and creating a discrepency in the division of wealth in society, a precursor to much of the issues plaguing society at large.
  3. It’s a waste of time. More than a third of women check facebook first thing in the morning and while this study is old and no doubt the figures have risen significantly since, its not hard to beleive that more and more of us are wasting more of our time on facebook with no visible benefits. We check our fb several times a day, in the middle of the night, even before we go to the bathroom in the mornings. Why? What could possibly be happening that you are missing out on? That is more important than your sleep? your time with family? your time to LIVE your life yourself and not through the voracious mastication of vapid fb status updates from other people. I recently deactivated FB and it was one of the best things I did with my time… because it let me have MORE time. (I am back on FB now but read on to find out why this is ok)
  4. It causes depression. Facebook users are more and more lonely. Articles like this used to make me think the authors were silly to write that people actually let online updates affect their sense of self. But then I realised I do too. I do THIS. I think I am entitled to more than I deserve because people on my facebook show me that their world is unicorns and rainbows and I inevitably compare. Those carefully filtered, posied and cropped pictures hide the rain that came before the rainbow and the crap that the unicorn leaves behind. It creates a sense of rejection, despondency and fear in us that we would otherwise not experience had we a more rounded insight into the lives of those we ‘befriend’. Facebook allows us to ‘befriend’ more than we would ever do in person and the larger our circle of ‘friends’ become the more at risk we are to falling off the proverbial facebook cliff like a lemming looking for the pot of gold in the form of that perfect facebook status update to outdo all the ones in our newsfeed.

THIS is why I dislike Facebook. But today, this morning – I opened my fb app and my newsfeed did something – it educated me. It inspired me. and It made me shake off my cloak of apathy and put on the cloak I always wanted to wear – the one that will let me save the world. I don’t open FB to read news, I have my news apps and google for that, but almost every second post on my newsfeed today was a newsarticle or some sort of article that had me thinking, moving out of comfortable position as the couch potato in my brain and realising that the time to act is NOW. I read that in a recent study, 78% of a group of Facebook news consumers gets news on the social network while they are there for other purposes, such as catching up with friends or sharing photos.

This morning my fb feed gave me these:

  • Brand’s article and interview  supposedly sparked a ‘revolution’. I disliked Brand. I disliked his alter egos, his crude, brash, self destructive and womanising ways made for good ‘bad tv’ and a ridiculous role model for an impressionable youth. And then I read his article. His ability to articulate himself on a level far beyond the hollow celebirty he is made out to be is impressive on a singular level. There are so many many quotes in his article and his interview that spur in me a fervour for change and revolution that it is impossible to list them all here. I would encourage you to read his article and listen to the interview. I hope his realisation that “Profit is the most profane word we have. In its pursuit we have forgotten that while individual interests are being met, we as a whole are being annihilated. The reality, when not fragmented through the corrupting lens of elitism, is we are all on one planet” will lead him to find Islam and sees that it answers every question he has. Till then he is singing the same lines as The Who say it best in their lyrics for “Won’t get fooled again”

There’s nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

  • Praying in public – Pulling out of self-inflicted (or life-inflicted) apathy is made all the more easier when you see things like this and things like the Modest Street Fashion project by Langstone Hughes. Singular individuals enacting change and revolution in their own way in their own capacity to act to create and precipitate a collective revolution is all around us in so many ways and forms. It’s only a matter of being open to people and fiding your own space to catalyse your own revolution.
  • Reza Aslan talks about Palestine and Israel – Reza Aslan is a Muslim. Yes, he has four degrees and a PhD in religious studies and over a decades worth of knowledge, skills and expertise in all forms of religion and religious scripts but hes ‘a Muslim’. This is only ONE of the many speeches on youtube that are a must watch – this guy speaks the truth with frankness, sincerity and a sprinkling of sarcasm. My only criticism of him would have to be where he likens hadith to ‘stories and retellings’ and discounts their validity in contention with history. Mate, it’s called His-Story for a reason. If you discount the hadith of Rasul SAW then discounting some ‘facts’ written up by a white supremacy and handed around as ‘history’ is just as easy. But still. Beyond that – I like his work. I love that Aslan says, Prophets did not create religions, their followers did. Prophets are reformers. their job is to take the religious and cultural milieu and challenge it. This is what we must all do in our own capacity. Because all the religions and all the Prophets have the same goal and the same message. To live in harmony and peace and spread the love beyond your own lifetime in whatever capacity you can. He tells it like it is and his frank statements calling for a revolution, calling for a change, calling for people to stand up and take the future of our collective forward as a whole is reminiscent of Brand (in a more stately academic way of course!).
  • Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life – It’s everything we’ve been told before, but the more I read the more I realise how little I know. This is great advice and should be a reminder of who we want to become to become who we want to be.
  • 20 Pictures that will warm your heart – In a world where Rape occurs almost as frequently as a birth (don’t quote me), pictures like these restore the faith in humanity that we all need instilled in us if we are to care about our surroundings and our future generations enough to take a stand and make a change. A great reminder of the community and the love we are working to retain and restore.
  • Amazing quote from a Random NYer for HONY – Brandon (photographer behind Humans of New York(HONY)) asked her to tell him something about Nonviolent disobedience and she said, “Nonviolent disobedience is strategic for many reasons.  One, it’s an important way to attract attention and compassion from the international community.  Also, it’s the only type of response that can include the entire community.  Violence is more exclusive, and can only happen in pockets.  Nonviolence can involve everyone, and can help leave behind a sense of community after the objectives of the disobedience have been met.” We are at our most basic a body in which a soul craves to meet its Maker. We wander through life trying to fill that hole in our hearts with materialism, consumerism, Love, idealism and shoes. In doing so we become apathetic, immoral, despondent and most of all angry. And anger makes us violent. Controlling that anger, channelling it through strategic disobedience is much much more rewarding, constructive and adhesive in pulling together the collective for your cause than a whack over the head. She says what Prophet Muhammed, Gandhi and Martin Luther King have all said and DONE before her… to great success. Strategic non violent disobedience is telling of a collective which encourages cohesion and change in a non threatening way to ignite revolution and create the utopia we all crave.

And much much more. And I realised that while Facebook has its shortocmings, like every other invention of man – it is a tool that can be used to great benefit, should I chose to do so. When man invented Fire – he could use it to warm himself and cook his food or he could use it to wreak havoc and destruction. Aeons later, the same holds for all other ‘discoveries’ and inventions – there is two sides to each coin.

Beyond my choices of deactivating my fb and living in ignorance of the great wealth of information out there, or immersing myself so wholly in living through the status updates of my friends, that my own life passes me by… there is a third option. The option to recognise the tool for its capabilities and use it only in so far as it is useful for you. Facebook for me, has evolved from merely a stream of what my friends had for lunch and their outfits of the day, to a stream of updates on life, education, world events, politics, charity and education. My friends circle has been carefully cultivated so that when I am on fb I am learning, I am growing, I am being inspired and affected to shake off the apathy and live not only in the real world where my feet touch the ground, but in the online world where I can reach out and touch another person’s heart and mind with my words.  I can live there and make a great life for myself, if only I am passionate and intelligent about how I do so.

So how do I do so? How does reading articles linked on Facebook and ‘sharing’ them with friends catalyse change in the real world? I read somewhere that “one’s search for answers can be more important than the answers themselves”. The answer to this is to go on that journey. To find what you are passionate about and articulate it, pursue it, paint it into your reality and onto your facebook – so that one day we actualise our longing for the meaning of life by filling that hole in our hearts with love and contentment… in a private and public sphere that would make Habermas proud.

One Republic got it right in their lyrics for “Goodbye Apathy”

So goodbye apathy
(As I’m trying)
So long fancy free
(Just to keep things right)
Goodbye apathy, I don’t wanna be you
(Kill  myself to make everything perfect for you)

Go out there. Find your Rose. Love it. Cherish it. Water it. Protect it. And say Goodbye to Apathy for YOU are the change you wish to see. In the words of Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC – 8 BC) in his Odes, “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” which translates to “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day/future.” Rush towards your future and enjoy the Journey – for sometimes it is far more telling than the answer waiting at the end.

I don’t walk right, not like I used to
There’s a jump in my  step as I rush to see you
I could be happy here as long as you’re near to me
As long as you’re close to me

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