Are you NORMAL?

From http://www.thepiphanycafe.com/

I was always fascinated with what is considered to be ‘normal’ for us, human beings. As Dr. Eric R. Maisel points out, “This is not an idle question without real-world consequences. The “treatment” of every single “mental disorder” that mental health professionals “diagnose,” from “depression” and “attention deficit disorder” on through “schizophrenia,” flows from how society construes “normal” and “abnormal.” This matter affects tens of millions of people annually; and affects everyone, really, since a person’s mental model of “what is normal?” is tremendously influenced by how society and its institutions define “normal.”

From The Illusion of Normal

The matter of what is normal can’t be and must not be a mere statistical nicety. It can’t be and must not be “normal” to be a Christian just because 95% of your community is Christian. It can’t be and must not be “normal” to own slaves just because all the landowners in your state own slaves. “Normal” can’t mean and must not mean “what we see all the time” or “what we see the most of.” It must have a different meaning from that for it to mean anything of value to right-thinking people.

conformity.jpgFrom http://blog.lib.umn.edu

Nor can it mean “free of discomfort,” as if “normal” were the equivalent of oblivious and you were somehow “abnormal” when you were sentient, human, and real. This, however, is exactly the game played by the mental health industry: it makes this precise, illegitimate switch. It announces that when you feel a certain level of discomfort you are abnormal and you have a disorder. It equates abnormal with unwanted… In this view “normal” is living free of excessive discomfort; “abnormal” is feeling or acting significantly distressed. Normal, in this view, is destroying a village in wartime and not experiencing anything afterward; abnormal is experiencing something, and for a long time thereafter.

Nazi mass murderFrom https://www.hawaii.edu

 The consequences of conscience, reason, and awareness are labeled abnormal and robotic allegiance to wearing a pasted-on smiley face is designated normal. Is that what we really mean? Is that what we really want?”

From What Do We Mean By ‘Normal’?


From http://akyll.deviantart.com

How would you define what is NORMAL
for us, human beings?

Are you NORMAL?

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Travelling in time on the old moped

( Russia, 1990s )

* * *Photo by Dimych

We stopped for lunch not far from Balagoe – a small township located half way from St Petersburg to Moscow.

“Take care. There are lots of Gipsies living in this area. Don’t stare at them, otherwise they might think that you are ‘challenging’ them. They are very hot-blooded and quick to grab their knives and axes. A young lad from St. Petersburg was killed here last  year,” – said Ivan, unpacking the bag with our lunch.

“Why?”

“Well, this is a long story. Gypsy lads are not allowed to touch Gipsy girls until they marry them. They still have a tradition of hanging out bloodstained sheets after the first night, you see. And gipsy girls are not allowed to bare their bodies in public, even arms and legs. Only their faces can be seen. However before Gipsy lads settle with Gipsy girls they like having fun with local Russian girls, who are perceived as easily accessible. Look at the way Russian girls are dressed, exposing everything they possibly can. They like getting male attention, don’t they? Unfortunately they are playing with fire. As the result, from time to time Gipsy lads get into troubles with local Russian guys.”

“Gosh, sounds more like a story about wild beasts rather than human beings. And it is only 300 kilometers from St. Petersburg!!!”

Ivan was just about to take the last sandwich from the bag, when I quickly grabbed it and took a big bite.

“Well, we were much wilder ‘beasts’ in the past too. A few generations ago the bride’s virginity was a matter of communal importance in Russia and, until it had been confirmed, either by the finger of the matchmaker or by the presence of bloodstains on the sheets, the honour of her household would remain in doubt.” He gave me a wink.

“Yuck! This fact has never been mentioned in our school textbooks! I bet cows were treated nicer in those days than girls. At least, cows did not have fingers poked into their private parts.”

“And at the wedding feast guests sometimes acted as witnesses to the bride’s deflowering” – continued Ivan.

“What?!” – a peace of sandwich stuck in my mouth. “Right, I see. You are telling me all of this only because you want to get hold of this sandwich, don’t you? Don’t even hope – no matter what our ancestors did in the past, I am going to finish this sandwich.” I bravely took another bite and inspected my shabby jeans and short-sleeved top.

“Would you mind to take your shirt off?”

“Why?”

“Come on, take it off. Believe me, Gipsy lads won’t get into fight with me over your beautiful arms,” I put Ivan’s shirt on.

“Can I borrow your cap as well?”

“Go for it.”

I tucked my long hair under Ivan’s cap.

“Can I have a go at the steering wheel now?”

“Are you sure?” Ivan did not seem to trust my driving skills.

“Not, but just want to get a taste of it. Please.”

“All right. Just a little bit.”

We packed our bags and hopped onto Ivan’s moped. We did not get far, when suddenly the front wheel skidded and we both flew into the air.

“Ouch”, – something hot touched my leg.

“How are you?” – asked Ivan.

“Fine,” – I slowly got up off the ground, checking my bruised body.

“Look what you’ve done?” – Ivan was almost crying, inspecting his moped. I managed to pull out every single wire on it.

“And what on earth happened to you? Why did you drive it right into this heap of sand in the middle of the road?”

“I could not see it.”

“Why could not you see it?”

“Because I did not have my glasses on?”

“Where are your glasses then?”

“In my bag?”

“Why are they in your bag?”

“They did not look good with my new outfit.”

“What?” – Ivan gasped in disbelief.

“They did not look good with that cap.” …

( Photo by Sfa )

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THE END

 

 

The cruelest animal…

Cruelty
From https://www.azquotes.com/quote/355811


From http://izquotes.com/quote/285251

* * *

India
2014

A few days ago, two Indian girls were gang-raped and murdered after doing what half a billion women and girls are forced to do every day – go outdoors to try to find somewhere discreet to go to the toilet. Those two cousins were just 14 and 16 years old.

“The father, a 45-year-old agricultural laborer from a low-ranking caste, said in a telephone interview that the two girls were last seen alive on Tuesday evening in a mango orchard, in the company of a man named Pappu Yadav. (The man’s surname is the same as his caste.)

The father said a relative saw the girls with Mr. Yadav and two of Mr. Yadav’s brothers and that, for reasons he did not explain, the relative tried to intervene between Mr. Yadav and the girls. One of the Yadav brothers pulled out a pistol “and put it to the head of my cousin-brother,” the father said, using a common term in India for a close relative. “He got scared and ran away.”

When he heard what had happened, the father said, he went to the local police station and asked that Mr. Yadav’s house be searched. But the police officers, who are members of the Yadav caste, “took the side of the culprits,” the father said.”

The girls were members of the Dalit community, India’s lowest caste once known as the “Untouchables”.

violence-against-women-indiafrom Witch hunt in India

* * *

Russia
1800s

One old nobleman, along with a band of spongers, moved to his countryside estate and took to hunting with hounds. One day, a peasant boy (the nobleman had three thousand souls there) accidentally hit a hound from the landlord’s kennels in the leg with a stone. When he saw that his Nalet was limping, the landlord became incensed and asked, “Who injured the dog?”

The kennel attendants had to reveal the little boy’s identity. They produced the boy. He confessed.

In the morning, the landlord ordered preparations for the hunt in full complement. They went to the field and took their places near the forest, the hounds were let out, and the borzois were held on leads. There they brought the boy. The landlord ordered that the little boy be stripped of his clothes and set loose in the field to run. Then they let out the dogs from all the packs to chase him—literally to hunt him.

The borzois approached the little boy, sniffed at him, but did not touch him… His mother got there in time; she had run through the forest. She clasped her child in her arms. They dragged her back to the village and again set the dogs loose until the little boy was torn to pieces. The mother went insane and died within three days.

From ‘A life under Russian serfdom’


From http://eco-trophy.ru

However don’t put all the blame on men. As history shows, women in power are as cruel as men. Take as an example Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova, commonly known as Saltichikha who made her infamous mark with the atrocious killings of her serfs, mostly women. She tortured children and pregnant women to death by beating them, breaking their bones, throwing them out of the house naked into the frost, pouring boiling water on their bodies and many other vicious and bloody tortures. She enjoyed torturing and mutilating her victims.

She didn’t make a habit of killing men – only three accidentally – although she tortured them in a different way. She killed the ones they loved. One of her serfs lost, one by one, three of his wives. .

Saltichikha was the epitome of boyar abuse of serfs in pre-reformation Russia. She pleaded guilty to the murder of at least 138 serfs at her estate, and the torture of many more. The name Saltychikha became a synonym for bestial treatment of the peasants.

darya-saltykova_1-t
Saltichikha

I wonder sometimes where such cruelty originates. Is there a template for cruelty laid down in the human brain? Is it something that is unique to our species? Why do human beings find pleasure in deliberately inflicting pain on other living things? And what can we do to stop it because…

“Not much we can do about that,” you might say.

I think we can. The stories presented in this post have one common theme: these cases are the product of certain beliefs (or memes) held in the society. The stories from Russia happened at the time, when surfs were not perceived as human beings – they were perceived as property and therefore their owners believed that they could do anything with them, including torturing and killing them. Russian writers and artists were the first to object that deeply ingrained belief. Book after book, painting after painting, they slowly changed that ‘meme’ and eventually serfdom, like slavery, has been abolished.

This clearly demonstrates that even the most deeply ingrained memes and beliefs can be changed. We just need to keep talking about such cases and spread positive beliefs to combat mind viruses and memes that cause cruelty and violence.

Don’t close your eyes to ‘Hell on Earth‘. As Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

sacredness

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Object Objectification of Humans

08 Subject and Object
From Subject, Object and Idea

Mass media exert extraordinarily powerful influences upon the way we think and see the world around us. Unfortunately, media is full of viruses of the mind, which include objectification of humans.

Objectification is a term to describe seeing human beings as objects. Representations show people, not as individuals, but as things to be owned, sold, used, etc., without regard to their personality or dignity. Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person merely as an instrument of sexual pleasure, making them a “sex object”.

Are we living in a culture of sexual liberation as some might argue, or are we being treated and learning to treat ourselves as mere objects?

used( photo by Dmytro Honcharov )

A plethora of research has found sexual objectification to have a range of negative consequences:

“Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys,” Hatton says. “Such images also have been shown to increase rates of body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders among men, women and girls; and they have even been shown to decrease sexual satisfaction among both men and women.”

As Carole Heldman PHD points out, “Women who grow up in a culture with widespread sexual objectification tend to view themselves as objects of desire for others. This internalized sexual objectification has been linked to problems with mental health (e.g., clinical depression, “habitual body monitoring”), eating disorders, body shame, self-worth and life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, motor functioning, sexual dysfunction… Beyond the internal effects, sexually objectified women are dehumanized by others and seen as less competent and worthy of empathy by both men and women.”

Advertising
From Advertising and Society

 Laci Green highlighted some of these points very well in her YouTube video on sexual objectification:

Are women the only victims of objectification? Of course not. Sex sells and as Lisa Wade notes, men’s sexual objectification is on the rise too. Objectifying men alongside women certainly isn’t progress and the forces behind this ‘equality’ have nothing to do with justice. Unfortunately, market forces under capitalism exploit whatever fertile ground is available.

ManFrom Sociological Images

When talking about sexual objectification, it is important to point out the differences between sexy and sexual. If one thinks of the subject/object dichotomy that dominates thinking in Western culture, subjects act and objects are acted upon. Subjects are sexual, while objects are sexy. While most people enjoy being perceived as ‘sexy’ or ‘sexually appealing’ by their loving and caring partners, hardly anyone likes to be perceived as a mere object. We are all humans after all, with souls, minds and feelings.

Kiss
From Fanpop

Sex sells however the purchasing decision is still yours. Choose wisely.

Related posts:

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The Power of Quiet

quietness

From CristinaSkyBox

Have you ever being embarrassed of your quietness or shyness? Have you ever being envious of more outspoken charismatic people?

In spite of zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas, often too much of a premium is put on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking. As Susan Cain points out, “Introversion – along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness – is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform…”.

However don’t despair if you are quiet and introverted by nature. Be yourself and share your ideas as powerfully as you can. You don’t need to be loud to spread your ideas – ideas can be shared quietly, in writing or blogging. The trick is in learning to be yourself, honouring your own style and personality and not allowing yourself to be swept up by the prevailing norms.

Remember: “Everyone shines, given the right lighting.”

(based on “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain)

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On seeing

“Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.”

Bill Cosby

SeeingFrom AllThingsLearning

“Seeing means perceiving reality as objectively as possible, and things as they are. It means X-ray eyes seeing through celebrities to products being marketed, through a board’s trusted politicians to finances lying hidden (seeing beyound the memes and viruses of the mind).

The greatest poets, scientists, entrepreneurs and managers are so because they see things others don’t, without social norms and herding behaviour blinding them.

Innovation involves seeing possibilities where others see nothing.  Innovation can be a future vision of the unlooked for, longed for event that customers know cannot happen, until it happens.

Seeing involves contrarian spirit and unusual cultural backgrounds.  Fish do not see the water they are swimming in.  Most in mainstream cultures see only what surrounds them and are blinded by it.  People from different cultures (and those with learning or other “disorders”) see different things, or the same things differently, and this gives insight.  Ethnic minorities such as Lebanese, Armenian and Jewish people contribute disproportionately to business, science and creative endeavours.  Nouriel Roubini, of Iranian Jewish descent predicted the bursting of the US housing bubble and the 2008 financial meltdown.

Some people within mainstream cultures do see more clearly than others.  Charles Merrill (who founded Merrill Lynch) anticipated the 1929 crash.  He doubted his own sanity because he disagreed with the collective “group wisdom.”  Merrill could see, and also let others see.  He was a leader in financial transparency, publishing an annual report that revealed his business’s true financial state, and let others see it.

It is important to see the world, not how others have modelled it, and to see the variance and not just the high salient extremes, to see through symptoms to underlying problems.

Seeing also involves granularity; the scale of what is seen, and the ability as William Blake:

“To see a world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower,

hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour”

(From “Essays on Management: On Seeing” by Peter Winsley)

SandFrom To see a world in a grain of sand

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The toxic virus of the mind: US vs. THEM

Us

From The Toxic Myth of Us vs. Them

The human mind has a tendency to categorize people into social groups. Often these social groups can create an “Us vs. Them” mentality toward people who may be different than us in some way, whether it’s race, gender, age, nationality, culture, religion, or socioeconomic status.

This ‘“Us vs. Them” mentality is a very dangerous virus that pervades many minds on this planet. Often it is so woven into the fabric of our conditioning that many don’t even recognize it in themselves. We stop seeing individual difference within the group. Instead, we see only faceless ‘They’, which is always bad or wrong, while ‘We’ are always right.

This virus of the mind limits us, keeps us in perpetual cycles of fear and violence. We feel justified, even righteous in shouting down or shooting down “them”. Not surprisingly the ‘Us vs Them’ approach is commonly used in military training.

us_them-150x150
from Us (Us us us) and Them (them them them)

Amazingly, studies of the ‘Us vs. them’ mentality have shown that people tend to favor a group bias even when they are categorized on relatively meaningless distinctions, for example: eye color, what kind of paintings they like, or even the flip of a coin. This tells us that we can potentially separate ourselves from a certain group of people on any random and arbitrary characteristic. Therefore, everyone is susceptible to be a perpetrator and/or victims of social prejudice and ostracism, even if the only difference is a star on a tummy, like in the case of Dr. Seuss’s plain and star bellied Sneetches depicted below.

6117208

from Us vs. Them

From evolutionary perspective ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality makes sense. We’ve evolved to perceive these social categories as during tribal times, it would be beneficial to perceive unfamiliar people as a potential threat and treat them as such for protection and security.

Today many of these social categories and stereotypes are propagated by society, tradition, and culture. We see that all the time in politics (Republicans vs. Democrats), war (Palestine vs. Israel), sports (Mets vs. Yankees), and other aspects of our culture. Even though this mentality is not relevant in modern conditions and  creates unnecessary tension and antagonism between everyone, we are struggling with getting over this toxic meme.

How can we fight this powerful virus of the mind and bridge the gap between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’?

 US-Them-300x93
From Us-Them

Steven Handel believes that first of all, we need to “become more aware of our tendency to put people into groups and create an “Us vs. Them” mentality. Then, instead of seeing people in groups, we should try to see everyone as an individual worthy of respect, equality, and kindness, regardless of what groups they may be categorized in. If you choose to associate with a group identity, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just be super mindful of it and be cautious if that identity starts to have a negative influence on how you view other people who you don’t identify with.”

Like Steven Handel, I try to identify with everyone in some way. I believe at the core we are all human beings and want the same things in life, regardless of our race, religion or culture. We all want to know our family is safe. We all want to be loved and appreciated, have food on the table, enjoy good health. In that sense, we are all very similar and are connected as one.

we-are-all-one
From The Only Message that Matters: “We are all One”

* * *

Resources:

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Propaganda and public perception manipulation

“It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it.”

John Pilger

Propaganda_
From Anti-Propaganda Propaganda

Defining propaganda has always been a problem. The main difficulties have involved differentiating propaganda from other types of persuasion, and avoiding an “if they do it then that’s propaganda, while if we do it then that’s information and education” biased approach. Personally I prefer the following definition provided by Garth Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell: “Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”

What is modern propaganda? For many, it is the lies of a totalitarian state usually associated with Nazis and Communism.

nazi_poster
From 10 Most Evil Propaganda Techniques

Today, we prefer to believe that there is no submissive void in our society that could be manipulated by propaganda.  Is that really so?

Propaganda does not always come in a form of posters or slogans. As history shows, selection of certain story angles and facts for the mass media distribution is a much more effective away of manipulating public perception while maintaining the illusions of personal freedom and choice. The media’s truly the most powerful entity on earth when it comes to propaganda. Internet can facilitate the spread of facts and real life photos misrepresented in line with a certain agenda and supported by false generalisations such as “we are all good, they are all bad” etc.

media-manipulation
From www.whaleoil.co.nz

What can we do to counteract propaganda in our societies? Not all people can write anti-propaganda articles and make films like John Pilger. However we all can:

  • learn to critically evaluate everything we see and hear
  • teach our children to question everything and think critically
  • challenge our own beliefs and biases that we were brought up with
  • open our minds to new perspectives and points of view.
  • make friends with people from different cultural backgrounds to learn more about their lives and beliefs
  • engage in discussions with people from different cultural backgrounds to build relationships, improve understanding and dispell any existing myths and propaganda.
  • read and learn more about other cultures and other people.

I’m very grateful to all people the blogosphere who helped me to learn more about their cultures and beliefs and dispelled some of the myths I was brought up with. We are the world, we are the people, we are one great family. It is time to realise that a change can only come when we stand together as one.


Resources:

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Seek the truth in everything you see…

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

Bible, Matthew 5:6

AND

“And whenever you give your word, say the truth.”

Quran, al-An’aam 6:152

search-for-the-truth
From Autonomous Mind

 It is amazing how quickly facts and real life images get misrepresented in mass media or on the internet in support of a certain agenda, perspective or viewpoint. Therefore I often try to find real stories behind images I see around, rather than ‘blindly’ believing the captions. Below are a few of my ‘discoveries’:

You probably have seen that image on the internet or in the mass media, thought you might not have seen it with that caption: ”

Image1From Random Steer 103 

This caption implies that the soldier on this photo is on the ‘wrong side’ and he might be regretting that. I did a little research and discovered the following story provided by Michael Yon – the photographer who took that photo:

“Major Mark Bieger found this little girl after the car bomb that attacked our guys while kids were crowding around. The soldiers here have been angry and sad for two days. They are angry because the terrorists could just as easily have waited a block or two and attacked the patrol away from the kids. Instead, the suicide bomber drove his car and hit the Stryker when about twenty children were jumping up and down and waving at the soldiers. Major Bieger, I had seen him help rescue some of our guys a week earlier during another big attack, took some of our soldiers and rushed this little girl to our hospital. He wanted her to have American surgeons and not to go to the Iraqi hospital. She didn’t make it. I snapped this picture when Major Bieger ran to take her away. He kept stopping to talk with her and hug her.

The soldiers went back to that neighborhood the next day to ask what they could do. The people were very warming and welcomed us into their homes, and many kids were actually running up to say hello and to ask soldiers to shake hands…

One thing seems certain; the people in that neighborhood share our feelings about the terrorists. We are going to go back there, and if any terrorists come out, the soldiers hope to find them. Everybody is still very angry that the insurgents attacked us when the kids were around.”

Do you think that the caption reflects the true story behind that image?

In another case, the following photo has been circulated in the social media with the caption: “Heartbreaking image by an Iraqi artist taken in an orphanage. This little girl has never seen her mother, so she drew a mom on the ground and fell asleep with her…”

Image2From Info For U

You can find the true story behind this thought-provoking image at http://www.flickr.com/photos/khatt-khatti/7577505576/in/photostream  . Below are the words of the artist Bahareh Bisheh who created this image: “This little girl is my cousin and she actually fell asleep on the asphalt just outside my house. She must have played for some time and just lied to rest and fell asleep. im used a chair to stand on in order to take this shot. There is no orphanage involved and no tragic story behind this. i took this opportunity to be creative. It is a style of photography You can use my photos in your webblag If you mention my name as the photographer of this photo. Thanks to all for the consideration .”

Even though this caption is not true, it is still a good reminder for all of us that there are lots of children on this planet who live without mother’s and father’s love. Lets appreciate what we have and take care of those, who are less fortunate in life than us.

However if we want to use a real life image to express our views, let’s not forget to check the story behind it, mention the author’s name and provide the link to it’s source. If we come across an image we like, let’s still remember to follow the same steps before sharing it to avoid spreading false memes and viruses of the mind. As H. L. Mencken once said, “Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in their readiness to doubt.” Seek the truth in everything you see…

truth
From A Leading Philosophy Rather Than a Leader

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