Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dear Bigotry...

I think all of us have those moments, where we're just completely flattened by other people, either positively or negatively. I had one of these experiences of the less pleasant kind the other day when I was browsing around on my facebook news feed page and came across a new album labeled "Muslim". It was more or less a photo documentation of a little boy having his arm crushed by a car as punishment for stealing some bread. I agree that this punishment is totally cruel (if it was real at all, since an oftentimes omitted seventh picture identifies the scene as a stunt and shows the boy completely unharmed afterward); what I deeply disagree with, and what had me fuming was the ensuing bashing of Islam by people who claim to be Christians but never even read the bible and talk about Islam and its values without ever having read a single page of the Koran. Even as an atheist I can say that I've read the bible and the Koran is actually fairly high up on my to-read list, just to be informed. This person has been known to criticize everything non-American without actually having traveled enough to be able to compare.

I am well aware, that Islam is by far not the most peaceful religion out there. The Koran explicitly states that the new religion should be spread, if necessary by conquest. While the Judo-Christian religion does not favor violent conversion itself, it clearly says that genocide to clear the country out of foreign faiths is the way to go (see the Old Testament, the story of King Saul). Given that Jesus had probably no intention of his teachings becoming such a world-wide hype, he would be outright appalled if he knew that people were killing and oppressing others to spread the faith (let's think back to the crusades and the missionaries in Asia). Even today, atrocities are committed in the name of Jesus. Let's just think of the current Iraq war; ex-President Bush claims that God himself ordered him to attack Iraq, which is probably the greatest crap I've ever heard (my personal theory is it was Chaney via the White House intercom system; Bush is not known for his high IQ after all). Thus, thousands of modern-day crusaders march out under the blue-red-and-white banner of their leader to invade and Americanize yet another country that does not bow to their demands (as we all know, the USA is God's chosen country, right?). Atrocities such as the torture of innocent people in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and the rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, who was attacked repeatedly by several GIs before being executed along with three of her family members.

But these incidents are conveniently ignored when it comes to bashing the obvious enemy: Islam. Cruel punishments that are executed by a backward government or even just lynch justices under the cover of Islam are dragged into the spotlight to denounce the whole religion. That similar punishments are written down in the bible are again ignored. It is further ignored that only about 150 years ago in Texas people were hanged for stealing a horse, and only during this past century people were killed for loving someone of a different skin color (even if the pictures portrayed what the anti-Islam league claims it is, it would look like a rather unofficially lynch practice rather than a punishment handed down by the government).

So my question now is: Do the atrocities committed by US soldiers in Iraq not count because it affected only brown people who are not Americans anyways and cases like those of the little boy are dragged in the spotlight to denounce a whole faith? Definitely seems like it. I know several Muslims myself, as well as Christians of different faiths, Buddhists, and people from all corners in the spectrum of atheism and agnosticism. And believe me or not, there are good people among all of those groups, as well as bigots who abuse religion as something to hide behind. Even though I am an atheist myself, I see all people for who they are, no matter their faith. I don't see their every actions as based on their religion, but as coming from their own free will.

Does the Koran say that for stealing a loaf of bread your arm shall be crushed by a car? I don't think so, since cars were't quite mainstream yet when the Koran was written. Actually, the maximum penalty for stealing under Sharia Law is the amputation of the hand, but this sentence cannot be handed down to a child, and not if something inexpensive was stolen, especially if food was stolen due to hunger (get your facts straight before speaking up!). Does the Koran have some punishments that are completely out of proportion under today's consideration. Definitely, just like some of the punishments in the Bible (which also supports mutilation for theft!). Do some backward people still apply them today to portray their power? Sadly yes, and this applies for both Muslim and Christian societies. The only way to get away from this kind of society is continued developmental aid in form of infrastructure and offering alternatives. But sadly it seems as if it is in the interest of the World Police to maintain the status quo in those countries, which then leads to complaints that those countries are the breeding ground of fundamentalism and terrorist activity (see: vicious circle).

PS: I also love the bigotry of certain people, who love to stress at any occasion how great and free America is just to turn around and oppress other people's opinion (= Freedom of Speech). I'm off now!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Of Energy And Life

Many years ago I read a book called "The Calestine Prophecy". I can best describe it as a mid-90 New Age Indiana Jones, if that makes any sense. As most New Age stuff, it is full of fairly wacky ideas, but definitely had some very substantial concepts. The principle of treating even small kids like individuals, and not as semi-persons appealed to me even when I first read this book as a teenager. One concept I've been thinking about a lot lately is that of the struggle for aura or life force. At first, I put this one in the wacky category, until I recently went through my old room, and found said book. Over the next days, this idea just kept going through my head. Not just as it was described in the book, with actually seeing an aura, but just the way the effects are described, that most people are constantly struggling to gain this life force in so many different ways. Just think about it: Have you ever walked away from an argument feeling better about yourself because you know that the other person feels bad now? I hate to say it, but I have, and it really scares me and makes me feel like a bad person. Lately, I have felt a lot on the other end of this struggle. Whenever I am with my family in close contact for a longer time, I feel completely drained. I feel belittled and pushed around, like a little kid. Sometimes it even seems as if I can feel the energy being drained from me.

Usually, I am someone who can easily stand up for herself and is very independent. But around my family I am suddenly reduced to a person who has brains but little other skills. The daughter who is the bad driver, is not musical, or any good at handy skills. From our teenage time on, these skills were attributed to my sister, to build up her ego since she failed in most of her schooling. I battled major issues, spent years in therapy for various eating disorders, because this seemed the only way for me to take some control over my life, took anti-depressants, and finally pulled myself out of the swamp after moving out to go to college and being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. During my first year in college I gave up therapy and medications and decided to accept me for the person I am, with my sadness and everything else. A little over a year later I met someone, who was almost scarily much like me, with a similar background and attitude to our problems; five months later we were married. We are soul mates, since we never have to explain how we feel, and because we know what to do if the other one feels down. And for the first time I really realized what it means to do what the book describes as sharing aura. Instead of struggling for this life force by trying to make the other one feel bad about him- or herself, we support each other unconditionally. Without any expensive therapies or medications we lifted each other out of our depressions and became stronger individuals within our unit.

Now, as parents, we are determined to raise our daughters to be strong individuals; we love them for who they are, with their strengths and weaknesses. We are strong enough as parents to not feed off our children, but to nourish them to strive. I am so proud to see Lily growing to be this wonderful, independent girl, so full of energy and life, even though it is sometimes draining. Violet has a much different personality, but we can definitely see, that she will be confident as well. We agree that we will support our children equally in their interests and will not hold them back in their potential. Who knows, maybe the tone-deaf klutz that's me will one day play the piano with the girls...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Nostalgia Breakfast For You And The Kids

On today's menu: Banana-Yogurt Boats

As some of you may know, my grandpa died earlier this year, and since my grandmother is not quite willing any more to take care of herself or their house, she decided it was time to move to a nursing home. Last weekend my parents helped her getting through a lot of drawers to weed out what she would take with her, and what would stay behind. And what do we find among loads of old crap? My old Popeye cook book I had as a child. A little bit faded, but still in mint condition. I thing this is one of those things that happen a lot when you go through old stuff. You find the most random things of your childhood, which open a whole box of memories. This one was more a pamphlet with healthy recipes for kids that the health insurance gave out than a real book, but it was officially my first cook book! Here’s my favorite recipe from it, a healthy and yummy breakfast, which can be easily prepared with even very young kids helping (for all you mommies out there!)

Banana-Yogurt Boats

You need:

2 bananas

3 teaspoons chocolate-milk powder

1 cup plain yogurt

1 multi-grain artisan bread rolls

Fresh berries for garnish, if desired

How to do it:

Mash the bananas with a fork in a shallow bowl. Add the chocolate-milk powder and yogurt. Stir well and spread on the bread roll halves. If you have time, garnish them with fresh berries.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

PS: You can also find this recipe and many more on Adventures in {Baby} Food

This recipe was taken from “Spielend kochen lernen mit Popeye’s Lieblingsrezepten.”, a pamphlet copyright by AOK-Verlag GmbH, Bonn, Germany; issued 1991