Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Ten Signs You're A Fundamentalist Christian Or A Hindu Fanatic

Fundamentalist Christian:

10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering.  And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers.  You consider that to be evidence that prayer works.  And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.


Hindu Fanatic:

10. You believe anyone who wears even so much as a saffron underwear is a human incarnation of ’Jagat Brahman‘ (God) and address them as “baba”, “swami”, “shri shri” finding the servile pleasure of touching their feet ‘intoxicating’.

9. You defend militantly everything the saffron-clad swamis have to preach, no matter how illogical and ridiculous, and believe that he/she will solve all your problems only if you continue singing bhajans (devotional songs).

 8.  You eject out of your chair at the slightest noise of someone uttering the word ‘Hinduism’ accusing the person of ignorance and launching into a lengthy diatribe on why the fool needs to address Hinduism as ‘Sanatana Dharma’.

7. You think all Muslims are “terrorists” and call any person who does not support the ‘Hindutva’ cause as an anti-Hindu, anti-India, pseudo-secular communist.

6. You accuse Muslims of being intolerant and yet become endlessly peeved at the distorted displays of hindu symbols or the use of hindu deities in works of art or movies by non-hindus and take boundless pride in protesting against such distortions or threatening them with dire consequences.

5. You spend hundreds of idle hours trying to find the ‘real’ meaning of different hindu symbols and slokas and take immense pride whenever the western media mentions something remotely Hindu  – convinced that it is an undeniable evidence supporting the ‘greatness’ of  “Hindu civilization”

4. You accuse ‘goras’(whites, but typically means Christians) of being racist when they ridicule Hindus but find no problems cracking Chinese jokes, Sardar jokes or even supporting the caste system by deciding not to marry outside your caste.

3. You find fairy tales of other religions amusing and entertaining but consider the epic fairy tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata as ‘itihaas’ (history).

2. You have no idea what a ‘testable hypothesis’ is but proudly claim that the Vedas are scientific works, distorting slokas and quoting personal opinion of scientists to make your case.

1. You have never read the entire Bhagavad Gita or other hindu religious texts but feel you are competent enough to talk about them loudly just because you read a few Amar Chitra Katha comics when you were a kid.


How Poverty In Africa Is Portrayed

An interesting photo project by Duncan McNicholl shows how the mainstream media often portrays poverty in Africa. Frustrated by what he saw at home in Canada, he decided to take pictures of his acquaintances in Malawi "dressed to kill" and "dressed very poorly".

We’ve all seen it: the photo of a teary-eyed African child, dressed in rags, smothered in flies, with a look of desperation that the caption all too readily points out. Some organization has made a poster that tells you about the realities of poverty, what they are doing about it, and how your donation will change things.

I reacted very strongly to these kinds of photos when I returned from Africa in 2008. I compared these photos to my own memories of Malawian friends and felt lied to. How had these photos failed so spectacularly to capture the intelligence, the laughter, the resilience, and the capabilities of so many incredible people?

The truth is that the development sector, just like any other business, needs revenue to survive. Too frequently, this quest for funding uses these kind of dehumanizing images to draw pity, charity, and eventually donations from a largely unsuspecting public…

This is not to say that people do not struggle, far from it, but the photos I was seeing only told part of the story… [To contribute to correcting this,] I am taking two photos of the same person; one photo with the typical symbols of poverty (dejected look, ripped clothes, etc.), and another of this person looking their very finest, to show how an image can be carefully constructed to present the same person in very different ways. I want to bring to light some of the different assumptions we make about a person, especially when we see an image of "poverty" from rural Africa.

McNicholl's acquaintances participating with their own choice of clothes and posing as they like:

It is not uncommon to see similar depictions made by charities for other purposes as well, be it for providing education to women in rural areas, financial assistance to persons with disabilities who need them, etc. The idea is to appeal to the better off groups by presenting those in need as objects of pity and completely at the mercy of donors. This is not only denying of dignity and highly dehumanizing for those at the receiving end, but it often also serves to remove a sense of responsibility those making the donations may have to take. Such representations tend to go in line with the just-world hypothesis where conditions like these are seen as simply matters of circumstance or cases of exception and often restrict identifying the reasons why these condition continue to exist or challenging oppressive systems that may be at work. Perhaps the worst thing is, whatever it is that these people are in need of, it is rarely shown that they have a RIGHT to get it. Not as an act of mercy from others or as a given.

Body Positivity

It is important to emphasize body positivity. We live in a culture where we are constantly bombarded with fake, Photoshopped body images as the ones "truly" desirable and pressured to achieve unattainable beauty standards. I wish more people didn't have to grow up in an environment where they were always reminded how ugly they are or how less attractive they are, and how much more effort they need to put in to alter what they have, just to fit in with the narrow external ideals. I wish people (women in particular) didn't need to have their self-esteem built around every small step they take towards what seemed to be closer to those standards, instead of celebrating what they already have. I wish the mainstream media messages we are surrounded with were more open and inclusive of diversity instead of sticking with only white, cisgendered, able-bodied men and white, cisgendered, thin, able-bodied women as the 'norm'.  And when I say inclusive, I mean positive representations. Not stereotyped or bullying stuff, because there's absolutely no shortage of that.  

The following is a video from ThosePeskyDames on body positivity.
(I've written a transcript, because I realize accessibility is much more than just ramps. And this was possible because it was of short length so that I was able to download it. I apologize for not doing the same for other videos I've shared, its only possible when my slow net lets me.)

Two things I wish I'd known as a teenager, and that are often still hard to remember today:
1) People are going to have all sorts of opinions about how you look, there is nothing you can do to control this, so it's pointless trying to.

2) The only person whose opinion matters about how you look is your own. Don't rely on other people to give you worth, they won't always be there.
Whatever you look like, there's always going to be people who think you're unattractive and misguidedly, think its their business to tell you so. Ignore them. Because there are others who think you're the most beautiful person in the world. And not even in spite of your so-called flaws and imperfections, often because of those things you think are so hideous and awful about you. This is something I was struck with, particularly while filming for the TV show that we're going to be in on Wednesday. We had talked to people about hair and the whole group of people we talked to, I'm not even exaggerating, physically recoiled when we showed them our armpits and leg hair. As far as they were concerned, any woman with body hair was disgusting. It didn't matter what she looked like, if she had body hair that was it, that was the deal breaker. And honestly, that's fine. Don't like women with body hair? Fine, don't date them. There's plenty of other people out there who either don't care, or for whom its a massive turn-on! This is a lie that we've been tricked into believing for our entire lives that beauty is some objective standard that we have to aspire to, when its entirely relative. We're told if you have body hair, no one would want you. Or if you're fat. Or if you're too skinny. Or if you have spots, or scars or stretch marks. Or if you're skin's too light, or too dark... the list is just endless! (My colleague I've always talked about my weight too, and there's a link in the description to my dieting week video which says a lot similar to what Holly said in her body positive video yesterday).
But body positivity is so much more than weight. When I was in secondary school, I got teased for a lot of things. I was a chubby, gingerish kid with braces, and I was a nerd. But one of the things that hold of me was I was teased quite a lot for my nose. Its not particularly huge but its not exactly dancy either, and that made me hate it. And I knew if I ever go for plastic surgery it wouldn't be to lose weight or anything like that, it would be to fix my nose because there was nothing else I could do about that. And then when I met my current partner, one of the first compliments he gave me completely out of the blue was that he really loved my nose. He thought it made me look distinguished. So I promise you, that part of yourself that you hate, that you think no one could ever find attractive, there is someone out there who thinks that's what makes you so incredibly gorgeous. And anyone who tries to convince you otherwise just isn't worth your time. You want to tell me that you think I'm fat, that I'm spotty, that I'm hairy, that I'm disgusting? Fine. I don't particularly want to sleep with you either. You kind of seem like a douche.
That said, you can't rely on other people to make you feel beautiful. They're too effectless. Yes, there's someone out there who thinks your fat rolls, and your stretch marks, and your hairy armpit and your giant nose are gorgeous. But there are seven billion people in the world and only a tiny percentage of those people are going to pass in and out of your life. The only person who's going to be there with you for the rest of your life, is you. And if you hate you, it doesn't matter if someone else thinks you're gorgeous. Because in all likelihood, one day they're not going to be there to tell you so. And you're going to be left with yourself and what you think of yourself, and you're going to be miserable. And that doesn't mean that you shouldn't feel that you can change your body. If you want to be thinner, go for it. If you want to gain weight, go for it. If you want grow your hair, shave your hair, wear make-up, don't wear make-up, whatever. But you need to question why you want to make these changes. And they need to come from a place of acceptance and not from a place of desperation of trying to conform to external ideals that you feel you have to fit in with. Acceptance and change takes time. But that's ok, because the way you look at the moment and the way you look between A and B is fine because there's nothing inherently wrong with the way you look. And accept that there are things about your body which you can't ever change. Or that it may be dangerous or difficult for you to change. And whether in the long run its really worth those risks just to make yourself look different. And it's hard. It's so fucking hard to be surrounded by a sea of messages that tell you the way you look is wrong, to not be represented as beautiful or represented at all, and to be continually reminded that you're not the supposed ideal. Which is where the second effects of this comes in and it relates to what Holly was saying in her video. Because just like you can’t rely on someone else to tell you you’re beautiful, we can’t keep dragging other girls down to try to make ourselves feel better. We need to stop making comparisons, saying “At least I don’t look like her.” Or buy into this ‘real women have curves’ bullshit like what skinny girls are just imaginary fairies.
We need to do everything we can to make it easy for each other, not harder. And more than that, we need to challenge the industry that makes us feel this way. We need to ask why so much of our media features exclusively white, exclusively skinny, exclusively able-bodied girls. We need to demand that we see ourselves and other women represented. And tell them that we are fucking fabulous exactly the way we are regardless of what they think.
I won’t feel this way on Wednesday. I know how loudly the demons in my head will be screaming “I look too fat” “I look too pale” “I look ugly compared to the other dames”.. But I’m going to keep fighting those demons, because I have to. Because we all have to. And the hopefully one day, we won’t have to anymore.