Ruffle some feathers

A recent Facebook post from street artist Brave One, brought my attention to the powerful image included below, that was painted on a wall somewhere in Manchester by an artist known as Akse.

Check out more of Akse’s artwork over here

Two faces and a couple of birds, that’s it.

There’s no need to explain who the faces belong to.

What they represent also goes without saying (painfully so).

The image does not depict a conversation that ever took place in real life. But then again… it totally is. A whole history lesson could (should?) be dedicated to that one image.

If you’re already envisioning this art piece as en edgy backdrop for your pensive-look-into-the-horizon instagram pic, don’t bother. The whole area is up for demolition and that specific wall has already been torn down.

If the image doesn’t do it for you, allow the artist himself to give you some context:

The timing of the image undoubtedly has to do with POTUS’ visit to the UK, where he will be meeting up with all sorts of high ranked people, most of whom he has insulted at some point over the last couple of months.

Perhaps the image of that demolition machine working it’s way through his angry face can offer some solace…

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Firing up my soul force

You know how festive days such as mother’s day and valentine’s day always get responses along the lines of “What’s the point of being nice to your mother / lover once a year? It should be done each and every day or not at all.”?

All though a tad cynical, these people are right, in a way. So are the people that say that emphasizing or reinforcing their love on this given day is an important reminder to not take such a beautiful thing for granted.

A national holiday we have in the Netherlands and that I write a blog about almost every year (see here and here) is our World War II remembrance day (4th of May), followed by Liberation Day (5th of May).

All though I have always payed my respects (two minutes of silence at 8PM) and always did my best to celebrate my freedom consciously, I must admit that lately, I feel like the previously mentioned cynics when it comes to remembrance day…

Every year I make an effort to ask my friends and co-workers what they will do when the clock hits 8 PM on the 4th of May. I always try to remind them that it is not just 2 minutes of “having to be quiet” but that these 2 minutes can be used to explore our own thoughts on the current state of the world and honor those who have died for the freedom we now so easily take for granted.

quote wars Enoch Powell

I always feel fired up and ready to act after liberation day. And then… NOTHING. Maybe I write a blog about my white privilege and dive into a couple of Facebook discussions and call my friends out on their inherent racism… But that’s it.

I feel icky just admitting that. I feel useless and I feel hypocritical. If only the world wasn’t collapsing under the weight of all the racism, bigotry and hate mongering, then I could act as if my help wasn’t needed.

But it is, and so is yours.

It seems the Dutch committee for 4th and 5th of May celebrations agrees that we all need a kick up the ass, and therefore decided the theme of this year’s WWII remembrance should be RESISTANCE. Even more, it has been decided it should be the theme of the whole 2018 calendar year…

Museums are adapting their exhibitions to this year’s theme and special education series are being compiled at schools, where WWII veterans and war heroes are stopping by to tell their stories.

I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence, but the Dutch year of resistance happens to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. The exact date of his murder was the 4th of April and on this day last week I watched the movie Selma.

The general story line and historical context were not new to me, as I hope it isn’t for anyone else. The film did however contribute to a better understanding on my side about what resistance entails.

It requires courage. It requires perseverance. It requires not taking “no” (or “wait” or “I can’t” or “It’s too hard”) for an answer. It requires caring more about the cause than your own well being.

As Dr King said in his legendary “I have a dream”-speech (which does not feature in the film, btw):

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

So yes; SOUL FORCE!! And now that I come to think about it, I actually wrote a blog about it just last week, only in the version of super woman Valarie Kaur. She didn’t call it Soul Force though. She called it revolutionary love.

And then former American president Jimmy Carter showed up at Stephen Colbert’s late show. Such a sweet and wise man; I had no idea! He reminded me of the willpower it takes to love those that seem undeserving of that love but the importance of doing it anyhow.

It seems my generation’s greatest purpose in life is to achieve inner peace or “zen” or a perpetual state of “Netflix & chill”. These are actually all thing I excel at, but I suddenly realize that being relaxed is making me complacent and -oh the horror-, indifferent.

I need to refuel my inner rage and channel it into something productive and less egocentrical.

Pff… I think I’ve even written about this before… What do I do to get out of this cycle?

I need to start planning some field trips.

Goals for the month of May:

  • Visit at least one exhibition, museum or lecture that fits the “resistance” theme.
  • Make a grumpy looking stranger smile.
  • Think of a good present for my bf’s birthday.
  • Bake a cake and eat it too, but with friends (especially the undeserving ones?). Or maybe it should be humble pie.

To be continued!

The seven sins; minus four, plus one

All though I have a certain fascination for religion and spirituality, in truth I am a devout atheist. My interest stems from an anthropological curiosity for mankind, its history and psychological necessities.

A thing that I have spent many hours philosophizing about is the role of religion in defining the boundary between good and evil. As I am most familiar with Christianity and I run into its symbolism almost on a daily basis, I have often pondered about the value and appeal of the seven sins.

Dismantling the seven sins

I have come to the conclusion that of the seven, there are four that I don’t consider to be all that bad;

  • c812d7bc02a55367723694dbc3232d118b976ac02cbda8f8f302c12d332a347aLust – Why would you demonize sex?
  • Gluttony – what’s wrong with enjoying good food?
  • Pride – I suppose they mean arrogance, which is an annoying trait for sure. But a cardinal sin? Mwoah….
  • Sloth – Aaaugh, don’t judge my laziness; I need it! Even neuro-scientists agree.

The one in the list I haven’t made up my mind about yet, is wrath.

  • Wrath – Merriam-Webster dictionary say wrath is “strong vengeful anger or indignation”. I think everyone has the right to feel anger and definitely indignation. However, I know people that douse their words with the poison of bitterness and hate and that is really sucky, to say the least. At the same time, I am convinced such words always come from people that are hurting themselves and in a very distorted way are actually crying for help. 

And then there’s the two that would also qualify as evil, dark and nasty in my book;

  • Envy – No doubt about it; envy is ugly and anyone that feels this needs to work on eradicating it from their system. No good comes from it.
  • Greed – The core of almost all of mankind’s suffering, if you ask me. 

The eighth sin.

Envy and greed are both dark paths, that every person has walked down, albeit briefly.

A state of mind that may come across as innocent to some but deserves strong condemnation is the passive aggressive feeling of:

Indifference

All though I know many people that let matters of the world get to them in a degree that I feel is unhealthy, indifference is probably the feeling I fear most in the world.

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Mind Cleanup: Shedding indifference

All though 2016 ended with a slight whim of apocalyptic dystopia this new year is growing on me. There are actually more people that do think like me and they seem to be growing louder, which has put my desire to go into fullblown cocoon-mode to rest somewhat.

Self-reflection

mirror

When my boyfriend asked me how I looked back on 2016 and what I expected of the year to come I said 2016 was my Hobbes year and 2017 should be more of a Calvin year.

As many of you surely know, Hobbes is not only the surname of  “one of the founders of modern political philosophy”, but it is also the name that mr Bill Watterson gave the tiger that completes the legendary cartoon duo: Calvin & Hobbes.

Hobbes is the (extremely sarcastic) voice of reason in the equation, whereas Calvin is the type that “demands euphoria” and is shocked when his mother doesn’t honor the ritual of scooping out the peanut butter properly. He’s the kind of kid that does not take “because I say so” for an answer and will call you out on your bullshit. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of your status or position. He will cause a one-man-riot for causes that are important to him and will suffer the consequences of his actions with his head held high. Calvin, despite being named after 16th century theologian, John Calvin, is actually pretty much an atheist if you ask me.

Anyhow, the point of all this is that 2017 is a year in which I hope to be more vocal about what I feel is right and allow my outrage to be heard whenever values I hold dear are under threat. So there.

Time to answer some self-reflection questions from my list!

How quickly do you jump to conclusions about people?

I’m afraid I can actually be quite a judgmental person, all though I am getting better at this.

Which physical feature defines you?

As most of the members of my family I have quite a pronounced chin and tend to duckface a bit when I concentrate hard on something. I also have a relatively large nose. Sadly, no broomstick flying skills, ’cause yes, I would make a great witch. 😛

What is your star sign?

Sagittarius, all the way. And apparently, I am also a skunk.

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Not sure if any of this is true or whatever but it does fascinate me…

What are you good at and what would you like to improve?

Hmm… this is a hard one… I guess I’m a good listener (when I want to be?). I’m pretty good with most animals, does that count?

There was a time in my life when I thought I should improve my public speaking skills. I totally lose my cool in front of a group. As a matter of fact, I think I’m just not much of a group person. Small talk: also not my forte.

I would like to be less awkward in these type of situations, but would prefer to just upload this skill, a-la-matrix, and not have to go to some group therapy to achieve it. 😛

If you could choose anyone living or dead, who would you choose to go on a roadtrip with?

Not sure… Michelle Obama stole my heart big time in recent months, so maybe her? Actually, road tripping with my boyfriend has always been awesome, so he’s definitely also invited.

And…… after giving it some thought…. maybe our most-hated Dutch politician, Geert Wilders. There are so many things I don’t really understand about him and his rhetoric that I would like to ask him about in a chilled out environment. All though there is very little I can agree with him on, I do feel sorry for him as well, as he is forced to live in some bunker with constant protection. A roadtrip might mellow him right down…

Movies / Series

emoji film

Recent recommendations:

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: loved it more than I expected. Maybe even more than the Harry Potter series… better acting, if you ask me!
  • Sing: Watched the trailer and feared I had already seen the best bits, but there was more than enough goodness left for me to giggle at during the film itself. My boyfriend even got a bit emotional at some point… no joke…
  • The Bridge: Danish – Swedish detective series, that I enjoyed very much. Only watched the first season. I hope the following seasons are just as cool!

 

Music

I was introduced to Stevie Wonder’s 1995 album “Conversation Peace“, which sadly I didn’t know at all. The first song “Rain your love down” is a heart-warming, head-bobbing song that at first glance may sound like a love song but is actually a plea to god to rid the world of “hunger, hate, war, and greed”.

The song that gave the album it’s title is one that chokes me up just a little bit every time I hear it… When you listen to it, remember it was recorded in 1995…

 

If you are looking for a lighter song, listen to “Tomorrow Robins will sing“, which of course also does point out the world is pretty sucky but hey, tomorrow robins will sing!

(all though I must say the robin in my garden only kinda chirps and doesn’t really sing… but maybe Stevie can’t tell which one it was that he heard. Or maybe I really have to wait till tomorrow…)

Epilogue

emoji hourglass

To conclude this mind cleanup I would like to put in my two cents in honor of black history month, and leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

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