Mind Cleanup – 2015 overview

Happy new year everyone! Hope you had a good transition from old to new and that you are ready for what 2016 has in store for you. If you’re not ready yet, you will have another chance to start with a clean slate soon, when the new year starts according to the Chinese (goodbye sheep, hello monkey!).

So, using my new mind cleanup tool, I want to glance back on 2015.

emoji happy.pngUppers

  • My current job gives me such a strong feeling of belonging that I can’t imagine ever having felt insecure about the decision to apply (which I totally did)
  • I am so lucky with my bf, who’s love I never doubt, even (especially?) when he says I’m an idiot (because it’s usually exactly what I needed to hear on that particular moment).
  • Climate agreement achieved!

emoji disappointed.pngDowners

  • My parents’ dog was hit by a car and died
  • My family can no longer be together in the same house. All though the decision of the family members in question to take no more shit from each other and just deny the other’s existence has brought some peace into the equation, it is a very sad status quo for many of us; my father in particular.
  • Terror & mass-shootings have become matters of “When” rather than “If”.
  • The hypocritical and nearsighted response of the Western world to the Paris attacks, completely ignoring the equally real suffering, pain and losses of life elsewhere bummed me out big time.
  • The Dutch soccer team did not manage to qualify for the European Championships, despite reaching the final in the World Championship 2 years prior.

emoji SeeNoEvil.pngThings I tried to ignore

  • Everything Trump
  • Bruce’s transition to Caitlyn and the world’s revelry about this
  • I-am-this-and-that declarations on social media.
  • The guilt I feel about my ecological footprint
  • My laundry

emoji music.pngMusic related thoughts

  • I still think it’s a pity Grooveshark quit and do not feel Spotify fully fulfills my musical needs.
  • There is a lot of pretty awesome sounding electronic music being made these days! To name a few: C2C, EZA, Jarryd James, Låpsley, Alt-J, Oh Wonder.
  • Ariana Grande is an amazing singer and much more talented than I was prepared to admit, until I saw this.
  • Adele’s comeback was so ginormous when it comes to view counts and online viralcy that the actual music never really lived up to it for me. She’s incredibly sweet and charming and I love that she is part of  current day music, but I definitely don’t have her album on re-play.

emoji lightbulb 2.pngEpiphanies

  • Rugby is really fun to watch!
  • If I can’t kill and prepare an animal myself, I should become a vegetarian.
  • I am a privileged person. I don’t need to feel guilty about this but consciousness is vital.
  • It’s not always up to me to solve conflicts between people. Even more so, removing myself from the equation as self-appointed mediator can actually be the solution in some cases.
  • I am not an atheist in the sense that I believe what has been scientifically proven. I leave room for spiritual ideas and am willing to admit that science is also “just a theory” in many senses. However, I am very strongly nonreligious. Stronger even, I am anti religious, unpopular as it may be to say so.
  • Blaming DNA for any shitty traits you (or I) may have is a poor excuse and does not give you permission to be an asshole (or a drunk or whatever).
  • Doing a month long a-blog-a-day challenge is actually really hard.

emoji sunrise.pngEpic moments

  • Summer with my brothers and kids
  • Learning how to dive and becoming PADI open water certified
  • The opening of the Engelandvaardersmuseum in Noordwijk

emoji paella.pngEpicureous 

  • I have a shrimp allergy and I’m sick of it.
  • Couscous tastes so much better the next day!
  • Peanut butter cups are actually very easy to make and, imo better than the supermarket kind.
  • I met a Canadian girl during a food tour in Ljubljana (amazing city btw) who, when I asked what the difference between lager and pilsner is, illustrated this with some common knowledge from “back home”: Lager is like having sex in a canoe; it’s fucking close to water.
  • I really don’t like potatoes.

emoji hourglass.pngEpilogue

  • 2016 is going to be awesome, have a good one!
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Bear with me here

It’s Saturday morning, after a crazy week that felt twice as long as usual. I cancelled my appointments and vowed to lie in bed as long as possible. After a quick breakfast and a short attempt at answering my emails, I decided I wasn’t done yet and went back to bed for a second round.

When I woke up from this second visit to neverland I decided to take it slow and stay in bed a while longer and start up with a Facebook check-up. I looked around, saw who’s birthday it was and who had gotten drunk last night. I checked out some awesome pictures of naturally built homes and saw the dates for one of my favorite artists’ new musical tour. I saw thanksgiving recipes and inspirational quotes from my yogi friends. I saw this sleeping bag, which – for a split second- felt like something I really needed to have:sleeping-bear-sleeping-bag-2.jpgsleeping-bear-sleeping-bag-1.jpg

And then I saw the newest opinion piece from one of my favorite comedians, followed by a video of a puppy being confused by his own hiccups. I saw my finger hover over the opinion piece, -I could see it started with the words “We are at war”,- and then finally clicking on the puppy. I smiled at what I saw and then immediately realized what I was doing. It made me feel icky.

It bothered me enough to immediately shut FB down and open my news app. It wasn’t particularly optimistic stuff I was seeing, but in a way I did feel better about myself. I had had my break from reality but was strong and ready once again to face the world head-on.

I am struggling though and am finding it hard to see where I stand exactly.

I already expressed my feelings about prayer in my previous blog. It’s uselessness bugs me, despite the claims of every religion’s followers that they are peaceful at heart and the conviction that their passive prayers and good intentions will fix this mess. I hear myself say I should be tolerant and accepting of everyone’s life choices but then again, how often are religious people really faithful to their God by choice? I have been indoctrinated too, though, I know that, I just don’t call it religion…

I find myself thinking about the irony of how muslims and jews both use their word for “peace” as a greeting. They must say the word dozens of times a day but at the same time they fail so incredibly hard at achieving precisely this in Gaza.

Even as I write the above I am reminded of Reza Aslan’s strong response to the bigotry that was revealed on CNN a couple of months ago and went viral in recent weeks. I catch myself using the term “muslim” in a similar way. I really truly don’t want to generalize and ignore all the distinctions there are between muslim countries and muslim individuals.

cartoon Steve Sack panic.jpg

Cartoon by Steve Sack

I see quotes from Ayaan Hirsi Ali encouraging us to hold islam accountable and I feel confused about my moral compass. I hate that there is a subconscious part of me that feels that muslims need to express their horror for terrorist attacks more openly and must repent for the suffering that their fellow-muslims have caused. I know deep in my heart this thought only alienates them from us and may actually chase them straight into the arms of the extremists we all collectively despise.

I feel lost in my wish to contribute to the world. I want to reach out and understand but I can’t seem to suppress these little bubbles of prejudice and judgment floating in all the time. How do I eliminate them? How can I ever do anything positive, if every attempt I make at having an open mind results in me disliking religion more? How can I have an open conversation with anyone if I feel so strongly deep down that the other person is wrong?

Shucks, all of this just makes me want to crawl away into my cuddly bear sleeping bag…

A very cathartic weekend to you

By Marco De Angelis
By Marco De Angelis : Terror’s curtain of death spreads

How do you react to terror? A great part of me wants to give them as little attention as possible. They do not deserve my tears. I will not admit I am afraid. I will not let hate bleed into my heart, even though its poison is all around me. On the other hand I do not want to become indifferent. I want to feel and see and know it all, even though it is  so very tempting to close my eyes and (try to) forget.

The thing that keeps poking Mr Cynic awake in my mind every few minutes is the “pray for Paris”-campagne so many are supporting online. I appreciate its intention, but all the while I think: What good will THAT do??

By Marco di Angelis : The difficult path of tolerance.
By Marco di Angelis : The difficult path of tolerance.

Why pray? Religion is partly what got us into this mess! What do you think god is going to do about it anyway? He stood by while it happened and now you ask him to… to what? To heal the wounds? To give us the strength to carry on? You don’t need someone to GIVE you strength, you already have it. What you need is a kick up the ass! Or a hug… yes, maybe a hug is better…

And while we’re at it, why are you only praying for Paris? Shit is hitting the fan all over the place. If you think prayer is the solution, pray for Beirut too! Pray for the airplane victims in Egypt, pray for Baghdad, pray for Thailand. Hell, I don’t even know half of the places this stuff is going on…

So don’t fold your hands and trust some almighty cloud dweller to fix this mess. It’s up to you and me. Don’t let your thoughts be led by fear or hate. Do you feel any negativity towards your hijab wearing neighbor? Check yourself: what is this feeling based on; have you every actually spoken with her? Give it a try! Or just throw a smile in there. It won’t fix the world, but it might steer us away from this self fulfilling prophecy. It’s a small and easy gesture and I assure you it will do more good than your bedside prayer.

Also, let’s stop calling that group of hateful cutthroats “Islamic State”. They do not deserve to be acknowledged by this name. They are neither worthy muslims nor do they have or deserve an actual state. They are the Daesh. If there were a way to acknowledge them less, I would.

I don’t feel like predicting the future right now or finding any justification for last night. I clearly have no solutions for this either. So yes, this blog may have been a pretty futile undertaking all together and I apologize if you feel it was a waste of your time. I guess this is what they call catharsis.

Am I Charlie, or not?

Apparently I have to know the answer to this question… For a while there, I was convinced I was Charlie, all though I never hashtagged it or selfied myself with a sign declaring this openly… Some would argue that if it’s not on Facebook (or twitter or whatever) it didn’t happen, so in that sense I have always been undecided. And now I have people telling me I shouldn’t want to be him to begin with… so I’m confused…

I must admit I have been a bit out of the loop lately. I know about what happened, watched the news shortly after the shootings, I heard the shooters were “caught” and I heard millions went to the streets in Paris to make a statement against these horrific events. I haven’t watched any discussions or in depth programs about it though, partly because I had little time, partly because my computer went on strike for a while and partly because I just found it all too depressing, really…

Another confession I have to make is that I had not heard of (or remembered hearing of) Charlie Hebdo before in my life. I know what satire is and it is something I tend to enjoy. So, that Charlie Hebdo had stepped on some toes in its past came as no surprise to me, as it is something that’s hard to avoid with satire and political cartoons.

But then I read this post on a blog with the wonderful slogan “Standing up against injustice is a choice. So are silence and willful blindness”, which got me pondering. It made me realize I know nothing about this really and I should be careful who’s side I choose (or if I should choose one at all).

I remember hearing president George W. Bush utter the words “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” and shivering at the thought of what that implied. I saw where this was headed. I saw how near sighted this was and saw its ugliness. Some may argue the troubles had already begun before then and this was just a commander in chief saying what needed to be said in reaction to 9/11, but that’s for another blog perhaps… My point is that having to choose between being Charlie or not, is a hip social media version of that same dilemma and there is more to it.

charlie will you stop thatWhat it proves to me once again as well, is that ignorance is really a dangerous thing. I would have marched my soles off in those Parisian streets without really knowing anything about either side in this tragedy.

And don’t get me wrong here, I am in no way saying that going on a shooting frenzy was OK. I condemn this terrorist act with everything I have in me and do see a frightening threat growing in the islamist corner that must be dealt with.

As Lydia de Leeuw of A Second Glance wrote:

Do I think yesterday’s mass murder was a despicable act? Of course. Do I feel great anger and sadness for those who lost their lives and loved ones? Naturally. And it goes without saying that no cartoon can justify violence, EVER. But still, I am not Charlie Hebdo!

(…)

It seems like the majority feels the need to tell religious people (mainly Muslims) – through cartoons and otherwise – that they’re ignorant because they have a God and a prophet. In that lies a self-centered, supremacist attitude that seeks to shove atheism down the throat of people who are religious.

(…)

I feel like we have adopted a fundamentalist way of thinking around the right to freedom of expression; you are either for it or against it. It is all or nothing. A generally white, atheist majority has decided that the right to freedom of expression is an absolute and ‘sacred’ part of our society that has no social nuance whatsoever.

Cartoons ridiculing Islam (or any other religion) are not an embodiment of tolerance and liberal thinking. They’re an expression of intolerance and judgement towards a religion and its followers.

I fear we will see more of these godless acts occur in the name of Allah and wish I could think of a way to reach out, figure out a way to actually talk to eachother. A true dialogue. The kind where both sides actually listen to the other and find a common ground to build on… But I don’t see it. Not yet. Not in the near future either.

But we’ll get there and my mission until then is to keep myself informed and remember there are always more sides to the story. I will listen, I will comment, I will make contact and keep my horizon as wide as I can. And even if I feel I have seen and understand all sides, I will remain conscious of the fact that there might always be more to it that I can grasp at a particular moment.

And for now, I must conclude I am NOT Charlie.