Are we human ?

Humanity is described by the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence – dictionary.com

Being human would mean that each individual clamming that title is gifted with these characteristics.

Each part of the world has different culture, a different way of living and doing things. That’s what makes the beauty of the world.

We’re all different, therefore we have more to learn from each other.

Everybody should be proud of their culture

However, it can happen that sometimes people are way too proud of their cultures and do what we call ethnocentrism. Which is basically the fact to believe that one culture is above the others.

Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture.Ethnocentric individuals judge other groups relative to their own ethnic group or culture, especially with concern for language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and subdivisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity. Ethnocentrism may be overt or subtle, and while it is considered a natural proclivity of human psychology, it has developed a generally negative connotation. – wikipedia.com

And we’ve seen it in action with discriminations unfold with discriminations.

When we talk about discriminations, more often than not, the one that comes out of everyone’s mouth in the first place (including mine) is, racism. Or in other words, discrimination someone based on his race or country of origin.

Racism is the fruit of fear of the unknown.

It is a plague that has spread over the centuries. It happens more frequently than people would like to admit.

Racism can be described as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. A doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles. Or, as apolitical or social system founded on racism – Merriam Webster

It has been part of the American landscape primarily since the European colonization of North America beginning in the 17th century. Various groups have bore the brunt of it, manifested in discriminatory laws, social practices, and  criminal behavior directed toward a target group. The following are a list of just a few and their experiences. – Soundvision.com

Most of the time, the source of all theses discriminations are the communitarianism. Which is basically  a philosophy that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. Communitarian philosophy is based upon the belief that a person’s social identity and personality are largely molded by community relationships, with a smaller degree of development being placed on individualism.

In other words, those who dare to be different and threaten to derange the peace of the community, are usually discriminated against.

The example of racial discrimination is the one that we sadly witness almost everyday.

It has existed throughout human history, and those experiencing it, are treated like pariah and separated from the crowd, either openly or by minor actions that seem benign.

For example, refusing to sit next to a person of color in the transport.

Or something more violent like, for example, when the Europeans arrived in America and found the Native Americans with the sole idea to conquer the land. Soon enough came the racism and bigotry of the people and it led genocide and mass murders, stolen lands, attempts to wipe out the Native Americans. Europeans believed the original inhabitants of America were heathens and savages who needed to be civilized through Christianity and European culture. Therefore, they tried to take something was never theirs to claim ti begin with, by force. Also, portraying the inhabitants as blood thirsty savages through the media, helped justify the abuses Europeans did to the Native Americans.

Another example, this one is well-known.

Racism against Africans. These people are the descendants of tribes that tribes that were robed of their members. During the 17th century, the colons came to Africa and decided to kidnap them from their countries and enslave them in their own. By the « name of God and christianity » African people were stripped off their names, identities and everything they believed in, and « christianize ».

Whipped, beaten, lynched, and held in chains, they were used as workers for their white master to keep their vast properties.

The irony is that, some women were nannies and basically raised white children, but these children were taught by their parents to hate and look down on them. It happened that a master would rape a black servant, and she would get pregnant. But he would never recognize the child. Why rape me if you think I’m disgusting ?

Black people have been humiliated for centuries on end, and it still hasn’t stopped.

They were sold like simple toys, family were separated through the process.

Although, not all Africans were slaves, some of them were free, but still faced discriminations, discriminatory laws that barred them from owning property and voting, for example, as well as the belief in the intrinsic inferiority of dark-skinned people by the dominant white majority, held them back from full equality in the United States. – Soundvision.com

Or, in public places, they were separated from the others. there were signs specifying « for the use of white/colored people ». They were literally treated like animals. Another specie.

Even after slavery being outlawed, and the passing of laws against discriminations of black americans, they still faced some subliminal discriminations. For example, at work. A black person faces discrimination in one out of five jobs interviews.

So, racism being a fruit of an excess of ethnocentrism, we can (but not really) justify it that way.

However, racism is not the only big issue society faces. Another is using almost the ink in the world.

Sexism.

Sexism, or gender discrimination, is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. Sexism can affect any gender, but it is particularly documented as affecting women and girls. – Wikipedia

Sexism happens everyday, in the simplest acts, such as, Chivalry. Also known as benevolent sexism, is part of our “manners.

Opening the door for a girl, which is very nice. But I have hands, i can do it you know. And unless you’re my husband, don’t feel the need to go out of your way. Saying « women first » as well. Why ? Why can’t it be « men first » ? Also, a man who opens the door for you, and doesn’t mind when you do the same is one thing. But when he stubbornly refuses to let you even touch the handle « because you’re a woman », there’s the problem.

However, some other examples are more obvious.

Ads on tv, dear God. Can women be more marginalized and objectified ? We’re always shown half-naked or cleaning a house, or looking for a diet. All of that, always with a smile on our faces.

Sexism is basically the result of society refusing to give women the exact same rights as men. Pretexting that because we have a vagina, we’re inferior. Therefore, we can’t be equal.

I’ll admit, a man is may times stronger than a woman, and surely more resistant. But, is a man smarter ? I doubt it

For a long time, we’ve only seen men in the spotlight. For example, the majority of the world’s best athletes are men. Women as disregarded as weaker than men, which might be true in some sense, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do the same things as them. Have you ever seen Serena Williams ? I think she a pretty good example of a woman who succeeded in a men’s world.

In the workplace as well, for any dollar that a man makes, a woman makes 70 cents. Even if they have the same position. Companies are more likely to promote a man than a woman. That is regardless of the fact that, women’s products are always more expensive, and also a woman spends 75 % of her salary on household groceries. Leaving her with inly 25% for herself. – (realsexism.com)

Double standards are also a form of sexism. If a man has had sexual intercourse with a certain number of women, he’s a stud. If a woman does the same, she’s a slut.

Men have this kind of ability to do whatever they please without being judged, but a woman is so stereotyped, that once she tries to do what she pleases, society gets mad.

The harshest form of sexism, for me, is rape.

You can define rape as the action of a man who believes he’s entitled to anything from a woman he’s flirted with, or a woman he tried to flirt with, but she rejected him. And therefore, when she refuses to go any further with him, he forces himself onto her « because she provoked him with her outfit » and rapes her.

And the cruelest thing, is that, the first question asked to the woman is « what were you wearing ? » as if what she was wearing justifies that someone assaulted, humiliated and marked her for the rest of her life.

I could be walking around naked, you are not entitled to nothing from me. No means no.

But no, with sexism, some think of women as simple sexual toys. And they actually get away with it. Because they actually use it as a way to justify sexism and rape. It’s not up to me to cover myself up, it’s up to the man to understand your boundaries.

However, even some women wearing veils have been raped. So it has nothing to do with my choice of clothing, it all comes down to the man’s mentality and lack of education.

I would like to conclude this rant by saying that, sexism and racism are just some of the things that trouble the peace of our society. But they are also the result of society being a double-edged sword. When you go along with it, everything is fine, but once you step out of line, you get judged and mistreated. However, we’re all humans with just slight differences, depending on where you’re coming from. Those differences shouldn’t affect our humanity, or the way we act towards each other. If ever, it should just bias our opinion. But not hardly enough to create wars. We were all born on the planet, free. Therefore, we should all respect each other, regardless of our opinions on one’s culture, because we are all humans and we all deserve to be treated as such.

 

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Battle of the Titans #3: Men and Women – Where do we stand ?

Nowadays, in society, you can find what people commonly call “gender roles”. But, what is it exactly ?

According to “study.com« , gender roles are the behaviors of men and women that are considered socially acceptable. Whenever we grow up, we learn to act from the people around us. We learn to behave a certain way based on our biological sex. (boundless.com). Gender roles are based on norms and expectations created by society.

For example, in old black and white movies, when the man is the breadwinner and the woman is at home lovingly taking care of the children and the house, and her husband comes back home from work, briefcase in hand, kisses his cheek and asks what’s for dinner, and she asks about his day. You catch the drill. Typical, cliché, perfect little life of the perfect little family of four in the suburbs with their perfect white fence and perfect golden retriever and their perfect white house and perfect family car.

You know, this family:

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But the issue of gender roles goes way back to the day we were born. As soon as they find out the gender, parents start to set the child’s life according to his/her gender.

Studies show that at age 2 or 3, a child is already perfectly aware and accommodated with gender roles. Around age 4 or 5, they know that they have to act a certain way based on their biological sex, and it is because of the influences of the parents and other factors, showing the how to act and therefore, it sticks with them until adulthood, where they pass it onto their own children. (boundless.com)

It starts as something as benign as for example, always dressing the little girl in pink and dresses, and buying her toys that teach her how to hold a house. She’ll watch her mother cook for family and will cook for her dolls, only to be told that one day she’ll be a great cook for her family. Little girls are raised to be domestic. While little boys are raised to be active and playing outside and getting their hands dirty. And if he cries, his father will tell him “boys don’t cry” and he’ll suck it up.

Then it comes to the shelves of our local stores.Have you ever paid attention the toys’ section ? If not, please do. It’s the pink sea against the mediterranean sea. But forget about the colors, think about the kind of toys. Think thoroughly. What do you recall ?

Girls are offered dolls in shape of babies, tiny kitchens, brooms, makeup, everything to comfort them in their role of the perfect future wife. Boys are offered guns, balls, cars, war themed toys, everything that has a link to violence. Coincidence ? I don’t think so.

Expectations are high for both genders. Each has a specification to live by. And when one individual happens to step only as much as a toe out of line, the roles are questioned, and the people in society begin to wonder what are really their roles. The attitudes and behaviors towards gender roles are not typically based on any inherent or natural gender differences, but on gender stereotypes, or oversimplified notions about the attitudes, traits, and behavior patterns of males and females. (boundless.com)

« Gender stereotypes form the basis of sexism, or the prejudiced beliefs that value males over females. Common forms of sexism in modern society include gender-role expectations, such as expecting women to be the caretakers of the household. Sexism also includes people’s expectations of how members of a gender group should behave.” – boundless.com

In the US for example, women are less likely to be hired or promoted to men dominating positions, regardless of their work ethics and skills.

However, as society evolved, the gender roles situation did too. Women for example have more rights today. And we more often than not, see single parents playing the role of mother and father for their children. In this situation, what happens to gender roles ?

Today we see women owning their own bank accounts and businesses, their own properties, going to work, being CEO, VOTING. Pretty cool, right ?

We’re more in a state of equality and balance than we were centuries ago. But there’s still no real equity. One step at the time right ? There was a time when women couldn’t vote. They couldn’t own a bank account to their name. They couldn’t own any property. There were so little things that they could do without the permission of their husband. But it was love on the brain right ?

Even today, when women have as much right as we are allowed, there’s still a persistence of gender roles. In the music industry for example, men artists broadcast themselves surrounded by almost naked women, ready to satisfy the by the whisk of a few bills. And it’s completely normal. People love it, kids want to be like them. Role model of the year right there !

Women, on the other end, either sing about being desperately in love, or are very sexualized in their videos (not all of them, thank god). But when they do, it’s a problem. They should cover up more. When a man is topless it’s perfectly normal, but when a woman does so, oh boy, the drama. « How dare she ? » « Isn’t she ashamed of herself ? » « What a whore ! » You hear it all.

Look at this picture:

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Surely there’s something wrong with it, innit ?

Women are so objectified and sexualized nowadays. But God be damned that they ever try to own up to it, and actually embrace their sexuality and the power of their bodies.

When they do, they face slut-shaming, which is, let’s admit, totally unfair and uncalled for if we’re looking for any kind of equality of sexes.

In a Beyoncé’s song called #Flawless, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says:

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: ”You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.Otherwise you will threaten the man.” Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage, I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same ?” 

You would think that a  new century would mean a new era. Yeah, I thought so too. I thought that I was living in a free world. But how wrong was I ?

Men and women have fought for a long time. Women for recognition of their rights and values. And men, well, men fought because they could.  But with the change of dynamic in gender roles and society, it is only fair to pay a little bit attention to the place and role of men.

So, a man. It has always been said and shown that the role of a man was to be strong and provide for his family. Which is honorable, really.

Over the years we’ve seen men achieving great things. Walking on the moon, flying, winning trophies for athleticism, riding cars, and the list goes on. And where were the women ? At home, being the good wives they were brought to be.  Some lucky women were working with the men that achieved all of these great things. But did we hear about them ? Not a lot. It’s like society never accepted the fact that a woman could achieve great things, just as much as a man could.

But then, like swallowed by a tornado, society faced a big change in its norms. People started to switch gears with their sexuality. Some for fun, some because they had been hiding their true nature for years, and finally had the courage to « come out of the closet ». So now we have couples of two men, or two women. But the gender roles are more than never endangered, as in a couple of the same-sex, one has to be the mother figure and the other the father figure. But, wouldn’t it be a little hard, with the norms of each gender already set ? Won’t it be hard for society to accept your decision ?

Today we seen women achieving great things, just like men. And we see men staying at home, taking care of their children, like they should. Cause you know, it takes two to make a child.

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And I think that now, the world we live is more balanced than it was before. Which, is exactly what we have been asking for, for ages. Not that some women don’t like to stay at home while their husbands work. It’s not a bad thing. The bad thing was that, there was a time when it wasn’t a choice, they had to. But today with the change of dynamic in gender roles, they can go to work if they want to, or they can decide to be a housewife. Women now have the right to choose what they want.

People have started to realise that maybe, just maybe, setting rules for each role wasn’t such a good idea, because today, everything is questioned.

I would like to conclude this rant by saying that, in the end, (even though I’m not the most religious person, I do know one thing) God made us men and women, to support each other, and that’s our principal role and mission on this planet. Either it is as a couple or as a friend or as a family member. We’re complementary. We were made to live together in harmony and not to fight for centuries on end, over a few words that we believe to be more worthy pf our respect than each other.

Battle of the Titans #2: The Impact of Technology on Society.

There are some things in life that can’t go one without the other: smoke and fire, light and darkness, life and death. Human life and technology. As humans use the principles of technology to evolve in their lives , and as society has a cyclical co-dependence on technology. Technology is everywhere you go, everywhere you look. We use it everyday, we depend on it, so our needs and demands on technology keep on increasing. We learned to live with, but we more often than not make abstraction of the fact that it has an impact on us, thus on society.

For this essay, I will focus on the impact of technology on society under the light on the internet and social medias.

Over the years, the ways of interacting and communicating have evolved with technology. New network platform to interact with others have been created over the past two decades. We’ve witnessed the evolution of the laptop, the evolution of the telephone, which became a smartphones, the evolution of technology in general. It went from something that is made to make our lives easier, so to something we depend on more and more.

Technology is one of the most valuable tool that we have at the tip of our fingers. You can basically do anything with your smartphone, tablet or laptop; from booking a flight ticket to paying your bills. There’s so little things that technology can’t do. And not only are the skills of technology endless, but they are also constantly improving in making our lives easier. Pretty cool right ?

It is also an easy way to stay connected to people. For example, it permits a peace of mind for the parents when you’re out of the house because they know that they can join you anytime. Technology also made studying easier as it gets boring to hear the voice of the same teacher blabbering the same thing everyday, but with the internet you can have additional explanations. It is also convenient to education in the sense where there’s now online and mobile education. The access to information is easier and faster, at anytime and anywhere.

One of the biggest impact of technology is the development of the business of entertainment. Today we have an almost infinite rage of video games, movies, artists, music, audiobooks and so on and so forth. We now have smartphones and smart TV’s. It is basically impossible for our generation to get bored. The entertaining business really works with technology to promote their merchandises and sell more.

However, we more often than not put apart the fact that technology is a doubled-edged sword. It as good for us as it is dangerous.

Nowadays with the increasing rate of texting, we’ve created a whole new vocabulary completely made of abbreviations. For example, we use « OMG », « LOL », « WTF », « TBH », « TBT » and more again, instead of writing complete sentences.  And, the more we abbreviate, the more we risk to lose our vocabulary completely and not being able to correctly express ourselves anymore. Our current “network society” is a product of the digital revolution and some major sociocultural changes.

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We are what the specialists consider a generation of laziness, thanks to Google and others, we don’t tire ourselves to learn anymore, we just look it up when we need it. We are the generation of smartphones and dumb people. Which is pitiful.

Also the « social media » we focus ourselves on. I’d say that calling then « social » media is an oxymoron as when we’re on the we put ourselves in bubbles that are hard to blow up later on. We spend hours on our devices, interacting with virtual people. How can we tell if they are true to themselves or not ?  We totally disconnect ourselves from the real world, and crave the social attention. We’re not okay if we don’t post a picture of our dog on Facebook, or a picture of our food on Instagram, we don’t feel complete if we don’t have a certain number of likes on our posts. But what have we become ? Are we really this superficial and social thirsty ? I’m actually quite surprised we didn’t turn into devices yet, as we are stuck to them all day.

Funny story: three years ago, when my sister was pregnant with my little niece , Jewel, my mom was always nagging her about how the baby would come out with her hands clasped together because my sister is ALWAYS on her phone. We all laughed when my mom said it. But today, my niece has a tablet (that my mother bought her, yes the irony, I know) and sometimes she clasps her hands like she has a phone in it, but she doesn’t. She does it because her mother does it, because I do it, because most of the people around her do so. Today Jewel knows how to work an Iphone and she’s nearly three. She just started kindergarten, and she’s way smarter than I was at her age. She’s a french speaker just like me, but she understands english very well because she watches english videos on her tablet. And every time I watch the videos of her and I together that I have in my phone, I realize that she’s only nearly 3, but she’s already so smart.

This is to emphasize the way technology has impacted our lives. Today’s kids have smartphones and social media pages. While when I was 10, the only thing I wanted was a Nintendo DS.

Also, due to their youth, they usually don’t know what they’re exposing themselves to. It is no secret that kids tend to the opposite of what you tell them to do. So forbidding them any access to the internet is not going to work. But we have seen more than once how some of these same kids become cyberbullies and spend hours and hours trashing each others on the net, it became so bad that some of the victims killed themselves. it went from bullying at school, to bullying you on the internet. it went overboard. And this is one of the worst, if not the worst, aspects of technology.

I have to say that I find this a little bit hypocritical and ironic that I’m here denunciating the impact of technology on our society, when I am sitting in front of a high-tech computer that I spend hours using everyday.

Allison Graham says : it seems like the more we talk about technology separating us, the more we ask for it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5GecYjy9-Q). Which is true in a sense that, we complain about technology and everything, but we don’t really do anything to stop its widespread. We will complain about it, through Twitter, via our last generation iPhone and Macbook and iPad, and all the others. It’s more like the pot calling the kettle black, than an actual cry for help.

To conclude, I want to say that , it is not the fault of technology if we gave it the right to overpower our lives. We made a decision, and now we regret it. Technology comes with new ideas every day to simplify our lives and make us happy. But we have to know how to draw the line n order to keep our humanity, because at this point  it is only a matter of time before we get turned into machines.

Which leads me to ask, what does technology have in store for us in the future ?

 

 

 

Piece of mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY

 

Battle of the Titans #1: The impact of religion on society

Religion as we know it, took its first breath when men started burying their dead. They started to believe in someone, something bigger than us and the world itself. They created a “god”, they built half of history. Men and women of all kind and all cultures were brought together by the simple fact having the same beliefs.

Back in the day , when there were kings and dragons and witches and castles and all of that, religion ruled the world, every single life decision of any individual was based on the behalf of religion and the holy book. Two religions were better known and will fight all the time, Christianity and Islam. But it wouldn’t be fair to only focus on these two, when there are so many more thing to say about religion and others religions that are maybe not as popular, but who have an impact on society as well.

There was a time where religion and society were one and only; at the time of Socrates, in Athens, where the democracy and society began, in the old and historical Egypt  with the Pharaohs who were worshiped like gods but ended up dying just like anyone anyways.

Religion has a great place in our everyday lives, whether we accept it or not, it is present in society. But to what extent has it influenced our society ? What is the importance of the impact ?

Over the years, the world has faced so many conflicts about religion. The war between the Jewish state and an Arab state of Israel and Palestine is the greatest example. This war has been going on for as long as the history of the world can remember. But it is not just about the fights, unfortunately. If they were fighting quietly and kept their hatred to themselves , then the world could care less about their antics, but no, they involve every innocent living soul in the fight and so many more pedestrians die.

And what’s more to that, is that the « issue » of religion doesn’t stop there. A few of the impacts that we can point are:

On an aesthetic and physiological level, religion influences the way we dress, whether we’re aware of it, or not. We may not see it , but our religion, whatever it is , has an influence, as small as it can be on the way we dress, for example the way muslim women proudly wear their burka is an extract of their religion, and while the others may not understand or approve, it is not up to them to decide if it is good or not, or politically correct. It is what they were taught and what they grew up with, and they decided to follow in the steps of many people before them. It is their choice , and it should be respected.

Religion can also be the factor of social constraints. With civic laws and dogs that people set, how can you live peacefully ? Sexual preferences are often than not , one of the major issues related to religion. According to what people say, you can’t love someone of the same gender as you because « God » forbids it. But I say, am I supposed to follow the rules of an nitty that I can’t see or feel , or that I don’t necessarily believe in, instead of being happy ? Is it how religion works ? I’m not so sure about that, really. But then again, that’s my opinion. For example, why should I be judged because of my religion ? I mean, why do you care that I am a muslim , or a christian , or a buddhist , or anything else ? Does that affect my work ? Does that make me not good enough anymore ? Does it change the way you breathe the same air that I do ? No, I don’t think so. So , for the love of anything holy that’s left in this goddamned world, focus yourself on the way I work hard , and not on the guru that I believe in.

I actually think that it is kind of restrictive to base your life on « someone’s » saying, you can’t really develop and flourish if you are afraid of making mistakes that will give you a one-way ticket to hell and its confine.

But religion is not only all the bad things that I painted, oh no. To some people, religion is a way of finding peace. Finding the light , or having something to believe in when you are convinced that everything is about to go down, is a great feeling, and religion often provides that to its believers.

In the end, religion is contradictory , because, when it is supposed to inspire peace and calm, it has been the source and cause of so many conflicts, but it is not even its fault. There’s no good or bad religion, there’s no good or bad IN religion. What is good or bad, is the way us humans understand and translate it. Because, the Man himself is not perfect, far from that, so everything he touches is bound to be good or bad, or maybe both, just like religion, making it the double-edged sword that rules the world.