Refugees

My family and I came to this country over 20 years ago. There was terrorism in our country, but I can’t remember personally being affected by that violence. My parents, however, would have made the move specifically, dropping their entire lives, to make a better one for their two children. I do remember, as soon as we arrived after that one direct flight from Sri Lanka (when they did that kind of crazy thing!), my parents went straight to work. We had the help of relatives who had already made the move and were settled. But my parents, being immigrants from a third world country I think, brought with them a strong work ethic. 

I cannot speak for all migrants and especially refugees, but it is a truth that these people, coming from nothing, have that drive to succeed if given even the smallest chance. Why? Because they have an appreciation borne from their situation and the will to make a life for themselves.

I remember, back then, my parents had access to services where they could utilise their existing skills; my father’s car mechanic skills and my mother’s banking and ability to cook anything, to get work without prejudice. Or in my mother’s case, access to TAFE courses to improve her computer skills as well as qualifying her chef/catering skills. 

Refugees are people who, if their country was not in pieces, would not leave their home. They are fleeing certain death. This, to me, is not a choice. They are in need of a country that will accept them and a place where they can eventually come to accept as their home. The love and loyalty they had for their broken home will then transfer naturally to the country that has given them the same back. 

Our politicians are busy arguing about nothing. So that puts the onus on us to make the difference in the lives of refugees that have been allowed in. Out here in the western suburbs, where the majority of refugees are settled, people have taken it upon themselves to welcome and show compassion to our new neighbours. Initiatives like these (i.e The Welcome Wagon) are what is making a difference to the lives of refugees.

So rather than arguing along with the leaders of this country, I would much rather put my time into supporting start ups by people who truly want action over the current stale rhetoric. 

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Life

At the time of writing this, I am 8 weeks and 6 days pregnant.

Surprise!

I feel that I have a purpose and am welcoming a new perspective on life. It feels so right. I want to give the world a part of myself; for a long time, I believed that to be through a piece of writing (hey, it still can be!) but to have the chance to give life to a new person? Perfect!

Along with my changing perspective on life, I have been quite harsh on the topics of religion and history. I believe both of these vast areas of knowledge need to be rethought. Reassessed. Religion and philosophy are forever intertwined. I look at religion the same way I would approach Plato or Sartre. 

History, as I have learnt it, is rigid and no one stops to ask whether or not they are being fed truth or lies. History should fascinate because of the open ended questions that are abound as soon as you start looking. It should be taught through discussion. Because you are free to question. Everything. 

“First World Problem”

OK, whoever coined this phrase first needs to get their own head out of their arse. Yes, I am guilty of having bandied that phrase around. So, shame, shame on me. Chastisement done, moving on.

This seemingly harmless and satirical phrase is part of the poison that trivialises people’s legitimate problems. If someone can’t fix a ‘petty’ problem, and instead sweeps it under the rug because that guy said it was a, “first world problem, mate”, imagine all that pettiness build up! How can you fix larger problems when you have lost the ability to identify and solve small problems.

I am starting to believe this phrase causes problems. It gives us an excuse not to deal with the small shit. And then leaves us high and dry when the shit storm hits.

So, the next time someone says that to you, take pity on the poor sod who will flounder under the weight of his neglected “first world” problems. And then flip him the bird.

Death

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
John Donne, ‘Holy Sonnets’
I fear Death; I fear it because I have been conditioned to fear it. This conditioning isn’t to do with Death itself, but my own sense of individuality. What I fear the most? Losing myself. And so, because death will strip me of my individuality, it scares the hell out of me. So I learn to let go of any idea that I will be me after death. I can then realise that I will be part of the whole; Death will be respite from Life where I will be no more.
I don’t fear Death, I don’t welcome it nor do I want it to go away. It is as it should be, the ultimate rest. And so, that means I will strive to earn that rest until the time comes when I cross that threshold.
Until I go to join the great Optimus Prime in the sky. Yes, the Transformer. We are all but Bumblebees, Ratchets and Ironhides fighting on until well…

Plato’s ‘The Symposium’ and ‘The Phaedrus’

Doing a bit more reading towards Western classical literature, Plato, in his writing The Phaedrus, Botticelli’s Venus could have been inspired by the idea of androgyny.

According to Plato, the prime being was both male and female. That this is man’s perfect state. There are suggestions that Botticelli modeled his Venus on a noble woman, and the ‘Queen of Beauty’ of the whole of Florence, Simonetta Vespucci. All admired her and loved her. Her possible androgynous looks and demeanour could have been the reason for her popularity. Think about it. Today, we are just discovering the beauty an individual who possesses both male and female qualities can have. Even mainstream media through high fashion models that have an ambiguous look are becoming increasingly popular.

Botticelli would have, as part of his education, been taught the classics. Now, pardon my assumption it was from Eastern philosophy, although similar, Botticelli would have learnt from Plato rather than writings by Hindu gurus. More logical, yes.

This is my attempt at reconciling Eastern and Western philosophy; I believe Botticelli portrayed this beautifully, whether intentionally or not, in ‘The Birth of Venus’.

The Birth Of Venus

While observing the painting today, I noticed something interesting. I noticed some features of Venus that tie in with a theory I have that Venus is Ardhanarishvara; the combined form of the masculine and feminine, the prime being.

If you view the painting here and compare Venus to Ardhanarishvara here; you may notice that the right side of Venus is distinctly masculine and the left side is distinctly feminine (with respect to direction, imagine Venus’ left and right, not yours!). Venus covers her right breast because it is flat like a man’s chest whereas the left breast is fully formed. Her waist is fuller on the right and narrow on the left. The genitals are always covered. Not always for modesty it seems as, according to Hindu belief, the genitals must be covered because the prime being has both.

Now, how did Botticelli come to know about Hindu philosophy? During the Renaissance, Constantinople fell and Italy was inundated with scholars fleeing the East. They brought with them new knowledge. The Renaissance was a time when the mixing of ideas and philosophy from different cultures happened. (Encyclopedia Britannica- ‘Renaissance’) This is another point that supports Venus as the Ardhanarishvara.

Divine Love:

Although Botticelli meant for the painting to be viewed through Christian/Catholic eyes, the idea of Divine Love, in the Christian sense, doesn’t fit the Birth of Venus. Venus represents divine love as told through eastern philosophy, where perfection and balance is only achieved when masculine and feminine energies become one. It is not the love bestowed by God. They suggest the universe was created in this way; through order, beauty and balance.

Ardhanarishvara:

Is the prime being. It’s the union of opposites. Suggesting that one cannot exist without the other. One half upholds science and logic (masculine) while the other half, Shakti (strength, feminine), upholds art, music and language, it is the base upon which everything stands. Shells, especially the conch, is always held by the feminine and is used, through the power of its sound, to banish negative energy.

Love

The word ‘love’ has become so convoluted in it’s meaning that no one knows what it really means anymore. It has lost it’s meaning. It has been fucked. And needs redefinition.

There is a monopoly on love. According to mainstream society, love is portrayed as being between a man and woman, still. I am talking about romantic love, not filial or the parental kind.

How selfish is it to think that others can’t love? Can’t love the way you do? Homosexuality was first presented to us as people with loose morality. That they sleep around. And are unable to be monogomous. Remember Queer as Folk?

Once society paints you with the stigma brush, that’s it, mate, you’re done. Good luck trying to erase that image now! But you carry on. Because what those people out there think revolves around a false image perpetuated by people who have no clue.

I grew up reading Jane Austen. I admire her writing style and her wit when it came to matters of love. She taught me to be observant. And that love does not come riding up on a white horse. It hits you. It hits you like a motherfucking train. After that moment, the ride you choose to have is entirely up to you.

Even knowing this, why then are we still compelled to allow the outside to influence our own thoughts about love? It makes me sad to think that those two men are reluctant to even hold hands while the man and woman are snogging next to them. Why? People will stare. It is potentially unsafe. W T F?

I find the time we’re living in now to be interchangeable with history. Meaning our way of thinking has barely evolved past the 1920s. Why are we still thinking the way our great great grandparents thought? We exalt in the fact our technology has progressed so, but our ideas and values remain stuck in the past. It is not disrespectful to their memory if we step outside  the house that they built. Why can’t our values and ideas move forward? Because we are still paying our ancestors back for all they have done by upholding their morals and values. When did we decide to stop building on what they started? We are always at the mercy of our dead. Could explain our zombie fascination.

We restrict a good portion of the population from being able to feel and express love. Restrict them from feeling the freedom that comes with love and then, in turn, restrict their freedom of thought. In this case, we lose. They have freed themselves from the shackles on love society has placed and we can’t see that. We lose.

Shakespeare asks what’s in a name? Nothing it seems, old mate. You can call it a duck, it is spelt differently in each language. But there is no universal meaning. It will mean everything to you and or nothing.

Love is dumb. It doesn’t know anything. It doesn’t know race, gender or what’s between your legs. All it knows how to do is link people together. Give them something to hold onto if the ride gets bumpy. All it knows is that half smirk on your face as we exchanged that one look as you got on the train.

Beta Uprising

From what I gather, this, ‘Beta Uprising’, is in reference to a collective of misogynistic males who think the solution to their troubles with women is to kill everyone. 

Because they feel they deserve love. But they are unsuccessful because they are awkward and unable to communicate effectively with women. But they communicate effectively with each other.

Growing up, perhaps they were treated with either pity or hate. From one extreme to another. Their parents may have overcompensated for society’s lack of interest in their son by giving him anything and everything he wants, when he wants it. Or he could experience the complete opposite where he is treated with indifference by his own parents thereby reinforcing society’s view that he is worthless. Both cases can result in a man who has a superiority complex. At once, he embraces his physical and social failings while also lamenting society for ignoring him. If he wasn’t a nerd, what could he be? It’s the only community that understands him, while also encouraging violent behaviour because neither of them know how else to get over their social awkwardness in a healthy way. But no.

They misdirected their anger towards women in response to their own failings. So rather than seeking help, they find solace and a purpose when they choose to let their anger take over. And they sit and wallow in their own depravity. These men can be turned around.

As far as parenting of these males goes, I’ll attempt to answer. Perhaps they could celebrate their child’s differences. Teach him equality first. Don’t pity him, he may grow to resent that. Explain that he cannot have whatever he wants when he wants it. No one should be raised to think that.

I don’t feel sorry for them. I understand them. I’m not going to tell them to just get over it. If you are a proud ‘nerd’, show it. Flaunt it! If you don’t succeed as well in social situations, forget it and try again. Courage to be who you are in public takes a lot of strength. And there are proud nerds out there. We’ve overcome the social stigma to form a vibrant culture and community of our own. These misogynists are purposely isolating themselves. No wonder they end up bitter and jaded towards the world.

Fuck History

Let me extrapolate, yes?

Fuck off all those ancient ruins, artefacts and texts older than a century.

The Greeks, the Romans, the Incas; they had established civilisations of their own. But they all have one thing in common: they’re DEAD. And we’re not.

So we look back to find meaning in our current lives. Trying to find the answers to questions no one asked. It could be a symptom of our transient and wasteful lives where we recycle the past because, what, we’re too dumb to come up with something unique? ‘Unique’ in that it’s just the bastard child of different times gone by. Are we the civilisation that yearns to stay stuck in the past?

Egyptian history is a particular favourite of mine. But what do I know of it really? Because I’m no authority on the subject, I rely of historians and artists. There are romanticised views, logical ones, fanciful ones and so many stories about Egyptian life and culture. Once you start digging, in both senses of the word, only more questions emerge; leaving the answers just maddeningly out of reach. Our own society begins to pale in comparison. The scope for imagination history can provide is limitless. Proven by the current trend towards a flat earth theory. Highly creative.

But what happens when you start thinking about the burden of responsibility to live up to lofty standards, dictated by yourself, set by our ancestors? The story about the earth being borne on the back of four elephants, on top of a turtle can turn out to be an excellent metaphor. It’s heavy!

We, right now, are standing on top of the peak of history. Each day is a new peak. Stacking one on top of the other. If we spend too much time examining the rocks at our feet, we miss the view from the top.

Shell

Say, for example, a child wanders off and gets into some kind of trouble; serious trouble, like abduction or grievous injury. What are the outcomes?As a 3 year old, I managed to sneak away, a lot. This would have caused a great deal of stress for my mother, who was the primary carer of two children 24/7 when we migrated to Australia, when, previously, back in Sri Lanka, she had the support of the whole family. Constantly having to keep an eye on a slip of a child, especially in a new country, would wear anyone down. And then also possibly being scolded by her husband for not keeping a close enough eye on me. If that was me, I would resent…very much. I would hold feelings of resentment towards my husband for not understanding enough and even towards a 3 year old child who was playing and visiting friends as she had always done and so could not be disciplined! Then there would be guilt. And confusion. And anger, at myself, for feeling these things. All of this would collide. I imagine.

From that point, my mother coped by being very strict. She would react with anger if she saw me hurt myself. So I would hide my injuries from her. Such as when I stapled my fingers together or our pet dog bit me, again. As a child, I had no idea why she would react with anger whenever I hurt myself, as if I had hurt her!

Whenever one of my dogs does something so incredibly stupid, such as attempting to leap a 2m ditch, but then failing miserably, and landing in stagnant water and then miraculously being able to walk away, yes, my heart leaps into my mouth and then, as soon as I see that her stupid, little face is fine, I immediately want to murder her! Right then and there. In front of everyone. It is hard to stop the yelling being the first off the mark. But it was pretty funny and the little shit lives another day, so I let it go.

My mother has an excellent memory. Every little thing that I did added to her anxiety that I was going to one day go off on my own and end up killing/maiming myself. She started to restrict my activities. Discouraged going outside. When I became a ‘woman’, so to speak, the level of security was ramped up to extreme. Of course there were arguments. I started experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. But I hung in there. I knew there would be a way out some day.

My mother confined me to the house for three months after year twelve. You have to understand though, my mother had to deal with my less than 10 year old self running away and getting into trouble. Nothing ever happened since that accident to end all accidents; that time when I almost lost an eye to a dog. But, alas, that is not the point. My mother had to deal with eighteen years of worrying about the possibility of something happening. Pre-emptive strike was the only way.

I had very little opportunity to spend time with my friends outside of school. Mum would say that friends were only meant to be socialised with at school. I wonder, though, did she neglect to see her friends outside of school? I can’t say. But what I do know to be fundamental to Sinhalese culture is the social aspect. A memory from our first time back since immigrating; it is more than a memory, it’s a feeling really, of the afternoons where my Aunty, cousins and I would sit on the stoop and they would chat and gossip with neighbours while I would watch people walk past. Maybe catch the fresh bun vendor on his way through. Content. Relaxed. This is a favourite pastime with Sinhalese people. And mine, it seemed. 

But growing up, I had no choice but to follow their rules. Their house. Their car. I had no money of my own nor did they trust me with a key to our own house. Actually, it felt like they did not trust me at all. But why? My teenage mind couldn’t comprehend that this deep seated mistrust had been growing since my birth. I didn’t know that the fact that I had not given them cause to worry about me injuring myself for many years didn’t matter. I had gained full control of my motor functions by the age of 13, surely? But that’s a lie, I did know why they were keeping such a tight reign on me. Sex. Naive me thought to put their minds at ease by saying that I was in no way interested in boys or sex. More lies, yes, but hey, what is the alternative in this household? They don’t listen to children.

When I turned 18 , however, I took matters into my own hands. 

Now, my weird, misguided and sometimes confused ideas about sex are an anthology of its own. But, basically, what my thought processes were, around my virginity, was to just lose the fucking thing. I had narrowed it down to that one thing my parents seemed to value the most about me and that was my virginity. So, naturally, this was the thing I detested and had zero value for. I promptly lost it. They found out and my life, that I thought was just beginning, was suddenly and violently torn down. 

Yes, I snuck the boy in and got a bizarre thrill over losing my virginity while mum slept in the other room. I know I have issues! And that was a bad thing to do. But I had waited seven years for this one “fuck you, Ma!” that she was never meant to find out about. It wasn’t worth it. Her punishment was to confine me to the house until I started Uni. For three months. All I could think about at that time was how I had come to an understanding with my estranged friends and I was finally coming out of my shell. To think on it now, I may never have come out since.