The Two Extremes

One side wants women to be objects of property, the other wants women to be objects of sexual desire, both of which are hardly different from the other in terms of respect for women as human beings.

There needs to be another version of this animation, where the woman slaps both men silly, then proceeds to wear and do whatever the heck she wants, and walks off with a man, or woman, who respects her and treats her as an equal.

(Animation source: giphy.com)

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As the world goes potty: Outhouse pics!

Taking a much needed minor mental break from U.S. Presidential Elections, world-wide terrorism and a thousand other terrible things in the news, with a handful of photos that I took in 2007 of the old outhouse at my aunt’s summer cottage in Sunde, Sunnhordland, Norway. This is about as countryside as it gets.

This outhouse is pretty much part of family history, though it is no longer in use, having accompanied family gatherings, or rather loving family feuds over games of croquet and long, exhausting evenings of Gin Rummy or Monopoly. The surprising appearance of modern sanitary plumbing and porcelain facilities eventually led to the relocating of the entire business of doing one’s business to the indoors. As for whether this should count as a gain, or a loss, is still pretty much to be decided.

I do, however, vividly recall childhood summer days, my years barely into double digits, when the making of a man stood in the choice between a) fleeing the spiders and other crawlies that lurked in every crack and nook and cranny, silently plotting to end you and eat you, or b) bravely finishing the current chapter in an old and wrinkled Donald Duck comic book, one of several that had lived to see many a “sit and think” through the ages, and had presumably been left there by one of my older cousins on previous, similar quests of personal ballast disposal.

Here’s to the years!

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Home (and relief) is where the heart is.

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The rusty ol’ hook of privacy.

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If the door is ajar, it’s unoccupied … at least by people.

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Just your friendly neighbourhood “nope”.

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Rooting for Hope, not Hate

This Facebook post of mine, which I wrote it in response to the terrorist attacks in Oslo on July 22, 2011, popped up as a Facebook Memory today.

Just poked my head outside, and saw a butterfly land on a flower to drink nectar. No camera at hand right then, I merely watched for a couple of minutes until it was done and flew away. It doesn’t know a thing about what’s happened in Oslo; it’s just happy to have lots and lots of raindrop-covered and nectar-filled flowers to visit. I wish it a pleasant, wonderful Saturday, though it seems to already have that 🙂 💬

Photo of a butterfly.
Archive butterfly photo © bjornarhaveland.net

I take it as a tiny reminder to myself from five years ago that, although terrible things happen in the world, and terrible people make them happen, all is not terrible, that there are wonderful and beautiful things still in the world, and that we need to see and remember those wonderful and beautiful things or else the terrible things may make us forget them, and choke us with fear and horror.

There is beauty and wonder great and small in nature around us, but most importantly also in us humans and in the things that we do together and for each other, and in the children whom we raise to live in the world and the society which we leave to them, who will be people like us and have to live with the consequences of the choices we make and the actions we take.

It is important that we hang on to those things of beauty and wonder because they’re what we must work hard to keep, and with what’s happening in the world it’s easy to lose sight of them. It’s too easy to divide humans into “them” and “us”, and to say that we must hate “them” to protect “us”. Blacks and whites. Easterners and Westerners. Christians and Muslims. But if you look at the terrible things that some people do, you will find that they are doing them out of hate. That’s what hate does. Hate divides, and hate destroys. Hating has never made anything better. Telling people to hate other people, even other people who hate, will only make matters worse, and if we embrace hate, even if only to protect ourselves from others who hate, then the beautiful and wonderful things that we want and need to protect and hang on to won’t stand a chance. Either they will be ruined and gone, or we will be too blind to see them.

It doesn’t matter if the hate or the arguments that support or encourage hate come from a terrorist group, or from people among ourselves, or from politicians and national leaders who base their political careers or election campaigns on hate rhetorics. It is destructive whichever form it takes.

I don’t believe that the wrongful or hateful actions of one person or a few individuals represent the entire ethnic group or nation or religion to which they belong.

I don’t believe that the murderous actions of a lone hateful Muslim lorry driver in Nice represents the average Muslim, any more than I believe that a lone Christian white supremacist on a murderous shooting rampage in Norway represents the average Christian.

Nor do I believe that Daesh or IS represent the average Muslim, because much as they are a threat in the West, they are at least equally much a threat to other Muslims in their home countries.

And I do not believe that Christian extremists who kill people at abortion clinics, or Christian evangelists who say that the real tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Miami is that not more gays died, represent the average Christian.

We as humans must deal with those who do terrible things, but not with hate. Hate is their tool, their weapon, and if we try to use it, it will turn back upon us and take us down, and we will become precisely that thing which we tried to fight against in the first place. Then we will be doing the work of the people who do terrible things for them, and then they will succeed anyway.

We must try to do just things, not with hate against those who do terrible things, but with love for the wonderful and beautiful things that we don’t want to lose. Only then can we deal with the people who do terrible things without losing those things that are precious to us.

I really, really think that this is not just important but completely essential, if we as humans are going to be able to become who we wish to be. We must be very mindful of what kind of society we want to have, and leave for our children, and how our attitudes and actions may help or hinder us on our way to that goal.

While I was writing this, not one but two butterflies fluttered in through the open balcony door, made rounds around the room and fluttered back outside, as if to remind me of the beautiful and wonderful things that made me start writing this in the first place.

I’d just like to say that I wish you all a wonderful, beautiful day, every day, filled with more love, and less hate, with more joy, and less fear.

The Necessary Rainbow

First and foremost:

Congratulations

… to all LGBT people I know, as well as those that I don’t, both in America and everywhere else. Hopefully this monumental change in USA, as of June 26th 2015, will have a positive influence on nations around the world that have yet to catch up and do the right and civilized thing.


Source photo from NASA, Apollo 17.

I offer this simple, rainbow-endowed Earth-From-Space picture as an expression of my wholehearted support of something that quite honestly shouldn’t need it, simply because it ought to be anybody’s right to love and marry whoever they like without shame or restriction, and without interference and protest from people who really, really ought to mind their own bloody business, and particularly keep their noses out of other people’s homes and bedrooms.

The fact that it takes a vote or a court order in order to allow consentual love and marriage between adults, regardless of gender or colour or anything else is a tragedy, as well as a travesty, born out of intolerance, bigotry, fear, ignorance and twisted religion, not necessarily in that order, separately or combined, and shows that as a civilization we have a long, long road left to travel before we eventually reach maturity. At least this is another one of those small, small steps that show those of us who care that we are moving forward, on the right path, edging ever so slowly closer to that horizon.

Best of luck to us all.

Nobel Peace Prize 2014: Congratulations to Malala

My heartfelt congratulations to Malala Yousafzai on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 2014. May she continue to be an inspiration and a driving force in the work to bring education to children all over the world, and truly make the world a better place.

Also, I find it wholly fitting that she shares the award with Kailash Satyarthi, whose work for children’s rights, and against the exploitation of children, runs parallel to that of Malala.

“Why just Malala?” I hear some ask. “Other girls fight and die for the right to education every day!”

While it is no doubt true that there must be many others who are just as deserving, as chance would have it, Malala was the one who happened to come into the public eye. One could, and probably would, ask the same critical question about any other girl who, like her, happened to get the same attention.

“Why her, and not someone else?”

The way I see it, Malala is deserving, and yet she also represents all the other girls, women and other people who fight for the same goals.

Malala Yousafzai represents courage, wisdom, understanding and empathy. She works for peace and freedom, and, although she was nearly murdered for her cause, she does not seek vengeance against her attackers, but rather she wishes for her attackers’ children to receive the same education that she wants for herself and everyone else. She knows that the best weapon against Taliban, against Boko Haram and others who oppress people in the name of religion, is knowledge, because better educated people might not be lured by the false arguments of the oppressors, and thus their power over the people would dwindle and fade.

Hopefully, with the Nobel Peace Prize in hand, Malala’s voice will become even stronger, carry farther, and have an even greater effect in those parts of the world where it is most needed.

For the occasion, I’ve been considering words that start with the letter E:

Education,
Enlightenment,
Encouragement,
Empowerment,
Empathy and
Expectation.

But as Malala says, “This is not the End!”

Relevant links:

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