AN EDUCATION REVOLUTION – UoPeople Review

I know there have been many concerns with us, Life Learners, and questions about the academic route for our children who have not done an orthodox education so to speak and want to go on a scholastic path in the future. I may have just the solution for you.

*For those that are not familiar with the term Life Learning, please follow this link http://pragashnienaidoo.co.za/2017/02/23/142/. Life Learning is basically a branch of home-schooling. I encourage you to read the article as you will then gather some understanding of why I am so excited about this journey.

Last year my son discovered an online university called University of the People (UoPeople) which enrolled him into the University with just his GED qualification. Today I am going to talk a little about this university, why I have chosen to be one of the many Ambassadors for the university and how it is THE education revolution that fits in perfectly with my philosophy of education/life, my own financial standard of living, pedagogue and touch on a much more personal note.

Let’s tuck right in! University of the people is a tuition-free, distance learning, non-profit, online institution founded by entrepreneur Shai Reshef in 2009. The institute offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. Currently, the only programs they have are Associates Degree and Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Computer Science and Health Science with the addition of one Graduate Degree a Master’s in Business Administration. I truly believe that UoPeople will expand their horizons in future with the growing need of such universities that work on a global level. I have said this in my other posts, it does not make sense in the technological age that we live in, to be restricted to schools and campuses when we have information at our fingertips and UoPeople offers just that. I am not going to go into much more details about the UoPeople as there is way too much of information to share so I coax you to visit this link https://www.uopeople.edu/ and navigate the easy website for more information. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or the university directly.

So why am I bragging about this University? The university itself encourages intrinsic learning which has given my son the opportunity to grow his education by studying Business Administration, something he is passionate about, which continues to evolve him through a philosophy he is already comfortable with, that is Life Learning.  He gets to meet people on a global scale that interact with him at his interest level thus developing more social skills by engaging with people of all ages. This is very much a trait that we are all used to as Life Learners; we take pride in being able to hold conversations with people no matter what their age is and this is exemplified on UoPeople’s educational platform.

He is 1 year away from getting his associates degree while he works on other opportunities that he wishes to use in his future endeavors and all this at the cost of just $100 per course. This was also great for my son who did not have much of a formal education and gives us Life Learners an opportunity (or hope) to let our kids still engage in the world of academics if that is the route that they choose. We can actually stop worrying and know that the GED works at UoPeople. The only unfortunate side is the programs are limited at the moment but as I already mentioned, I can only see this expanding in the future.

Now how did I come into the picture? Well, I looked at how the program was designed when he first started a year ago and thought, this is something that I think I may enjoy doing and so I applied to the university and they accepted my registration. The pedagogue spoke to me, because of the graded continuous assessment that takes place weekly that go towards your cumulative subject grade at the end of the course. I also get to write exams in the comfort of my own home without the added stresses that I have experienced in the past. Some courses are also proctored to ensure the authenticity of the exams which verifies the student and guarantees a standard that aligns with the accrediting agents.

I have very bad memories of distance learning and one of them is being kicked out of University of South Africa twice in my lifetime, simply because I never had the peer and instructor support that we have here. Being an anxious person, I also remember going into the Physics exam room and was so nervous that I got up and left after 10 minutes. But of course, this type of education was not possible 22 years ago and now that I have found a university that aligns with my own method of learning I am going for it.

End of the next term I will be 1 year with UoPeople and like my son, I am enjoying an education from the comfort of my own home (being an introvert too) and getting to engage with so many of my peers that come from all parts of the world and getting to know them and their culture in this process. This tears down the walls that we have put up in terms of boundaries for each country. It gives us the opportunity to communicate at a global level driving greater moments, to even possibly succeed academically at global altitudes. We also get to do this through a medium of common interests, that is, the common courses we take.  It is a very interesting, intriguing and an exciting journey, indeed.

Now, we all know that as Life Learners (homeschoolers) there is somewhat a trade-off when it comes to our lifestyle. Money! Most of our homes have one income that we live off or some have businesses from home to be able to compensate for time and the need to heed to the philosophy of Life Learning and sometimes these businesses may not do as well as we want them to do because we have chosen a path of learning through discovery rather than a monetary one. I would never have been able to join my son to study if it was not for the tuition-free part of the university, the affordability of it. I am able to further my education knowing that once I reach the stage of the fledglings leaving the nest, I would be in a viable position to pursue a working career again. I would not have been able to take 2 courses a term either if it was not for the generous scholarships offered by the partners of UoPeople. This also changes things drastically and puts education into the hands of the scholars in a way that we do not have to pay back exorbitant student loans accrued during the full time and part time studies because UoPeople is accessibly affordable.

As Life Learners some of us have been very well acquainted with the gifting society. This brings me to my next point. UoPeople is a non-profit organization that has the global world at heart. It has 6000 volunteers from all over the world who are qualified professionals in their fields to instruct and guide the students through each term.  In my opinion ‘Ubuntu’ does not get better than this, a great force of people who give back to society on such a global magnitude and do it with such grace and passion. Without these volunteers, it would not be possible to bring education literally to your fingertips with such an affordable and sustainable system. This right here aligns with everything that my soul has resonated with, since the beginning of my time on earth and my own personal journey in life.

**For those that do not know what Ubuntu means here is a Wikipedia link that has a great explanation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_philosophy.

Just to re-cap and remind you, you are getting integrity, compassion, globalization, and academically driven career opportunities on a magnified global scale and so much more and the University is accredited and has partnered with some of the grander universities like New York University, University of Edinburgh, UC Berkley and Yale Law School ISP. It would be good to also add for my fellow South Africans that South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) recognizes the qualifications from UoPeople (you can actually email SAQA at overseasinstitutions@saqa.co.za to put your mind at ease)and UoPeople is also American accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) which can be viewed at this link https://www.uopeople.edu/student-experience/quality/accreditation/ UoPeople is certainly an Education Revolution and it certainly speaks my language for the future generations. NO, UoPeople is NOT a scam as some may believe that all this may be too good to be true.

On a much more personal level, it has ignited my passion for natural sciences again. At this age, I never for once thought that I would be pursuing a degree, alongside my son, that too. I may not end up becoming an astronomer as it was my childhood dream but I certainly have a passion for helping people, research, and the natural sciences. My journey of life has taken a different path since I started at UoPeople. I do see a Ph.D. in the future in possibly research Biology, maybe majoring in genetics. Who knows! The other possibility would be to combine my current skills as a writer and pursue a career in medical writing. I all of a sudden can see the world through a different set of lens and I found a purpose to exist again, after a traumatic experience in my life. If I may say so, it keeps the depression at bay and has made me feel great about myself again. I have a driving force to see this through, something I did not particularly have before UoPeople. From the kind and helpful Admissions staff, Administrative staff, my own Personal Program Advisor and the mostly helpful instructors that I have experienced it definitely makes me want to wake up every morning knowing that there are people out there that DO care and do want to see you get up and GO! UoPeople has contributed to my restoration in my faith in humanity again and certainly has rekindled my ambition for life keeping me motivated and headstrong.

Once again, if you have any questions regarding UoPeople, please do not hesitate to contact me or the university directly.

Visit our UoPeople Student Review page https://www.uopeople.edu/student-reviews/  to hear others brag about their experiences.

PEACE
P.N.

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NaNoWriMo 2017

I know this post is a few weeks late, as I had the word document all opened up before the end of November to account my 1st experience with NaNoWriMo. Well, things don’t always go as planned and still raw from the experience of writing my first loose draft of my novel, I did not feel like doing it at that time, but here we are.

NaNoWriMo!  Something that I have only found out about this year and had no clue that the writing world was so jacked up with all these wonderful motivational tools that encourage us to Just Do It! No more excuses, no more hiding behind the shrouds of mystery that you have created in real time and no more wondering if you will ever write that book that you have been talking about since your 19-year-old son was just born. The best time is the right now, which is what NaNoWriMo offers you.

Before I continue, let me just highlight what exactly is NaNoWriMo and what does it mean to be one of all the other winners of NaNoWriMo. Firstly it stands for National Novel Writing Month which is the month of November, every year. You have 30 days to write 50 000 words which are about the word count of a Young Adult Novel or a toss between a Novella and a shorter Novel. You enter your word count on the website as you progress. You reach 50 000 words within that month then you are considered a winner. There are other elements to the concept too and you also get virtual badges as you reach certain milestones whilst you on the WriMo journey. You do not even have to write a novel or work towards a novel and just write blog posts or short stories which means you get classified as a NaNo rebel, which I suppose is cool too.

The question is, was Nanowrimo beneficial to me? The answer is actually both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I bought into the concept and I did win but would I write a novel in this manner again? Probably not!

I started out the first day deciding that I was a Pantser meaning the words will fly from the seat of my pants and wrote down 2500 words and then I hit writer’s block the next day. I had no clue as for where to go to from there and could not even get a proper visual in my head to continue with a story that I wanted to write for almost 2 decades. Then I found out about the Hero’s Journey and then the Heroine’s journey and tried to use that as a basis to plot my story.  How does someone hit a roadblock when you haven’t even gotten past 2500 words? It took me 4 days to plot the gist of the story still not sure about what goes where and how, but I just started plotting scenes and this now makes me a Plotter by the way, which is self-explanatory.

Right, so I got the story sorted in my head and was back at it again. A long story short, I did finish a couple days before the end of the month reaching slightly over 50 000 words, but the novel was far from finished. So yes, NaNo has helped me get to 50 000 words and I was able to do something that I thought I would never get done, let alone in under 30 days.

The downside (for me) was not being able to exercise the full potential of my creation of words and sentences and it worked terribly on my OCD and quite stressful in general from this aspect and not forgetting the genre I was writing was a drama and my poor MC (main character) faced a fate of ‘series of unfortunate events’. The story itself was emotional as I had to re-visit certain aspects of myself and draw on many experiences of my own life to write this story, so it did not give me enough time to reflect and digest my own feelings and make my OCD happy, writing and editing all at the same time, which is not the NaNo concept fault of course as it is different strokes for different folks. The story focuses heavily on child abuse and child sexual abuse and rape culture so I think it was quite a heavy write to create and assimilate in under 30 days.

NaNo’s support was really great though. It was beautiful to see and experience the comradeship that was either online (which I participated in) and some towns around the world had their weekly meetups in coffee shops or other common venues. There were many that did not get to 50 000 words and were gently reminded that the words that they have now are much better than they had a few days ago. The point of it is, you have got something done in otherwise would not have gotten done. I was cheered and coaxed and encouraged on this journey by the Samaritans of the writing community. Let me not forget the support I had from family and friends and other members of the public who did not join the NaNoWriMo and the continued ongoing support that I am still getting.

Where to from then? I am extremely glad I did do WriMo because I finally wrote a book even if it is just a loose draft. I have given the story a break and will return to it in the first week of January 2018 and re-write a lot of the scenes and I have at least 20 000 words more to add to the story. I think if all goes well then I will publish anything between July and December next year. I will certainly use WriMo again but will return as a rebel as I can do short stories and blog posts which probably are not so close to my heart like writing this book.

Here is an excerpt from the book ‘Little Specs of Dust’, a name I may or may not keep as its title.

The long walks to school were a breath of fresh air, we could cross the river on the far left from the mini bamboo-forest closer to the stream side and hopscotch on rocks to safely land on the other side and make our way to the sweet aunty to get our early morning sweets. We never had money for that but stealing a 10 cent from the auspicious brass chombu that sacredly held the weekly coins placed in it every Friday as an offering to the mother luxmi, the goddess of good fortune, did get us quite a few items for the week. Bubblegum was 1 cent for 3 and bor and figs were 1 cent a packet. The sweet aunty would sit on a very low stool sprawled out like a Buddha in her sari tucking it in places to hide the rolls that seem to find a way to take a peek every now and then, as she systematically collected the coins for the exchange of the goods spread out on her cloth that she neatly set out on the ground. She smiled all the time and every now and then she would take her right index finger to push her thick-framed glasses back up the ridge of her nose because it slid down from the beads of sweat forming on her forehead from the exotic Durban heat.

Before we can even get to the sweet aunty there was another obstacle we had to face after the river, they would be there some days which gave us other days a smooth passage to the sweet aunty and then climb the small hill to get onto the road where our school stood in front of us. When they were there the trip to school seemed longer and the breath of fresh air became stale with fear. They usually followed the herd boy when they were majestically passing through the plane heading in the direction of the bamboo forest but sometimes they lounged in the open air whilst the herd boy sat on the ground very much basking in the morning glory. The bottom jaw seemed to have a mind of its own moving from side to side busy chomping away whatever it is that cows chomped on. My sister would hold my hand and I would walk behind her clutching onto her school belt as we both braved the fierce beasts that towered above us and they took their place on their grassy thrones. We would walk quietly at times trying not to disturb their rituals and meditations and there are times we would scurry through the spaces between them when they decided to let us know how unpleased they were with a huge “Moooo” from their now disturbed chewing. When we made it through this, then only we would start breathing again and I would run behind my sister while she held my hand pulling me to safety. All this was left in the distant air once we reached the sweet aunty.

© Pragashnie Naidoo

 

PEACE
PN

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Vegan Fruitcake Recipe

MANDALA FRUITCAKE

Couple months back I had fruitcake cravings, coming from someone that never liked anything that was cooked with fruits. Anyone from my family knows that sweet rice (typical Indian dessert dish commonly used in all rituals, prayers, and functions) with raisins or soji with raisins just does not sit well with me. Anyway I am also someone that listens to my body and this vehicle of mine wanted fruit cake so I was not going to deny it from fruitcake, so I took the lazy way out and ordered for a vegan fruit. Here I was thinking well, mmmm, fruit cake, something that was not my favorite thing, I will order it, cut it up into small servings and freeze it for whenever the craving returned. I DID cut it up and freeze but it was my biggest mistake…….it never lasted so long in the freezer, by the end of the week between my life partner, kids and I, it was eaten and a broken promise to my mother as I was supposed to keep a piece for her.

I still wanted fruitcake, so the creative side kicked in and did what I do best. Research a whole lot of recipes and re-invent the wheel. It really was co-incidental that all this happened during the festive season but I did manage to kill 2 birds with one stone as now I have a cake to bring to the table for Xmas lunch being hosted by my sister at my place. Serve this cake with vanilla vegan custard and you have a winner!

This is my version of the fruitcake and it did have a little more flour than a normal fruit cake. It is also alcohol-free (I used non-alcoholic rum essence), vegan-friendly, and sugar-free (because of all the fruits and using dates as a substitute for sugar).  It was made with stone ground flour and the flour can be easily substituted for gluten-free flour. I think this is a very forgiving cake to be converted to gluten-free because the density of the cake is expected. I made a bulk lot of the cake but have scaled down the recipe for you.  This fits into a 20cm square baking tin and serves 12-15.

Just note that this is a non-alcoholic cake so you do not require basting/feeding the cake like you would do if alcohol was used to preserve it. This cake will keep for 2-3 days out of the fridge, thereafter it will keep for 10 days in the fridge and then you are required to freeze it if it does not get finished within those days, because there is no alcohol it will start molding if you do not follow these steps.  But trust me I do not think it would get to the freezer stage, unless you are like me and bake in bulk.

 

Ingredients

3 cups dried fruit mix

I used Sultanas, raisins, black currants, goji berries, apples, apricot, cranberries, blueberries, and prunes. I chopped up the bigger dried fruits to raisin size pieces. My recipe did have more of the Sultanas, black currants and raisins like most of the other recipes.

1 cup citrus peels

I finely diced orange and lemon rind that were the similar size of the black currants. The rind is the outermost part of the skin, not the white but the yellow or orange parts of the skin.

1 ½ cup masala (chai) tea

I used two teabags brewed in 1 cup water for soaking the fruits. The other half cup is made with one tea bag in half cup water to baste the cake with once. You can be adventurous and make your own masala tea, but make sure it is strong.

2 tbls rum essence (non-alcoholic) split in half.

1 tbls to be used at the soaking stage and the other tbls to be used in the cake batter when baking.

½ cup coconut Oil

You can use any oil or vegan margarine

1 cup apple juice

You can use orange juice or grape juice if you like.

spices

4  Clove buds (ground)

1  teaspoon Allspice powder

1  teaspoon ground Cinnamon

1  teaspoon grated fresh Ginger

1/2  teaspoon ground Nutmeg

1/2  teaspoon Caraway seeds (ground)

I lightly toasted the clove buds and caraway seeds to release some of their oils before grinding them.

1 cup dates

Chopped and soaked overnight (the day before you bake the cake) with just enough water to cover the dates in the bowl. This will be liquidized to be added to the recipe.

1 – 2 cup nuts plus extra half pecans for decorating

You can use walnuts, almonds or pecan, any nuts really roughly chopped up. I skimped on the nuts and used sprinkle peanuts. The other ingredients already cost so much and I went over budget, besides I wanted the pecans to decorate the cake.

1 ¾  cups cake flour

Sifted

1 tbls ground flaxseed

This is to bind the mixture and used in place of eggs.

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

 

Method

Step 1

Decide when you actually want to bake the cake, and then soak the dried fruits, together with the citrus peels and 1 tablespoon rum essence in 1 cup of masala tea up to 7 days keeping the soaked fruits in the fridge.

Soaked Dried Fruits

Step 2

Soak dates night before baking or if you baking in the evening then you can soak it in the morning. Liquidize dates.

Take the soaked fruits and liquidized dates and put it in a stainless steel pot together with the juice, spices and coconut oil and bring it to boil and simmer for 5-7 mins.

This mixture needs to cool down to room temperature before using. If not using the same day you can refrigerate but make sure you take it out from the fridge a few hours before to bring the mixture back to room temperature before making the cake batter. All this affects the cooking time and process during baking, so always make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.

Liquidized Soaked Dates

All Ingredients in the pot ready to be brought up to boil and simmer for 5-7 mins.

Step 3

Now you ready to make the batter. Preheat oven to 175 Degrees Celcius

Add the remaining dry ingredients, ground flaxseed, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nuts to the sifted flour.

Add the remaining wet ingredients, rum, vanilla extract and lemon zest to the fruit mixture. Mix well. If you anything like me, get the hubby involved in using muscle power to mix well.

Now combine both the wet and dry ingredients and mix well. Put in the well-greased baking tray, tap the baking dish on the counter to settle the batter evenly or use a greased plastic plate like what hubby did to press down the batter to remove air bubbles and bake for 45-60 min. Poke a skewer and if it comes out clean then it is cooked.

 

Dry Ingredients
Hubby helping in the kitchen, removing air bubbles with even distribution

Step 4

Let the cake cool in the tray. Poke holes with a skewer and spoon the half cup of tea onto the cake till the cake soaks up the tea.

Now you can either decorate the cake with nuts and cherries if you like. Sift some icing over it and then cling wrap and let it mature for 2 days then put it in the fridge. You can also decorate the cake when you are ready to serve it.

The cake I baked did get slightly burnt underneath but that is because of my oven. I do not have one of the best ovens to bake in.

Try it out and leave comments below to let me know how you did.

PEACE
PN

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#MeToo

About yesterday, #MeToo

I am normally one to fight for others and don’t generally speak about my experiences, personal to myself. But yesterday I could not help but share the #MeToo because I am beginning to see the importance of it and creating a conversation about it. I realized I will be a hypocrite [to myself mostly] if I did not create the conversation [as that is what I have been doing the past year or so is going where it is painful and opening conversations that needed to be spoken about] and join in solidarity with my fellow females. I am also frankly tired of hiding behind walls.

What are we afraid of?

Are we afraid that we would embarrass our family and friends?

Are we afraid that the world would know we actually know what a penis looks like at the age of 6 or 7?

Are we afraid to let our culture be exposed for what it is?

Are we afraid to not have the conversation because it would make someone else feel guilty about our plight [especially as kids]?

Are we afraid to let the world know why you helicopter your own kids and keep them close by and when something unaware has happened and you actually not knowingly put their lives in danger you beat the crap out of yourself?

Are you afraid to tell the world that disgusting vile acts of men [and women] are really true?

Are you afraid to let people down because you know you were not given the time of day as a kid [and it is not anyone’s fault as everyone does what they know best at any given time in their lives] and everything would have been hushed anyway?

Are you afraid to say that nobody really cares about the kids and self-esteem and ego will get in the way of adults because nobody wants to tell the world that their child was abused?

NOBODY CARES!?

WELL, I CARE ENOUGH ABOUT THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD AND THE WOMEN OF THE WORLD TO CONTINUE HAVING THAT CONVERSATION. I AM NOT HAVING THE CONVERSATION ANYMORE WITHOUT ME IMMERSING MYSELF FULLY IN THE CONVERSATION. SO #METOO!

Yes, I am aware that this happens to all genders and sex but for once I want to focus on ME as a female in this world [no, it does not make me less compassionate about my male family and friends who went through the same atrocities and it does not dismiss what they have been through], I just want to focus on this particular conversation. The conversation of women and children [especially girls] because I want it to be a focus of as much as men get sexually assaulted too but let us just focus on me as a woman for a change.

I want to tell you why I hate old Indian men.

I want to tell you why I do not leave my home and only go with very close family members like my life partner, my kids, my parents, my siblings. I want to tell you I am afraid to be left alone with any man in a room [no offense to anyone but the only men I truly trust is my dad, kids, and brother, no one else].

I want to tell you why I have been depressed most of my life.

I want to tell you why I have low self-esteem.

I want to tell you why I never felt physically attractive.

I want to tell you why I am an emotional person.

I want to tell you why I hurt so much when kids get hit or have their rights violated.

I want to tell you why I taught my boys from as young as possible that NO ONE but NO ONE is allowed to touch them without their permission.

I want to tell you why this is so important to leave kids to make their own decisions about EVERYTHING as they learn that no one can violate their space, whether it is their mother, father, uncle, aunt, NO ONE but NO ONE must violate their space in touching, hiding, spatially and verbally. IT IS THEIR BODY AND THEIR BODY ALONE!

I want to tell you I will kill the person that touches my children, I am THAT mother.

I want to tell you why it hurts me so much to see hurt and pain caused by other humans.

I want to tell why I feel there is so much injustice in this world, especially towards women and children.

I want to tell you what it feels like to have been driven throughout Johannesburg without a clue as to where you are going, in and out of consciousness with somebody who was supposed to have been trustworthy.

I want to tell you how scared I was to have left my kids at home and it was the first time I did that and I how afraid I was of not getting back to them.

I want to tell you the first question people ask “why did you not speak about it when it actually did happen, why did you wait till now” which makes you feel like you lying.

I want to tell you that those you thought where your family actually become strangers because they side with the wrong person.

I want to tell you that other women who have been abused DO NOT SUPPORT YOU.

I want to tell you that even though you try to open up to people you thought were friends and would help you actually give you the cold shoulder, because they do not want to get involved and because the events that followed did not suit their idea of an abused woman, because it was not told the same time.

I want to tell you why I love animals more than the human species.

I want to tell you all of these things but mostly I want to tell you IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT AND YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL EMBARRASSED OR ASHAMED OF IT AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I also want to tell you I DID have support from my close family and family members [including some friends] that were close to me, and that I am eternally grateful for.

Let us take this conversation somewhere.

Let us bring the men [and women] involved in abuse to the forefront.

Let’s eventually shift the focus to the men who rape, the men who violate our space, the men who caused us that pain, the men that verbally abuse you.

Let us shift the focus eventually.

Why must we carry the burden alone, why must we carry the burden AT ALL?

They should be the ones on the guilty stand.

They should be the ones incarcerated.

They should be the ones that live in a prison.

Let us break the silence, let us shift the focus.

#MeToo

PEACE

PN

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The Candid Pragmatic Fraudulent Vegan

When I started my Vegan journey 19 years ago after my first son was born, I hadn’t a clue that Veganism would become such a big fuss over in the future. By fuss over, I mean now there are so many different types of Vegans, those that are Vegan for health reasons, those that are Vegan for the love of their fellow sentient beings and some that are Vegan for spiritual and/or religious reasons and many of them are for a culmination of reasons. It is sad though to watch how each group crucifies each other for not doing it their way and sit proudly on their ideological throne of Veganism. That is why I never say I am truly Vegan but in my biography, on my website, I state I align myself with veganism as I do not like labels as life itself is fluid and labels have no space to come up for air to breathe. I refuse to constraint myself under such chains. My point about this blog post is to highlight my very own lifestyle as a so-called aligned vegan and my personal journey along the way and my personal thoughts and experiences on the matter at hand.

My Journey

I generally never felt comfortable eating meat from a very early age and used to fast by only eating vegetable 4-5 times a week as a teenager. It is not that I did not enjoy meat but neither did I like to eat big copious chunks of it. I certainly did enjoy eating the gravy of my mom’s mutton curry and picking at meat close to the bones of chicken and lamb. I would not eat anything else as the big pieces of flesh are not what I really liked or enjoyed to eat, so it was the flavour of the meat in dishes that I enjoyed more than anything else. Even now, I do not really like soy products as in burgers or anything that has a large chunk of meat like structure but enjoy it in small quantities per week. The only thing that stopped me from eating meat was the guilt. I felt really guilty about the killing of flesh and eating. It did not sit well with me in my psyche. So I just did not become Vegan because I was coaxed into it or jumped on the bandwagon or I never had a Eureka moment about it either. Not killing for my food is something that I innately resonated with from a child. Growing up in an Indian culture and their beliefs also paved that way for me, spiritually. But, my family, both maternal and paternal ate meat and few of us did end up being vegetarians from both sides.

My point about this blog post is to highlight my very own lifestyle as a so-called vegan and my personal journey along the way. So, I went Vegan 19 years ago but never remained vegan all that time, for health reasons. I introduced dairy products (not eggs) back into my diet 3 years into being vegan. I think mainly I ate dairy products out of convenience for others rather than myself. I do not enjoy dairy products except for, butter. Butter bread was something I grew up with as a staple and that is the only thing I really used butter for. Oh and let us not forget chocolate, I was a chocoholic and one point in my life. I am also a health-conscious nut, so I never really cook with dairy products as such. So even though I had dairy products, it was minimal.

My second son was born, he was born vegetarian but I never placed restrictions on him as he is his own person and he remained vegetarian till he was almost 3 years old. He chose to eat meat cos his brother was not vegetarian either, though he ate vegetarian most of the time. My second son was born out of In-vitro, so my body had been depleted from most of its resources by the time I had him. I am naturally anaemic and suffer from low blood pressure and also suffered from depression most my life. So at the same time my second son ate meat, I also started having Salmon and other meats so became what the term they use now is a flexitarian. But mind you, I never gorged down glutinously at meat and dairy products, I still ate mostly vegan. I remained flexitarian for 5 years until I felt ready and strong enough to go back to being an aligned vegan. This is my story in a nutshell and I have maintained this lifestyle for the last 3 years. When I returned to this lifestyle I started searching social Medias for online groups and I was amazed at how the culture has grown since I started my journey 19 years ago. There is an awesome awareness that has taken place over the years but sadly there is really a bad stigma attached to it. Being someone that cares for the planet and its living beings found the most horrible and vile people in vegan groups. There is not even an ounce of kindness amongst those that share the same cause. Everyone feels entitled to their own version of what veganism should look like. Not enough that life is already difficult for some people and individuals are unique in their own personal growth and one needs to take science into consideration, we have vegans sitting on their high horses trotting down ideology, judgment and discrimination lanes. We are served on a platter of derogation when we are not completely vegan so I am being Candid about my journey so others can relate and enjoy the journey without being trampled upon. I am unapologetically pragmatic about my vegan journey. I believe I am also a fraudulent vegan as I do not believe anyone can be completely vegan according to the definition given and that’s  why I think I can align myself with being vegan but I will never be completely vegan. Below are some of my thoughts about it.

Meaning of vegan

The Cambridge dictionary defines vegan as a person who does not eat or use any animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, or leather: Vegans get all the protein they need from nuts, seeds, and cereals.

The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson who was part of small group of vegetarians who broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society to form the Vegan Society. They chose not to consume dairy, eggs or any other products of animal origin, in addition to not eating meat like the vegetarians. It was originally defined as “the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man.” In 1979, the Vegan Society became a registered charity and updated that definition.

Thus, Veganism is currently defined as “A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

Now, these two definitions make one think, well, I can do this, but I think most miss out one important factor in the definition by the Vegan Society, some possibly quoting it without these vital words ‘as far as is possible and practicable’. Without these words included in the definition then it is impossible for one to be a Vegan. I am also suggesting that it is completely impossible to be a Vegan even with those vital words included as we live in a society that even traveling in a vehicle with no animal derivatives is impossible. Even my laptop that I am typing on is unethically created if we take child labour and other poor labour conditions into consideration.

My Family’s stance in Veganism

I am Vegan, my husband is lacto-ovo-vegetarian and both my sons are a flexitarian. Unfortunately, this is when I become unapologetic me, because above everything else in this world my children come first! I am the mother that would feed my kids exactly what they need/want in terms of nutrition. I never once asked them to become Vegan as they are not me and they have their own voice and opinions about things in life so they are very much capable of making their own moral and ethical decisions about things. I respect their choices in life and in turn, I get the same respect.

With that being said our family does eat mostly vegan. My kids and husband though they have been labelled such, they do not consume many dairy products (but my kids won’t compromise cheese when and if they have cheesy dishes) and request I make most things vegan including baking, and toiletries are also vegan sourced, at home. We are a health-conscious family. I do prepare meat dishes for them occasionally but my husband and kids do most of the meat dishes if they have to. My kids do not eat much chicken and eat mostly lamb when they do eat. They have eggs in their diet too.  So yes, we respectfully met halfway with no force and expectations but through love and understanding of each other and our choices. My family is actually more important than any animal out there in all honesty and I value their relationship far more than any animal or other human beings. Everybody is doing the best they can so always be kind.

How I actually feel about animals

I love animals and I had many pets and I stopped keeping them as when they die, for me a part of the family dies. Some of my pets have been rescued but not many; I did what I could at certain stages in my life. But with that being said, I am not like a lot of animal lovers that can have an animal farm in their home and be happy about it. My animals live outside when I had them. We have allergies, and I am OCD so there is no way I will have an animal stay inside all the time and mess up my house. If they were clean and neat then they would be inside but other than that they were outside.

I also do not like caged animals/pets, which means I do not like Zoos, but with that being said there are many rescue type zoos and rehabilitation centres. I do not like circus’s with animals in it, but I am grateful for the animals that have been used to progress science and I still have my reservations about aquariums but do not like dolphins caged in small enclosures.

Here is where I believe I am a fraudulent vegan, I hate cockroaches, flies, and mosquitos. I do my best not to kill them but unfortunately, if they are pests in my home even after having deterrents in place, spreading their filthy germs everywhere, then I actually feel nothing about killing them. I really do not have any remorse after doing it either and certainly will not accept rat, cockroach, and pest infested drains and surrounding.  I think I would do the same if an animal came to attack me, I would kill it and feel nothing about it and same goes for any person that tries to kill me or harm my kids or family. Hell hath no fury like a mother whose kids have been harmed.

Am I hurting the Vegan Cause?

Hurting the vegan cause? Veganism to me has become a cult with religious overtones attached to it. Veganism is fairly new in its terminology and for me does not constituent as a researched science by itself. Many ‘die hards’ [encountered this personally where they actually started harassing me and name calling on private messages until they were blocked] will think by simply writing this article it will give omnis a reason not to be vegan, quite the contrary, I think it will give people something to think about in a kinder way.

I rather someone comes to their own realisations than being forced upon or guilt into change, even if they make small changes through baby steps. Those that realise on their own through awareness will stand a better chance staying on the course than being overwhelmed by it and run the opposite direction. There are many factors to be taken into account before even taking the first steps to being vegan as not everyone is ‘Cold Turkey’ material. We all digest information and change differently.

We need to create awareness so people can see how the meat and dairy industry treats their animals and this needs to change in a large way. Not forcing somebody to become vegan because you feel that you cannot come down from your high horse.

Let us get real too, as long as we are classed as omnivores, which scientifically we are because you will be surprised the fallacy that goes around just so someone can join a [any] movement.

I do absolutely nothing to convert others or have the desire to do so

Why I do not care if someone chooses to go vegan or not. It is not my job and responsibility for someone else’s ethical and moral reasoning. I learned this in my late twenties, when I have been trying to do much in terms of saving the planet [and people] since my early twenties, like recycling, having healthier meals, not using much plastic, using greener products and no matter how much you scream at the top of your lungs, the only control you have is to yourself. You do the best you can and if people want to follow your lead, it is all good, but if they don’t, then it is their prerogative. I am not here to babysit other people’s choices and my life is happier for it as I used to feel miserable and anger a lot of the times when people waste food or used plastic bags, for what, because they are not doing exactly what I WANT them to do? Ego out the window equals much happier life, thank you very much! I have been depressed way too much in my lifetime to not to deserve to give myself happiness.

Being Realistic

And I do know many of you may come back and say the issue is the animals or sentient beings. Yes, I do understand that but unfortunately, if you do not change the industry itself which is the source of the problem, which is animal cruelty for food, then no matter how many vegans you have in the world, you are still sitting with a problem. People want solutions not undermine their lifestyle and expect them to change. So go to the source and give them a solution on how to be more humane. I know, many of you may think there is no humane in killing an animal for food but that is the way it is. Some [most] people see animals as part of the food chain, get used to it. You are definitely living in a dream world if you for once think that the world is going to be completely vegan. As long as we have individuals with individual needs there is no way that will happen. Can you see a world without chaos and conflict? And the truth is you need chaos and conflict for things to change. So yes, maybe they would find better ways to farm animals, like creating meat in the laboratory as an example but the need for eating meat by many will not change.

Genetic, Environment, Culture, Omnivore.

This brings as to another factor. There is one paper so far that I have seen that being vegetarian is found in the Genes. As I find more I would add it to this post. I have a strong belief that culture, environment, and genes play an important part in one’s diet. Many studies have shown [not that I know the authenticity of those articles] that soya causes Cancer and has lots of estrogen in it and can be harmful to you. I do not see Japanese or Chinese people having a problem. So my hypothesis it is in the genes. Maybe the western culture cannot adopt eating soybean because their body is not designed for that so it has an adverse effect on those that do not have certain foods in their culture. But then again, every other thing causes cancer nowadays so who is to say what is right or wrong.

There is nothing more annoying than someone going and telling somebody how to do things in their own culture and environment. Let us tell people that live in icy or desert places to eat only vegetables! If we take cultural societies, in all honesty, their staple diets are never only meat. They eat meat when an animal needs to be killed and used for that purpose alone, and none of the animal goes to waste. Everything is used! Most cultures use vegetables in most of their dishes with meat as a compliment and many cultures DO NOT have access to lots of vegetables, like some parts of Africa. You can count the vegetables they have access to, on one hand. The western world pretty much has become glutinous in their approach to food and from there it has globalised.

Lastly, far from the fallacy that the vegan world has created, that we are herbivores, we are actually omnivores. Omnivore does not suggest we eat more meat than vegetables or more vegetables than meat but we eat what is available. So as a society we have created a world that needs to kill more to eat thus that is what we made available to us. I repeat, WE ARE OMNIVORES, so deal with it, do not go against science just so you get more people to join the course but rather work with science. We know we are omnivores but we do not necessarily need to eat meat.

Farmers make a living and big co-operation funding on science

I also found that people just expect farmers to give up their day job, which they have used to sustain them for all these years. As much as farming is a big industry [which we should be targeting] there are farmers that are poor and are doing THEIR best to put food on their table. So I also would not take away someone’s livelihood.

Big co-operations funding certain scientific projects are also a strong point in the fight for a vegan cause. My information I get or research I do is not funded by big cooperations. It is by people who are professional in their field of science and are commoners just like you and I. So yes, it could be true as big co-operations have the money to fund certain biased science projects, but science IS science which means they are facts that have moved from a hypothesis and have been proven to be true. You are part of the animal kingdom, which is a fact based on science. No matter what you do, that would not change.

Some just cannot be vegan

Some people cannot eat vegetables. I know some of them that have actually gotten ill from eating veggies and staying away from meat.  It is not who they are and I honestly do not expect them to change. A person’s health no matter what they have to eat is also important. I would not think of them any less because it is what it is for some people. I align myself with veganism because from a young age I knew that I could be a vegetarian. It felt right for ME. It also does not mean that they love animals any less than you do as a vegan. Please note that humans have domesticated some animals to live with us as families and it is not the other way around. And for those that say that they would not cut up their family and eat, well I understand that, but cannibalism is real and you do not find cannibals eating their own family members either.

Is vegan for the elite group or those that earn a living?

Probably, as it does come across that way most times. The sad truth is the man on the street is not bothered about vegan or not, they are more bothered by where their next meal is coming from. People eat what they can get their hands on when living in poverty. So if a dead cow is available then they will eat that. Yes, I know I am over exaggerating that point but the truth is only the elite can go for B12 injections and supplement their diet accordingly and I honestly would not advise malnourished people in poverty to not eat meat. They do not have juicing machines to get the right amount of nutrients in them. If you are vegan you would need the right amounts of vitamins and minerals to be eaten in order for proper absorption of eg iron. One should also take into consideration some diseases doesn’t allow one to eat most vegetables and we have to take note of psychological disorders like eating disorders can be harmful if you advise them to go vegan without medical or expert advice.

B12 deficiency can lead to memory loss and poor brain function, which can only be found in fortified foods and animal protein. Yes, argue as much as you like but sciences are facts not based on fallacies. So back to the point of Vegan is for the elite, I would say yes.  A poor person will not be able to afford fortified foods if for example, he has a herd of cows in his backyard.

Humor about being vegan; being mocked by meat eaters

We all need humor in our lives and honestly speaking I rather laugh myself to the grave than grieve myself to it. I personally do not get mocked in a nasty way by meat eaters, but that is possible, my personality is such, I do not get offended by such trivial things. If someone teases me, I do the unexpected and just laugh with them about the joke and mostly it just ends there. I laugh at a lot of vegan jokes made by meat eaters, as I do find it funny. Maybe just change your attitude about it, but of course, I would not put up with somebody victimising me for my life choices. But is it possible that the vegan society has brought this upon them? I know the consequence of the action of Christians in the past being pushy about their religion, has brought upon many atheists that mock them and belittle them. So when someone jokes about you being a vegan, ask where this coming from instead of being upset with them is. A kind understanding of people can only meet you as deeply as they have met themselves can also create awareness on your side.

I am also aware of discrimination against vegan but that is also culturally based. I am Indian so in my culture, it is the norm to be a vegetarian or go down a vegan route, so I am not faced with that. So Veganism needs to take an intersectional approach as everyone’s wants and needs culturally is different.

New Vegans make the most noise

Here again, this is my experience. I always find new blood or young blood to be cheeky and seem to know it all. Of course, this is a general statement and not all fit into this category.

Testimonials

There are many testimonials for pro-vegan as there are many testimonials of that gone vegan and returned to eating meat for health reasons. Here again, it is an individual choice. I am super proud of those that make it the whole nine yards. I am also sure many people out there are inspired by your testimonials. Testimonials also mean nothing in the grander scheme of things, simply because it may work for you but it may not work for another person and that is also ok. I think the problem comes in when one needs to angrily oppose the vegan diet when their health suffers because they automatically get put on the judgment stand for relapsing into eating meat again. Then it comes back to the point that the dogmatic and judgemental stigma attached to veganism makes those that relapse to react in a ‘push back’ manner, so lovingly and gently does it and easing into it makes the lifestyle last longer.

I also think we are not dietitians or nutritionists or doctors that are qualified to advise anyone to be vegans. If someone wants to become a vegan I would certainly tell them to see a nutritionist as that should be the first place one should start. I am not responsible for anyone else’s malnutrition, that has gone vegan under my advice.

Dairy industry is worse than the meat industry

In my opinion, I find the dairy industry far more cruel than the meat industry. Yes, I know both industries are very unethical, but for the future, I think we can do without the dairy industry altogether as the meat industry can evolve to be the lesser of two evils. Well, we can all do without both the industries, that would be awesome, but for reasons I have already deduced above, it is a very idealistic and unrealistic view. With the dairy industry, the cows are kept in lactation just so they can produce milk regularly and not forgetting the other indecencies that take place, which I will cover in another post in the future. If we had to move forward realistically, I think giving an animal a beautiful life before being slaughtered for food would be the most decent thing to do. With the dairy industry that cannot happen even when some believe they can, like the Hare Krishna movement. We are also living in a very glutinous, consumerism society right now, as the need for all the meat is truly unnecessary for our bodies and I will talk about that in another post,

Militant Vegans – Do we really need them? Are they the Victims?

Absolutely! They are the ones that give a voice to the voiceless. Their passion and drive to change the way animals are being treated is exactly what any cause needs. They certainly have the personal capacity and manpower to change the face of the dairy and animal farming industry. The most I am willing to do is sit behind my laptop in my home office and create awareness through my blog and social media. I am NOT a ‘go out there and placard’ type of person. I also do not donate money as I already have four mouths to feed, neither do I sign online petitions. That is who I am. We need all types of people to change the world [someone on the vegan group reminded me of this] or to create awareness. Militant vegans have their hearts in the right place like all other vegans do but attacking their own kind or those that ARE making small or large changes gives them a bad name and also assuming or having fallacy articles to back scientific claims as One Size Fits All is a tad bit far-fetched in my opinion.

Only an individual can create a victim space for themselves. If vegans are feeling that way, it is because of the backlash they are experiencing which is a consequence of their own dogmatic, high horse scenario, unkind ways to their own fellow humans.

Vegans are genuinely trying to make a change so no, they are not the victims, the actual victims are those poor animals that they are fighting so hard for. They may come out all angry with the world and feel great injustice being done to sentient beings but their heart is certainly in the right place. We need to create a world that inflicts the least amount of pain as possible. I believe this can only be done through love and understanding of our fellow human beings and for the love of the animals we share this planet with.

Meat Eaters

I cannot say much on how a meat eater actually justifies cruelty to animals beyond a reasonable doubt. Vegans are doing the best they can to create a world that is better for the future generations. Maybe instead of also discriminating and acting on cognitive dissonance, take the time to understand what the cause is about. Making small changes can contribute to the whole. One single vegan saves the lives of approximately 200 animals a year.

And in all honesty, a meat eater giving the excuse of “I really love meat and will not change” is not an excuse I understand easily, I respect it but I absolutely cannot understand it. Maybe stand with vegans to change the production of the meat in the farming industry. I cannot understand that you are actually OK with animals being treated so atrociously. I know I have eaten meat that was not ethically sourced because of my finance but I certainly did not, not understand my actions as a human being. Why not explore alternatives to milk and other substitutes before deciding you cannot do this? If you cannot stay without cheese, then do not stay without it, but if you can get away with having rice milk then change that.

The animal farming industry is a nightmare for animals. The dairy industry should not even exist in my opinion. Educate yourself and stand for inhumane treatment of animals. Death is inevitable but how we live and what actions we have upon a living being is a choice.

I also do not approve of meat eaters saying this like “Oh I cannot eat that soy shit!” and that I have picked up some people who are not even aware they are saying it. Food no matter what it is, it is NOT shit! The problem lies right here in our vocabulary and the use of words that can be somewhat ignorant and disrespectful. Vegan jokes are also taken a bit too far and are overused and have become stale, just like the meat that lies in the frozen section of the supersized money making elite bourgeoisie.

Why am I aligning with this lifestyle and say I am a fraudulent vegan.

Everyone has an opinion; everyone feels their way is the right way.  I would like to end up by saying, there is no right or wrong way but there is an ethical way, which we are all doing the best we can. I love my lifestyle not because I am sitting on a high horse feeling superior to others, but simply because I love plant-based foods and l love creating with food, and I love nutrition and I do not like dairy products very much, I do not like eggs and I do not like hurting anything or anyone unnecessarily. It does break my heart to see animals and people suffer on a daily basis and I used to cry myself to sleep quite often by these encounters. Vegan aligns with my own personal values.

As I got older I learned to be emotionally stronger and learned to deal with it in better ways. I have also grown with knowledge and understanding of the way things are and the way they should be and what I can and cannot control and what I value the most in life is my family and my relationships with another human being or an animal for that matter.

I also learned not to be too hard on myself. Like the palm oil issue, I am honestly doing the best I can. By default, I do not buy a lot of things with palm oil as I mostly cook from scratch for my family, but if I buy Oreos once in a while, cos I love Oreos, so I really do it without any guilt. We are living in a world, in order for us to be truly vegan, it would be impossible to even take in the air we breathe because an insect may get stuck up your nostril.

Would I eat meat again? Yes, I would if it is necessary to my health or if I am traveling somewhere that does not give me options or if I am in another culture and feel I want to experience it, which means eating meat, I would. But then I am in fair health (as I do battle at times), supplementing it where I can and I am not into traveling all that often (for now).

So for all that I have explained here, I believe I am a fraudulent vegan as I can never be truly vegan in my opinion and the current lifestyle that I live I am too immersed in a society that is already steeped in so much of immorality, whichever way I turn or can afford.

 

References

Cha, A.E. (2016, March 30). Cornell study finds some people may be genetically programmed to be vegetarians. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/vegan

https://www.bowdoin.edu/~dfrancis/askanerd/omni/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/03/30/cornell-study-finds-some-people-may-be-genetically-programmed-to-be-vegetarians/?utm_term=.67ae689c8c2d

Vegan biologist. (2016, January 04). Humans are not herbivores. Vegan Biologist. Retrieved from https://veganbiologist.com/2016/01/04/humans-are-not-herbivores/

Petra, A. (2016, July 29). What is a vegan and what do vegans eat. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-a-vegan#section1

Vegan speak. (2016, October 26). 5 things vegan say that are wrong. Vegan speak. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJgxw90-Lp4

NB – This blog post will be updated whenever I find more empirical research been done regarding this post itself. Many aspects of this post [Vit B12, the actual meat, and dairy industry, how to make small changes] will be explored more in future blogposts.

 

PEACE

PN

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Unconditional Love, Respect and Trust for our Kids

I have wanted to tackle this topic for a long time and was finding ways to get to it without people getting the wrong message or even upsetting those that love their kids, as I have no doubt that we all parents love our children. Here we have another paradigm shift in thoughts moving away from the conditioning of the past and we faced with another cognitive dissonance. I challenge you to hear me out before jumping on the bandwagon of emotional reactions.

Before we continue, for those that have not read my introductory post on Life Learning, go here http://pragashnienaidoo.co.za/2017/02/23/142.  This would give you a better understanding of the direction I am approaching the topic of Unconditional Love, Trust, and Respect.

If we look at the development of a child from in utero, we the mother [and father] take care of ourselves, make sure we are well-nourished and keep our baby safe from any harm by not risking harm to ourselves, but baby in utero develops naturally and learns basic instinctual stuff like thumb sucking in the womb, it is a reflex reaction. Baby is born and we continue with the unconditional love and give baby a safe environment, checking on her/him, changing diapers, feeding and nurturing, going on his/her demands and cycles (well not in all cases as a lot of parents have got schedules to feed their kids and right here is a great example of conditioning already taking place). And if you analyze this, babies bonding time is during feeding time mostly when newly born and we have already put a condition on this. Bonding equates to love, is how baby perceives it. Does this mean there is a schedule to the love and schedules are conditions?

Yeah, so we do this entire but then something changes as baby changes and grows and the demands may or may not get greater but then here is what we are conditioned as adults to believe; we are conditioned to believe that in order for our child to learn we need to start having conditions in place, like the way we had when growing up. We are led to ‘believe’ we taught our child to crawl, walk and talk which are reflexive reactions anyway, so we need to teach the child what to do when to do and how to do it.

Let us look at this term Unconditional Love: Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations or love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love.(Wikipedia)

Now let us try to explore where this all started, the conditions on love and why I believe it is a wrong thing for parents to say “I love my kids unconditionally” as it is not a reflection of what we actually do. I think it starts with us, our own conditioning and what love supposed to look like. We may feel staying in an abusive relationship, as an example because it is ok to be beaten up, verbally abused and its likes and you deserve this so your love becomes conditions. He hits me because he loves me. I love him unconditionally so I stay with. How often do we get people saying “If you love me unconditionally then you will buy me……or cook me…… or come with me……?” Unconditional love starts with yourself; it starts with your own self-worth. Ok, so I am probably using quite a drastic example but every little expectation placed on someone daily is an act of conditional love being perceived as unconditional love because we were conditioned to believe this. You never know what love is, until you truly love yourself and then only you can truly love another.

Our kids start developing and they feel the love of their parents, but then parents start putting conditions on things and the baby/child starts wanting to please the parent as they equate it to if mom and dad are happy means I feel loved. It really is quite a tricky thing, I may add. It is not simple to identify in yourself and your relationship with your child. And honestly speaking I am challenging you to broaden your mind and think out of the box like I mentioned in my introduction.

Please do not mistake this for not putting safety measures for your kids. But even too much of ‘safety measures’ can hinder a child’s growth. Example “don’t climb that stair, you will fall” placing fear in the child may hinder his natural instincts to explore. Another topic for another post.

I believe we love our kids unconditionally when they are born, but it changes over time. Our kids are taken care of when they are little but as they grow older and develop their own identity, which they already have BTW just we find the need to give them an identity to suit what we feel is best for them. The conditions on love get larger as they get older.

If I can explain what does Unconditional Love means to me then possibly you would get a better perspective of where I am coming from. For me to truly unconditionally love my child is to leave my child to develop at her own pace and time and to create a safe space for her to continue her development, for me to leave her to have the rights to her own body, mind and soul, for me to love her EXACTLY how she is, for me to truly understand what TRUST and RESPECT means for my child and largely for me to trust myself so she can be a free person in mind, body, and spirit. My children are born from me, but they are NOT me. We are just the caretakers to making sure their basic needs are met and they are kept [mostly] safe (safety measures are also debatable). In doing so or being this way with my kids, they have the rights to their OWN body and they are able to set and push their own boundaries for themselves.  It is also NOT enforcing MY BELIEF (religion) system on him. Yes, another touchy subject, to explore, but I think it is such an essential one as doctrines generally come with their own conditions of love. This is what unconditionally loving my kids’ means to me.

I can never just talk about unconditional love without addressing Respect and Trust. I like to laugh when I think about the things we were told when growing up, and one of them is, we need to respect our elders. I often just find that so funny. I still hear it every now and then and mostly I do not say anything as I just don’t like confronting people head on (that is why I started blogging, to share my ideologies and opinions in a non-confrontational manner and create conversation in a practical and intelligent way). So tell me again, why do kids have to respect their elders? Just because they are older than us or just because they said so? I often find that people get challenged by my kids just having an opinionated conversation and they get accused of being disrespectful. Respect works both ways, period. Kids learn by example, so if you do not give them respect how are they expected to reciprocate it? You need to respect them as you would respect any other adult or individual. Respect breeds Respect.

Trust I often find that, trusting ourselves to trust our kids is the most important aspect of trust. This also ties back to unconditional love. Trust your child to grow, trust your child to make mistakes, trust your child to learn from his mistakes (and not at the first time either), and trust your child to face challenges. Trust your child to be himself and if he ‘messes ups’ (there is no messing up in my opinion, but you can avoid large chunks of it if you just unconditionally love your child in the first place), YOU LOVE HIM/HER anyway! YOU NEED TO TRUST YOURSELF.

Here are some of the factors that chip away the Unconditional Love, Respect, and Trust.

SCHOOLS

The first problem I have with schools, we claim to love our kids, but yet we are willing to leave them almost the whole day with a stranger we have never met. Talk about the safety of our kids. I do have regrets of sending my older son to school when I did not know home-schooling was actually an option 15 years ago. A school is a curse and plays the most important role of chipping away into our kids’ self-esteem, confidence, respect, trust, and unconditional love. We put our kids together with other kids and expect them to perform at high levels on all levels, academic, social and creative. They only ever get 45 min in total to play with friends. And my favourite for those that do send their kids to school, oh they play in the class and they do lots of creative stuff and they are free to roam about freely in the class but when this, this and that subjects are taught they are expected to sit down and learn (and I say this with much respect but need to mention this as to make my point and MY thoughts on the subject and by no means expect every parent to be like me). I do not even want to begin to talk about how teachers complain about a child that does not sit down to learn “straight to the Ritalin and off with their heads!” Every child is different yet every child is faced every day with the decision to be better than his classmate to feed the extravagant award system we have in place for our kids. And our kids may associate this with love, “if I do this properly then I would be recognized and loved.” Schools are another whole topic and I cannot cover everything in this post. Schools need to change to Life Learning Centres and we as inhabitants of this earth need to see the urgency of this. Schools are killing our kids and yet no one is doing anything about it. It is indoctrination and still very much part of industrialization. The following points fall under the school system but are extended from the home of the child.

DISCIPLINING YOUR KIDS

There is no such thing as a naughty child but there is definitely an inquisitive child. We were spanked when we did anything ‘naughty’ when we were growing up and I know how demeaning and hurtful it can be, emotionally specifically. You chip away at the child’s confidence and self-esteem again and equating love to punishment. When I had my first son, I chose to be different but even my ‘different’ methods when I look at it now is emotional blackmail and emotional abuse. A simple thing as putting a child in the ‘naughty corner’ can be devastating for a small child that is predisposed to be a sensitive child. Put yourself in your child’s shoe before exercising any methods of discipline. I often get parents asking me, but what if he doesn’t listen and is now a delinquent teenager. Go back to step one, where did it all start? Have you created a safe and conducive environment for your child to grow and explore on his own? Have you given your child an example of how to be as there is no use instilling all these disciplinary actions on him or her when you yourself drink every weekend? Is being delinquent a way of asking for love and the only way he seems to get the attention he needs is from being destructive? I know it may not be in all cases as there are always exceptions to the rules. The other question you should ask yourself, will you go put an adult in a naughty corner for back chatting? Back chatting really is a very mild example but you would never swear, hit, scream, and shout at another adult, so why do we do it to our kids? Are they not people too? Where are the Unconditional Love, Respect, and Trust in disciplining kids?

REWARD SYSTEM

The reward system speaks for itself. ‘I get things for doing great stuff.’ Maybe that is the problem with the world, creating greed from reward systems. From all that I have explained so far, I am sure you have already deduced [hopefully] that the reward system is a big fail the three factors represented here. Get 100% in school and you get a reward for it. Get abused by a child abuser, it is ok; he has rewarded me with a sweet. I am sorry but this is the extent our society has taken things. Of course, according to psychology, there are many benefits of the reward system but it only works if the CHILD himself immerses himself in it for HIS OWN personal growth.

RELIGION

This will not fly very well with most religious people and that is ok. I understand every household is different and we all have an idea of what a balanced lifestyle looks like. But unfortunately, religion and doctrines do not fall under the umbrella of Life Learning or abides by the 3 precepts; Unconditional Love, Trust, and Respect. It is NOT child reared or interest-driven. It is very much parents and family rules and regulations driven. A child does not need to be indoctrinated by fallacies and what your concept of spirituality is. He will explore this on his own; it is very personal to him. If he decides to follow you in your footsteps, he should do so, as long as it comes from him. Religion has so many fears and so many rules about what unconditional love, respect, and trust looks like. ‘Sure, let’s trust the Catholic priests with our sons, which should turn out just fine!’  ‘Let’s be really great citizens and God will love us and send us to heaven.’ Doctrines are the worst suppressants of emotions that I have ever come across. There is no room for expression nor, is there no room for growth as we all need to be and do well all the time, so our next lives will be better. So tell me again why we can’t leave our kids to find the path that fits them. Oh, wait! We love our kids and we do not want them to be damned to hell. There is that condition right there!

EXPECTATIONS

I think expectations are probably one of those things that nobody is really aware of but is there and it also ties in with all of the above. We expect our child to walk by a certain age, so we push our kids. We expect them to do well in school so we put rewards and discipline in place. We expect our kids to do a lot of things but yet they must be punished for a lot of things they don’t do.

I believe many of our problems eating disorders like anorexia and obesity, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, premature sex and much more stems from the simple fact that we do not Unconditionally Love, Respect and Trust our kids. And I know many of you may say, but I do have all of this 3 qualities for my kids, and I believe you, but you would need to have all of the above conditions removed to really experience and fully be aware of what it is really like to bask in the glory of kids and watch your masterpiece unfold without any interference, placing it in the right environment to blossom naturally.  It really is a work of art.

A flower never thinks of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms AND when the flower does not bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows not the flower. (Author unknown)

I would like to conclude by saying, I am still learning and by no means the perfect parent, but I do have to mention that my kids are free kids, free to be themselves most importantly. Whenever I knew better, I strived to accomplish better. I think there may be more factors but I think the others may stem from these sources.

 

PEACE

P.N.

 

 

 

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The Atheist

The Atheist

I am writing this article (and future articles) with the utmost respect for those that do believe in god whether it is a monotheist, polytheist, panentheist, pantheist or any other form of theism or deism. I have been there too, believing in a god that existed in the literal and figurative form, so I am not here to judge your path but rather to pave the way for perhaps a more logical understanding of my own path and possibly give a voice for those that walk the similar path to mine.

I grew up in a Hindu home but my mom came from a Christian family who converted to Hinduism when she married. I would say it was not much of a conversion as Hinduism holds the belief of polytheism that recognised a Pantheon of Gods that was believed to be different aspects of the one being. Hinduism stood to be an umbrella which had all these diverse beliefs under it. All roads lead to Rome…….all religions lead to one God, the predominant belief in Hinduism. *Hinduism is rated the most tolerant religion in the world because of this most prominent approach. It also speaks of Hinduism not being a Religion but rather a science. They also subscribe to the notion we are all gods but we just have to reach a realisation of it. So yes, I grew up being a Hindu that went to temples and Sunday school or church every so often.

*PS – this is written from an understanding of I did not know any better, so I am keeping it that way. I have recently learned deeper truths about Hinduism which I will tackle in another post later on.

I never was a religious person but considered myself a spiritual person very much so. I delved into many esoteric arts and divinations over the years possessing labels such Pagan, Wicca, **Goth, Druidism, Pantheist, trying to find the most comfortable seat to be in. For most parts of my life I would have considered myself a Pantheist and now I comfortably align myself with Atheism.

**Goth is not a religion, it is a pop culture.

Did I experience god? Of cos I did? If God meant the oneness of all that is and god is neither here nor there, and is neither male nor female and is yin and yang of it all. Did I receive divine interventions and spoke to loved ones that crossed over and felt the angels and gods and goddesses around me? Absolutely! Did I know who I was and felt a power within me that I could not describe and reached nirvana at some point in my life, with Nirvana meaning complete bliss and the oneness of all existence past, present, future? 100% true! Am I psychic and clairaudient and have premonition dreams? That I cannot deny as it has been part of who I am since I can remember being a child and the proof (for myself) of its existence cannot be denied from my experiences;  my abilities to hear or see what is beyond what our naked eye can see.

But there was this uncomfortable, niggly feeling in me that eventually started to make me want to vomit and feel ill when someone used the word god. The word god started to leave a bitter taste in my mouth, I know, it does sound so harsh and disassociated but it is true because this all mighty god is nowhere to be seen when everything else in the world is so wrong. Whether you are a pantheist or some other theist it still did not make sense to me. One day over five years ago something happened that had me lose all hope in humanity and existence itself. That is the day where I stood naked in the truth, the rose-tinted-glasses dropped off and I saw the world for what it is, for the first time.

Christianity had heaven and hell and gave Satan an excellent job title. Islam believes in the existence of Shaytan. Core Hinduism believe the earth is hell as all suffering happens here and in order to stop coming here you need to reach realisation and then you join the other souls that reached realisation. Where that is I do not know. Where the Christian hell is, I have no clue!  And why some Islams believe in Jihad, god only knows, no pun intended! I think the best moral rule that I have seen so far is in paganism, harm non! Do as yeh will! But even that comes with a price as when you hurt someone then you are bound to have something happening to you sevenfold! Which brings us to the modern spiritualist that believes everything happens for a reason.

It took me a while to start telling people that I align myself to atheism (will not call myself an atheist as I do not subscribe to labels but for argument’s sake, I would be called that) because I needed to understand what it meant as I could not deny my past experiences. How was I going to explain all of that without the old man being in the picture? How was I going to explain how I saw Jesus or Lord Ganesha has been my spirit guide all my life? These are the type of questions I was left with when I was peeling away the layers of my beliefs.

Let me start with:

What is the meaning of Atheism?

Atheism is not someone who believes god does not exist, but it is the lack of the belief in god. If I can explain it better, just imagine for once that the word or the entity just was not there and never was there and there is no feeling or recollection of it anywhere, that is what it is, so Atheism is NOT a belief system as some people may consider it.

Why Atheism?

Many people, who know me, know that I have a deep sense of spirituality and I am extremely empathetic and well connected to my inner being, so for many of them, it may come to a shock that I am an Atheist (from being Pantheist). In simple layman’s terms, I was not buying all the bullshit on why people are suffering, I was not buying the “everything happens for a reason” or even “Cos Karma is a Bitch”. These are all just ways of us humans to make ourselves feel better about the things that are so freaking wrong in this world. Can the white-old-man-with-the-white-beard please stand up! I got tired of hiding behind all these reasoning though I was a spiritualist and not religious, as spiritual quacking’s also got to me ……. eventually. Everything happens for a reason is just as good as me taking the bible to a homeless child that is skin and bones and telling them Pray, god will help you.

Did Atheism help me become more spiritual?

The journey of becoming who You Really Are, that’s what is important. That is what spirituality is about. It was a long journey thus far, but shedding away the dogmatism and self-indoctrination allowed my true authentic self to be exposed. Logic, reasoning, and complexity are vital for spiritual growth. It makes you give up old unwanted belief systems and see things for what they are and to evolve and not get stuck in old methods of realisation. It makes you see that the only time is really now and the past present future exists in quantum. It makes you take a look at other possibilities that exist other than in our monkey mind. Spirituality is living in your own Truth and if this my truth then I have gotten deeper in touch with myself.

Explaining my past experiences and present  ‘gifts’

Telepathy, premonition dreams, intuition and its likes do not need god for it to exist. We belong in a world where everything is undeniably connected. How do birds know they have to migrate, or fish swim as shoals and dolphins nurture their young? It is all through intuition and instincts. I still need to explore the ideas of quantum physics, the theory of parallel worlds and the matrix of information that exists and it available to all of us. The experience of Ganesha and Jesus Christ (it has been 6 years since I experienced angels and demons as such), is what I grew up with. They do not exist as we were led to believe. They have been my coping mechanisms. Yes, they served a purpose of me holding onto a belief that they exist and they helped me through many hard times but even I knew that they are just aspects of ourselves we hold onto to survive. If I grew up in Islam or old Egypt then I would have held onto a different god/goddess presented by that culture. I also will not discourage those that have these types of relationships with themselves, as believe me when I say; if it was not for certain beliefs I would not have gotten through certain periods in my life. They were there when I needed myself to be strong for myself, but I have found a different kind of strength. The strength of living THIS life and not worrying about past lives and future lives as the only truth is now. The strength of knowing that it is perfectly ok to not rely on anything outside of yourself and know you are good enough for yourself to get through whatever you need to. I do not have to ‘pray’ for strength because the strength already exists. I empower myself by my daily affirmations and do not need something to empower me.

As for the experience of Nirvana/Enlightenment/oneness of all, this cannot be conceptualised or explained with words. At that time being a pantheist, I likened the experience of it being god/goddess, but with these realisations, one cannot give these experiences semantics. It is just a blissful experience that we try to describe for others to understand and the most common explanation is god/goddess. This also means I stopped subscribing to the age old concept that Hindus belief of we are all gods and we just have to realise it. No, we are not, those that go down the self-seeking path become awaken, nothing more nothing less.

This is just the end of the old and making room for the new in relation to me. Continue to join me as I explore the depths of my journey and discovering new and better truths. Like one of my friends reminded me of what Maya Angelou said: “when you know better, then do better”.

PEACE

PN

Artwork was done by Oviyan Govender
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Many Moments

Many Moments

 by

 Pragashnie Naidoo


She was broken, broken in a way that the stitches crisscrossed each other leaving no space for anymore mending. One more tear in her fragile yet tough heart will leave a hole that could not and would not be mended. Her heart was always exposed. If anyone could make broken look beautiful, it was her.

Her looks did not give up her age, but the darkness under her eyes revealed much of the trauma she weathered over the years. Maybe the natural highlights on her straight black hair exposed her not so youthful side but her light brown eyes were childlike and vulnerable. Vulnerable not in a way where she was oblivious to what was out there, vulnerable being a choice to be able to absorb and understand the external world around her. It was the only way she knew how to be. Any other way would destroy the true essence of her soul. She did try to be otherwise once, but the desolation was too much for her to bear.

The story of her life danced in her eyes, switching through the many scenes as the film reel rolled through the events. As you delved further into them you would get to go behind the scenes, to the eyewall of the cyclone, where the torment of her lacerations resided and as you are hauled in further into the eye of the cyclone you get to meet the grandest version of who she really is. The stillness and the calm are extended to all parts of her from here, connecting to her heart, making it the strongest connection by far.

She stood still for many moments, with each moment illusory lasting longer than the one before. Her pupils joined the dots unswervingly to his. He did not break that channel; he would not dare for the gun was an appendage of his arm.

She has never met him before this, yet she wore his familiarity on a daily basis since she made contact with him. She knew his reasons for being here. Taking back the land was paramount to him even if it meant war and killing. Justice can be served in many forms. She was infatuated by his revolutionary ideals. They made him come alive and brought out the passionate silent activist in her, which she kept to herself, mostly.

The effects of the past had permeated him, leaving scars that cannot be forgotten or forgiven. They shared the similar amount of scars, just his ran deeper and darker leaving wounds exposed and not mended like hers. His world wore blinkers like hers wore rose colored glasses. She obsessed about him and even played around in her dreams on how they would meet and work through the pain; the pain of removing the rose colored glasses, the pain of discovering the truth, the pain of getting hurt by her own kind. She wanted to stitch his heart, from the depths to the surface of the wound, to mend it, to make it know what love is, making it whole. Love is kind and forgiving.

The black and red lines in the Iris of his eyes pranced around each other swapping between fear and anger. He was not expecting to meet her like this either, yet he had no choice but to do what he had come here to do. Black First Land First (BLF) movement was his life and this is what he has been trained for. He will not let his people down.  He is not Nelson Mandela, who fought for everyone’s equal rights. He is here to fight for what was stolen from his kind, which was his equal right. Her life will be sacrificed in the name of Azania. It was the only way he knew how to be.

Zooming into the memory of the torments of his childhood, he heard the brown–skinned-ones-with-straight-hair mock him.

“Kaffer boy! Twisted brain! Steel wool Head!” they cruelly teased.

The brown–skinned-ones-with-straight-hair kicked his mother in the liver bringing her down to her knees, discarding the scraps on her in metal plates and cups only worthy for dogs to savage. His mother’s hands were craggy, with years of laborious endurance, as she held him close to her bosom and rocked him, feeding him African lullabies of the earth, expecting somehow this to fill his tummy.

“Thula thul, thula mama, thula sana,” she sang, while he slowly chewed the half eaten rat bitten scrap piece of bread given by the brown-skinned-ones-with-straight-hair, as this is the only thing he will eat today. Tomorrow brings the same ordeal if they are lucky.

Integration of the races was supposed to be seamless. The school was supposed to be a place of learning, growing and gelling with fellow citizens in a newly democratic South Africa.

“The first act of racism we encountered was not with the umlungu but was with your kind, the brown–skinned-ones-with-straight-hair,” he told her over the phone.

Not all were brown skinned and not all have straight hair, but they came from the same place across the sea.

He helped her remove the rose colored glasses. He did not care at that time, so it wasn’t removed gently. As it was yanked off she felt the pain ripping a ladder through her heart and no amount of clear nail varnish could stop this ladder.

She wept for the torture they had endured from her own kind. She wept because she could not understand how the oppressed could oppress. She wept for what her father fought for side by side, unaware there were different kinds, as they all fought the same fight. She wept, because how could she not have known this.

Mostly she wept for him.

She fell to her knees and begged for forgiveness on behalf of her own kind. She fell into a peaceful slumber only to be reminded of the truth with the sun’s rays screaming in through her bedroom window.

She knew it was not personal but she still felt the detriment.

How can they say or think that about her? How did they not divorce her individuality from the brown-skinned-ones-with-straight-hair? How can they not see she is different from her own kind?

The sound of smashed glass, gunshots and frantic screams outside in the distance brought her back in the now.

The intoxicated comforting odiferous molecules of the petrol reached her olfactory system.

His adrenaline spiked and dropped back down, in a quick pulse, making him keep control of his autonomic nervous system. There is no room for fright and flight when you are the killer-shooter.

His eyes mirrored the darting flames through the open door behind her.

His calm was different to hers. His calm was the calm before the storm.

She took one of her moments to study his face. He was ten years her junior, but anger and fear grew on his 30-year-old face. He had a distinct scar, the shape of a thinner, waning crescent moon. It sat very snugly right underneath the arch of his right cheekbone.

“It was one of your coolies that came towards me with a screwdriver,” he specifically told her when they first spoke.

“We will take back our land and rid the land of you and the mlungus,” he chuckled.

The scar reflected silvery black with the dim down lit office. She wanted so badly now, to reach out and touch his scar like it was a doorway to something special like it held the secrets of the deep-seated non-tangible scars.

He looked at her as he softened his gaze and hastily pushed the softness away. He refused to feel anything other than anger for her. The reasons for his anger towards her had evolved over the course of the year. He no longer was angry with her because she was a brown-skinned-one-with-straight-hair, but he was angry with her for making him feel the way he felt, for making him see the world larger than life, for making his heart swell with sweetness. Little sugar granules dropped in the crevices of his vile heart mending its way up to the surface, turning into a sweet sticky syrup of love. His anger built up more when he saw her now because he will not let down his people and will not surrender to his heart.

“Gaz,” that was what she called him for short, “I understand what you are going through. It is only through this understanding from a deep place within me, from my true self, abandoning the want to be right, for it is what it is, can we move forward. Remember, Ubuntu. I am not me without you. We are each other. Your pain is my pain. I am what I am because of who we all are. Your world has joined mine and my heart has more room for more world”.

She heard the click followed by an engaged tone on the phone. That was the last she heard from him, that was two months ago. She understood him. She understood his actions. She understood his world. She understood where he came from and where he was going. She never always agreed with him but her heart understood. She knew if she did not open her heart up to him, he would be lost for eternity.

She stole a few moments before the last to break the silence lingering between them now.

“Gazini,” she softly spoke his full name.

Abruptly, she heard the cock of a gun and then felt something placed at her right temple.

“This is the brown-skinned-one-with-straight-hair, eh Gazini?” the guy next to her snorted. “What are you going to do about her, eh?”

Gazini stood still lending his eye to center its interest on Shaka, still fixating his gun towards Nyssa.

“Move out of the way, Shaka,” he calmly responded. “I’ve got this one!”

“Sure Gazini? Does not seem like it from here,” sticking the barrel end of the gun further into her temple.

“Of course! Of course! Now move away so I can finish this one up and disappear,” he said with concealed emotions.

His impatience made his hand quiver unnoticeably.

Before returning his focus to Nyssa, Gaz swept his eye from toe to head taking her all in and landing his eye back on hers. When he re-engaged, he saw something that he did not see in these many moments that passed.

She had let go!

Her face gleamed with content and her eyes twinkled from her heart. She has already forgiven him for what he is going to do because she…

There was only one bullet that left the barrel. There was only one bullet that was in the gun. It had her name on it.

She fell to the ground, as he heard the stringed syllables vibrate through the air into the sound of “I Love You, Gaz.”

She lay still for many moments.

He stood still for many moments.

A good few million many moments in the future they will look back at this day and recall how their hearts stood still in the same moment on the timeline, to beat as one, just before Shaka hit the ground pulling her with him. They will remember how the pool of blood became increasingly redder and covered more surface area under Shaka’s body with every tiny moment. They will remember how Gazini turned on his own kind to bask in her love.

They will also find moments to forget all of this, in each other’s embrace, and know that there is no ‘type of kind’ but only kindness and ultimately a love for humanity,  as we all bleed and we all bleed red.

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © Pragashnie Naidoo 2017
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#MenAre…….

My dad has always been the most positive and unconditionally loved male figure in my life. We do not necessarily agree on a lot of things and our arguments can lead to tears at times and most times our theories about life can collide in explosions.  He does come from a patriarchal background; [who has not in his generation], but he is the kindest, most caring and considerate man I know, and certainly, has respect for my sister and me as women now and us growing up as kids. He showed the same to my brother. He was the type of father that plaited our hair for school and gave us a bath when we were younger without batting an eyelid. He provided not only a shelter and food but also created a safeness, warmth and fatherly love that have remained unchanged and he extends this to his granddaughters and grandsons.

My father is not the perfect man but he certainly is NOT trash! My life partner is also not perfect but he is not trash, either! When I saw the hashtag ‘Men Are Trash’ circulating social media, I told myself once again it seems we are moving from one extreme to another. Generalizing is what gets us into trouble in the first place [I have done it too, but have since learned], coupled with radicalness of any activism.

Yes, I have read the dreaded,  heart-breaking and tragic event that was the onset of this hashtag, and I have many experiences already that give me all the reasons to hate men and if we had to tie it down to race, in specific, Indian men.  Unfortunately, I cannot categorize my hatred/resentment, as my life partner is Indian and my two beautiful boys are the results, who are nothing like my perpetrators. If anything they are quite the opposite and so is my father and my brother and other decent male influences and interactions in my life.

My childhood [and adult life alike] was not filled with fond memories of women either. When I first heard about feminism in my late teens, I did not take the first placard against men and parade yelling my disapproval of how men treated females or even how men treated males. My first question was how is there not a group for violence against people? I do fully understand the detriment of the patriarchal world and I absolutely understand male privilege and I do get those women have had the bad end of the stick is a huge understatement and yes, we absolutely need to change that but do we change that by taking a tractor and running over our own sons and fathers and brothers and friends who do not fall into the category of men that harm?

In my lifetime I have seen women beat up their husbands, belittle them and verbally abuse them just as much as men have done to women. It still is a daily occurrence in many homes, and there is a huge stigma attached to a man being beaten by his girlfriend or wife or being verbally abused, so very unlikely these get reported anyway. So as much as women do not report abuse of any kind, many men, on the other hand, are ridiculed even if they have to mention it in a by the way conversation.

The likes of Jacob Zuma and Donald Trump, leaders of the world do not make it any easier on males to be spat upon giving [unspecified amount of] feminists all the reasons to behave more callously and disrespectfully, fuelled by anger and hatred from their experiences and/or experiences of people they know. BTW before you jump on my case please note the feminist groups are also made up of male members who have also adopted this same type of attitude towards the male species too.

The most significant aspect in this whole equation [for me] is my two sons. How as a woman and a mother to my two sons, can I induce a healthy outlook for them about gender equality, in an age where these issues have been brought up onto the surface, still raw and very much still alive in our culture, without tipping the scales to extreme radicalism where, making them feel demeaned and just as horrible and guilty being born a male in this era as the females have and still are experiencing?

How do I harvest the goodness of gender [in this case feminism] activism if these groups of people cannot see that this is going to hurt the future generation of people by generalising a hashtag such as ‘Men Are Trash’. Are these females [that support this hashtag] not mothers to sons? If they are does it mean their sons are Trash too? Tell me again how is this #MenAreTrash movement even justified? Would a #WomenAreTrash be justifiable? Certainly not!

My kid’s generation are not going to know anything but equality [assuming that is what they are decently exposed to]. My sons will not understand the hashtag and will take personal offense to it, simply because their male figure at home and the male figures around them that they look up to, certainly do not treat women in a humiliating and degrading way. In the same breath they have experienced male abusers indirectly and find this preposterous and inhumane because it is not how it is in our home. They understand the patriarchal existence and are growing up in a world where gender equality is important to move forward and they are all for it. We have plenty of discussions of gender equality in our home. For them equality would mean sharing the negatives and positives with their partners with dignity and respect. They believe they are decent men who will treat everyone with respect gender neutrally.

Unfortunately, I am not sure if this balance is even anywhere in the near future. I certainly do not want my sons to have partners that disrespect them when they are being brought up by both parents who treat them with love, compassion and respect. I would not want my sons, to be trapped in a pregnancy trick. I would not want my sons to be accused of rape just because some female felt rejected by him. These are very real issues that have seeped into the generation of my kids and are well and alive as much as women are being raped by men.  This is what the future generation of sons are going to face if we use such condescending hashtags, not that it is not already happening. These are real issues my sons converse with us as it is a concern to them. So here are these wonderful men and men in the making have their heads screwed on right are left wondering how is it women get away with all of these atrocities when there were supposed to be gender equality?

Do you not think a start of a hashtag as such can throw a spanner in the works and course future decent men in the years to come to feel that they have had enough of the derogatory? Do you not think that wo/men are really taking it too far in this incident? What a negative message this sends out to our decent men. Do you not think one day there would be lash back assuming this continues?

I am a mother of two sons and they are not trash. I blatantly disagree with the hashtag. I am all for gender equality and against abuse of any kind, but please excuse me if I do not religiously pick up a placard every time there is a woman being beaten up or raped, as this also happens to men. As a mother I need to be present in a respectful way to both men and women so my sons can mimic the same, as they would be boyfriends/husbands/life partners one day so they need to carry this respect into their own relationships and not resent being with their partner because their mom [or females around them] had no respect for men [and women] and has followed the hashtag ‘Men Are Trash’ movement. As mothers we owe it to our sons and society to create a space that is safe and respectful so our sons can go into the world and be respectful, loving and caring husbands and fathers and not demonize them with such hashtags.

 

#the problem is real

#gender inequality is real

#men are abused by women

#men are raped by men and women

#women are abused by men

#women are raped by men and women

#men are used for their wealth by women

#men get tricked into pregnancy

#the law does not favour men in child rearing

#men are wrongfully accused of rape

#Men Who Hurt/Harm Are Trash

#Women Who Hurt/Harm Are Trash

#the problem is a human one

#the problem will not go away if you use derogatory to fight derogatory it just flips the coin

 

These are just but a few problems our future generations will be facing, taking the old problems and adding new and unnecessary ones that can be avoided. We need to deal with these issues with love and compassion and display your anger at the perpetrators rather than to one specific gender as I tell you there are good decent men that exist and probably more than the harmful ones other there.

I do understand there is a fine line in some of the hashtags mentioned above, like men being wrongfully accused of rape as many rapists can get away easily with something like this, but men getting wrongfully accused is a problem too as these men face jail time that is unnecessary not forgetting the humiliation that they have to go through. Are men not humans too? I believe if you want gender equality then this equality should also extend to the courtrooms and all walks of life were everyone benefits and not only one gender. Gender inequality is rife in both men and women and I am afraid that the scales will be tipped again by people that do not think before they act, by people that cannot see the bigger picture, by those who’s arrogance and anger blinds them to everything else that is happening around them and by those that jump on the bandwagon and uses this to harness power for their own selfish ego, trapping unexpected victims.

Women are powerful beings and so are Men! Why are we not using this power together to create something spectacular and to defeat the ones that do the damage and harm?

So have some of these activists become revengeful and/or using feminism to get what they want, pushing their [powerful] femininity across its negative boundaries? If that is the case then, this is no more a gender problem but a human one!

PEACE

PN

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To Vax or Not to Vax

Before I continue on my mini research, I thought it would be nice to give a bit of background here.

My 18-year-old son had all his vaccines right up until he was taken out of school at the end of grade 3. Being pregnant at the age 22 and having my son at 23, I think at that time, also taking into consideration of the generation I fell in, I pretty much relied on family and doctors around me for information resources on how to bring up a healthy baby. I watched Oprah and the likes and bought a lot of baby books to read. Living right at the south end of the world we were always behind a good few years from first world countries, so information lagged behind for us here in SA.

When my second son was born, I was 30 already and by then have done even more research and did what I best knew best, too, at that given time in my life. Being a complementary health therapist also fuelled my decision. I opted not to vaccinate my younger child as at that time natural was and to a large extent still is the way to go.  He did have his vaccine (Hepatitis B) they give to newborns but that was also done without my consent as I did clearly tell them not to vaccinate him.

My little one has been and still is monitored by Dr. Steele my homeopath and has never been almost his entire life to a conventional doctor. The only time he has seen a paediatrician was at birth, and then he was hospitalised for Jaundice for a week when he was two weeks old and then we did follow-up check-up with the paediatrician, and that was it until this year he has been to a normal GP as he had a rash which we felt needed to be seen by a GP. The GP had even diagnosed the rash incorrectly to be ringworms and that has been the first time he has taken oral allopathic medication. Then he went to the dermatologist who diagnosed it to be a rare form of eczema.

My older son has a much weaker immune system than my younger one. He has already had his tonsils and adenoids removed by the age of 5 and have mild wheezing and other mild respiratory problems due to a weaker immune system. That is hereditary of cos but he still lives a more natural therapy life than other kids that were born around the same time in the family. Some may say that his immunity is low because of vaccines, but I am not calling it out that way because I would not know either way as we can never go back to experience it the other way around.

Their diet was also very important to me, not strict about it, but I preferred that they made better food choices. Now I am not one to go and swallow a tablet with every ache and pains I had. Even when I was smaller as in a teenager and below, I never really took to taking much medication and I still do not. It is not something that someone instilled in me either; I just found it unnecessary to do if you can manage your pain with meditation and keeping a strong mind and its likes. So my whole life has been that way and still is. Yes, there were times I had no choice but to take it but never relied on it otherwise. And here again, people may think that I have a distrust for doctors, do not get me wrong, in fact I have lots of confidence in the advancement of science and the medical field, but for me, it was always about, if it was not absolutely necessary, then there is no need to abuse it. If it is not broken, do not interfere.

Then to skip way back to when I was a baby, I had the MMR vaccines and all my vaccines were up to date.  I still had the measles as a baby and almost died from it. Family members that took the flu vaccines when it first hit SA, I remember then being far sicker than actually getting the flu. Some never got the flu and ended up being terribly ill after the flu vaccine. Like I said, if it is not broken why try to fix it?

Back on topic! In the last two years or so probably after the outbreak of measles at Disneyland, I saw the internet and facebook in particular as that is the social media I am on, flooded with things like “anti-vaxxers are irresponsible” and “they don’t care about the rest of the kids so they are selfish” and “if you are anti-vaxxer please unfriend me” and a host of other angry comments. Honestly speaking I really had not done my homework on vaccines as I had not a clue what these people were talking about. Here is my child, all natural, does not get sick often, except for when he was small, he would have high fevers whenever his tooth would cut through and he has a strong immune system. So what are all these people going on about? And what on earth are an Anti-vaxxer and a Vaxxer? So I decided to do my own research into this topic as I did initially not vaccinate because a natural lifestyle was what we were/are living.

I went on to watching Vaxxed and other documentaries and read books like ‘calling the shots – why parents reject vaccines’ and I deliberately read and watched more documentaries on why people vaccinate and not why they did not vaccinate as I did not want my research leaning to something I am already practicing which is anti-vaccine. Bear in mind, when I say research, I am talking about information available on the internet and in books, not scientific research in a laboratory.

Here are my findings and concerns and arguments of both Vaxxers and Anti-Vaxxers in point form and I will elaborate more on each point if needed.

*Please do not take this as a well-researched topic either as spending two months on spare time researching would not be considered as such. I encourage you to go ahead and take each point below and further delve into it yourself or maybe I will take each topic and do further research on it for future blog posts. There are also so much more aspects to this that I could not fit everything on one blog post and honestly speaking by the end of this mini research I felt there was an information overload at some point and was left with the dilemma on who to trust and not to trust.

 

 

  • Herd immunity – here there are two arguments presented:

Herd immunity takes place when a high percentage of the population is protected through vaccination against a virus or bacteria, making it hard for a disease to spread because there are so few susceptible people left to infect. This can effectively stop the spread of disease in the community. It is important as it protects people that cannot be vaccinated, like the too young, those with immune problems, are allergic to the ingredients or that are too ill.

Then the opposition claims that this is still a hypothesis if the herd immunity theory actually worked, those who have already been vaccinated should have nothing to worry about.  The fact that 95% of the population needs to be immunized for herd immunity also suggests that herd immunity does not work, because in theory there should not be any outbreaks but it has been found there are more outbreaks the higher the percentage of herd immunity went up.

  • Ingredients

Thimerosal is a compound that contains Mercury and Mercury is found naturally in the environment. Thimerosal has been removed from vaccines but is found in some flu vaccines. It is a preservative. Mercury is toxic to humans.

Aluminum is an adjuvant used in vaccines which enhance the body’s immune response.  Aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications. Aluminum is found in pots and pans, fruits and vegetable, baby formula and many other products around us. It is said that we consume 7-9 milligrams of aluminum per adult per day. Aluminum adjuvants are used in vaccines such as hepatitis, diphtheria-tetanus-containing vaccines, influenza, and pneumococcal vaccines, but they are not used in the live, viral vaccines, such as measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and rotavirus.

Formaldehyde is an inactivating ingredient in vaccines used to kill viruses or inactivate toxins. Formaldehyde is produced naturally in the body and is found around us in our environment. Formaldehyde is a respiratory irritant that causes chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and nose and throat irritation. It can also cause cancer and has been linked to an increased risk of asthma and allergies in kids.

Egg protein is found in flu vaccines. The MMR vaccines are built on cultured chick embryo fibroblasts and said to have traces amount in the vaccine. Just looking at this ingredient at a glance I can already tell you Vegans will definitely have a problem with this, unfortunately.

Above are just some of the ingredients of concern. I suggest the following link if you need to know what exactly goes into each vaccine.

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/b/excipient-table-2.pdf

  • Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a natural act of nurturing your child. There are many moms that are recognizing this just as there are many moms who have taken to bottle feeding. Unless the mom has a dreaded disease then breastfeeding is the best food you can give your child. There are also many moms that volunteer to express milk for moms that cannot afford this luxury. The antibodies found in the mother’s milk are all that one needs to boost immunity in your baby. But not all moms too, go through two years of breastfeeding.

The CDC also recommended that during immunization the mom must not breastfeed during this period as it counters acts the live vaccines like the MMR. So anti-vaxxers use this as an argument to show that breastmilk is the best immunization for your little one.

  • Side effects

The side effects are the thing that caught my eye. The link below takes you to the CDC site regarding the side effects of most of the vaccines. I know, you may say I must not concentrate on the severe side effects as CDC points out that the cases are so rare that they not even sure it is caused by the vaccines. I am looking at the MMR vaccine in particular as it is what interests me right now because of my 11-year-old son. Is it really rare? Not from the videos and the articles I have watched thus far. Yes, they may be trying to link it to autism but the side effects are displayed very much so like the description here.  So shouldn’t a parent be concerned?

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm

  • Pharmaceutical Industry 

Now, this is a big one. At first, I said, scam or no scam, I am not interested in the big Pharma companies, whether they are a money greedy machine or not. I am more interested in what goes into my child’s body. I have come to realize that if there is a scam then we need the whistle-blowers to expose them because it does boil down to if they are in this for the money then the pharmaceuticals are definitely never going to be trusted as the vaccines still need to be safe for our babies and children.

People put their trust into the CDC and if the CDC is corrupt then we certainly have a problem on hand.

Unfortunately, I cannot verify if the big Pharma is fraudulent or not and there are many conspiracy theories lurking out there and numerous of articles written about against the big Pharma. But you have to ask yourself how often are these theories really proven wrong? If there is smoke there is fire.

  • Trust in the doctors because of medical advancements

Another school of thought is and many may believe that most parents are against the medical field altogether. Quite the contrary, there are some parents that say we are living in a world that have such large and vast technical and medical leaps in advancements that why should they vaccinate, as they completely trust these medical advancements.

  • Schools and vaccines became mandatory at the same time

This I was mildly surprised by. Now I am a Life Learner (a branch of homeschooling) and that is a whole other topic on its own, so it was interesting to note how vaccines played a role and became mandatory in an industrial age. Is it another conspiracy theory? Maybe the herd immunity factor came into play?

Just to take note, this anti-vaccine movement has not just appeared in this generation. It has appeared since vaccines were discovered and many vaccines were taken out of the market because of the safety aspects of it, protested by so-called anti-vaxxers.

  • African-American males are more likely to be affected by the MMR

Is it biological warfare? Possibly not, but the CDC did cover up this study and took away the rights of African-American families to decide on whether to vaccinate or not based on the risks because of their ethnicity. This demonstrates not one size fits all and not one size fits all ethnic groups either.

  • MMR vaccine why all 3 given at once

Some feel giving the vaccines one at a time in spaced out intervals, lowers the risk of the side effects of the vaccines. In a live virus immunization, I also do not see the logic of giving 3 vaccines in one go. There are 3 live viruses (I am aware they are the attenuated version of the viruses) injected at once and this can be detrimental can it not?

  • Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated Research

Why has there not been a research as such been done yet? I know there is one research been done but I cannot validate it as a good friend of mine said the source itself is a weak source. Here is the link to it anyways.

http://info.cmsri.org/the-driven-researcher-blog/vaccinated-vs.-unvaccinated-guess-who-is-sicker

  • Autism

Here again, Autism spectrum disorder refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.

According to the link below vaccines do not cause autism, but parents are saying the side effects of the vaccines is the reason for the kids to behave in an autistic manner, taking into consideration that autism is a spectrum disorder that is the product or symptom of something deeper.

Bear in mind it has been reported that the CDC did cover up the study to the autism link.

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism.html

http://autismsciencefoundation.org/what-is-autism/autism-and-vaccines/

  • Parents that vaccinate feel they owe it social community to vaccinate and the anti-vaccine says we have a choice as not one size fits all.

I do agree with we all should be given a choice as not one size fits all. The other question that gets asked, if parents that vaccinate their kids, what are they so afraid of if their trust in vaccines is so high? The same goes for doctors who do not allow kids into their rooms if they are not vaccinated, what are they afraid of if vaccines suppose to work?

  • The number of vaccines given

The other scenario is the number of vaccines given is completely absurd. I also find this a bit challenging to understand. Flu vaccines and other ridiculous amounts of vaccines are not called for in my opinion.

  • It is not researched and treated like any other pharmaceutical medication that goes into the dispensary.

Vaccines do not go through rigorous research and clinical trials and tests like the other drugs that are in the dispensary. This was another argument presented by parents that do not vaccinate. I honestly do not have the capabilities to even begin to tackle this concern and hopefully I will do so in the future.

 

 

I am going to repeat myself and state, none of these findings are conclusive but is just presented to you to research more into each concern and I have only touched the surface of this topic. Some books I have read like ‘the adverse effects of vaccines’ was hard for me to digest as I am not literate in the field of medical or health sciences to understand most of it.

In conclusion, I would like to highlight the one finding that I made that was rather disturbing to me. I found both Vaxxers and Anti-vaxxers to be rude, hostile, ignorant, aggressive and unsympathetic to one another. I find those in the medical science field have this attitude of ‘Just shut up and do what you are told to do’. I find that type of attitude off-putting. In the same breath, those that choose to vaccinate their kids are scorned upon those that don’t. If the parent has been given all this information and intuitively still chooses to vaccinate, should they not do so without being victimised?  Are we not allowed to question science? Are we not allowed to query what goes into our bodies and the bodies of our kids? Are we not allowed to make a decision based on our findings, our lifestyle and our intuition as parents? Are we not allowed A CHOICE?

I also found people for vaccines, dismissed people that did not have a degree or any formal education in the field, and was scoffed at and called fools. Un/fortunately, I am way pass all the Degree and PhD stuff as my lifestyle is one of Life Learning. So if a person has dedicated anything between 5 to 10 or more years on researching a subject, that for me is considered an expert on the subject.  I am certainly not talking about quacks and those that have taken on the bandwagon of selling natural stuff as remedy for everything; I am talking about people that have genuinely dedicated their life so far in this research.

Are we irresponsible if we do not vaccinate our kids? But who are we irresponsible to, is it to society or to our kids?

So where do we (my husband and I) stand with the decision of vaccinating our 11 year old son. If we had to take my very little findings (as we only really touched the tip of the iceberg here) and gather it all up, right now as it stands we still choose not to vaccinate. Both the vaccine and anti-vaccine movement is inconclusive for us and based on certain criteria for my family I have chosen not to. We are not part of the ‘rat race’ so we do not believe in having ‘rat race’ solutions for our family.

These were our criteria to not vaccinate at this point in time;

  1. We do not live a mainstream lifestyle, if you like to call it such; we are not part of the herd community. Well we are part of it but somewhat live on the outskirts of it. We are Life Learners (unschoolers).
  2. My son is an introvert who hardly ever joins others in much social gatherings and if he does pick up any of these diseases then I believe his body immune system is strong enough to fight it, with the help of allopathic and natural practitioners. He will be contained if he has any of these diseases and will not affect the rest of the herd, so to say.
  3. Our family lives a mostly natural lifestyle and I am not irresponsible about not knowing what my child is going through every day of his life, we are hands on parents.
  4. We have done all this research with my 11 year old and I believe he is old enough to decide for himself what he wants to do for his own body. This is the bases of how our kids exist in our home and our own personal family philosophy. No one is allowed to anything with their bodies without their permission.
  5. My kids are been brought up in a home of love, security, stability, hygienic with clean water and soap, it is a privilege we certainly do have. They are been brought up to listen to their own bodies and if they are ill it is their bodies way of saying slow down and rest and that is what they do.
  6. Vaccines are not guaranteed immunity, the only guaranteed immunity is the getting the disease itself.
  7. The other major aspect is the side effects of the vaccines. Unfortunately, my child is important to me just as any of you that think your child is important to you; I am certainly not willing to take that chance just yet.

So these are our reasons personal to us. I am not pro vaccine or anti-vaccine, but I feel I do have/need a choice. I am making a choice based on my personal lifestyle and environment. Personally, if the possible serious side effects did not look so scary then I may have vaccinated for MMR only, as the Mumps is the only concern for my son regarding puberty and sterility.  I encourage others to make choices personal to their own research, information, and environment. You can choose to fully vaccinate, not fully vaccinate or not vaccinate at all, but make a choice that you are comfortable with.

** I have deliberately left out names of the people in the vaccine or anti-vaccine world as the point of this article is not to point out who is wrong or right but rather for you to come to your own research and conclusions.

 

PEACE

PN

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