Collection of Beautiful Things (V)

I have been in a really happy mood recently.  It feels like my soul has wings and is bursting forth towards the heavens.  (If you’ve read one of my most recent posts, you can probably guess why.). The world is beautiful and rosy and shimmering in magic.

On my phone, I have a collection of screenshots.  These photos are things that touch my heart and soul in some deep way.  They are beautiful and wonderful and thought-provoking.  This small snippet of photos are varied in topic, but I think each and every one of them have an element of beauty to them, and they make my heart happy.  Some are reminders of God and corresponding verses, some are reminders to adventure, and yet others simply beautiful in motivation and illustration.  Beauty is multi-faceted, isn’t it?

As I am working on other posts to show you soon, I thought I would try to spread the happiness and beauty I am feeling and seeing, with the rest of the world.

Ciao for now,

Julia

April Books

I finally have my act together enough to sit down and write this post.  It should have happened a couple of weeks ago, but you know how it goes.  Summer vacation suddenly hits, and all you want to do is absolutely nothing.  Plus, I recently discovered the newest season of BBC’s Sherlock, so of course that had to all be watched in a day.  But anyway, here we go.

23569715._UY200_The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott   (I spoke about this book already here.). I am inspired to read certain books based on conversations between my mom and my Nana.  Around Christmastime two years ago, my Nana was telling my Mom about this book, and I was listening to their conversation.  The way I heard my Nana describe this book was enough to interest me.  This story is about a young girl who has the ability to heal people, but every time she does, she dies a little bit.  This story examines individual responsibility versus societal duty.  It hurts to read, because of the conflict between the individual characters, and the people demanding things.  Plus, the story brings up the question of “What would you do in that situation?”.  The answer I had before I read this book is very different from my answer now.  I love books that make me think and re-evaluate my morals, beliefs, and my ideas about myself, books like The Color Purple, anything from Dan Brown, etc.  And I love books that stay with me, dancing around my heart and mind, for a long time after.  The other thing I really liked about this book, was the writing.  It was beautiful.  It reminded me a lot of my favorite book growing up, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.  Simply, this book was wonderful.

The Black Madonna by Muriel Spark  For my online class, I had to read a short story, black-madonnaand write a literary analysis on it.  I chose The Black Madonna, simply by flipping my textbook open to an author I hadn’t read before.  This story is an interesting one, for many reasons.  It analyses the power of religion, religious judgment, racism, cheating, mixed race genealogy, and probably the most powerful of all, the difference in the types of mothers, particularly in regards to socioeconomic status.  This story is named for a carving of the Madonna, done in a piece of black wood, that was gifted to the Parkers’ Catholic church.  Raymond and Lou were a white couple who had been married for quite some time, and were without children.  Eventually, it began to circle that praying to the Back Madonna for a child, would produce a child.  When Lou does have a child, the daughter is of another skin color.  This causes problems, as prior to getting pregnant, the couple had friends who were black.  They end up deciding to put the child up for adoption, believing it was the right thing to do.  The Parkers lived in a wealthier area, and had a bit of money.  This contrasted greatly with Lou’s sister, who was a widow with eight kids who lived off of welfare.  This was an interesting story to read because of the layers of meaning and themes.  I liked how plainly Sparks laid out the hypocrisy and judgment in religion, and how she contrasted the mothers, but I really didn’t like how the Parkers handled their daughter.  Their behavior makes sense in the story, but it just puts a sour taste in my mouth.  Instead of acknowledging the possibility of black in their ancestry, the Parkers would much rather put the child up for adoption, thinking it was a mistake.  Something about that just doesn’t sit right with me, especially after how Lou judged her sister for her choice of parenting.  The Black Madonna certainly gave me a lot to think about, but it’s not one I will probably read again for a long time.

What about you?  Have you read anything fun and interesting?

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

Passengers, I condemn you.

Before I say what I believe needs to be said, I want you to know that this is coming from a place of truthful compassion and understanding, with self-reflective sadness, and not a place of aggression or judgment.

But.

Passengers of the United Airlines Flight that were witnesses to the horrific removal of Dr. Dao from his seat: I condemn you.  I condemn you just as much as the airline itself is being condemned.  I condemn you, because instead of standing up for, and fighting for Dr. Dao, you simply stayed in your seats, recorded the scene, and made comments.  I condemn you because you could have done so much more.  I condemn you because you were bystanders who had the power to save, and you chose not to.

In all the articles I have read about this situation, from Dr. Dao’s troubled past, to the incident, and even the aftermath, no where are any names of any saviors mentioned.  There are names of those who uploaded the videos.  There are names of those who made comments.  There are the three names of the other passengers forced to relinquish their seats.  But no where are there written names, or provided evidence, of any person on that flight, trying to save Dr. Dao.  And if there is no evidence, then I believe it is not a far stretch to assume there was no saving.  And if that is the case, then truly, passengers, you are to be condemned.

In school, we are taught that there are bullies, victims, and bystanders.  And we are taught that the bystanders are just as bad as the bully if they do not try to stop the abuse.  In this situation, it seems the bystanders, the passengers, were just as bad as the bullies.  In fact, I would even wager that they are worse than the bully, because they recorded it.  They pulled out their phones, and recorded this man’s suffering, without trying to save him.  And if, passengers, your excuse is that you were told to remain in your seats by the airline staff, than I would say this situation is a textbook example of Stanley Milgram’s shock experiment.

Please understand me, I believe you when you say you are good people.  I believe you.  Many of you may go to church, are parents, help the community, etc.  But this “good” should be evident in all situations, not just in “good” ones.  If you are truly good, staying in your seat must have upset your conscious.  Of course, if I was in that situation, staying in my seat would have really upset me.  But, I would have found it very hard to stand up as well.  Passengers, true soul-deep “goodness” would inspire a person to leap out of their seat, and fight with a flaming sword to protect a man being abused.

I condemn United Airlines for overbooking the flight.  (I know firsthand the effects of that.). I condemn them for giving priority to employees of a partner line.  I condemn them for picking people at random, and forcing them to give up their seats.  I condemn them for then forcibly removing Dr. Dao from his seat.  And I condemn you, passengers of this United Airlines flight, because you did nothing,

What happened to respect?  What happened to caring for every life?  What happened to the responsibility of taking care of other people, especially in a situation where they can’t take care of themselves?  What happened to standing up for other people, and addressing abuse in a horrible situation?  What happened to the responsibility of a bystander to stand up for the victim?  Has this responsibility truly changed to spectatorship, when the accepted behavior is to record a situation, instead of trying to fix it?  And would Dr. Dao be in the hospital if someone had stood up for him?  What would have happened if the entire plane stood up for him?  This situation feels eerily similar to Kitty Genovese.

It seems this responsibility of bystanders has become completely ignored.  People who were witness to a horrible interaction between people, are asked for any videos, instead of being asked if they did anything to stop it.  As a psychology major, a young woman, and a gentle heart, this change terrifies, upsets, and disgusts me.

If I was in a similar situation, yes, I would find it very hard to stand between a bully and their victim.  I would feel as if I was standing before a giant with only a small stone in my hand.  I would wrestle hard inside myself to find the courage and strength to get out of my seat, and stand between the United Airlines men and Dr. Dao.  But, I would be utterly disgusted with myself if I choose to record the situation instead.  I would know that no amount of recording could save a man’s life.

Passengers, I condemn you.  I am pointing an accusatory finger at you.  You could have done so much, but instead, did so little.  However, while pointing at you, four fingers are pointing back at me.  Your lack of action has made me self-reflect, which I thank you for.  Let’s see that as the silver lining; this horrible situation is causing self-reflection.

Passengers, I condemn you just as much as Untied Airlines.  Every life deserves a savior, and you, you who watched and recorded and complained, you did nothing.

Things I’m Learning….

This was not the post I had planned for today.  I have another one all but written, which I wanted to publish today.  But this afternoon, I got sucked into Facebook.   I’ve been trying very hard to stay off, with the intention of preserving my sanity.  But somehow, today,  I managed to immerse myself in all the political and opinionated corners of my Facebook feed.  I was getting angry and disheartened.  I was feeling (indirectly) offended and ridiculed.  I was ending up on profiles of people who have very opposite beliefs and ideologies than I do, and I was beginning to feel like my own beliefs were being attacked and belittled.  I was beginning to feel hopeless, and simply overwhelmed.

I’ve decided to place myself on a momentary Facebook ban.  Not because I don’t like my friends. Not because I want to hurt my friends. Not because I don’t respect their opinions.   But because it takes a very strong person to stay above the political disagreements and societal upheaval.  And right now, I can’t be that person.  I have to separate myself.  Though I will never be someone to engage with people over Facebook about politics, my mind and heart just can’t handle this fighting and protesting and name-calling and belittling.  I just can’t.

I’ve been learning several things through this political season, besides just the facts.  I’m learning how to live in a world that doesn’t agree with what I believe, and sometimes even violently disagrees with me.  I’m learning what it means to keep my head high, when names and abuses are thrown at me.  I’m learning what it truly means to trust God when everything seems like it’s falling apart.

I’m learning, that no matter how much I learn, there will always be people trying to prove me wrong.

I’m learning that truth, and the pursuit of, is dependent on perspective.  I’m learning that truth is as fleeting as snowflakes in my hand.  And I’m learning, that though truth is so important, there will always be people who try to hide it.

I’m learning, that unless my conversation partner is willing to (try to) understand where I’m coming from and why I believe the things I do, there’s no reason to have a conversation with that person.

I’m learning that tolerance goes two ways, and in order for someone to be tolerant towards me, I must first be tolerant towards them.  I’m also learning how cruel it is for people to only be tolerant when it agrees with them.

I’m learning that nothing is helped by only listening to one perspective, or one news outlet all the time.  I’m learning that truth (and facts) are covered in many outlets, and in many ways.  I’m learning that the whole story is never in one place.

I’m learning that, more than ever, my worth as a person is not dependent on my religious or political beliefs, gender, or race.  I’m learning with each passing day that particular agendas will only confine me to what they want me to be, based on those things.

I’m learning that open-mindedness can be seen as close-mindedness by people who don’t agree with me.

I’m learning that name calling is a defense mechanism, and many people cling to it like a safety blanket.

I’m learning that if I can’t be bold about something that is important to me when the time comes, then it must not have been that important to me in the first place.

I’m learning, like there are “seasons” in my life where God wants me to learn something, there are also “seasons” in my country’s life.  And these seasons, no matter in what caliber than occur, they are always in God’s control.  I’m learning that there is a time and a place for everything, even if it’s something other people don’t agree with.  It’s all for a purpose, and whether or not the outcome is something we like, it’s something God is taking care of.

I’m learning ignorance is a deadly and infectious virus, which is only curable when pride and arrogance is placed to the side.

I’m learning that celebrities are often a given platforms to speak, simply because they are a celebrity.  But I’m learning that when celebrities speak, they often aren’t qualified to speak on the things they insist on speaking about.

I’m learning that pushing political (and religious) agendas on people puts a sour taste in their mouths about that subject.

I’m learning blind compassion hurts more than it heals, and people will often take advantage of such compassion.

I’m learning there is nothing wrong with disagreeing, as long as you love and respect each other during and after the conversation.

I’m learning how lucky I am to be a woman, and how blessed I am to have the rights I do, when there are so many women around the world who have nowhere near the rights I do.

I’m learning that, yes, words can be bad.  But worse still are actions.

My parents have always told me this, but I’m learning how important it is to respond and not react.  There is a powerful difference between the two.  One makes you think through the situation, and choose your words and actions carefully.  The other is fueled by emotions and gut reactions.  One hurts while the other inspires meaningful conversations.

I’m learning that in order to strongly dislike a person, more must be disliked than just the appearance and surface-level superficial reasons.

I’m learning that if you are constantly up in arms over something, you will see it everywhere.

I’m learning it’s important to have what I believe challenged sometimes.  Like religious beliefs, my beliefs on life and politics are not supposed to be stagnate my whole life.

I’m learning that being a Christian is about being passionately in love, and worshipping God with all I am.  It’s not about just loving others, it isn’t just about Jesus, and it isn’t about my own glory and fame.  It is about God.  And I’m learning that being a Christian means that you will be ridiculed by others who cannot believe you’d put priority of an unseen being over your fellow man.

I’m learning people can be cruel when they’re disappointed, and let down, and when life doesn’t turn out their way.

I’m learning it doesn’t help any situation by celebrating the victory of one side, and using it as a smack in the face towards the other side.

I’m learning hypocrisy and assumptions are just as disastrous as ignorance.

I’m learning to feel strong and be great, one must first feel weak and overwhelmed.  For it is through the fire that diamonds are made.

I’m learning that it is foolish to place our lofty and unattainable expectations on people and governments who are completely incapable of attaining those expectations.

I’m learning it is okay to be hopeful and have faith, even if everyone tells you there is nothing to be positive about.

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Ciao for now,

Julia

 

Most Influential Images of All Time

I recently purchased a physical copy of Time Magazine‘s 100 Photographs: The Most Influential of All TimeIt’s a fabulous collection- with beautiful and heart-breaking images.  Some made my heart hurt, and others made me happy.  The collection included images such as the Frame 313, Migrant Mother, Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, The Face of Aids, Tank Man, Earthrise, and many more. But I felt several good images were left out.

Here are the images I think were left out:

The Eyes of Hate by Albert Eisenstaedt, of Joseph Goebbles

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Little Rock Nine by Will Counts

Black Students Integrate Little Rock's Central High School

National Geographic Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry

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King Tutankhamen’s Tomb by Unknown

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18 Year Old Girl Liberated from Dachau by Unknown

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Young Boy Playing Violin at Teacher’s Funeral by Unknown

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Christians Protecting Praying Muslims by Nevine Zaki

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JFK Junior Salutes His Father’s Casket by Stan Stearns

John F. Kennedy Jr. Saluting His Father at Funeral

23 Hour Heart Surgery by National Geographic

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Prisoner and Heinrich Himmler by  Unknown

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Monk Praying for Man Who Died at Train Station by Unknown

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These photos really touch my heart, and some even take my breath away and make me teary-eyed.  There is something so powerful in each image, and in photography itself.

What do you think are some of the most influential, or powerful, images?

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

 

#Walkforfreedom

Over the weekend something powerful happened.  If I had known about it sooner, I would have gathered a group of friends, and we would have participated.

In 300 cities and 40 countries around the world, people gathered and walked.  They walked maxresdefault.jpgin a single file line, dressed all in black and with a single piece of back tape over their mouths.

They were walking to spread awareness about slavery.

This event was hosted and organized by A21.  A21 is a group dedicated to abolishing slavery in the twenty-first century.   It’s headed by one of my most favorite people in the whole world: Christine Caine.  I had the incredible honor of hearing her speak about a year ago, and her passion for ending slavery is beautifully tangible.

Awhile ago, I wrote a post titled The Irony of Porn Hub.  That post details the dirty and disgusting facts of the sex industry.  I will forever fight against this industry, and against sex slavery.  Though I am more adamant about sex slavery, there are other forms of slavery, which are just as horrific.

-68% of those in slavery are forced into labor. (Walk Free)

-Close to every third of those enslaved is a child. (Walk Free)

-In Haiti, child slaves are restaveks, and one in fifteen children is a restavek. (Restavek Freedom)

– “According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons report, there are 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year; 80 percent of those victims being female. Even more shocking is the fact that 50 percent of these people are children under the age of 18. These victims live within 161 different countries.” (The Borgen Project)

-The average price of a slave is $90. (Anka Rising)

-Compared to the 4 million slaves in the US in the 1800’s, there are currently  47 million around the world. (Thought Catalog)

-65.8% of slaves are in the Asian Pacific region–where a good portion of our clothes are made. (Thought Catalog)

-There are at least 6 types of slavery, affecting men, women, and children. (End Slavery Now)

-1-2% of victims are ever rescued. (A21)

-60,100 people are enslaved in the US today. (End It)

These are just a few harrowing figures.  Slavery is quickly becoming the world’s largest criminal enterprise.

I would love to see slavery abolished in my lifetime.  With awareness and action, we can fight this evil.

I will do all I can to be a part of next year’s Walk for Freedom so others can live free.  Will you?

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‘What one eye-opening expereince should every person have?’

One of my favorite Christmas presents this past year is a little book called Chew on Life’s Big Questions by a little company called SoulPancake. This company was co-created by a little actor, Rainn Wilson, otherwise known as Dwight Schrute from the American version of ‘The Office’. I love the fact that someone who played such an annoying character on TV has such a philosophical mind and pursues the genuine parts of humanity.

I am big into asking, and talking about big questions. I think this is something that is really important. I feel conversation nowadays has become very shallow, and not very thought-provoking. And so I love this book because it makes me think.

I have a journal where I process through each question in the book. It’s a challenge, but I love it. I’m going through the book in no particular order, and I think that’s the exciting part; just opening the book to a random page, and mulling over the question on that page. But since I got the book, there has been a question that I keep thinking about. I think it’s one of my favorite questions because all of the responses it conjures up in my mind.

What one eye-opening experience should every person have?

Initially, I only thought of one experience. But as the months have gone by, I keep thinking of more. I don’t think there is one singular eye- opening experience everyone should have. There are many.

Like ……

  • Traveling to another country (or countries)
  • Learning how other people see you
  • Having your pride and ego checked
  • Being independent for the first time
  • Being alone for a period of time
  • Being challenged by opposing viewpoints and perspectives
  • Learning that ignorance can’t be used as an excuse after a certain point
  • Persevering when all you want to do is quit
  • Re-reading your favorite book more than once
  • Reading religious texts that aren’t part of your religion
  • Recognizing and being able to name your flaws
  • Doing something wild and beautifully impulsive (within reason, of course)
  • Being made aware of the horrors of history and around the world
  • Finding something you’re passionate about
  • Discovering your ancestry, and the stories that go along with it
  • Being truly loved after heartbreak and heartache
  • Moving forward from a bad mistake
  • Being challenged past what you thought you could handle
  • Experiencing life (and worship) in a third-world country
  • Reading good, powerful books like The Color Purple and Fahrenheit 451
  • Traveling in general, be it to another country or just another county (getting out and exploring places that are outside your small corner of the world is so important)
  • Struggling to meet and/or not meeting expectations

These are some of the things I think everyone should experience, wondrous eye-opening things. I have dealt with a good portion of them, and they have truly been eye-opening experiences.

What do you think are some eye-opening experiences every person should experience in their life?

Ciao for now,

Julia