July 2008



Our society is plagued with numerous double standards; too many to list. The one that sticks out to me the most is the way Muslim women are perceived and treated. Muslim women who choose to wear headscarves and clothes that cover them up are always perceived as being oppressed and imprisoned. Some people pity them and feel bad for them while others suspect them being linked to some fanatical religious group.  

 

Here’s the question. Do the same thoughts come to your mind when you see a nun? Nuns dress up the same way as Muslim women do; only a little more conservatively. How come no one ever looks at them as being oppressed? When you see a nun,
you think ‘Oh… look at the pious women, devoted to her religion…’ but if it’s a Muslim girl then its like ‘Oh…poor girl…’ or ‘Oh… I should prolly stay away from her’. Why? What is the difference between the two? They both dress up modestly as outlined by their religions; so why give preference to one over the other. By no means am I trying to imply that nuns should be thought of as being subjugated as well. Ever seen a depiction of the Virgin Mary without her head covered? Probably never. But no one has ever thought about Virgin Mary like that. Hell… even Little Red Riding Hood wore a headscarf!

 


The reality that most people are ignorant about is that the covering of the head and a modest dress code has been a part of western tradition long before it was a part of the Muslim world. The only difference is that the West has secularized and has given up its moral values. The way the average woman dresses up here today would be considered inappropriate in the same society a hundred years ago.


Muslim women dress up modestly as outlined by Islamic teachings. They do it because they want to, not because some one forces them to and because they know that there is good in it for them. No one has the right to pass judgment on them and no one needs to pity them. They probably feel more liberated and confident than the average girl. People who need to form an opinion about Muslim women should go talk to them and see how they feel; rather than going with what they see on CNN or FOX. I have attached two short videos where Muslim women explain as to why they dress up the way they do.  

 


The Mayans predicted the end of our world will be on 21 December 2012, approximately four years from now. Some people say that is a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar system while others think that is what they actually predicted. Either ways the Mayans were pretty smart and there are a lot of people out there concerned about this prediction. Some have been seriously thinking of the possibility of a cataclysm happening in 2012.

I have been thinking about the possible ways the world could actually come to an end with in the next four years. There might be a natural disaster perhaps; a huge flood, hurricane, earthquake… perhaps the polar ice caps will melt. Maybe a big war might take place; a nuclear holocaust that might kill off the human population. An outbreak of disease to which no one is immune or perhaps an astronomical disaster… like a asteroid hitting planet earth. The problem I find with all these disasters, or perhaps the good thing, is that they don’t guarantee the total extinction of the human race or planet earth. In either scenario, there would be a small population that would be left behind and it might be possible that they re-populate planet earth. The only possible way total extinction can happen is if some how all of the above events take place at the same time; which is highly improbable.

I recently came across a situation which might actually mark the end of our world. What I am about to say is far fetch, unlikely and improbable; but still theoretically possible. Scientists at CERN have been working on the Large Hadron Collider or LHS. The thing they are after is the Higgs boson particle aka ‘the God particle’. If discovered, this mass less theoretical particle might explain the origins of our universe. They are trying to recreate conditions similar to that at the beginning of the universe in the LHS and have already been able to bring it down to temperatures lower that in outer space, about 2.2 Kelvin’s. Here’s how the end of the world might come out of this experiment. Scientists have confirmed that they will be creating black holes when colliding particles against each other. Even though these black holes are supposed to be very short lived and are of a small scale, many people fear that there is a chance that these black holes might get out of control and actually swallow planet earth into them! Several reports and surveys have confirmed that the experiment is safe and that there is no danger to planet earth (click here for more info). However, the possibility still exists and the timeline goes perfectly with the Mayan prediction. The LHS should be up and running to its full capacity by 2012. We’ll just have to wait and see if the world actually comes to an end as a result of this experiment. (Hopefully not, because that would mean that CERN would loose all its funding)


What’s moral? What’s immoral? What is right and what is wrong? I have come across several situations in which I have had to question what morality really is and what’s right and wrong. Here are some of those scenarios.

‘To Catch a Predator’ is a show hosted by Chris Hansen where his team catches ‘possible child sexual abusers’. The method they use to catch these ‘pedophiles’ is that they enter online public chat rooms posing to be thirteen year old girls. They start a sexually explicit conversation with some random guy, usually in his 30’s or 40’s. By the end of the conversation the ‘girl’ invites the guy to her place with promises of sleeping with him. When the guy gets to the girl’s house, Chris Hansen starts talking with him and presents him on national television as pervert and eventually gets him arrested.

Here’s the way I look at this whole thing. A man was looking for sex, someone offered it to him and he accepted. That happens in our society all the time. Is the thirteen year old really a victim? Its not like the man took advantage of her, she is the one who offered the man sex; so why is the old guy being represented as a pervert? Would this have been a problem if two thirteen year olds had sex? It’s relatively common in European countries for girls to loose their virginity at age thirteen. No one has a problem with the fact that they are having sex outside marriage; their ages seem to be the problem. Had the girl been three years older, it would have been considered legal. What standard are we using to determine what age is it at which it is moral for one to have sex. One would argue that at thirteen the girl is not capable of understanding the consequences of sex. Even if that is true, I still don’t think the guy should be humiliated on national television and represented as a pedophile. It’s just like arresting a guy on the charges of ‘potential rapist’ because he hooked up with a girl he met at the bar.

I was reading an anthropologists account of child prostitution in Thailand. After interviewing several child prostitutes he made an interesting discovery. The perception we have of child prostitutes is different than what they have of themselves. For us child prostitution is something immoral, it is the exploitation of young girls and is degrading to them. However, these girls don’t view themselves the way everyone else does. They consider themselves as girls who work hard in order to support their family. They don’t consider their job demeaning, wrong or immoral. Who’s to say prostitution is wrong? I was watching an interview of porn star Jenna Jameson and I heard a similar account from her. She doesn’t consider her self to be a prostitute, even though she sells her body in order to make money. She considers herself to be a business woman. So who is to say what she is doing is immoral? When a guy takes unfair advantage of a girl at club or something, he is the one who gets labeled as a jerk and what not. What about the girl who was throwing herself out there to begin with? If a girl goes to some party, is grinding with some guy and is getting drunk; then the guy will obviously take advantage of the opportunity and will try to take it a step further. Is the girl not at fault too? I am not saying what the guy does is right, but I am saying that he shouldn’t be the one getting all the bad press.

I guess what I am asking by giving all these examples is, what standard are we using to determine morality? A big chunk of what goes on in today’s society would be considered immoral a hundred years ago. So how is it that we determine our rights and wrongs? My philosophy professor suggested a method. He said that anything that is bad for a human or anything which causes a human to suffer should be wrong. If we use that criterion then we would loose many of our moral values. Rape, murder, theft and a few more would be the only things that would be wrong if were to use my Prof’s suggestion. In that case there would be nothing wrong with things such as prostitution, adultery, fornication, pornography, gambling etc; as long as they’re done in moderation that is. I don’t know, I think religion is the solution. It should be used as the standard for determining morality. One would say, well there are so many religions…which one should you go with and which one’s right? I guess that is personal decision one has to make.


Right after university started, I soon came to the realization that a big part of the ‘university experience’ is the ‘getting smashed’ experience. What exactly happens during that experience is something that a lot of people tend to forget the day after. The only thing that often remains in memory is that ‘I had a great time!’ or ‘Man! That was fun’. The drinking and partying subculture at universities is a whole different world. In this post I will discuss the interesting observations that I have made over the past year.  

 

The partying subculture is defined by young adults drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, participating in a multitude of drinking games and indulging in debaucherous activities all night long. Parties are often characterized by intensive drama that takes place over the course of the night. The drama is bound to happen when you have a group of young intoxicated individuals having fun, with no supervision. The other interesting phenomenon that I came across was what I like to call ‘drinking pride’. People tend to take pride in how much they can drink and boast about all the stupid things they do when they are drunk. The more excessively one drinks and the more stuporous one acts, the more popular one gets and is able to grab more attention and recognition. This phenomenon works both ways. If one is sane enough to avoid all this, then their popularity and ‘coolness’ seems to decrease amongst the masses.

 

I was curious as to how people in our ‘rationale driven’, ‘progressive’ and ‘health conscious’ society justify being a part of this culture. After all it doesn’t make much logical sense to consume a poison, regardless of the pleasure you derive from it. I decided to go around asking my friends as to how they justify partying and getting drunk. I got answers that I expected. The two most common reasons I got were a) I enjoy doing it b) it helps me socialize. Some people I talked with were in denial and said that people just use drinking as an excuse to justify silly things they end up doing at parties; when really you do have control over yourself when you’re intoxicated. That might be true in some cases, but I don’t think it applies to most situations. No doubt partying is fun, how can it not be. What can possibly be more amusing than an activity which relieves you of your worries, takes you away from reality, breaks down your inhibitions so you can do whatever you want and even allows you to satisfy your sexual needs. It’s a euphoric experience that satisfies all the desires young people have; but is it okay to do it?   

 

I don’t think the answers that I got from people are the real reasons as to why people get drunk. The real reason is because everyone around you is getting drunk and because you are expected to do it. When an activity is performed by a large number of individuals, it becomes okay to take part in that activity; its human nature. Rights and wrongs are usually based on what the masses do. If everyone around you is getting drunk, then you are almost obligated to take part in it as well. If you choose not to, then you are considered an outcaste. If society defines fun as ‘sleeping around with random people’ and you choose not to do so, then you are going to feel like you are missing out on the fun. You will feel insecure and you will feel like you are not enjoying life to its fullest. Even if an individual has some thing against a one night stand, he/she will eventually take part in it just so that they can fit into society and so that they can enjoy life they way everyone else wants them to. Most people I talked with were against the idea of sleeping with random people, but that is an activity which is a lot of fun and helps you socialize in a certain way too; why not start doing that then? People might justify things to themselves by saying that they do it because its fun; but what most people don’t realize is they are just victims of indirect peer pressure and really they are just trying to live up to the expectations of society.