A few things to reflect on this Friday…


A few things that have got me reflecting over these past two weeks!

First up… Samuel Scheffler’s article in the New York Times, The Importance of the Afterlife. Seriously., put a whole new spin on the meaning of afterlife. Here’s the deal: Scheffler doesn’t believe that we live in some other form or place after we die. But he does put forward an interesting proposal that what we do with our lives right now only has meaning because we expect the whole world to keep on living after we die. Meaning, if we found out that we get to live a long, healthy life until, say, we’re 95 and then die peacefully in our sleep, but that a few short weeks after we’re dead, an asteroid is going to hit Earth and kill everyone anyway, is what we’re doing right now – our jobs, our hobbies, our passions – going to matter as much to us as it would have if we never knew about the asteroid and just assumed the world’s going to keep spinning on many, many centuries after we’re dead? Scheffler says no.

Chatting about life and death and the afterlife puts me in mind of… you guess it… zombies! And in the real world, the zombie infestation continues – and they’ve gotten the bees this time, or should we say the zombees

The Courtesan Dies at the End is a pretty damn interesting article by Tom Jokinen which suggests that big-name TV shows like Breaking Bad and the Sopranos have been taking a leaf out of classic operas like Parsifal and La Traviata by committing the usual method of having a female character killed off because some male character or other is in need of some redemption/tragedy to spur him on and turn him into a hero. I must say, this does seem to happen too often. Is anyone else as disappointed as I am with the ending of Madame Butterfly/Miss Saigon? Enough with the slew of lady deaths, let’s get some ladies kicking ass instead, I say.

Continuing on with this feminist theme is the discovery that what was first thought to be the body of an Etruscan warrior prince with a spear found in Tuscany is now believed to be that of an… Etruscan warrior princess! It’s a warning to all of us not to color the past with our own modern biases… and a warning that women can be pretty handy with a spear and guys can like bling too. I mean, just look at the guys pumping weight at the gym. Can we say, chains and bling ahoy!

And if you like that story of the Etruscan warrior, historical/paranormal romance writer Carolyn Jewel has written a pretty funny post that also warns us against creating assumptions and overly venerating stuff from the past just because they happen to be ancient and still around. Gotta admit, I can be guilty of that! I love history and I’ll be the one wandering around the museum ooh-ing and aah-ing at artifacts while my friend stands beside me going, ‘That’s an ancient arrowhead? How the hell do they know that? Could be any random old stone they  picked up off the site!’

Last but not least, if you have the time and you haven’t already done it, check out the latest episode of ABC’s Q&A. They had a great panel on this week, featuring Germaine Greer, Peter Hitchens, Hanna Rosin and Dan Savage, filmed live from the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Isn’t that a great name for a festival? I’ve never heard of it before but now I want to find out more about it! The Festival of Dangerous Ideas!

This week’s panel was pretty lively and made some really good points. I thought Germaine Greer definitely hit the mark when she observed that, “what people don’t understand is that patriarchy also oppresses men.” That is very true!

Also, my favorite question from the panel was towards the end of the show when a 20-something year old woman observes that her generation seems more interested in buying the new iPhone than protesting about current injustices in the world, unlike the rebels and flower power children of the ’60s and ’70s and asks the panel whether her generation were born without the will to question or if they just have things too good to bother fighting for anything?’

The panel members did have some pretty good answers to her question which I’ll leave for those of you who are interested to jump to the link to watch the episode. I must admit, this question has crossed my mind a couple of times but even as the panel were answering her question, I thought to myself, ‘No, not really.’

When I look around the world, I don’t think I see people who are being particularly conservative or particularly passive. Yes, there are plenty of people who are content with what they have and don’t feel any need to jump up and loudly voice their opinions over a certain injustice or other.

But that could be said to be true of all generations. And there are so many other people out there right now, in my generation too, who are fighting for a voice in what they think is right. As Hanna Rosin observed, our generation’s main issues include fighting for the right for gay marriage and for more climate change awareness. And let’s not forget the Russian female activists Pussy Riot or the various university students who fought back with anti-rallies against Westboro Baptist Church hate rallies or the protestors of the Arab Spring or the incredibly brave Saudi women who took to the streets to drive just recently again in a protest for their right to drive or Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistan girl who was shot because she campaigned for education for girls. Even when I flip through my latest copy of Vogue Magazine, a magazine that is mainly about fashion and socialites and accessories, I still see plenty of articles devoted to women who are working tirelessly to raise funds for charities, to feed nations, to help educate women in poor countries, to change legislation which does not necessarily  benefit everyone.

So, yes, perhaps the voice of the activist is a little quieter in the west now compared to those voices of the past. But the voice isn’t completely quiet. It’s still out there and it’s louder than most in other countries, not necessarily in western countries. And if you feel a little unease about your current generation’s passivity or ignorance regarding injustices in the world, well, there’s only one thing you can do! Put your voice out there and seek to make a change yourself. : )

[pic above sourced from here]

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