Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 258: Dying To Get A Job

This is based on an article taken from today's edition of The Witness, titled "Traffic Test Tragedy":

A 28 year old man, Lenny Nxumalo, was among 7 deaths resulting from a fitness test for a position of traffic officer at the Department Of Transport. An advert was placed, seeking to fill 90 traffic officer positions - 150 000 people applied for the position. Of those 150 000 applicants, 35 000 were short-listed and then split into two groups of 17 500. On Thursday, the one group of 17 500 candidates arrived at a local stadium to participate in the fitness test. They were asked to run 4KM under 30 minutes to qualify. It was almost 34 degrees Celsius as they ran. Lenny completed the run in 20 minutes and then died from dehydration. It was 4 hours before anyone even realised that he was dead - only after the most of the crowd had dispersed was he seen. 5 Other candidates died as a result of the fitness test in hospitals and one other person committed suicide. Lenny, father of two, had been the breadwinner for his family of seven and was, according to friends and family, determined to provide a better life for his family. More than 230 applicants were taken to hospital after collapsing during the fitness test. According to the doctor's report, many suffered from dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Those who say that poor people are lazy and unmotivated clearly have no idea what they're talking about. South Africa is a country where a huge portion of the population is largely uneducated, so their prospects from the get-go are limited to low paying jobs. Those who are able to find work will travel by local taxi's up to 4 hours per day, often having to take up to 4 different taxi's per trip. If you don't know about the South African minibus taxi's, let me tell you that traveling in them is no smooth sailing: the drivers generally have dangerous habits on the road (not to mention many of them not even having obtained their license legally) this is manifested as frequent accidents involving minibus taxi's; the taxi's are over loaded in an attempt to make as much money as possible for every route, so conditions inside are cramped (and many of them have ridiculously loud sound systems, blaring into passenger's ears); taxi drivers are also normally part of gang-type groups and "gang-wars", as well as collateral damage, are not uncommon. This all is braved for even the most menial job for sub-standard pay.

If 150 000 people applied for only 90 positions - in only ONE city, then it is safe to say that the problem does not lie in the unwillingness of the poor to work - the problem lies with the system not creating and supporting enough decent paying jobs to ensure that each person is able to care for themselves and their families comfortably.

It is so obvious that the way we are living now doesn't work - but why is no one willing to even listen and acknowledge that their is a problem? We are able to make a change, but if we continue to deny the obvious then we are simply dooming ourselves, our children, nature, the planet, and our fellow human beings to miserable and unsatisfactory lives. Life should be fun for everyone. Be brave enough to stand up in the face of the blatant denial of our apparently innate stupidity.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 257: Every Baby Should Be The Cutest In The World

With his adorable smile, soft skin and gorgeous blue eyes, it is little wonder Rowan Stone wowed judges and beat 2,300 other children to be crowned Britain's Cutest Baby.
At just seven months old, little Rowan is set for stardom after winning a modelling contract which seems certain to land him TV appearances and magazine shoots.
Thrilled parents Becki, 29, and Thomas 28, spoke of their delight at learning their 'cheeky chappy' had taken the title.
But they joked their pride and joy is more likely to be excited by the £500 worth of toy vouchers he won in addition to his year-long contract.
Marketing executive Becki, from Solihull, West Midlands, said: 'I am so thrilled to find out Rowan has been named as the winner. We are so proud.
'We had been told by a few friends that Rowan could be a model and when we saw this competition we thought why not, never thinking he would win.
'We had just wanted some shots for posterity, to remember him in the cute stage - but the photographer told us we should enter the competition.
'We always knew he was a little cutie, but it's lovely to have some recognition of the fact. - MailOnline

What is the point in singling out babies for their appearance? Babies don't know or care anything for our superficial standards - they just want to be content and experience this new thing called life. A baby does not choose its appearance, nor does it make plans for the day, week, month or year. That we are willing to exploit innocent babies (animals would fit into this argument just as well) to make some moola simply shows us for who we are.

We are each the same as the money-hungry, greedy, inconsiderate bigheads running corporations, autocratic governments, democratic governments (just less overtly than their "opposites" in totalitarian states), and all those ridiculously wealthy religious orders - to name but a few butt heads found in this society of ours. Just because the rest of us are not as good as exploiting and "getting away with it" than those bigheads doesn't mean we are any less fat-pig-headed than they are.

I actually don't even have an analogy for this one - there is nothing comparable to exploiting babies or animals for money that we are not already exploiting.

Why do we not value and support every baby in the world like we do the "cute" ones? Why is physical appearance the primary factor in determining the value of a baby and subsequently, the amount of ourselves we should invest in it? And what of the babies doomed by their place or circumstances of birth - do they not also deserve warm, loving care? Or should they suffer due to their unfortunate and unlucky circumstances of birth?

Every child should be guaranteed a safe and comfortable life. Every child should be guaranteed competent and non-abusive parents/guardians. Every child should be guaranteed love, warmth and affection. Every child should be guaranteed the freedom to discover their own inherent talents and interests, without being influenced and manipulated by outside factors.

Oh, right - who wants to bet that even the baby in the photo has been Photoshopped...?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 256: Purposing Tax Money

Some countries appear to be very opposed to the idea of welfare services - news agencies will pump out stories on a daily basis about some or other "welfare misappropriation" and comments regarding the apparent laziness of the people living on welfare multiply by the hundreds. America and Britain are currently quite vocal about these social issues.

The main issue that people seem to have with welfare is that they perceive those who are receiving "benefits" to be lazy and undeserving, mainly due to they themselves seeing the whole situation as unfair since they have to work while these other people get to have the same standard of living without having to work at all. If we compare the resistance toward the welfare system toward the military system, it seems as if something is amiss in the value system of our society - why else would we perceive the sharing of resources to enable a life of dignity to be "bad", while the destruction and occupation of other countries (for obscure reasons) is seen as "right" and "just"?

Yes, there are people who take advantage of welfare systems - but this simply indicates an issue within our society as a whole: that people value their own interests and comfort above doing what is best for the community as a whole is a failure of our society. Changing the welfare system to try to curb this abuse does not solve, or even consider, the fundamental problem that is apparent within each one of us individually and therefore within our community as a whole. It's the same old story, as with every other area of our miserable track record of Humans Living On Earth. Every problem we are faced with, we try to "get around it" by applying some form of a band aid that will curb the bleeding for a short time, only to be soiled and fall off, exposing our tender wound to have become infected. We need to go to the cause of our issues and implement real solutions that are aimed at full and total healing.

It is easier to blame the welfare system, though. It is easier to point fingers and proclaim the fault to be at some other's feet. It is easier to just believe everything we are told. It is easier to live with hope, than to face this terrible mess we have made.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 255: President Of South Africa Is Racist

But now South African president Jacob Zuma has taken the bizarre step of warning black Africans against owning a dog.
President Zuma said that owning and walking a dog, and even taking one to the vet, were not African activities, and was just copying white culture.
The president, 70, who faces investigation by the country's anti-corruption watchdog over an upgrade to his country home, is a proud Zulu and adheres to traditional practices - including polygamy. He has six wives and believed to have fathered 20 children.
Speaking at an event in KwaZulu-Natal province, he described people who love dogs more than humans as 'having a lack of humanity', Durban newspaper The Mercury reports
President Zuma reportedly told an audience of black South Africans on Wednesday to stop adopting the habits of other cultures. 'Even if you apply any kind of lotion and straighten your hair you will never be white,' he said.
Some black South Africans responded to Mr Zuma's latest comments by posting photos of themselves being 'un-African' by walking their dogs on Twitter, according to the Telegraph.
Mr Zuma reportedly said earlier this year that it was 'not right' for women to be single and has endorsed traditional courts in South Africa in the past. - MailOnline

The South African government calls this country the "Rainbow Nation". This is a land where no man, woman, or child is discriminated against; where gay marriage is legal; where the press is kind of relatively free to say what it is paid to - I mean what it *wants to*; where the constitution was created by the people, for the people; where our leading democratic party fought valiantly for freedom during Apartheid; and it is, not least of all, a nation that practices equality among all its citizens.

Well, at least that's the official story. Somehow, the freedom fighters of the Apartheid era have now become the oppressors, building themselves R200 million mansions and the like while the "lower class citizens" look on from their shacks at the bottom of the pyramid of importance. Government officials seem to find joy in making arbitrary and distasteful statements to the press, which their team of PR goons will amend by declining to comment on. The current president, Mr Zuma, made one such comment a few years ago: it was something along the lines of taking a shower after intercourse to prevent being infected by HIV/AIDS. Maybe a part of the reason for these strange statements is that many of these officials did not complete elementary schooling. But then again - I am certainly no expert.

So, if the government of our "non-discriminatory" nation is racist, where do we go from here to actually heal and move on from past wrongs? When the government leaders continuously "Stir the pot" of hatred and anger, how the hell are we ever going to move forward? When our government is continuously "appropriating" public funds to pay for their lavish lifestyles, how can we trust that those individuals have the interests of the nation and of its citizens at heart?

Fighting a war for freedom and being a hero is very different to managing a country and being faced with the opportunities for becoming personally wealthy that present themselves.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 254: Images Of Suffering No Longer Move Us

Band Aid stereotypes of Africa are no longer moving the British public and leaving people on the continent starving, Oxfam has warned.

The aid agency said the public must shake-off the portrayals of Africa promoted by the celebrity-driven campaigns of the 1980s and 2004.

Oxfam stressed the majority of people have become desensitised to images depicting issues such as hunger, drought and disease.

Over-exposure to negative media and advertising portrayals of Africa and developing countries in other parts of the world was described as 'depressing, manipulative and hopeless' by respondents to a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people.

Nearly 50 per cent of those polled said it made them feel that conditions for people living in the developing world would never improve.

When asked to select what they thought were the three most pressing problems facing Africa over the next year, almost half identified hunger.

And although 74 per cent thought it was ultimately possible to bring an end to hunger in Africa, only one in five believe they could play an active role in this. - Mail Online

Somehow we have reached a point in our "evolution"/"progress"/"wtf ever you want to name it" whereby we can look at the image of a starving child and not care. We do not even consider that image of being a representation of the misery that so many people live daily - the funny thing is it's plain dumb luck that we weren't born into their position. We could have been a child born in Africa in a time of drought and turmoil, being left in a dusty patch of earth, our parents too weak to carry us further.

Most people perceive images of the suffering that beings endure in this life as "negative" and "depressing" - as if having a positive outlook and ignoring the world's problems will feed the hungry or stop people from being evil douchebags. Wanting to have a positive outlook may be something we all share - the reality is that it distracts from the problems at hand by luring us into being more involved with our own happiness than the dignity and comfort of others. This life should be such that every single being is in a position to be happy and positive - but until this is manifested, we must focus on developing and implementing a global, permanent solution that will put an end to all suffering, once and for all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 253: Even Our Waste Kills

Out of sight, out of mind - no?

How disgusting and undeserving are we of life when even our waste murders other beings? Do we care? Some more than others, but mostly the answer to that question is a resounding "no". We do not seem to have the capacity for compassion, or for placing ourselves "in the shoes of another", so to speak. Is there absolutely no part of us that wishes to bring an end to the suffering and usher in a life of peace and prosperity for all - at the cost of no other?

What of the giant swath of trash just floating around in the ocean, the currents having brought it all together, congealing like a pool of blood and gore. What do we say to this outright abuse of the gift of life and of the Earth? "Oh, really! Now that's just awful! Would you like a cup of tea, dear? To take our thoughts someplace happier."

Are our actions and subsequent inaction worthy of forgiveness? Do we deserve to be forgiven? Were we to truly seek some form of absolution, would we ever be able to do enough to earn it? I don't really think so. We have done too much, caused too much pain and have simply allowed it to go too far to ever be able to make up for it. All we can strive for, is to live in every day contrary to how we have lived up until now.

We must stop our profiteering ways of living only to accumulate money regardless of the costs. We must put the needs and the value of the Earth and the beings that we are responsible for ahead of our desires for comfort, useless gadgets and superficial designs. We must treat each being and even every stone in such a way that we would like to be treated, were we in their position. We must teach our children to live with respect of others, especially of those for whom we have taken upon ourselves to be responsible for. We must be willing to become an integrated part of the larger community, thinking in terms of "our needs" instead of "my needs".

Do we have the willpower to lift ourselves out of these patterns of abuse we seem to be so comfortable with? Not at the moment. It seems we must witness and experience more pain, more abuse and more suffering before we will act to make real changes that will last. I almost wish I could say that this is simply human nature, but I would be deluding myself. There is no such thing as an uncontrollable and unchangeable "human nature" - there is only that which we refuse to change about ourselves.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 252: Hopeless, Helpless And Without Choice

"I think what frustrated me most about the Times article was that it made it look like this is a series on prostitution," he said, "when it's in fact a series on addiction. But I would say now it's even more a story about abuse, mostly sexual abuse."
His writing, like his photos, has stayed crisp and unencumbered.
"I'm following a few subjects much more deeply," he said, "into the hospitals, into the jails, the prisons, the court system -- as well as just getting more and more access to people, in terms of going into their houses, getting more about their back stories. Most people no longer think I'm an undercover cop."
His critics call him exploitive: a privileged white man preying on poor people, mostly women. Journalists sometimes knock his methods: He doesn't hesitate to pay a prostitute $20 to take her picture, or to hand $10 to an addict in withdrawal.
To Arnade, though, what matters is how his subjects feel.
This month he visited Daphenie Hill, 22, a homeless prostitute serving time at the jail on Rikers Island.
When he arrived, Hill wrapped her arms around Arnade. Leaning over a tiny wooden table, dressed in a shapeless gray-green prison uniform, she described her first encounter with him. "I was scared," she said. "Why should I open up? But after Chris posted my picture on the Internet, I felt amazing. People commented and made me feel like I could accomplish a lot. After that, they knew my pain." - The Atlantic

If you are reading this, then the chances are that you have not experienced true helplessness or powerlessness the way that these people have. It is easy to say that these people are just "lazy and lacking self discipline", but there is no way to know exactly what one person has experienced in their life that may have influenced their choices relating to who they are or the path they walk. It is easy to discard people as being "unworthy" when we don't understand how and why they are the way they are.

It's like Hitler, in a sense: Hitler was not born inherently evil - his life was a series of events and environments and experiences which led to him developing himself to be who he was. The fact is that we are not to blame for who we are in life - yet we are responsible. There may be more people living without realising their own responsibilities toward themselves and toward life on Earth - but those who do understand and comprehend that we must live differently to the way we live now because the way we live now breeds abuse, discrimination, inequality, etc - are obliged to live and learn about these responsibilities. There is no use in realising that we are responsible for our own lives and for the lives of others as well when we take no action to fulfill that responsibility.

There are so many people who simply are not in a position to help themselves - too much abuse has been dealt to them, they have known too much horror to be able to lift themselves out of their self destructive patterns. It is in these cases that we truly face the nature of our creation - and are required to act in order to bring about a better life. There are so many without a voice - we must speak for them, only in their best interests. It is clear that changing the world will not come about in a global movement of "enlightenment" or some such, causing all human kind to move as one and not be assholes anymore - so it must begin with the minority living as the examples of the change we want to see in the world.

The world is not the problem - we are. Life is not the problem - we are.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 251: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

A pensioner who carried around her £6,000 in life savings because she was afraid of being burgled was mugged on the way home from a casino.
The 86-year-old woman's bag, containing about £7,000, was snatched at 2.35am shortly after she got out of a taxi on her way home from Genting Salford Casino, Greater Manchester Police said.
Along with her life savings, she was also robbed of her £1,000 winnings by the suspect, described as a young man, about 5ft 4ins and skinny.
The thief, who was wearing a black hooded jacket with the hood up, and black trousers snatched her white satchel bag from her shoulder in the Swinton area of Greater Manchester, before running off. 
The woman is believed to have sustained bruising to the arm and shoulder and is recovering from shock following the incident on Sunday morning.
Pc Michelle Ingham of Greater Manchester Police said: 'This was a particularly cruel robbery on a vulnerable, lone, elderly woman who had been enjoying a night out at the casino and was returning home with a large amount of cash in her handbag. - Daily Mail

There are good people in the world, then there are not so good people and there are also truly evil people. Maybe our lives would be different if we were all "good people" - but there's no use in getting caught up in "what if". We have to face our reality - and the reality is that we have made a mess of this life.

Most religions agree that life is a gift. A lot of the mainstream media going around also reckons that life is a gift. Well, if life is a gift and I was the gift-giver, I'd be mighty pissed off with humanity for abusing it so thoroughly.

What would it take for us to live in a way that truly honours the gift of life? Firstly, we would have to honour all life and not just our own. We would have to give as we would like to receive. We would have to love all others equally and harbour no ill thoughts or feelings toward another. We would have to learn how to share. We would have to learn how to direct ourselves out of our self interested patterns and into patterns of living and doing what is best for all.

Are there enough good people in the world to ensure this new and better life is brought about? It doesn't look like it. It would be foolish to say "have faith", because faith won't actually change the world. It would be equally foolish to simply give up, for that would only be further proof that we do not deserve this gift of life.

We have the opportunity to live as examples to others, to prove that we can strive to honour the gift of life. We have much to make up for, so it will take time before we can truly say that we live in such a way that honours all life - there simply is no other choice, for if we do not try, then we will surely fail.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 250: Modern-Day Black Plague

After doctors up and down the country have dealt with an influx of patients suffering from norovirus, followed up by a wave of flu patients, medical staff are now gearing themselves for people needing help for whooping cough.

The number of cases of whooping cough cases has jumped from 944 last year to 8,819 so far in 2012, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency, with 1,080 coming in November alone. - Daily Mail

Is it just me, or is Mother Nature trying to tell us something? In the past, viruses were used by the Earth to cull the human population when it became too dense - but now, with the improving sanitation and healthcare (apparently), viruses don't have that same effect. Something seems to be changing though. Maybe it's the fact that our "first line of defense" against the viruses, antibiotics, is becoming less and less effective. It is said that antibiotics will be completely useless in 10 years time. The viruses have been adapting to the actions of the antibiotics, changing themselves so as to overcome the antibiotics.

Technically, antibiotics kill bacteria in bacterial infections. ( So basically what happens is that, because in our current medical industry antibiotics are prescribed for pretty much everything, our bodies are not given the opportunity to deal with the infections - antibiotics are dished out to smother whatever bacteria may be lurking around even when the situation is not severe. Because we, as in many other cases in our society, are overusing antibiotics, we are actually making all the bacteria mutate and become evil genius bacteria. The bacteria is now reaching a stage where it is surpassing the capabilities of most of our immune systems (in part because our immune systems simply haven't been given the chance to practice snuffing out bacteria) and we won't even be able to use antibiotics.

We can see the same types of problems in many areas of our lives - too much of a good thing, as well as too much of a bad thing. Even in the face of the direct consequences of living like greedy little monsters we refuse to see that we are not living what is best for all (or even just ourselves). We prefer to pretend that our actions are "innocent" by finding ways to ignore, suppress, or "vanish" our symptoms - why do we not rather treat the cause and live by the principle of Prevention is the Best Cure?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 249: Drugged Bears Used To Test Ejector Seats

Live bears were used by the American military to test the safety of the pilot ejection capsule on the world's first supersonic jet bomber, it has emerged.
The B-58 Hustler was created in the 1950s during the height of the cold war.
It was faster than the U.S.S.R jets at the time and was the first ever bomber capable of Mach 2 - the term given to planes flying at twice the speed of sound.
But the plane had several issues - including that the crew could not use the emergency ejection system when the plane was flying at Mach 2.
A new ejection was designed so crew could evacuate at any time but the U.S. Air Force wanted to test the safety of the aircraft's ejection system before letting its elite pilots try it out.
A pre-ejection handle yanked the pilot's legs in close before enclosing him in a shell that still allowed rudimentary control of the plane, reports.
The actual ejection handle then sent the capsule up with a rocket burst and automatically deployed a parachute. The capsule could float and contained survival supplies in the event of a crash.
Live Himalayan and American black bears were sedated and then sent up in the four jet engine aircraft to test the new ejection system. The bears were ejected at various altitudes and speeds in a various conditions to check its safety.
Upon landing, the bears were checked over for any injuries. Some did suffer broken bones, internal injuries and bruising but no bears died in the test flight ejections. 
The ejection tests, which saw bears ejected at speeds up to Mach 1.6 at 45,000 feet, and medical checks after the flights can be seen in an Air Force video.
But i09 reports that a white paper by the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, called Impact Acceleration Stress, states that the bears were euthanised and underwent an autopsy afterwards. - Daily Mail

How little we value a life - it is only our personal feelings toward something that lead us to establishing the "worth" of that something (or someone). The things and beings that we do not care about personally will not be given a high value. We obviously do not even consider then that the beings and objects in the world are independent, aware, alive and feeling just like us, because if we did then we would treat them only as we would like to be treated, were we in their position. 

Why else would we knowingly place animals in positions of slavery and abuse? We obviously do not consider them as being our equal, never mind as being important. Would we strap our own children into these ejection capsules to subject them to injuries and then euthanasia? I highly doubt it. What is the difference, really, between any 2 beings? There is only that difference which we impose - our personal opinions hold sway.