Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 377: Beaten by his Dad

A Durban man charged for assaulting, choking and trying to smother his two-month-old son, has also been accused of keeping his wife and daughter “prisoners” in their home for seven years.
This claim came to light after he reportedly left behind his cellphone when he went to work, allowing his wife to call for help for her injured baby.
“Our daughter has never been to school. He locks us inside the house and goes to work,” the mother said. “The baby was born at home. I delivered him. He has not even had his injections.”
The 42-year-old Newlands West draughtsman allegedly went into a fit of rage last week after the baby - who was ill - refused to stop crying. The child’s mother said her husband told her he was tired and did not want to deal with a crying baby and asked her to pacify the child so he could sleep.
When she failed, he grabbed the screaming child from her arms and squeezed him tightly against his chest, smothering his face.
The mother alleged he then used his fists to hit the baby all over his body and also pushed his fingers down the baby’s throat and punched him in the face.
The man appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Friday, on charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He was released on R4 000 bail and the matter was adjourned to July 12 for further investigation.
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said the baby sustained bruises and a broken arm.
The man’s seven-year-old daughter and wife have also claimed they were assaulted.
The mother and her two children have since fled their home and are living with relatives in Merebank.
According to the mother, during the alleged assault the baby was dropped from a height on to the bed.
“The baby’s arms were forced behind his back - one of them broke. He also bit both the baby’s cheeks.
“It was like he was in a fit of madness.”
She said the baby eventually cried himself to sleep. The following morning after the father had gone to work, the mother realised he had left his cellphone at home.
“Fortunately there was airtime and I called a relative.”
The relative said when she received the call she paid a neighbour to take her and her husband to Newlands. The landlord, who had a spare key, had let them in.
“They were all battered and bruised. I took the baby to a local doctor and he referred us to hospital.”
She said the baby had to be given oxygen and spent several days in hospital before he was discharged on Tuesday. The father was arrested when he went to visit the baby in hospital.
The relative said she had three children of her own and her husband was the sole breadwinner.
“We are battling to make ends meet. The baby has no formula, nappies or clothes. We are just getting by each day. I am appealing for help for the baby.”
She said she could not put them out on the street.
“I am afraid that if they go back home something worse will happen. I just pray that we can take care of the baby’s needs.”
It is national Child Protection Week this week.
Childline KZN director Linda Naidoo, commenting generally, said battered child syndrome was an international phenomena and not restricted to South Africa.
“There is international concern around this issue.
“What is even more worrying is that this syndrome affects toddlers and babies.
“The number of infants killed in the last few years by either their mother or father has been alarming.”
She said many babies and toddlers who died at the hands of their parents suffered excruciating pain.
Research showed that when serial abusers had children, they used them as “bartering commodities” with their spouses.
“This results in many violent outbursts. Many babies and toddlers cry because their basic needs - medical, physical and emotional - are not met,” Naidoo said, adding that such children could not be easily pacified.
“Parents’ frustration and the inability to control their anger results in these children becoming targets.”
She said many abused children were not detected because there was no structured system in place in South Africa.
“In the past, mandatory health checks were in place - we do not have that anymore. So many abused children are missed.”
Naidoo said friends and family of abused women needed to break their silence and report such incidents.
“It is mandatory for anyone to report suspicion of abuse to police. They can remain anonymous,” she said. “This is one of the first steps to breaking the cycle of violence.” - iOL

Is reporting abuse to the police really the answer to ending violence within the home? Do the parents receive training if or when they go to prison? Does prison improve upon a person's parenting skills? Does prison make one more patient? Does paying a fine, or bail, make one a better parent?

We live in a fairytale where we think that the police/authorities are some kind of magical cure-all, when there are no real solutions being applied, or even investigated. Locking someone up does not address the cause of the problem, it only displaces a part of the symptoms of the problem.

Ours is a fundamental problem that is rooted in our society - parents don't know how to parent, teachers don't know how to teach, leaders don't know how to lead, healers don't know how to heal. We live in an imaginary world where everything is peaches and rainbows (as long as I am happy) and we have our magical tonics to cure all sorts of problems: We have juvenile detention centers for problem children where their negative self image is reinforced and they receive an even lower quality education than what they would receive at other schools; we have prisons for problem adults where they sit in small rooms and do nothing all the time; we have a medical industry that is more interested in making a profit off of a sick person than healing a poor person; we have a school system that turns all of our children into dull-eyed robots, spewing out useless data, who receive training that prepares them to feel grateful for getting repetitive, mind-numbing jobs with no chance for real advancement; we have a food industry that feeds us corn but tells us it's beef, either way, whatever it was it was sure to have suffered; those who claim to be living and acting for the people in their positions of power are more interested in keeping the corporations happy than honouring any one of the promises they made.

No child should suffer, especially not at the hands of their own parent. The fact that we call domestic abuse a "common occurrence" but don't have any real solution for it shows exactly how much we care.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 376: Protectors or Poachers?

At least five South African lion farmers have been fingered in investigations in which lionesses are killed in Botswana and their cubs smuggled to lion farms in South Africa, where a multimillion rand industry caters to the international trophy-hunting market.
"I don't want to say lion breeders as a whole are involved but there are definitely five or six people that I know of," said conservationist Sarel van der Merwe, chairman of the African Lion Working Group.
About 700 lions are killed in trophy hunts in South Africa each year, with the average price for a lion hunt being R360000, said Adri Kitshoff of the Professional Hunters' Association of SA.
There are about 160 lion-breeding farms in South Africa in which up to 5000 animals are held in captivity, according to Fiona Miles, of international rescue organisation Four Paws.
The hunting of captive-bred lions and the extremely lucrative trade in lion bones with Southeast Asia is legal in South Africa, despite mounting pressure for both activities to be banned. Wildlife experts believe that the canned hunting industry fuels the illegal cross-border trade in lions.
Botswana is known for its strict conservation policies. President Ian Khama, a keen conservationist, has decreed a total ban on hunting from January.
According to a report in the Botswana daily newspaper Mmegi, the trade in lion involves live animals, skins, trophies and game meat. Big cats from Botswana are fed into the "canned hunting" industry in South Africa.
"Everybody knows what is going on," said Van der Merwe.
"The guys in the Problem Animal Control Group (a government body thatdeals with "problem" predators in Botswana) all have cellphones. Instead of reporting problem animals to their superiors, they call farmers in South Africa."
If the problem animal is a lioness, she is shot and her cubs are smuggled out.
"Her carcass gets buried and later that is smuggled out too, to be sold to traders who deal with people in Asia."...
he regulations under which a captive-bred lion may be hunted are set by the provincial conservation authorities. Though the Free State has about 80% of South Africa's captive lion population, most lion hunting takes place in North West.
"In the Free State a lion has to roam free for three months before it can be hunted," said a hunting expert. "In North West, it only has to be set free 48 hours before the hunt."
Miles said: "Lions born in captivity lead a very sad life. They are removed from their mothers within a day or two of being born, hand-raised and used for petting.
"When too big to manhandle, they are put back into the breeding system and then finally end up being hunted. Generally, the living conditions of these animals is substandard and unnatural."
Canned hunting was banned in South Africa in 2007. T he SA Predator Association appealed against the banning and won the case in the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2011.
International hunters mount the animal's head after the hunt but are not allowed to take the bones and meat of the animal.
Farmers most often sell the animals' skeletons to traders who export them to Vietnam.
"We double our price, just by selling and delivering the bones to Vietnam," said a trader who legally exports lion bones.
According to Pieter Kat, of the international advocacy group Lionaid, tiger bones are used as a "health tonic" in traditional Chinese medicine and, like rhino horn, have no medicinal value.
As tiger populations become increasingly threatened - the population of wild tigers falling from around 100000 at the turn of the century to the current estimate of possibly as few as 3200 animals - lion bones are being used to replace tiger bones. - Times Live

Every day I find a new reason to be ashamed of my species. For the love of money we will dishonour life, over and over again. For the love of money we will torture. For the love of money we will strip bare. For the love of money we will terrify. For the love of money we commit daily genocides. For the love of money we will rationalize our evil. For the love of money we will forget about the things we've done for our money.

Those who have money will not give it up, and those who do not have money are so busy trying to survive and not piss off their masters that there simply is no thought of making a change.

We have not been developed to think of others, to treat others the way we would like to be treated. We have been developed to think of our own interests, to only do that which will benefit us. This is the way we think, the way we make choices - the basic foundation our entire lives are built upon. Obviously this is a problem. Can we change?

We live in a perpetual state of trying to feel good, feel happy, attain some magical goal - we are self involved so that we do not spare a thought for real solutions to real problems - fashion crises not included.

Are we capable of compassion or empathy? So far the evidence indicates that these are rare abilities, we prefer to restrict our empathy and compassion to ourselves, and even then only in a superficial sense. We may empathize with close friends and family, but only to validate their egos and persona's in a relationship of co-dependency: you validate my choices and I will validate yours.

We despise seeing any form of change in each other, we want the people in our lives to remain constant, stable, predictable. Facing situations that may force us to re-evaluate ourselves and our actions is simply not an option - so static people and environments are preferred.

Human Nature is what we call it, what we use to justify ourselves. "We can't change, it's just the way we are." Obviously this statement in itself will ensure that we do not change, so long as we keep feeding it. We claim to have free choice - where? I do not see it. All I see is a bunch of people too afraid to stop being the malicious and selfish creatures we were shaped to be by hands that were not our own.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 375: Poison, Everywhere we Look

Household chemicals blamed for everything from cancer to obesity should face stricter controls, leading scientists say.

A declaration signed by almost 89 experts, many of them from the UK, warns the existing regulation of phthalates and bisphenol A is ‘entirely inadequate’.

They say the gender-bending chemicals contribute to ‘high and rising serious levels of disease’ by interfering with key hormones.

Phthalates are found in everything from car dashboards to shower curtains while bisphenol A is used in regular items such as till receipts, tin cans and sunglasses.

Earlier this year, a report from the World Health Organisation declared the chemicals a ‘global threat that needs to be resolved’.

The latest declaration, presented to European Union commissioners, says the increase in many hormone-related illnesses is too great to be explained away by lifestyle and genetics.

Examples given include the ‘dramatic’ rise in breast cancer in eastern and southern Europe, the ‘strong’ rise in prostate cancer in almost all EU countries and the spread of diabetes and obesity.

The signatories of the 2013 Berlaymont Declaration, including many from London’s Brunel University, says EU members must subject these chemicals to more stringent testing.

The argue that some damage may be permanent, yet cheap and effective tests exist but are not used.

They also warn that for some chemicals, there may be no safe level of exposure and say that the existing regulations are ‘entirely inadequate. - Mail Online

Manufacturers don't care about the health and wellbeing of humanity - this much has been shown to be abundantly clear through their actions and lies of omission. Dangerous chemicals are allowed in the products we all regularly buy and use, dangerous chemicals are disposed of into rivers, lakes, oceans and holes in the ground - all to save money.

Corporations and businesses in general have taken on lives and persona's of their own - they all have the following trait in common: money. They all put the making and saving of money and profit above everything else, including those who are apparently "in charge of" these businesses - as if the CEO's would be treated any differently than any other person.

Governments are equally as uncaring - they make no real effort to regulate those chemicals and practices that are unsafe and harmful. The actions of humans indicate that no one is aware of the requirement of a safe environment in order to survive - you'd think we wouldn't want to poison our own home - but, there you have it.

And what of the rest of us who sit back complacently, not a care in the world while we let the few with ambition drive the world and all our lives with it to obliteration? Shall we declare ourselves to be free from blame, so that we may continue telling ourselves that we're good people? We are like a flock of sheep, only moving in the direction which we are herded toward with no sense of self movement of our own. A gate is opened for us by the media, or by our schools, or by the economy - and we rush toward it without a single thought. There are some who claim to be apart from the flock, independent - but they are not truly free thinkers, for their thoughts too are shaped by their environments, and to break free of that is no simple feat. It's like in the matrix movie, the system allows the resistance to exist, but only to enhance the functionality of the system. The resistance is part of the structure...

Conspiracy theorists, alien hunters, spirituals, psychics, rebels, activists - they are just the exception that proves the rule. Nothing they do or have done is of any consequence in improving the world - they were not meant to make any difference, yet continue to believe that they do on some magical, intangible level.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 374: Constitutions, Freedom Charter, Bill of Rights - What's the Point? - Constitution of South Africa - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - United Nations

What is the point of a constitution, bill of rights or freedom charter if the rights contained therein are not actually implemented? In government, there is a difference between writing an Act or paper and implementing said Act or paper. The one is the policy of the government and the other is the decision of the government - the decision to write an Act or paper.

A policy is a relatively stable, purposive course of action or inaction followed by an actor or set of actors in dealing with a problem or matter of concern. With this definition in mind, we can safely say that it is the policy of most governments to not implement human rights as laid out within their constitutions. There are countries that do not have a constitution, they are a whole other kettle of fish.

I shall use South Africa as an example as it is where I live, and I see on a daily basis the blatant disregard for human rights.
  • Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing: A large proportion of the population of South Africa lives in shacks made from scrap materials. The public housing that the government provides is akin to concentration-camp conditions. The current political party that instituted the Constitution has been in power for 20 years, and many citizens live in worse conditions than they did in the apartheid-era - I am not condoning or agreeing with apartheid!
  • Everyone has the right to an environment which is not detrimental to their health or wellbeing: People live in shacks. People share pit toilets. People drink out of an wash in rivers. People live near factories. I could go on...
  • Everyone has the right to fair labour practice: It is common labour practice for employers to exploit and underpay employees as people are so desperate for work.
  • Freedom from servitude or slavery" We are all slaves to money and do extremely unpleasant things in order to get it, if we have no other choice.
  • Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law: Sure, if you can pay for a good lawyer. That, and many illiterate, or uneducated people don't have the first clue as to what rights they even have, and so end up getting screwed over.
  • Every child has the right to nutrition, shelter, basic healthcare and social services: Malnutrition amongst South African children is high, especially the homeless children or those whose parents do not earn enough or care enough to feed them. 
  • Everyone has the right to basic education, including adult education: Even if every child were to have access to, or remain in school, it would be of no use as the education system is in such shambles that they would come out without acceptable skills anyway. The current pass rate for matric maths is somewhere around 10%, but a large portion of students will stop going to school by grade 10. Teachers are incompetent and the curriculum is ineffective. 
You get the idea.

So, what is the point of a constitution, if it is the policy of the government to not implement it?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 373: The Parent is ALWAYS Responsible

A mother has described the torment of having a son with severe ADHD, admitting that if he were an animal, she would have him put down.

Jenny Young has four children aged 25, 23, 19 and 10 and astonishingly, not only have they all been diagnosed with the behavioural disorder, but she too was told she had it in her mid-forties.

But it is her youngest child Ryan, 10, who suffers with the most extreme symptoms of the condition as well as severe learning disabilities, subjecting Jenny to daily violent attacks.

She said that because she is his mother, and not a pet owner, she must put up with it.

Jenny explained that she is the main target of his frustration and that if Ryan, who has the mental age of a two-year-old, were her husband they would have divorced by now.

She added that people should not judge her for her comments until they have heard her story.

Jenny said that she used the example of putting a dog down because she has a member of the family who went through the traumatic experience of having their dog euthanised after they could not control its violence.

'It was a horrendous traumatic experience for the whole family. They worked really, really, hard and did everything they could possibly do for [the dog].

'They spent lots of money and put lots of effort in and ultimately they had the choice to have her put down.

'I don't liken Ryan and the dog exactly but there is a choice. When you have a dog that behaves [violently] and might attack you any minute, you have a choice.

'I wouldn't be without Ryan but [ I was trying to make the point] that when you're the mother of a child like Ryan there is no choice. There isn't a refuge for battered mums - you have to get on with it.

Jenny made the startlingly frank comments on ITV's This Morning.

Her oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was ten. Before then people excused his behaviour as 'just being a boy'.

Jenny said: 'It was a relief [when he was diagnosed] because he wasn't just being naughty.'

She then went on to recognise the same traits in her other children.

Jenny added that her late diagnosis of ADHD has helped her to relate to her children and ultimately to cope with her situation.

She said: 'If you've got an ADHD mind it's difficult to to understand those who don't have an ADHD mind.' - Mail Online

So, apparently behavioural problems have nothing to do with environmental influences and everything to do with mysterious factor "X". It is odd to me that the mother is surprised that she influenced her children at all - she was, after all, diagnosed with having ADHD herself.

It seems as though no one knows anything about human behaviour - how it is learned, why it is retained or why it is reproduced. If we did then there wouldn't be any abnormal behaviour.

Familial abnormal behavioural patterns are just that - patterns, a series of chain reactions that go on and on and on. The parents do something that imprints on the child, the child then responds with some reaction based on his or her interpretation of the parent's action, the parent then reacts to the child in some way which either reinforces or rejects the child's behaviour, either of which can lead to the behaviour becoming more deeply ingrained in the child, which ensures that the parent continues to react.

It is the responsibility of the parent to provide the child with a supportive environment, free from emotional reactions and outbursts as the child is simply not equipped to deal with that. Children have no other option available to them other than to integrate whatever their (underdeveloped and lacking understanding) interpretation of an event may be. A child who is playing with some object that he or she should not be playing with does not expect his/her parent to scream at him/her for simply enjoying him/herself with whatever object is at hand. What is a child supposed to do with an unexpected and inexplicable outburst from their parent? That, dear reader, is child abuse.

It is the responsibility of the parent to understand the development of their child, as well as the limitations of the child's abilities to process information and events - the child requires guidance in his/her interpretation, which is a thing that so many parents fail to provide. No one can blame a child for developing behavioural problems if they were not guided in a supportive or effective manner - the parent is always responsible.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 372: A Testament to our Society - Mother spends 20,000 Pounds on designer clothing for her son by the time he is 8 years old - Boy is killed while trying to protect his new iPad in mugging - Woman claims she is too attractive to work, now lives off wealthy parents - Woman is obsessed with sunbathing to look like Barbie

These four articles may seem random, but each one of them attests to the nature of our society.

We have the creativity to design and develop things which seem impossible, yet we will not use it to really improve life on earth on a large scale.

We have the dedication to commit all of ourselves to one idea, but that idea will never be creating heaven on earth.

We have the wits to make others believe completely unrealistic and unfounded statements, but we will not commit our wits in service to honesty.

We have the motivation to complete the most daunting missions, but never in service to developing a world that gives everyone the opportunity to develop themselves.

We claim to have the capacity to love and light into infinity, but apparently it's not enough for anyone outside our immediate circle of exposure.

We have the compassion to rescue other beings from certain death, but not enough to recognise that we must address the cause of the massive suffering and not just the consequences.

We have the drive to dominate the entire planet but not to manifest a balance that ensures the continued existence of life on earth.

We possess the innovation to find new ways to kill each other, but not to help each other.

We possess the empathy to want to help those in need, but not enough to actually help them.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 371: Will Bieber Fever turn Children into Animal Abusers?

So, Justin Bieber adopted a baby monkey and then took the little thing with him to the other side of the world as his touring companion. The monkey was too young to be separated from its mother. When Justin tried to get the little guy through customs in Munich, he was seized by customs officials.

Mally was seized by German customs March 28 when Bieber failed to produce required vaccination and import papers after landing in Munich while on tour. [Full article]

Half the world (ok maybe more like one fifth of the world) has this affliction called "Bieber Fever", the most commonly afflicted are young teen girls (I suppose the boys may not readily admit their status as being positive). So basically, an entire generation of youngsters in westernised countries is looking up to this pop sensation, wanting to be like him, close to him - but what if he's not as magical as everyone thinks he is? What if this mysterious "Bieber Fever" is confusing and confounding young minds across the globe so that those who are afflicted do not see what is really happening, only what Justin (or some other player in the game) wants them to see?

My list of evidence:
  • His music is terrible. It promotes the dumbing down and sexing up of humans, as well as promoting girls to be sex toys for boys to play with. There is nothing useful or in the least part helpful in his music. 
  • His clothes. Obviously he cares about fashion and his appearance. So many do. What the hell is fashion compared to world hunger? Not that this is personally directed at Justin, it is simply an observation that he is more interested in participating in the fashion industry than in sustainable, global solutions to our global problems.
  • His actions. I don't see why famous people must be so carelessly obsessed with including animals in their trends. Animals are not objects to be used and discarded once they have outlived their use. Justin is a role model and his actions will be echoed in the generation of youngsters so eager to emulate him now. 
  • He uses his name to promote himself. 
  • He has not said or done anything of consequence. He acts only in self interest.
Watch and see: our children will show us exactly why Bieber Fever is so not a good thing.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Day 370: Bill Gates is worth $72.2 Billion

In our society, a person's worth is determined by their monetary value. Those who are highly valued feel , think and act according to the worth that has been assigned to them by society, because of their economic status. One does not see a poor man on a street corner fretting about his hair, does one?

Of course I am generalising, but there is most certainly enough of a majority to validate my use of this generalisation.

Those who are worth very little will live as if they truly are worth very little. This is where the rampant spread of STD's, drug use, alcohol abuse, failing grades, low self esteem and so on comes into the picture in a big way. Many will agree that a large portion on poor people are not very nice, very smart or very hygienic. Abusive relationships are also common, as people do not value themselves highly enough to place themselves in a position where they are treated well.

What no one seems to realise is that every member of society contributes to the collective welfare (or otherwise) of society. Being a doctor may be a specialised skill set requiring years of study and training, although the same could be said of an engineer, a repair person, a plumber - all of these skills being mandatory for the continued functioning of society and services. What about street sweepers? I suppose since no one has come up with a handy automatic street sweeping machine that manual sweeping will be required - without which our streets would be clogged and impassable, preventing everyone from reaching their destinations smoothly.

And what of the people who work with sewage systems, septic tanks, drainage, treatment and such - do they not contribute to our collective existence? Without them, we would have to start digging holes regularly to keep up with our bowel movements. Obviously, if we were to focus technological developments and advancements on improving the efficiency and quality of day to day living, such as sewage treatments and street sweeping, then we could very well phase out the human element entirely.

In order for this life to work for everyone, we must recognise the value of each member of society as an integral part of society, without which our collective state of being would be diminished. In order for each person to be guaranteed a life of dignity, each one must be ensured that their contribution to the collective is given a value that provides them with the means to live comfortably.

Every person must be allowed the means to provide themselves a decent life - it is just that simple. The idea that one person contributes more or less because of the particular thing or skill they are contributing is simply false - a doctor cannot treat patients effectively without the contributions of myriad other people, each with their own skills.

We have taught our children that to be special is to be highly valued - more so than to not be highly valued. This has lead to our culture of fame seeking and unequal value systems which is simply not sustainable - nor is it humane. The consequences, as we see daily, are catastrophic - all because we want to be valued.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 369: Nuclear Bomb In Syria?

So Syria is pretty screwed. Does anyone even know why they are fighting? Do they know why? Or are they so intent on holding on to the burning hatred they feel for each other?

What the rest of us, sitting all cosy in front of our computers, forget sometimes is that the fighting going on in Syria is fighting that is happening between human beings just like us. We call the events in Syria the natural expression of human nature (?!?!?!?!) - so it follows logically from that that we will all inevitably end up trying to kill each other.

Unfortunately, that is the most likely scenario for all of our futures.

Either that, or governments will be overthrown by the rich and incorporated so that every human lives in bondage to profit and stuff. I almost might prefer nuclear fallout.

So, what the hell do we do now? It's not like we can ever change. I guess we just have to accept our fate - it is, after all, inevitable. It's our nature to fight and not be able to control ourselves. It's just who we are. God(s) made us this way. Seriously. We just can't ever change. Ever.

As if we have no will to move ourselves, to change. As if we can never communicate with each other as equals to resolve our differences and commit to a better life for everyone. As if we have no free choice. As if we have no freedom. As if we are being held under duress.

So long as we live and think this way it will be what we experience. As long as we define ourselves as these things and incapable of anything else, then we will only be these things - and nothing else. As long as we deliberately act to harm and abuse each other, we will be assholes.

The only way we will be able to stop, is to actually stop. The only way we will be able to explore and test what human nature really is, is when we actually start deliberately living that which we are no accustomed to. The only way we will see kindness and sharing in the world and within each other, is if we live how we would like to see others live. The only way we will be able to stop living from paycheck to paycheck, is by choosing to live in another way, together.