A Pensive Cerebration of the Capricious and Fickle Nature of Human Beings

I know the title of this post is long and somewhat laborious, but I thought it the best phrase to even partially express the sentiments of my post. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, how disloyal and selfish human beings can be, especially in terms of our relationships. Our intentions and emotions are forever changing, the shifts in our relationships meant to accommodate those respective emotional modifications – more often than not, however, with such revisions only considering the person making the changes.

Not all changes are purposeless, I’m sure it goes without saying. There are toxic relationships which need to be eliminated; no matter how much one tries to justify abusive relationships (emotional, verbal or physical in either a romantic or platonic situation) there is little else more damaging in the life of the average human being. And of course, people change. Admitting such only further stresses the necessity to be rid of certain burdensome associations, as the person they have become is, of course, NOT the same person whom you initially befriended.

Sometimes it’s funny to think how much people change. In general, change is a positive thing, but it can also be a stumbling block in the way of relationships. Anybody you know, at any time without warning, could decide they no longer want to be a part of your life, be it a boyfriend, a best friend, a parent, a relative, whoever. They have the ability to choose to destabilize even the most sturdy and reliable of relationships, though I suppose whether they have the right to is another question altogether. But like it or not, it happens. And people do change, suddenly, without warning, leaving your friendship in broken shards or your relationship in pieces of fragmented heart – and there you are, wondering what you did wrong.

But when you really think it about it, it’s not always other people changing. A lot of the time, it’s ourselves. We change – be it for better or for worse.

We become more mature, or immature. We grow emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or we regress. We think differently, we meet new people, we explore and discover things which we have never before seen the like. Or we don’t. Whatever the case, these changes in us affect our currently-existing relationships, either negatively or positively, depending on the respective change in the other party as well.

When your best friends looks at you, and notes with disgust in her voice, “You’ve changed”, she’s not lying. You HAVE changed. It’s just that those changes have now made you the better person and put you at an assumed advantage in that friendship; and she doesn’t like those changes. The problem is not that you have changed. The problem is that she HASN’T.

When you watch your best friend looking at you with sad eyes as you tell her sympathetically, “I’ve changed”, although she doesn’t want to believe it, you have. It’s just that those changes in you have left your relationship undefined and in new, uncharted territories, and now offers you neither comfort nor happiness. The problem might not be that she hasn’t changed. Perhaps the problem is that you have.

But change should never be the foundation upon which a relationship is built. Too often, people make friends or date someone with the intention of ‘changing’ them, which is effectively saying, “I won’t accept you as you are; you must fit into MY mould.” No matter how you want to look at it, it’s often selfish – the ‘fixer-upper’ ideology – but also dangerous. Building relationships purely on the projected view of what you envision the person to have become after you have finished ‘changing’ them, means that you are never content with people as they are. You simply want them to be your version of themselves.

And staying in a relationship because of a change you hope to happen is also not a great idea. I mean, I know that many times the only thing standing between you and a successful friendship or happy marriage is a bad habit, but the assumption that the other person will change purely to satisfy your needs within that relationship is also not great. It means that you will hang onto relationships way past their ‘sell-by’ date purely because of the misguided hope that they will change; not just for the better, but also in the specific way that you want them to.

Yes, there are cases where people can change, when they realise that they have an issue or some other insurmountable problem which stands in the way of a fruitful relationship with you, but THEY are the only ones able to dictate when that change will come about. You cannot neither force nor expect someone to change. Change comes about naturally, and though you may make the person aware of their flaw or whatever other imperfections, they have the ultimate choice as to whether to act upon it or ignore your counsel and seek a happy relationship elsewhere.

Sometimes change is necessary for growth. A snake cannot grow without shedding its skin, and though this may be a somewhat difficult process, leaving behind the old allows you to move forward into the new. Not every relationship you have will always be long-lasting. Some are superficial and have their ‘expiration dates’, and that’s okay. Of course, it’s important to recognise such friendships; because they are so short-lived and intense, they can drain you as they are often emotionally demanding and exhaust your energy reserves, not to mention, your mobile contract.

And of course, I am speaking in the assumption that only one party of the relationship changes. It is likely that both could change. If you both change for the better, growing together and developing healthily through your relationship, then despite changing times or seasons, your relationship will go the distance. If you both change for the worse, despite your identical poor choices, you may stay together, both blissfully unaware of your regression. If one changes for the better and one changes for the worse, it is likely that the former will become hyper-aware of their respective changes and either make the latter aware of their flaws or leave them.

What I’m trying to say is, in every situation, there are lessons to be learned. Whether one of you or both of you change, or even don’t change, there is always something about you which can be improved, if you are willing to be open to positive growth and constructive criticism.

As I noted in the title, the natural nature of human beings appears to be irrevocably fickle and it is becoming abundantly clear that we are consistent in only one thing – inconsistency.

I’m not entirely sure how to end this, as I realise that my blog post very closely resembles one of my equally pretentious essays for English Literature. I suppose I can only say that I am perhaps misguided on many things which I’ve commented on, but that I hope it offers insight for some people and that it is, for the most part, relatable.

Look at that, I even included a conclusion.

Goodnight everyone, wherever you are.

The Faerie Squad Mother x

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¿Cómo te llamas?

In Spanish, when you ask someone what their name is, rather than saying ‘¿Cuál es tu nombre?’ (What is your name? – which supposedly, is more formal), you say ‘¿Cómo te llamas?’ The literal translation of this is, ‘How do you call yourself?’

I’ve always thought this an interesting concept, because I think there is quite a difference between asking someone what their name is and asking them what they are called. I could be entirely unnecessarily building this difference up, but let’s see, shall we?

The opening sentence for the story I am currently writing is:

“Many people say that the first gift you are ever given is your name.”

In many ways, a name is a gift. The protagonist goes on to mention how the meaning of your name can shape who you are and give you the ability to do amazing things.

According to Google, ‘name’ is a noun which means a word or set of words by which a person or thing is known, addressed, or referred to. Therefore, asking someone what their name is, is asking them what title they are known as. More often than not, names carry some level of significance, be it culturally, socially or domestically. For example, names convey class and status. Someone named ‘Jane Boggs’ for instance, is perhaps not as highly socially regarded as someone called ‘Penelope Clarington’.

Names also convey meaning.

My name, ‘Rianna’ is a variant of the Welsh name ‘Rhiannon’. According to ‘Behind the Name’ (which, may I add, is a very exciting website to use) this means ‘Great Queen’. Which I completely was. My surname, ‘Davis’ is similarly a popular Welsh surname, and according to some quick googling, it originated from the Davidson clan in Scotland. But is mostly now used in Wales and England.

Names also convey cultural heritage.

Which, it is, at this point, that we shall have to pause for a moment. Because, I mean, I don’t know how obvious it is, but clearly, my ancestors were neither Welsh nor Scottish. I have a very Welsh sounding name, especially in its pre-derivative form (‘Rhiannon David’) and this gives absolutely no clue as to my origins, except pointing back to slavery.

In fact, the only thing I can tell conclusively from my name is that my ancestors were once owned by a ‘Davis’ family. Because that’s effectively what it tells me. I have no other link with my heritage because my name (here it comes again) has been erased and scribbled over with somebody else’s name, effectively denying me the privilege of knowing and understanding my cultural heritage.

So what makes me very sad is when people have their cultural heritage (due to their beautifully, rich-sounding names and/or surnames) and choose to reject them because of society’s Eurocentric standards. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the stigma there is around ‘African-sounding’ names, and I get that obviously many people will be eager to change their names so they don’t ‘sound black’. And that sounds bad, but you have to consider the fact that we do live in a White Supremacist world, so everyone in Western societies feels like they have to conform to a Western societal standard. Which, to some extent you do in order to get by.

In the West, ‘Babatunde’ isn’t a beautiful, meaningful name. In the West, ‘Babatunde’ mostly connotes ‘freshie’, ‘African savage’. It doesn’t hold the same cultural meaning that it does from its’ roots. In the West, anything that sounds remotely ‘ethnic’ is mostly laughed at and scorned (unless it’s at the Kardashians’ or Jenners’ initiation, of course) and because of these culturally-rich names, people are denied the chances to jobs and such because interviewers see their application and immediately recognise the person applying is clearly not white-British. Or alternatively, recognise that this person is African and want to hire them as evidence that their workplace is not racist because of their ‘multi-culturally diverse’ employees.

So we return to my name. As lovely as my name is (gracias a mis padres) and as much as I don’t want to change it (because I don’t even know what I’d change it to!) there is a part of me that wishes my name wasn’t so ‘bland’ and ‘whitewashed’ so that I was able to trace my heritage right back to its roots.

That’s why people denying their cultural names because they get teased for them make me sad, because they have the opportunity to know where they come from, what part of Africa their ancestors live in, or lived in. As much as there is a huge stigma around these names, and lots of racist stereotyping and such, the under-appreciation of these names really upsets me. I mean, society teaches us to really hate ourselves, gosh! Not just the way we appear and the way we look, but also the way we refer to ourselves; which comes right back to the point I was making at the beginning. When you ask someone “What is your name?” (because English is such a great language, we only have one way of asking that) and they tell you their middle name, because they are too ashamed to tell you their first name, they are not lying. They are telling you their name. They are telling you the words which have been attributed to them in order to identify them and the words which they are used to being addressed by.

But when you ask someone “Como te llamas?” (how do you call yourself? – I mean, I know it’s Spanish, but the point still remains), in my opinion, you aren’t just asking them what words they use to identify themselves. What someone is called is more than just what they are referred to. What someone calls themselves also says a lot about who they are. They could still answer this question with their middle name, because that is what they call themselves, and that is how they view themselves. They don’t necessarily want to associate with their culture or their heritage because of the stigma surrounding it, and it’s effectively them denying who they are.

I understand there is a lot of controversy surrounding this anyway, as in choosing ‘socially-accepted’ names over heritage names, and I probably see in it a more ‘black-and-white’ way than someone else who is actually in this predicament. And yes, I understand that society has a funny way of destroying our lives and culture from the roots up, but if you have those roots, why wouldn’t you reclaim them? Why would you want to let go of them, or feel ashamed, if you’re one of the few lucky ones to know where you come from? Why would you want to exchange thousands of years worth of your geographical history for a few decades of social prosperity but cultural ignorance? Maybe I’m asking a stupid question, but I think it’s a fair question, as someone who would love to get in touch with my own history.

And when I say history, I don’t mean that I want to be told that my ancestors were slaves in Jamaica and then probably slaves in England. I want to know my specific history. I want to know which country they were taken from in Africa. Which tribe they originated from. If that tribe still exists today. There’s so many gaps in my own knowledge of my personal history, because of the gaps in my name.

And society, especially Western society, makes you feel guilty that you name is unpronounceable, and forces you to shorten your name to make it less ‘ethnic’ and more ‘blandly ethnic’. I mean, disregarding the fact that they didn’t shorten slavery because it was ‘unstomachable’, how dare they try to strip people of their culture?

They don’t make us shorten Shakespeare’s name into something less ‘British’.  Everyone can pronounce Truman Capote and Jack Kerouac, despite the fact that their names aren’t phonetic, and we’re taught how to pronounce them, and Scott F. Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway are never referred to as ‘Fitz’ and ‘Hems’.So why should you have to do that for a name that holds just as much significance for you culturally as the Union Jack does for the British?

I think I’m pretty much done with my rant about names, but before I finish up, I just want to drop this YouTube video of Button Poetry (my absolute FAVOURITE) and end on this note:

I don’t hate my name. I don’t feel any particularly strong way towards it, to be honest. My name is what I am referred to by. But my name is not who I am. My name cannot tell you – nor can anybody’s, for that matter – about my hopes and dreams, my aspirations, the person I am, my characteristic or my personality. But names have meanings, and names have significance. My name means something to my parents who chose to name me that. My name means something to people who know me and hear it, and think about me. My name means something to God and my name will one day mean something to even more people when it’s on the spine of a published book. Everyone’s name carries a significance. Appreciate your name and its’ meaning, no matter where you come from, no matter what your name is. Because your name is YOUR name, and if you don’t let them, then nobody can take it (or its’ meaning) away from you.

 

Peace out, (I wrote this all in my first two study periods LOL, I’m being productive!)

The Faerie Squad Mother x

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A Weapon of Mass Construction

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Thought it’d be a good idea to start my post off with both a thought-provoking title and a (mostly) overused quote, just so that you’re efficiently baffled. Perhaps you’re starting to form ideas in your mind already as to what I’m going to write about.

I was talking to my friend last night, and I can’t remember how exactly we got there, but we (REALLY) briefly touched upon the power of words. The conversation went a little bit like this:

Me: It’s so much fun. Writing these whole new worlds.

Him: Yeah I know. Funny how words can completely shape an environment/character.

Me: Yeah. Words are amazing. They can do so much man.

(And then, here comes the amazing bit…)

Me: That’s my next blog post. Words and their power.

So here I am. And here we are.

Let’s return to the quote from the beginning. I actually love this quote so much. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It’s so relevant and so true. Allow me to enlighten you as to some of the many ways this quote is relevant. But first, some context.

This quote is attributed to the novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play ‘Cardinal Richelieu’.

Francois: But now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord.

Richelieu: The pen is mightier than the sword… take away the sword; States can be saved without it!

Now, since Richelieu is a priest, there is obviously the stigma that he is not allowed to take up arms against people who are trying to kill him. However, he acknowledges that even though he has no weapons, the power of words is more powerful than any weapon he could use. He even goes so far as to say that without armaments, entire states can be saved.

I haven’t read the play (the above was the result of some quick googling – thanks BBC) but context is always helpful. However, the BBC article also informed me that there were even earlier references to this path of thought.

A similar phrase appears in 1582, “The dashe of a Pen, is more greeuous then the counterbuse of a Launce.” (The dash of a pen is more grievous than the counter use of a lance.) Going back further, the Greek poet Euripides, is quoted as writing: “The tongue is mightier than the blade.” “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than 1,000 bayonets,” is another quote comparing a weapon to words, and is allegedly attributed to Napoleon.

So, what we learn here is that many people, not just writers and artists, but world leaders, and leading thinkers alike all seem to have the same train of thought. Let’s keep going.

According to Google definition, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ is an old proverb which means ‘writing is more effective than military power or violence.’ According to the Cambridge Dictionaries website, it means ‘thinking and writing have more influence on people and events than the use of force or violence.’

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

“But this cannot be!” You say. “How can something which simply emits ink onto a page be more powerful than that which can take lives?” (You’re probably NOT saying this – or at least, I hope you’re not – but just pretend you are for the purposes of this blog post).

Let’s look at this from a more literal standpoint.

The thing about a sword is that it has one purpose: to destroy. I very much doubt any soldier would have picked up a sword and thought “Hey, this would be GREAT to cut my nice block of cheddar with,” or “Perhaps this would look nice if I melted it down and made it into a necklace.” Swords are for killing, really. They don’t have much other purpose. The people who wield swords have one intention: to kill. Yes, swords can take away lives, and yes, they can rip lives apart because of the lives they have taken away.

The thing about a pen, however, is that it also has a purpose, but one which both reflects and counteracts the purpose of a sword: to destroy AND create. With a pen (or a metaphorical pen; I think typing counts too) authors have single-handedly crafted worlds, characters, Kingdoms, realms, and even re-created parts of history, all with its’ carefully wielded use. Yes, pens might not be able to physically kill people – although, I suppose it depends which pen you use – but, to an extent, they CAN physically kill people. Pens can also destroy. People used pens (or quills, rather) to sign death warrants. People write malice and hate-fuelled letters, which can tear someone’s life apart. Newspaper articles filled with slander can ruin someones career… or alternatively build them up. There is very little limit to the power of the pen.

A sword, on the other hand, would not be used for construction. What good can you do with a sword? Swords aren’t made to create. Pens are, however. And words do exactly that.

I also thought that the blog title was rather apt, because a sword, or any other weapon really, is a weapon of mass destruction. But a pen, being as it is, can be used as a weapon of mass construction. I think it’s amazing how powerful a simple word can be.

Words literally create a whole other realm of thought. Reading a book is not just an amazing feat for the reader (who, in a sense, is doing a bit of work on their part too, as no two readers view a book in the exact same way) but also for the person who wrote it. In order for you to have imagined the book, or the character, or the setting, in the way they would have wanted you to, surely that required a level of skilful use of words.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone is necessarily able to use words in terms of literature. But everyone uses their own powerful words in different ways. Some people (like myself) prefer to write their power. Some prefer to speak it. Some prefer to sing it. Some prefer to dream it.

But everything we do with words has some form of power, whether we recognise it or not.

Words were what the slaves used in their songs to empower themselves and each other in the darkest moments of their lives. Today, we have the lyrics of Negro Spirituals to remind us of that. Words were what the Popes of Medieval Christendom used to wage war on countries. Today, we see the effects of the Crusades, all because some men had willed it with their words. Words were what Hitler used to rally the support of millions of German citizens, and instil a sense of nationalism and patriotism within them all. Today, we look back at the horrific results from the rule of a skilled orator and yet an evil, racist, homophobic, misogynist dictator.

Words are amazing. They are beyond comprehension. How is it that we can both look at the same tree, but you describe it in a different way to me? Because the physical appearance of that tree manifests itself in words in our mind in different ways.

Pens are the metaphorical vessels of words. Since we live in the age of technology, I suppose not very many people use pens anymore; we prefer to type. (Speaking of type, I would LOVE a typewriter, actually). But pens, quills and ink, fountain pens, were what many famous poets, writers and singers used to pen their eternal works. The pen was what immortalised Shakespeare, Austen, Chaucer, Poe, Hemingway, Dickens, Tolkien, Orwell, Steinbeck, Woolf, Tolstoy and hundreds of other creatives like them.

So. That’s it. I think I’ve effectively used words to try and explain how words can be used effectively. (Also, the English language is so weird and complicated). To end, here’s a poem which makes me grateful that I grew up speaking English and didn’t have to learn it as a second language. And once again reiterating the power of words, to not only create and destroy… but also to confuse.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through.
Well don’t! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps.
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard but sounds like bird.
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead,
For goodness sake don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth as in mother
Nor both as in bother, nor broth as in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear, for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose–
Just look them up–and goose and choose
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword
And do and go, then thwart and cart,
Come, come! I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful Language? Why man alive!
I learned to talk it when I was five.
And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five.

Good afternoon everyone, and love you all.

The Faerie Squad Mother x

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‘Religiously-Politically Correct’

People don’t like to talk about God.

He just seems to be a bit of a taboo, to be honest. It’s like people don’t like the taste of His name in their mouths. Any mention of him seems to be a ticking time bomb; and everybody knows how politically correct you have to be these days. God forbid if you use His name around an atheist; they might spontaneously combust or something.

Whenever He is mentioned, it is usually in reference to a group of specific things, which all seem to be interlinked:

  1. The Generalisation of Religious Afflictions (i.e. “All Christians are hypocrites. All Christians are homophobes. All Christians are narrow-minded and old-fashioned.”) which links to…
  2. The Instability of Religion (i.e. “Religion is an organisation for man’s own ends, I mean, look at all the extremist groups because of it. We should just give up on the idea of God.”) which leads to…
  3. Attributing Blame (i.e. “If He existed then how could God allow that to happen?” “If he existed then why would God let innocent people die?”) which leads on to…
  4. The Denouncement of Religion (i.e. “God doesn’t exist, so I shouldn’t believe in anything.” “The selective nature of miracles means they are simply a fluke of nature.” etc.) which leads to…
  5. The Politically-Correct Silence (i.e. “We can’t seem to confine God to our mortal-minded boundaries, so rather than try to understand Him, we’ll just not mention Him in reference to anything positive).

What I find particularly interesting, though, is that the very same people who so adamantly deny the existence of God are the same people who are jumping on the “If God exists, then why is there suffering?” band-wagon. And the same people who are the ones questioning His existence are the very same people tagging their photos #PrayForParis #PrayForSyria and all those other #PrayFor tags that nobody actually seems to recognise the religious sentiment behind them. (Who exactly do you intend to pray to if you don’t believe in the same deity you are claiming to pray to?) And yes, I know that the whole “Pray For [insert name of afflicted country here]” is a fluke of Social Media for people to get more likes and followers, but people need to recognise what they’re saying by tagging that in the first place.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t me saying “The evidence is irrefutable for God’s existence,” because I know for many that it’s not. And, like I’ve said many times before, there are times when I’m sure many Christians doubt their own faith or beliefs. Unfortunately, I cannot offer anybody any solid evidence as to God’s existence. I could tell a billion stories of times where I’ve experienced or been privy to what I could only call miracles. But I know that they would serve very little purpose. This post also isn’t me saying “Everyone, it’s time to stop being cynical and to believe in God” because of course, that would do very little in the grand scheme of things. If people don’t believe in a deity whose existence has been widely disputed and many times scientifically disproved, then what is the opinion of a mostly uneducated 16 year old going to do?

Nothing.

But I thought that maybe, since I’ve never actually spoken about it before very much before that maybe I’d talk about what I believe in, and why, because people never seem to understand. And yes, I may potentially get some hate, seeing as this is probably NOT going to be a ‘Religiously-Politically Correct’ post, in contradiction to the post title. But that’s okay. I don’t mind. My beliefs aren’t necessarily the most popular, and that’s okay. But I’m going to try and teach you something about me while I’m at it, because why not? Would it hurt to be religiously-aware?

So. Let’s start from the beginning.

I am a Seventh-Day Adventist. This is just a denomination of Christianity, but it’s one of the more recent denominations, as it’s only been around for a couple hundred years. (Since the late 1860s). Whenever I say to people, “I’m an SDA” (which is just a contraction) I usually get one of two responses:

  1. “What is that?”
  2. “Oh, you’re the ones who don’t eat pork and keep the Jewish Sabbath.”

I would just like to clarify. If you are currently in the first camp, then, to put it simply, we are a denomination of Christianity who are fundamentalists. What we are not (as some people believe we are) is a cult.

If you are currently in the second camp, then you’re right, but you’re also wrong. Not eating pork is not the foundation of our beliefs (although it does form part of our health laws; and it’s not just pork, there are other meats we don’t eat as well), and the Sabbath (which is Biblically from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) is not Jewish. The Sabbath was there long before Judaism existed. So, no, the Sabbath that I observe is not intrinsically Jewish.

So. Fundamentalism. I get lots of fun responses for that, so I’ll just add some points to that. Yes, I am a creationist. I believe that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th (which is where the Sabbath comes from). I believe in Jesus, that he came and died, and rose again. I believe that everything in the Bible happened as it was described, and I try my hardest to keep the commandments and laws of God in the Bible. (And no, I don’t feel like these are restrictive or conservative or narrow-minded. And I don’t follow them because I just want to get into heaven either.)

If anyone wants to drop the ‘not wearing mixed cloth’ or ‘women must be silent and submissive’ argument (because I’m sure that someone will) then you’re more than welcome to do so in the comments.

I believe in God and the Bible. I don’t just believe in it because my parents believe it or because I’ve been brought up in it. When I was a bit younger, I did doubt my beliefs a lot but I’ve learnt to trust and believe for myself. What I’ve learnt is that if you only believe in something because your family does or you feel like you have to, then there’s not really any point in believing in it, or pretending to believe in it. Because, effectively, that’s what you do.

We don’t believe in Hell. At least, not in the way that it is an endless place of torment where the ‘souls of the damned’ burn forever. That whole idea of hell was conceived by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and we don’t believe in that, because nowhere in the Bible does it state that that is what Hell is. It is also in complete opposition to our view of God. God cannot be benevolent or merciful if Hell exists.

Two of our main foundational beliefs are laid out in our name.

Seventh-Day Adventism

The first part in bold reflects the belief we have about the Sabbath. We worship on the Sabbath and observe it because in the Ten Commandments it makes reference to keeping the Sabbath day holy. It also reflects that the Seventh-Day is the Sabbath day, and the Seventh-Day by definition is Saturday. Hence Saturday being my Sabbath.

The second part (Adventism) reflects the belief we have about Jesus’s second coming. So, I believe in the prophecies of the Bible about Jesus coming back again soon. In short, I believe that He is going to come back soon, and there are lots of instances in the world right now that are happening in accordance to the Biblical prophetic books, and the predictions made about Jesus’s second return to earth.

Another one of our foundational beliefs is our health message. The basic idea is that the more you follow it, the healthier you will be. Biblically, we’ve been recommended to eat a vegan diet, and those who do so typically live a long and healthy life.

Our denomination was founded in America, and one of the main founders of it, Ellen G. White, (who is possibly the most well-known and respected women in our denomination) wrote lots of books and texts based on the Bible, which we refer to more widely as the Spirit of Prophecy.

Okay, so now the less ‘politically-correct’ things, I suppose. Our stance on abortion is that if it is being used as birth control then it isn’t right, but in other cases, like rape, or potential birth defects or severe risk to mother or baby, then the woman should make a choice herself. We don’t agree with homosexuality (it speaks against this specifically in the Bible, and we are fundamentalists) but we’re not homophobes. We don’t condemn people for being gay, they’re people nonetheless, and they have the same rights as everybody. There isn’t a stigma against this. (I’d like to take this moment to point out that disagreement does not equal hatred or intolerance. For example, I disagree with other religions; that does not mean I hate them or am intolerant of them.) We believe in abstinence, so not generally in favour of premarital sex, but it doesn’t mean there’s any particular stigma against this either. The whole principle is that it’s not for us (who, essentially, are all sinners) to judge other people, because we’re all on the same boat. And the principle thing for us as well is that no matter what we do or what we’re like, God still loves us.

That’s one of the reasons that I believe in God. Because it takes an immense amount of love to die for someone who has constantly tormented you, mocks you, hates you, and yet you still love them enough to lay down your life. I’m at question to whether I would lay down my life for some of my friends, but I know without a doubt that I would not be the first person putting my neck on the line for someone who I don’t like. So I think there is literally no greater love than the love that Jesus had for me, and the whole world, when He gave up His life for everybody.

It’s okay if you think I’m a Jesus freak or whatever, LOL. I’m alright with that. And this post was not meant to be a sermon, but you know, if it came across in that way, then ah well. But I just thought, hey, why not be different, and write about what I believe in for once, rather than trivial things?

And what harm would it do?

Have a good evening everyone,

Love Rianna

Let’s Discuss

Time for a rant. I’m so ready for this. It’s been building up inside of me for a long time and I finally have the excuse to let it all out.

The title of this post is quite misleading; a lot of the things in this rant aren’t actually up for discussion. Without further ado, let’s go:

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

I can’t speak much for America (since I am neither natively American nor have ever experienced it there) but I’m just going to speak from the POV of a Black-British Caribbean teenage girl, experiencing it in England.

Let’s start off with my personal opinion of this commemorative month. My ethos is pretty simple when it comes to this actually; I don’t like it. (I am aware this opinion is controversial, but I don’t care) I feel like it is very tokenistic and patronising. Like the Almighty Council of Whites sat down and said, “Aww, the dark folk are kicking up a stink about the past… let’s subdue them by giving them a month to commemorate their background.”

A month isn’t enough. I’m not saying that they should institute Black History Half-Year or Black History Century, but at the end of the day, how do you expect us to cram centuries worth of culture, background and history into 31 days?

It’s impossible. You can’t. Especially when what you WANT us to cram into that month is not the entirety of the truth. (But more on than in a minute).

I may not like it, but at the end of the day, if we’re going to have it then at least let it be commemorated properly and respectfully.

That’s the first problem – that the existence of this commemorative month is tokenistic and patronising.

Problem two: the reaction of white (and ignorant) people. Here are some of my favourite reactions:

  • “What about White History month?” (Honey, every month of the year is White History month)
  • “Why don’t we make it Multicultural Diversity Month?” (You make ANOTHER month of the year ‘Multicultural Diversity Month’, don’t get it twisted with ours, THANKS)
  • “It sort of makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.” (I’m glad you feel that way. Our past was uncomfortable)
  • “I don’t see why we need to commemorate things in the past.” (Hmmm… that’s funny, because, you commemorate the Holocaust, you commemorate Remembrance Day but, you want to ignore a part of history which not only was the building block for most largely-developed countries but also lasted a very long time and which people are still living with the repercussions of today? Hmmmm… Okay. Let me just… sip my tea…)
  • “Don’t talk about the negative things… we just need to be positive about this whole thing.” (Yes but that’s probably not what my ancestors were saying when they were being beaten by yours in the cotton fields, so once again, let me… sip my tea…)
  • “Things have changed now!” (*crickets chirp*)

And so on. I feel like I should dedicate an entire post to the racist and offensive opinions of small-minded White People. I love hearing some of the gems that some of them come out with. Really. They warm me at night.

So, problem number three with Black History Month is what it’s actually used (or not used) for. It seems to me that for the majority of the country, Black History Month is only that in name. It doesn’t actually change anything. There aren’t any national days or services or anything where it’s acknowledged. I find it very ironic how people are so willing to commemorate Remembrance Day out of respect for a war that lasted 4 years which STABILISED the foundations the country we live in, yet entirely overlook the events of a time almost 100 times as long, which BUILT the foundations of the country we live in. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the sacrifices that any of those soldiers made weren’t commendable, and I’m not saying that it should have been made into a small thing. What I AM saying is that it isn’t fair that we as a nation (as a country with a White Male Supremacist-led government) want to pick and choose which events suit us most to commemorate.

The truth is, Black History makes people uncomfortable. To which I say, fantastic. Great. Get uncomfortable. It wasn’t a pleasant period of time and at the end of the day, its effects are still on the perpetual generations of black people, mixed people, people of colour in general. Who remained unscathed and actually benefitted from this regime? White people. It benefits them to keep their ‘reputations’ entirely untouched by simply pretending that those 300 years plus of history never actually happened. I’m sure it aids their consciences as well. After all, as I have heard so MANY DAMN TIMES, “my ancestors didn’t own slaves.” Okay, fantastic, so then WHOSE did?!

Furthermore (LOL I’ve always wanted to get that word into a blog post), the whole POINT of Black History Month is the re-education of narrow-minded curriculums and ignorants. We act like only four black people were influential and helped the world in any way. Black Historical Figures are comprised of more than Rosa Parks, MLK, Malcom X and Nelson Mandela. There were more than those four. (GASP. SHOCK. HORROR. OH NO. EVERYTHING’S BEEN THROWN UP IN THE AIR NOW!)

The problem I have is that people seem entirely comfortable in their ignorance. Last year, I had to fight for the commemoration of this month in my school (another problem – students shouldn’t be fighting for the recognition of something which is so important) and what happened was I got a WEEK – that’s right, a measly WEEK – in MARCH of the following year – another issue, Black History Month is OCTOBER not MARCH – to do assemblies.

Me. A student. Do assemblies.

Myself. A pupil. Educate the people who are supposed to be the educated.

So I was like, “You know what, I’m not happy, but I’ll roll with it.” What I decided to do was, since I go to a girl’s school, choose black influential women whom barely anyone ever spoke about or knew of. I also took care to choose people whose lives hadn’t had ‘happy endings’ so to speak; because really, that’s a mentality that needs to be broken. Not every black slave was freed and lived out the rest of their free life in happiness and peace. (That’s next in this rant). So I compiled my list and I was all excited and went to speak with the woman who was in charge of all this. I sat her down, told her my plan and she was like, “Hmm. Okay. Who are you planning to talk about?”

So I told her the names. And I KID YOU NOT she said,

“Well, I don’t know who they are so… maybe choose other people?”

I ended up settling with four mostly known women; Tina Turner, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. Great people, though not as obscure as I had wanted them to be. I wanted to prove a point; that we are only ignorant of the things we WANT to be ignorant of. The woman had made a conscientious choice to dismiss the people I’d chose because ‘she didn’t know them’. That is the whole point. If we keep exploring people we know, then we will never get any further.

Fourth (I think it’s four, I haven’t really been counting) problem; the mentality surrounding this month. Once again, it’s ironic how people are so willing to be sombre and silent in respect of the fallen soldiers – they accept their deaths with sadness – people are so careful about making jokes about Nazis to Jews – they recognise that the Jews’ predicament was serious and sensitive – but the instant slavery is mentioned, it is either made into a joke or tried to be made light-hearted.

Slavery and Black History is not light-hearted. Yes, they were some stories of happiness and victory; but not many. Yes, there were cases where people did escape, and live happily, but not many. Because let’s face facts here. It was not a nice time period.

Women were raped. Children were raped and abducted. Men and women alike were tortured. Black people as a race were animalised. Stereotypes flourished which still circulate today. (Black people and chicken? A stereotype dating back to segregation in America. Black fathers walking out on their baby mommas and children? A stereotyped instituted by slavery and escalated by the subsequent mentalities of indoctrinated black males. Dark skin girls being ugly and light skin girls being pretty? Started in slavery and was cultivated by the consequent self-hatred of dark skinned girls. Do you need more examples or are these enough?)

I tried to communicate this all in my final assembly in March on the Friday. It was entitled “The Unknown” and focused on the bare facts of slavery and the harsh reality. I thought it was important to touch on the stereotype thing, but also was necessary to throw in the whole ‘Stop using the N-Word’ thing, because that’s so important. It was also important, I noted, to mention that saying ‘Black’ or ‘White’ is not racist. However, saying ‘Coloured’ is mostly offensive and it’s not a readily accepted phrase. (Unfortunately, the woman whom I organised the assemblies with seemed to think that it was an entirely acceptable phrase to use, going so far as to imply the opposite; that ‘Black’ could be seen as offensive and ‘coloured’ was more politically correct.)

The whole point of the Month in general isn’t to shock people. It’s to make them AWARE. It’s to educate them. Because if we’re not educated about these issues then where are we? Back at square one.

My last problem is in the education systems in relation to the commemoration of this month. The whole point of schools is to educate the minds of youth. If you are supposed to be making us ‘socially aware’ (I think the phrase is) and ’employable people’ of the future, then that constitutes more than just academia and examinations. It constitutes a self-awareness and a racial awareness, especially for those students who are from ethnic minorities. We’re not taught how our colour affects our standing in the world socially; we find that out the hard way when we hear on the phone that our aunt had several bottles of Coke thrown on her out of a car window while walking home, with men shouting horrible, derogatory phrases at her, because she was black. We find out when we turn on the news and hear about yet more Black people that have been killed by police or in police custody, because of their race. We find out when we apply for jobs and we are told by our mothers to use the last name in our hyphenated surname, because ‘Nzeogwu’ looks too black, but ‘Johnson’ sounds less ethnic.

These are the things we should not be surprised to discover. We should be learning about this in schools during this month. We should be discussing these things. They are only a taboo because we have allowed them to become that. We can un-make this reputation if we educate ourselves and our children, and pray that enough are educated about it in the future that what we are experiencing now will not be so bad for perpetual generations.

It makes me sad that so few schools commemorate this month effectively. It makes me sad that so little people know about the past of Black History and are so quick to make ignorant comments; and yet know nothing enough to understand that the nonsense they are speaking is offensive.

Nothing’s really going to change. That wasn’t the point of this post, by the way. It was a rant. I won’t ask for things to change because I know they won’t.

I can only hope.

Sweet dreams everyone,

Empress Rianna

Crown

Not A Problem

This is going to be a very long rant. Just be aware that as you read this and the post seems to go on forever it is all fuelled with emotions. So please prepare yourself. There may be some sensitive issues mentioned, just as a warning. It it going to get pretty personal.

Let’s start. So since I was unable to post during the past week, I had been drafting a post whining about the translation of books into movies (which hopefully, I will post later, if it doesn’t seem so feeble after this rant) but today, during a rather, shall we say, enlightening experience, I decided to perhaps leave that post for later and get everything I thought about today off of my chest.

But first, a bit of context.

At NCS with The Challenge, we are currently on our third week; Social Action. This is the week where we go out to a Social Community Partner (i.e. Charities or organisations in the area we are based in), suss out their problems and try to help solve their issues and/or make the community more aware of the work they are doing. We are required to come up with a campaign in our groups in order to achieve those goals, and today (the first day of Social Action) we went out to actually visit our Community Partner (Charity Partner? Social Community Partner? I’m sorry Rochelle, I really wasn’t listening) and try to get some inspiration for our campaign.

The place we visited was a Care Home for Dementia Patients. It was an 100% Dementia home, which meant that everyone in the home had Dementia, or some form of it, and of course some people were in a more developed stage than others. When we met the co-ordinator for the Home, he explained it to us as three stages of Dementia; the first being calm and helpful, slightly forgetful; the second being often anxious and excited, but with a short attention span; the third being a more developed, anxious, emotional character. He also explained to us how we had to be aware that many Dementia sufferers live in their own alternate reality. As volunteers and young people, we were supposed to talk to them in a way which did not confuse or upset them, but instead encourage them and keep them happy. If we were mistaken for someone’s daughter, son, grandchild or husband or wife even, we were to just remain appropriate all the time, but not say we weren’t that person, because it would upset them.

Despite our initial misgivings, especially seeing as a few of us had had unhappy encounters with Dementia sufferers in the past, we put it behind us when we went to the home and spoke to some of the residents with quite open-minds, trying to be positive about the whole situation.

I’m pretty sure I was very close to breaking down.

I spoke to a lovely lady, (OBVIOUSLY I cannot say her name) but she told me some fantastic stories about her growing up. She told me how she was an only child and her mum loved to garden, and made lots of jams with the berries they grew in their back garden. Her dad was deaf because he was badly mistreated as a POW (Prisoner of War) in the First World War, and her mum was partially deaf, so they all developed a sign language. She told me that she was evacuated twice during the Second World War; the first family wasn’t nice, but the second family was in South Wales. She went to school in a small village there, and they tried to teach them Welsh but (she told me fondly, laughing at the memory) it was not going anywhere for her. She told me about how she used to be a shorthand typist, how she stood in for secretaries, and during the War used to type up Secret Documents, which couldn’t be reread but had to be shredded when they were discarded. There was an airport near where she used to live, and the Spitfire planes used to take off from there, and she would watch them occasionally from her house. She told me that she used to sleep under the table in her kitchen, and that they didn’t have a proper sleep for years because of the air raids.

She told me all that.

And then she told it to me again. And again. And again.

I heard all of those stories at least 10 times each. Every time she finished a sentence, her face would light up, and then she would repeat to me another one in excitement. And each time she did that, my smile grew a little wider on the outside and my chest was crushed a little bit more on the inside. I had to nod enthusiastically, and ask her the same questions I asked before, as if I hadn’t heard the stories. I varied the questions, and asked different ones, and I kept getting the same stories, and I kept asking her questions I had asked her before. She punctuated her speech the same way, with the same hand movements, laughter in the same places, a cheeky smile here and there. She never asked my name, and to be honest, I was too scared to tell her, because I didn’t want to have to say over and over, “Hi, my name is Rianna.” Even though she had been talking to me for about an hour and a half.

And it wasn’t out of selfish reasons. It was purely because I absolutely hate the feeling of helplessness and lack of control that Dementia sufferers have to (or don’t have to, depending on how you look at it) deal with.

We spoke to the co-ordinator again, who told us that the biggest struggle they had at the home was the fact that the community was very separate and not involved with these elderly. He told us that what they really needed was support from the locals, and volunteers, people who were willing to give time. I would have loved to volunteer then and there but I was still kind of reeling from the whole thing. When we left, I was pretty quiet. If you know me, I’m not a particularly quiet person. But I genuinely was lost for words. Because it got me thinking. And hence this rant. (I’m literally just starting now, so don’t be alarmed!)

Often, we forget about people like these who make up our society. Because they aren’t in the spotlight, not authoritative figures of social importance necessarily or in front of us, then we don’t seem to notice them. We forget that these were the people who built the world we live in today. Many of the elderly especially were the ones involved in the World Wars. They were the ones who worked hard when they were younger, they were the ones who got involved in everything. Okay, so the world was different back then. It was more acceptable to be outwardly racist, homophobic and sexist; of course, there were big differences. But seriously, the only difference between then and now was the fact that society did not make them the people who were cast-outs.

We also forget that eventually (one day, if we don’t die soon) that we will be old. We will be relying on the same services that these people are relying on and we will be the ones who may be suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s (either one, God forbid). We have no way of predicting the future or what our health will be like, yet we take it for granted so much. It is expected for us to wake up, to be able to slip out of bed, to go and brush our teeth and use the toilet or whatever. It is a routine we don’t think much of.

What if it took more than an alarm clock to rouse us? If our legs had to physically be moved to get us out of bed, and it took two people to help us brush our teeth and clean ourselves after we used the toilet? How dehumanising must that feel for an entire generation of people who used to be active, young, healthy citizens?

How does it feel not actually realising that you are repeating yourself? That you’re trying to be friendly, ask questions, and all you seem to do is infuriate people and wind them up because (unbeknownst to you) you’ve asked that question eight times now? To be put in a home simply because your family is all dead and there is no-one to look after you? Or even worse; your family are all alive, but none of them can – or want to – look after you in your state? Or even worse; to not even remember any of your family? To look into the faces of people you have spent your entire lives with; yet to you it is as if you are gazing into the face of strangers?

It upset me how disconnected a few members of our group were, and treated the whole thing either as a social experiment, a boring visit or a chore, as if they thought they could better spend their hours elsewhere.

A quote which I very much appreciate and have been pondering on for a while since it was first mentioned last week at NCS, was one taken from a meeting of some of the world leaders discussing the biggest threat in the world. When we first discussed this, we all threw in some cliche answers; poverty, starvation and hunger, child labour, slavery, racism, terrorism etc.

But it looked like we were wrong. Because, although each of these large problems in their own way, the Dalai Lama expressed:

“The biggest threat is that we are raising a generation of passive bystanders.”

And that’s what we are really. Right now, we are all a generation of passive bystanders. That is how these issues are allowed to get worse and more problematic; because the ones who have the power, the means and the intellect to solve these problems, are the ones who are swept up in mass consumerism and materialistic mentalities. We, the ones who are being trained to be world leaders, we who have the world at our fingertips, the ability to make a change, are sitting by idly and watching as the world suffers with problems. We don’t seem to want to get involved in those problems until they start to affect us.

And by then it’s too late.

It’s too late to change the past, because we’re watching all these opportunities, all these chances to make a difference pass us by, and by the time that those problems that we buried in the back garden start to become a problem for us, badda-bing, badda-bang, we’re suddenly old and frail, and in the exact same position as those who we didn’t want to help.

What we don’t realise is that the world around us and society is sustainable. In Geography terms (that GCSE actually came in handy), it means that we are able to use it and its’ resources today without it affecting the use of those in the future. In more simple and relatable terms, it means that the world we are living in now has been set up for us by those before us. Therefore, we have the responsibility to keep it sustainable and set it up for the younger generations, so that when they reach our age, they will be able to do the same thing for the generation that follows them.

It’s a continual cycle.

But because, as a generation of passive bystanders (the phrase of which, I think, so perfectly encapsulates the essence of this generation), we have decided that this doesn’t affect us, and are more interested in the new Apple product being released than the falsely-accused, jailed and tortured being released, we don’t want to take action. Because it ‘doesn’t affect us.’

And to be fair, the fault lies with a combination of both nurture and nature. We are growing up in a society which is teaching us to take what we want, get money, get rich quick, spend all your money on commodities (mostly unaffordable; but that’s what we are being taught loans are for, right?) and KEEP. BUYING. MORE. Which is essentially the message which each one of us is digesting, being fed to us by the things we watch, listen to and (less often) read. However, it also has to do with the way we are brought up.

Children being brought up where nannies are the mothers and parents are only ever seen at weekends because of working schedules, are being taught that money is more important than anything else, even family.

Children who are sat in front of television screens and are given technology to play with before they can even speak or walk, are being taught that entertainment is everything, that excitement is key to life.

Kids and toddlers who play colouring-in games on tablets, on computers and mobile phones, rather than using pencil colours and books, are being taught that accessibility is more convenient than having to work for what you want.

It is the combined fault of the people who are raising these upcoming generations and the mentality and the mental confines which we are unwilling – or unaware of – to break out of. We need to recognise that if we are to move forward, to begin rebuilding the society which we so often complain about, then we need to be the ones to stand up and make a change; because we are the only ones who currently can.

Before I get too carried away, I’m going to drop in my key message here and roll with it.

#FirstWorldProblems are not Real Problems

I’m sorry, but that is not a statement which is up for discussion. Here are two beautiful videos which so effectively encapsulate that message.

The fact that we complain about breaking a nail when there are people having their nails ripped out as methods of torture; that we whine when our parents ask us to do chores to get pocket money, yet some children don’t get ASKED to do chores, they are TOLD to do them, and they don’t get paid or treated well; the fact that when we have no signal for our phones (I must admit, I am at fault for this one) we are dying, but some people are entirely content without mobile phones at all, is entirely upsetting, and actually very ungrateful and the wrong sort of mentality to have.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every other person in Developing countries wants to be like you and me, because I am fully aware that there are people entirely satisfied with the conditions and situations and circumstances they live in, despite having so much less than us. But since we are in a Western Culture where your worth is valued on how much and what you have, this is how we are being taught to think, and this is stopping us from being aware of people with real issues out there.

And we don’t have to look as far as countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. That was the whole point of my recount about today; there are people who need our help right here. This is not a campaign, this is not a marketing ploy, and I am not promoting any specific charity or organisation, nor am I telling you to go right now and donate in order to feel like you’ve made a difference. That’s another thing about us; we feel like money can solve any problem.

The Dementia home where I went today didn’t want money. Maybe they needed it, but there was a much deeper need for something else; company. Time, volunteers, people who wanted to help and help selflessly. It upsets me how many young people only want to volunteer because “it will look good on their CV” or it will “make them more employable.” Yes, these are definitely bonuses to the whole thing, but look at how many opportunities we have been afforded. Can we not give back to the community on a larger scale, knowing that whatever we do will effectively be done to us?

We set the example. We are the ones who are going to be the world leaders of the next generation, which is what scares me the most, as I mentioned in a post a while ago, but effectively, we are the ones expecting to be treated like royalty when we get to those situations and those ages… yet we are doing nothing for the ones who are there right now.

Where is the fairness?

I’ll give you a hint: THERE IS NONE.

I think it’s probably quite clear how impassioned I am about this whole thing, and as well as that, it is also quite clear how little as a generation we have done – and as a result, how much MORE we need to do to make up for this shortcoming. We cannot complain about the world we will potentially live in (God forbid) if we do not do anything now to change it.

Everyone can change it in their own little way. Donating to charities isn’t always the immediate answer, but it definitely is a sure-fire way of making sure that your money is going further than the Forever21 sales. (As long as they are reliable charities as well). Volunteering, social visits to homes like the one we went to today, just being friendly and making the people in these homes who so rarely get out, feel like young, carefree people again. Petitions, campaigns, doing research in your areas and local communities to find out what needs to be changed, what can be improved and how exactly you can work towards doing it, counts for something.

You don’t have to start a charity. You don’t have to do something immediately. I am hoping to become a Human Rights Lawyer, travel abroad and write about things I see and experience. Obviously, that will not all be done overnight. But in the meantime, there are smaller scale things we can do to change the world we are in.

I don’t think I’ve ever ranted so passionately about non-race related issues, but I’m glad I was able to.

Let’s just keep in mind here, as a generation, we are privileged; so we need to stop acting like we are deprived. That’s my rant for today, amassing a record 3,139 words.

Peace, love, hope, joy (and everything else) to all my readers,

Be aware, and remember, #FirstWorldProblems are not Real Problems. Love you all,

Queen Rianna

cropped-yto5pzlte

Would You Rather?

No, this is not one of those cheesy questions being used to discover people’s personal opinions on others. This is one to make you actually think for a while:

Would you rather live for a long time, have an established life and be financially stable and comfortable, but not experience ‘true love’ or be truly in love with anyone?

OR (big fat ‘or’ in the middle for you and I, Je Suis!)

Would you rather experience an intense, passionate love (‘true love’, call it whatever you like) but die after a year?

Hmmm… Well, interesting enough, everybody I asked said they would rather the second choice; for some reason, the appeal of having a very intense – but indeed short – love was stronger than the idea of having a long successful life. And what I’m trying to figure out is why? (Please do not assume I am some ‘anti-love’ person, success is great, but love is great too!)

When I think of the phrase ‘short, intense and passionate love’, the first thing that really springs to mind is Romeo and Juliet. (Thank you Shakespeare!) Not only is this possibly THE most famous love story ever written, but it is also possibly the most tragic love story ever written. (If we’re not counting the story of Helen of Troy…) Anyway, you all know the story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl’s families are sworn enemies. Boy and girl fall in love against all odds and marry in secret. Boy and girl try to run away together but the plot goes wrong and they end up dead.

You know, just your average love story.

What is most fasincating about this story (I’m reading it right now actually, I’m about halfway through it) is the intense emotions felt throughout the entire thing. No character, even minor ones, does anything without 100% emotion behind every action. But of course, since we’re looking at the idea of passionate love, we gotta look at the lovers.

Romeo… (how do I put this nicely) acts like an pubescent teenage boy who doesn’t know what he wants. From the beginning of the play, it’s not even Juliet he’s supposedly in love with; it’s a girl called Rosaline. And the reason he is so ‘lovesick’ as you will see in the beginning, is not because she doesn’t love him back, but is because his advances are being rejected since she is celibate. Basically, all he wanted was a decent lay. Nice, Romes. He moves on PDQ (that’s ‘pretty damn quick’ for you textlexics out there…) from Rosaline and straight on to Jules though.

Juliet seems to be quite a ditsy girl. Her head is always in the clouds and she seems to live in her own dream world, even when everything comes crashing down around her. One minute she doesn’t want to get married, the next she is whispering to the dark of night (where our gallant Romeo hides) that she loves this dude who she met at a masked party… and KISSED. Like sheesh, sorry, did nobody see them kissing on the dance floor?! She thinks it romantic to die in her lover’s arms, to kill herself to be with him ‘after death’ so to speak, and romanticises the whole concept of suicide. Not that Romeo exactly helped but…

And go for it. Tell me that Juliet sat on the grass with her head in Romeo’s lap, and just talked about utter nonsense. About the way she felt when she lost a shoe, or telling him a story which entertained her. I’m not saying that these things are definitive declarations or presentations of love, but what I am saying is that they hardly got to know each other. Especially since I think it was more of a ‘lust at first sight’ than anything else, all I can say is they rushed into everything together pretty quickly.

Don’t get me wrong. Shakespeare is a literary genius. If I could write like Shakespeare, WHEW. What I would do. But I feel like this play is a very extreme presentation of the intensity and passion of ‘love’; in fact, so much so that it ends in death. I don’t even think what Romeo and Juliet experienced for each other was love; I just think it was lust. And no, of course I don’t assume that I am a love expert, but I can deduce from basic experience and knowledge that MOST long-standing love doesn’t end in an unspoken suicide pact. Love is supposed to last a long time, right?

So what’s the obsession with having a lot for a little? A year is quite a short amount of time, if you think about it. A year to not only have to get to know somebody, but also have a very personal, intimate relationship with them; more than likely there are going to be things that you hide from each other, things that you will never know and just a general overview of lots of minor details – but things I still believe are as important as the big things too. I know obviously that the ‘would you rather’ had very few choices, but why do we want to have so much heat but only for a year?

And also, why do we feel like we HAVE to experience love to be happy, so to speak?

Yes, I know that we have to be loved. But notice, in the original first point, you would “have an established life and be financially stable and comfortable” and I never said that other people would never love you. I said that YOU would never experience it or personally be in love with anyone.

Maybe it’s the buzz of love, the rush of emotions that we like to feel. When that person smiles at you and your tummy feels all warm and fuzzy, or when they hug you and you kind of want to stay in that hug for the rest of your life. Is that an experience of love? Or is it just our minds fabricating the emotions, in ORDER for us to experience it? I do, 100% believe that love exists. I’m not a skeptic and I do not doubt it for a moment. I just wonder if true love exists for us in real life in the same way that it exists for us in our minds.

So – for me – no, Romeo and Juliet were not in love. I think they were in love with the idea of love. And yes, perhaps their relationship (can I even call it that?) could have developed into a more… stable sort of love, if they hadn’t committed suicide and stuck around a bit longer to actually get to know each other. (Nobody can tell me they actually think Romeo and Juliet spent time getting to know each other; he practically proposed to her after a day!)

At any rate, who am I to be talking about true love and whatnot? I’m only 15.

Oh yeah, that reminds me! Do you think that age defines the ability to experience ‘love’? Because I feel personally that love comes with maturity, and maturity is usually synonymous with age. But let me know what you think about this all as well!

Thanks Shakespeare. Even now, your literature forms the basis for educational content, discussions and – occasional – blog posts.

ANON (Shakespearean term, meaning: In a short time)

Queen Rianna

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Anti-Jokes

Do you ever feel like your life is a really terrible joke? And you keep waiting for the punch line; but the only thing that is getting punched is you? By life? In the face?

If you agreed with all of the above, I can’t say I sympathise, sorry. I think that my life is great and absolutely perfect.

If you thought that the previous statement was serious, you obviously have no concept of sarcasm. Because, let’s be real here. Even if I was a Disney Princess, my life would not be great and absolutely perfect. Yes I would have a supermodel’s physique and an immense – and pretty infinite – wardrobe, but I would be saddled with an annoying Prince (I really don’t like many of the features romantic interests in the Disney movies except John Smith, Aladdin and General Shang… and even they wind me up sometimes) and would never get to do much else but live out my life within the walls of a palace.

Sorry. Enough about Disney. This is not the time for me to rant about that.

In Study Skills yesterday, we were discussing the very interesting idea that ADHD and other attention disorders have increased as – interestingly – the technological world and other commercial industries develop. Whilst none of us discredited ADHD or any other disorders as ‘fabricated’ or ‘non-existent’ we recognised that these two factors seem to be linked with each other.

Now before I go on, if anybody has any of these disorders, don’t get me wrong: I am NOT saying they don’t exist. I am not saying they are made up. What I am saying is that the growth between the diagnosis of these and the developing commercial world seem to be conveniently proportionate; as one grows, so does the other.

There are so many things at our fingertips. This is the 21st century, and whilst we do not all drive down the road in hover cars like previous generations predicted, there are technological developments which far exceed the average human mind or understanding. Not just that, but TELEVISION! Need I say much more? Television, tablets, mobile phones, smartphones, everything we have at, practically, the touch of a button, and yet people wonder why children’s minds wander and get bored when they are sat in a classroom for up to an hour at a time, looking at an interactive whiteboard. (The name is quite misleading because the only person INTERACTING with that whiteboard is the teacher…)

I’m not going to just talk about people with attention disorders, but I’m just going to generalise and say the whole of ‘this generation’. I can’t really speak much for myself, because as much as I’m surrounded by all this stuff, I’d much prefer a decent novel to a deadbeat soap opera any day, and my phone can hardly be classified as ‘state of the art’. But for most people my age, we are consumed by consumption; our only aim or focus in life is to obtain more and get as much of it as we possibly can. Ask most average teenage guys what their goals are in life, and they will probably all regurgitate some variation of “Disregard females, acquire currency”. We are so focused on possessions and our obsessions are becoming dangerous, even to the point of elitism in some situations. Why should people be made to feel bad if they don’t have a personal laptop, but share a family computer? Why is it ‘social suicide’ to have a Nokia instead of an iPhone 6? (Because, of course, the iPhone 5 is SO last week…) All of this is spoon fed to us by the global producers in society, and the generation of us who rely upon the words spewed from the mouths of these master manipulators simply gobble these ideologies up without a second thought.

And it’s killing us.

Yes, sometimes we might joke about the girl who doesn’t know what a democracy is, or the person who thinks that UKIP is a supermarket. Even the people who think that the reference to ‘Ferguson’ is a reference to an episode of a TV programme. (And yes, I kid you not, these are all real comments made by real people…) But in reality, it’s terrifying. Because if we find politics (and I quote) ‘boring’ and ‘irrelevant’ then God have mercy when we reach the age to legally vote and not know who to vote for in order to help secure our economy and our futures. (And no, we cannot just vote for whoever our parents vote for!) What happens when the only thing which we find interesting is the TV screen, and we seem to be running out of the bright young minds to become educated doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers and MP’s? What do we do when paper pages no longer catch our interest – when instead only intensely bright, glaring screens will allow our slowly dying minds to ingest watered-down words and phrases?

It is a sobering thought and a sickening joke. There is no punch line to this one. We really have to wake up and smell the sweat and toil of all those people before us who have fought, and in some cases died, for so many rights and privileges, so many which we abuse everyday. Technology may be the answer to a lot of things…

But it’s not the answer to everything.

And of course, technology has it’s benefits. It’s revolutionising the medical field and helps out with engineering and mechanics. I completely agree with the use of technology in these instances; because these uses are entirely selfless. These are helping to develop our society, our community and our nations as a whole, so who could really find fault with them in these circumstances?

But it’s down to us. We can complain all we like about ‘poor education’ and ‘stupid system reforms’ but if we don’t take every opportunity, every chance we get to actually make a change, then what is the use? Of course, it’s not entirely our fault. (Thanks, Michael Gove, you’re really the best!) I’m not saying we should take the blame, but we can’t boycott the system. That’s a bit silly really, and – if we’re being honest – I don’t think most of us actually understand the implications some of these changes have entailed. It’s just like they say, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Yes, I know it’s not that easy. I know that education and opportunities are based upon the sizes of mummy and daddy’s bank account (if you even HAVE both parents) and your postcode, and that sometimes your forename and/or surname can be a deciding factor in admission to a Russel Group University, and your home address the signature on your own death warrant.

The problem with us is that we want to get rich quick. We want to do as little as possible to generate the greatest income, and truth is, that’s not how life works. I know that there are those exceptional cases where people are able to make a living from nothing, when people have built up entire empires from empty cardboard boxes on the streets; but not all of us will become those miracle stories. Yes, some of us may, but statistically, not EVERY single lazy teenager is going to get lucky and make a couple million pounds by accident. We have to work for it. But we don’t really want to work for anything anymore. Not when practically everything is done for us.

We are supposed to be the generation of the future. We are supposed to be the ones who make a difference, but how can we when we are all but brain-dead, and being drowned by the media? When our life source is our phones and how you would think you have killed someone when you take their technology away?

Yes, I am guilty of this. I never said I was entirely exempt. But we really need to be realistic. And at the end of the day, who is going to be getting an education, or even going off to University and getting degrees?

Our smartphones? Or us?

I think I’ve said enough.

Queen Rianna

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Overwhelming Emotions

I have just had a very troubling experience.

So, since today is Mothering Sunday (Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there!) I went to the shop with my dad to buy some flowers. Now, he went off to get oranges or whatever, so I was left by myself in front of a wide range of flowers to choose.

It was one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me.

In front of me lay the largest possible range of roses, lilies, chrysanthemums and others which I couldn’t even pronounce in my head. The colours just exploded in my vision and in my mind and it was only a matter of time before they begin to mix and contort before me until all I could see were blurs of pinks and whites and yellows. I had lost the will to speak. I lost command of my mind and – I’m pretty sure – I swear I was ready to collapse right there in the middle of the aisle. It was only when my dad came back over and asked me, “Have you chosen one yet?” I grabbed the nearest bouquet to hand and forced my face into a semi-comforting smile. At which point I concluded only one thing:

Decisions are terrifying.

Now, I’m not talking about GCSE and A-Level options – and yes, they are scary – but I’m talking about more seemingly trivial things, which are statistically less important but practically more thought-consuming. You don’t want to waste £26.99 on the wrong skirt or buy a pair of shoes which you will never wear, even with the really cute outfit which you planned in your head. Don’t get me wrong, GCSE’s are pretty important, being the basis of all educations and careers etc. but GCSE’s can sometimes be changed or altered.

And I promise you, there is nothing more self-reflecting or spiritual than having to choose out of a large selection.

In one of my favourite book series, ‘Thursday Next’ by Jasper Fforde (definitely a worthwhile read!), there is a part when Hamlet (yes, the Hamlet from Shakespeare… don’t ask!) comes to stay with her for a while. They go into a coffee shop and when she orders for herself, she asks him what he wants. It it as this point where he subsequently starts panicking, because, as he later informs the protagonist, Thursday, in the book world, they never have to make decisions. Every decision, the writer makes for you, and even if you don’t like that decision, you’re stuck with it.

I kind of felt like Hamlet today in the shop with the flowers. Sometimes, it’s not the fact that you have to make a decision, but the fact that there is such a wide range to make a choice from, and this in itself is so intimidating. Let’s look at it from a probability point of view:

SCENARIO 1: There are two bouquets of flowers on display. This means I have a one in two (which is a 50/50) chance of choosing the best bunch, which surely would not be difficult. Therefore, I am very likely to buy the most attractive bouquet.

SCENARIO 2: There are five bouquets of flowers on display. I subsequently now have a one in five (which is a 20/80, I think…) chance of choosing the best bunch, which suddenly puts a lot more pressure on me. Therefore, I am slightly less likely to buy the most attractive bouquet.

SCENARIO 3: There are thirty bouquets of flowers on display. Need I say much more?

At any rate, what I experienced today was more closely related to Scenario 3 than any of the others… And it was hardly an experience which I will be rushing back to at any point.

As much as I like to be independent and make my own choices, the overwhelming sense of responsibility and pressure which settles upon me when I have to choose something is scary. I’m not saying I can’t make decisions, because I totally can. But for me, the hardest decisions seem to be the smallest ones. If my parents say to me, “We’re going out to eat tonight, where would you like to go?” my brain will suddenly forget all the restaurants which I’ve been hyping about for the past month and – usually – the only thing which will come out is, “Nando’s.” Whereas, if they say to me, “How do you feel about us moving to a different country?” my response will be very calm, rational and monitored: “I wouldn’t mind it so much, but it depends on x, y and z.”

Why? That’s my question. Why can I make important decisions but get overwhelmed by the slightest ones which won’t actually affect my life in a drastic way?

I’m not sure. But if anyone can tell me, then I would more than gladly welcome their explanation; no matter how bonkers.

Still slightly shocked from the experience, but I’m sure I’ll get over it… by tomorrow.

Queen Rianna

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