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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beyond the Limits of Easter

I must admit that I'm not a practicing Catholic for some years now but that doesn't make me an atheist or agnostic in any way. While I believe that there is nothing intrinsically wrong in doubting the existence of God, or as in atheism, going as far as denying God, I need a spiritual basis for my life or a meaning beyond material. Over the years, I come to appreciate the teachings given to humanity from various world religions coupled by philosophy and science.

If I could describe what my spiritual search has been about I would say that it was a search for meaning concerning the purpose of our lives and a concern of why we have to die. I had more personal preoccupations especially those concerning my impairment. It was painful to be told, as a boy, that I have somehow sinned to be lane, or be made to bear the responsibility of sainthood or the like. In the end of it all, I felt to be someone but never fully hunan. I clung to a positive image of myself but it was often a reaction to what others thought about who I was. Science, my other refuge, opened up a new world. Sadly, it was far from objective as it claimed. I was a defective human being who would never live the mythical 'normal' life but could only do that through medical intervention of the aggressive kind. In a sense, it was not that different than the pressure to pray more and be dipped into the water of Lourdes to get a miracle! Indeed, I felt betray by most things I read and had to undergo. I was simply a

But then did I had to believe the idea I was faulty? Did I have to accept to be virtual outcast from the society I lived? Did I have to remain apart from the world, but never part of it?

After all, 'belief' is such a personal thing. Especially when it concerns the core of your spirit. Indeed, I never chose to be a Catholic or a Maltese citizen for that matter. Even if I did benefit from both opportunities. However, I have decided that I need to find my own purpose and strive for a higher value unbound by geography, culture, ideology, religious, sex, impairment, race, etc. A space where I'm free to be and where I can ask and doubt without fear. A place that is not imposed upon me, predefined and predestined in some way. This location doesn't exist in the real world but it's where we may find our common link as human beings.

I might sound rather mystical in this post and I do. All the aspects of who we are I mention below remain important as they make us who we are and make our world an exciting planet. However, if we think that our belief is superior enough to come before human life and dignity, then it's not worth it.

This place I write about is within us. It cannot be enforce by law, sanctions and war (although these are require at times). Starting from myself, the discovery of this common connection must start from a \realization that the person next to me shares the sane want for happiness, a shared need for love and compassion and freedom from pain and needless suffering. I will leave you with a quote from the Dalai Lana, who remains an important influence on my life. it should leave you with plenty of food for thought to last a lifetime:

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion;
If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (1935- )

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beware the Foreigner...

I am very concerned by developments taking place in Europe. While we are encouraged to celebrate diversity in all its forms and promote the ideals of solidarity and mutual respect, 'political' groups that promote hate and suspicion against particular groups are growing in popular support across the European Union. Most of these groups are, of course, far-right parties which present themselves as protectors of national values, identity and culture. At face value, these are not unworthy goals in themselves but then again, a belief that your 'national identity, values and culture' are the only ones that are valid, or they are in any way 'superior' to other identities, values or cultures, ignores that all the world is, if not by anything else, by our humanity. Even if if we are more sincere, there is so much more that we share in common that we might wish to admit. 

I cannot deny that the fact that being disabled has made me aware of the many misconceptions people had of me and which, I'm sometimes painfully reminded today. Thus, I tend to reject statements made about particular groups that portray them as a uniform group that are a threat to social stability, order and things ranging from jobs to traditions. 

Locally, the implicit message is that African refugees risk 'invading our country, Muslim people will 'take over our values'. gay people are 'corrupting our morality', etc. And what about disabled people? We are better off than ten years ago but there is still sub;e prejudice that would make some people have locked up in an institution or, as some have suggested , kill us off before we are born. An increasingly accepted practice in many parts of the world, based on the idea that this is 'for our own good' - of course! But this is a topic that deserves a post in its own right…

Here, I only wish to illustrate that there is a certain inconsistency, if not hypocrisy, between what some of us claim to believe in and how we actually act when we are faced with reality. For most of us, it is easy to pledge support to diversity but when we are asked to practice solidarity, it's a sad reality that we bring up excuses like 'national interest' to justify turning human lives into chess pieces or to merely as ends in our political agendas.

That is perhaps why I don't describe myself as a patriot. For from my reading of history, I learned that any patriotism or nationalism has the risk of putting the country and allegedly its values, has contradicted its very own values and resulting in great loss of life and suffering to groups of people that are construed to be a threat or an evil to the 'good society'. And when economic recession, unemployment, increase in crime and a general decrease of life quality occur, it is far easier to put the blame on a scapegoat group and talk about the myth of national purity. Ignoring the great contribution that the diverse groups and individuals in society have given us and others who may still give us. It has happened under Hitler, Stalin; it has happened in Kosovo, Rwanda and Armenia. There is no guarantee that it will not happen today again in Europe. However, this is up to how much we persist in believing that what we believe in is the only way of being human.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

No More the Fool

I've got a confession to make. I'm not as smart as I thought. Over these years, I still hoped that my physical and sensory impairments don't matter that much and that, one day, I will be treated as a full person. That I'll be free from prejudice that creeps up when I was sure people "got it".

Yet, and I don't want to name anyone, to far and close people, the misconceived ideas about who I am and what I should aspire to are thwarted and even insulting. And even if you think that getting an education, work or study, you are still robbed of dignity when you get in touch with people. And it's sad but true that it's not just strangers I'm talking about.

Then, I become disable in its true sense. My aims in life should be to walk again. I work to get out of the house. I have all the rights and responsibilities of an adult, and yet, I an sometimes treated like a child. Y writing is another form of therapy. My resistance to stereotypes is just denial. The story of my life interpreted as a medical drama or a charity case.

Here's the paradox. I want to do the things I'm doing. I know I can never conform. At the same time, I cannot shut out reality. And in either case, I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. Even if I get the awkward questions, the presumption that you strive to be "normal", and are forced to ignore the names you are given and you never chose. Even if you suddenly realise your real ambitious if futile. Even so, it's worth striving for.

Unfortunate as it may be, prejudice and discrimination will remain. In spite of all the efforts made by other groups, such as the women's movement and the black civil rights movement, women and black people are still discriminated. Despite the war against far right extremism during WWII, far right extremism is once again gaining momentum.

Where does this leave me? I guess that my choice would be to move on. In order to move on, however, it's important to take what people tell you with a pinch of low sodium salt. And that applies for both the flattery and implicit insults.