Stop It – violence against women

I am a person who talks about this kind of subjects a lot – ask my friends, they’ll tell you about it. There is nothing I find more important than human rights, so since I haven’t yet talked about it in this blog I thought this was the right chance to start with the first of many related articles to come.

This is the 26th of November, which means that yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. To be honest, I don’t believe in “international days”. I believe that the day for the elimination of violence against anyone should be every day. We mustn’t forget about what’s happening when this day passes. Although, it is a very good chance to inform people that might not be aware of the problem and to make women all around the world see that they are not alone.

Violence is not only a problem that concerns women. It is a problem that has been unsolved for as long as humankind exists and the sad fact is that, although we have made so much progress as a species, we haven’t yet given the appropriate attention to resolve matters such as this one. I strongly believe that it is completely in our power to stop it. Violence against anyone is an equally serious and important matter.

Women have always been victims of violence. For centuries, they didn’t even have the right to express opinions or make any important choice concerning their life. They were entirely dependant on their fathers and later on their husbands, who were allowed to treat them however they desired to, taking for a fact that they were somehow superior.

To this day, this kind of behavior has not gone away. Still, little girls are forced to marry or become victims of trafficking. But the problem, of course, does not stop there. Women all around the world are victims of violence in every form behind closed doors in their “safe” home environment or work.

Why is this still happening? Although we are all aware of the problem and we all agree that sexual, physical or verbal violence is wrong, we tend to forget to specify exactly what this involves. One in Four women admits to being a victim of violence by their intimate partner. What about the ones who remain silent, either because they are afraid or just because they are unable to identify as a victim? A lot the victims do not know if their situation is a violent one because they are constantly told they are overreacting until they start to believe they are crazy. They live in fear and disappointment.

We think casually joking about matters like this is harmless but in fact, it is exactly the opposite. It makes the situation seem casual and it allows people to subconsciously consider it a given, a fact that will not change. Consequently, this makes the abuser feel his action is acceptable and the victim feel like they should tolerate the violence.

Every person should have a right to live freely without fear. This comes down to me and you. We are all equally responsible to stop this from happening. If you witness a violent situation, do not turn away, encourage the victim to speak out and stand by their side. If you are the victim, please do not feel like you are alone. I know you deserve better. Do not be afraid to ask for advice from a professional. Anyone could be in your shoes. There is nothing to be ashamed about.

For those of you, like myself, who feel that you need to do something, don’t hold back. Inform everyone you know on the matter and its importance, start conversations. If we are all aware of the problem, we will be able to spot it and eventually… stop it

 

have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

  • Violence against other groups is an equally important subject. We will be discussing it soon.

 

Accepting Diversity

Th truth is, we are not that different. We are mostly the same. We share basic needs, curiosity for the world, the desire to belong, fear of the unknown and so much more. Why do we focus so much on diversity, though?

According to Freud, we like to look at our differences because it helps us define ourselves individually. We cannot have a fully objective picture of ourselves, it is much easier if we look at us in comparison to others. The problems begin when societies start labeling things “right” or “wrong”.

Every human characteristic or each choice has some reason behind it. Unfortunately, even in our time, a lot of people refuse to see that.  We rush to conclusions and prefer to label something as “intolerable” instead of trying to understand it, accept it and make it part of the world as we know it – as long as it is not harmful to anyone, of course.- We grow up in a world, where hate is normal and marginalization is accepted. We have come such a long way. We are now able to walk on the moon, why can’t we accept the people around us? Why can’t we focus on the similarities and make the differences a way to connect even more? It took humanity such a long time to accept homosexuality or to understand that we are equal regardless of our colour or our ethnicity. Is that so hard to see?

the worlds.

When we take a look in history, we will see that demonizing certain behaviors, actions or lifestyles was what kept people docile. The ones with authority made sure to keep everything happening their own way by filling the minds of people with hate. So, when someone took a step away from the norm, most people would either get him to return to the “acceptable” behavior or reject them completely.

Looking at the world today, we will inevitably notice that this state of mind has not gone away completely  as someone would expect. We tend to find it easier to hate than try to understand. It is up to each one of us to end this.

The world is beautiful because of those small differences that make each of us special. It is finally time to stop being afraid of what doesn’t look like everything we are used to seeing and embrace individuality. Color, gender, ethnicity, physical appearance or sexuality say nothing about the true self of a person. They are only small details that make up only a part of who they are. If we let ourselves see the good in people, no matter what, maybe we’ll be one step closer to that ideal society – which we’ll probably never reach… but that’s a topic for another Sunday afternoon.

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Scientific or Social?

For more than 2.500 years we’ve been evolving. We’ve been progressing in way’s no one could have thought of. We can access any information from any point of the world, we can get from Africa to America within hours, we can see our friend who lives miles away and talk to them every day, we can go to the moon! We are even preparing to explore other planets and eventually, some day.. the universe! It’s all so fascinating! Incredible, really… is it enough though? Have we forgotten about something even more important?

We’ve been progressing for more than 2.500 years… and it took more than twenty centuries to give women the right to vote, it took as much to start treating people of color as equals, it took even more to legalize homosexuality. Humanity had the technology to build airplanes, telephones and cars but the same people couldn’t realize what they were doing during the second world war.

Have we focused too much on scientific and technological progress? Have we forgotten to invest in more basic human needs? I meet people every day. They’re young people, students wanting to be scientists, teachers passing on their ideas, parents forming the future generations and… they are racist, misogynist and homophobic while they can use an i phone and handle the trickiest programs of a computer just fine. The problem is not in their minds. They have focused too much in one thing and forgotten about the other. They’ve left their humanity at home while working at the computer all day as they were an extend of it. As they were a machine. We execute commands one after the other just like a computer program. We don’t think. We act.

The education systems all around the world do not focus equally on science and the development of critical thinking. A kid who is doing great in math-class will be awarded. On the other hand, a kid with an extraordinary sense of justice or with a talent in abstract thinking won’t even be noticed. Science is what makes our lives better in so many ways but how could focusing only in one aspect be right? Human rights are just as important – or, I dare say, even more important – and by giving them priority, we will finally figure out how to use all those extremely precious scientific discoveries the right way.

We have to look at science critically and responsibly decide how to use every good that it gives us. Anything scientific, from medicine to technology is meant to serve humans. Humans are not made to serve it and it is only supposed to be used for good causes. Each person, whether you’re a lab scientist or just an i-phone user, has a responsibility. We are all part of this world and responsible for its future.

Maybe it’s time to start wondering why we do what we do and leave the how to do it aside just for a while. We’ve spent too much time focusing on technological progress -which is undoubtedly important and has made our lives a lot easier in many ways – but we’ve completely forgotten about working on our minds and our children’s minds in order to use the tools they have in the best way possible.

have a magical day,

 

 

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

We do not suffer by accident

Jane Austen claimed through Elizabeth’s voice in Pride and Prejudice that our suffering is our responsibility and in a way our choice. She didn’t blame anything in fate that made her a woman who had to always depend on others and was considered extra trouble for the family if she didn’t marry. Well, she didn’t marry. She rejected a few good offers because she wanted to marry for love, a chance which she never got. Still, it was ok because she remained faithful to her beliefs.

As a teenage girl I was a huge Austen fun, I loved her writing style, the characters, the era and of course I worshiped Jane for being such a believer and for daring to be herself in a time when it was unacceptable for a woman to write or to refuse marriage more than once. In my eyes she was a rebel and I wanted to become just like her. Of course, I still admire her and her books always have a special place in my heart, her words still trouble me sometimes. Sometimes like tonight.

Are we really the only source of unhappiness for ourselves? Do we somehow create all those so unwanted problems and worries  that make every day difficult and won’t let us sleep well?Undeniably, each choice we make has a straight impact on our emotions and the little details of our routine, but are those really all that matters or is it our mindsets? Is it just a matter of appreciation or is it something deeper? A well-made relationship with one’s self. Knowing who you are, your fears and your limitations and playing by your rules while walking steady on your feet.

It has been proven that the signals we give to the world are similar to the ones we receive back. For example, if you walk down the street and you smile to a random stranger (not in a creepy way!), you are more likely to get a smile back. This is so effective that it has been adapted as a method of Major depressive disorder treatment. It has been observed that people tend to mirror their interlocutor’s mood. For example if you see a person being sad, you will probably not go up to him and start shouting joyously about everything great that’s happened to you. That shows that we can – in a certain extend – control the vibes we collect from our environment. Send positive energy and you will get it back from others. Your mood will be uplifted in no time.

trafic

But… did Jane Austen mean just that when she said that “we do not suffer by accident”? Maybe she was referring in something greater, something more general: the civilization that we made. We live in a world where being different is non acceptable.The society puts us in pathways and so it can control us in a certain extend (which is in fact way bigger than we think!) but that is reasonable since we are part of a group and we live all together. Still, this model does not allow our inner selves to be expressed in any other way than the ones it has already allowed us to go. You can only use the tools that are available in order to build your life and find you individuality, which is anyway oppressed. We have to try and live by society’s standards whether we agree with them or not. That is a cause of stress for million of people because not everyone fits in. Nobody can prove that what we’ve learnt to call “normal” is right. There’s not even anything that is right, really. There is only personal truth and rules we’ve created so we can get along. But as useful as the rules are (which they are!), as time passes by, they don’t always apply and they take such long time to change.

So? What happens to those who are already a step ahead – just like Austen was -? They suffer. They only do because society cannot change within months or even years. It might take centuries… life times of people trying to say something that won’t be heard. I always thought that if all people could have critical thought, open minds and access to information, the world would really… evolve!

Don’t forget to: 

  • read some Jane Austen
  • and do some thinking! 

have a magical day,

 

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Once upon… a time of identity crisis

Look down at yourself right now. What do you see? Your clothes represent something. It’s a message you wish to give to the world. It might be “look at me”, it might be “I’m such an intellectual” or it even might be “I don’t care about fashion” but you chose what you wear based on how you want to be perceived by others  whether it happened contentiously or not. Of course, it is not only a matter of appearances. Clothes and hair might say something but it’s also body language or even the use of verbal language that defines that first impression we’ll make on someone.

Although it is perfectly natural, in some periods of our lives we can get a little mixed up, confusing  the image we want to create with the people we really are, hopping that if everyone sees us in a certain way, we will eventually be that person. We never leave our homes without putting on a mask, so… does this mask become a part of us?

There is nothing wrong with wearing a mask. It is not something someone can  easily avoid. But the question I want to ask is, does that mask start to become some kind of oppression in our routine? We feel exposed and embarrassed if we take off that mask for five minutes or if we let it break a little on the edges. The question always stands: How do others see me?

lost identity.jpg

Jacques Lacan, an important French psychoanalyst of the 20th century, talked about the Mirror Stage in the life of each person. Briefly, the Mirror Stage comes when a baby first recognizes themselves in the mirror. In our minds, our-self is  is a mess of thoughts, emotions, instincts and experiences, that leads us to a strong shock when we realize that the way we look does not include any of that. We look so put together when we really are a mess.

The fact that either way we are not seen as we are, leads to a desire within us for creating the identity we would like to have. The mistakes happen when that identity is not based on your true self. For example, if you were a person who hates math but you chose a science career because of the prestige of it, you would end up living a miserable life and being bored of your job. Sometimes we make a serious mistake: we settle for what we imagine as the perfect identity, forgetting to ask who we really are. As a result, we never know what truly makes us happy and we end up chasing the happiness of that identity instead of our own.

Embrace that mess inside your head. That’s the real you. Don’t let it cause you fear just because it is not as pacific as what you see in the mirror. Get in touch with your inner self and build your outer identity based on your chore likes, dislikes, needs and characteristics. That way you will truly shine because everything about you will be sincere. People might be afraid of honesty a lot of the time but it always stands out and there’s no one who doesn’t love person who is true.

have a magical evening,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes

As Bertolt Brecht said in Galileo it’s not the place  that lacks heroes the one that is unhappy, but the one that needs them. Living in 2017, a time of a worldwide ethical (mostly!) crisis ,where do you look for guidance? I never believed in right and wrong  as fixed forms that apply in every situation. I am not looking for what’s right, I am looking for what’s better though.

picaso.jpg

We are so lost in the endless circle of our routine, longing for Sunday… Scrawling down a Facebook page as a break from worrying, isolating ourselves in big rooms full of people who can’t hear each other because of the loud music. Is this the life you used to dream  of?

We tend to wait for someone to break us out of this. We constantly hope for the arrival of another parent who will clean up the mess that we made of ourselves and make it ok. But in a world that is falling  apart around us – and where people have to turn their feelings and compassion off in order to succeed or even survive! – who is that hero to take responsibility and make a change?

Step by step we can each build the foundation for a humanity that doubts more and for people who are not afraid to become the heroes they’ve been asking for. Allow yourself to be free and not always go along because everyone does. Be different.

have a magical day and doubt more!

 

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

*in the picture, there is part of a painting by Pablo Picasso. It was taken in Paris.