How Do You Define Yourself ? #Compassion #Peace #Humanity

I’ve been thinking a lot about identities lately.

Each identity tells its own story.

For those who watch/ listen to/ read the news each of the following words, garbled up, might mean something:

Shooters Far right Right wing Anti-gun activists Bleeding hearts Liberal Democrat Republican Muslim Shia Sunni Hindu Catholic Buddhist Christian Protestant Syrians Jews Migrants Left wing Believers Atheists Bhakts Sickular Mullahs Minorities Blacks Niggers Whites Mexicans Politicians Actors Musicians Artists Authors Prostitutes Doctors Astronauts Communists Capitalists Transexuals Mainstream Gays Lesbian Diversity Chinese Indian American Malaysian Russian Japanese Malay Refugees Migrants Locals Foreigners Indigenous Tribals Urban dwellers Europeans Arabs Racists Jews Supremacists Fundamentalists Terrorists Experts Farmers Drivers Dreamers Children

Such an abundance of terms. I could go on, so could we all.

Such a variety of  ways to describe this species, that science recognizes with the one term: Homo Sapiens.

Such insignificance in the history of this planet. If the entire history of the planet is mapped to twenty four hours in time, humans occupy less than the last two minutes.

How Do You Define Yourself? Damyanti Writes

How Do You Define Yourself?

Such utter insignificance in this universe, less than a microscopic dot in a minuscule corner of one of the billions of galaxies.

And yet.

And yet we’re at each others’ throats, we murder, we rape, we shoot, we kill, we wipe out entire generations of humans, animals, plants. We can’t give life back, but we don’t hesitate for a minute before we take it. We live as if we’ll never die, as if this planet can bear our depredations.

I say We, because I believe that all of us, including me, are culpable. In living our lives without an awareness of what we’re part of, of our place in the scheme of things, we’re culpable.

Some of us believe that the destruction and mayhem afoot on this planet is pretty ho-hum, it happened in each age, we survived dark ages and holocaust in every generation, and like indestructible cockroaches, we shall survive this one.

But in all the other ages, the world was spread out– civilizations rose and fell mostly in isolation, affecting each other in historical ripples. Can’t deny that it is different this time. Globalize and Glocalize are words now. Human population is set to exceed sustainable levels soon.

In all of it, I see one hope: the fact that humans as a species are capable of as much beauty as we can create ugliness, as much compassion as cruelty, as many dreams as nightmares.

Do you see hope for Humanity? For our planet? What name do you give yourself– of your country, your tribe, your religion, your profession, your relationships? What do you teach your children about who they are: who they should love and who or what they should hate? How do you define good and bad to them?

And perhaps, most importantly…

How do you define Yourself?

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Do you remember the last time you sat down and listened to someone? #compassion

Listening to someone in trouble

Listening with complete presence, and no judgment

Over the weekend, I’ve been chatting with friends online and off, and have come to realize how much that means: listening.

Listening is an act of love, I think. It is through recounting and listening that we become friends and bond as families.

When you listen to someone, without judging, without offering advice unless asked for it, and with your entire body, it can often heal not just the person you’re listening to, but also you.

Listening can be a true act of compassion.

Do you remember the last time you sat down and listened to someone? Do you remember a time when you felt heard, or acknowledged? Do you remember a time when someone you’ve only met online has provided that listening ear?

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Do You Compare Yourself to Others?


Swimming free of the hourglass

Who is the Bigger Fish?

I’ve been comparing myself to others, recently.

How I’ve been sitting at home writing stories, which earn less money per hour than I pay my help.

How my stories take so long to take shape, and how others seem to produce so many, so fast.

How untalented I am, compared to the hordes who are doing something tangible with their lives instead of living in their heads.

So this post from Mary J Melange comes at the right time for me, when I’m hitting a new low in terms of self-doubt as a writer.

Oh, I’m continuing to write, edit, and the words still keep coming, BUT.

So this excerpt fromm the post got me:

I have been slow to realize that making these types of comparisons only damages self-worth, it does not lift one up. Unhealthy comparisons can exacerbate one of two negatives: 1) They can deeply hurt our self-worth and self-esteem, or 2) they can drive us to do anything to get what we want; we’re willing to step over people and take prisoners at any cost.

I’m going to stop comparing myself to others– stop being so vulnerable to self-doubt.

I would recommend this post to everyone– it is long, but it is worth every minute you would spend on it. Promise.

Do you compare yourself to others? Do posts on social media from your friends lead you to think that they have it easier than you? Do you find yourself growing depressed and negative about your own abilities in comparison?

Originally posted on Mary J Melange:

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
~Marcus Aurelius~

On a recent Sunday, my church’s pastor hit a personal nerve with his sermon. It had to do with the three largest words in the title of this post and how comparison and escapism-turned-to-avoidance can be very dangerous for our Christian faith. I would say these actions are dangerous for anyone, regardless of a person’s religious or spiritual inclinations and beliefs.

I bet you can say that you have practiced at least one of these verbs during your lifetime.

Confession: I’ve acted upon all at different points in my life, in very small amounts and in extremely huge pieces.

With comparison, the presence of media and peer or family pressure can inflict a sense of “I’m…

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Do you hate E. L. James ? #fiftyshades

Fifty shades of Grey Merchandise!

Fifty shades of Grey Merchandise!

James is worth nearly 60 million pounds. She’s sold more than 125 million copies of her book worldwide, one of them to me.

I didn’t have the stomach to finish it, because the language quickly got in the way of the images in my head, which, I have to admit, were none too pleasant in the first place. I’m nobody’s prude, but I like my erotica well-written.

Erika Leonard James got taken out on Twitter recently, according to this article on Guardian:

But alongside the serious queries came a deluge of questions that made fun of James’s much-criticised prose style, including jibes such as “Do you get paid per adjective?”, “Have you ever held a dictionary?” and “Did you ever consider using a thesaurus, or did that sound too much like hard work?”

As well as her writing style hashtag users also referenced the similarities between her work and that of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer with questions such as: “What’s the minimum distance you have to stay away from Stephenie Meyer at all times?” and “Did you see the abusive relationship of Bella and Edward and think ‘hmm needs more abuse’.”

While others were more creative in their criticism, with queries such as: “How many roads must a man walk down before he devotes an entire room in his apartment to the abuse of young women?”, “50 Shades takes place in 2011 but Anastasia, a journalism student, is mystified by the concept of BASIC EMAIL?”

A whole lot of readers, and let’s face it, a ton of writers, are not pleased with her. I read some of the tweets, and was sorely tempted to retweet them. I held back though.

Yes, her books are badly written. A simple edit could make them so much better. And while I can’t accuse her of inspiring abuse, as some have done, I do cringe at the dumbing down of English writing.

But people (presumably, mostly women) all the way from US and UK to Brazil and China are reading her– so there’s a gap she fills. I don’t think I, or anyone, has the right to look down on folks for their reading tastes– people will read what they want to read.

And if you give James credit for nothing else, she’s a good businesswoman. The empire of merchandise she’s building, based on her novels, is proof positive.

She is a real person, according to Daily Mail:

Her husband no longer writes out of the garden shed and she has graduated from a table in the sitting room: instead, both have their own studies. She moved her sons from their state school to a private sixth form and was the first person in the UK to buy a £60,000 red Tesla Model S electric sports car when it was launched last year. Pictures this week also showed her driving a blue ‘Chelsea tractor’ complete with a number plate ending ‘SXY’.

But, despite the Hermes and Tiffany bracelets she has bought herself, Leonard in many ways remains resolutely down to earth, slipping seamlessly between her new life in LA, where she can sometimes be seen sipping wine in the garden of the £1,500-a-night Chateau Marmont hotel, and her old life in West London. She continues to frequent her favourite pub in Ealing, where she goes to play Scrabble or take part in the weekly quiz night or simply for Sunday lunch with her family.

And while she has become a fan of regular manicures and pedicures, she still has her hair blow-dried in Acton, does her own supermarket shopping and walks her two Westies, Max and Mini. She even taught her youngest son to drive recently. Quietly, she has also made vast donations to charity — according to her company records, in the region of £1.2 million to date.

And it is this part, the part of E.L. James being a human like any of us, (despite her freakish success, her deplorable writing skills and Everything Else : I’m not posting excerpts because this is a PG 13 blog, and the internet is so awash that a simple google search would tell you more than I ever can)— this is the part that holds me back.

What has she done, after all, other than produce some bad fiction? Does being on the internet give people the right to bring anyone down? Yes, she’s a public figure, and as such, ‘fair game,’ but must we put her on trial for making money out of incompetently-written smut? She’s a wife, a mother, and isn’t robbing anyone, or misappropriating funds (unlike most corporates and politicians). I might change my mind, but this is what I think right now.

What about you? Do you think E. L. James deserves the flaying she gets? Have you read any of the books? Do you have opinions on her writing, and its effect on the publishing world? Have at it in the comments (keep it PG13).

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Do You ever Wonder about Your Own Death?

Do you walk in Beauty?

Brief life, Long death

I’ve wondered often about death, for as long back as I can remember. I’ve thought quite often of the cessation of life– of what happens when I cease to exist. Probably because I’ve seen quite a few deaths up close and personal, lost family members to illness or accident.

What gloom and doom, I can hear some of you say– but the fact is, if you’re reading this, you’re alive. And if you’re alive, you’re going to die, just like me or anyone else, all living creatures must die.

This morning I read an article by journalist and philosopher Stephen Cave who wonders about a fly he has accidentally swatted to death.

“…it seems to me quite reasonable to think that the death of the fly is entirely insignificant and that it is at the same time a kind of catastrophe. To entertain such contradictions is always uncomfortable, but in this case the dissonance echoes far and wide, bouncing off countless other decisions about what to buy, what to eat – what to kill; highlighting the inconsistencies in our philosophies, our attempts to make sense of our place in the world and our relations to our co‑inhabitants on Earth. The reality is that we do not know what to think about death: not that of a fly, or of a dog or a pig, or of ourselves.”

He goes on to wonder at length about the significance of death, our own and that of the people and living beings around us, and I think the entire article is well worth the read.

 I’m not entirely sure what I think of death, mine, or anyone/anything else’s. I’ve written, briefly, about death on this blog. About the death of my fish, the cyclic death of fish babies, and their mating parents, of my betta and his suffering.
From the post about my dead betta, written three years ago:
But then, what do I know of suffering, and how do I know whether a short suffering is any less hard to bear than a prolonged one? Does a small fish suffer? Does it suffer as much as a human? Is the suffering of the human more evident to me because a human is bigger than a small fish, and the fact that I am a human myself?
I’ve blogged less often of the loss of family members and friends, and then not directly, because this isn’t really a very personal blog. But as anyone who has read my fiction would know– my preoccupation with death and suffering has remained– be it accidental, suicide, or murder and a variety of deaths in between.
My thoughts might change, but as of today, I believe a death hurts as much as the attachment to the dead person or animal or plant.
  • Which is why a friend’s death is devastating, whereas a man dying on the opposite side of the world, who you read about in the news, causes much less alarm. A pet’s death is painful, but the death of a random fly or snail isn’t.
  • Following from this, the prospect of one’s own death is the most scary to some of people, because they’re most attached to themselves, or their survival instincts are alive and kicking. Which isn’t a bad thing.
  • The bad bit, according to me, at least, is not confronting death at all, keeping it taboo, a faraway topic to avoid. No point in trying to ignore the inevitable. Not that thinking about death day and night is the solution, but thinking about it once in a while can’t be all that bad.
What about you? Do you think of death? Your own death? The death of those you have lost? How significant is a fly’s death: is it a tragedy, or a catastrophe, or both?
For anyone reading this post without a blog account– the discussion is also up on my Facebook Page: Damyanti at Daily Write . Would love to have your Facebook comments there.

Children are Children, aren’t they? #IndiawithPakistan

The mothers of Pakistan's murdered children

The Mothers of Peshawar

As a young girl in India, I learned to hate Pakistan. I was told the history of this country with my own, how we were once one nation, and are now bitter enemies.

I saw the Kargil war. On TV, yes, but its horrors did not go away.

I saw each terrorist attack on India, there were many, and was told Pakistan was behind each of them.

But today, when I see the seige on Pakistan’s children, those young lives snuffed out before they could properly begin, I cannot remember that they are from a country I was taught to hate.

For years I’ve been on to the politicians of both countries: they’ve flamed up hostilities between the two nations whenever things got hairy within either country.

Today I stand with those mothers in Peshawar, whose children wouldn’t come back.

I’m not a mother, but I’m a daughter, and I’ve seen mothers.

I cannot begin to imagine those households where children would return from school in coffins.

So those of you who tell me Pakistan deserved it, that they had supported terrorists once, that they’re villains who murdered Hindus in Kashmir, I have no time for you. Those who tell me that Muslims and Islam are the problem, I have no time for you either. Those Pakistanis who blame India for this, I’ll spend no time on you.

I hang my head in shame, because I’m part of a world where children are murdered to raise funds, where some people can find it in them to feel good about what happened to those children and their families.

The beauty and goodness in this world must be coming to an end if the murder of children does not receive universal condemnation.

Mohammed Ali Khan, 15, a student in a Peshawar school, will not return home today.

I choose to name and remember him, and remember his fallen friends. I choose not to name his murderers, and dignify their existence with a name.

And if children are butchered in schools, it is a collective failure of all of humanity, including mine.

I stand with the mothers who lost their children yesterday, the Mothers of Peshawar. I give them my puny strength, and my puny voice.

Children are children, whether they’re born in India, Pakistan or anywhere else in the world.


Have you read about these mothers and their children? What can we do to bring sanity and peace into this world gone mad? What do you have to say to the grieving mothers of Peshawar?

Are You Really Dead When They Say You Are?

The Evolution of Death

The Evolution of Death

What is the one certainty of life? Death, right? But it is the least discussed of topics. People call you morbid, negative, depressed if you talk about it.

To me, since we’ve all got to face it some day, what’s the harm in touching on it once in a while?

I recently came across an article that talks about the moment of death, and what fascinated me was that the scientific community is still uncertain about the exact moment of death:

 “Most of us would agree that King Tut and the other mummified ancient Egyptians are dead, and that you and I are alive. Somewhere in between these two states lies the moment of death. But where is that? The old standby — and not such a bad standard — is the stopping of the heart. But the stopping of a heart is anything but irreversible. We’ve seen hearts start up again on their own inside the body, outside the body, even in someone else’s body. Christian Barnard was the first to show us that a heart could stop in one body and be fired up in another.

As I went on to read it, I was intrigued by the concept of life residing in various parts of the human body, not just in the brain or heart: (Warning: this gets a little gory)

“What’s alive and what’s dead breaks down when we get above the cellular level,” Sorenson says. “Pathologists don’t feel comfortable that a brain is dead until the cell walls break down. True cell death is a daylong process.”

…Cell death is far removed from brain death. As shown, brain death can be declared when only a few brain cells have actually died. Cells in the remainder of the body are alive and kicking. Brain-dead patients being sustained as beating-heart cadavers are still supplying most of their body’s cells with blood and thus oxygen, so total cell death is nowhere in sight. Cell death begins in earnest when the heart stops beating and the lungs cease to breathe. No longer being pumped through the body, the blood will drain from the blood vessels at the top of the body and collect in the lower part. The upper body will become pale, the lower body turning much darker, looking bruised. This is livor mortis.

Even at this point, however, most cells are still not dead. After the heart stops, brain cells will die in a few minutes. Muscle cells can hold on for several hours, and skin and bone cells can stay alive for days. Cells switch from aerobic (with oxygen) respiration to anaerobic (without oxygen) when the blood stops circulating. A by-product of anaerobic respiration is lactic acid, which is what makes your arm muscles hurt during arm wrestling or your legs hurt during a hard run. When you are alive, your blood flow clears out the acid, but in a dead person the body stiffens. This is rigor mortis. Rigor mortis usually begins about three hours after the heart stops and lasts thirty-six hours. Eventually all of the cells die. After rigor mortis come initial decay, putrefaction, black putrefaction, and butyric fermentation. Somewhere in these processes — taking as long as a year, depending on the conditions and the weather — is a moment of death. Where that is may be impossible to determine.

To get a better picture of what I’m talking about, read the article– because it talks not just about the moment of death, but the question of selfhood, and how important human beings really are, are we the ultimate in evolution?

Do you ever wonder about death? Do we think more about death as we grow older? What is death, really? What is the moment of death? Are you really dead when they say you are?