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An Open Letter To The 21st Century Society

An Open Letter To The 21st Century Society

Dear society,

Today I would like to talk to you – the craftsman who are providing the pioneers of tomorrow with the tools to take this world on headstrong and make it better for the generations to follow. How far do you really think we have come in the 21st century?

It has been for a while now that I have seen what we are truly capable of, what we have always been capable of: War, genocide, animal cruelty, child abuse, inequality due to gender and race and many other atrocities that, in order to list them it would take me until the next Olympics – that is, if I am lucky enough. It seems as if William Golding had it right when he wrote Lord of the Flies with the intention of making it clear that mankind is and will always be torn between two opposing forces: Savagery vs Civilization.

Many, including myself have hoped that with light carriers such as Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama; and the warriors such as Gloria Steinmann, Marian Wright Edelman, Harry Hay and Roy Wilkins – that we have learned to move past all that has divided us, all that has chained and oppressed us. However, with the latest look at the shocking statistics of bullying, I see this is not the case.

Bullying is the root of our problems

In comparison to all the other problems humanity face, bullying might seem small and insignificant, when in fact, it is the core of it all.

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The Free Dictionary defines bullying as: “A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.”

Stopbullying defines it as: “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Yet, the notion that it is only the small, weak and young who are bullied has long since been demolished and it has spread to wider waters where anyone out there swimming against the stream with individualism or liberation, anyone who defies the societal rules that mankind has used to bar others in, are threatened and abused.

When did we sink so low?

My frustration of this stems from a recent incident that has happened in South Africa, where a lady (married I might add) felt the need to spice up her sex life and send her husband a picture of her genitals. Unfortunately she sent it to her child’s Sports Moms group message – and some “lady”, who most likely likes attention and wanted to have the approval in the form of laughter from her husband and friends, – deemed it fit to publish it on social media for all the world to see.

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An honest mistake from her part – and no, I am not talking about the spicy selfie – ends up ruining the life of a family who no longer can show their faces anywhere. All of this because one person felt the need to feel empowered and accepted by humiliating another.

When did we sink this low? When did the downgrading of someone start bringing us the pleasure of being in a superior position to others and in on the latest scandal with no thought as to how this can drastically change the life of the person that we are bullying?

Don’t give in to being someone you’re not

Have we stopped a moment to consider the lethal ripple effect of our actions? The ripple effect of choosing to stomp someone down in the ground for being a liberated individual – something we wish we could be, but are too cemented in the system of trying to impress those around us with our looks, possessions and wit to even try and become our true selves.

Why do we find it so easy to contribute to the low self-esteem of others, to their depression, their suicide thoughts and attempts, their fears and anxieties, their disorders and their rage? No wonder we are in one of the worst global situation that mankind has ever seen. We are filled with hate and prejudice; with selfish desires and no thought as to what I could do to help my fellow brother or sister.

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To you who read this and have experienced the persecution, oppression, torment and abuse of another. I apologize on behalf of all those who deemed it fit to break you down because your power of individuality scared them. My advice to you is to stay strong, do not let the world break you, tame you and shape you into something you were never born to be. I urge you to look at all the other individuals who refused to succumb to society and became successful and inspirational individuals.

Individuals such as David Bowie, who Billboard deemed the “Rebel who changed the face of music,” and Lady Gaga a unique and visionary girl that was bullied, rejected and made feel like a “freak” in school, later considered one of Time Magazines 100 most influential People in the World. There is a wonderful article on Lady Gaga’s triumph by Esperanza magazine I would encourage you to read.

Change is near

Did you know you have the ability to help and inspire people? That you have the ability to be a blessing? Do not sacrifice that opportunity by allowing those who do not understand you, to change you. I apologize that we have become a society that feeds on the defeat of others and that we have become to self-involved to even notice it or care.

To those who have been partakers in the ongoing battle of the bullies, or even just those who have merely been the straight-laced observers of the injustices that take place: Your time of abuse, ignorance and of being nonchalant is coming to an end. It might not be today, nor tomorrow – but it is coming.

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There will be a generation that will stand up like all the other freedom fighters mentioned above and fight for the oppressed and afflicted, a generation that chooses acceptance over prejudice, and a generation that chooses love above hate. It won’t start off as something big – it will be the small refreshing breeze that makes you aware of its presence and you will feel it gently, yet deliberately change into something bigger, stronger – a gale that brings about a tropical storm.

As Marjane Satrapi says in her Vogue interview with Emma Watson: “The only thing that can change the world is the slow evolution of culture.”

This evolution is approaching – it starts with those willing to stand up, change themselves for the better and fight for the abused.

I leave you with more words from the inspirational Marjane Satrapi: “From now on I’m going to change myself, and if I change myself, I have changed a little bit of this world. I will try to be a better person.”

I hope and pray that we all will start being better people, people whose intrinsic nature stem out of love – it is the only way we will be able to build a better tomorrow for ourselves and the generation to follow.

Featured photo credit: Rachal Baran via inspirationde.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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