MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “respect”

The world through a lens

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We all have a magnifying glass through which we view the world. The events, the circumstances, the people that surround us. But the thing is, we all have the illusion that we all view the world in the same way, because “our view” automatically means it is the “norm”. We each have a different lens, and thus a different view of the world, a different interpretation to life events and a different perspective on all experiences and people.

What we don’t understand or don’t agree with is usually feared. But because fear is a feeling that contradicts our egoisms, we tend to demean everything different to our own view. We treat it with contempt, spite, even anger and dislike simply because we have a different “rulebook” of how the world should work.

When it comes to people, we become hypocritical, showing a positive attitude on the exterior but inside boiling with rage against them. This is often the source of our negative behaviour towards people we dislike, disagree with, or simply cannot communicate well with. it is the reason why respect is not something that can be demanded but rather it is earned. We tend to reciprocate the attitude and behaviour we receive.

Unfortunately, though, not everyone has the same heart as us. Not even the same mind. Thus, it is unrealistic to expect that we’ll get back what we send out. Because not all people have the same lens. And if it is blurred, the world seems a little foggy and more pessimistic than we hoped.

We all get what we deserve in the end. So let’s try and be kind even to the people we dislike or who treat us badly. Karma will take care of them.

A woman’s silence

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She would often wander in a world no-one could understand. The real world made no sense anymore. She would retreat in the attic and later in the bedroom or living room. She would watch the time run by as she lost herself in books or let her mind gaze at TV series. She didn’t care anymore if she was alone. Now, it was something she actually looked forward to.

In the cold winter days, she would sit on a couch wrapped in a warm blanket with the company of her fluffy soft-toys. In their big glimmering eyes, she would find comfort. In there, she saw the reflection of who she wanted to be; who she was striving to become; who few would appreciate or, even more, understand.

Perhaps that was what was most disappointing. That no matter how much she explained her point of view, hardly anyone would see it. It is easy to put the blame for everything on someone else; it is even easier to dismiss all their views as wrong simply because they don’t agree with yours.People only listen to what they want to hear. And whatever you say, they will only focus on what they think is important, rendering everything else unsaid. She was tired of having to repeat herself so often, and not being heard. She was not understood. And that was perhaps worse than not being appreciated.

So, she drifted away. She had grown weary of trying to change a world that so adamantly refused to do so. She stopped insisting. Her grandfather once told her that people should fear a woman’s silence, for a woman who stops moaning and more so talking is one who has simply given up. A woman’s silence is her loudest cry. But few can truly realise that. Even fewer are bold enough to do something about it.

It’s easy to keep demanding that everyone else changes. The real courage is to admit that you need to change too. And to do it.

Cat space

© Maria-Christina DoulamiAs soon as it felt the touch, it sprang up as if jolted by an electric current, back curved, hairs on edge and nails ready to slice you up. Cats don’t like to be disturbed when they’re sleeping, or grooming, or pretty much doing anything on their own… which is often.

The cat got up, very irritated and left the room. It would need to find some other hiding space.

But the human wanted to play, or was obviously bored with himself, too insensitive to go find something more productive to do.

He soon discovered the new hiding place.

The cat had rolled up into a fluffy ball and was sound asleep again.

He only meant to pet it, but to a cat, that is more than a simple caress. It is an intrusion of its personal space. It is a violation of its independence, of the fact that it too needs some time alone, away from people. We all share that feeling. The need to submerge yourself into something independent from anything and everyone. To be left alone for a while. Or to be able to deal with something else, something that you chose without needing to explain yourself for it. It is disturbing when others keep wanting to bug you no matter what you do, especially when you don’t feel like including them in on it at the time. Cats know how to respect that. They can tell when you need some company and they’ll come and purr on your lap, providing the warm comfort to soothe you. But they can also recognize when you need to be left alone, to experience your own sentiments in the way you so desire. Humans, however, are not like that.

Cats know how to draw a line. Humans are too selfish to see it.

Cats are always adorable no matter what; no matter if they scratch you or get annoyed with you, a simple meow will always win you back. Humans are far from that.

The Origins of Health

1_imgsize.aspThere is nothing better in life than good health,” wrote the poet Menander (4th century BC) and rhetorician Lucian (2nd century AD) agreed that “there is no benefit in possessing every good if health is absent”. Ever since the dawn of its existence, humanity has strived to achieve and maintain good health, while seeking to understand the causes of illnesses and searching for solutions to treat them. This remains one of mankind’s primary concerns – just consider the most common drinking toast (“to good health”). In an exquisite archaeological exhibition entitled HYGIEIA: Health, Illness and Treatment from Homer to Galen, The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, Greece, offers an unrivalled journey through the evolution of medical practices from 1200 BC to the 3rd century AD, with the aid of 282 artefacts from 41 museums in 7 European countries. But it is not just the artefacts that matter here, it is the knowledge residing behind them.

2_AsklipiosIn his epics, Homer refers to Asklepios as a mortal King of Trikke in Thessaly and a peerless physician. However, according to ancient myth, Asklepios was the son of god Apollo. He is later referred to as a demi-god, one who possessed the unique ability to grant health. From the 5th century BC onwards, his cult as the foremost healing god spread rapidly and endured even past the advent of Christianity to approximately 500 BC. Asklepios was that tall, mature, bearded man often figured clad in a long robe, leaning on a snake-entwined staff. A snake is a “chthonic” element, it crawls on the ground and is well aware of the herbs and nutrients the earth breeds; thus, also capable of distinguishing between the good and bad – in fact, in Greek the word for medicine (φάρμακο) is just an intonation away from the word for poison (φαρμάκι). The snake, however, is also the symbol of renewal because of its ability to shed its skin. It therefore became the sacred animal of the healing god and today is the international symbol of medical doctors.

Such symbolism is abundant: in the Ancient era, the trademark for physicians was an ancient medical cupping vessel, named “Sikya” because of its resemblance to the tubular fruits of the sikya plant. Trefoil juglets that stored opium resembled inverted poppy capsules (the ones that when slit leak out opium-bearing latex), while they also featured a snake on their handle, cautioning that opium may be used in small doses as an anaesthetic and for soothing pain, but in larger doses can cause damage due to its hallucinatory effect.

4_AsklepieioIn the ancient healing sanctuaries dedicated to the healing god and thus known as Asklipieia, patients seeking divine cure would be bathed and aromatized (a purgatory ritual to ensure good health and ethical purity). They would then sleep in the sanctuary (incubation), experiencing a divinely-inspired dream, where Asklepios would appear and offer advice. In the morning this would be interpreted by the sanctuary’s priests and the illness would be physically treated.5_ Hygieia

The incubation process was inspired by another symbol: one that depicts Sleep – the brother of Death – as a winged child at the feet of Hygieia found at the very entrance of this exhibition. Hygieia (Health) is one of the daughters of Asklepios and the goddess of good health. It is from her name that the name (and concept) of “hygiene” arises. Asklepios’ entire family was related to the health-treatment process: his wife Epione was the comforter of pain; his two sons Machaon and Podaleirios took care of injured Achaeans in the Trojan War; while there were also the daughters Acesó (goddess of the healing process); Iasó (goddess of healing); Panacea (the all-healing goddess); and a younger son Telesphóros (he who brings fulfillment and protected coalescing patients).

This “theurgic medicine” was so widespread because prevalent belief had it that the gods inflicted illnesses upon humans as a punishment for impious acts. 6_Anathima STATUE-570And since the cure of every illness was similarly godsent, people tried to appease the gods with prayers, magnificent sacrifices, and purifications. These also included votive offerings either before or after treatment, which took the form of objects (or ailing body parts) as a supplication to the gods. Centuries would pass before the divine provenance of disease was challenged and treatment dissociated from divine intervention. This occurred with the teachings of the Pre-Socratic philosophers (6th c. BC), which served as the foundation for rational scientific medicine. However, votive offerings still remain an integral part of Christian belief, especially in Greek Orthodox Churches.

Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC), today considered as the Father of Scientific Medicine, recorded about 60 ancient treatises in what is known as the Hippocratic Corpus. The medicinal use of healing herbs still used today, originated from thousands of years ago. For example, laurel as an antiseptic, emollient and cathartic; Crocus (or saffron) used for eye inflammation; Lykion (or Goji Berry) extremely well-known for its healing properties; Mandrake used as anaesthetic in surgeries (today is the emblem of the Hellenic Society of Anaesthesiology); and Mastic used, among others, to clean teeth and as a regenerative factor for a radiant complexion.7_ Iasis 1

Hippocratic physicians also emphasized the importance of diet in maintaining health as well as in treating disease. In antiquity, the word diet was not limited strictly to food, as it is nowadays; it expressed a broader concept, which also encompassed – and always in moderation – drink, physical exercise, baths, massages, sleep, sexuality, and a person’s habits and way of life in general.

According to Hippocrates, the human body encompasses four fluids or humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile). The balanced proportion of all four fluids, known as Eukrasia (good mix), is a main characteristic of good health, while the disruption of this balance (Dyskrasia) leads to the onset of various diseases.

Galen (129-216 AD), a prolific Physician from Pergamon whose theories dominated and influenced Western medicine up to the 17thcentury, tried to explain human behavior according to the fluid that prevailed in each human being. So, for example, a Sanguine person, in whom blood prevails, is sociable; a Phlegmatic person, in whom phlegm prevails, is relaxed and quiet; a Choleric person, in whom yellow bile prevails, is tense and aggressive; and a Melancholic person, in whom black bile (melaina cholé in Greek) prevails, is moody and introverted.

9_760374_Iasis_Installation_3In the ancient era, physicians were seen as the “healers of evil” and were greatly respected in society. They enjoyed an elevated status because of their specific skills. They were considered craftsmen, as well as “demiourgoi”, i.e. workers who labored for deme, the public good. Physicians were considered servants of mankind in general and travelled from place to place to practice their craft and offer their services to community. This is also what today’s doctors vow to do through their Hippocratic Oath. To continue practicing medicine, whose origins, as is evident, stem from centuries ago. And despite the fact that people – in their majority – no longer believe diseases are godsent punishes for irreverent human actions – deep down we all hope that someone can find a way to reverse them, to treat even the most incurable ones, and soothe the suffering for all.

 

* The exhibition “HYGIEIA. Health, Illness, Treatment from Homer to Galen” runs from 19/11/2014 until 31/5/2015 and a short video can be found here.

Superpowers aren’t just for heroes

MagicPOOFWhen doing all these online quizzes (with which it’s so easy to procrastinate doing anything else), there is almost always one question that asks what superpower you would like to have – usual replies are: the ability to fly, to read other people’s thoughts or to be invisible. Between flying and invisible (because do you really want to read other people’s thoughts?) I would often choose invisibility. But unless it’s Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, what I would much rather would be to disappear.

There are some days more than others that you really do wish the earth would just open up and swallow you down. Well, maybe not while you’re in bed wearing your pyjamas, because if there is anything down there worth exploring, you would at least like to be decently dressed for it.

But the urge to disappear comes mainly due to all the things that are happening during that period. The constant running around, nothing going right, the countless responsibilities you have, the fact that there is not enough time in a day or even in a week to do them all, the lack of sleep, the insufficient food, and above all the immense tiredness that strikes your emotional chords leaving you close to a nervous wreck. And worse of it all, the fact that no-one understands this, or even cares about it all.

I admit there are days that I actually have to drag myself out of bed, after hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock – actually my phone – so many times that it automatically stops yelling at me. And then after I get up, I spend five minutes looking for my phone, only to find it hidden under the pillow.

It’s a problem being good and diligent at what you do. Because it doesn’t allow you any time to rest. You know, as well as all those who depend on you, that almost no-one can do it as well or as attentively as you. Without meaning to sound boastful, that is the perks of being a perfectionist. But it is also the curse of it. And although I actually like all the things I do, sometimes all I want is to simply disappear. Even if it is only for a while. I would like to see how all these things I do, and which to some may simply seem as though they magically appear to be done out of nowhere, how all of them would be done if I were gone.

Haven’t you ever wanted to disappear, even for just a little bit? For starters, you would be able to encompass the flying power with the ability to hear what other people were thinking / saying about you – well, at least in my head you would!

But it would also allow you to see the world without you, how your loved ones and the people you deal with every day would actually be affected by your disappearance. It might bring you further down, but if you really are the struggler you believe to be, what you would see would really bring you back up. Maybe in your absence they would actually express all the things they don’t in your presence. Maybe that would even get them to understand that some things should be said to others while they are still there – like how much they are appreciated and loved, and how much all that they do is recognized and acknowledged.

Disappearing is not just a magic act. It’s a wakeup call to everyone. Including yourself.

Sometimes you think you want to disappear, but all you really want is to be found.

It’s all about control

Control is one of those words which have this domineering effect over people simply by the sound of it. It brings to mind images of oppression, of authority, of rule. Defined as the ability to exercise restraint or direction over; to dominate or command, control is something that everyone wants to have. But often always comes with a price to pay. People in control aren’t usually loved or even liked. Control is so often linked to autocracy, to repression, to subordination of others, that it acquires a negative connotation.

The Evil Queen forcing her magical powers over the Enchanted Kingdom; the dictator oppressing civilians; parents suppressing their children into not being able to do anything on their own. It’s all about control. And this is what people are after. The authority to reign over others. The hierarchical structure of an army, for instance, determines who is superior to whom. Politicians fight and quarrel over who will get to be in charge of all major decisions, regardless of the fact that s/he will also be responsible for the consequences. Control has become synonymous to power. And life has become a competition of who has more of it.

The problem is, however, that most people try to demonstrate this power they have, by controlling those weaker than themselves. Often this also implies those smaller in size. Animals, for instance, are the first to suffer. Being herded, reared and slaughtered for a specific cause – for the benefit of humans – the latter species attempts to show how it dominates over the “lesser” one. Horses are saddled and bridled up to fulfill their riders every demand, by a simple kick in the sides, and a pull of the reins. Of course, animals can fight back. By biting, scratching, kicking. But in the end it is the one with the extra resources, the biggest tools and the stronger weapons that always seems to dominate. Similarly, it is the rich, the wealthy, the high-ranking in society that end-up becoming the most yearning for power. For more. For control. And these are usually the ones that become the authoritative rulers, the oppressors, the tyrants, the dictators. Ruling over citizens who lack even half of what the former have, and being deprived of so much more.

Even parents exercise control over their children. And a lot too. Raising their babies into grown-up adults, parents are responsible for so much of the decisions they take for an infant’s life. Its first and most important influences. The principles and values that will register in its mind. And most significantly, the behaviour and mentality that will become part of its upbringing. Parents control their children for most of their lives. With the latter being afraid to do anything contrary to the wishes of their parents, and even as adults, being concerned as to what their opinions might be.

Too much control, however, is harmful. In every sense. Too much control by parents means the children are incapable as adults of acting on their own. Of being independent and responsible for their own actions. Sparrows provide perhaps the best example of suitable control: they raise their young ones in the nest, taking as best care of them as possible, as long as they learn how to fly. Once their neonates learn to spread their wings, they are allowed to do so and leave the nest, free to explore the world opened out before them. That is what humans are supposed to do too. But instead so many lack this independence that growing up should come with. Once you leave the nest, you are not supposed to come back. But so many circumstances, even in the current day and age, force them to return. To seek the support and sometimes the very dependence of those that reared them in the first place. And then that same freedom desperately longed for as adults is often constrained in the very walls of that paternal nest. It’s all about control. Whether it is taken by force, or voluntarily conceded.

Nonetheless, control does not necessary mean something bad. And it shouldn’t. Control is also about proving to the world that you can manage on your own. That you can handle both the responsibilities and obligations. That you can command your own reins. And ultimately that you can take control – power – over your own life. It isn’t necessary to domineer over others to prove you have power or authority. That is something to be gained not taken. Just like respect. And that is more often earned by those worthy of it. By demonstrating your achievements, your accomplishments, your skills and capabilities. Rulers/leaders who have done more for their citizens, who have given more to them instead of demanded from, who have listened rather than imposed, are the ones who are most loved and respected. It is those who are given control voluntarily by others. Often even unknowingly.

But the most important control of all is to be able to control your own destiny, be what you want to be, and achieve all that you want to achieve. Life is to be lived, not controlled.

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