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On Freedom of Speech, Shaming, and Suicide

I know I haven’t published a post in a few weeks. Some “real life” contingencies clouded my overall worldview, and have made it difficult for me to piece together cohesive lines of thought on pretty much anything. Yet, here I am, writing about a particular experience with Freedom of Speech, because the implications of this situation warrant careful consideration and debate. The tone of this post is drastically different from my usual academic perspective, but I think this conversation is necessary in this very personal way.

Today, I lost a friend, not to death, dismemberment, incarceration or any forces of nature that are outside of our “control”. I lost a friend to privilege, hypocrisy and the abuse of Freedom of Speech and Expression .  For the sake of confidentiality and privacy, I will call this friend “Amanda”. This is what happened: Continue reading On Freedom of Speech, Shaming, and Suicide

Stereotypes, Prejudice and Discrimination: A Primer

In the past decade, conversations and conflicts based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status, have once again risen to the forefront around the world. American and international communities have had to contend with terrorist attacks, nuclear conflicts, civil wars and uprisings, governmental collapses and social movements and campaigns on the issues of diversity, inclusion and equality. No conversation on inter-group relationships is complete without a discussion on stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. Today, we look at what these concepts are and how they affect the diversity of our experiences, the inclusiveness of our thoughts, and the equality of our actions. Continue reading Stereotypes, Prejudice and Discrimination: A Primer

Of Love and Marriage (But no Horse Carriage)

In 1955, Frank Sinatra taught the American people and a broader international audience the idea that love and marriage cannot be thought of separately.  Through his charmingly raw lyrics and melody, we learned that:

… you can’t have one without the other.
…It’s an institute you can’t disparage.
…Ask the local gentry and they will say it’s elementary.

In America today, love is the most important and valid reason to get married, with 88% of American saying that love is very important for marriage. Here’s the problem. Ol’ Blue Eyes is wrong.  The concepts of love and marriage, have only really been entwined together in the last few hundred years; and, not just in America, but around the world.  Scientific and historical analyses show that love and marriage are actually quite disparate concepts throughout human history until relatively recent times. Continue reading Of Love and Marriage (But no Horse Carriage)

What is Love? Really, What Is It?

Welcome to the week of Love! This week, people will be hard pressed to find content on the blogosphere that is not related to some aspect of love – its creation, its maintenance, the problems it creates, and what happens after it ends. We will also see a whole spectrum of articles on tips and tricks for single people on finding that “perfect someone”, not to mention an explosion of commercials and advertisements on match-making sites.  Yet, in all these centuries, through all the advancements of humans, we would be hard pressed to find a single cohesive definition that is universally applicable and satisfying.  Continue reading What is Love? Really, What Is It?

Forced Marriage: An Anti-Hindu, Anti-Choice Travesty

Valentine’s Day is in 9 days. Granted that the history of this day might have very little to do with love, people all over the world still take some time to celebrate love on this day. So, the idea of anyone being forced to get married on such a positive day is probably extremely upsetting, and rightfully so. Forced marriage is exactly what lies in store this year for many young couples in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. This idea of forced marriage is bolstered by distorted, perverted sentiments of “religious truths” that are quite untrue and quite Anti-Hindu. The  surreal horror of this situation actually reflects the meticulously planned, systematic elimination of personal choice in people’s lives, using religious power and fear as effective weapons. In the end, this could happen anywhere, within any religion and any community, given the right conditions. That is exactly why it is imperative to know about and learn from this situation. Here is the back story: Continue reading Forced Marriage: An Anti-Hindu, Anti-Choice Travesty

Pro-Choice: What does it really mean?

There is a common misconception in the public that pro-choice arguments are only, or mostly about repealing anti-abortion laws. The philosophy of what being “pro-choice” even means is rarely brought up. Most people think they know exactly what “pro-choice” means. But, do they? Even those of us who are “pro-choice” think that we are meeting like-minded people when we meet other advocates and activists. But,  are we? Continue reading Pro-Choice: What does it really mean?

Five Criteria for ALL Healthy Relationships

This coming Friday will be two years since I married the man who is perfect for me. So, quite predictably, I have been taking several trips down memory lane to see where I used to be, and where I am today, relative to my increased understanding of healthy relationships. Recently, I came across an old diary entry that I wrote about the kind of guy I want to marry. I won’t go into the details of the FOUR page long list! Suffice to say, I would still be unhappily unmarried, frustrated and depressed that I am not in a happy, healthy relationship with the man of my dreams!

I wrote that list in 2004. Through education, graduate life, research and experience, I thankfully learned about real healthy relationships. Life in a way helped me shed a rather naive, certainly ignorant view of life. I only wish I had learned the truths about healthy relationships long before 2004! Continue reading Five Criteria for ALL Healthy Relationships

Comparison Standards: Arch-Nemesis of Gratitude

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. Salvation Army bell-ringers are starting their rounds, and the commercialization of Christmas through sales seems to have started even earlier, compared to 2013. So obviously, media outlets, the blogosphere and social media have all been inundated with content on gratitude. I almost jumped on this bandwagon myself, to write the usual post on things I am grateful for (not to worry! That’s in development)! But then, I decided to write this post for one simple reason.

Not many people talk about the elements of our life that make it difficult for us to be grateful. Maybe its because we don’t want to acknowledge the baser side of our attitudes, or maybe its because we don’t even realize that it is indeed difficult to feel real, honest gratitude. Whatever our reasons might be, there are several factors which have a negative impact on our ability to experience and express our thanks. The most pervasive and subtle of these factors are comparison standards. Continue reading Comparison Standards: Arch-Nemesis of Gratitude

Silence in the Self – Science and Health

Hello again! In my earlier post, SilencING the Self: Religion and Spirituality, I talked about the idea of contemplative or meditative silence as a powerful tool that adds insight and wisdom. It allows us to feel a connection with the Present/Universe/Divine and it protects our Self.  In this post I will give you evidence from science, which shows that adding silence to our lives is beneficial to our physical and mental health. Continue reading Silence in the Self – Science and Health

SilencING the Self: Religion and Spirituality

Hello! In this post, I would like to talk about Silence in the self. In my earlier post, The Power of Silence – An Introduction, I introduced the idea of silence and its power to you. In this post I will talk about the spiritual advantages that silencing our self adds to our lives. This post will be a little longer than normal, because there is so much that religion and spirituality can teach us about the power of silence. So, please be patient with me on this journey. Continue reading SilencING the Self: Religion and Spirituality