Wednesday, September 30, 2020

#JeSuisMila vs #JeNeSuisPasMila – What divides France?

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#JeSuisMila…a simple hashtag that seems to divide France into two main camps: those who are “Mila” and those who aren’t. Mila is a French teenager, who expressed her views on religion by posting several small videos on Instagram. Once the videos posted, she got a lot of death threats and was targeted by hate speech.

Here is what she says in the video: “I hate religions…Islam is just shit…there is hate in it…I say what I think…Your religion is just shit…one can not be racist towards a religion…”. 

In France, as in all over Europe, neither hate speech nor death threats are allowed. Nobody has the right to spread hate speech and death threats and therefore Mila is clearly a victim. Any single person who targeted Mila has to be judged and condemned. A lot of people started using the #JeSuisMila (=ImMila) hashtag to support Mila. But a different hashtag has emerged from the social media, which is #JeNeSuisPasMila (=#ImNotMila). These are two very different standpoints and a lot of politicians and public figures expressed their views on the subject. Some support Mila, some don’t.

#JeSuisMila is a hashtag inspired from a different and very important hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, which was used to support the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the Paris terrorist attacks that happened on 7 January 2015. People, using the “Je suis Charlie” expression, support the freedom of expression and the idea that blasphemy is a right, which means that we can say whatever we want against religions. Everybody has the right to satirize religions, a right which is balanced by defamation laws. This right’s existence has a political importance: it helps to neutralize powers, like organised religions, from interfering with individual liberties. Also, the right to blasphemy protects the freedom of expression.

So, it is now clear why people use the #JeSuisChalie and #JeSuisMila expressions: they support and protect the freedom of expression. Does this mean that those who refuse to use the #JeSuisChalie or #JeSuisMila expressions are necessarily supporting terrorism or death threats? The answer is NO, because there are many people who refuse to use these expressions simply because they think that just like Mila or Chalie Hebdo have the right to satirize or criticize religions, Muslims and their supporters have the right to dislike it or to feel hurt by those satirical pictures or harsh criticism. This means that people, who refuse to use the #JeSuisMila hashtag, prefer some people’s feelings to some others’ rights. The problem is that there isn’t any political or social justification in opposing fundamental liberties, like the right to blasphemy, to basic feelings, like feeling hurt because of someone else’s opinions, because fundamental liberties guarantee the freedoms of individuals representing both camps, while basic feelings guarantee nothing. Moreover, criticizing a religion and criticizing individuals are two different things. How can one be hurt if he/she is not even criticized? What is criticized is a religion and religions are not persons. It is impossible to hurt or to insult a religion.

To conclude, in terms of the protection of fundamental rights there isn’t any valid reason to refuse #JeSuisCharlie and #JeSuisMila expressions. Moreover, using them, means protecting fundamental liberties that belong to everyone, including those who feel hurt.

#JeSuisCharlie #JeSuisMila

Should we judge less and accept more?

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This is me:)

This is me sitting on a bench near the Louvre in Paris. Although blurred you can still see the Eiffel Tower behind me:) You can see me pretending to be carefree and smiling nicely in this picture. That’s because I was trying to be nice, because I didn’t wanted to be judged later on for “being too serious and not nice enough”. Moreover, do you know who is behind the camera? Well, that’s neither a friend nor a family member. I had hired a professional photographer for this photo and do you guess why? Exactly! I wanted to have some beautiful pictures and was afraid to be judged over a “failed selfie” and wanted to show the best part of me not because I wanted attention, but because I was afraid to get heavily judged! The photographer works for an agency that receives thousands of clients like me.

Judgement and acceptance. Two words that matter so much and do not matter at all at the same time. Why so? Well, probably because we sometimes are so heavily judged for what we have been doing that we start ignoring both the judgement and those who judge. Between the judgment we underwent and the acceptance that we have never had, we sometimes choose to be indifferent. We just start not caring at all. “Not caring at all” may sound so cool and a good way to treat a problem, but the “not caring at all” is sometimes the worst thing that happens to us: we just become more and more isolated because of the judgement, because we consider that being isolated is better than being judged. In some situations it is a good choice to make, but isolation is something that we can avoid and find ourselves in a healthy relationship with somebody who will finally accept us in spite of our psychological distress and drawbacks. And acceptance is the wisest choice, because harsh circumstances lead us to different places in life: some are very lucky, some are less lucky or not lucky at all. Judging the least lucky ones is neither fair nor smart nor relevant, because the judgment puts additional psychological burden on their shoulders. Reach out or at least do not worsen their situations.

Judgement is often quick and comes out without thinking enough about it. A lot of people “judge” everyday and everything. We judge the way one perceives the world and the way he/she acts, we judge our fellows over their career and/or education choices, we judge people on how friendly or unfriendly they are or seem to be and so on and on. It seems that judgement is part of our daily life and comes out in a myriad forms and shapes. I have noticed 3 key judgments people make: 1. on our system of values, 2. on sociability, 3. on career/education goals.

System of Values: We consider that what he/she did is not “correct”, “fair”, “right”. Trustworthiness and honesty are the criteria we use to “measure” one’s behavior or choices.

Sociability: How “friendly” or “nice” are they? Are they? Friendliness and acceptance are the qualities we are looking for.

Career/Education goals/choices: Is he/she a “nerd”? Is he/she a “looser”? Competence and abilities are the criteria we use here.

For some people the system of values is the most important criterion, because the sociability and career/education goals are linked to it. We generally have negative impressions of those people, who although tend to be good in their sociability and career/education goals, but lack some values. Thus, a highly successful and sociable person will most likely be perceived as negative if he/she is engaged in illegal activities.

And the magic word is “relevance“.

So, we have criteria and we tend to judge according to our own definitions and perceptions about what is good or bad, positive or negative. But are we relevant? Is it safe to reduce someone to what we think they are? Having criteria and living according to them is good and protects us against what we define as “bad”, but choosing a way of life and living it should not be used to judge others who choose other ways of life, because one never knows the underlying reasons that bring others to different decisions. To insure a harmonious society, compassion and acceptance could be the “good” and “positive” tools. So here are 5 tips that will help you to make more place for acceptance and compassion:

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts. “I’m judging too fast and without compassion” and “I should be relevant” are some good sentences to begin with, because even when we just express ourselves without meaning to judge, we may still hurt others.
  2. Try to find some positiveness. Judging others is the result of not seeing their positive parts. Instead of judging them, you should have some compassion for them and some understanding for the complicated situations they might be experiencing.
  3. Avoid the black/white worldview. You could fail in your identification. Consider to take into account the possibility of “grey” situations. Remember that the white has some black in it and that the black has some white in it. If you choose to accept things as they are, they will stop to appear to you as “right” or “wrong”. They are just the way it is.
  4. Stop judging yourself. This is very important, because you may be too “judgy” towards others, because of your overly judgmental attitude towards yourself. Try first to accept things the way they are and you will see that judging will no longer be relevant.
  5. The power of “what if I were in their place”. Have you ever thought that the particular situation, the judged person is experiencing, could be even more difficult for you to handle if you were in their place? Moreover, sometimes, people suffer from a lot of issues like sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, poverty, stigmas, mental issues, misandry (hatred against men) and you just name it. Judging them is certainly not the “right” thing to do!

With love and acceptance,

Léonard

Is Veganism Good?

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Is veganism good? Following the rise of the number of people who convert to vegan diets many people wonder if it is safe, good or bad.

Scientists have often linked our health with our diets. Diet is sometimes the underlying reason behind many diseases such as: obesity, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and you name it. Some diet recommendations include : less meat consumption and increased fruits and vegetables consumption. Because of these non-meat oriented recommendations, vegetarian diets became more and more popular. A vegetarian diet is when a person prefers fruits and vegetables to meat and fish. A vegan diet is different from the vegetarian one. Vegans normally refuse to consume any product of animal origin: they refuse to eat cheese and drink milk, they do not wear clothing made out of animal skin and fur etc. 

In some countries, research showed that vegan diet has a greater result in weight loss that other diets. Veganism is also linked to a significant risk reduction in terms of some diseases like: Ischemic heart disease, cancers etc. Dr Ellsworth Wareham said in an interview with CNN that the key to his long 104 life is the vegan diet, because it helps to manage cholesterol levels, keeps the heart safer and assures a better quality of life. Some others say that vegan diets are good for reducing the blood pressure and are beneficial in dealing with blood glucose levels. 

Some of the pitfalls of the vegan diet is vitamin deficiency, because once meat is taken off usual diet, they have to be replaced by some other products that supply the body with the same nutrition. That’s why nuts should be included in the vegan diet and also colza oil. Vitamin B12 is the vitamin that vegans need to pay a lot of attention to, because it is important for cell division and a better nervous system functioning. The lack of vitamins may even lead to neurological damage and taking some supplements could be a solution. 

Many recent converts confirm that at the beginning of the vegan diet, they often feel hungry. That’s linked to the diet change that the body undergoes. They tend to snack a lot at the beginning. They also say that they feel more energetic and have a better metabolism, because of the vegan diet. The vegan diet may also be linked to some skin improvements. 

To conclude, vegan diet is composed of fruits, vegetables and anything else excluding animal meat, animal milk, animal byproducts etc. The vegan diet reduces the risk of some diseases, but may be the reason behind some vitamin deficiency.

Here is a top 10 list of superfoods vegans should consume:

  1. Walnuts for Omega 3.
  2. Broccoli for potassium, magnesium and calcium. It also contains some Vitamin K. 
  3. Avocado for vitamin E, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, dietary fiber, phosphorus and magnesium.
  4. Blueberries for antioxidants that fight against free radicals. 
  5. Carrots.
  6. Greens.
  7. Spirulina.
  8. Raw pumpkin seeds.
  9. Mushrooms.
  10. Goji berries.

What is chemsex? Should we be worried about it?

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More and more men take drugs to have sex with men and this practice is becoming more and more widespread.

What is chemsex?

Chemsex, also called “Party and Play” (abbreviated PnP), is the use of drugs to facilitate or enhance sexual practice. It is a subculture of recreational drug users who engage in high-risk sexual practices. It is often a sexual activity that includes more than two sexual partners. 

Here are some of the drugs that individuals practicing chemsex use:

  1. GHB/GBL : have a relaxing effect on partners and can be dangerous if mixed with other drugs and/or alcohol. 
  2. Mephedrone, also called drone, M-Cat, White Magic or meow meow, makes partners feel more affectionate. This drug puts an important pressure on your heart and nervous system. 
  3. Methamphetamine is maybe the most used chemsex drug. It is very addictive and makes users feel highly energised. It can even cause brain damage over time. 

Why are media talking about it so much nowadays?

The PnP is being given more and more media coverage, because many people who engage in it develop more and more health problems and some even die because of it. According to some studies the PnP is more practiced within the gay community than the general population. 

Some gay dating and hook-up applications, like Grindr, have made it easier to find partners or groups of parnters for chemsex. The problem is that many people do not use condoms during chemsex, which means that they are more and more exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Moreover, the PnP is often a “sex party” and if one of the sexual partners happens to be HIV seropositive, others can be contaminated. Just imagine a chemsex party where nobody used a condom and one of the partners is HIV seropositive. The risk of contamination is very high and any single person practicing this sexual activity should think about protection by using condoms. 

Chemsex in culture.

Chemsex is 2015 British documentary film about gay men engaging in chemsex. This film had a theatrical release.