Posted in Culture, fiction

The Rise of a Median King

Hello everyone, hope you are well! One of my favorite interests include Greek classical history and mythology.

I’m endlessly fascinated about the downfall of former empires and the Greek tragedies that touch upon universal themes and issues that impact humanity. To this day, classical mythology has influenced modern-day culture in a variety of arenas: sports, cardinal virtues, architecture, chemistry. Many series such as The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson is highly influenced by classical myth.

The fictional story below is an embellishment of historical and biblical events that took place in ancient Iran, Iraq, and Ukraine during 627 BCE to 560 BCE. I loosely followed the accounts of Herodotus, a Greek historian, in his book, “The Histories”, Josephus’ in “Against Apion”, the Bible, and Qu’ran. There are some inconsistencies regarding the parentage of Amytis across historical accounts, but that leaves room for my imagination to weave in some magic. 🙂

A Bold Maneuver

He noted the situation had become grim...

Young Cyaxares, son of the late king of Media, Phraotes, received news that his father was dead. He was slain in battle by members of the Assyrian army led by Ashurbanipal, the zealous and brutal king of Assyria.

Relief of Ashurbanipal hunting on horseback. Nineveh, Assyria, 645–635 BC.
Image Credit: British Museum

The Assyrian empire was powerful and dominated the lands. They reached the ultimate heights of technological, scientific and cultural achievements of the time. Ashurbanipal, in all his might and military expertise, reasserted dominion over the Medes, Persians, and Parthians. His glorious palace along the Tigris River served as a reminder of his status in the world.

The Monuments of Nineveh by Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1853
Image Credit: National Geographic

Nomadic Scythian warriors got wind of the news and swiftly raided Cyaxares’ homeland. For nearly three decades, Scythian officials controlled the region and exacted tribute from the Median citizens. Cyaxares resented their presence and began to formulate a strategic plan to avenge his father.

One evening, Cyaxares invited the Scythian chieftains to a fine banquet where they enjoyed a fine feast and alcohol. The aroma of marijuana filled the air. Cyaxares murdered them while they were drunk and their guards were lowered. He later proclaimed that he was king of Medes. The Scythians soon recognized their leaders were killed and subsequently retreated to the steppes.

Taking Down the Big Kahuna

Cyaxares united various tribal forces afterward and gradually conquered and occupied several Assyrian territories. He prepared to go to war against the Assyrian empire, but he was going to need help. He formed a few alliance and friendship treaties. One of his allies was Nabopolassar, Chaldean king of Babylonia, who decided to join Cyaxares’ effort to confront the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies.

The eventual death of Ashurbanipal led to Assyria’s weakened political infrastructure. The Medians and the Babylonians took advantage of Assyria’s internal strife and besieged the capital of Assryia, Nineveh, one of the greatest cities in the world.

Battle of Nineveh
Image Credit: Alchetron

Raising a Family

Cyaxares married and soon gave birth to a son named Astyages and a daughter named Amytis. To forge and formalize the alliance between the Babylonian and the Median dynasties, Cyaxares gave his daughter’s, Amytis, hand in marriage to Nabopolassar’s son, Nebuchadrezzar II.

Image Credit: Louvre Museum

She packed a few belongings and moved to Babylon with Nebuchadrezzar II. When she arrived, she was dismayed at the dry and flat landscape. She missed the mountains and lush scenery of Media. Cognizant of Amytis’ homesickness, he decided to replicate a piece of her homeland by creating: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

 Maarten van Heemskerck (1498-1574)

Amytis was surprised that her new husband would go to such lengths to make her happy. She recognized certain trees and plants that she enjoyed in her homeland and was touched by his commiseration. Not only was she pleased, the community shared their plaudits. She knew that he was capable of bringing Babylon back to its full glory.

Image Credit: Wallpaper Safari

Her husband fortified the city’s defenses and rebuilt many temples. Little did she know, however, that he would go mad towards his final days. All of his past achievements and success contributed to an increasingly high ego.

Nebuchadrezzar II
Image Credit: jubran.deviantart.com

When three young Hebrew men didn’t bow down to him one fateful day, he tried to burn them in a fiery furnace to no avail. Daniel, a revealer of future mysteries, was held in captivity with them. He interpreted the king’s dreams and predicted that world powers shall rise and fall. Feeling a bit insecure, Nebuchadnezzar threw Daniel into a pit of lions. Imagine his surprise when the lions didn’t eat Daniel… 🙂

Posted in Awards, Quotes

Um, Honey? Can I be Jubilee for a While?

Bzzz! My sister has recently taken up the new hobby of bee-keeping during this crisis. All my siblings have been rather proactive and have been an inspiration to me. So, honey and bees are the theme of my post today!

As a hardworking busy bee, you can say I’m constantly searching for all sorts of “flowers”: various blogs on WordPress to read. These awards allow me to celebrate the community garden!

For bees, the flower is the fountain of life. For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.

Kahlil Gibran

I would like to thank Maria Cristina Gino Baroso who has kindly nominated me for the Liebster award. She’s such a warm, friendly woman from the Philippines. I love her hospitable spirit. She features remarkable stories of beautiful people of all shapes and sizes, some overcoming all sorts of adversity. I also enjoy reading her slice of life stories from delicious food to an interesting coin collection. Her questions are featured below:

Image Credit: Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

What do you do first when you wake up every morning?

The morning light trickles in through the blinds. I snap off the nightlight by my window and throw my arms up to do a nice yoga stretch. My back loves it after I had slept like a curled shrimp.

What do you do last before you sleep at night?

Last night, I dozed off to an episode, “The Power of Miracles“, of Morgan Freeman’s TV Series, “The Story of God“. My feelings before going to bed are one of awe and inspiration. The night before I finished the first season of the Arthurian fantasy drama, “Cursed“. Exciting adventures with the fae have been full of suspense and intrigue!

Image Credit: Wallpapercave

Who’s the first person you greet, “Good Morning” when you wake up? What do you like best, coffee or tea, and why?

I greet my roommates once they wake up and start making some tea. Lately, it’s been earl grey or mint. Sometimes, I like a raspberry zinger or citrus tea with honey. Whatever the mood calls for! I love the various herbs, fruit, or leaves in tea that I don’t necessarily get with coffee. I also associate tea with relaxation whereas coffee gets me pumped up for the day. Though there benefits to both, I’m not much a coffee drinker. Though, I love the smell of it!

What do you usually offer your guests when they come visit you?

What I offer guests who stop by is dependent on who it is. Some of my guests are very picky. A few examples are pho, blueberry waffles, banana bread, Dr.Pepper, water/tea, mixed nuts, ginger/sesame candy, Danish cookies, strawberry shortcake.

How would you treat someone who has just disrespect you publicly?

I confront those who publicly disrespect me. I will not let them get away with belittling me and others. I take a moment to collect myself because otherwise my emotions get the better of me. Afterward, I calmly speak my mind and say what I need to say in front of their face. Typically, I cry once I get home to release the tension.

Did you receive a love letter or a friend’s letter? What’s your favorite line from it?

I love getting letters, cards, creative notes whenever, wherever. I’ve kept cards that my classmates have given me when I was 10 years old. Sometimes, I revisit them when I need a reminder. They represent a time and a place, but they always pick me up!

😉 Infatuation letter – My god, though… do you know you are the only girl I’ve ever met who has used the phrase, “but I digress”?

Love letter – But I feel like… I don’t know. I just feel very happy and lighthearted. I have no idea what is coming… yet I’m excited for it anyway. Thank you, Sa. And yes, believe me when I say, I love you.

😀 Letter from a Friend – I got to tell you, Sa, that Birthday Card you sent to me, is a keeper (it goes right into my vault). Thank you. You can’t imagine how it lifted my spirits.

Do you believe that first love never dies?

I believe first love never dies or rather, it’s the memories that don’t die. I will never forget my first love. Random things trigger my memories as they fade in and out. They make me laugh and cry. When I reminisce sometimes, my chest tightens, and it feels like my heart hurts. Other times, my heart is fluttering and beats fast. I’ve grown so much from that experience. We both did, and I cannot go back even though it lingers in my life.

What is your personal mantra and why?

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Having a heart of gratitude for all blessings and the abundance that is unfolding in my life helps me keep things in perspective.

If you’ll be the president for a month, what would you do to end this COVID-19 pandemic?

Coronavirus: 5 things New Zealand got right
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the country no longer has any coronavirus cases. It has also seen very few COVID-related deaths. What has been the key to New Zealand’s success?

DW Made for Minds article

If I were president, I would take a leaf from New Zealand Prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

1) Swift and tough lock down – Decisive actions
2) Consistent, effective communication of rules
3) Ramp up testing capacity and mask production
4) Willingness to learn from science

I’m not sure the American people will respond like the New Zealanders though. Press conferences directly to the public helped achieve public buy-in in other countries

If you’ll be a superhero, who would you be and why?

Image Credit: Pinterest fanart

I got to learn more about Jubilee from X-men this past year. She. Is. Awesome. Wow! Not only is she bubbly and not to mention powerful, this spunky, optimistic character has overcame quite a bit of trauma. Even when she lost her powers, she tenaciously strives to remain a superhero by other means. Fans have shared more of her powers in greater detail. 10 skills that many people may not know about her:

  1. Pyrotechnic Energy Blasts – Sometimes, it’ll be nice to see fireworks!
  2. Absorb Energy – Always a must have when you working various projects!
  3. Explosively Charge Objects – Detonate…maybe I’ll keep this one under wraps. 😉
  4. Wondra – Super strength and the ability to fly 100 mph to avoid traffic
  5. Force Fields – Resistant to physical injury and protection from earthquakes is nice.
  6. Ghost Mode – Pass through substances without getting hurt. HM!
  7. Gymnastics – Olympic-level gymnast. Just plain cool!
  8. Evade Telepathic Detection – Hide from mental probes.
  9. Vampire powers – Need I say more? Accelerated healing power is a nice plus
  10. Turn Into Vapor (Mist Mimicry) – I always thought about flying with a cloud

Nominees

It’s hard to find people who haven’t received an award already! You’re not obligated to respond, but I was grateful to have encountered your posts this week.

Questions

  1. Favorite comfort food?
  2. First book that made you cry?
  3. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
  4. Best money you ever spent as a writer?
  5. Favorite under-appreciated novel?
  6. Bloggers you enjoy reading?
  7. Your spirit animal?
  8. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Thanks for following along. If you want to check out my other Liebster entries to learn more about me, check it out here! Until next time! 🙂 ❤

Image Credit: Just Bee and Me
Posted in fiction

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time, there was a royal newlywed who lived in a castle nestled in the forest nearby a glistening lake. The beloved couple ruled over the kingdom to the best of their ability honoring the previous leaders who recently passed away. The king and queen were deeply in love, but for reasons unexplained, they had difficulty bearing children.

Image Credit: Pixabay

They decided to visit a village of fairies who lived within a grove of jacaranda trees near a majestic waterfall. There was one famed fairy, in particular, who could help them with their barrenness, and her name was Florence.

The royal couple packed for food and supplies for a day’s trek, saddled their horses, and ventured out into the forest. The cool breeze whipped around them as their steeds galloped onto the soft ground. They smiled at each other the moment they listened to the resounding sound of the waterfall swishing on the boulders.

The jacaranda trees were a sight to behold! Lavender blossoms gently fell about them as the fairies warmly greeted the king and queen. One of the fairies welcomed the couple into her home, and put on the tea kettle. “How can we help you?”

Blessed by her hospitality, the queen smiled. “We’re looking for a fairy named Florence. My husband and I are in need of her assistance.” The fairy gazed at the queen thoughtfully for the briefest of moments before she left to fetch Florence.

The king clasped the queen’s clammy hands as they waited, “We will be fine, I’m sure.” The queen gazed at his hazelnut eyes warmed by the twinkle in his eyes and his reassurance.

“NOW…. who is need of my assistance?”

The queen was startled by a loud, sing-song voice. The couple turned around taking in the sight of Florence. Her hair was a brilliant shade of ultraviolet which framed a lovely heart-shaped face. Her crooked nose was accompanied by a gleaming broad smile.

Breaking out of a trance, the king introduced themselves. “My wife and I are having difficulty bearing children, but we would love to raise a family someday.” Florence nodded in understanding, “You came to the right fairy. I can help you with that!”

In her satchel, she took out some magical blackberries she harvested while searching for various herbs. She mashed them in a bowl and poured special nectar on them to mix. She gave the concoction to the king and queen, “Here you go! Drink this, and it will grant your dreams.”

The couple was willing to be open to various possibilities, and obediently they drank the delicious drink excited by what will unfold in the coming months.

Posted in awareness, Culture, Events, flashback, Quotes, Social Justice

Stepping Outside My Comfort Bubble

Good afternoon everyone, I hope you’ve been well!

I delayed this post for a while, but now, I figure it might be a cathartic experience to share a few my feelings behind the scenes. Sometimes, I hold things privately inside too long with nowhere to turn. Even my own family doesn’t want to chat about it too long, because they have things to do and lives to live.

Back in May, Shenequa Golding, a writer on Medium, wrote an article, “Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot

I just witnessed the lynching of a black man, but don’t worry Ted, I’ll have those deliverables to you end of the day.

Shenequa Golding.

A friend shared that article with me, and I concurred. Remaining composed at work without feeling exasperated in the midst of current events took a lot of effort.

Last year, I was sitting in the school cafeteria chatting to a friend about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I told him how interesting that it was raising awareness about various instances of systemic racism and how people were quickly mobilizing.

He responded, “What started off as a well-meaning cause turned into an anti-white sentiment.” He continues to explain about the New Black Panthers Party and goes on to describe certain parallels.

As I listened to his story, I realized that my current knowledge-base regarding various societal issues seemed out of date.

What Does It Mean to Live in a Bubble?

Image by Lars_Nissen from Pixabay

When I was a teenager, I had a classmate who jokingly asked another girl, his crush, sitting in front of me, “Did I just pop your bubble?” He was pretending to sprinkle fairy dust on everyone. (Imagination was prized in my circles. 😉 )

It was the first time I heard of that phrase. I was curious as people in my life frequently peppered their conversations with this phrase. But, what does it actually mean? This morning I look to the members of Quora to see what they have to say:

To live in a bubble means you’re refusing to update your information pipelines for a changing world and your changing role in it, which lowers your chances of success in life, and likely annoys everyone you interact with. You have a particular information network. That’s what you know and trust. You’ve settled into it over the last few years because you genuinely feel it’s the best route to balanced, quality information like literally everyone else thinks.” – John Kyle Varley

“The saying “living in a bubble” is similar to that of “living under a rock.” Both sayings imply that you are separated from society. Bubbles for the most part are translucent. So, someone who lives in a bubble can see what goes on in society but is completely sheltered. However, it is very easy to pop someone’s bubble, or break the barrier that separates them from the rest of the world.” – Ruth Ipince

Used during political discourse it means surrounding yourself with only opinions similar to your own and unwillingness to even listen to contrary opinions or evidence.” – J. J. Grey

To me, living in a bubble means, I am attending my basic needs. Until those are satisfied, my interest is largely focused there. Until peoples’ basic needs are met, access to non-toxic food, access to unadulterated and clean drinking water, access to health care, and safe living conditions, keeping up with the latest news and events that don’t directly affect them, is not a priority.” – Barb Kueber

Shielding My Mental Health

A few months earlier, I was resting for the sake of my mental health and took a break from blogging. I even requested a leave of absence from school for a period of time because my concentration was broken by things I could not ignore.

I started to set boundaries about how much news I was going to consume. I just needed enough to know what was going on, but some days I wanted to follow a trail on a particular topic. Avoiding the temptation to click and read proved to be difficult. Before I knew it, minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days.

I started writing fragments of my thoughts back in May thinking I could share what I was experiencing in real-time, but I put it aside because I was too upset. I felt like I had to keep up with my peers by raising awareness otherwise, it would seem like I didn’t care, but it was difficult.

While some of my friends were protesting, there were some on the other side of the spectrum who didn’t care at all or at least care for the riots anyway. I felt like some kind of change could be brought about afterward despite the violence and destruction, as it did for the LGBT+ community post-Stonewall. I wanted time to process and think and return to it later.

I’ve been consumed with grief and anger concerning current events in the United States. Transforming this anger to some form of compassion takes time. Even now, I just seem to be shaking as I type. Friends and neighbors have protested, fought for justice, and created activist groups in the midst of a COVID-19 surge.

Personal thoughts back in May

Processing the Deluge

My friends’ timelines and social feeds were suddenly packed with resources, books, ideas, art shows, and gatherings. Then, the protesters and riots began to organize. My mother called me informing me that some protesters destroyed several businesses around town.

It was sad to see the aftermath of the destruction before our eyes. Though this was a fact, I felt like she said some careless things afterward, and I attempted to stay calm and explain how emotionally upset people were at various injustices that she might not be completely aware of.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

One of the leaders in my service organization gave an impassioned speech about interrupting your happy bubble for just a moment to consider the various things that blacks in America experience on a daily basis. He listed various things in his day-to-day life, experiences surrounding racial profiling, and shielding his one year son from these topics until he was older.

I don’t think defunding the police is a wise course of action, as there are good officers who help protect and lay down their life for their community. However, police brutality is a serious issue to address.

Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

When news broke out about Ahmaud Arbery, I cried when I found out about the story. Earnestly, I decided to run for justice out of support of a fellow runner. I couldn’t jog downtown with the other advocates with the pandemic going on, so I jogged 2.23 miles around the field by myself. I posted #IRunForMaud hashtags wherever I could. My idle mind asked, “What else can I do in the middle of the pandemic?”

Stay informed, for one thing. I’m currently reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, an attorney who founded the Equal Justice Initiative. It was dedicated to “defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system.”

The Indignity of Microaggressions

One day, on my way to the Spanish club, I noticed that the Black Student Union at my school posted about various graphics briefly describing “microaggressions” to their social media pages. At the time, I was unaware that there was even a term for things I noticed in my daily life.

Andrew Limbong, a reporter for National Public Radio, interviewed Kevin Nadal, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who spent years researching and writing books on the effects of microaggressions. As these big structural issues play out, he says it’s important to confront the small stuff.

To be clear, the “micro” in microaggression doesn’t mean that these acts can’t have big, life-changing impacts. They can, which is all the more reason to address them when you see them.

Andrew Limbong, NPR article – “Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How To Talk Them Out And When To Walk Away

Kevin Nadal: Microaggressions are defined as the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.

The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them.

Someone commenting on how well an Asian American speaks English, which presumes the Asian American was not born here, is one example of a microaggression. 

Building a Bridge When You Don’t Feel Like It

Solemnly smiling, Kevin described an experience that I’ve encountered before. At the time, I was very surprised, but not necessarily hurt. Then, my mother’s thoughts trail in my mind. “When people first look at you, they’re going to see an Asian first, then American later.”

I was more hurt when that same elderly woman thought I had a fifth-grade education and called me a fraud. She proceeded to “teach” me as I was serving her as a cashier in the checkout lane. The peculiar thing was that, in the midst of this unnerving interaction, I took a deep breath and was nice and patient with her.

I wanted to overcome these tenuous bonds. I felt like I walking in a dark forest with thick, heavy brush, and if I never addressed these issues I would start to wander in grim areas if I didn’t build a bridge to cross to new destinations. The question I asked myself was, “If I choose to build this bridge, will it lead me into danger?”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

She was delighted that someone was listening. I wasn’t sure if it was against my better judgment, but providing excellent service is my nature in spite of who I was dealing with. I could always call a manager if things got out of hand. So, I bit my tongue multiple times and wrote several personal letters of frustration and diary entries to myself.

If I was going to learn from her, she will certainly learn from me. We learn from every personal interaction, and every experience shapes us.

My thought rationale

I understood that she grew up in a particular time where many minority groups didn’t have access to certain levels of education. She had a preconceived notion of various members of society, not just Asians. We developed an extended relationship where I knew her name, her background, and her profession.

I was sympathetic when she told me someone poisoned her dog. She got to know me and my goals in life. When I told her I was moving, she took a smiling picture of me for her memory. She thanked me for being very nice to her all this time, and that she wasn’t going to forget me. Likewise, I will not forget this snarky lady with a caring heart buried underneath several cynical layers of life experiences.

The Calm After a Storm

Some of my close friends from my childhood are black. They just delivered baby boys, and I can’t imagine what they might be feeling as they hold onto their babies a little tighter. To think their lives might be more in danger due to recent events caused me some stress.

In the past, I remembered a situation where my coworker pulled out a race card just because I looked at him a little funny when he told me he was dating five women at the same time. I got really frustrated when he used this card to guilt-trip others to get out of certain responsibilities or to get away with certain behavior. However, there were times I felt sorry for him. He slept with a gun nearby at all times.

When I was a young adult, I remembered writing a paper about how I was against affirmative action policies because I wanted people to be recognized for their merit first. What I failed to realize at the time was that there are a variety of environmental factors that could be holding people back from achieving their goals.

I wonder why I feel this way. If I were raised in a completely different country with different values, would I still feel the same? Would my daily concerns be very different? Yet, a quote by Martin Luther King leaves an impact in my mind:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King

I grew up reading stories of tragic injustices surrounding American Black history: the Little Rock 9, Trayvon Martin, Breona Taylor, and multitudes of others. My parents did not and were raised learning a completely different history and narrative. I wonder if that played such a huge part in them being detached from certain issues.

It touched a nerve differently this time. It was one thing to study it in history books. It’s another to live through history in the making.

Thanks again for following along. Until next time! ❤

Posted in Culture, Dance, Nature

#Creating Context – Birds of Paradise

A funny thing happened on the way to the bedroom…

My friend gave me these beautiful paintings that his boss was giving away. These two birds look like they’re have a conversation with one another.

I was about to hang them up in my bedroom. My roommate took a look and told me the beautiful birds are called “Birds of Paradise”.

I was curious to learn more, so I Googled them. Apparently, there’s many different types of Birds of Paradise, and I came across a funny mating ritual that was quite captivating.

I’m surprised that female chicks dig this. 🙂

Posted in Concepts, Culture, Events, Quotes, Technology

Part 2: Navigating Political Discussion with Family Members

Hello! Yesterday I posted some philosophical thoughts in Part 1: Reflections on “The Drowning Child”. I concluded that post with this question which I wanted to explore more in depth today:

If we are obligated to save the life of a child in need, is there a fundamental difference between saving one who is right in front of us and one on the other side of the world?”

– Saania

However, as I was editing this post, it evolved into something else, and I have to explore it in Part 3.

Recognizing Societal Illness

One of my favorite books is called “Teachings on Love” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk and Zen master who resides in the Plum Village monastery in France. He occasionally visits the West and leads mindfulness retreats. He’s dismayed when he finds suffering as the result of behaviors passed on from one generation to the next.

There is a deep malaise in society. When we put a young person in this society without trying to protect him, he receives violence, hatred, fear, and insecurity every day, and eventually he gets sick. Our conversations, TV programs, advertisements, newspapers, and magazines all water the seeds of suffering in young people, and not-so young people as well.

Thich Nhat Hanh

He further describes how we put ourselves in an unhealthy vacuum and offers a suggestion:

Taking refuge in these things [smoking, TV, overworking, eating, drinking] only makes us feel hungrier and less satisfied, and we want to ingest more. We need some guidelines, some preventative medicine, to protect ourselves, so we can be healthy again. We have to find a cure for our illness. We have to find something good, beautiful, and true in which we take refuge.

Thich Nhat Hanh

How Do We Even Begin to Heal?

Politics has always been a sensitive topic in my family. I suspect it’s typical for many families. My family prioritized harmony and preservation of familial bonds over open, heated debates all throughout my life. Dad never wanted the children to get upset and shielded us from most of these topics. I was grateful that my childhood and young adult life was relatively pleasant.

Quietly smiling at the irony of my blog name, “Culture Shocks”, I try to avoid talking about it here as well because this blogging space is my “relax and unwind zone”. However, I’m currently in figurative knots, and I’m on the search for understanding.

Now that my siblings and I are all adults, we now see how aspects of politics affect various facets of our lives. More discussions are cropping up during our phone calls. We’re talking things out and sifting various sources together trying to discern real news and fake news dissemination, but it’s gotten a bit sophisticated.

A while back I watched an episode, “Deepfake”, of Madam Secretary where I learned about the concept of deep fake technology. Seeing how easily it was to get society to get riled up and affect the decisions of each respective country’s leaders was quite alarming.

Deepfake technology enables anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to create realistic-looking photos and videos of people saying and doing things that they did not actually say or do.

Rob Toews, Forbes contributor on AI. “Deepfakes Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.”

The pressure is building. My mother and my uncle, in particular, are wanting me to vote in a particular direction, but the current state of American politics is stressful and rife with scandal.

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, and many times, I feel tempted not to vote at all. Yet to avoid participation, is making a decision too. It was easier to vote in local elections that impact the community I’m in. I feel like I relate to very few candidates on the national scale. Regardless of whether or not I relate well, I have to take into account how it will affect the nation as a whole.

Last year, I was really surprised to see Marianne Williamson make an appearance as a candidate. She seemed so refreshingly out of place, yet brilliantly addressed various inequities. She wrote a book called “Healing the Soul of America“.

Though I hold her in utmost high regard as a spiritual healer, I’m not sure the pursuit of presidential ambitions would be a good vocation for her. I appreciate her activism and influence and feel that she is more effective outside of the political sphere or at least nearby political circles as an advisor. Similar to how Billy Graham served as a spiritual advisor and counselor to several U.S. leaders. If she attained a presidential role, I feel that her idealism will be snuffed out in the day-to-day responsibilities and pragmatic and, at times, ruthless decisions. I certainly don’t want that to happen as she serves a vital role in society.

Choosing a leader for the melting pot of our nation seems to be an herculean task. I study their platform, their past history and track record, any changes they have publicly made to their stance. I was fascinated by the ideological beliefs of political giants such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Tulsi Gabbard. I was intrigued by Republican nominee, Bill Weld, and his impressive record of fighting public corruption cases. Trump has been the most beguiling of them all, and has been featured in all types of media.

The Search to Find Common Ground

A few nights ago, mom and I had a discussion about the current American political landscape and the upcoming election. I implore her to look at the big picture and view the potential impact of each candidate. Economic, health, education, and immigration policies are important to her.

She highlighted a point about Joe Biden and how he didn’t support the evacuation of Vietnamese refugees back in the 1970’s. Seeing how this decision would have impacted my ability to be here in the states in the first place and being the curious person that I am, I decide to look for various sources:

Yet Senator Biden, the future vice president, then at the age of 31, fiercely maintained that the U.S. had “no obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals,” dismissing concerns for their safety as the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong swept south toward Saigon in 1975….

LA Progressive by STEPHEN FOX March 7, 2020

President Gerald Ford was upset with Biden’s response at the time:

The United States has had a long tradition of opening its doors to immigrants of all countries. We’ve always been a humanitarian nation. We felt that a number of these South Vietnamese deserved an opportunity to live in freedom.

Washington Examiner article by Jerry Dunleavy, July 4, 2019

Kissinger said there were Vietnamese to whom we have an obligation, but Biden responded: “I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out. I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out.”

It seems clear here where all the decision makers stood here on this issue. Biden was patriotic and perhaps more of a nationalist than President Ford at the time. As I’m trying to remain even-keeled, I remember a memory of a time I spent at one of my first sociology meetings at the university after I introduced myself and my family’s background.

One of the leaders of the organization listened and responded:

At the time, the United States government sent so many American soldiers to Vietnam to fight and it was such a bloody war. Many Americans were very upset of losing so many of their loved ones on the front lines and felt that the effort was futile. Can you imagine how the American population felt about Vietnam as a whole?

Understandably, I can see why Joe Biden have felt this way. When you have witnessed the destruction that a senseless war has caused, you feel to the weight of the burdens of all your constituents and the people you serve. How can I even think about helping others when I can’t even help my own? He must have felt embittered at such loss and wanted nothing to do with the people who were influenced by their government to commit these heinous acts.

The US responded just as ruthlessly with a chemical warfare program called Operation Ranch Hand. Agent Orange, not only contaminated the health of the Viet Cong soldiers who were hiding in the forests, but also millions of innocent citizens and various animal species that lived nearby. Defoliants made it difficult to rebuild the forest habitat and the reparations for the damage done is still devastating.

The Complexity of Multiple Sides of An Issue

I reflected back on how my parents felt when they first arrived. They too were traumatized and simultaneously grateful to be here. Though, my parents were not the Viet Cong, they were cautious about building friendships with the American people realizing that many were not supportive of sponsoring Vietnamese refugees.

The safe route was to be insular and be friends with those who have faced similar strife and shared experiences, and rebuild their lives from there. They worked very hard to try not to lean on various welfare programs too much as they were aware of marginalized groups abusing the system. Today, my parents’ quality of life is far better than if they were to have stayed in Vietnam.

There’s a certain mentality that countries can only help a small percentage of immigrants, otherwise the native population begins to feel threatened. Despite whatever plight these immigrants have faced in their homeland, both sides’ ways of life becomes disrupted when trying to welcome foreign populations with different values or at least live side by side.

There are so many sides to the issue. Some countries faced the consequence of allowing too many immigrants to enter their country without review only to have the newcomers rape the native women and children in the streets. Some immigrants become valuable business leaders in their adoptive country and help serve their new community however they can. The immigration offices are flooded with so many cases and processing each of them can be cumbersome…

I’ll wrap it up for now. Thank you again for following along my thoughts today!