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 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!

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

Part 1: Reflections on “The Drowning Child”

This morning I was intrigued by a blogger’s article called “The Drowning Child“. At 15 years old, Saania is wise beyond her years and constantly looking for ways to expand her thinking. Her comment feed is a hub of lively discussion and a time of personal reflection.

Saania explores Peter’s stance in this particular scenario:

Peter Singer is an Australian philosopher who created a thought experiment called The Drowning Child, in 2009.

In this thought experiment, we imagine ourselves walking down the street. Suddenly, we notice a girl drowning in a lake. We have the ability to swim, and we are also close enough to save her life if we take action immediately. However, doing so will ruin our expensive shoes. Do we still have an obligation to save her?

Edmond Allen

Peter’s answer to this question is yes. We do have a responsibility to save the life of a drowning child and price is no object. If we agree with him on this statement, it leads us to a salient thought-provoking question: 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?”

I couldn’t help but read the various responses. I’ve read comments along the lines of “Let me take off my shoes, and then dive in to save the girl!” or how there are many charitable organizations whose donations go to other costs rather than the cause itself. There’s many aspects to explore in Peter’s statement.

Summer Flashback

When I was a young girl, I almost drowned in a lake one summer.

We were celebrating a family reunion with a BBQ by a gorgeous lake nestled between a heavily forested area that provided lots of shade. Many other families were also enjoying their time and the whole area was packed.

My cousins wanted to cool down and decided to take me to the deep part of the lake. We were splashing each other and having fun.

They were supporting me until one of our parents called us to let us know that the BBQ is ready. Hungry, they started to swim back to shore and left me hanging without a life jacket.

I didn’t know how to swim at the time, but I was trying to learn as quickly as possible. I was sinking fast. I choked on a lot of water I swallowed and slowly couldn’t breathe.

Even with so many people around me, no one was coming to my rescue, and I was unable to call out for help. I couldn’t blame them, they weren’t life guards and were focused on enjoying their time.

I paddled my hands and arms to push myself to the surface, and focused on a point at the shore that I wanted to reach. I kicked my legs in that direction and crawled over there.

Eventually, just as I was getting closer to shore, my cousin spotted me unaware of the ordeal I went through and pulled me the rest of the way.

Whose Responsibility?

Thinking back to that fateful day, I wonder. Hundreds of people were there. Did anyone at the lake that day have an obligation to save me? Even if they knew I was drowning, would they?

I’m reminded of a psychology concept I read years ago in class called “Theory of Diffusion of Responsibility” by John Darley and Bibb Latane.

The more spectators there are, the less likely it is any one of them will actually help. When someone needs help, the spectators assume someone else will step in. Someone else will “do something.” But, the outcome of this individual way of thinking is that in the end none of the spectators will bother to step in. And the responsibility will end up spreading thin among the whole group. This means no one will take responsibility.

Kitty Genovese, the Girl who Screamed and Nobody Helped

My mother once described a situation where a young man dived in to save her sister from drowning in the ocean. The current was pulling her downward, and the young man risked his own life to save her sister.

She will never forget his heroism. I’m grateful for the people who take initiative.

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who won’t do anything about it”

Albert Einstein

Charity & Social Conscience

Finally, I want to explore this last thought-provoking question:

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?”

I will be exploring this question more in Part 2 of my reflections in this philosophical question, but I’m immediately reminded of a quote:

Charity begins at home, is the voice of the world: yet is every man his greatest enemy.

Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, 1642

Some people have interpreted this to mean take care of your own family first before being kind and generous to others. Others take it to mean children should first learn what it means to be charitable in their home.

Often times, I wonder if people decide to help those who are immediately closest to them because they see an immediate effect from their actions.

Being in close proximity allows for the opportunity to develop a relationship with the person you’re helping. Increased exposure may help the two parties develop familiarity.

I also think of the differences between generous acts vs. generous people. Corporate responsibility vs a genuine desire to help as well.

There are so many facets to think about. Thanks for tagging along my thoughts today. I will be posting Part 2 tomorrow! 🙂

Posted in Culture, poetry, Quotes

Why CEOS need to read poetry—yes, poetry—to lead in the post-COVID world

Good morning! I read this article and thought to share. 🙂

https://www.fastcompany.com/90532707/why-ceos-need-to-read-poetry-yes-poetry-to-lead-in-the-post-covid-world

Poetry is the art of using words charged with their utmost meaning. A society whose intellectual leaders lose the skill to shape, appreciate, and understand the power of language will become the slaves of those who retain it—be they politicians, preachers, copywriters, or newscasters

BY BUSINESSMAN-POET DANA GIOLA

Posted in Culture, Dreams, Quotes

#SoCS- Murmurings of Czech

If European cities were a necklace, Prague would be a diamond among the pearls

Anonymous

Czech Republic has been a country I’ve frequently heard about throughout my life. Whether it was my high school project on the Cold War, a Sabrina the Teenage Witch comedic sitcom episode, or one of my many places on my director’s travel wish list, Czech has always struck my curiosity with a peculiar fascination.

Though travel slow right now, I have a travel membership that allows me to daydream a bit in the meantime. They have categories which makes it difficult for me to choose:

  • Go Back In Time in Prague and Beyond
  • See Picturesque Prague by Land and Water
  • Relive Medieval Times in the Czech Countryside

Prague

Here are some snapshots of some areas in Prague I found on the website! The towering Gothic architecture is a sight to behold!

Walking around the Prague is comparable to being in a fairy tale: except for one minor detail: it’s real. 

Lust for the World (1 day in Prague)

Prague; the city so beautiful that it was spared by Hitler… or so the story goes. Prague is a living and breathing enigma; old and dirty but somehow unimaginably graceful.

World of Wanderlust

The ancient splendor and beauty of Prague, a city beyond compare, left an impression on my imagination that will never fade

Richard Wagner

It’s easy to fall in love among the winding cobblestone streets and snow-covered castles of Prague, but is it a good idea?

Dana Newman, Found in Prague


Detinice Castle, Kralovehradecky

Excerpt from Unusual Hotels of the World:

Medieval themed hotel providing magical middle ages experiences in an authentic setting

This property is a fantastic escape from the day to day boredom and way better than any chain hotel for stories to tell your friends about. Step back to a more rustic time and enjoy the authentic and imaginative attention to detail, the quality of entertainment, excellent food, wine and the whole atmosphere to make your trip memorable and truly MEDIEVAL!

Wooden floors, wooden beds, simple and rustic furniture – original pieces, candle lit rooms, unique bathrooms – simple, rough but stylish, wooden faced flushing toilets, etc. Behind the decor, the facilities and service are modern.

Dinners are served in the next door Brewery Tavern – an extravaganza of banqueting, drinking and regular live entertainment medieval style.
Feast on food prepared on a traditional open fire and beer served by tough and tender wenches of the Inn. Be entertained by swordsmen, jugglers and dancers in the candle lit vaults.  But be prepared for medieval mannerisms – keep in check or fall foul of the Innkeeper!!

A part of the Dětenice resort – baroque Chateau, adjacent Medieval Tavern with Brewery and authentic style Medieval hotel.

Eastern Europe has been really trendy. Prague is the best-preserved city in the region … and the best beer in Europe lands on your table there for 50 cents.

Rick Steves

I will end my daydream with a quote unlike the ones shown above. I suppose I need a balanced perspective! 😉

How can you not love a city that has a pub with vinyl cushions on the wall above the gents’ urinal, so you can rest your head while you ‘go’? Where you can order a beer without speaking, simply by placing a beer mat on the table? And where that beer is probably the best in the world?

But it’s not just exquisite ale and a wonderfully relaxed drinking culture that keep bringing me back to Prague. There’s also wit and weirdness in equal measure: a public fountain where two figures pee in a puddle, spelling out literary quotations; a 1950s nuclear bunker hidden beneath a city centre hotel; and a cubist lamppost. Quirky doesn’t even begin to describe it.

-Neil Wilson (Lonely Planet)
Posted in Culture, Events, Food/Recipes, poetry, Quotes

The Great Blogger’s Bake-off: 2020 Summer Picnic – 3 Tempting Dishes

A picnic is more than eating a meal, it is a pleasurable state of mind

DeeDee Stovel
Image from Pixabay

#Haiku – Picnic Outside the City
Music, Treats, Laughter
Skyline sunset gives warm glow
Happy memories

Good afternoon everyone! I hope you are all well and enjoying the weekend!

Mel at Crushed Caramel, Gary at bereavedandbeingasingleparent, and Jeanne, our judge, at Jeanne in the Kitchen is hosting a lovely blogger’s picnic this weekend. Mel, our moderator, is currently sharing excellent commentary and tunes to match on all of the blogger’s entries. I’m so inspired by everyone’s creations this weekend. From UFO donuts to fast food cakes, feel free to stop by Mel’s latest posts!

I had difficulty deciding what to bake this year. Since I’m at home due to lock-down, I’ve made three dishes that I have never tried before, but always wanted to taste. Two French dishes and one Dutch delight!

Mushroom Quiche

A while back, a baking magazine caught my attention with its lovely tangerine yogurt cake on the cover. Dorie Greenspan was thrilled to share her sweet and savory recipes.

I decided to go with something savory and settled on a mushroom quiche on page 54. I didn’t have a tart pan, so I settled for a pie pan. The aroma of the filling the air as it was baking in the oven. I was excited by the end result.

OH MY GOODNESS..

This quiche personally made me cry with happiness the moment I took a bite! No exaggeration here. This flaky crust was one of the best I’ve ever had. The combination of flavors really sat well with my palette.

I surprised myself. I gorged. I ate half the quiche that night!

Just finished watching Lord of the Rings and laughed at this meme! 😀

My boyfriend said it was good, and my roommate said it was very rich.

Glazed Fruit Tart

Next up is dessert! A few years ago, I found this little book for sale at a used books store and was intrigued by the prospect of 500 types of pies and its variations.

I settled on a glazed fruit tart recipe. The basic sweet crust tasted like a soft cookie. Next time, I will stretch the crust over the pie pan. It shrunk as I baked it. 🙂 I included a citrus scent to the vanilla extract mixture to my pastry cream, arranged my sliced fruit, and topped it off with a warm apricot glaze.

All the bright colors truly made my day! What I love about this recipe was that it wasn’t too saccharine. The whipped pastry was lightly sweetened and the combination of the natural sugars from the layers of real fruit was refreshing. Loved the fusion of flavors!

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Cookies

As I was digging further in my ingredients bag, I found some powdered sugar, and decided to use it to make another treat. Shiran Dickman, blogger at Pretty. Simple. Sweet., shared a recipe for melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies. My cute cookies looked like a village of little igloos with snow sprinkled outside their homes.

Overall Feelings on This Year’s Picnic

This year’s blogger’s bake-off was truly special. The stress from this current events took such a toll on many people around the world. Many bloggers turned to the joy of baking for the first time as they were confined to their homes. Comfort food has a way of reminding us of our connection to family and friends. I know I feel closer to the authors who created these recipes because they brought me happiness to share with everyone I know. Hope you enjoyed my little kitchen adventure! 🙂

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* Recipes Below! *:・゚✧*:・゚✧