Sunday, October 28, 2012

What the Hell?!?

People, in general, have always been fascinated by the concepts of "heaven" and "hell" and religions around the world use them to provide a moral compass to us sinful mortals. "Be good and prosper in Heaven, but if you are bad, be prepared to be tormented in Hell" has been the lesson handed to us by Christianity in particular. Heaven conjures up visions of golden mansions beyond the clouds, along gold-paved and diamond-encrusted streets, and people in long-flowing robes sitting at the feet of Jesus, enjoying eternal salvation. Hell, on the other hand, brings us images of both darkness and burning flames, pots of boiling oil and a grinning, horned devil enjoying his torment of all the sinners doomed to eternal damnation.

Like everyone else, I have always wondered why a loving God would punish sinners forever by sending them to Hell. My understanding is that the idea of Hell has been employed as a deterrent to people, to steer them from their sinful ways. Sometimes, love alone does not do the trick, and a little fear goes a long way in the moral policing of humankind. Though we have implicit faith in a loving God, we tend to stray away from the path of goodness at times, but the fear of the devil and the torment of Hell is sure to keep us on the right track, I guess. It's good for us to exclaim, "What the hell?!?" and keep on living our lives as well as we can, with our eyes trained only on all that is good and fair!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cyber Bullying

Just weeks after posting a chilling video on YouTube, Amanda Todd, a troubled teenager from Port Coquitlam, B.C., killed herself at the tender age of 15. Ever since, the media has been abuzz with comments and analyses about cyber bullying, in this case, by a suspected pedophile from the US who has managed to evade the authorities till now, after targeting Amanda and torturing her to the point of suicide. In the wake of the teen's death, education management and social media experts have all weighed in about keeping teenagers safe from cyber bullies.

"Internet stalkers" are out there aplenty, and Amanda had the misfortune of being lured by one such predator who convinced her to expose herself on a webcam and then used the image to blackmail her by distributing it to her schoolmates, teachers, and everyone in her social circle, when she refused to put on a more explicit webcam show for him. The hounding and the torture continued even after she changed schools, leading the tormented teen to take her life shortly after posting the YouTube video, comprising of handwritten notes about her lonely, haunted life.

Amanda Todd's life is a learning experience for all teenagers who need to be wary of cyber stalkers and pedophiles who troll the Internet. Children have to be educated about the dangers of exposing themselves to strangers on webcam, and also about the cruelty of bullying their peers like Amanda Todd. Amanda was not only victimized by her stalker, but also by her schoolmates who posted disgusting images and comments on social media, even after her death. The authorities should take all steps needed to prevent cyber bullying of any kind, punishing the perpetrators and teaching teenagers how to be good digital citizens.

RIP, Amanda Todd! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Having The Cake And Eating It Too!

Anne-Marie Slaughter's recent article in the Atlantic magazine , "Why Women Can't Have It All,"  has fanned the hot debate all over again if women can have the cake and eat it too. She is the latest high-powered female from the Obama administration who has inflamed the "mommy wars" to a raging inferno, by stepping down from her position as the first female director of policy planning at the US State Department, so she could return home to take care of her troubled teenager. 

Slaughter's advice to women is that they should "go out and come back", that is, they should go all out into the workforce to steam their way ahead into the upper echelons of power, but at the same time, be prepared to scale back and return home if the need arises, say, to nurture a troubled child. And that is exactly what she did. She says that in her days as policy director, she attended UN meetings with foreign ministers and heads of state, sipped champagne and mingled with dignitaries at President Obama's receptions, but she worried all the time about her 14-year-old son, back home in New Jersey, failing Math in Grade 8 and "tuning out any adult who tried to reach him."

Clearly, women the world over need support systems in place so they can juggle the harsh realities of career and home, and balance them out well. Women still don't seem to have it all, be it an elite government official or a middle class Mom. Women still have to put their high-flying careers on hold and return to engaged motherhood, whereas men don't seem to have this dilemma at all. Unlike Slaughter, it must be acknowledged though that most working women simply do not have the privilege or luxury of just giving up their jobs and staying home to nurture their children because it is imperative they bring home a pay check each month. And so the debate goes on, if women can have the cake and eat it too!

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Love Affair With Sleep

Let me confess that sleeping in on the weekends is my guilty pleasure. It certainly is a luxury that I loathe to give up, no matter what. I wake up faithfully at 5:30 AM every single day of the work week, so the weekend lie-in is something I look forward to without fail. A couple of hours of extra snooze on the weekends is what I need, so very badly, and it helps me catch up on all that sleep lost during the work week. Or so I thought.

Research now indicates that "sleep debt" can never be paid off by lie-ins, rather it will only upset the circadian cycle, which controls our body clock, in a big way. Sleeping in on Sundays will make it even harder to wake up for work on Mondays, and will make us feel more tired than normal, researchers say. The best way to go about would be to get a regular 8 hours of sleep every night. Easier said than done, don't you think?!?

It's been years and years and years since I've slept a full 8 hours every night, not with working full time and juggling house work as well. I'm the typical harried Mom and career woman, whose to-do list is endless each day, as I go rushing about in a crazy whirl and multi-tasking like there's no tomorrow! Sleep is undoubtedly a luxury for me, so much so that even when we're away on vacation, all I want to do is sleep in, and drive my men nuts, so to speak. So no matter what the researchers say, my love affair with sleep will continue, complete with those heavenly weekend lie-ins!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Punishing A Pedophile

The damning testimony by many child victims against former Penn State assistant football coach and serial pedophile, Jerry Sandusky, 68, saw him being put away behind bars yesterday for a period of 30 - 60 years. In essence, Sandusky is going to spend the rest of his life behind bars because there is no possibility of parole before the minimum 30 years, according to Pennsylvania law. This harsh sentence is something that he so richly deserves, though it is in no way going to mitigate the mental agony and suffering of all the boys that he sexually abused during his tenure at Penn State.

Sandusky has been convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, but what is most heinous is the callous attitude of the university officials towards the crime. Despite one of their own graduate assistants, Mike McQueary, having reported to them of having seen Sandusky raping a child in a locker room shower, the administration seems to have been so bent on safeguarding its own reputation, and hence sweeping the whole thing under the rug. Now that retribution is being doled out, the university has the gargantuan task of redeeming itself and atoning for its sins. And one can only imagine all the legal action that Penn State is going to be mired in, in the years to come!

Pedophiles have always been known to groom their victims before abusing them, and so did Sandusky, through his charitable organization for troubled boys. It gave him the perfect front and provided him with the ideal hunting ground to feed his perversions. Sandusky still insists he did nothing wrong, and is planning to appeal his conviction. He believes he is the victim of a conspiracy hatched against him by the media, Penn State, investigators, prosecutors, and others, and it only goes to show how perpetrators of such heinous crimes are caught up in their own warped realities. It also becomes the sole responsibility of the people around to stop such abuse when they see it happening and help the victims towards hope and rehabilitation.