Thursday, 18 August 2016

Living in an intolerant world

We all know at least one person who has strong, polarising opinions on at least one topic, often the ones you are told to never discuss on a first date: religion, politics, and the like. You may even be one of those people. It's good to believe in something, and it's good to be passionate about things. I have a problem when the passionate belief negates the existence of all other opinions. Aka when your beliefs become intolerant.

I am not religious. I am not sure if I'm really an atheist or an agnostic or what I am, but I've never believed in a benevolent personification who will weigh the scales when you die or forgive you all sins if you ask really nicely. I do believe in living a good life, in treating others like you would want them to treat you, and in a moral code. I believe that your sexual preferences are your business and I believe those who identify with the LGBTI community are just as capable of good or evil as those who don't. I don't believe there is anything wrong with them. Basically, I believe in tolerance and acceptance and I am trying to live my life with these in mind.

It's not always easy - we humans seem to be wired to be reactive when something different to our norm comes our way. I understand that people have different opinions, and in many ways that's what makes living great. How boring must it be to live in a world where everyone thinks and acts the way you do. That being said, I find it very difficult not to react rudely when faced with intolerance, and the one I'm focusing on now is religious intolerance. Every time I come across it I have to take a deep breath and try not to bang my head against a wall, which, let's face it, would be completely pointless.

This goes for intolerance from both sides of various fences. I have grown up with predominantly Christian friends, with some Hindus and Wiccans as well, and for the most part, this rant doesn't apply to them at all. However, along the way I have met a few bible-bashers who condemn all non-Christians to hell and lament our deficiency and lack of enlightenment. I've also met some atheists who are just as bad as the aforementioned bashers, who condemn anyone with a Faith as being illogical and stupid. Then you have the typical inter-religion damnation which leads to fanatical wars and nothing by misery (it soothes my soul to hear stories of inter-faith communities protecting each other during times of strife, like the Muslims and Christians did in Egypt). Finally, there's the intra-religion intolerance, and this one particularly boggles my mind. I don't know enough about non-Christian religions to comment on them, but for the case of Christianity, just look at much of Ireland's terror, or the Jacobite war in Scotland. Same religion, but woe to you if you belonged to the wrong denomination.

And then there are the religious ideals/doctrines which shake the evil stick at various groups because their religious text, written and transcribed and translated numerous times since its inception, tells you to. The obvious one here is almost every mainstream religion under the Sun and the prescribed intolerance towards the LGBTI community. I have gay friends and I cannot understand how anyone can think them evil and impure and diseased merely because of who they are attracted to. Every time I hear the phrase "pray the gay away" my mind explodes and want to punch something. It frustrates me to no end.

I don't understand religious intolerance at all. I find it utterly depressing. If your faith or lack thereof doesn't impact negatively or cause harm to those around you, why can we not all just accept that different things work for different people? This is why we have different flavours of ice-cream.

Oh, to live in an ideal, naive world...

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Freedom Day

Today is the 22nd celebration of the first fully-inclusive democratic elections in SA, the day when Nelson Mandela put his first ballot in the box and passed the country into the hands of the ANC (the ruling political party since that day). This latter consequence may not have been the greatest considering the current state of the nation, but at the time it was a good step for the country. We call this day Freedom Day (for obvious reasons), and it's a public holiday.

This meant that I didn't have to go into the office and led to a spontaneous lunch-time beach visit with a friend. As we sat on the balcony of the restaurant waiting for our food and drink, I people-watched and felt the spirit of Freedom Day.

I am so used to being in a multi-racial environment, that I don't even think about it on a day to day basis. However, watching the people below, enjoying their free day with family and friends, I was struck by how different the scene would be if those elections of 22 years ago hadn't happened. There would be only white people milling around and only English, or perhaps more likely, only Afrikaans being spoken. The couples holding hands would have the same skin tone, or would be arrested if they didn't.

We may still have many problems with economic inequality (which thanks to Apartheid is equivalent to racial inequality), as well as other things, but I am glad that people from different cultures and backgrounds and melanin-quantities can enjoy the beauty of the Durban beach front together without fear of being thrown in a jail cell.

Happy Freedom Day, South Africa!


Monday, 25 April 2016

Bed hunting

Growing up, becoming an adult: one of the things that makes it for me is upgrading your bed. I have had the same bed frame since the latter years of primary school when my parents bought a wooden bunk bed which could be split into two normal beds. Obviously both singles. It's the one I had when Picasso came into my life, had my first kiss (though I was not around it at the time), recovered from the worst illness of my life in, and has been carted around to three different apartments since leaving home. It's a good frame. Can be dismantled with a screw driver and an allen key. But it squeaks. And it's time to move on, pass it down to the next person/kid who needs it.

So. I've been mentally bed hunting for a while, and I have specific criteria.
  • First things first, it must be a double (don't think my apartment will fit a queen). 
  • Next, it must have an actual frame - I am not a fan of base-sets. Yes, they're a lot cheaper but I they don't have the headboard and some things require one.
  • The frame must be wood. I will never be one to enjoy the sterility of metal. So many show homes are all swish and swanky with all the chrome and stainless steel a-gleaming. Not for me. Wood is warm, and beautiful, and homey. For me anyway. Also, I don't understand someone buying wooden furniture with a beautiful grain, and then painting over it. Varnish, fine. Oil, fine. At least it lets the natural pattern shine through. Anyhoo.

So that's what I want and I've been struggling to find something that fits the bill. And then an impromptu visit to the Midlands this weekend led me to Homewood. The furniture in their show room was beautiful - it's the only place at the Piggly Wiggly complex that I could imagine myself getting excited about if I ever had to fall into a giant pool of free money. Because, you know, that happens. Sales guy was great, gave me his card, and having had a chance to peruse their online catalog, I am impressed and excited to own a new bed.

But. Decisions, decisions. Which I am not the best at. Currently have two options that I like. Subtle differences and from the pictures it's a trade off between sturdiness and headboard-versatility. Take what you want from that. What do you think?
Less inspiring name of DZ1BED.
Shown in Semi-rustic Natural Oak.
Headboard is more versatile.
Their UBUHLE bed.
Shown in Natural Waxed Kiaat.
Looks pretty sturdy.