Posts Tagged ‘ignorance’

Adjusting (or not)

I find it difficult to get used to this place. The next door neighbor is a single mum with three young kids, and from my point of view the kids are out of control, the whole family constantly screaming at each other (and worse on occasion). Though her youngest and mine rarely play together- the pervasiveness of their life is starting to affect my kids. Rafe, who is normally incredibly good natured, has started screaming at me. I have long learned how to handle that type of behaviour and can nip it in the bud with a stern word of warning, but it disturbs me just the same. My daughter,11, occasionally plays with the other girls on the street, and afterwards she is belligerent, demanding and snotty. Trying to manage these new behaviours is demanding as they are not part of my kids normal makeup, and are the result of influence. I find that I have to be even more strict than usual and can’t let them get away with it for a second. My eldest is son is thankfully not yet affected, he is not allowed to hang out with the few boys his age on the street as I know they smoke and drink. He’d like to go to the skatepark but the kids there are nasty little cretins and Dev finds that instead of just being able to play, he has to spend his whole time arguing or standing up for himself. Never mind that he is bigger than the kids and could easily lay them out if he decided to let them have it, that’s not in his genetic makeup and I think they see that.

The nights are difficult. Though we are fairly tucked away, our road is some sort of bus through-fare and they come and go at all hours. People come and go all night as well, usually loud and drunkenly. The dogs of the neighbourhood wake me up early every morning with collective howling and barking. During the day the street is full of kids, normally just playing, but when the neighbor kids are about you can be sure their mother will turn up soon and they will all start screaming again, usually just outside our windows. The little one, only 6, will inevitably start crying and there will be more screaming and I end up pacing the floor, wondering what I can do and usually just taking my kids to the park so they don’t have to listen to it anymore. Once I could hear her sobbing through the walls with occasional screaming at the kids and I gathered up all my courage and went over to ask if I could help, maybe by taking her kids to the park or something, she pretended not to be there, and when I pressed said she was fine, thank you.

Her behaviour disturbs me, especially as I worry about her kids, and the effect on mine, and initially I was very judgemental about her. I softened though when I remembered being a single mother for 8 years with two kids, one of which would later be diagnosed with a “social communication disorder”, which just means he screamed a lot as a kid, and occasionally jumped out of moving cars on busy roads because he couldn’t control his anger. It took me a few years to get the hang of this parenting stuff, and I remember being so hard on my son for silly things. I want to help my new neighbour, but she clearly does not want my help. She struts around the neighbourhood, wine class in hand, screaming at her kids or sobbing about some transgression to the adolescent girls that make up her entourage. I find myself less sympathetic and understanding and more irritated and disgusted. When the screaming starts I twitch the curtains, worried she will strike one of the children and knowing that if, when, it happens I will not be able to stay out of it anymore. My family knows this, and while I don’t think they would truly want me to stand back if she were beating them, I know they want me to be quiet, mind my own business, not get involved. I feel embarrassed that they feel this way, that I am some big mouth always getting involved in things that they don’t think concern me. I feel ashamed of them, too. We once came across a man and a woman fighting in the back of the van at a red light. We could see him punching her, could see the blood on her face and clothes. Instinctively I got out of the car, started to shout at them but was dragged back in by the sounds of my family shouting at me. I knew it could end up with me being hurt and didn’t want my kids to see that, so I got back in, and called the police instead. I thought perhaps I had taught my kids an important lesson that night, but now I wonder. Could it be that I am raising kids, and am married to a man, who can stand back and do nothing while others are hurt or treated badly and worse, believe that is better somehow than getting involved?

I long for our detached house in the tiny little cul-de-sac, where the cats could sleep all day on the road outside without ever being disturbed, where the nights were mostly silent and the only noise on a Sunday morning are the church bells in town, which I opened my windows wide to, so that we could hear them better, especially in the winter, when they chime Christmas carols.

Supermarket Fury

Going to the supermarket. Christ, is there anything worse? They just get bigger and bigger and when I finally leave I’ve lost 3 hours and wonder if I’ve been abducted by aliens. I know, I know. I’m lucky to have a supermarket to go to. Nonetheless. I feel like I am there every single day of my godless life. And you can’t just go in and buy the one thing you actually need, or at least I can’t, there are always half a dozen other things. Ooh, that’s on sale! Ooh, that’ll be good for dinner! Ooh, my favorite piece of junk food that is not at all good for me but I like to eat anyway! So, even though all I freaking needed was a loaf of bread that I can buy for 40 pence- I end up leaving with £35 worth of groceries. Granted, I buy a lot of reduced stuff that can be frozen and used for future meals, so I save money in the long run. I’m trying to bring my family round to trying the paleo diet, which I gather is just meat and veg and the money I’d save by shopping at the green grocer and the butcher and never setting foot in a supermarket makes me giddy with possibilities, I might finally be able to fix my sons bike! Lo and behold my family likes their carbs, thank you very much, so I may have to employ the use of stealth when making the switch. Though there is always the possibility of the old “I’m paying for the groceries, if you don’t like what I’m buying, get a job and buy your own.” That tends to stop the whining in it’s tracks…

What annoyed me recently (well, ok, a month ago) at the supermarket was the cashier. Usually they just ring the stuff up and make small talk (occasionally with me, usually with a colleague or the customer in front who won’t pick up their damn bags and GO already) but this one decided she needed to comment about what we were buying. Grrr. We’d gone in for only a few items but I’d come across quite a few sale items, of course. So we had three boxes of ice cream bars at 50 pence each for the kids, an apple tart that I thought would be a nice dessert one night for £1. Two boxes of my favorite cornettos, 2 for £2. And some other bits and bobs. Yes, there was a bit of junk. I joked about it to my husband. Yet this cashier decided she need to tell me all about weight watchers. And how half her grocery shopping is always vegetables. I tried to keep things light, and said something about how it’ll be nice when the kids go back to school and arent clamoring for ice cream all the time. To which she replied “Well that’s when you tell them they can have a piece of fruit!”

Sorry, guys. Kids with fat mommies aren't allowed ice cream!

This annoyed me. I didn’t say anything to her, other than just a “Oh, I do!” but the sheer audacity pissed me off. Why pass judgement on my purchases? I have three slim, healthy, active children. One of which prefers to snack on carrots more than anything else, and two who love salad and always have seconds. They arent allowed to drink soda, fast food is a rare treat and all their regular meals are homemade. They get told “If you’re that hungry, have a carrot or a piece of fruit” six times a day. The only one who eats to much junk in my household is me. And clearly I am an adult and perfectly capable of deciding for myself what and how much I eat. I have one child who hates fruit and veg and would prefer to eat junk all day. I don’t allow this. His favorite breakfast item is cereal, which I rarely buy. He has to eat more healthy food. If he doesnt eat his carrots at dinner, he gets no dessert, etc.

I suppose people just like to feel superior and I shouldn’t be offended, but it seems to illustrate once again that fat people are fair game for ridicule. I know I’m fat, I promise I’m not stupid and I really don’t need a lecture from the cashier on the value of eating vegetables. Neither do I need random people assuming that since I am fat, I am a simpleton incapable of appropriate parenting, especially as how the 6 year old next door is never without a can of coke and a packet of sweets, though his mom is thin as a rail. Shockingly enough, I don’t sit around eating junk and watching daytime telly all day, either.

So what I’d like to say to that cashier is this: “Look bitch, it’s the middle of August, the kids are off school and if I want to give them some damn ice cream, I will. And, by virtue of not being stupid, I know exactly how to lose weight when and if I choose to, so I really don’t need you to lecture me about weight watchers and fucking vegetables.”

on life in a foreign country

It’s a funny thing, moving to a foreign country. People get upset if you expect it to be at all like home, you are expected to know everything will be different, accept it and just be happy about it. Enjoy discovering new things. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. In theory. The problem comes when you step off the plane in a new country and the first thing you see is… McDonalds. Or Starbucks.

For me, as an American, this wasn’t what I expected. I expected things in England to be different. I was totally prepared for things to be different, yet what I quickly discovered is that, actually, they really weren’t. Thanks to globalisation, I could have the same lunch latte in London on Thursday that I had had two days and 6000 miles previously, in Phoenix. The similarities didn’t stop there, I could also buy most of the same brands of clothing and food, shop in the exact same supermarkets, even watch the same tv shows and channels. I can buy a lot of the same food, enjoy many of the same sporting activities and speak the language fluently, with no extra effort at all.

I have been here six years now and know that while things look the same, they arent exactly the same. I know that certain drinks and foods are prepared differently, with different ingredients, or amounts. I know that while many of the food items and brands I know and love from my formative years in the states may be available, in the same or a different form, in grocery stores, chances are restaurants will not have heard of them or added them to their menu. I know a lot of the ins and outs of the culture.

To someone just getting off the plane, expecting adventure and discovering new things, it is disconcerting to find everything the same. To then have to adjust, not to foreign differences, but to foreign sameness is quite difficult. As the days and years pass by and you learn and absorb you eventually start to pity and even mock those newcomers.

But, perhaps we should all remember that it is not necessarily ignorance or arrogance that defines foreign visitors who don’t seem to accept that they are in a foregin country and things will be different. Perhaps it is a genuine confusion over what is actually different, and trying to reconcile that with what is the same. This is no easy task and instead of anger or surprise- natives and long term foreign residents should try their best to guide newcomers, help them find the differences that they will cherish and be thankful for.

oh, and also-

Overweight people are not all overweight because “they obviously don’t eat only when they’re hungry”. There are lots and lots of reasons for obesity.

Ignorance + Stereotypes= a hateful society.

I am apalled at the amount of hate filled diatribes aimed at poeple who are “obese”.  I know that there is always some group of people that get treated like dirt for being different, whether it’s a different religion, or skin colour, or political affiliation.  And every time that group of people manage to throw off the rampant discrimination associated with their group, it just moves right on to another group of people.

Is it possible we could just live up to our perceived humanity and evolution and just stop, altogether? Why does there always have to be a group of society that we deem less worthy, less smart, less pretty, less capable, etc? If we started acting like we were all equals, perhaps we really could start feeling like it, too.

what? you are joking. right?

“Well, if you’re fat- it’s simply a case of putting to many calories in one end and not doing enough work to burn them off!”

“So, you’re saying that fat people are fat because they’re lazy sods who sit around eating all day?”

“Well…. need I say anything?”

She’s referring to me, apparently since I am overweight I qualify, despite the fact there isn’t a speck of food on my desk and my last meal was lunch three hours ago.  I choose to ignore the personal dig, I’m overweight because I’ve had three kids in ten years and have never made a concentrated effort to lose the baby weight, not because I sit around eating all day. (well, not every day.)

“So,” I say, “What about all the skinny people who sit around eating crap all day…?”

“Well, that just proves it!” she says

“Well it proves that there are lots of skinny people who eat crap and don’t exercise!”

“Well…..oh…”

the conversation ends.

 

I was blown away, first by the sheer ignorance and this attitude of “fat people are fat because they are lazy and eat to much!” and then further by my discovery of this company, which apparently teaches people that they are fat because they can’t control themselves, and use eating as a coping mechanism.

There are many reasons for people being fat or skinny, and it amazes me that there is such a hurtful, ignorant attitude prevalent amongst “skinny” people.  We can all agree that being overweight is not a healthy thing. But to have such a venomous and condescending attitude towards overweight people is really sad.  I am the only overweight person in my office and I am constantly shocked at the way my skinny colleagues talk about “fat” people. It’s just so cringeworthy, incredibly insulting, patronizing and condescending.

I’m not saying we should encourage people to be overweight, but we certainly shouldn’t be bullying those who are overweight or making them feel like they are just really stupid, lazy people.

unbelievable

I had been perusing various psychology blogs and websites when I came across this article. Previous to this I had been viewing images from Christmas In Purgatory: A Photographic Essay On Mental Retardation. Those images had been disturbing, and very sad, and I could only bear to look at maybe a dozen of them. To me they chronicled an ignorant age, when we simply didn’t fully understand. I wondered if the same sort of images could be captured in today’s America, where we are all open minded and aware, where we are so civilized. Certainly not, I thought- we have come a long way from the days portrayed in that essay!

Unfortunately I’m wrong, as this article and accompanying CCTV footage illustrate. Even these days, those with mental health disorders are treated inhumanely, without compassion or care. But these days, we do not have the old excuse of ignorance to fall back on. These days we are simply to lazy to care. 

”  A shocking video shows a woman dying on the floor in the psych ward at Kings County Hospital, while people around her, including a security guard, did nothing to help.

After an hour, another mental patient finally got the attention of the indifferent hospital workers, according to the tape, obtained by the Daily News.

Worse still, the surveillance tape suggests hospital staff may have falsified medical charts to cover the utter lack of treatment provided Esmin Green before she died. ”  more

Bigoted Nescient Parasites

I must simply say this- if you have ever considered voting for the BNP, please reconsider. A popular political party that contains a high standing member that spews such hate filled ignorance is truly a frightening thing. While the party is known for it’s ridiculous policies on immigration, this transcends anything I have ever seen or heard from them and it makes me feel sick.

To claim that women enjoy rape, are to blame for the woes of society because they choose to work, and are all vindictive and spiteful is so jaw droppingly backwards it makes you wonder if we really are living in a 1st world, modern and educated country in the 21st century.

For the BNP to trivialize the blog’s statements by saying they had been “taken out of context” or to defend it by screaming “FREE SPEECH, FREE SPEECH”  is apalling. Yes, BNP, your members may say what they like on their blog, just as I may on mine, but the simple fact that one of your members holds such views, felt it appropriate to publish them and you have defended it says quite a lot about your party. Please, remember, in May when you are hanging your heads in defeat that it was not the “nasty, braindead, disgruntled left wing… undemocratic democrats”, or even the “stupid women” who brought you down, but yourselves, by simply revealing your true colours.

Despite my uncomfort with Labour’s immigration policies this issue makes me eager to become a British citizen, just so that I may cast my vote away from this disgusting party.  As all immigrants, stupid women,  working mothers, traffic wardens and rape victims should.

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