Personal change and growth generally happens slowly. One’s political beliefs may shift over one’s lifetime, or a commitment to health and fitness may slowly be fostered. But generally these changes happen over a length of time, and in relative isolation from other changes.
Every once in a while, however, some belief that is fundamental to your worldview gets torn away. Like pulling out the bottom card in a house of cards, the rest comes tumbling down and must be rebuilt. Suddenly, change is thrust upon you, and you must deal with it. It’s at times like these that life gives you a reset button. All of a sudden, you have a fresh start to define who you are. You have a new chance to redefine yourself and cast yourself in a new light.Continue Reading
I’ve been engaging in a little bit of introspection regarding self-identity this week. It sprung up from several conversations with a friend of mine, mixed with some comments from the book I’m currently reading, The Feminine Mystique (amazon.ca) by Betty Friedan. These sources sparked thoughts about the way in which people perceive themselves, and how that affects their own direction in life.
Friedan discusses at one point how women in the 1960s were generally identified by who they were rather than what they did. While men were defined by their achievements: their profession, their skills, their victories and defeats; women were instead defined by their anatomy: their ability to become mothers. In other words, women were fulfilling their role by just existing long enough to become pregnant. I don’t think I’m qualified to discuss how such attitudes have changed since the time of Friedan’s writing—I expect that we’ve likely made some progress toward equality in this area, but there is likely still more to be done—but I would like to extend this toward a slightly broader perspective.Continue Reading
I’m consistently amazed at how little self-awareness people can have at times. Or, at least, I’m assuming that there are others with as little self-awareness as me. My understanding of myself seems to come in bursts of revelation rather than slow, incremental gain. As my thoughts swirl around in a storm, sudden flashes of insight appear like lightning.
The current storm in my brain has been regarding gender roles. As my understanding of feminism grows, I realize that gender roles are one of the key areas of society that must be challenged in order to provide equal status for women. But such an issue is just as applicable for men as well, since men face gender roles and norms of their own, and it would be somewhat odd to attack feminine gender roles and leave the masculine ones intact. So this issue, more than perhaps some other feminist issues, has an incredible power to unite both men and women in challenging social stigmas and oppression.Continue Reading
I was raised in a conservative evangelical household. The denomination in which I grew up, Pentecostalism, takes the Bible to be literal truth. But the Bible was written thousands of years ago, before there was any systematic scientific understanding of the world. Thus, a literalist Christian holds to a belief system based on a book written in the Iron Age. This has led to the perpetuation of beliefs which have no place in the modern world (ones that have absolutely no scientific credibility). One of those beliefs is a literal acceptance of demons and other spirits.Continue Reading
Religion, in all its diversity, has a vast range of effects on people. For some, the interaction between religion and the individual is very positive. Religious beliefs bring them hope, peace, and a stable optimism that helps them to become caring and compassionate people. There are many ways to explain this, of course. It may be that these people are just kind people, and would be so with or without religion. Or, it may be that religion creates this kindness and stability within them. What is most likely, though, is that it is a combination of both: These people are naturally predisposed to being kind people, and religion both encourages this and provides ways to manifest these positive qualities. If this is the case, religion can have very positive effects for these people.Continue Reading
I try to spend as much time as I possibly can reading. I still read far less than I would like to, but I’ve managed to read quite a few books over the past few years. The difficulty for me is to pick my favourites out of the ones that I’ve read. Certainly some I didn’t like, but many were good yet incomparable to each other. One may have a great plot, while another has compelling characters, while another has interesting themes underlying it—it all gets very difficult to compare one book to another.Continue Reading
Another year has come and gone. Where did all the time go? It seems like 2010 has flown by. But of course, as everyone always seems to do on New Year’s Eve, I’d like to take some time to reflect on the past year.
I guess that for me, 2010 was all about decision-making. I had to make some big decisions, the most important one being about grad school. Do I want to go to grad school? Should I go as soon as I graduate? Where should I apply? These were all questions that I had to answer this year, and I’ve now gone through that entire process. I’ve filled out the applications, done the GREs, sent out transcripts, got letters of reference. And now I wait. 2011 will be the year that I find out what happens.Continue Reading