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I wrote this back in June of 2011, when I had a Livejournal account. I was asked about it recently, so I decided to repost it in a place that I put my rants on such topics.

Why the hell am I writing this? Of all the self-centered, self-righteous, pig-headed crap I've done, why am I adding this to the pile? Why am I writing this shit when I know no one will listen, and no one wants to listen?

I think that I need to sort these things out in my head, and being a slightly visual person, putting the thoughts onto the screen will make it easier to organize them in some fashion. Or maybe, I just want to read my own words again.

Good God )

My father told me that linguists should never stick their noses into philosophy. Sorry Dad. This is for you.
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Dear Person with the Fire of Religious Fervor Burning in Your Gut,

Being an out Atheist comes with the perk of having a target painted on your back when it comes to anyone and everyone wanting to shove their religion down your throat. In the US, where I live, the religion of choice for gullet-stuffing is Evangelical Christianity, so many of my experiences are with that religion, though hopefully what I have to say will be applicable on a broader scale.

Proselytizing is rude. Please stop. I don't mean that you shouldn't have the right to express your beliefs or practice your religion. There are plenty of things that you are free to do that are obnoxious, and for the sake of living in harmony with your fellow humans, you shouldn't do. Especially when the person you're directing it towards isn't interested. There are times, specific times usually with associated places, that I open myself up for religious debates. Just not being in your religion doesn't mean that I'm up for a theological discussion at all times. Also, I'm introverted, so that kind of hostility I especially don't like.

When you proselytize, you tell people: “You're wrong. I'm right.” No matter how you try to dress it up, it has an undercurrent of disrespect. You also are setting up the person you're talking to, because no matter how they refuse you, it'll have the undercurrent of disrespect. You'll be forcing them to say, “No, I'm right, and you're wrong.” So many times have I been confronted by this rude tactic, and the person on the other end of it will start playing the victim card, when it was they who was being rude in the first place.

I get it. You think I'm in danger or need saving from some horrible fate. My life is my own, not yours. Let me do with it what I will. Will you grant me at least that bit of agency? At the core of respecting others is releasing your control over them. By trying to keep that control, you are inherently disrespecting them.

Some of my experiences with proselytizers include:

Being cornered in the library by the “Youth Group” in the highschool. They were meeting there, and I happened to also be in the library, because I wanted to read books. Tip to the wise: if you have to corner the person you're proselytizing at, they probably aren't interested.

I posted a video to fellow Atheists on You Tube, and for some strange reason, a bunch of Christians have posted on it trying to convert me. That video wasn't an invitation to convert me, that was a message to fellow Atheists that it's okay to be an Atheist. It didn't have anything to do with them. I don't go on Christian postings directed at other Christians and tell them what I think of their beliefs, so they should grant me the same courtesy.

Being on my way to class, and having to walk through a volley of people wailing and flailing their bigoted signs. One charmer, because I was walking with a female friend, got in our way and yelled something crude about lesbians.

One time, my spouse and I were trying to leave our apartment to go shopping or to the bank or something, I forget what, and a stranger barred us from leaving our home for an hour or so to yell at us about Obama being a Muslim because all black people are genetically Muslims. As you can tell, we did not feel safe going outside with such an aggressive delusional person outside our door. He did flee when I told him by his logic, he was genetically a pagan and he was talking to someone who was genetically Catholic and Jewish. Kinda a funny story to look back on, but not funny when you're facing a 6 foot, 200 lb raving nutcase that's preventing you from leaving your apartment.

There is a common thread in these experiences. In the in person ones, the proselytizers were trapping me physically. They stick out in my mind so much more, because of the fear of physical violence. Why, when faced with a devout Christian trying to spread their good news, would I feel like I'm possibly facing physical violence?

Because it's happened before.

I was in the playground. They cornered me. Once I was trapped they threw everything they could get their hands on at me, screaming, “Burn the witch!” Same group of people tried to strangle my little brother on the school-bus a few years later, but I was physically strong enough to rip them off of him and give them some scars to remember me by.

So, you want to proselytize.

Remember, traumatizing experiences at the hands of people sharing your religion, no matter how nice you are, will color the other person's perspective of the encounter. Never, ever get in someone's way or make them feel trapped; and if someone shows any sign of disinterest, back off.

Remember that it's essentially disrespectful.

Remember that there are times that it's welcome, and there will be no ambiguity about when it's welcome, because people will ask you to pitch your religion to them, usually starting with the phrase, “I'm looking for a church to go to.”

So, go out there and exist in your religion. Just don't be an asshole. Please?
dreamingfifi: (Default)
Christianity is a weird, exotic religion in Japan, one which has a pretty marriage ceremony and has something to do with a slow torturous murder of someone on a cross… and that’s about all most Japanese people know about Christianity. So, it sticks out like a sore thumb when the Japanese characters use references to Christianity, even in passing. And, it pisses me off when people just replace “god” with “kami” as though they mean the same thing… but that’s a rant for another day.

I think it is worth it though, to look at the religious themes that are in the Detective Conan universe. I think that a lot of Westerners, not having in Japanese cultural heritage, may not pick up on these subtleties. The reason that I know a bit about this is that I took a class on Japanese religion and philosophy (mostly a literature class, goodness, the Buddhist monks were prolific!) and a class on ancient Japanese literature, which included the Nihonshoki and Kojiki, so I’m not working off of pop-culture notions of what Shintouism and Buddhism are.

It’s been noticed before by many that the Magic Kaitou series is in a world with magic, and Detective Conan is in a world of science-fiction. But, the supernatural does exist in the Detective Conan universe, and it is powerful, and it is very, very Shintou.

Both Ran and Kazuha are shamanesses of sorts… or witches? Psychics? There isn’t really a direct translation into English, and the term “miko” conjures up completely different images, thanks to pop-culture. Either way, they both have supernatural powers. Kazuha made an omamori (a protective talisman) so powerful it stopped a murder attempt on Conan. She has a reputation for making powerful omamori, and she makes them for other people. Ran is psychic intuitive, meaning that when she guesses, she guesses correctly. She also has supernatural luck, winning at lotteries easily. Both Ran and Kazuha are extremely superstitious.

Conan/Shinichi is a Skeptic and an Atheist. Being an Atheist is likely tied into him not believing in the supernatural, which is a result of him being a Skeptic. Shinichi is an extremely outspoken Skeptic as well, living his life by it. He’s not very tactful about it either, often mocking Ran for believing in Youkai or ghosts. The Skeptism movement is based on using evidenced based reasoning to figure out what to believe. No evidence for something, no belief in it. Shinichi has had very little experience with genuine supernatural things, so he doesn’t believe in them. His ability to sense when someone is looking at him with malicious intent he likely explains to himself as his subconscious noticing something and warning him about it.

Heiji is also a Skeptic, but he does have some supernatural beliefs. It relates to his prophetic dreams. He has direct experience with it, and seeing Kazuha’s power, he’s proved to himself that his dreams are real, and that Kazuha’s omamori have some sort of effect on the world. He hasn’t however, started believing anything and everything supernatural, and joins in with Shinichi in mocking the girls when they freak out over a possible ghost or vampire. He’s debunked many faked supernatural events as well.

Interestingly, anyone who tries to profit off of something supernatural, either blaming a murder on it or making money off of it, in the Detective Conan universe, is a fraud who is exposed in the episode. The supernatural here doesn’t come to those who want it, it does whatever the hell it pleases, neither being good or evil, like nature itself.

I keep saying “supernatural”, but in Shintouism, there is no such thing. Kami are part of nature, not outside, or above it. Shintouism also doesn’t have very much to say about any afterlife, other than death being ritualistically impure and something that invites bad luck, which is why Buddhism and Shintouism can coexist so easily. Buddhism is concerned with the afterlife, and it supposedly grants ordinary people purification superpowers – as though living your life in a particular way and holding a specific set of philosophies can make you able to purify away the bad luck gathered by impure things like blood and death. It’s very common in Japan for people to live according to Shintouism – gathering blessings they’ve bribed from various kami at shrines and using the divining services of a psychics to help make big decisions, but to use Buddhist death ceremonies and mantras for funerals or other unlucky events. In fact, it’s hard to see anymore where Shintouism ends and Buddhism begins in Japan. Yin-yang philosophy (called “Onmyou” in Japanese) also has blended itself comfortably into Japan’s unique religious blend, making Duality a common theme in Japanese literature.

Then, we look at Shinichi. He’s soaked in blood and death, as part of his daily life. Shinichi is ritualistically impure, so he’s plagued with bad luck. Even with Ran besides him, horrible things happen around him, sometimes to him, constantly. He even brings his impurity into places that should be able to purify it; people die in shines and temples when he’s there. In that universe, it’s no wonder that the evil organization was drawn to him and ended up trying to kill him. Heiji is similarly plagued with bad fortune, but he has Kazuha’s omamori to offset it, so he hasn’t ended up hounded for years by an international crime syndicate. When Heiji and Shinichi are together though – there will be more than one murder. Though, that might just be the fact that Heiji is a popular side character they like to milk the appearances of…

One idea that’s been borrowed from Buddhism and is omnipresent in the Detective Conan universe is Karma. Bad things happen to people who deserve them. It has a story-telling convenience too – you don’t feel so bad about the horrible deaths of characters that you don’t like. It can be a fun little game – spot the asshole, and bet that character will be dead by the end of the episode. But - the moral themes of the show often directly contradict the Buddhist focus on the afterlife. Many times, either Conan or whatever detective solves the case lamented that people weren't focusing on loving and living their brief time in this life, which is a very important value in Shintou.

There is one other very strong influence on this series, something that was a lot stronger in the 90's, when it first started being published. The evil organization that Shinichi is fighting is likely some kind of Transhumanist cult. The search for immortality, the interest in digital security, hacking, and computer simulations add up to Transhumanism. Then, their members are members for life, secrecy is more important than money making, and the raising of children to be useful for them sounds very cult-like. It also puts Gin's obsession with betrayal into context, doesn't it?

There you have it: a very basic look into the religious/ideological themes of the Detective Conan universe.

Back to the Rant Index
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I composed this poem in IPA. English Orthography version below. I think it looses something that way though... oh well. Enjoy!

C
o:
ˈʤrægnˌflaj
wɛr ˈʤu go:
wɛn ˈju daj

A
aj
ˈgo tu ˌɚθ
ðə ˈsem ples
əv ˈmaj bɚθ

C
waj
ˈkæn ʧuˌsi:
maj ˈgadz ðæt
kn ˈnat bi:

A
aj
ˈno: mor ˌbaut
ðoz ˈdæm gadz
ðæ ˈʧu taut
o:
ˈju por ˌfuɫ
ˈhu gev ˌju
ˈrajt tu ˌruɫ

C
maj
ˈon gad ˌgev
mi ˈpawɚ
for tu ˈsev
ju:
ˈpɪtɪˌfɫ
ˈsɪnɚz ˌaɫ
jɚ ˌʤʌst ˈfjuɫ
for
ˈgadz straŋˌræθ
ju ˈʃʊd rʌn
frəm ˈgadz pæθ
ðɛn
ˈkloz jɚ ˌa:z
ˈfalo ˌgadz
ˈju diˌspajz

A
don
ˈθrɛʔn ˌmi
ˈfir kn ˌnat
mek ˈmi si
fʌ:
kɪŋ dɪsˌgres
ju ˈkænt pruv
jɚ ˈdʌm kes
so:
ˈʌntɪɫ ˌðɛn
liv ˈmi bi
fɚˈgatɛn
aj
ˈwont hɚt ˌju
tu ˈmi ðiz
ˈrajts ɪmˌbju
rajt
tu ɛgzɪst
tu
nat falo

riliʤn
ai
grænt ju ðiz
rajts aɫ ðə
tajm, so pliz.
aj
dont biliv
dont hoɫd ɪt
əgɛnst mi


C:
Oh
Dragonfly,
where d’you go
when you die?

A:
I
go to earth,
the same place
of my birth.

C:
Why
can’t you see
my gods that
cannot be?

A:
I
know more ‘bout
those damn gods
that you tout.
Oh,
you poor fool.
Who gave you
right to rule?

C:
My
own god gave
me power
for to save
you
pitiful
sinners all,
you’re just fuel
for
God’s strong wrath.
You should run
from God’s path.
Then
close your eyes;
follow gods
you despise.

A:
Don’t
threaten me.
Fear cannot
make me see.
Fu
-cking disgrace!
You can’t prove
your damn case.
So,
until then,
leave me be,
forgotten.
I
won’t hurt you.
To me these
rights imbue:
Right
to exist
To
not follow
your
religion.
I
grant you these
rights all the
time, so please.
I
don’t believe.
Don’t hold it
against me.
dreamingfifi: (Default)


Bullying

Aug. 17th, 2011 09:07 am
dreamingfifi: (Default)
No matter how I try, it seems to have scarred my mind in ways I can't escape.

I was always a weird kid. I over analyzed everything, and through my analysis I found may things superfluous that others clung to as social norms, and ended up denied access to society for that reason.

When I was little, I wore dresses even though everyone knew it was fashionable to wear pants. I was constantly teased for it. But I liked long flowy skirts, and pants had a way of pinching the backs of my knees in most uncomfortable ways. So, I wore dresses all the time.

When I got older and my aptitude for languages and linguistics started showing itself, I had no languages to learn around me, so I started talking to my chickens and turkeys. One day in 4th grade, around Thanksgiving, the teacher did the normal schpiel about "gobble gobble goes the turkey", and I raised my hand and corrected her, presenting my findings and research. This forever marked me as the girl who talks to chickens and turkeys; and sealed my fate as an outsider.

The teasing got far worse. I got into fights on the bus and the playground. The physical stuff wasn't too bad though. I was tall and strong, so anything they could dish out I could counter. It was the girls and their practices of ostracizing and ridicule that hurt.

I didn't see the world like they did. I didn't organize my views of the people around me by their places in society, but by the ways they treated me. To them, I didn't fit into society, so I was a blemish on their surroundings. They were also starting to reach puberty, and the hormones running through them confused and frightened them. To comfort themselves in the face of their insecurities, they lashed out at the blemish in society.

Oh did I hate being their scapegoat.

It didn't help that I mentioned on the bus that I wasn't Christian and neither was my family (except for my Nonna). Now, not only was a weird, but I was a heretic as well. The brat on the bus cornered me on the playground and threw rocks, shoes, and woodchips at me while screaming "burn the witch".

I spent most of those years, 9-12 years old, angrily grinding pebbles into dust on the playground all by myself.

My little brother Jethro entered Intermediate school too, and the bullying he faced from fellow boys was pretty terrible, and I often ended up stationing myself by him whenever I could to protect him. At one point, I ended up ripping bullies on the bus off of him who had his neck pinned to the window, strangling him. It got so bad that he spent more time protecting himself than learning, so my parents pulled him out of public school to homeschool him.

Junior high was surprisingly peaceful for me. I found a few other outcasts, and we banded together. I finally had friends that I could sit with at lunch. I wasn't spending every moment of recess and every bus ride protecting my little brother. Classes finally got interesting as well. They picked up the pace, and I found myself, for the first time, facing challenging and interesting classes. I headed toward highschool with a positive outlook, because my teachers said that classes would be far more challenging.

Highschool was challenging for other reasons.

All of a sudden, they were fighting tooth and nail to find a place in society for themselves that they were certain would be their place for the rest of their lives. I just didn't get it. I entered puberty very late, so I didn't feel the same rushes of emotion that they did. Anyways, I wanted no part of their struggle, but they were adamant to make me part of it. Since I wasn't on the attack, they figured they could make certain that I inhabited the lowest rung of society, and made me and my little group of friends their punching bag. Metaphorically of course. I didn't suffer any physical attacks in highschool, just psychological ones.

And oh, were those brutal.

During gym, they'd make endless jokes about the weight of one of my friends. One nasty little wanker made it his business to call me "chicken-fucker" every day on the bus. At one point, we were surrounded in the hallways by those little brats chanting "Freak! Freak! Freak!" Seeing if they could bring us to tears seemed to be their sport.

It didn't help that I discovered that I was bisexual and lived in constant fear of being found out.

All this left me really, really messed up. I wish I could say that it made me stronger. It didn't. It left me angry, cynical, and fearful of my fellow man. I keep finding the scars on my consciousness.

When I was struggling with depression a few years back, part of it was unearthing old fears that their is something wrong with me... that my strange outlook on the world meant there was some sort of mental disability that made it difficult for me to connect with my fellow man, but no. I'm just, as the psychologist put it, scientifically-minded, and that's a good thing.

I often wonder if the abuse I suffered at their hands made my imagination so much darker than normal. I look at my book collection, and I see a lot of horror and tragedy. My manga collection exhibits this particularly well. When I was fresh out of highschool, and just discovering manga, one of the first series I picked up and loved was Angel Sanctuary. The plot is apocalyptic and displays angels that are twisted and screwed up as humans - the main characters being a fallen pair of lesbian angels that were trapped in the mortal coil - endlessly reborn in human bodies, then hunted down and murdered by angels over and over and over... I connected with it so strongly because I recognized the shame towards my own sexuality, and the pain of persecution from my peers that I grew up with. In manga, the themes of simmering social injustice and fear/stifling of one's own sexuality are common, so I felt quite at home in Japanese literature.

In my own stories, it's been noted that I enjoy torturing my characters. It's rare to see them not being trapped and ostracized. In one of my first attempts at novel writing, I wrote about a girl whose skin sucked the life out whatever had the poor chance of touching her.

The anger is the most destructive of the scars. I found myself lashing out on the internet in the form of parody and ridicule. Starting at 15, I drifted through the Pit of Voles, finding bad stories and ripping them apart in every detail. I joined a group of similarly angry people, Godawful Fanfiction (GAFF) and we licked each others' wounds while clawing and kicking at our imaginary foes. It took a long time to realize that I was trying to lash out at the kids who hurt me, but only striking little girls posting their sexual fantasies online for everyone to read.

What is the point of this long ramble?
Bullying changed me. It left me in a lot of pain. Healing myself is taking a long time, and I still suffer flashbacks of it from time to time. If you see someone being bullied, step in. If you're an adult, goddammit you dolt, it's your responsibility to step in. These kids are riding a wave of irrational fear fueled by hormones and weird changes to their bodies - they don't have complete control over their actions. You have to shut down their attacks and remind them of human decency. Tell them that they are doing something wrong. If only the teacher "in control" of that hallway where me and my friends were cornered had stepped in - it could have stopped. Their argument, that we were freaks, could have been disqualified by the authority. But no, nothing was done to help us, and it appeared that their argument was given validity by the lack of action.

Now I'm in college. I isolate myself from the aggression-fueled social structures (sports), and I am happier. Bullying is a thing of the past. My friends all have suffered the same wounds, but we heal together. There is nothing wrong with us. We're just different. It's a state of being, not an affliction.

A few weeks ago, I finally came out to my family and friends as being bisexual. It unearthed a lot of the old fears of ostracization, and I found myself suffering many flashbacks and painful memories. But, I also found that those fears no longer apply to me. I'm not trapped 7 hours a day with a bunch of hormone-addled children. I choose my friends, and the friends I chose accept who I am. My family might not all understand, but I know that they love me enough to let me explain.

It got better.

/ranting

July 2015

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