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Entries in international (2)

Monday
Feb272012

Spanking Kids and Bombing Countries (Or the lack thereof)

An interesting article posted by my friend Fatima on Facebook:

"Spanking Kids Can Cause Long Term Harm: Canada Study"

TORONTO (Reuters) - Spanking children can cause long-term developmental damage and may even lower a child's IQ, according to a new Canadian analysis that seeks to shift the ethical debate over corporal punishment into the medical sphere.

The study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reached its conclusion after examining 20 years of published research on the issue. The authors say the medical finding have been largely overlooked and overshadowed by concerns that parents should have the right to determine how their children are disciplined.

The initial reaction to this post on my part was, well, duh because it's a conscious parenting choice on my part not to spank.  I feel a strong need, because I realize this is a sensitive topic, to strongly emphasize that my choice doesn't make me a better parent. Simply put, though, I believe that emphasizing that you're stronger or taller or older than someone is not the best tool to teach them what's right or wrong. One day, we will not be stronger and bigger and taller. Principled living results from a person intellectually accepting something because they believe it to be right.  There's a line in the Quran (this is probably going to surprise our friends who believe in a vast conspiracy to force Islam on everyone) : "There is no compulsion in religion." Put another way, you can't *make* someone believe something is right.

I don't think you can force someone to believe something, and I believe that physical punishments are an act of force.

I hear this a lot: some kids need to be spanked. I disagree.  I just disagree. A child is a person.  A total and complete person that just knows a little less about the world than I do. To drill down to the simplest explanation: I don't spank children because I don't spank adults. Shut up. Perverts.

I also don't spank because I remember what it felt like to be spanked, both in an educational environment and at home. It was ineffective, shaming and made me resentful of the people who used those methods to assert authority over me. To this day, the adult in my life who has the most impact on me is the one who never laid a hand on me: my mother. All my mother had to do was tell me she was disappointed in me and I would straighten up.  I cannot recall a single second of my life where I did not respect my mother.  Not even when I was extremely young.  And I'll tell you this, kids aren't born respecting their parents, their parents earn that respect.  My mother earned her respect from me somehow without every laying a hand on me.

(Okay, there was this one time that she slapped me when I was sixteen, but I totally deserved that.  And, also, she apologized for losing her temper. It's just that she thought I was lying dead in a ditch because she didn't know where I was for eight hours and I was supposed to be at school).

People who disagree about this seldom change their minds or find compromises they can agree on as evidenced by a discussion I had on the show CYR (episode 20) a few years ago.

All of that up there was my initial reaction to the Canadian study. My second reaction was far more philosophically based than controversially based, and I'm hoping you latch on to this part instead of the first. How can we as a society, dare I say, species consider eliminating the use of physical discipline when it permeates the highest levels of our society? I feel like that's pretty hypocritical.

Spanking your kids is supposedly bad according to this latest research, but dropping bombs on country because you suspect that they have nuclear capabilities is okay? See, if we accept that spanking kids is definitely, absolutely not okay... well, we'd have to reassess paradigms that allow us to push the boundaries of what we believe are appropriate responses to international situations where we feel a particular nation or people need to be "taught a lesson" for a perceived or real threat.

You know what I mean?

Photo Credit
Thursday
Jan262012

7 Ways to Trot the Globe without Actually Globetrotting

Emma ... Not in East India... but East Memphis.

Traveling abroad offers opportunities to expand our understanding of different cultures, people and subsequently different perspectives. To me, a useful education has less to do with the levels of academia that have been traversed and more to do with successfully processing the existence of ideas outside of the paradigm of one's own thinking.

All that said, it's entirely possible to live a multicultural life without ever getting a passport.

The Internet, coupled with the rise of immigrant and first generation communities and populations throughout the world, presents most people an opportunity to sample the cuisine, clothing, food and some aspects of specific cultures without ever really leaving their homes.

1. Food. My fellow Americans, there are nations whose food is served within our borders that are not Mexico, China, Thailand or Italy.  Next time you go out to eat, don't let the "mood for Mexican" stand in the way of your expanding horizons.  Cuban, Argentine, Ethiopian...  The worst that could happen is that you don't like Ethiopian food which I think is better than not knowing what Ethiopians eat. Or thinking that they don't eat at all.  WHICH.IS.SO.ANNOYING.  It was a freaking region, not the entire country, the famine lasted two years, and it happened twenty five years ago, people.  Let it go.

2. Festivals. Ethnic communities put on a lot of "festivals." It's a way, I think, for us to feel connected to one another, but also an attempt to reach out to other communities and teach them something about us.  Just go. Bonus: there will be cheap, delicious food there. Food is a totally educational thing.  Just ask Anthony Bourdain.

3. Forging friendships. You're looking around for a someone to start a conversation with? Pick someone who looks like they're from somewhere other than where you're from. Is that politically incorrect?  Probably. I just think it makes for more interesting conversation and, you know, it could initiate world peace if people did it more often. Just.  Um.  Be cool, okay?

4. Books. Most public libraries have collections of international authors.  Book clubs are excellent sources. Not going to lie, Oprah's Book Club is my go to -- it offers a diverse range of authors in terms of national origin and race. You can search key words like "author" and "<a nation you'd like to visit">, too. A book isn't a substitute, but it is, again, better than knowing nothing.

5. Fashion. I'm not talking tunics from Target.  Nations like India, Japan, Malaysia, Kenya and yes, even Pakistan have thriving industries devoted to the haute couture that are directed at their own nationalities.  Scanning the international versions of Vogue that are available online offer insight into a culture's values concerning beauty, fabrics, industry and, of course, the feminine ideal.

6. Film.  Netflix is rocking it with the foreign films. Bollywood selections alone will take you on a veritable tour of the entire subcontinent.  Be warned, though, if you do ever go to India, few women look like Aishwarya Rai and pretty much nobody is dancing (well) in the streets.  If you're on a budget or don't have Netflix, did you know libraries lend movies!? For free?!  True story.

7. Avoid caricatures and remember that a micro-experience isn't a substitute for the real thing. Disclaimer: Keep in mind that experiencing a culture outside of its national origin is experiencing a representation of that culture. As Americans, what's our national food?  Our national dress?  Our national culture? My response to that is, it depends and yours may be more specific.  While we may have an unusually high diversity factor in the U.S., it's a mistake to assume that other nations are homogeneous in their ideals and culture.

These things aren't specific substitutes for travel, but often we set aside our dreams because there isn't time or money to do and see all the things what we want to.  Truth is, though, you can do a little bit now while working towards making what you really to want happen, too.

Have you traveled the world recently without really leaving home?  How?
P.S. Oh. Yeah. Happy Birthday, Adam.