The Question of Multiculturalism

multiculturalismThe United States has always been a nation of many cultures and groups of people, who all contribute to make it the unique nation it is. However, as the diversity of cultures has increased and spread in the past several years, views on the matter have become more one-sided. Also in recent years, other Western nations have moved in a similar direction towards a multicultural society.

Reactions of citizens to these once homogeneous places now housing various groups of people from different cultures and places, has been mixed. Some people see this movement as a large step towards the future, a world that is truly one, where superficial barriers of language, culture, and ethnicity can be broken down.

Others believe that multiculturalism is a concept that sounds nice in theory but has not worked, and will not work well in practice. They think that artificially placing disparate groups in one place will only cause conflict, cultural clash, and competition over whose way of life will prevail. In addition, those whose history and roots derive solely from one nation fear that their own cultural practices will be lost as people converge to create one multicultural society.

My own views on this matter are conflicted; I can see where those who stand strongly on either side of the spectrum are coming from. There is no reason the U.S., Germany or any other Western nation should be reserved solely for those “true” people –Americans, Germans, or others whose families have resided in those areas for centuries. Immigrants can and do add positively to the areas in which they emigrate, contributing new perspectives and bringing their own talents, as well as becoming productive citizens. At the same time, I think the manner and rate in which some nations have gone about creating a multicultural society has been haphazard and unsustainable. New groups should be integrated, rather than thrust into a new nation where they may not have the background or skills to become successful. Without proper integration some groups risk becoming the fringe of a society, always remaining outsiders and disadvantaged, which would have negative effects for all. I also believe that societies which embrace multiculturalism could incorporate new cultures without doing away completely with their current way of life.

What are your thoughts on multiculturalism in Western nations, its pros and cons?

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Open Question: Politically Speaking (Or Not)

political-questionsDo you discuss politics with family, friends, and acquaintances?

As the U.S. Presidential Elections draw closer, more and more political discussions are occurring in every venue. Engaging in political discussion can be a good way to broaden your knowledge and perspective on a topic that has vast consequences for our everyday lives. At the same time, political questions can lead to heated debates; many find it difficult to remain level-headed and anger, hurt feelings, and betrayal can be the result.

It is because politics can be such a contentious topic that I’ve decided to, in the future, refrain from discussing politics with friends and family whose political views are unknown or known to be starkly different from my own. In the past few months I have seen and been involved in situations where discussion of politics turned friends into enemies, reduced someone to tears, and nearly split apart a growing couple. It was no one’s wish to turn a neutral talk about the political landscape into a divisive, hurtful experience but it happened anyway.

Political discussions with those who have similar political views can be enriching and much less often has such harmful effects on the relationships between people. Other than those, personally I see fostering positive personal and formal relationships as more important than debating politics, no matter what could be gained.

Where do you stand on this topic? Do you follow the old adage that politics should not be discussed in polite company or are you open to political debate?

Open Question: Millenials – The Breakdown of Social Responsibility?

generation y responsibilityMillennials (also known as Generation Y) is the generation of people born between the early 1980s and the mid ’90s. This group is currently in their early 20s to mid 30s.

Millenials –myself among them– have been both hailed and criticized. This generation introduced digital technology on a massive scale, yet has also been seen to have a greater sense of entitlement and lack of concern for others than previous generations.

One criticism, which I happen to believe is true of this group, is that it is the Peter Pan Generation. This set, particularly the males, simply does not want to grow up and assume the responsibilities of adulthood such as career, marriage, family, and planning for a future beyond the next few months. It is not uncommon to find a 31 year old who has made little to no headway in establishing a career and still considers themselves “too young” to be tied down with a spouse.

When the eldest segment of Generation Y was in their early 20s, everyone believed they would grow up by their late 20s. Now, in their early 30s, many are still of the mindset that they are young and have much to explore before settling into a boring life of work and family. Some have one without the other — a career but no interest in a settled life of marriage/civil union or family, children but no interest in marriage and no career prospects.

I believe this global lack of responsibility has real consequences for the future. Innovation and individuality is to be embraced. However, the lack of any true concern for the foundations of most societies — home, family, and hard work, can upset the order and welfare of society as a whole, causing a ripple effect which cultures may never recover from. Future generations need a solid base from which to grow and form their own lives as adults, yet it seems that Generation Y may not provide that.

What do you think? Is Generation Y, especially the males of this generation, afflicted with Peter Pan Syndrome? If so, what do you think the causes are and what will the consequences be?

Why The Man Has to Chase, Part Two

black-woman-phone-laughingThree years ago I wrote Article Response: Why The Man Has to Chase. Since then the post has received over 100 comments on why men should or should not be the ones to pursue women for a romantic relationship. A few comments claimed that people should be more open-minded and not be so old-fashioned; women should be able to pursue men when they want.

I agree. Women should be allowed to pursue a man that they are interested in. However, this idea brings to mind one question: why wouldn’t a man chase, if he were interested? Wouldn’t he want to go after what he wanted?

To understand, women: imagine, you meet a man you like. 

You are mesmerized by his presence and dream of the things you will see and do together. When not with him, you often think of him. Would you then choose not to contact or be around this same man? Would you choose to do most other things over spending time with them? Of course not.

Interest and liking of a person is naturally followed by a desire to be in their presence — physically, emotionally, mentally. Disinterest or ambivalence, on the other hand, leads to a lack of desire to be in a person’s presence.

Many women have experience the barrage of contact from a man who is interested in them. Calls, texts, the man finding ways to show up where they are. Sometimes the situation may not be extreme but the general tendency of the man is to seek out ways to spend time with their love interest.

So another strong reason why a man should pursue a woman is quite simply because if he were interested, he would pursue.

Having a man chase doesn’t mean a woman simply waits around and does nothing. It can mean allowing a man to take the initiative once interest is established. Enthusiastically responding to his contact and keeping communication going is good, as is occasionally initiating contact. Pursuing and eagerly contacting a man who isn’t showing reciprocal interest, however, could easily result in undesirable circumstances, as discussed in Part One.

So once again, women, let a man pursue you. You won’t be sorry if you do.

Doxing

 

doxing

Doxing is a word that many may not have heard of, but may be familiar with, either as the perpetrator or as the victim. Doxing refers to the online practice of researching and publicizing personal information about a person with the intent to harm. Doxing could be simply revealing the real name of someone who blogs under a pseudonym or giving out a person’s phone number in a public forum. Since the popularity of social media, blogs, and other public groups, doxing has become more common. However, revealing personally identifying information online about a person can bring legal trouble.

In our world where information is available so quickly online, it can be easy to cross the line or even grasp that there is a line. After all, what is the problem with letting others know something that could easily be found in a Google search? The issue is the intent of the information. In the U.S., it is illegal to make public information with the intent to intimidate, harass, or harm another person. Regardless of how or where you found this information.

I have experienced doxing firsthand, as a particularly manipulative and angry individual stalked and harassed me online for months a few years ago. Under the guise of helping out another person, who she claimed I was bothering online, she proceeded to track my online whereabouts, search for personal information that would be damaging, and threaten to reveal or in a few cases actually divulge personal information; true and untrue. In her rage, she allowed her instinct to stand up for one person justify the cutting down of another. That is if protecting was her true reason for doxing at all because at its essence doxing is about going to great lengths to harm to another, not about helping others. Intuitively I knew that what she was doing was wrong on the basic level of human rights, but not understanding the laws against this at the time, I took no action against her. That will not happen again.

Whether you’re a public figure, a blogger, or just the average internet user, doxing is always wrong and illegal. If you find yourself the victim of doxing, the best way to combat it is to seek legal advice. Or, if at some point in time the idea crosses your mind to find personal information about a person to coerce, humiliate or shame them online, think again. It may create more problems for you than it solves.

Dog Frustration

golden-puppy-hate

Cute, but frustrating

 

Since I last updated over a year ago, several things have changed. One major change is that I now have a dog, technically a 9 month old puppy. She is a Golden Retriever and one of the most lovable dogs in the world. Except to me.

I think I hate my puppy.

I know, I know: how can you hate a harmless, cute little puppy who loves you unconditionally?

Let me explain.

My puppy and I, let’s call her Mandy, have a tense relationship, which started from the day I got her in late July of 2014. She was the most adorable thing in the world and I was so excited to have my very own puppy. She squirmed and tried to run away as my boyfriend and I gave her her first bath, and shivered the whole ride home but I was so happy to have her.

Then we got home. Mandy peed on my kitchen floor, then pooped on it a few minutes later, a watery mix of diarrhea. I brought her outside immediately and waited for 30 minutes while she sniffed grass, looked around, and tried to eat bugs. Okay, so she didn’t need to use the bathroom, right? Except she did, and as soon as I brought her back in, she released another sticky brown puddle.

And this was the start of a long journey littered with brown piles: Mandy has big issues with potty training. Mainly, if she feels the urge, she will release her bowels anywhere (including indoors). Waiting until we get to the appropriate spot is not something she does. I have tried tons of training techniques and she does understand the association between outdoors and relieving herself. The problem is that she just doesn’t seem to care.

Now, if her only issue were with potty training then I may not be pushed to the brink of sanity the majority of the time I deal with her. However, I simply don’t like Mandy very much. It is not her fault, and she is a very friendly, playful dog, but I think our personalities are mismatched. In particular, a few things give me the most trouble: Continue reading

A Lofty Existence is Three Years Old

third-birthday-cupcakeThis week the blog reached its third year in existence. A long time coming, for a tiny blog at the corner of the Internet.

Now that A Lofty Existence has reached true blog seniority, it is time to make a decision. Should the blog remain active and reach its fourth year and beyond, or has it served its purpose?

When I began this blog I had few plans as to how long it would remain open, I just knew that I wanted to write and have a place to share my thoughts, as well as connect with online acquaintances. And when I began this blog I was at a totally different point in my life than I am now. Currently, although I still love blogging, I don’t have much time to dedicate to writing posts. And as is obvious, a blog is nothing without its posts.

At the moment I’m weighing the pros and cons of two very different options — end my blogging by the beginning of the new year or make my new year’s resolution to stick to a strict schedule for posting and move my blog to a dedicated server. It will be a tough decision, but whichever option I choose, the blog will remain open.

As the new year is still several weeks away, I still have time to come to a decision, which I will post at that time. Right now, I’ll wish A Lofty Existence a Happy Birthday and all readers Happy Holidays!

Blogging on Blogging: Criticism

writing-criticismFor those who love blogging, it can be fun and rewarding. At the same time, owning and keeping up an engaging and informative blog is hard work — much more than it may seem to those reading the finished product. Feedback on posts and topics of discussion are always appreciated, however, feedback sometimes crosses the line into criticism which isn’t so constructive. Some even extend their criticism to other outlets — other blogs, forums, and the like.

While even unwarranted, negative feedback can help and spur a blogger to improve their writing, it for the most part detrimental. Besides the obvious result of demotivating the blogger who is criticized, it wastes time and creates a negative atmosphere. Among others, here are a few more reasons you should rethink or reformulate any critiques you’re contemplating sending a blogger’s way:

1. Blogging takes guts

To blog means to lay out your innermost thoughts and feelings. Needless to say, this isn’t the easiest thing to do. Scrutinizing a particularly personal post teaches the blogger that their ideas and thoughts are not welcome and discourages them from ever bearing their literary souls again.

2. It easier to tear down than build up

Those who criticize a blogger or blog post tend to feel that they can do better, or that the writing is simply not good enough. However, there is a world of difference between reading and critiquing, and creating. If you don’t believe this, try it.

3. A blogger is their greatest critic

Yes, before you ever see the blogger’s post it’s usually been raked over for the slightest mistake or misstep. While some may simply type and publish, most posts are read, corrected, and rewritten a few times. The act of writing makes a critic of any writer; it creates it own improvement.

All of the above said, criticism is necessary and I welcome it. But criticism can overstay its welcome when it hinders rather than promotes. Critics are needed, but thoughtful, honest writing is in short of supply. Instead of criticizing, it seems some chronic criticizers could better use their time by writing themselves; showing by example how a wonderful article or post is written.

How do you feel about criticizing blog posts and bloggers? If you have a blog, have you encountered criticism and how did you deal with it?

10 Cities I’d Love to Visit

The world is full of places to see and things to do, and at times I’ve wondered about the many places I’d go if I could take a grand trip around the world. The list of gorgeous cities and historical sites I’ve compiled would take days to list, but here is a short list of cities around the world that I’d love to see and explore one day. Feel free to add any suggestions!

innsbruck-picture

10. Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is a historic city in western Austria known for its mountain backdrop. It has beautiful constructions dating back to medieval times, like the Golden Roof built by Archduke Friedrich IV, and Maria Theresien Street, pictured here.

chaguaramas-picture

9. Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Meaning “The Land of the Palms,” Chaguaramas is a small coastal city in northwestern Trinidad. The beautiful beach area has must-see natural scenery, such as The Bamboo Cathedral, a stretch of road hailed by sky-high bamboo stalks on either side.

aurora-borealis-reykjavik

8. Reykjavik, Iceland

The capital of Iceland and most northerly capital of the world, Reykjavik, like most of southern Iceland, is an area unlike any other. The chilly climate manages to house a range of arctic wildlife, from mink to reindeer. It’s also a great place to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), a natural light display caused by solar winds in northern latitudes.

accra-picture

7. Accra, Ghana

Historically a trading city, the capital of Ghana is now a busy area of over 4 million, and a center for banking and foreign exchange. The city now contains fascinating modern architecture, but it once included major portions of the vast Ashanti Empire in the 18th century.

Poland Jewish Museum

6. Warsaw, Poland

Although historical events may indicate a city in conflict, Warsaw has a large and culturally diverse population including many of the world’s major religious groups. The city contains picturesque constructions from various time periods. Warsaw continues to renew itself while preserving its history, with projects like the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in April.

Bern-picture

5. Bern, Switzerland

Bern is an amazing culturally rich city which features medieval structures contrasting  with a modern culture of unique shops and theater.The photo here is of The Kramgasse, a curved street in the Old City popular for its shops. It also the site of Albert Einstein’s former home.

Iquitos-picture

4. Iquitos, Peru

Containing a large portion of the wondrous Amazon Forest, Iquitos, Peru’s Amazon River is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Its equatorial climate hosts contain almost 900 separate species of animals and just as many plants. Iquitos was officially established as a Jesuit station in the 1750s.

amsterdam-canals

3. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The Dutch capital features a vast system of canals, some of which is pictured here, and a booming economy based in the financial and tourism sectors. Known for its nightlife, Amsterdam also has a notable arts culture with sites such as the Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to the influential Dutch painter.

the-shambles-york

2. York, England

The city of York dates back two millenia when it was founded by the Romans. Now a major tourist attraction, this north England city features attractions such as the York Minister cathedral, and the lovely narrow streets of The Shambles (shown here, at night), containing many small shops and restaurants.

malmo-picture

1.Malmö, Sweden

Starting out small, Malmö has become Sweden’s third largest city and is a center of innovation, bustling city life, and natural beauty. A continuously growing city and the definition of European modernity, it has a young and varied population, with almost one-fifth of its population hailing from other countries.

Open Question: To Be Confident or Humble?

confident-womanIs it greater to have confidence in yourself or be more humble? And is it possible to be both at the same time?

It is one of the greatest ironies of life — people are encouraged to have confidence in who they are and believe in their worth, at the same time they are discouraged from displaying too much confidence. Instead they are told to stay humble and are praised for presenting themselves as unassuming and self-effacing, especially when their accomplishments or skills appear to be more praiseworthy. Public figures are criticized for displaying pride in their achievements, those who are lauded as attractive or intelligent are chastised if they note such qualities in themselves.

Thus confusion is created; most are unsure if they should show any confidence in their innate gifts or practiced skills. How much confidence is too much, when is it warranted, and when will it be considered arrogance? Perhaps it would be better to display humility, after all, it is a virtue.

Due to being unsure of what side of the fence they should be on, some end up choosing one side over the other — complete confidence or utter humility. As a result these people are labeled as arrogant or lacking in self-esteem. No matter which you choose, you can’t win.

So today I’m wondering: do you personally find it better for a person to be confident or humble? Which are you and which would you like to be: confident or humble?