Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

I saw it coming, i saw it coming from a mile away. I am talking about the latest numerous spats by exasperated and fed up local Croatians who have been inundated with tourists from around the World (Thanks, Game of Thrones).

Yet there are some particular tourists that are copping more criticism than others and yes the Green and Gold Aussies are unfortunately one of them. Sure, we have seen it all -the not so wonderful etiquette of tourists coming to our own shores here in Australia, yet i feel like our tourism load doesn’t match our reputation, our “laid back and relaxed” welcome we greet tourists with isn’t the same “laid back and relaxed” attitude we take with us when we travel abroad.

First of all, we like to party. It must be all of our nanny state lock-out laws that make us want to let our hair down and just go crazy at Moon Parties in Thailand or Yachts sailing over the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. I get it, from a Worldwide scale our nightlife sucks and it doesn’t hurt to live a little.

 

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Drunk Australian man plunges into the Baroque Fountain in Rome. He is then fined.

 

Yet one thing that i think that gets the best of us is that even though we love a good time we are not so accommodating with the customs, laws, rules and regulations of other countries and once this complaint is recognized we can turn from cute cuddly Wombats to ferocious wild “drop bears”. (Relax, they’re not real).

The latest complaint comes from Croatia. I am half Croatian and i have been to Croatia at least six times in my life. All of my Croatian family still reside there and my last visit was in 2015. When i visited Croatia in the Early 90’s until the Early 00’s people would often say “Croatia, where is that?” or they’d seem perplexed and ask if its near “Russia”.

Yet today Croatia is on every Australians radar, it’s pristine beaches, wonderful food and lively people are all part of a very attractive package, i know because i have seen it. I remember in the Mid 1990’s visiting the ancient Fortress town of Dubrovnik, back then i saw next to no tourist buses and crowds were minimal. It was a relaxed, calm and absolutely gorgeous atmosphere where locals and tourists alike could still feel a sense of peace in their day.

You see Croatia was never meant to be the next Ibiza, this is not its authentic self. Despite its huge coast it only has a few “party” towns and even then they were relatively tame compared to many other Worldwide party destinations. Boy has that changed, fast forward approximately 20 years later and Croatia has become a place synonymous with drunken adventures and us Aussies being within the top 20 drinkers in the World, why would we say no?

 

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Drunk and part naked Australian tourist sitting in a public bench in Dubrovnik, Croatia.


Yet it appears the Croatians are now fed up
. Accusing Australian tourists of having sex in public, climbing balconies, running amok and starting fights. It was only last month that an Australian man was charged in Split, Croatia for leaving a man with life threatening injuries after a fight.  Australian tourists have also been accused of vandalizing property and smashing up their accommodation.

One Croatian local claims “Young Australians are blatantly performing sex acts on the streets without any shame, pissing in our swimming pools, climbing our balconies and bathing naked in the harbour.’

The problem is these aren’t isolated cases, Croatian paper reports are coming out that are singling out Australian tourists as being especially unpleasant guests. Hospitality workers and residents who deal with Australians would know and it appears our reputation is slowly being flushed down the drain.

This is not only a Croatian problem. I will never forget when i was in Bali, Indonesia – a board short wearing, oakley sunglass wearing Australian male tourist was looking around at one of those poor clothing shacks on the outskirts of Kuta, when he addressed the older lady working there asking how much it was for a particular dress she said “120,000 Rupiah” he scoffed and said “No, no, too much, make it less” then she responded “Can do 100,000 rupiah” he then replied “No! 20,000 Rupiah” which mind you is approximately two Australian dollars. When she looked at him with relative sadness he waved the note over her face and said very condescendingly “do you want it or not!?

 

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Anti Tourist Protests have taken place in Barcelona where locals say they feel “terrorized” by misbehaving tourists.

 

The problem was this man was sober and he was not young either and this is the sort of attitude that puts us all in the wrong books and we don’t deserve it. I know many fellow Australians that want to travel and absorb the country they are staying in. The good and the bad and everything in between they want to embrace as part of their experience.

Unlike another fellow Aussie tourist who complained that she could not openly drink in the United Arab Emirates nor have a “piss up” on the streets without getting arrested- she then went on to complain about the heat and the sufferance of Ramadan, despite not being obliged to partake in it.

I feel like we need to do some extensive research before visiting a place. Look at the local customs and learn them. When in Japan take off your shoes. When in remote areas of Fiji cover yourself with a Sarong. When in Dubai don’t make out in public. When in Croatia be considerate of the locals and keep the noise and rubbish down. When in Bali respect that the people there work hard with tiny wages and don’t need to be reminded how high and mighty your Aussie dollar is. When in the United States- TIP! (Even i despised this, but i conformed!).

If you are an Australian tourist and you are a well seasoned traveler with conduct, then that is wonderful. This post isn’t meant to drop your confidence or make you feel bad, it’s simply to raise awareness that our reputation is dwindling and i don’t want YOU to bear the brunt of the negative repercussions.

Let us put ourselves back in the Global scale as being tourists with dignity, respect and appreciation- let us have fun but also be mindful of the places we’re in and the people we are with. We need to reclaim our reputation and let the World know that indeed we ARE a cultured people, heck we live in one of the most Multicultural nations on this Earth, we should know better and sure as heck we do! So let’s make Australia proud! 🙂

Peace, Salam.

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It’s a difficult road ahead for all of us here on Earth. The recent terror attack in Manchester is only one of many tragic events of violence, injustice and horror inflicted on innocent people here in this World and naturally such stories make us lose a bit of morale.

Stories that deal with the death of innocents, whether they be men, women or children constantly flash on our television screens and one thing we must understand is that we cannot become “comfortable” with terrorism, nor can we become desensitized to a violent World.

The Media does not help in this situation because as tragic as the story is we come to find that the media swamps us with the imagery, sounds and woes coming from such attacks and eventually we switch off and miss on many other true stories that are happening in response to such sad news.

You see since the horrors on Manchester there have been many uplifting, amazing and inspiring stories coming from Manchester itself! You very likely would have missed on most of these humble headlines but i present to you my selected top 10 stories to restore your faith in humanity post Manchester. Enjoy!

1.  £5 million raised for Manchester bombing victims in just three days

A fundraising appeal for the victims of the Manchester terrorist atrocity has raised more than £5 million in just three days.

2. The English Defence League have their rally and protest shut down by locals

Mancunians were quick to condemn a group of English Defence League protesters following the deadly explosion

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Ariana Grande has offered to pay for the funerals of all the victims.

3. Singer Ariana Grande made the generous offer to pay for the funerals of all victims

Ariana Grande has reportedly offered to pay for the funerals of the 22 people who tragically lost their lives when a suspected terrorist attack took place after her concert in Manchester.

4. Homeless hero awarded free rent after saving children following Manchester attack

A homeless man who frantically pulled nails and glass from injured people’s eyes during the aftermath of the Manchester bombing has been awarded a place to live for his bravery.

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The tragedy exposed beautiful friendships

5. An unexpected & deep friendship is revealed between a Muslim man and Jewish woman.

It was the photo that touched Britain, a Jewish woman and a Muslim man united in grief. The story of their 10-year friendship will restore your faith in humanity

6.  Manchester attack: The Blood bank is ‘full to the rafters’

Blood banks in the UK have received so many donations for victims of Monday’s Manchester attack they already have met their goals.

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Taxi drivers offered free lifts during and after the tragedy.

7.  Generous locals offer concert goers lifts home, free taxis and rooms for the night

Generous Mancunians are offering people who were at the Ariana Grande gig either accommodation or a lift home in a taxi – while others are simply offering a cup of tea and a hug.

8. A simple Muslim social experiment in Manchester reveals a united community

A young Muslim man is going viral tonight with a moving video about how he trusted strangers – and asked them to trust him. The response is truly something wonderful.

9. Great Manchester Run: Thousands take part amid heightened security

Tens of thousands of runners pounded the streets during an emotional occasion for Manchester. The latest large-scale event to take place since Monday’s suicide bombing.

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Despite tension- thousands showed up for the Manchester Marathon.

I hope these nine stories made you realize that beneath the ugly surface of terrorism there will always shine bright a common humanity that we all share. In the face of tragedy we come together and we never let hate win, if only the media used all of these actions as stories worthy of a lengthy spotlight.

Peace, Salam
-R

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A candid and honest look on perhaps why i am still not married. 🙂

So, i sit here, a man in his early 30’s who is begging the question…”Why am i not married yet?“. You see, growing up i always used to have these comical benchmarks on when exactly i would be getting married. When i was 18 i said i’d be married by 25. When i turned 25 i said i’d be married by 27. When i turned 27 i said i will definitely be married by 30. Then i turned 30 and pushed up my age of marriage to 33 (which mind you is around the corner!).

Being raised in a household with strong ethnic ties and having a Eastern European and Middle Eastern background i very often saw my family members and friends getting hitched in their early 20’s and as i grew older it really dawned on me how that was a truly unattractive prospect for me.

I suppose in the meantime i have been enjoying my life so much that it has been difficult for me to stop for a moment and analyze exactly where i am standing on this marathon called life. I come to realize that i absolutely want to get married and i absolutely want children, i am definitely not one of those “I’m too selfish to have children” sorts.

In fact the attraction for me is the fact that i am the total opposite to that, i am selfless and i put others before me, yet i cannot actually wait to have that child in my arms, that person that i am more than happy to put before myself, i am sure most parents can resonate with that.

Have i not found the right woman yet? Well, clearly not – because i am not married. Yet at the same time i do think about the cliche “It’s not you, it’s me” theology that runs through my mind. I ask myself am i prepared for marriage? Financially, yes. Emotionally, Yes. Mentally? Probably not. 

I do think the scars of a rough upbringing of many many years of intense physical and mental bullying, low self esteem and zero confidence really cut deep into my system. Despite me dropping plenty of weight in my early 20’s and regaining some of that charm and confidence that i hadn’t seen since i was in primary school- i still feel that even today, despite my outwardly popular and confident appearance, that i still have the remnants of low self confidence, self esteem and a battered value.

This in essence then makes it very difficult for me in relationships because my dream woman could be and probably is literally standing under my nose but i likely wouldn’t even realize it- because if my inward vibes synchronized with my outside vibes i would instantly recognize these women and i would snatch up any given opportunity- but i don’t.

Even though i do not appreciate the societal pressures of people being cornered into marriage and children, i do think its not for everyone. Yet it definitely is for me, if there’s anything i am certain about its the fact that i am very self aware- i strongly believe that i’d make a wonderful husband and an absolute kick-ass father, so i do not want to waste my life without sharing these qualities and attributes that i know i have, especially with people of which i know would earn and appreciate it.

In saying all of this, please remember i am not having a dig at those who choose not to get married or have children. As i said, i do not think its for everybody and people need to come to terms with exactly how they feel about these two major responsibilities. For me, i am up for the challenge, in fact i don’t consider it a challenge, i see it as a step in my life and it’s a step i am happy and willing to take.

Yet in the meanwhile i still have a lot of work to do on myself. I feel that i am still constructing myself into this mansion that i want to be, and i cannot let anybody else move in, whether wife or child, until i am happy with my home, until i am happy with me. The fact is, we cannot pretend that we can provide happiness for others when we are not entirely happy ourselves.

I am definitely not sad or depressed – yet i am a bit of a perfectionist. I want the timing to be right, i want to be mentally prepared and charged for the moment. I don’t just want to “wing” a relationship, i don’t just want to test the waters for years before i decide to put a ring on it. If i am at complete peace and harmony with myself and you happen to walk on by then good heavens i’d say watch out, but who wouldn’t want to be swept under their feet? 😉

Peace, Salam
-Ramey

Ah yes, as i type this the word Islamophobe and Islamophobia has a red underline on it, indicating a “spellcheck” because it is a word still not formally accepted by dictionary definition. Yet just because the word is not recognized by the dictionary does not mean a strong anti Muslim sentiment does not exist. In fact both Anti-Antisemitism and Islamophobia are on a steady rise, yet only one of these statements of intolerance is formally accepted, despite both of them being as detrimental as the other in regards to its impact on a cohesive society.

The United States, Europe and Australia have all seen an increase in Islamophobic behaviour from the minor annoyances of constant protests by nationalistic groups or to the more serious Burning of Mosques all the way to the heinous assault and even Murder of innocent civilians who just tend to share a supposed name or look to the “enemy”. In September of 2012 i received a strange friend request on Facebook from a Man that looked suspect to me.

Yes, even i fell victim to generalizing others. This man looked like your typical Skinhead that would attend those Anti Muslim rallies on the streets, rambling on about Halal, Terror and Mooslims. In fact, he outright looked like a Neo-Nazi and i was thinking “What could this guy and myself possibly have in common”.?

Minor examples of recent Islamophobic events

some recent examples of  Islamophobic                                    events in Australia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, i would like you to meet Frank Castle, my dear friend from the United Kingdom, many thousands of kilometers away but a character you wish you could meet face to face, every day! Our online friendship is approaching its third year and this man has quiet the story to tell you.

You see Frank WAS everything i feared him to be, well for the most part. Yet believe it or not, people change and this man made a 180 degree turn on his life and his attitude towards people. In the process of our mateship i did not only learn more about him, i learned about myself and the damage that generalizing could have from destroying fruitful relationships because we are so fixated on stereotyping one another.

Frank was kind enough to be Interviewed by me about his Journey from a Muslim hater filled with seething anger and hostility to the “other” to a wonderfully funny, tolerant, welcoming and kind human being who now has a Facebook Friends list that resembles a FBI Watch List (JUST KIDDING!!) 🙂 Let us begin this interview and i hope this dialogue between us can open a few hearts and change a few minds on how we see the World around us, even more importantly how we see the people around us. Peace.!

My interview with Former Islamophobe, Frank Castle

My interview with Former Islamophobe, Frank Castle


Ramey: First of all Frank, give us a brief introduction about yourself and your history.

Frank: Well,let’s say I wasn’t exactly the kind of kid that looked forward to going home. I felt most comfortable among fellow Skinheads, Rude Boys, Rastas and Punk-rockers. I was a troublesome, frustrated, youngster who picked all the fights he could. I disowned my whole biological lot and am happy about it, it’s not ‘sad’ at all. I feel much better since I got rid of them over a decade ago, my chosen family in North England and the United States, plus my taken-on children in Britain, America and Pakistan, make me feel  a lot more as a part of a family.

Ramey: Did you ever think- given your history- that you’d ever end up in a situation like this? Where you are being interviewed by a Muslim about how you’ve “changed your ways”?

Frank: Haha, absolutely not! I’m a stubborn git, changing my mind don’t come to me naturally, like my mate Danny said recently, I stick to my convictions like shit to a blanket.

Ramey: Now tell me, when did your seething hatred for Islam start? Then explain to me what periods escalated that already lingering hatred?

Frank: I didn’t really notice Muslims even existed prior to 9/11 (September 11th)- of course I knew they did, but it never mattered to me before the collapse of the twin towers. The day it happened was the day my hatred of Muslims flared up, later on revived by the 7/7 bombings (In London).

Ramey: During your period as an Islamophobe did you ever get yourself a copy of the Quran and read it, or pay a visit to a mosque to “learn more” about this supposedly evil ideology?

Frank: No, my explanation was “All I ever needed to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11.”

 

Frank once said

Frank once said “Everything i needed to know about Islam, i learned on 9/11”

Ramey: You describe yourself as a skinhead- during the days of your intense hate for Islam and Muslims did you openly support a Nazi like perspective of Muslims- just as the Jews were once seen?

Frank: No, not ever. Racism, fascism, Nazism, etc, were never my thing. I’ve always been a traditionalist Skinhead, my thing was always Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, patriotism, working class background and a tough guy attitude. Extremism of any kind was always something I rejected. My hostility towards Muslims escalated in verbal abuse, physical assault and spitting, otherwise I mouthed off about how the government should do something about ‘the Islamic threat to our nation’.

Ramey: Were you ever part of extreme Nationalist groups like the English Defense League? What was your opinion of such groups during your time as an Islamophobe?

Frank: No, I always looked at such groups with great distrust, as I knew they tend to attract racists and Nazis, and so far I’ve always been proven right. I’m genuinely a patriot, that’s nothing like being a nationalist, I love my country, I don’t reject others for having a different background, never have.

Ramey: What moment in your life did you see the tide change when it came to your views on Islam and Muslims? Was it a slow moving tide or a sudden rush that swept over you?

Frank: It was a mixture of both. The deciding moment that radically changed my attitude from one moment to the next was when a teenage Muslim girl, Shahzeen, countered my disgusting comments with kindness and understanding. Of course, it took me a while to stop sounding stupid, such things don’t change overnight. It takes the patience of a Muslim to put up with that for as long as it takes. Over the years, Shazzy and I grew very close and she became a daughter to me, my love for her is deep and genuine.

Ramey: What was the biggest challenge in seeing the “other” as basically “The same” as you?

Frank: . I may not be a fan of multiculturalism, but it occurred to me rather quickly that it’s not my call and the majority loves it. Also they’re not usually breaking any laws, so that’s where I’m an example for true tolerance, which some mistake for ‘intolerance’ because they get it confused with acceptance. Tolerance is putting up with things you don’t like because they’re not actually causing you any harm- but race never came into it, as a traditionalist Skinhead who rejects political extremists and calls them ‘boneheads’  as a way to reject the notion of accepting them as our own. I feel a deep connection to Jamaican culture, that kind of wouldn’t have been possible if I ever had racist views, hahaha!

Today Frank is a changed man and has ZERO tolerance for Bigotry.

Today Frank is a changed man and has ZERO tolerance for Bigotry.

Ramey: So today, what is your opinion on Muslims and how extensive is your “Muslim Network”?

Frank:  I got to know Muslims as the kindest, most generous, and infinitely forgiving and understanding people I’ve ever met, and these days I have a ridiculous amount of Muslim friends because I  feel much more comfortable around Muslims than most other people. I now actually find it easier to forge a friendship with a Muslim than anyone else, because it is easier for me to trust a Muslims after learning as much about Islam and Muslim values as I have after meeting my baby girl [Shahzeen]. I once called the Prophet Muhammad ‘the first terrorist’, now I know he was an honourable man, a great leader, and very committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, which he passed on to his followers to the best of his ability.

Ramey: Do you agree with the term Islamophobia and do you believe it is a real movement?

Frank: Well, a lot of things, especially the hatred of Muslims and homosexuals, are being commonly referred to as ‘phobias’, but as  Morgan Freeman said, “they’re not scared, they’re being arseholes.” So that seems to be a new, or secondary, meaning of  the term ‘phobia’ now. Movement… I have a hard time to apply that term to a relatively small bunch of braindead f*ckwits who aren’t actually doing anything besides being nasty.Yet for some time now there have been enough of  them to at least in some places be a massive nuisance to everyone, and even a considerable threat in some instances to the residents of  some local Muslim communities and a number of people who simply disagree with them.

Ramey: Are you proud of your accomplishment in banishing your past generalizations and looking at the world from another angle?

Frank: One of the very few things I’m actually proud of, yes- it has made my life better and brought the best people I’ve ever known into my life. I can’t grasp why they so easily treat the bad things I’ve said and done to Muslims like they never happened and give me their unconditional love.

Ramey: Do you have any advice for Muslims that are battling through Islamophobia today?

Frank: Well, Muslims and Skinheads have something in common: being judged for the despicable actions of a few idiots who abuse a good name for bad purposes. Us Skins handle it like this: the youngsters take it to heart, want to be understood, keep explaining it to everyone and always end up being disappointed, because no-one wants to listen, everyone loves to hate us. Should sound familiar to a Muslim, I’d say. Well, us old farts have stopped giving a f*ck long ago and just let the losers talk, and we’re much more content that way. Maybe Muslims should try that some time. As for physical attacks, I’m afraid everyone will generally have to go about that the way they usually would, there is no universal recipe against that.

Today, we are Bro's with different Mo's :)

Today, we are Bro’s with different Mo’s 🙂

Ramey: What words of wisdom do you have to the people today that mirrored you 10 years ago?

Frank: Stop being arseholes, get a grip, and start listening to people, you just might love what you hear.

Ramey: Thank You Frank for your contribution! Love ya mate.

Frank: My pleasure, bro, love ya too!

 

Let us start this topic with some statistical facts. Around the world men are in general more likely to commit suicide than women, bar the exceptions to the rule of course. For example in Australia men are 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than women. In the UK men are 3 times more likely to kill themselves than women and in the USA men are 4 times more likely to kill themselves than women.

So we see a startling pattern here, men are having some critical life issues that are barely addressed and i think it is fair to make the statement that although men are not to be perceived as “vulnerable” these statistics show that indeed men are vulnerable when it comes to taking that step to ending it all and as a society we should be doing and saying things to reduce these shocking statistics.

Now let me welcome you to the all too familiar case of the Mythical “Real Man”. Indeed such language has filled my facebook feeds, news articles, twitter sphere, movies, radio and television screens. Surely you have heard it all before right? Where constantly men are being barraged about what exactly entails a “Real Man” and the most interesting thing is the people that are generally telling men how to be “real” men are…women.

Awesome, does this apply to "real women" too?

Great, does this apply to “real women” too?

Now let me first make a confession, i have never personally confronted a woman for not being a “real woman” nor have i given her a list of demands of mine that she must tick in order to become a “real woman”. Society would scorn us men, rightfully so- if we told women that “Dressing Modestly” & “Having dinner  ready by 5” constitutes a real woman. Society does not think it is right or fair for men to step in and tell women how they should behave and what attributes and actions suddenly make them “real”.

Yet when it comes to men we see that the opposite is true. Men are often being told how to act and what to do- based on a fabricated societal framework that somehow thinks it has the right to tell a man what makes him “real”. Those memes that flood my Facebook wall make me sick of men being told “A REAL MAN DOES…[insert thought or action that literally means nothing here]. Then if your man does not meet these demands he must be a useless sissy boy with undescended testicles.

Male Suicide rates in most countries are double, triple or quadruple that of women.

Male Suicide rates in most countries are double, triple or quadruple that of women.

The most frightening aspect of this entire topic is that men are so used to be told how to act and what to do that even men themselves subjegate themselves to the myth. We see men writing books about “real men” and we start to see men accuse other men of not being “real men”. The sad truth is these men are programmed into such thoughts and it only further causes a self depreciation amongst men, this time not only accusing themselves- yet accusing others of falling short.

The fact of the matter is the “REAL” man is a mythological creature– he simply does not exist and he is a figment of societies imagination. Usually the imagination of angry women who wish to confine men virtually into a box in a checklist. In my humble opinion and speaking as a man i can tell you right now that a “REAL” man is a male who does exactly what he wants and lives according to his heart and values- whatever they might be. Anything you try to add or take away from him is simply a disturbance of your own expectations and he is under no compulsion to bow down to them.

The 11 Commandments of a "real man" - is there also the female version or...?

The 11 Commandments of a “real man” – is there also the female version or…?

Look, i don’t want to start some gender war here. I love women and accept them for who they are. The fact is generally men do not go around- with the backup of society- telling women what makes them real or not. Imagine what it must feel like for a depressed middle aged man with minimal income, low self esteem, low sexual stamina and little to no looks to hear that he ticks next to no “REAL MAN” boxes. What exactly does that do to his mind? How much does it pull at his heart that he cannot be and never will be a so called real man.

This is partially why vulnerable men end up committing suicide. Men need stronger support systems to protect them from these dire statistics. The first thing to stop this madness is by easing the expectations of society on men and to allow men to explore their own emotions, character and nature. Sure when it comes to women there are all of these superficial expectations like being “thin, young and beautiful” yet when it comes to men all of these expectations turn Real and are not superficial like “Men should speak like this, look like that, pay for this, approach this like this, do things like this“. Yet it doesn’t stop there it also goes on tell you what Real men should NOT do like – “Real men do not hit, real men do not curse, real men do not cheat, real men do not lie etc.etc.”

Hi, my name is Ramey and i am a "real man"! :-)

Hi, my name is Ramey and i am a “real man”! 🙂

Society (and memes) constantly tell me what a REAL man is. Yet the fact is there is no REAL man. There are only Good and Bad men. If a man happens to do the wrong things he is a bad man, yet he is still a MAN. If a man happens to do the right things then he is a good man and indeed he is still a MAN. Yet the only thing about a REAL man that makes him real is that he follows what is within his own character and does not bow down to societies expectations. Men need to start accepting the fact that they do not need to prove to be real, nor do they need to prove to be men– all they have to do is prove to be themselves, it’s as simple as that.

Peace, Ramey.

Let’s face it, we all want to be beautiful. Let me take you back to a time where I was a geeky 18 year old. Insecurity was my middle name. I was overweight, socially awkward and my features still hadn’t properly “grown” into my body as of yet. My biggest self hates was my protruding nose, uneven ears and man boobs. This “emphasis” on looking good was a torment during school and once I left school, every single woe I had about myself remained, until I made some changes. Throughout the years, slowly, but surely I started taking better care of myself. I was watching what I ate, I joined the local gym and I was still growing into my body. By the time I hit 25 years of age, I became a new man- all of this without surgery of any sort. I lost 22 kilograms, my features blended well into my face and I toned up somewhat. I still had my insecurities but they only became a background annoyance, not a life long haunting. Today, as a 30 year old man I do feel beautiful and content with who I am in my journey, or should I say “battle” to be beautiful.

The Beauty industry today is one of the worlds biggest money makers, people all across the world are getting all types of surgery to enhance many parts of their faces and bodies. Want bigger pecks? You got it! Want fuller lips? You got it! Want your fat sucked out? You got it. Our societies focus on beauty has really become the primary target for most individuals, just like when I was 18 years of age, this obsession is truly back to haunt us all. Us Australians spend on average $645 Million dollars every year to “fix ourselves up”. Yet the question remains, is this a healthy and cautious undertaking or has it simply turned into an obsession?

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Australians spend 645 million dollars a year on procedures.

We simply have to look at generations that have passed. The generations only as far back as our grandparents and great grandparents, people who I assume were “beautiful”. People who, despite their imperfections seemed to find happiness and fulfilment in their lives in every other way. Indeed, if these past generations could have been happy about how they looked, then how is it, that it seems so impossible today? Our recent ancestors had the skills to overcome this burden by finding joy in other things and accepting exactly who they were, because there was not a laser or Botox injection in sight. Yet today, our excuse for being “unhappy” is usually what gives us the drive to go under the knife, yet it is evident some people are truly NEVER happy, which is why we see a casual visit, turn into an addiction.

This desperation to “look good” and then hence “feel good” has really grounded itself in our populace today. Let me give you a horrific example of one lady I saw on the TV show “Botched Bodies”. Her name is Apryl Brown. A 46 year old woman in the United States who ran a Salon and had a terrible meeting with fate one day. A woman entered her Salon with a friend and said she gave her buxom friend one of her “booty injections” and the results sent Apryl into a spiral of joy and envy. Envy, because she quite simply wanted that butt- yet also Joy, seeming the lady with the magical wand was standing right there in front of her. Apryl in haste decided to get the injections into her buttocks by this stranger, a moment she will regret forever more. Gradually Apryl would get swelling in areas of her body and then an itch, slowly her itching would turn so intense she would be scratching her skin, literally off- layer by layer. Her body began to look discoloured, turning a bruised blue and a black and then the horrendous pain set in.

By the time Apyrl admitted herself to hospital her arms, legs and buttocks were black and rare, her open wounds and flesh were exposed as far down as the bone in areas. She was placed in a coma for a month and it was highlighted that this “silicone” was not medicinal, yet in fact silicone found in hardware stores, often used as sealants. Apryil was rushed for emergency surgery and the grim news was reported to her, the doctors had to amputate both her arms, both her legs and her rear end. Apryl nearly died multiple times and today has been a spokesperson, encouraging people- ironically “too late” in a way, to accept the way they were born. She teaches that there is nothing about them that is “imperfect” and to embrace life being happy and content with yourself. It reminds me how desperately sick one has to be to allow a stranger to inject them in their pursuit for beauty, or “happiness”.

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The story of Apryl Brown highlights the devastation of desperation.

These insecurities do not only plague the minds of women, there is an increasing pressure on men to look fit, fab and symmetrical. Men have been getting surgeries of all types- from Rhinoplasty to breast reduction surgery, from Botox to penile extension surgery– not to mention implanted biceps and abs. It was only up until recently that I still was unhappy with certain aspects of myself, secretly I would wish to have money so I could get myself a man-boob reduction surgery, because I was a fat kid- some of that fat had lingered behind. Yet when family members would ask if that’d make me happy, i’d scream and react by indicating I don’t “need it“- yet the reality was I wanted it, I wanted it so,so bad. I wanted the same Pecks as that “Men’s Health” model. That’s what girls want right!?!

Yet every time I was on the brink of wanting to take the next step, I had come to realize I had already come this far all on my own- without the help of a single incision or pump. I had lost a lot of weight, improved my fitness and diet and had grown to be a tall beefy man, what is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Today, I am perfectly happy with every single imperfection of mine, they are not here to haunt me, or remind me of my insecure past- they are simply there to tell me that I am a human being, and I am beautiful. My faith plays an integral part in recognizing this fact, if I ever feel that I am not good enough, I come to know that I truly am.

He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions,  and has given you shape, and made your shapes beautiful: and to Him is the final Goal.” (Quran 64:3)

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The Battle to be “beautiful” is fought by both women and men.

I think we need to return to the philosophies of our distant relatives and go back to their ways of thinking when it came to beauty. Everywhere we look we are engulfed with TV ads, catwalk models, billboards and unrealistic magazine portrayals of what “beauty” is. Sometimes we are indeed our own biggest critics, when we look into that mirror we pull and prod at every imperfection, wishing we could change it. The fact is, the beauty industry is one of the worlds biggest industries and it has got us inside of its grip. When will we come to realize that in order to look good and feel good there are things we can do to help ourselves.?

The first thing is to acknowledge that societies perception of beauty is warped, it is so unrealistic that its an illogical inspiration. Second of all we must come to realize that self improvement is one of the best roads to recovery. Changing our food and diet, not to mention focusing on our physical, mental and spiritual health we come to see it assists us in becoming “whole” again and feeling content. Just like me, change comes in stages and never is the natural way drastic, but it is indeed that- so natural that you cannot even see the transformation. It is not until others take notice and see the results of your hard work that they come to appreciate that your battle to be beautiful is over- and that you won fair and square. 🙂

Peace, Salam.

-Ramey

I have created a short list of my favourite photos that i have spotted on the internet that have left me all warm, fuzzy and restored my faith in humanity. Indeed this daily pattern called life and the repetitive cycle of our mundane doings makes us oblivious to the many wonderful facts around us, we are human and that is amazing- if we let it be. Unfortunately i had trouble finding the original sources to many of these photos, if you are the photographer or know of him/her please let me know for full credit or removal.

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Balloons or War?

Scene 1: Balloon Boy in Afghanistan: When we think of Afghanistan all we really could picture is a war torn nation riddled with “terrorists” and “extremists”. In this street scene in Kabul, amongst the chaos is a young boy selling balloons, even if he doesn’t sell one he at least add so much life and colour to an otherwise uninspiring scene.

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Sheep rescue in Norway

Scene 2: Daring Mission in Norway: The swell was huge and a curious sheep had got swept away by unsuspecting waves. These two men, who are by no means officials of any sorts supported each other on the algae riddled rocks and rescued this sheep being battered on the rocks.

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Who needs arms to surf?

Scene 3: Surfing without arms and legs: Meet Australian man Nick Vujicic who is 29 years of age. Born without arms and legs this man is a living and breathing example of never giving up. Despite his severe setbacks he still gets out there and surfs away, this inspiration is also the author of a biography and self help book.

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Primate and a Mate.

Scene 4: Primate Piggy-back: Little is known about this particular photograph, but considering the habitat for Gorillas is being destroyed at an alarming rate we are seeing rescue efforts in not only saving their trees but also saving the poor primates left frolicking the scarce forest floor.

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Ramadan Offering

Scene 5: Neighbourly love: In a world that is riddled with Muslim suspicion and condemnation stories like these are never seen besides on the empty quarters of the internet. Considering it currently is Ramadan 2013 i thought i’d share this kind offering from a Muslim neighbour inviting others to break fast at his home.

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Live suicide prevention.

Scene 6: Successful suicide prevention: In this scene taken in 2005 at the infamous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, we see police officers attempting to speak Kevin Berthia out of suicide. It took over an hour but eventually Policeman Kevin Briggs convinced him not to do it. 8 years later Mr. Berthia is happily married with two children and in 2013 he had a reunion with the policeman that essentially saved his life.

2011 in Pictures (9)

Interfaith Protection

Scene 7: Coptic ring of Protection: 2011 was a tumultuous time for Egypt, civil unrest left much suspicion in the air but the people united at Tahrir Square and beyond to unite against a government most did not agree with. In this scene Christians form a protective ring around hundreds of Muslims who are in prayer. Muslims later returned the favour by acting as human shields outside a Coptic mass during Christmas. #hope!

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Brotherhood & Kitties.

Scene 8: Brotherhood and Kitties: This undated photo rings very similar to the photo taken above in Norway, though perhaps in less dangerous conditions. These brothers enact in some form of teamwork and rescue a cat that is stuck in some disgusting sewerage, bravo to you lads.!

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Racism? What’s that?

Scene 9: We’re not born racist: This warm and fuzzy photo taken in the United States in an elementary school really highlights an indisputable fact. Racism doesn’t exist in children, this corrupt free acceptance and tolerance is short lived for many people,  but when we can grasp such a genuine moment, enjoy it for the beauty that it is.

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Really, don’t quit your day job!


Scene 10: Spidermans new day job:
Bostons Children hospital put up a massive surprise for its many terminally ill children. This recent good deed occurred July 2013 and put a smile on the dial of many children who idolize their favourite superher spiderman. The window cleaners dressed in costume, waved at kids and swung around, making many sick kids day.

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Borders no Barrier.

Scene 11: Border is no Barrier: In this emotional scene we see two brothers, one of them clearly distraught and saddened. Why? His brother (in the bus) lives in North Korea and the man left  behind lives in South Korea. Recently South Koreans who had to move to the North in the 1950’s were allowed to revisit their South Korean Families and clearly for some, goodbye was too much.

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Black Saturday Inspiration

Scene 12: Black Saturday Inspiration: The Black Saturday Bushfires in Australias state of Victoria struck in 2009 and were a devastating blow to the environment and numerous communities affected by it. 173 deaths and 5000 structures destroyed it was hard to find hope, but this photo is that light. A firefighter gives a drink to a dehydrated and exhausted Koala rescued in the fire.

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Gone but not forgotten

Scene 13: Gone but not Forgotten: Inspiration is not always happy, hope doesn’t always come with satisfying circumstances. The above scene is evidence of that. The destruction and chaos caused by the 2008 cyclone Nargis off Burma/Myanmar is captured in this depressing moment a man realizes everything that he had, is now gone.

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Sky’s the limit.

Scene 14: The Sky Is the Limit: In this undated photo taken at a Korn concert in Moscow, Russia. We see crowd surfing to the ultimate degree. Friends and strangers of this young gentleman who is clearly feeling the music lift him up for the ultimate sounds and views, his face says it all really.

There you have it ladies and Gentlemen, i really hope you enjoyed my personal choice of the 14 most inspiring photos online. Sure there are others but i tried to keep the variation going. Photos like these are important to realize our role within humanity and the impact we can have on society, now rug up, go to bed and feel good about yourself :).

Peace, Salam.