Human rights?

Yesterday (21st March) saw my country (South Africa) celebrate Human Rights Day.  I think most people were just happy to have mid-week public holiday to save them from work and give them the extra boost to see them through the rest of the week.   I think very few gave much thought about human rights.  It’s a topic that concerns everyone; we are all born with it, many have to fight for it, some even live without it, some take it for granted, whilst some don’t care much for it –  it’s the spectrum of human rights.  Yesterday morning as we lay in bed, the topic of South Africa and Africa came up.  It’s morbid history that still repeats itself, with different plot twists.  I found myself paging through an old high school text-book and came across the section of the U.N and its intentions improving human rights and lives across the world.  I then read the 12 points of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” :

  1. All human beings, regardless of race, colour, sex or religion are born free and have the same rights.
  2. All people have the right to life and liberty.
  3. Slavery and the slave trade shall be banned in all their forms.
  4. No one should suffer torture, or inhumane punishment. No one should be in prison without trial.
  5. All people are equal before the law and have the right to a fair trial.
  6. All people have the right to travel freely in their own country.  They also have the right to leave their own country and return to it.
  7. Adult men and women have the right to marry.  Men and women are entitled to equal rights in marriage.
  8. All people have the right to own property.
  9. All people have the right to freedom of thought and religion and to worship in freedom.
  10. People have the right to take part in the government of their country.
  11. All people have the right to work, and to equal pay for equal work.
  12. Education should be free and compulsory.

…And then I thought how many countries in the world, including my own, are in violation of human rights?  So what is human rights and what does it mean to us?  It probably does mean different things to different people depending on their situation, but is it not hypocritical for those that we depend on for safety and security to come up with a good set of  “rights” and yet most of the world is in direct conflict of these rights.  What was the point and purpose for this declaration?  The term “human rights” is seeming more like an oxymoronic phrase than a declaration of human freedom and independence.  Just something to think about, another cosmic conundrum…

 

 

 

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I, the hypocrite…

Over the past couple of days there has been a subject that has been on my mind.  I’ve seen a few discussions and debates and indeed heated arguments between carnivores/omnivores VS vegan/vegetarians.  I (try) respect everyone’s points of view and decisions that they make, regardless whether I agree with them or not.   But the whole vegan VS carnivores, I believe, is a deeper subject than just meat VS veggies.

I am an omnivore.  I have been eating meat as long as I remember and I enjoy the taste of it.   I am also a hypocrite.  Perhaps one of the biggest issues vegans and vegetarians have with meat eaters, is the cruel way in which animals are bred to just become food.  This is where my hypocrisy comes in to play.  I too don’t agree with how animals are treated and unnaturally kept in order to keep our bellies happy.  We have all seen those pictures that flood the social media in an attempt to put you off eating meat.  I’m even guilty of sharing such pictures, not to shock someone out of eating meat, but more to spread awareness of what the food industry is like.  This makes me a hypocrite.  I hate being a hypocrite.  So what are my options?  Well, vegans do make very good arguments with regards to diet and the way our bodies are constructed – we don’t need meat to survive.  We can live quite easily and efficiently without meat at all in our diet.   So I guess becoming a vegan would be an option.  I wouldn’t eat meat, thus my conscience will be free of supporting a cruel, inhumane industry.  The thing is, I like meat.  I enjoy the texture and taste of it, so the question is am I willing to totally exclude meat from my diet to ease my conscience and make a personal stand against the meat industry? 

If I have meat in my diet does that make me a bad person?  I know the inhumanity that goes into getting me meat.  I know animals suffer because of my preference for a more carnivorous diet, I know this and yet I still eat steaks, burgers and chicken. Yes, I even eat Macdonald’s from time to time.  Does this make me bad? Lets draw some similarities between this and piracy.  How many of us have illegal movie DVDs and music?  We know piracy is bad, yet millions of us still do it.  Again, I’m a hypocrite.  Does this make me bad?  The short, black and white answer would be yes.  I am guilty of supporting piracy and liking meat, and the fact that I buy and support them means that I am also supporting their work ethics and giving them more business so they can do more of it.  There is a huge question of morals that come into play and the answers are not always black and white, much of it resides in the grey area. 

I believe freedom of choice is something we were born with.  Choice is how we learn and navigate through life.  Surely if meat was my preference I should be allowed that choice, regardless whether it is right or wrong, or whether others agree with it or not.

Many vegans and people would say that any animal killed for food is wrong, but is it?  The fact is, to a large degree, right and wrong is a personal and subjective perception.  What one person finds is right isn’t necessarily what another perceives to be “right”.  I don’t think that eating an animal is cruel, what I do think is cruel is the way our corporate, capitalistic meat industry treats and “preps” animals to become food.  In supporting this system I am wrong.  Is there an alternative for the meat that comes out in bulk from the meat farms?  Can I afford it?  Or is this alternative an alternative to making money out of the meat-eater who has a conscience?  I’m also pretty sure I would be arrested for giving thanks, then slaughtering a cow for food at a residential home – not that I would.  Native American Indians hunted for food and gave thanks to the animal that they captured and killed.  They lived in harmony with nature, does that make them wrong for slaughtering an animal for food for their community? 

Although I am aware that we don’t need meat in our diet and that in fact the way our teeth and digestive system are, suggest that meat was never intended for human consumption, the fact remains is that we have been eating meat for millennia.  Does that still make it right to kill an animal for food?  Many people see animals as beneath us, lesser beings than the great human who dominates the world and is on top of the food chain.  I love animals, and if it were not for the animals, ecosystem and food chain, this earth would not survive.  It is one big balancing act and I am sad to say that it is out of balance.  I think the main beef (excuse the pun) vegans have is with the farms and companies that run the highly unethical treatment of animals for food, and not necessarily with your choice of diet.  If there was an alternative to the mistreatment of animals on farms, would vegans be happier with carnivores and omnivores?  Or does it seem to them that we are the barbaric animals, unforgiving and uncaring for other life?  We as humans have an awareness, and we should be able to see and make a call when something doesn’t sit morally with us, is this one of those subjects? 

Like I have said before people have different views and perceptions.  There is just too many of us and I think that is the problem. Everything is done is such massive, mind-blowing numbers which really makes this topic even more of a sensitive one.  If we weren’t so over-populated, no doubt things would be different for the better.  At the end of the day we are going to have to respect each others perceptions without theirs effecting ours.  Our existence is based on a duality, a balance.  To deduce everything into a “right” and “wrong” is impossible.  It’s what makes our physical reality, and we were given free-will to experience it all. If we are unable to allow each other free-will then does it even exist?   Having said that, have we not evolved enough to not mistreat a living creature and not give into our selfish preference?

Perhaps us humans are just animals.  A lion will eat a zebra and a shark will eat a human.  It happens in nature, animals will hunt and kill for food.  Why would it be different for humans? Maybe it is natural for lions and sharks to eat meat, but it is also natural for man to make tools, build homes and use ingenuity to broaden perception and reality.  We are animals at the end of the day and we are slaves to our animalistic tendencies, but perhaps our evolution will take us beyond that.  Maybe we will evolve to love all living things, with no need to cause pain and hurt to eat and no need to be a hypocrite…

 

P.S.  I am very aware that some of the points I brought up can be discussed to massive depths and there are both arguments for and against.  If you argue this long enough you will end up full circle, right back at the beginning.  There needs to be improvements made to the meat industry, but it is also up to us to make that difference, whether it is being an activist against the cruelty of the animals, you becoming a vegetarian or trying to spread awareness to the people who may not know what the industry is like.  I guess the point is that we have to WANT to make a difference and we have to WANT to be vegetarians/vegans.  Maybe one I day I will be able to disregard what I want and I end up doing what I believe is right. 

A thought on blogging…

I’ve been blogging for roughly 7 months now and it’s interesting to see the progression and evolution of my blog.  It was originally started to encourage and promote my photography, which it still does, but recently it has branched out somewhat.  I named my blog Observing Vessel, because that is what in essence a camera is.  As the weeks and posts have gone by, I have come to realize that it is not the camera that is the Observing Vessel, but myself.  The camera is just a tool I use to Observe my environment, and when the camera isn’t there?  I’m still an observing vessel, observing and learning from what I perceive.  So my blog has evolved over these short few months, but that’s good.  For things to survive an evolution must take place.  If the environment changes and I do not, then I run the very probable risk of not surviving.

So what does blogging mean to me now that I have been exposed to it for a good few months?  Well, for me, it’s not just about promoting my photography anymore.  It has become an extension of me.  A way for me to voice my thoughts and concerns in a way that isn’t necessarily intrusive.  I have accepted that everyone has an opinion and everyone has different personalities.   We all have the right to voice and express those opinions.  I have found that too many people have taken that right to the extreme.  It’s no longer about voicing opinions because they are concerned or have interest, it is now a matter of voicing opinions because they can.  Regardless of the scenario and of other people, these highly self-opinionated people find the need to express their opinion.  Their argument:  Its their constitutional right.  They seem to think their opinion is more important and righteous than the next persons feelings or situation.  Has the ego gotten so big that we no longer have self-control?

Blogging agrees with my ethos; I can share my thoughts, views and photography with the world, but it isn’t forced on you to read. YOUhave the option whether to read my opinions or not.  If you disagree or don’t like what is written, one can simply just close the window.  What does that do?  Well, for one a blog (if the intentions are pure and true) will attract like-minded thinkers.  They will see a familiarity within the words, thought and photographs; something that attracts them to it.  By sharing my outlooks and interest Im spreading an awareness and consciousness, opening up the door to more possibilities not just for me but for others too.  Other people’s blogs have that effect on me.  They will challenge my thinking and offer new points of view, and if they have something of quality to share, something that is truthful and that I feel the writer believes in, then I will continue to visit their blogs.

There are also many bloggers who promote useless content that doesn’t contribute anything positive to society.   Blogs can (and should) be personal.  The chances are pretty high that you are already working a job that you are not completely fond of and that doesn’t fit your personality, why blog about something that holds no interest to you?  Why promote Hollywood gossip, trends and push ideals because they are popular?  People who blog content that holds no personal interest or morals just for popularity, or indeed money, are lying to themselves and are literally selling themselves short of who theyreallyare.  If that be their choice, then so be it.  Everyone to their own.  I believe truthful, honest blogging can make a difference.  Every time you write you are solidifying what you believe.  The more you write (and blog) the more you can learn about yourself and the more you share, the more of a possibility there is of others learning from you .  Stay true to yourself and spread positivity, why would anyone want to spread anything else?

A thought on music…

Music seems to be what everyone is talking about at the moment.  With the Grammy awards and another tragic death, I could not help but think what music really is and what it means to me.  I am a musician and have relationship with music.  I believe everyone is different and thus their relationship with music, from the way they perceive it, to the way they play and understand it, will be different.  This is just my thoughts, feelings and views about music.

Music for me is 1st and foremost about expression.  For me that is what it ultimately comes down to.  Music and the industry (I hate referring to a music industry) has grown and changed so much over the last couple decades, not to mention the centuries.  Before (over-population) back in the day there would only be a few people who were gifted and talented at playing an instrument.  They were either lucky or wealthy enough to study or naturally gifted enough to teach themselves.  They were the few musical entertainers.  Now, everyone can afford an instrument and are able to teach themselves through friends, schools and internet. Everyone can play a guitar and thanks to media hype, they have subliminally sold our musicians a life style.  Everyone wants to be rock stars and earn crazy amounts of money by making music.  The industry is now over saturated with “musicians” who have jumped on the band wagon to make a buck.  They have exchanged their musical freedom for a false ideal of what they are lead to believe is the music life style.  You see young musicians in bands who are so excited, so keen to make a name for themselves that they focus so much on promotion and getting fans that the music is only a small percentage of who they are.  They want to do music for a living.  They want to get paid.  Who has the money?  Record labels. The machine.  There are so many possibilities using the internet that I think (and really hope) record labels will become a thing of the past.  I see bands so concerned in turning their music into a living that they forget why they first started to play. 

Mainstream music makes me ill.  The way they do everything.  There is always an ulterior motive.  Record labels are more concerned about making money and pushing music to the population in order to sell more.  The music has become a commodity, not an art. With the rise of technology the opportunist has snuck in and “produced” tracks in a computer and put some nursery-rhyme-esque melodies over same sounding electronic beats and passed it off as a composition.  Now who am I to judge what music means to different people?  I cannot rightfully say that music is better than that. We all have opinions.  I’m careful when it comes to criticizing anything creative.  No one is better than another, we are just different people on different a phase of our musical evolution.  No right or wrong.  What I do find wrong is people who take advantage of technology and just mindlessly create music just to sell.  They sell to make money to become famous.  But what makes a musician who is on all the radio stations, MTV and has all the festival gigs, more successful than me?  Is it really that their music is more important than mine?  It’s all about budget.  Money.  Money doest make you a better musician, just allows you better marketing schemes.

Musicians love the idea of making money of their art. They want to share it with others.  But what do some of those musicians exchange for fame, money and good gigs?  Their record label may convince them to write their songs differently, aim it at a particular market and tour extensively so all their billions of fans can enjoy their music.  Some bands tour for years at a time and still make nothing compared to their bosses.  Record labels end up owning the musicians art.  They have record deals, sweet gigs, millions of followers and they get paid to do the thing they “love” to do.  Their love and art has turned into a machine to make their owners (the labels) richer and gives the musicians a false sense of living the dream.  The sickest part is that the label will own your art even after you die, continuously making them money.  It’s an emotionless machine.

And for the few who take advantage of the technology to make music for idiots just because the industry has bred a MTV idiot generation, you are no better.  Instead of spreading culture, consciousness and expression, you are contributing and feeding the machine.  We are now too afraid for their to be imperfections in our music.  We can correct everything with computers from timing to pitch.  It’s this fear that has sucked the human feel of music right out of the mainstream.  Everything is now computer generated or corrected. Music was never meant to be perfect.  It’s the imperfection that makes one musician differ from another.  I want to hear the musician with all their flaws.  I don’t want to hear perfection.  If music were suppose to be perfect we wouldn’t be playing it. 

I play music for the love of it, for the expression of it.  I love to share my music with others, but I wouldn’t do anything to get my music heard.  Music has given so much to me that it would be an insult to create it with a preconceived notion of making money off of it.  Pure music is love and I would be damned if I feed it to the machine, it’s better than that.

At the end of the day however, we have made our own bed to lie in.  Our greed of the “lifestyle” has warped our mentality and we have exchanged our ideals for material wealth and fame.  We are now living in the by-product of our choices.  Are we too far down the road to make a change?  I’ll continue doing things my way and I encourage you all, in whatever “industry” you are in, DON’T FEED THE MACHINE!

A thought on Valentines day…

Yes, this is another Valentines post. Nothing brings out the cynic more than V-day. It is just another day, another business opportunity to capitalize on human emotion and our ritualistic tendencies. Indeed Valentines day is way over commercialized, but what are we to expect? It seems like we are all complaining about it and that’s where it ends. We will still go out and buy a chocolate or a rose for that person that is close to us. Is that so bad though? The idea and thought behind valentines day is a nice one. A day for celebrating love. The problem comes in that it is too commercialized. Its in all our faces a month before it comes along; reminding those to buy unnecessary trinkets of affection, while reminding others of the loneliness that is to come. It has gone the same way as Christmas, Easter and mothers’ and fathers’ day. These are days to encourage spending. This solidifies my thoughts that we have vested too much into the physical, material and wealth. Some of us feel as though the only way to show love is to shower our lover with gifts and trinkets, and what is possibly even more tragic is that there are people who think that being showered with gifts means that they are loved. Of course receiving a thoughtful gift is always nice, but now its on a huge scale and many of us do the whole Valentines day out of ritual, not out of love or thoughtfulness. Yes, I think its a good day, spreading love any day is a good day, but why just for this day? And why the need for gifts and surprises? Its one thing to do it out of love for the person/persons you hold dear, but do it because you want to and not because its the 14th February and it is customary to give gifts to lovers and potential partners.

We still live with a very materialistic mindset and people who have businesses want to take advantage of that so they can make that little extra money. We all want to be thought of and made special, but this shouldn’t be reserved for this one day. Who really benefits from Valentines day? Whatever your views on this day, don’t ruin it for others. Yes you are entitled to your opinion and yes, you have a freedom of speech, but can you not allow another to enjoy a day without having to put a guilt trip on someone who is showing affection for the person they love? Set aside your egotistical mind. There are a lot of cynics out there who have a mouth load to say, but don’t make others feel bad because they may have found something more important than the physical. Conversely the same can be said for couples who rub their love in everyone’s faces. There is a fine line of balance in life and its up to us to find it. This valentines day instead of complaing about the commercialization and all the fake love out there, try be respectful. Respect everyone, just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong. Contrary to what we have been taught subliminally, life isn’t a competition of who is better or who is right. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but at least even just for this Valentines day, respect everyone.

A thought on the rat race…

I find myself, now more so than ever, submerged in thought. I find myself talking less, not necessarily because I have nothing to say, but what’s the point in talking if nobody is willing to listen? I feel claustrophobic because we are making this world smaller and it feels as if our whole existence is one big catch 22. Ultimately we cannot win. Come to think about it, what is winning? Is winning just a concept we have been programmed to believe through mainstream media and advertising? To me it seems as though the very basis of mankind is competition, and this is the subliminal fuel for our ego which breeds greed. It’s as though we are all in this mindset of that everyone is against us and we don’t want them to be better than ourselves. We want to win. We have let money become the measure of success of a person. We even tend to trust people with material wealth a little bit more than someone who is homeless. There Is that catch 22 again. We will trust a wealthier person over the poorer person because the poorer person wants what the wealthier person has. Wealth. Money. It makes the poor steal and the rich corrupt. Have we put so much value in these luxuries that our entire society is based upon it? Is this the formulae for humankind’s catch 22 existence?

We don’t live. We live to earn money to give ourselves a false sense of security and purpose. We have been spoon fed, force fed and we have been tricked into liking it. We are now so dependent that we are incapable otherwise of being told what to do. We think we need governments and politicians. We believe we need the police and military because we are now paranoid of our fellow human. Rightly so. We have created monsters in our society by exchanging our humanity for ego. It’s all about us. All 7 billion of us. We gladly exchange life for the commuting – 9-5 – for – two- free – days lifestyle. We hardly take time out. When we think, its for work. The only questions we ask is How can I make more money? And How can I take advantage of this situation so that I can prosper? We all want something. We all want it more than the next person, to the point where we would take advantage of another so we can “win”. You ask what is wrong with the world? Its our mentality and frame of mind. We are the problem. Can we be blamed? This world was already set out like this for us. They say we were born with free-will. This may have been correct once upon a time, but now I think we are born with no choice. If I had a choice money wouldn’t be an issue because it wouldn’t exist. There would be no need for this rat race powered machine.

Walking the walk, talking the talk…

Since I have started this blogging thing, I have found myself more immersed in my thoughts.  Really thinking about life, the universe and everything – as Douglas Adams once put it.  My original intention of my blog was to encourage myself to photograph more, which it has been doing, but it is almost as if it is evolving into something more than just photography.  This blog has potential to do more than just showcase photographs that I take.  Through taking photographs I am observing.  I’m observing life, interactions and consequences, and it has made me think.  It has helped sculpted philosophies and conclusions within me, leaving me with purpose.  It doesn’t end there.  What is the point of observing life, making choices and drawing conclusions if I’m not going to apply them to my life?  Yes, we see it on social networks and over-hear it in the work place – hypocrisy.  At some stage we are all guilty of it, the difference though is being aware of it.  It annoys me somewhat when hearing people say one thing only to turn their back to contradict themselves in action or word.  That is what I do not want to be.  Make your bed and lay in it.  Over the last year or so I have drawn many conclusions, and I’m sure those views may slowly evolve as I observe life more, but I’m determined to stick as close as possible to these philosophies that I have discovered via personal observation.  So this blog will not only contain photographs but also interesting topics that I find relevant and important to share, so there may be a more re-bloggin a goin on.   Its time to solidify what we believe and think, regardless whether it will eventually change.  Stick to YOUR beliefs; you are what you learn, not what some institution has “taught” you.  Use your mind and discretion, but make a decision and stand firm… This vehicle is going to be used to spread the good, not the bullshit.