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Hunter of El Dorado- Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines!

14 Jan

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.

 

Ooh, fiction fuelled by facts! How could I resist!

I picked mine from BBC’s website. It’s  El Dorado- Truth Behind The Myth,  and it discusses recent archaelogical research that has comfirmed El Dorado, the ‘golden one’, to be not a city but a person – a ruler so rich “he allegedly covered himself in gold from head to toe each morning and washed it off in a sacred lake each evening.”

Originally I clicked on it because I loved the animation film The Road to Eldorado when I was little. But reading about the old customs and rituals of the Muisca people actually got me  thinking about man’s search for riches, our society’s views on money and what we find desirable in life.

“Within Muisca society gold, or the more specifically an alloy of gold, silver and copper called tumbaga, was highly sought after, not for its material value but for its spiritual power, its connection to the deities and its ability to bring balance and harmony within Muisca society. As Muisca descendant Enrique Gonzalez explains, gold does not symbolise prosperity to his people.

“For the Muisca of today, just as for our ancestors, gold is nothing more than an offering… gold does not represent wealth to us.”

–  Extract from the article El Dorado- Truth Behind the Myth

So, are diamonds really girl’s, or man’s, best friend ?

Hunter of El Dorado

He remembered the day he lost his sight clearly.

One morning he simply woke up and found that he had lost his eyes. Instead, he now had diamonds crushing his eye sockets.

As he blinked wildly, he felt them drilling their way deeper, their spiky tips cutting on his retina and optic disc.  He felt an ache trickling down his temple, back of his neck, his spine. It was followed soon after by an insane panic, the fear that his diamond eyes would suddenly shatter and send million knife-sharp spalls into his brain, blood stream and bone marrow, paralyzing him forever.

In his mind, he could already see himself helplessly lying there, like some child’s abandoned ragdoll, just waiting for death. Till one day, his neighbour would be alerted by the smell of his rotting intestines and would finally find him, only to discover it was too late. He would be pickled and stored away in a museum, caged into a glass cabinet for everyone to goggle at like some freakish zoo animal. Here it is, ladies and gentleman and all you snotty kids, a sight so gruesome it might eat your eyes! Are you ready? Witness a man, a monster hardened by money, a hunter of El Dorado, cursed to watch life through diamond lenses! Heeeeere he is!

He could hear the gasps and shrieks of the audience. A middle-aged woman covering her child’s eyes. Don’t look at him Edith, he must have been a bad man.

Was he? A bad man? Just a foul shell of a feeling person?

It shocked him that he had never even considered this before.  Never… that word was like a fat exclamation mark laughing and pointing at him, a proof of his inadequate nature. He had the feeling of entering a room confidently, in a dream, only to find he was stark naked. Heads turned, chatter was sliced into silence. Eyes spread wide in shock-white faces.

No! This was not him!

He was leather briefcases, polished skin like precious china; he was a blank slate to be tinted with the most flattering shades at the start of every press conference, such colours that would complement everyone in the room. He was successful, smart, business. But underneath his Armani suit, he was empty.

But why now? Why today? What was this, distorting his vision?

He tried to strain his eyes immobile and unblinking, squeeze them into clarity, but in vain. His sight was ever more dispersed. All he could focus on was light, random and chaotic lustre racing in front of his eyes. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was some kind of sick joke; his mind repeating again and again the flickering light of his bedside lamp, the last thing he had laid his eyes upon. And whether his vision would be entirely different, happier, had his last sight been lover’s hair falling in loose twirls down their neck. Would he then see only love?

Nauseated by his own thoughts, he finally forced himself to move and fell out of his bed. He crawled on the floor like vermin, trying to find some shelter, a dark hole that would guard him from the firework display dancing on the surface of his irises. Instead, he found a wall to support himself with and he lifted himself up slowly, only to face the full horridness of his condition.

He saw himself staring into the full length mirror next to his wardrobe. His reflection was fragmented to him, but he could still make out one particular detail. His eyes. Terrible.

Indeed, they were perfectly shaped, purest diamonds. For a moment he got lost in them,  admiring their beauty foolishly like a child looking up to his parent and seeing the face of god. But all too soon he was ripped away from his fantasy, to witness their true nature with horror rising in his throat like pulping acid.

For his diamond eyes, like the most precious diamonds, were utterly transparent when inspected from the outside. To him, they were a cage, that frightening glass cabinet he had just conjured up in his mind. But from the mirror stared back at him the image others saw: his eyes like still, shallow water; windows reaching to the very bottom of his soul, exposing all. All his signs of weakness, his dreams, were laying there, drowned into the lake of tears. There they were, pooled into a sad pit of discarded emotions.

Then he saw it, the one dream he had most guarded in his life. It was swimming into the ether, to be lost forever.

As he watched it float by, he felt it stripping him out of his armada of ties, his armory of perfectly fitted suites, his gold watch, dropping all the zeroes on his bank account one by one as it went. It swam up, to the surface of his diamond eyes, where he watched it leaving him, his dream of love. Quickly, too quickly, it became just another light in the distance. And too late did he realize that his rich offerings, his watch and suits and money,  were but clutter. For if he had only touched love, given his dream a fleeting caress as it passed him, that…

That would have been the brightest kind of gold.

Dear Santa – Trifecta

22 Dec
A little girl's letter to Santa, taken from a Finnish newspaper

A little girl’s letter to Santa, taken from a Finnish newspaper

 

This letter has been published in a Finnish newspaper to which it came from a nursery. The writer is a 6 year old girl. The letter reads:

Dear Santa,

I don’t maybe need Monster High (*a toy) as a present or I do want it but if mum and dad would not fight and drink beer at all that would be the best christmas, best.

Best wishes,

Neea 6 yrs.

It broke my heart. And inspired me to write a peace for this week’s Trifecta. I hope that be it this Christmas or next year, we can all give some time to a child near us, play with them, listen to them or just smile to them. They will answer that smile eagerly because children were born to love. Let’s not allow the world to suck that love out of them. Children are precious, wise and fragile.  Here’s my contribution to Trifecta:

This weekend we want you to give us a pithy summary of your feelings about the holidays.  Your response does not need to be cynical or sarcastic.  We welcome all thoughts and feelings about this time of year–so long as you express those thoughts and feelings in 33 words.

Dear Santa

When mum is sad she whispers. Mum always whispers at Christmas. She doesn’t eat Christmas dinner, maybe because she has so many tears to swallow. Mum can have my toys, I love her.

What could you do to help a child out?

Have yourself a fairly merry Christmas!

13 Dec

Here is what not to do this Christmas:

1. Piss your neighbours off with Christmas lights that are designed to give every passer-by an epileptic seizure:

 

 

2. Fall asleep while having some gingerbread biscuits in the oven. I woke up to the sound of fire alarm, run to the kitchen and saw that something was catching fire slightly. So I panicked, grabbed the baking tray, run out and threw it into a snow drift.

A photo I took after the tiny fire was out... I took the biscuits inside trying to save them. I couldn't be a baker but I made some convincing chalk there.

A photo I took after the tiny fire was out… I took the biscuits inside, needless to say they couldn’t be saved. Well, I wouldn’t make a baker but I made some convincing chalk there.

 

 

3. Tear your hair out as a result of Christmas present-stress. Giving presents should be fun.

One thing I don’t get is giving presents for the sake of giving presents. Stressing over how someone already has everything, then going out and buying them something, just anything, a mug, woolly socks, anything! Because we need to buy them a present, just need to.

But both the buyer and the receiver know that this thing, this present bought in panic, is most likely forgotten after the Holidays, gathering dust at the back of some cupboard. So why wouldn’t we give presents that are different this Christmas? Presents that mean something… that mean a lot actually. Presents that are not forgotten.

Why wouldn’t we give gifts of life? Why wouldn’t we share the excess we have with others who have nothing. Use our money to give someone else hope?

So far I have given some uncontaminated water and few meters of water pipe, life-saving inoculations and a goat. All of these go to families in need. I have also given some toys to a family near here.

And what I wish for this Chrismas? A little love. Let’s make this world a fairer, warmer place!

To check out some charity gift ideas, some gifts that mean a lot, there’s WWF or Worldvision.  There’s also The Operation Christmas Child in the UK. And countless other local charity projects wherever you’re at, so keep your eyes open and find the gifts of life.

And have yourself a fairly merry Christmas, darlings!

 

Questions on life and death- Daily Prompt, Connect the dots

23 Nov

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.

 

Questions on life and death

I dream of murder, I dream of murder sleep or wake.

I’m afraid people can see the shameful glow of it on my skin. Oh I can feel their suspicion, it is screaming loudly at me from behind their pursed lips as they pass me by. They know. You know.

So what are we going to do about it?

“We?” ask your raised eyebrows.

Yes, we. Because now it is your secret too, this dream of mine. So would you please listen to me?

I have only had one dream in life so far. When I was little, my dream was to be a rally driver. But my legs were too short to reach the pedals. I cursed and a teacher slapped. Sorry, am I boring you? I know you didn’t start reading this to make a Freudian analysis of my childhood.

You started reading this because you saw murder. It rose in your mind, the blood-coloured shadow of it. It scared you, it drew you in. Can you not see? Even you, even you dreamed of murder then. You coloured it in, in your own mind. Even you got curious, just then, curious of murder. You and me are not too different, after all, you see.

You could love me.

You would, as a matter of fact, you would love me. If I had started this differently. If I had started by quoting T.S Elliot, The Wasteland perhaps, you would have said: “Oh, I love poetry! What else do you like?” And then you would have discovered that I am funny, and an attentive listener.

Or maybe, I could have started this by carrying your grocery bags for you in the rain. You would have still got wet, of course. But you would have been grateful to me, grateful that I freed your hands from the handcuffing bags. Grateful because the weight of the bags was pulling you down to the ground with them, your head heavy of responsibilities. Actually, how do you know that I didn’t help you out? How do you know that I wasn’t the person who opened a door to you today? The passer-by who you watched with a kind eye? How do you know?

Or I could make you hate me. Right now, with my next sentence. How do you know I have not already killed? How do you know I’m not the most hated convict, the one that even other criminals despise?

See, the seed of hate could be planted in your mind, just by giving you those impressions. They had an effect upon you, and whether they were right and just impressions was totally irrelevant to your feelings. That is the difficulty in life, first impressions. You know one thing about a person, and you think you know it all. Or enough to like them or dislike them, at least.

Isn’t it funny how it works in jails? The bizarre hierarchy they hold. Think about it. A man comes in who has killed a woman. Other people, convicts themselves, spit on him. They shout at him, they judge him. They kill him. Then in comes a woman who has killed a man. Everyone is quiet. No-one knows what to say, what to do. Because they have just killed a man too.

“But surely, that is not as bad as killing a woman?” they ask the woman.

The woman disagrees.

“You’re not killing women and men. You’re killing humans. All killing is the same, it’s killing of life.”

The others get angry now, they don’t like being contradicted. So, they kill the woman. They don’t want to see her at breakfast. Then they would see their guilt, staring at them from the other side of the table with its suprisingly gentle brown eyes. But now, they realise in horror, they have killed a woman. Just like the man they killed because he had killed a woman. Before, people who despised them in the street didn’t matter. But now, now they have become what they despised. Now it matters, because they despise themselves.

So who are you to judge my dream? Who are you to judge anyone’s dream? Anyone’s deeds? Who is anyone?

Don’t get aggrevated, I’m not trying to piss you off. I’m asking you this because I don’t know the answers myself. You don’t know either? Oh… See, you and me are not very different. Because after all, we are both just humans.

So can I reveal you my dream now, reveal it all? Because there is something you don’t know.

I have only one wish for you, before I do. Do not judge me. Do not hate me. Pity me, for there are men who dream of many great things. There are men who dream about buying their children new shoes. Buying a ring to their girlfriend. Oh, those are nice, strawberry-tinted dreams. Then there are men like me. The only dream I have been given, since I abandoned my childhood one, is a dream of murder. Which one of us do you think leads a happier life?

And if you judged me, if you sentenced me to death because death it what I supposedly want to give others,  you might think you did a right thing. Congratulations, you’re the noble heir of Hammurati. An eye for an eye. But is that justice to you? Is that justice? Are you the one with the keys on your hand, are you the one who has the right to unlock life and death? To decide? Are you the judge, powerful enough to halt and restart the order of life? Are you?

If you are, please reveal your wisdom. Please, let me kiss your hands and buy you flowers. Please let me show you respect. And please please, you wiser being, solve my problem:

Love Thy Neigbour As Thyself. Now that is a golden rule of life, don’t you think? But tell me, what do you do if you don’t love yourself? Who is going to save you then, and your neighbour, from yourself? I treat people exactly as I treat myself. Disrespectfully.

And don’t you think for a second that I don’t admire those other kind of people. Those who love themselves. Those girls with prim dresses, cradling heavy books on their lap like they were precious babies, their ankles pointing forward. They’re always going forward, learning. Loving. Once, they will have those books on their shelves to remind them of their university days, when they met the guy who had the most dazzling blue eyes. (I wish I could have been that guy. Oh shut it. On with the story.) And she has put the books aside now, to cradle her baby. The baby has the most dazzling blue eyes. His father is in the kitchen. The kitchen fills the house with warm air but it is not the steam of his cooking. It is his love.

And me? Only hate was given to me, in the womb. It is like a violent serpent inside me, it is like drunk Dionysos ordering me to drown yet another pint of bitterness; drink, drink my love. Drink up, sink down. Hate is acid in my throat, it burns my heart.

So now, now I should tell you my dream. I think it is time. I have disgusted you out of your wits, scared you a little perhaps, the way those weird men do when you’re making your way home and it’s dark, those men who talk to lamp posts. Let me tell you, those men, they only talk to lamp posts because they have no-one else to talk to. Not because they want to bribe the lamp posts to attack you with him.

But I cannot do it! I cannot! Now, that I should reveal my dream to you, I cannot. It is too much. Oh, not too much for me, you silly. I have to live with it everyday. But it might be too much for you to take. I’m afraid I have wasted your time. We must depart. Goodbye!

Did you say something?  Sorry, I couldn’t quite hear you? My dream? What… Oh you want to know?

That changes things. Hmm… I was not given a choise with this dream, maybe that is why it pains me so. But you made a choice, how brilliant! Maybe making a choise will save you. You take this dream off me, out of your own free will? How strange! Thank you! Here it is:

I dream of murder, I dream of murder sleep or wake.

But not because of what I have just told you, no. Not because of hatred, not because of my past or because I feel lost. I do not dream of murder where I would hold the knife on the throat of this world, no!

I dream of murder where I would be the blemish on the pavement left behind when the murder scene has been cleaned up, when the murderer has been arrested. I dream of murder, one that I would not carry out. I dream of murder in which I was the victim.

That surprised you. I bet you thought I walked out of the Shining (That guy, he wanted best to his family too maybe. He just didn’t know anymore what best was.)  But why dream of such a horrible thing?

Because I have seen a child being murdered.  After that I thought, if I could save one child I would give myself away.

After that I thought, if I had to choose one side of the blade, one side to view life and death from… I would choose the side of death. I would choose to be the victim. Not because I want to die, particularly, but because I don’t want to be the one deciding who lives.  My life is the only life I can decide on. And I would like to give mine to a child.

So what do you think of me now? What do you think of dealing out life and death? Right and wrong?

An ode to the 21st century

7 Nov

Photocredit: guardian.co.uk

This city is the faceless eel

that sucks your body dry,

it is the greyness and rain

dampening your brain,

turning it into poisoning fungi

This city is the pit of vomit, cold

and egoistic battles, it is the cages

of our minds that rattle, it is

the reek of loneliness in our tears

as we squirm in our one-room flats,

in our boxed-up apocalyptic fears

And yet, I do not hate this city

and the dark pit of dirt it bears

No, I do not hate but dream of the day

we’ll buy all the pure-coloured paint

and overnight, we will spray this city white

And we will watch that glimmer

we created, we will watch it peel

the buildings out of stiffness and

the people out of their sunken forms,

we will watch us all being reborn,

again carrying the sun in our cores

I do not hate this city for it is not evil

only baby-blind, waiting to open up

its hazy eyes.

I do not hate this city because

to love the sun one must first be

shown the light.

Nietzsche vs. Winnie The Pooh

4 Nov

Today I want to give you the thoughts of these two great philosophers. (It is an odd combination maybe, but don’t you just sometimes love to be a bit weird?)

I think all they have to say on life is better than my ramblings would be today, considering I just had to remind myself how to spell the former by Google searching his name. I’ve had exhausting but amazing week, and now all my brain wants to do is hibernate. So I’ll let you, Mr Nietzche and Pooh do the thinking.  What do you say then, should we see them battle (or shake hands) with their opinions?

Nietzche teaches: Insanity is only our perception. Pooh teaches how to perceive even chaos as positive.

(So if you feel weird, don’t worry, you might be genius. And if you’re the one who always loses their keys and their way, celebrate the fact that for you, there is lot more to be found in life!)

 

Nietzche wants to remind you to remember the purpose behind your actions, Winnie the Pooh wants you to remember there is no boundaries to your actions:

 

And just to spice it up a little, to love or not to love eternally, that is their question:

Background image: “Hope” Artwork by Banksy

 

So who is it for you today, Nietzsche or Pooh? Or does neither suit your thoughts, and if so then I’m curious to know, who does it better?

Art prophecies of the future

26 Oct

The Future Man by Victor Hugo

Here’s the thought of the artist himself, Victor Hugo, on above artwork: “Nothing else in the world… not all the armies… is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

I hope he is right. Because if he is, I have and idea. It is the idea behind this blog, behind my pursuit for happinness. It is an idea I try to actively introcude to my life, and to the lives of people around me.  It is just two words, four simple syllables, it is this little thought:

More compassion.

And the best part is, it is not really my idea at all. I know it is an idea that others try to fulfill in their lives, just like I do.  I know it lives in many hearts. I know that there are people out there, compassionate and loving, caring and fond of little things, like stranger’s smile and surprise hugs. Actually, I believe we have all been given that talent. Whatever Darwin and natural selection has to say, I say there is much more to us than just bare animal instinct! We have been given the ability to love, the miracle of empathy. We are all capable of loving. Let’s be generous with it and create more of this love.

Because if Victor Hugo is right, and I believe he is, we can change this world. With more compassion, we do not create only a better potrait of the future man, we create a better mankind.

It might sound naiive. I know there is a lot of suffering in this world, more than I can imagine in my blessed little life where week’s biggest tribulation is that I missed a bus.  But think about Victor Hugo’s quote, think about the concept of an idea. Before there was a gun, there was the idea of a gun. Before there was war, there was the idea of war. Before violence, the violence was created in someone’s mind. Before this world was a chess game of super powers, leaders check and mating each other with nuclear bombs, there was someone who wanted that power. So with our idea, with the idea of more love and compassion, we can change this.  We can turn down the power of violence and spread the power of love. We can take this idea, this sweet and naiive-sounding idea, and turn it into reality. We can make this work. We can make this world a better place.

And when you doubt, the way I sometimes do, ask yourself: What are the options? Do we really want to see more crisis? Do we want the future man to be the portrait above: A hard shell of an armour, drained out of all empathy, feeling, compassion. Do we want to become efficient killing machines, love machines, labour machines, lost and unfeeling machines. Because the choice is ours, the choice is real. We have the choice to create more compassion or to destroy the idea of it.

Rock Drill, the original sculpture by Jacob Epstein

Rock Drill, the original sculpture by Jacob Epstein

The remaining torso of Rock Drill by Jacob Epstein

The story of the sculpture above, Rock Drill, is probably one of my favourite art stories ever. Epstein created Rock Drill in 1913 to be the prophecy of humanity.

“I made and mounted a machine-like robot, visored, menacing, and carrying within itself its progeny, protectively ensconced. Here is the armed, sinister figure of today and tomorrow. No humanity, only the terrible Frankenstein’s monster we have made ourselves into…” Extract from the autobiography of Epstein

The sculpture was originally attached to real miner’s rock drill. However, later Epstein dismantled it himself, removed the drill and cut off its limbs, leaving the torso displayed on the bottom picture.  But even if the threatening apperance of Rock Drill was destroyed, what it stood for survived. It was the epitome of suffering, violence and war. None of them has yet grown extinct. We can see their effects every day, some of us in news and some of us, sadly, first hand.

So, the reason I love Rock Drill? Well,  I don’t think it is the epitome of suffering at all, I don’t think it is the prophecy of our future the way Epstein intended it to be.  I think it is the epitome of what we can do! Or if it isn’t, we can turn it into one.

Let’s make it the epitome of change. Let’s dismantle the body of hatred and violence in this world, the way Epstein did with his sculpture. Let’s replace it with love, community and compassion.

I believe we can do it. But if I didn’t convince you, check out this blog:  The Better Man Project.  It sets an amazing example, it is one of my constant inspiration foundations. Every day, I return there for examples of love and care, for ponderings, for instructions. For the followers, for the visitors of the blog, for the community.

Do you see now that this idea is not alone, that is not flimsy and imagined? Do you believe? Because if you do, we can change this.

The Real Hunger Games

22 Oct

For anyone who has access to cinema, internet and books probably recognises what this is about:

Peeta and Catnip. The last survivors of the hunger games, a book which is essentially about kids in a ring running and killing for their lives. They need food. They need to survive, whatever it takes. Some might think it mindless, but I don’t think this subject should be censored, in fact I think the opposite. I love books that cause an outrage when they have effectively managed to poke at the sore spot in our society, to point out something that needs discussing and improvement.

Except these books don’t do that. So it is indeed pretty mindless. They became a massive hit, as did the film, and yet it barely ponders over the questions the plot should raise, such as killing to survive, the value of your life against someone else’s or dealing out death. No, it became a massive hit because the two main characters fall in love. And then there is the jealous third wheel. Wait, why does this have a familiar ring in the history of love stories?

Indeed, the focus of the book seemed to be the gorgeous eyelashes of Peeta, the heart-breaker, and the dazzling outfits of the kids. But if you wanted to read about love drama and clothes you could just buy The Sun, magasine with a reading age of seven, costing you only a quid and the loss of few brain cells. I actually thought the book might ponder over and criticise living in a society where killing has turned into entertainment.

Then there’s the added bonus of the name. The Hunger Games. But the polished faces above are not what should be associated with the word ‘hunger’. The real hunger games are fought elsewhere. In India. In Africa. In Asia. In many sad parts of the world. This is what real hunger games look like:

https://i0.wp.com/flairpix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/bathing_poverty.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/flairpix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/poor_girl_lost.png

https://i1.wp.com/flairpix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/poverty_starving_kids.jpg

They need food. They need to survive. And there are millions of them. It is not fiction, not some romaticised love story carelessly spiced up with death. It is real, real death and suffering. Looking at the above photos might have hurt your eyes, made you gulp down sadness, it did me. It’s hard to face. But think about what it does to the people experiencing starvation, how it hurts them, how they have to face the possibility of life leaving their body, slowly.

I will try to help, more than I have done so far. If I don’t know how, I will find out. I will appreciate what I have. I will hope and pray and beg that these hunger games end, for forever.

What about you? Or the question should actually be,

what about them?

870 million people do not have enough to eat  and 98 percent of them live in developing countries.     (Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3027e/i3027e02.pdf 2012

Undernutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries. ( Source: UNICEF 2012)

The photos from: http://flairpix.com/41-heartbreakingly-beautiful-poverty-pictures/

On gratitude

19 Oct

Beggar (Fisher Girl) by Ilya Efimovich Repin

I’m sharing you this artwork for a reason, and it is not the beautiful sentiment of the piece, although that is a reason enough in itself. But today, I’m sharing you this piece because I met a very inspirational man who reminded me of the above portrait.

I work in a supermarket and though I try to treat all my customers with equal respect and cheerfulness, sometimes you meet people who are just something different, in all the good ways. This man was one of them.

He was buying leather shoes. I soon found out his character was as soft as the beautiful, slender texture of the shoes. Because suddenly, he asked me if I knew what ‘crow boots’ were. I was bemused and said that I wasn’t sure if they were part of our range, they didn’t sound familiar.

At my remark, the man bursted out laughing and said they hadn’t been part of anyone’s range for the past 50 years, at least not in Finland or countries of equal social security.

‘ Crow boots were the crust that dried on your feet when you had been plodding through wet mud and dirt all day. Crow boots were the only shoes I had as a kid. 55 years ago… when things were a bit different.”

Then the man seemed to contemplate something for a moment, so I said in wonderment:

“It must be really weird to see the difference so clearly now, how things have changed for kids and teenagers.”

“Yes… but they were good times too, you know. In their own way, simpler and good.”

The man’s smile and content left me in awe. There was a boy behind him queueing to buy an iPad 4. He was sulking. I wished the man a lovely weekend. I wished the boy would be grateful and see the difference.

It is hard to understand the ways in which things have changed in such a short time. To think that I have 10 pairs of shoes and have taken them for granted all my life. It is indeed a blissful world where you can complain about missing a bus, runny make-up, long queues in shops and spiders in your house.

I’ll risk sounding terribly serious and morbid, and say: I don’t like the way how ‘First world problems’ has become a jokily phrase over the internet. It is not a joke, although we should laugh everyday, because we indeed are terrible lucky and blessed.

I learnt a lot from that man today. I learnt how to be happy and grateful. I learnt to love my shoes a little bit more too, if that is possible for a girl.

What do you love and are grateful for?

The ugly side of charity

13 Oct

When did charity become a selling point?

Buy this and we’ll give two cents out of our million profit to this charity organisation. Buy this product, go ahead, buy yourself some conscience!

I know I have done it, buying a four quid pink pen to support breast cancer charity. Only then to read the small print and figure out that they didn’t even give two percent of that four quid to the promised charity. And the saddest part, I really thought I was helping. Like many others who fall for it.

And the moneymaking machines, the corporations know this. They use it, not to help others, but boost their own profit.

Last month there was a campaign by a big sweets brand here in Finland, Fazer. The idea, the promise, was that when we eat chocolate, African children eat too. Buy this chocolate bar and you’ll help the kids in need. Oh, the charity, the good deed!

So very ironic then, that it is these kids who actually make the chocolate.

None of the products carries a fair trade stamp. The cocobeans are hauled over from Western Africa from plantations that live out of child labour. There is human trafficking too.

So, this is charity. This is what their charity stands for.

Charity has become the equivalent of a face lift for many companies. They photoshop few smiling faces of the poor into their ads, polish their image and then, purring with content, watch the profit flooding in.

It’s so easy. It is a neat little trap for the consumers, bound to attract. Because we want to help. And the best part is, the seller now knows that when we read the ingedients list, we don’t pay attentions for additives. We look at our beloved purchase and see that it’s made of charity. Might not be fat-free but it’s guilt-free!

But what if you didn’t buy that pink pen next time or that chocolate bar, and used the money to buy a sandwich for a homeless guy instead? Or gave him a little bit extra for that Big Issue?

Or what if you put away your wallet all together and gave few kind words to your lonely neighbour? Or carried the shopping of an old woman instead of rushing past her in the shop?

You would see the help. You would see their smile and know they’re smiling for you, to thank you. Not because their profit turnover just tipped over  two million.