Rise of Religion

Origin of the word ‘Religion’
Source: Google

In a world where progress is constantly being redefined, morality and ethics questioned; there is one aspect of the human experience that has remained firmly rooted to man’s conscience, occasionally swaying but never faltering – religion.

I have developed a general appreciation for the numerous religions people practice worldwide and have grown rather interested in how the very idea of religion as ‘a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements‘ was birthed. {Wikipedia}

Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

Origin

While the origin of religion is uncertain, there are a number of theories regarding its origins. Earliest archaeological evidence of religious ideas dates back several hundred thousand years to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic periods, where apparent intentional burials are considered evidence by archaeologists.

Various theories regarding the origin of religion, most notably those by theorists Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) and Herbert Spencer revolving around animism (the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence), and archaeologist John Lubbock (1834-1913) who brought in fetishism (attribution of inherent value, or powers, to an object) have all been widely criticised, rendering religion’s origin yet to be discovered.

9130–7370 BCE was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, Turkey – one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered.
Source: Wikipedia

The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious feelings, thoughts, and ideas. It is a period of religious history that began with the invention of writing about 5,220 years ago.

Wikipedia quotes anthropologists John Monaghan and Peter Just on why religions could have begun – “Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs.

In ‘The Human Web: A Bird’s-Eye View of World History’, John Robert McNeill mentions the following as a potential argument as to why religion arose – “religious congregations, in turn, helped to stabilize urban society by making its inherent inequality and insecurity more tolerable.”

As of today, there are 10,000 distinct religions worldwide with 84% of the world population associated with one/several religions. Several large-scale belief systems emerged between 1200 BCE and 700 CE.

{Abrahamic and Indian religions’ source – Wikipedia}

Religion Origin
ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS:
Judaism 2000 BCE
Christianity 1st century AD
Islam7th century AD (the youngest of the major world religions)
INDIAN RELIGIONS:
Hinduism2300 BCE (world’s oldest religion)
Jainism 7th–5th century BCE
Buddhism late 6th century BCE
Sikhism AD 1500
ConfucianismConfucius, founder of Confucianism, was born in 551 BCE with the earliest Confucian writing, Shu Ching, incorporating ideas of harmony and heaven sometime in 600–500 BCE
Zoroastrianism 600 BCE
(world’s first monotheistic faith)
Taoism
550 BCE
The Pyramid Texts are the oldest known religious texts.
Source: Wikipedia

Evolution

(The following text is paraphrased from various essays on BBC Future)

In order to gain a better understanding on how and why religion evolved, evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar emphasises on examining religions without their cultural accretions. He further states that instead of focussing on Gods and creeds, we need to think deeper about the capacities that emerged in our ancient ancestors that allowed them to achieve a religious way of being together.

Dunbar goes on to mention that the largest group size that chimpanzees can maintain through grooming alone is 45. However the average human group size is 150, known as Dunbar’s number. In justification, Dunbar says humans have the capacity to reach three times as many social contacts as chimps for a given amount of social effort. This in turn potentially portrays that religion emerges out of this increased capacity for sociality. Yet another argument Dunbar’ proposes is that religion evolved as a way of allowing many people at once to take part in endorphin-triggering activation.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

With the neocortex figuring prominently in several theories regarding evolution of religion, Jonathan Turner, author of The Emergence and Evolution of Religion, mentions the more important alterations as concerning the subcortical parts of the brain, which enabled hominins (extinct members of the human lineage) to experience a broader range of emotions which led to bonding – a crucial achievement for the development of religion.

Voltaire, when asked why we need a religion answered, ”If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” This answer seemingly implied his belief that God is necessary for society to function. The broad idea that a shared faith serves the needs of a society is known as the functionalist view of religion. One recurring theme is social cohesion: religion brings together a community, who might then form a hunting party, raise a temple or support a political party. {BBC Future}

Karl Jaspers
Source: Wikipedia

According to German-Swiss philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), “the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently… And these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today.” The axial age, a term coined by him, refers to the period from 900 to 200 BCE.

From Wikipedia, ”Intellectual historian Peter Watson has summarized the axial age as the foundation time of many of humanity’s most influential philosophical traditions, including, Platonism in Greece, Buddhism and Jainism in India, and Confucianism and Taoism in China.

Development

The development of religion has taken versatile paths in different cultures with some religions placing emphasis on belief, practice, the subjective experience of the religious individual or the activities of the religious community. Parallelly existing alongside religions that claim to be universal, are others that are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group.

Several medieval religious movements emphasized mysticism (popularly known as becoming one with God or the Absolute) such as the Cathars, the Jews in Spain, the Bhakti movement in India and Sufism in Islam. Christianity expanded to Africa, America, Australia and the Philippines as a result of European colonisation during the 15th – 19th centuries .

The concept of “religion” was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries. The sacred histories and narratives of religions aim mostly, to give a meaning to life. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source and basis of religious beliefs.

Photo by jossuha theophile on Unsplash

The 19th century, considered the formative period for the modern study of religion, saw a dramatic increase in knowledge about a wide variety of cultures and religions, and also the establishment of economic and social histories of progress. By the late 20th century religion had declined in most of Europe.

[Paraphrasing from an essay on BBC Future]
Andrew Newberg, who studies the brain in light of religious experience, says in How God Changes Your Brain, that contemplating God long enough, produces certain reactions in the brain involving activation and deactivation of synapses, formation of new dendrites and synaptic connections along with a change of neural functioning. In short, perceptions are altered accompanied by a change in beliefs. If God has meaning for you, then God becomes neurologically real.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

The late sociologist Robert Bellah mentioned, how the religious rituals of Neolithic humans (10,000–4,500 BCE) focused above all on one person, the divine or quasi-divine king, where only a few people, priests or members of the royal lineage, participated. It was also during this period that “king and god emerged together and continued their close association throughout history”.
{BBC Future}

To conclude, what does the future hold?

While the origin of religion remains veiled by the vast expanse of life we’re still discovering, religion continues to heavily influence our lives and provide a basis for how, many discern the right from the wrong. As such, religion like every other aspect of human life continues to grow and expand its reach with several new religious movements having been founded in the recent years. But is religion growing, evolving or does it follow a finite path which ends at some point? Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest continuously practiced religions is today, a fading religion.

Linda Woodhead, an academic specialising in the sociology of religion, mentions political support is what paves the path for the rise or fall of a religion based on history. In Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari argues that the foundations of modern civilisation are eroding in the face of an emergent religion called “dataism”, which holds that by giving ourselves over to information flows, we can transcend our earthly concerns and ties.
{Source: BBC Future}

According to the future statistics modelled by The Pew Research Center based on demographics, migration and conversion, people unaffiliated with any religion will increase in countries such as the United States and France but will constitute a declining share of the world’s total population. Instead of a sharp decline in religiosity (religious orientations and involvement), the projections predict a modest increase in believers, from 84% of today to 87% of the world’s population in 2050. Excluding Buddhism, all of the world’s major religions are predicted to grow in absolute numbers in the coming decades. However, these projections cannot be considered absolute when factoring in the potential consequences of international migration.
{Source: Pew Research Centre}

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The past houses the fractional percentage constituting human error while the future remains uncertain owing to the unpredictability of life. But analysing what little we have been able to learn, religion is a unique aspect of the human experience that has grown and evolved in its own path supported by life and based on the cerebral capacity of our ancestors and it sure has been interesting to learn the course of it all!

Hope you had a lovely read!

Thoughtfully yours,
D

Referred sources:

BBC Future:
How and Why Did Religion Evolve?
Do humans have A Religious Instinct?
Tomorrow’s Gods: What is the future of religion?
Wikipedia:
Timeline of Religion
Religion
History of Religion
Britannica:
History Of The Study Of Religion
Pew Research Centre:
The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050
Khan Academy:
The Origin of World Religions

A Thank You Letter to My Body

A Thank You Letter to my Body Random Specific Thoughts

Just a few days ago, I came over a heartfelt letter Shelly @ Growing with Spawn wrote to her body, after being inspired by the one Ang @ Lose Weight With Ang penned. It seemed like a lovely idea and I do believe it’s random acts of thoughtfulness like these that leave a generous impact on our mental health and on certain readers as well. I wasn’t sure of what to write but I decided to do it anyway! A huge thank you to Ang for this tag!
Before I begin, please make sure you check out the two letters below; they’re absolutely worth a read and resonate deeply on certain levels.

Writing Challenge : A Thank You letter To My Body // Lose Weight with Ang
A Thank You Letter To My Body // Growing with Spawn

Please feel free to join in on this and please don’t forget to tag Ang if you do!

“and I said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.”
― Nayyirah Waheed

Dear Body,

In all our years of knowing each other, I never once thought to thank you for being there, for being me, for being strong and just for being who you are. A week or so ago, when one of my cousins were visiting, I sat with her infant son for a while; just watching him sleep and smile in his peaceful slumber, every now and then. He was tiny, just about the length of my forearm. I’ve never had younger siblings or been around babies much, but the fragile charm he exuded was profoundly strong.

I can’t believe we met when, you were that tiny or that I was born as you. The fact that you’re the one who holds my mind close when it threatens to break away, tether my thoughts and dreams to reality or that my hands that are attached to you are the ones who do everything that I love are truths that are now beginning to dawn on me as I remain speechless not knowing why or how I didn’t see it before.

We’ve had a rocky relationship because of all my allergies and our mutual disinclination towards food and while I don’t regret our food choices much, I wish I could treat you to a healthier lifestyle. I’m sorry for all the times I picked on you, for not carrying yourself gracefully, for the times I wanted you to be, who we both weren’t and especially for all the times, I tried to pretend you and me just didn’t exist in the other’s illusion of the world.

Photo by lucas-mendes on Unsplash

I’m sorry I consistently subject you to my erratic sleep patterns and then drag you out of bed just because sleep doesn’t come easy; for I never let it feel welcome either. I wish I could take you out on more walks and give you the brief respite outdoors, you scream for on some days. I hate that I prioritise my relentless procrastination when you are in need of help and attention. I so appreciate all the hours you let me stay up, no matter how ungodly the hour may be; and I love and appreciate how you always succeed in dragging me out of bed in the morning, in time for school irrespective of whether or not, I let you succumb to sleep at night.

Dear body, you have been kind and occasionally rather hard on me, but I now realise all the strain and pressure I forced you to go through was even harder and I apologise for my inconsiderate behaviour. You’ve been there for me when no one else has, you’ve stood up for me and given me a voice and I’m so grateful for all of it. I thank you for accepting all the awkward falls and stumbles without any acknowledgement of the pain that followed and for getting right back up, like nothing had ever happened.

I hope we can learn to get along better with each other. I’ve grown so much from that fragile child I see in photos and know, as long as I breathe, it’ll be you who carries me through.

Much love,
The child you shelter

“I am getting used to my voice not sounding like an apology, my hair looking like a thunder storm, my face resembling a calamity, my smile looking like jagged tombstones, my soul feeling like an abstract art.”
― Ayushee Ghoshal, 4 AM Conversations


Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

Peer Pressure

Thank you so much for tagging me, asic! She has a wonderfully diverse blog where she talks about her current obsessions, interests, favourites and more. Check it out here!

(I was tagged for this tag in the beginning of February. Sorry, asic!)

Rules

➼Link back to the creator {Random Thoughts of My Fandoms}
➼Provide a link to the person who tagged you {asic}
➼Answer all questions honestly.
➼Come up with 5 questions of your own. (4 have to be about peer pressure; 1 can be random and about whatever)
➼Tag at least 10 people and provide links to their blog, please no “you!”
➼Recommend at least 5 books or songs you see everywhere/are very popular that you’ve read or listened to.
➼Use the hashtag #peer pressure tag for easier visibility

Wow, looks like I’m going to be breaking a few rules for the first time (Sorry, Zoë!)

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Moving onto the questions!

1. Have you ever been pressured to do something that ended up having a positive effect?

I haven’t technically been pressured to do anything but I have been persuaded to go to certain gatherings and meet people. Most end up catastrophic but yes, some end up with positive outcomes, not a positive effect. I like it when the people I’m around ask me questions other than ‘How is school?’ or say “I haven’t seen you in so long! Remember me?‘ An event where that doesn’t happen is a very positive day.

2. How do you combat pressure?

I think it depends on the type of pressure and I owe all my treasure trove of pressure to school. So, I either complete the school work that’s weighing me down or if I have time to spare, I write, read, draw or listen to music.

3. If your friend was being pressured into something, how would you help them?

This is such a vague question. It depends on what they are being pressured into and by whom? Considering the present, I don’t have a lot of friends and the few I have are very easy going people and don’t seem to be under pressure. The only pressure that’s weighing us down is school, and that is something most students live with and have their own way of dealing with. If the friend in question was having a hard time learning a new concept or something, I would help them understand it.

4. Now, how do you think a person should combat pressure?

Again, I really think it depends on the person. Some find talking very liberating and it’s their way of easing pressure off their lives. Others like taking a break from life and spending a whole day indulged in hobbies and me time. And yet others find comfort in certain forms of art like singing or writing. I think all forms are good as long as they don’t harm the person and those around them.

5. If you could change one choice you made from being pressured into something, what would it be?

Haha, in most cases, it’s me who’s pressuring myself. The last choice I pressured myself into was sending a poem (a terrible one, but I secretly like it now because it has a fun memory attached to it) to a literary journal. I don’t know why I did it, I was feeling very reckless and it was 1 am. I posted it here when the same recklessness graced me with its presence! (The journal rejected it, obviously)

6. What do you think is the worst type of pressure a person could face? Any type of pressure qualifies!

The pressure to meet expectations. I’m not saying it’s completely bad but it seems to be more powerful in hurting people than other types of pressure.

7. Have you ever felt pressure while blogging?

Haha, no! I was writing before I started blogging, so I don’t feel too pressured to sit down or have no need to force myself to write something for this blog alone. I have never done that and hope I don’t, because that kills what writing means to me. Scheduling posts help too. Now that I’m in grade 12, I don’t spend as much time on my blog as I used to and scheduling posts helps Random Specific Thoughts stay active and on schedule.

But a long hiatus is on it’s way sadly.

Photo by Ena Marinkovic on Pexels.com

8. This is kind of an open-ended question- do you think peer pressure is good or bad?

Both. It’s bad when people start hating themselves because they’re different from their peers. It’s good when it makes a person competitive (in a good way) and motivates them to work harder. I’ve been on both ends and I feel like one makes up for the other.

9. Song and book recommendations:

BOOKSSONGS
The Hate You Give | Angie ThomasBefore You Go // Lewis Capaldi
To Kill A Mockingbird | Harper LeeFalling // Harry Styles
Wonder | R.J PalacioHolding On // The Lumineers
A Wrinkle in Time | Madeline L’engleAfterglow // Ed Sheeran
Alice in Wonderland | Lewis CarrollWelcome to Wonderland // Anson Seabra
The Harry Potter series | J.K RowlingThe Circle Game // Joni Mitchell
Wuthering Heights | Emily Brontëexile // Taylor Swift
Becoming | Michelle ObamaOne More Light // Linkin Park

10. (Random Question)
Will you think about tagging me for another tag(say yes for brownie points!)?
Also, what do you think about pineapple on pizza?

(I believe I already have!)
I haven’t tried it. I’m not very fond of food and usually refrain from trying out new food combinations. I’m sorry but I think pineapple on pizza sounds wrong.


I tag:

Meg
Maggie
Shanessa
Moi Ana
Anna
Haley
Please feel free to do this tag if you find it interesting!
I’m passing on the same questions from asic’s post!

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

The Cost Of Material Beauty

Disclaimer: This post which is about makeup, is solely intended to raise awareness and not to accuse or incriminate those who do use it. I have no experience in the cosmetic industry. The content of this article is compiled from a variety of authentic sources which I will mention at the end/middle for your reference.

Widely accepted by a variety of cultures, the popularity of cosmetics can be attributed to its potential for creative self-expression and self-identity. These have been in use for thousands of years and are used to enhance, alter or cleanse without affecting the body’s structure. In common parlance, cosmetics mean makeup products such as lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, blush, highlighter, and several other products.

When it comes to evaluating the contribution of the cosmetic and makeup industry to the global economy, it can be seen that the men and women of the United States, Japan, France, Germany and the UK spend the most on makeup with the US topping the list in terms of usage followed closely by Japan and Russia with the highest cosmetics consumption.

Mica and its
Uses in The Beauty Industry

The global beauty industry is one among the largest consumers of mica. Mica refers to a group of 37 naturally occurring minerals. The composition of Mica allows it to be ground down into a fine powder-like dust, making it versatile and suitable for various industries.

Mica is mainly classified into two types; natural and synthetic with 10, blue 1, red 28 and many other FD&C food dyes derived from petroleum are banned in many countries due to potential links to cancer.

Mica’s delicate shimmer is what gives makeup its distinct glow and sparkle – and 60% of the mica that goes into cosmetics comes from India. Coming to the core of this post, Mica can be found in China, Russia, Finland etc. but the cosmetics industry sources the majority of its supply from India, where it’s often mined by children as young as four or five years old, some who were kidnapped and forced into child labour.

Children as young as four.

Child Labour

The reason for using children is even more heartbreaking. Supposedly, it is because their hands are small enough to fit into the tight crevices where mica is commonly found.

They toil all day long in ‘ghost’ mines (illegal mines) under immensely dangerous work conditions without protective equipment, reinforced walls or prompt medical help nearby. Mining is a very risky business, especially fatal to such young children who not only use hazardous equipment like picks but are vulnerable to mine collapses any moment.

An article in Marie Claire, also draws attention to the fact that these children constantly breathe in fine particles of mica, which can ultimately lead to grave respiratory conditions like asthma, silicosis, and tuberculosis not to mention the risk of serious injuries like snake and scorpion bites, falling rock and skin infections.

Chiseling for mica with hammers in mine shafts that often collapse, smashing large chunks of mica into smaller rocks in order to break it up, and carrying baskets of rocks to the top of the mines to sort through their contents are some of the dangerous jobs that they do.

“A 2016 investigation by Reuters found that not only had children regularly died in these mines, but many of the deaths had been covered up by local officials, making an actual fatality count difficult to nail down. According to Nagasayee Malathy, executive director of Indian advocacy group Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, or KSCF, not much has changed since that investigation. She estimates that there are between 10 and 20 deaths in mines every month, a conservative number based on what we heard on the ground.”  {Quoted from Refinery 29)

The children here are underweight and nearly half of them under the age of five suffer from stunted growth. In addition, illiteracy is also common. Having no other options owing to severe poverty, many families allow their children to find work instead of going to school. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights said that a section of children in the mica mining areas are deprived of opportunities and have started working as labourers to supplement their family income.

A survey conducted by SOMO observes that there are 4,545 children in the age group of six to 14 years in the area of Jharkhand reported as not attending school majorly to collect mica scraps. Most of these children come from a third-world place in India – Koderma, infamous for mica mines, naxalism and child labour.

According to SOMO , a quarter of the world’s mica comes from the eastern Indian poverty-stricken states of Jharkand and Bihar, where more than 22,000 children work in mica mines, around 90 per cent of which are illegal. Despite its mineral wealth, the region is thrust under a heavy and dark pall of poverty and hunger. Of the 33 million people who live in Jharkhand, 13 million live below the poverty line. This makes Jharkhand one of the poorest regions in India. The Kailash Sathyarthi Children’s Foundation working since 2005 in these mica-rich areas estimates that there are close to 500 villages dependant on mica trade. (Stats source – The Quint)

Owing to the perpetual cycle of poverty, as well as a steady slavery industry, one in five people employed in the mines is under the age of 14. These children are also kept in the dark as to where this mined mica is sent. The raw material, excavated by these children, is collected by a broker, who sells it to an exporter, who then delivers it to a manufacturer.

And what does mica do? It adds a distinct shimmer to beauty products. A glow that these children will never experience in their lives if this monstrosity carries on.

In addition to all this, the mining companies or the middlemen refrain from paying fair and sufficient wages to the workers. They are well aware of their deeds and make sure to operate under the radar especially since child labour is illegal and banned in India. This inefficiency on their part to pay wages in turn leads to a situation known as bonded labour or debt slavery. Owing to terribly low wages, it can sometimes take even generations to pay off these loans.

What can you do?

Like plastic, makeup is not a commodity you can just eradicate or ban in one day. Apart from being used to alter or enhance one’s appearnace, makeup has also been linked to increased confidence levels and is used by many to feel comfortable as an individual in a judgemental society.

Use products from brands which are transparent about their supply chains and clearly mention where and how they source their mica. Implementation of safety regulations and ensuring that brands and the industry, force middlemen to treat their workers fairly and abolish child labour is yet another path.

Given below are a few cosmetic brands that use ethically sourced mica:

Pure Anada
What they say: “Our Mica supplier ensures that their product is mined ethically in India without the use of child labour.  They own their own mines, fund schools and daycare centers so that the quality of life for their employees is fair.”
 I really appreciate that this information is included and easily found in their “about” section unlike many other brands where it can be quite hard to find or not publicly available at all.

LUSH
A bath, body, and beauty company who is vocal about mica issues and uses synthetic mica.

Clove + Hallow
What they say: “[Mica is] a natural shimmery mineral that we source ethically within the United States”

Au Naturale
What they say: “our micas are child labor free – mined, processed and distributed sustainably world wide. We take a purists stance when it comes to color – refusing to partake in unethical sourcing practices that are harmful to people, animals or the environment”
And on a mica blog post they say “Because our suppliers own their supply chain from harvesting to processing and distribution, we can assure only the highest quality micas, mined without the use of child labor, are used in our formulations”

Red Apple Lipstick
A gluten free, vegan, natural beauty brand (not just lipstick).
I couldn’t find anything on their website, but when I reached out to them they said: “we source all of our ingredients from the United States, a few from Europe and some others from Canada. All of which we make sure do not involve child labor, and that workers are paid fairly.” Specifically about their mica they said,“We source all of our mica from the US from privately owned mines. This allows us to be assured that child-labor is never used, and that miners are paid fairly + treated very well.”

Fat and the Moon
I couldn’t find anything on their website, but when I reached out to them they said they use synthetic mica.
From a DM: “The mica that we use is lab-created, not mined. We know about the horrendous circumstances in which mined mica is a result and do not support those practices. The mica that we use is made of natural ingredients that mimic mined mica”
 Note that they just list “Mica” in their ingredients, which is legal however I would definitely prefer if brands specify that it is synthetic mica.

100% Pure
A natural makeup, skincare, and beauty brand.
What they say: “All of our products use ethically sourced mica.”
I reached out to them for more info and this was their statement: “We condemn the use of child labor in particular, in manufacture and service of any raw materials. All of our mica suppliers are required to annually provide certificates that child labor is not used in mica mining and the subsequent manufacturing processes.”

Beauty Brands who use Ethical Mica, My Green Closet

(The above is an excerpt from an article by Verena Erin Polowy on her blog, My Green Closet. Please click here to read the complete article).

The Responsible Mica Initiative, an alliance formed between cosmetics companies including l’Oreal, Chanel and Estee Lauder, has the goal of eradicating child labor in mica production within the next five years and ensure that their companies only use ethically sourced mica Quoting from an article on The Borgen Project, “Its empowerment programs involve efforts to have more children enrolled in school, to educate people on alternate sources of income, to improve healthcare in villages and to strengthen local institutions.”

There are charities that are working to stop child labour in the mica mining industry, these include:

Anti-Slavery International – click here to donate

Terre des Hommes

Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation – click here to donate

Thomas Reuters Foundation – click here to donate


As a student and a female; I am aware of the privileges I have been granted without asking; education and freedom being a few of them and wish the same for children all around the world. I watched the video embed below a few weeks ago and it was absolutely heart-wrenching to realise that this was something that takes place on a daily basis. The fact that it’s happening now calls for an immediate call to action to put a stop to what is frankly, a clear and cruel infringement on human rights.

Numerous children, denied their rights to basic education and a childhood and being forced to work in mines is something that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. This is incredibly cruel, inhumane and just so very wrong. I have friends and peers who use makeup frequently, and as mentioned above, this article was in no way intended or directed towards them. I felt like this was a subject that wasn’t being discussed and acted on enough that it still exists.

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

Sources referred:

The Borgen Project
ayr skin care
Refinery 29

Cosmetics (Wikipedia)
flare

My Green Closet
Statista

Reuters
India Times

Elves and Reindeer 🦌

Picking up where I left off last week, we’re back to another semi-history post because I couldn’t include reindeers or nativity scenes in the last post.

Welcome to the second part of Christmas Cafe! Today, I’m going to be sharing a little more about the day we have all come to associate with joy these days! Akin to the previous post, I’ve included a few Christmas themed (*ahem*) sketches as well! I think they turned out slightly better than the previous ones. Hehe.

Baubles

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Known by different names like Christmas ornamentsbaubles, “christmas bulbs” or “Christmas bubbles” or Christmas “ball balls, these are typically made of wood, blown glass or more commonly, plastic. It is also quite interesting to note that apples, white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers were used as ornaments to decorate trees initially.

Christmas baubles first originated in Germany inspired by the red apples that were used to decorate the ‘tress of paradise’ for miracle plays which would take place on Christmas Eve. First invented, by local man Hans Greiner in Lauscha in the mid-16th century, the first baubles were fruit and nut shaped glass, eventually turning into a more spherical shape. Interestingly, these baubles were considered expensive as they were handcrafted and purchased only by the wealthy until affordable plastic versions were introduced.

I think these turned out more or less like I wanted them to. These are the same ones that were shown above Santa in the previous post.

Elves

Showcasing roots in German mythology and folklore, elves are considered to be humanlike beings with supernatural powers capable of both helping or hindering people. They have a rich and fascinating history in a plethora of cultures and various countries. It was William Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that popularised them as small, impish beings.

I feel like the whole scene gives his face a little more context. The watercolour background made it look a tad messy.. I used a reference from Pinterest for this.

Christmas elves however, a relatively recent notion gained popularity in the United States. Elves came to be to be first associated with Christmas presents in the first half of the 19th century with the Tomte and Nisse( mythological creatures from Nordic folklore today typically associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season) in Sweden and Denmark respectively.

First introduced in literature by Louisa May Alcott around 1850 in a book she never published, a parallel was drawn with Santa Claus in the 1823 poem by Clement Moore, which describes St.Nicholas himself as a ‘jolly, old elf‘. Their position as Santa’s helpers was popularised by Godey’s Lady’s Book, whose cover illustration showed them in a workshop. The folktale, The Elves and the Shoemaker also played a role in supporting their image as Santa’s helpers. The elves names are Alabaster Snowball • Bushy Evergreen • Pepper Minstix • Shinny Upatree • Sugarplum Mary • and Wunorse Openslae.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Reindeers

Image Source: MarieClaire

According to Wikipedia, “The first reference to Santa’s sleigh being pulled by a reindeer appears in Old Santeclaus with Much Delight“, an 1821 illustrated children’s poem published in New York.” Santa Claus is believed to have nine reindeer, since the mid-20th century.

Illustration to the first verse of “Old Santeclaus with Much Delight”, 1821
Image source: Wikipedia

Of these nine reindeer eight are known as, Dasher • Dancer • Prancer • Vixen •Comet • Cupid • Donder (also called Donner) • and Blitzen. These are based off the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (commonly called “T’was The Night Before Christmas”) by Clement Clarke Moore, which is also recognised as the basis of the reindeers’ popularity. The ninth reindeer, Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose was the creation of Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store in America.

Rudolph, well- known for his bright red, glowing nose for which he was made fun of by other reindeer, came to Santa’s rescue by leading the sleigh with the light his nose gave off on a foggy Christmas Eve!

Simple and Humble.
I liked the background this time!

The Nativity Scene

Taking its inspiration from the accounts of the birth of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, setting up a crib also known as a manger scene, nativity scene, crèche or in Italian presepio or presepe, is yet another widely observed Christmas tradition. It is specifically an exhibition of models of both humans and animals who have gathered to pay their respects to the infant Jesus. Apart from Mother Mary and St. Joseph, an angel, a donkey and an ox are typically depicted in the scene, with the Magi and their camels, commonly included.

According to Wikipedia, “Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first live nativity scene in 1223 in order to cultivate the worship of Christ to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving. He himself had recently been inspired by his visit to the Holy Land, where he’d been shown Jesus’s traditional birthplace.”

Nativity scenes are often set up around Christmas time in both churches and homes. While manger scenes with human participants are common, statues are used more frequently to keep cribs throughout the month. Speaking of the animal components, the ox traditionally represents patience, the nation of Israel, and Old Testament sacrificial worship while the ass represents humility, readiness to serve, and the Gentiles. Pope John Paul II inaugurated the annual tradition of placing a nativity scene on display in the Vatican City before the Christmas Tree in 1982.

And that was all for today! I find it quite interesting how rich a history every single Christmas element has; I didn’t know elves had such a wonderful and rich history where they weren’t associated with Santa. I haven’t mentioned it all here but check this out when you have time!

Speaking of time, seems like it really is flying; there is just 1 week till Christmas!! Can you believe it’s Christmas next Friday?!

And a quick reminder that my feedback form is open all throughout December! If you haven’t taken the survey, please consider doing so here! I’ll be compiling an acknowledgement post with all your lovely responses in January!

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Disconnected Entities

Thank you so much for reading! Which of these did you find the most interesting?

Christmas Nuggets 🎁

Welcome to the first part of Christmas Cafe! Today, I’ve compiled a little list describing the origin and history of several elements of Christmas with a Santa and a Christmas tree drawing (painting? sketch?). Getting into it now! so it doesn’t get longer than it already is

#1 The Date

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a confirmed fact nor is it mentioned in the Holy Bible that Jesus Christ (whose birthday is celebrated as Christmas) was born on December 25. Most scholars think that Jesus was born between 2 BCE and 7 BCE, possibly in 4 BCE. In fact, the first recorded event of a December 25th celebration was in 336, during the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. Orthodox and Coptic Churches that still use the Julian Calendar celebrate Christmas on the 7th January, and the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates it on the 6th January.

Image Source: Reader’s Digest

It is also believed that Mother Mary was told she would bear a baby on March 25, an event observed as the Annunciation. So, December 25th (9 months later) was arrived at, as the birth date.

Hanukkah, The Jewish festival of Lights, starts on the eve of the Kislev 25 (the Jewish month that coincides with December). Jesus was Jewish, suggesting this could be another reason why the Church chose to celebrate his birthday on December 25.

#2 Santa Claus

Santa Claus, the portly, jolly man we have all come to associate with Christmas is also known as Father Christmas, St. Nick or Kris Kringle. The progenitor of the modern Santa, St. Nicholas was a Greek Christian bishop, born in Patara, near Myra, in the Mediterranean.

Did you know the name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas)? Known as the patron saint of children, protector of children and sailors and noted for his piety and kindness, he lived during the Roman empire in the third and fourth centuries.

Could have definitely been better. I liked the book though.


Wikipedia describes Santa Claus as “a portly, jolly, white-bearded man—sometimes with spectacles—wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white-fur-cuffed red trousers, red hat with white fur, and black leather belt and boots and carrying a bag full of gifts for children.”

Thomas Nast, an American cartoonist of the 19th century was one of the first artists to define Santa Claus’s modern image.
Image Source: Wikipedia

As to how this popular image came into being, it is believed that the poem, ” ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as “a jolly old elf” with the ability to travel through chimneys. This poem, originally titled “An Account of a Visit from St.Nicholas” was written by Clement Clark Moore, a minister, for his daughters in 1823.

The poem by Clement Moore. The poem reads from top to bottom, starting from the left column to the right column.
(Image designed with Canva)


#3 Christmas Trees

There is a very interesting legend revolving around the Christmas trees we use today. Here is a short version:

Once upon a time, there was a Scandinavian village and there was a tree in the forest. The tree, a thunder-oak was considered to be the Norse God, Thor’s altar and the heathens who lived there sacrificed humans and animals at the altar as offerings to Thor. The tree which was believed to have grown from blood, was so forbidding and daunting that no one ventured out to it, animals or people. It also had mistletoes hanging from its branches.

So, one Christmas eve just before the winter rites were about to begin, St.Winfred, arrived with his people, went to the tree, took out a shining, golden axe (yes, it was golden) and hacked the tree at its base. The priests who supervised the offerings were clearly shocked that he was ruining the mighty Thor’s altar. Soon, the tree finally fell backwards. But then, they noticed a young fir tree behind the thunder oak, untouched by the gigantic fallen tree.

The saint then said to the people,
This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the tree of peace, for your houses are built of fir. It is the sign of endless life, for its leaves are forever green. See how it points upward to heaven! Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wildwood, but in your own homes. There it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness. So shall the peace of the White Christ reign in your hearts!”

Image source: Pinterest

He further told them the tree was worthy of being holy unlike Thor’s tree which required blood to be holy. He then went on to emphasise on the usefulness of the fir tree which included it being used widely to build homes. The tree’s spire pointed to the skies and heaven, by extension, prompting the saint to declare it a ‘Child of Christ‘. The fir symbolized love, kindness and sacrifice. Fir also represented endless life and hope as it is an evergreen tree.

He told the people it should be kept inside homes, sanctified with love and compassion. He also introduced the idea of sharing gifts under it as a sign of sharing love and joy. The fir tree also stood for peace, youth and strength. When Saint Winfred introduced the fir tree to the heathens, it was accepted as the holy tree of Christmas. Since then, the heathen folk accepted fir as the symbol of good will and peace and welcomed it in their homes every holy Christmastide.

It looks very meh, unfortunately.
There. That looks so much better.
Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

#4 Carols


A Christmas carol is a song or hymn based on Christmas that is often sung on Christmas or during the Christmas season. Did you know that the popular Christmas song, Jingle Bells, wasn’t originally intended for Christmas? In fact, it was first sung on Thanksgiving and came to be associated with Christmas when it was sung in in Ordway Hall on September 16, 1857.

Image Source: Deposit Photos

The first known Christmas hymns may be traced to 4th-century Rome. They were sung throughout the subsequent centuries but rose in popularity after the Reformation in the countries where Protestant churches gained prominence due to reformers promoting the singing and use of carols. Publication of carols’ books in the 19th and 20th centuries were yet other factors that catapulted carols to the public eye resulting in more frequent and popular use. Carollers assembling in public spaces was a 19th-century phenomenon. It is also vaguely accepted that one of the first Christmas carols ever to be recorded was the 129 AD ‘Angels Hymn’.

It’s incredible to read about how human perception has evolved over the centuries. It’s funny how little we see and eventually believe when there is an incredible amount of information we seem to overlook.

And a quick reminder that my feedback form is open all throughout December! If you haven’t taken the survey, please consider doing so here! I’ll be compiling an acknowledgement post in January!

Thank you so much for reading!

Have You Thought About Thinking?

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
― Albert Einstein

Of course, I’d begin Lifestyle-ish with a post on thinking and how it is beneficial. A huge thank you to Srisha @ Sky and Soil for going through this and telling me what she thought!!

It took me a while to realise how there were distinct types of thinking. For instance, Critical thinking in Wikipedia’s terms is, “the analysis of facts to form a judgment.” So, say you read a piece of written work, listen to songs, meet a person or watch a movie, you gather the facts and arrive at an unbiased conclusion as to the nature, quality etc. of the respective thing. The process there, is critical thinking.

And it is important because critical thinking plays a major role in academic and professional lives as it enables a person to analyse information, solve problems systematically and come to reasonable and unbiased conclusions.

In students, this helps in better problem solving abilities (obviously something we are in dire need of) and clear grasping of concepts as thinking on a particular subject is most likely to aid in its internalisation, thereby making it easier to recall it (which would avoid those catastrophes during exams).

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.
― John Locke

That isn’t all! As much as I’m not a huge fan of the communication aspect of life, I will mention that critical thinking also plays a role in improving communication and social skills. When you think critically, you think creatively and long periods of thinking involves an analysis of the environment and people around you and you begin to pick up the major aspects of their character, which in turn would enable you to present certain ideas, or just talk in a way tailored to their preferences. Thus, those disastrous cases of miscommunication can be prevented and the person gets what you say with utmost clarity.

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

Being an overthinker, I was even more interested in learning how critical thinking differed from overthinking. I don’t know why but I seem awfully prone to quoting Wikipedia.

So, Wikipedia’s definition is, “Overthinking refers to thinking about a situation or topic to an excessive amount or in a simpler way think about (something) too much or for too long. It affects a person mentally as well as emotionally.Wow, that makes so much sense.

People don’t like to think, if one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.
― Helen Keller

Critical thinking seeks to understand and gain more clarity of an event or person while overthinking is a sort of obsession on either predicting outcomes or considering alternate endings.

But overthinking is not all bad. Overthinking enables a person to foresee a lot of the possible scenarios and aid them in thinking on their feet and being prepared for all outcomes; good or bad.

Critical thinking and Overthinking have a fine line between them and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. But the best part is thinking gives you a different angle to view events from and widens your perspective to an extent.

The worst part is when we attribute too much importance to thoughts. They are thoughts after all, products of our brain and mind; they can be wrong and taking them up as conclusive evidence can be harmful in the long run.

The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.
― Horace Walpole

Srisha had some wonderful thoughts prompted by this quote! Here’s a bit from the conversation that followed:

Srisha:
  “The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”
― Horace Walpole
Why is it a tragedy to those who feel but comedy to those who think?

Me:
Those who feel take everything personally, compliments and criticisms both. But the one who thinks would see past all that and take things for their real and not face value. Most critiques would seem hilarious then.
That’s what I think it means!

Srisha:
Great explanation but sometimes feeling is so much better than thinking in my opinion.

Me again:
One is not better than the other. They’re both required. You can’t compare them. Like a person who feels still thinks and a person who thinks still feels. It’s the order that’s different.

Srisha:
Only sometimes so I’d say people who always feel are fools since thinking about their feelings is better so yes we can’t compare it.
I get it but both have advantages and disadvantages so none can say that thinking doesn’t make you a fool but feeling does.

Me:
Well said!

All of that was just our views and thoughts on what that quote implied. I also googled it to see what it actually meant but I couldn’t find anything other than Quora answers and it seems like everyone had different views on it.

Please feel free to share your interpretations too!


Thank you so much for reading!

What kind of thinker would you say you are? Can’t wait to read what you think!

Introducing Lifestyle-ish!

As the names Random Specific Thoughts and Introverted Thoughts imply, this blog was originally supposed to be for completely random thoughts written in the form of articles/short prose or poems. I never considered the ‘Lifestyle’ category for two reasons; one, my lifestyle isn’t exactly one that’s healthy and secondly, I don’t know how to write in that lifestyle-y manner.

But, I have had a few articles in my mind that don’t quite classify as thoughts or lifestyle. They rank somewhere in between, hence the name, Lifestyle-ish. The first post in this category is Procrastination, an article I wrote back in August. The future posts will obviously be completely random, (in accordance with this blog’s tradition) including some researched points, personal views etc.

This is something that I’m completely novel to i.e writing a lifestyle post intentionally. So, please bear with me as I attempt to embark on this journey of lifestyle-ishness.

What do you think? Does it sound too weird?

Taxing Technology

My head’ll explode if I continue with this escapism.― Jess C Scott, EyeLeash: A Blog Novel Being a so-called Gen Z (those who were born between 1996 and 2015 and are currently between 5-24 years old), you’d expect me to be absolutely fine, with sitting with my nose stuck in a screen, for 90% of the day. Growing up […]