Monday, 21 July 2014

Fact or fiction?

Quick tip: Grab a cuppa and a chocolate bar...

Should we only be taught "the facts" in life? In every school there will always be a handful of parents who, until it is proven as solid fact, will disagree with their child being taught about evolution and the big bang. In taking science out of the equation, some parents will not allow their children to read the Harry Potter series due to it being fictional and magical. Time to dissect this? I've never dissected anything apart from a chicken wing in Biology, but I'm sure having a go won't do any harm...

Surely things such as fairytales, Harry Potter, and many other fictional readings (some may count the Bible in this) allow the reader to think outside the box, allowing innovation, empathy and the view of behaviour and where certain actions may get you. No, a frog may not turn into a prince and as far as science can see this is impossible and will never happen (sorry, kids). But doesn't such a story tell of being kind to all creatures, and not judging a frog by its looks? In the Disney production of The Princess and The Frog, Tiana's friend, Charlotte, hears the story and immediately wants to find a frog to kiss - I'm sure this can sometimes happen with young children but what's the harm in allowing them to try and catch a frog to kiss it? Nothing bad can come of it really...

Does it matter if such fiction is overplayed? As long as one doesn't go seeking out a dragon and in doing so jumps off a waterfall (without the necessary training and safety equipment) surely there is no harm in allowing the mind to wander. I believe that my reading of Harry Potter and the Arthurian legends have not hindered me in any way regarding my development into a young adult nor have I experienced any desire to discover magic or unworldly things through the whole of my childhood. So what can be the harm? Well...I've done some research...

We all know that J.K. Rowling has been unbelievably clever in using her knowledge of Latin, history and cultures in writing the Harry Potter series, but there's still more to unfold. Here is an extract from an article I found online:
 “Through the sacrificial goddess magic of his mother’s love, baby Harry is saved and his blood is given magical powers. Unable to kill Harry, in revenge, Voldemort sears a death curse of a lightning bolt on Harry’s forehead.” (Some have criticized the imagery behind the lightning bolt itself.) very familiar with occultic practices, using elements and philosophies behind “pagan religions, celtic religions, the religions of the druids, witchcraft, [and] satanism.”
Some people who are not so keen on the old religions of the world really do not seem to be that keen on the book since right from the outset, nothing is without those elements but what can you expect? This is a book about magic and so Rowling has used her historical and religious knowledge to lay the very foundations of her tale. Let us continue...

Here is a different source of interesting views. Yahoo answers. This may or may not be a troll but somewhere in the world people will certainly be thinking along these lines...
"I am a new mother and have adopted a young boy called Leo but he wants to read Harry Potter" Okay lady, stop right there. You've adopted him BUT he wants to read a book? Oh dear, send him back. "The thing is, is this book evil? i am worried if I let my Leo read that book he will start thinking evil things like mortals gaining power, I think that could scare him...Leo is young sensitive child, I don't like the thought of him reading about mortals who get powerful and kill people," Firstly, the grammar here is brill. Secondly I'd like to point out that young Leo is 15 years old. Thirdly, oh my gosh, I read Harry Potter so I'm now going to get powerful and kill people. "I have heard they named an owl Hermes...This to me is wrong" The name of an owl is the problem here guys... "and I don't want Leo exposed to this as he has been guided to worship the greek gods, as he is a demigod" Yep. This lady's only-just-adopted kid is half-God, half-mortal. She then goes on to say that Hermes is the father which kinda makes Leo's mum like the Virgin Mary. Unless Leo had a slightly more passionate mother ;)
I know this quote is stupid but it is a good reminder that Harry Potter is not only seen as a bad thing by some Christians but other people with other faiths/beliefs have their reasons too. 

Finally, a less religious view of why Harry Potter should be avoided (click here to read full article) says that the hero's of the book series constantly break the rules, either ethically, in school or according to the wizarding laws without really getting any punishment for it. In fact, they break the rules without giving it a second thought in order to achieve their aims...just as the villains do. The writer then sums it up by saying "Children who read the books are thus being taught the wrong lessons about ethics and ethical behavior." Honestly, this guy must have some bright kids because I had never really noticed.

Right, that's enough talking about Harry Potter. Apologies if it all seemed a little too focused but I believe that it made a good example considering I have heard so many differing views on the subject. Out of fiction and onto...SCIENCE. Jeez, this could be interesting. 

First thing's first - the most common issue I have found with people opposing scientific theories is that they don't actually know what the theory says. Many people assume that evolution states that we were chimps and woke up 100 years later as humans. This is not what the theory says and I suggest that if you didn't know that, you go look it up (see, I've done half the job for you). Through saying this I am in no way implying that if you have read or understood a theory you need to believe it. You don't. I  don't believe in quite a few scientific theories and even scientists don't believe in all theories. It's also key to remember that we don't know very much. Granted, we know a hell of a lot more than we used to now the world is round n'all but there is still so much more to find out and more to discover. I personally don't think we could ever even know everything there is to know about the human body. This is a crazy world. 

Jumping back to where I mentioned the exclusion of children from learning about scientific theory/fact, there can be a couple of points made. Firstly, no scientific fact is fact. They're all theories which have not been proven wrong - I mean you're hardly going to say gravity is a load of lies are you? Well...I know someone who would... But anyway, the fact that the children are being taught evolution and the big bang as fact just means it hasn't been proven wrong yet so looks more and more likely to be what actually happened. And no, quoting the Bible will not be evidence to prove it wrong as many people see the Bible as fact just like you may see the big bang. Secondly, I've found that an open mind has helped me in many aspects of my life. Learning about something you don't necessarily believe doesn't have to be a waste of time but can be a chance to widen your general knowledge and better empathise with others.

Let's end it here, eh? There is some food for thought - something to think about next time you watch Harry Potter, sit through a Physics lesson or find your kid reading fairytales... I hope this blog was interesting for you and made you look at the little things (that's so cheesy!). Please do leave a comment if you have anything to say on the matter and share with people who might find this interesting.

See you soon!

Oh and if you have the time and fancy a laugh, have a read of this article.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Why I'm running the Race for Life.

Hi guys! I hope you've all been well and enjoying the sunshine! I just thought I'd take the opportunity to let you know why I've opted in to run the Race for Life next Saturday. There are so many people who take part in the race, each with their own stories. Some are fighting, some are survivors, others are running in memory or in support of a family member or friend and others just fancy a jog for a good cause. I fall into the "running in memory" category. 

On the 13th February earlier this year I lost somebody who I had become extremely close to. Her name was Sue and she was (and still is) absolutely fabulous.

Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 or so years ago and went for a double mastectomy within 3 weeks of finding out (she was a brave one). Through chemo and her reconstruction she stayed strong and continued to do so when they found that she had lung metastasis and later on, brain metastasis. For those who don't do Biology, the long word beginning with 'm' means cancer had spread. After spending Christmas day with us her health took a steady drop, seeing her extremely ill in her last week with us. It was during that week that I promised her I would do the Race for Life. On 13th February, with myself, my Dad, Sue's brother and her best friend around her, Sue beat the cancer in the only way she could. She is still with us everyday and her laugh is unforgettable.

My story is probably similar to many others but the person is so unique and close to my heart. I just want to share with you a couple of bits from my speech at Sue's funeral...
"Sue was one of those people you look at and say "I want to be just like her." She was strong-willed, brave, caring, always had a smile on her face and never failed to put one on mine. I feel extremely privileged to have been able to meet, spend time with and know such a strong lady. Sue has made an impact on each and every one of us and our memories shall continue to do so."

Now, let's get one thing straight. Even though I try, I'm not good at sport. Nor am I very fit. So why on earth would I try and do this? Part of it is trying to understand how Sue felt and how she kept going through the pain that she experienced (because ouch, this is gonna hurt). It's about being a stubborn as her and fighting 'til the end. Running this race is not just a fun thing I decided to opt for - it means so much more than that (oh crap, I have that lump in my throat...). I am running symbolise her battle and victory. I am running to celebrate her life and I will do so with as many smiles as I can between trying to keep from falling over. Not only that, but I am running to make her laugh at how ridiculous (aaaand here are the tears...) wearing pink camouflage leggings, army crawling through a giant paddling pool of mud and through a maze of ropes. Honestly, she'd be in hysterics! I hope that she'll be proud of me as I try my hardest to get through it with my terrible stamina and shocking(ly bad) running distances - especially if there are hills. 

Firstly, thank you for reading this. I just wanted people to know my reason to run this race and why it is so important to me.
Secondly, I am running next Saturday (12th July). If anybody would like to come, please message me and I will tell you where it is. 
Thirdly, if you would like to sponsor me you can give the money to me in person or head to my JustGiving website (click here). Please don't feel like you need to sponsor me a lot - £1 or even a penny would be gratefully received. 
Lastly, as normal you can comment, share and do whatever. The last post I put up got something like 110 pageviews which was amazing! I couldn't have done it without you.