Saturday, May 28, 2016

Let's Talk About Porn

Assalamualaikum and greetings dear Bits and Pieces readers,

Of recent, my Facebook news feed was flooded with a rape case that had happened in Indonesia. I'm sorry that I couldn't find a link that's in proper English. One website (not in English) related this with a case that had happened around three decades ago; the rape, torture, and murder of Junko Furuta. I read this case haphazardly because her experience was too disturbing. Another story was shared by my friend. She shared the Facebook status of a sexual harassment victim. Harassed in multiple occasions, the victim was later diagnosed with depression and had even tried to take her own life aplenty of times.

Photo credit: Alexas_Fotos

I was deeply affected reading these stories, still am. Especially the rape cases. The pain, the helplessness, and the constant dread and fear inside...they must had felt these all at once. It must be excruciating. They must have prayed for death countless times. The public at large often question how can these men be so repugnant. But not me. Because I know the answer to that; the answer is porn.

Firstly, I'm sure there are other reasons behind these heinous crime. But porn has become a norm that men starts to think it's okay to watch because that's their natural inclination. I don't think many men realise the grave consequences of porn. More on this later. Secondly, nope. This post does not contain the cliche of "watching porn is a sin". It goes waaaaay beyond that.

A few months back, I found Fight the New Drug and learned a LOT from the website. I found out that porn is actually a dangerous addiction like heroin, alcohols, or cigarettes. It makes you feel happy only when you get the chance to watch one. Meaning that making love to your wife, playing basketball with your children, and that cooking hobby of yours won't make you as happy anymore. It's like you need your imagination rather than your already blissful reality. That is just so sad and pathetic.

But there's more. Tonnes and significantly more. Porn disables you from loving for you will not know how to love. Most of the porn contains act of violence which makes those who watch identify violence with pleasure. Porn shows the woman smiling after being subjected to physical and verbal torture making viewers feel that it is okay for them to do the same in real life. And this is precisely why the rape cases that I mentioned earlier (including others) happened.

And you know what? Most of the women that are involve in pornography are drugged, raped, trafficked, and/or abused. In other words, they are forced to smile, forced to enjoy, and forced to participate. Knowing this, would you still demand pornography? If yes, then allow me to say this statement: you are to blame too.

To make matters worse, porn is easily accessible now, even for kids. It is terrifying how warped their ideas on woman and love are going to be. It is disturbing into what kind of men, sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, friends, and boyfriends that they might turn into.  

I'll end this post with this video. And the essence of it is: men are qawwam (caretakers) of women.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lessons on Writing: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (Spoiler Alert!)

Assalamualaikum and greetings dear Bits and Pieces readers,

It has been long since I post about a novel for one simple reason; I rarely have the time to read for leisure. But I needed to rest my mind so I skeptically bought Leaving Time. When I finish reading it however, I felt glad that I bought it. Not only that I felt refreshed, I also learned a few writing pointers.

But before I delve into those pointers, you need to know the story. Do read the synopsis here and let me fill in the ending later. Read the link, already? Alright then.

Jenna Metcalf and Virgil Stanhope are actually dead and living in the spirit world; of which they did not realise. Hence it's not that Alice didn't want to come back for Jenna but because she can't; she's alive and Jenna is not. Serenity Jones on the other hand, did not know that she was helping two spirits at first.

1. Introducing a riveting element of surprise

Photo credit: Christopher Michel

I find this to be extremely difficult to craft while Jodi Picoult exceeded expectations. Her trick was to make the life of Jenna and Virgil as mundane as possible by narrating the spirit world like our world, like the world of the living just so we do not suspect anything. For example, Jenna riding a bicycle, Jenna browsing the internet, Jenna living with her grandma, Virgil pretending to flirt with a lab attendant, and many others. To not make it look dull, the author added the element of mystery to the story. What I mean by mystery is, readers can't help but want to know why Alice left her daughter. From what Jenna describes her, surely Alice is in some kind of trouble. Maybe she's dead. Maybe she's in captive. So readers would just keep on reading and cling to their curiosity because they NEED to find out why. When the author dropped in casual (and some not so casual) hints throughout the story, the readers just read through them without giving much thought. Combining these three aspects: mundane, mystery, and casual hints will in the end have the awe effect on readers.    

2. Different ways to create awareness in story 

Photo credit: kikatani

More often than not, we write a story because we want to teach certain message(s), make the readers aware of certain issue(s), or provoke readers to think. As a result, we make these the main focus of our story. Take for instance the Hunger Games trilogy. We can easily see that the main message of the story is about political injustice (okay I didn't read the books but I watched the movie which is based on the books). We start to notice that this is happening in the real world.

Focusing back to Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult raised awareness on elephant exploitation and how we need to protect this majestic creature without making it the center stage. She does this by fashioning Alice as a scientist who studies elephant grief of which intertwines with Alice's own grief from losing her own daughter (of course the readers didn't realise it at first). Therefore, Jodi Picoult indirectly speaks to the readers' heart and conscience about the elephants, without making elephants the main focus.

3. The power of story that can reach minds and change hearts

Photo credit: ecooper99
I am an animal lover but now I have a special spot for elephants in my heart. All of this is because I read Leaving Time. So the fact that a book can do this to me becomes my motivation to work harder for my novelette and later writing projects. It made me realise more that writing is a gift from God and it should be used to impact the lives of HIS creatures on earth. Otherwise, we are just being ungrateful to HIM.

I also believe that bearing this in mind can help authors and bloggers to rise up to the grueling task of writing. The same can be said to those who dreams to be a writer. The possibility to change hearts can crush the wall of fear and lack of confidence that often surrounds a future writer.

I sincerely hope that you gain something from this week's post. I also hope that this post has touch or at least brush your lives. Until the next take care! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Beautiful Lessons from Beautiful People

Assalamualaikum and greetings dear Bits and Pieces readers,

These past few months had been exceptionally challenging for me. Everything seems to be going downhill and my patience and acceptance of God's will have been tested greatly.
A hadith (traditions of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) that offers much motivation crossed my mind but it was difficult for me to digest its wisdom. This is the hadith:
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Look at those who are lower than you (financially) but do not look at those who are higher than you, lest you belittle the favors Allah conferred upon you.” Agreed upon. Source

So ALLAH had helped me grasp this wisdom, and more, through one beautiful and strong woman.

Picture courtesy of pixabay hence not the woman I'm writing about

It was the kind of day where interaction with humans were stressful for me but my phone still made noise. I ignored it. But the same noise came from it; again and again. Reluctantly, I checked my phone and saw several messages from a close friend of mine. She needed to borrow some money so that she and her kids can eat. They hadn't paid their car loans and rents for months as her husband's business is suffering. She was also embroiled in other conflicts that I pray I won't ever have to go through in my existence.

I can't help but feel like a weak idiot; here I am feeling sorry for myself when others, closed others, are facing much bigger and more real problems.

But here comes the dilemma; I am saving for a rainy day. In case I can't finish my PhD studies on time, I can use my own money because my scholarship only cover three years. However, this hadith had resolved my dilemma:

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
"Whoever relieves a Muslim of a burden from the burdens of the world, Allah will relieve him of a burden from the burdens on the Day of Judgement. And whoever helps ease a difficulty in the world, Allah will grant him ease from a difficulty in the world and in the Hereafter. And whoever covers (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will cover (his faults) for him in the world and the Hereafter. And Allah is engaged in helping the worshiper as long as the worshiper is engaged in helping his brother." Source

In other words, if I want to be helped, I need to help others. Who knows, this might just be the sacrifice that I need to do in order for me to finish my PhD on time; or obtain more financially. Hence in the name of ALLAH, and my love for her, I gave her extra than what she initially asked to borrow.

It is my sincere hope that we can help ourselves by being grateful, and simultaneously help others in need. If this woman and the above hadiths do not motivate you enough, then perhaps this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson might just be right for you:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”