Confessions On A Sad Night

If a man who has committed sexual immorality, who takes drugs, lies, cheats, slanders and hurts vulnerable people, otherwise a very ugly person is endowed with the honour of being called a “beautiful person” there are only three possible reasons for this. 1: he is a profoundly good liar that has managed to convince those around him that he is a good person, like a priest who rapes children is loved by a community of followers despite being privately rotten. 2: That those who think he is a good person are themselves mentally disturbed. 3: That he is a good person, but so frustrated that he mistreats the vulnerable and otherwise takes drugs, cheats, lies and slanders all in secret as an outlet to release his frustrations for not being able to speak up, like a man who is terribly unhappy with his partner and so becomes a terrible misogynist to women in the workplace to release all his frustrations that he cannot otherwise do at home.

Finding forgiveness when so much injustice has occurred is incredibly difficult. While it is a process that takes time, that requires courage and understanding, it is also more importantly about a decision. Signing your name on a personal contract that does not necessarily excuse all the bad things done and especially not forget them, but to accept that the person who caused this harm will never change. It is to forgive myself for hoping and finding anything, any idea, any thought, any suggestion that this hope was real and possible.

When I saw that this terrible man who hurt me being called “beautiful” it was the first time that I cried. For many years I cried as a victim, as someone who was hurt by this monster that denied any wrongdoing, where he gathered people around him and lied to them to make them believe he had done nothing wrong and that it was in fact me that was the bad person, who slandered me and laughed at me. He created a false facade, he probably even gave to charity to tell himself that he was a “good person” rather than repent and apologise for the wrongdoing that he actually did. I spent those years trying to communicate to him in ways that he would understand how important it was for me to hear him apologise but he hid in the shadows and lived in secrecy. I should have learnt from that but instead I continued to hope, I jumped in front of him to say “here I am, be honest!” but instead he pretended he could not see me. I was right there, only meters away and he was unwilling to even look at me. He made me into nothing, a nobody as he did before. I wrote blog posts, tried to get him to recommend reading books and thinking philosophically, but nothing worked and the people around him only helped solidify this false facade by calling him “beautiful” to my utter dismay.

When I saw that comment I cried, but it was with a stillness, upright as the tears silently drizzled down my cheeks while watching the sunset from my balcony. It was like I was at his funeral and I knew that there was no hope for a reprieve.

He was officially dead inside.

If people closest to him support him then they are his accomplices, they are as he is and he is them; if he is a monster, then it is likely they are too, liars who pretend to be good. Any good Christian would know Jesus’ statement about the blind Pharisee: “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” For the first time this cold evening, I became truly honest with myself and admit that I spent the last several years on a delusion that he would “wake up” from this deception, that rather than working so hard to convince people of his lies he would instead come to see that it is penitence that is beautiful, honesty that is beautiful and courage that is beautiful, all of which he does not have. He lies with the intention of fooling others to believe that this artificial facade is real, that if they believe in his lies then it is no longer lies but the truth since whatever is believed must be true. As King Solomon said: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

I guess I see this not as a blog post, not something scientific or political or philosophical, not as a way to convey a message or to teach and speak cryptically. I am outside, on my own and in the cold looking down at my phone as I write this and I am doing it to say to me, to you, to God, I am sorry for being such a fool but I now accept my fault in all this because it is my own fault for believing in him when I should never have. It is a way of admitting that I was an incredible fool as I lived in a tornado of false hopes, the delusion that he has something inside of him that made it possible he could be a good man. I believed it was genuinely possible, I believed a monster like him could be a man but tonight, all of that has dissipated and I am licking the raw wound of this honest confession.

So many dark thoughts spun in my mind like a kaleidoscope of anger and bitterness for wasting my time, those months where I was disgusted enough to think things like I hope he and his cohort rot in the lowest depths of hell where they all belong, moving to a deeper sadness where I had nightmares he would come and talk to me and all I could say to him was you are a monster despite wanting to say so much more, even so far as becoming at odds with reality where I would think well if he cannot see them and if they cannot see him then let them live out their lives in a lie. I was completely deluding myself the whole time, stuck in an unforgiving mode where I was wrapped in all his wrong that I could not see what I was really doing.

Tonight, it is just a stillness. I feel nothing because I embrace my faults and accept his death. I have identified where I have gone wrong all these years and how much I have harmed myself because of this, but no more. It is raw, like being burnt and the skin is now peeling off leaving a sting that needs protecting, but it is off nonetheless and it will heal. I want to hold on to hate, to anger, the desire for revenge, but I won’t.

He is not alive, and so I mourn and move on.

Love, Self-Deception and Game Theory

I have always wondered why I am not that great at playing chess. I almost always seem to find myself playing on the defensive, trying to shield and protect but never cast any aggressive maneuvers to capture an offensive. The reason is because I never approach the game with a defined strategy anyone could follow from a ‘how to play chess‘ book that explains the best openings or combinations of common moves. Knowing how to play the game is one thing, but a dominant strategy breeds a type of weakness to a large part of the game since and any intuitive fluidity largely depends on your opponent’ knowledge of common game plans. I find myself rolling my eyes knowing that they have executed a known opening or a genial move and the cold and calculative process ignites my boredom that I simply juice things up by adding an element of surprise, a sacrifice or some positional compensation to entertain a zwischenzug for instance.

In similar vein, Chess can be like going out on a blind date with a man who strategically follows dating conventions that is socially predictable and regulated in order to attempt to win his desired outcome. Hume would probably agree that it is to feign common interest by playing his part in courtship methods to shape some mutual understanding and the behaviour and responses are so predictable for me that my only interest is to uncover this conventional order and expose the camouflage or the formalised script he is following. We are expected to emotionally identify with these customary social constructs – that somehow ‘romance’ equates to roses and chocolates for instance – and that reality itself or our very individuality becomes just some mechanism based on status and how well we present these feigned conventions. We give gifts with the expectation that it will be reciprocated. We come to believe that what is socially conditioned, that pre-established patterns of behaviour that we blindly follow and our emotional reactions is ‘who we are’ when we are merely demonstrating this social deference. Thus, I purposefully throw him off by asking meaningful questions or otherwise acting in a manner that deviates from this compressed method of social interaction just to find out if he actually exists and try to uncover the real person that I am having dinner with.

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Any first-person phenomonology that articulates the actual or underlying motivation that prompts romantic activity – loneliness, a need to be socially accepted, biological or sexual etc – is hidden under this social guise that relationships are no longer about any genuine connectedness or any authentic bond between two individuals. It prompts people to suffer and tolerate a subscription to activities that they are culturally told to perform and by conforming to these variables of ‘love’ that merely explains predictable and dominant romantic scripts to idealise sexual relationships, they are applauded or rejected by the general audience depending on how well they perform and read this pre-written script. The delusional aspect to this ‘game’ is that it actually generates emotional responses to socially conditioned stereotypes as though the game itself were real.

It is also probably the reason why I often win when I sit to a game of backgammon, since the probability distribution through the randomisation of a rolled dice makes the heat of each move more intuitive and one needs to think quick within the confines of luck to be able to capture the strategy. The strategy finds you and you need to architect the weight to anchor the win. It is like meeting a man randomly at a conference where you both are mutually attracted to one another, however you survey the authenticity of this interaction without strict convention and therefore quickly proceed to formalise the initial assumption. It requires a complex analytical system motivated intuitively by the consistency of a common prior. Chess is a game to win and any enduring excitement is dependent on the equilibrium between you and your opponent and how well you both mutually employ regulated moves and execute strategy until reaching a point where manipulation and deception is activated for the final kill. There is certainly more ‘romance’ in backgammon because it is a game to play, to enjoy given that one can regulate the activity with a structured strategy but relies on chance, trust and intuition.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a hypothetical example of how game theory explains the failure of people to act or be motivated to act in a manner that is not in our best interest to do so. We can be prompted with incentives or rewards that advance our decisions over reason, that we are vulnerable to non-cooperative feelings of power and hierarchy over stable strategies intended to improve our situation. We could easily find ourselves suffering an unhappy relationship, for instance, if the incentive or reward outweighs our personal experience as though the payoff strengthens a continuity of engagement. The network is productive as the Nash Equilibrium points out, as it resolves and simplifies relationship dynamics and affords stability through predictable outcomes. The power it is given is only possible when people believe in this designed reality.

So two people have been apprehended by the police for a crime that the latter has no evidence of either doing. Since the police do not have enough evidence, they need to resort to threatening tactics and do so by explaining to both criminals have options. The two criminals confirmed that they would never betray one another, so the police separated the two into separate rooms and said that if they do not comply and thus say nothing, then both will be imprisoned for twelve months. They were additionally told that if they both confess, then they will be imprisoned for a five year term each, which is also incentive for the final possibility; if one confesses over the other, the person who confesses will be released while his partner in crime will be imprisoned for ten years.

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A & B are arrested

Option 1: Both say nothing neither do they admit to committing any crime and consequence serve twelve months of prison time.

Option 2: Both admit to the crime and are imprisoned for five years.

Option 3: One admits the other had committed the crime – who is allowed to go free – while his partner is imprisoned for a decade.

While it is clearly logical that cooperating rather than defecting would be in the best interest of both criminals, the expected payoff of defecting – Prisoner A or B goes free – becomes the greater incentive and so both prisoners ultimately choose to defect. That is not in their best interest. If we turn this around, the two prisoner’s are actually symbols of the possibility of two people in real love and the police are a symbol of society giving them the incentive. We are compelled toward the incentive of cooperating with the police (society) and defect what is logically and rationally better for us (love) and ultimately cooperate toward something that makes our situation worse-off. We defect our own happiness by cooperating with socially constructed ideals reinforced by society through idealised stereotypes.

Social constructs model and architect ideas that become deeply embedded in how people identify with reality, serving as a paradigm that forms categories and roles that pattern predictable and defined attitudes to responses like ‘love’. Despite it being constructed – therefore artificially created – our emotional responses formed by the conditioning we have absorbed makes us believe that this identification is somehow real when the underlying motivation or incentive is much more problematic than that. Traits like ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, social networking and publicizing affection, giving flowers and chocolates and other contexts that define a broader schema of symbols and definitions exemplify how little we are actually and authentically bonded with others.

There exists no mathematical formula or algorithm that provides an answer to love, sometimes one does not even know how or why they feel the way that they feel because the experience is genuine and stands outside of all the conditioned ideals they have been taught is ‘reality’. The answer to this conundrum is not available in some test, there is no way of slotting people into a matrix cube and correspond probabilities of compatibility to formulate a strategy and achieve a desired outcome. The only answer is to really understand yourself, to interpret the decisions behind our own activities and motives, to explain the dimension of social roles and come to freely adopt a more personally intimate view of reality not subordinated to the collective, to think against the grain of social cliche’s. It is only that and meeting another of individual, equal standing can two people – separate and authentic – can become genuine friends and lovers. The only admiration you should have is for their ability to be true to themselves and not how well they socially perform.

Is Masculinity A Vulnerability?

I was surprised to see so many emails come through from my last post despite such a small readership that I have. There were some common themes that I would like to address, namely that violence does not necessarily need to be physical violence, on the contrary playing psychological and emotional games that is manipulative and potentially cruel with the intent to control and hurt a person is indeed a form of violence. Subtle or passive-aggressive acts such as trying to make your partner jealous is a form of violence, as is insulting a person and then disqualifying the hurt by claiming some misunderstanding of intent, all the way to something directly aggressive such as publicly humiliating. Violence is a form of control that seeks to maintain power over someone else and this can be physically, emotionally or psychologically, as well as economically such as controlling money or finances. They can inflict the same amount of damage to a person as would physical violence.

While it is common to assume that since gender-based physical violence such as rape and physical abuse clearly show men and boys dominating the statistics, violence itself is certainly not a gender problem, on the contrary it is a social and cultural problem, where our identity is threatened leading us to doubt our own judgement and to ultimately conform. Women can also be very manipulative; they can use guilt and emotional abuse, pretend and be deceitful, and otherwise act in a manner that hurts others – other men and women – without appearing responsible or even remorseful of such behaviour. Socially constructed concepts of “femininity” resemble notions of women who are obedient, submissive, gentle, and kind and thus enable some women to embody that template for the purpose of hiding an underlying malice. Indeed, “masculinity” offers much the same given that if one physically appears to embody masculine attributes of physical strength, assertiveness, competitiveness, and even violence then they are enabled to act as though they were allowed to hurt people because they somehow bypass moral laws.

 

“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” ― C.S Lewis, The Abolition of Man

 

As a consequence, culturally defined standards of what a “man” is supposed to represent through the ideology of masculinity is perhaps one of the greatest problems we have today, not only enabling bad men to behave badly, but also the extreme pressure for good men to conform. In some aspects it is almost a necessity for social survival.  Having the physical traits that define one as ‘masculine’ – to be tall, big and brawny or otherwise having those physical characteristics – is also aligned with the conceptualisation of social traits that require adherence to defined ideological standards, such as being in a position of power, the breadwinner, to be cold and even violent. A man and the idea of masculinity suddenly becomes unquestionable, giving ‘masculine attributes’ enough power that everyone believes these traits as parallel to an ideal that is immovable, the way a man ‘must be’ without question or even thought. Just like a Sudanese man becomes attracted to a woman who has had her genitalia mutilated because society tells him that it is attractive, suddenly women are attracted to the tall, handsome and powerful man and she is convinced it is her own opinion and feelings. This power is afforded an autonomy and suddenly men must have these attributes in order to be considered a man.

When I say pressure, I do not mean it in a way that most would think as though they are under pressure to make a choice between good and evil. On the contrary, the choice appears to be between the lesser of two evils and I define this ‘pressure’ in a twofold manner. It is that the first pressure point is where men who fail to conform to ‘masculine characteristics’ – say they are short, not bulky or strong, in a terrible job – means a failure to be a ‘man’ and thus they endure poor self-esteem and feelings of rejection, at risk of being mocked and even potentially bullied. The other or second pressure here is that if they do conform and manage to adhere to masculine traits, that they work hard to embody this physical and social characters, they are left subjectively isolated and fail to make any genuine connections with people. Their identity is structured based on this superficial social model and so who they interact with, are in relationships with, everything that they do is just conformed or conditioned. The long-term effects is a socially accepted, but deeply unhappy person.

To the mind of men, this social ‘pressure’ is a negative-negative and the only way out is either accepting the daunting isolation the disconnection from this socially constructed model may have, or hedonism – such as taking drugs or drinking and having an otherwise double-life – that only ever leads to an existential nightmare. Isolation appears daunting because the pre-conditioned language that we use to interpret the external world is suddenly recognised as false and that he suddenly needs to think for himself, do for himself, live for himself and if he has never done this before, the risks of losing their place in this world that the think they are dependent on leaves them filled with angst. They cannot come to admit that their so-called ‘individuality’ had actually materialised while the real person within them remained imprisoned by this determined structure. They are only valued when the self has been quashed.

 

“Power is exercised through networks, and individuals do not simply circulate in those networks; they are in a position to both submit to and exercise this power. They are never the inert or consenting targets of power; they are always its relays. In other words, power passes through individuals. It is not applied to them.” ― Michelle Foucault, History of Sexuality Volume I

 

So, what happens when a man is raised in a patriarchal domestic and cultural environment, when they spatially witness gender-based violence that soon becomes normalised to them, where hegemonic masculinity that subordinates and mistreats women because of ideas that they must be ‘controlled’, or abuses and harasses homosexuals, or is otherwise physically violent and brutal? This evolves into more pathological forms of ‘power’ and thus ultimately serious violence, representative in ideologies such as Nazism or in political and cultural environments where excessive power normalises and rationalises extreme aggression. At individual level, it is indicative of the same pathology, a person who exercises an uncontrolled need for power that they rationalise and normalise.

Men are not innately or inherently bad – both men and women have the propensity for either good or evil – but I am certain that the will of both is prompted by the desire to be recognized or acknowledged. We all want to be loved. Money gives us power and power gives us acknowledgment. Fame gives us acknowledgment. Hierarchical structures, religious institutions, parents, friends, communities all give us this acknowledgement if we conform and we all act in a manner that manifests these narrowly defined measures of existence then we are doing good or right and we act because we want to avoid rejection, people disliking us or communities ostracising us. It is a social type of violence, but the power it holds is that society believes that it ‘must be’ without question and therefore it is not something coerced, but rather a choice that we no longer have.

 

“Prepare early for his enjoyment of liberty and the exercise of his natural abilities by leaving him in full possession of them unrestrained by artificial habits, and the exercise of his natural abilities” ― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emilius, or a Treatise of Education

 

This leads people to measure happiness based on how well they conform to these generic characteristics, using it as an instrument to be recognised. It stems from a place of vulnerability and so the more obvious these dispositions are, perhaps the more sympathetic we should be since the internalisation of this ideology plays a wholly significant part in the identification with the external world despite it completely stripping away any sense of individuality and therefore authenticity in their actions, decisions and relationships. Or is it? Foucault showed the power is always relational and determined by a number of tactics and strategies that ultimately make behaviours predictable. It is a mode of action and therefore it exists with the intent of a functioning outcome, something that must be exercised. Why is it that many aggressors try to strip away recognition from their victims, to make them feel worthless, to take from them any sense of empowerment?

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The Ultimate Question

Do we sympathize that violence is enabled by society and perpetrated by those who are vulnerable?

One can never really recover when they have felt the pangs of being deeply hurt, the grief is quite immeasurable and I believe most of my pain comes from the fact that the very person who hurt me so much never let me say anything to him, to talk about how I was feeling. An important part of the healing process and the formation of solidarity is the ability to face betrayal and speak and it is why telling your story is so important. Let others hear your voice, put it to pen and paper, paint it. That is why I am sincerely honoured to have read those emails from you where you told me your personal experiences and thankful that you shared them with me.

I too experienced emotional and psychological violence, never physical and the construct of masculinity makes it appear that since it was not physical violence then he did nothing wrong. But he did. I was hurt. So why does he think he did nothing because he did not rape me or hit me? We were not even physically intimate. This is how:

  • Indirectly Threatened Me

He indirectly threatened my life, some of these indirect threats include saying he had a ‘secret bunker where he could do what he wanted and no one would ever know’ or where he would ask for tips and advice on how to DIY the use of gunpowder for a gun he owned, where he would claim women deserve to get beaten, where he asked me to watch a movie where a woman is brutally raped etc. He never directly threatened me, but the psychological harm of the continuous idea that he was going to left me so afraid that caused terrifying dreams, sleeplessness and serious anxiety. I also found myself believing that I needed to lie and for someone who prides herself with honesty, I felt ashamed and lost. He forced me into a position of defense with the intent because I needed him to leave me alone. In order to recover, I faced him after several years and while it caused me considerable distress, it was my way of showing that I am no longer afraid.

  • Constantly told me I was ugly and stupid

I continue to have trouble being intimate with other men, indeed I was traditionally waiting for that gentleman who would send me flowers and say some kind words. I was initially attracted to him and actually did start to develop feelings for him, so when he began to consistently and continuously insult my appearance, undermine my intelligence, tell me I was ugly, balding, talking bad about me to other staff and management among so much more, I was deeply devastated. I stopped eating and after while I no longer wanted to live. I truly never felt so worthless. His violence has left me so afraid that another man would do what he done that I push people away.

  • He stalked me

It forced me to move out and away where I share accommodated with another girl in the same room because of this fear, particularly after I had a major car accident where I had no car and I was on my own suffering from PTSD and injuries. He may not have physically harmed me, but he harassed me like he was about to. He created a number of different accounts on Facebook under different alter egos, for instance, or emailed me pretending to be someone else; eventually, I became so paranoid that at one point I was suspicious of everyone and so in order to recover I made my social networking public, actually I kept my social networking accounts despite not caring about them just so he can see that he had no effect on me. He did, though.

  • He never felt guilt or remorse

He never believed he did anything wrong, he never let me speak to him about my pain or get any answers, recover and find forgiveness. He never apologised, he doesn’t even care and that is no different to silencing someone, keeping them quiet. That silence hurts, you are not acknowledged as a human being. How you feel is irrelevant to them.

  • He slandered me

That public humiliation was the icing on the cake, he truly made me feel alone. The worst part about the humiliation was that when he pretended to be other people, I almost felt like he was trying to redeem himself but was too afraid to show his true feelings and be honest, and so I tried to work with him. No. He made it clear that he hated me and he thought I was too stupid to see otherwise.

The cherry on top here is that I cared. I actually cared about him and wanted him to succeed and be happy. There is a subjective feeling of humiliation for that. I was actually a good person, I did nothing to him at all.

Culturally defined standards of what a “man” is supposed to represent through the ideology of masculinity does make a man vulnerable enough to be permitted to act with violence whether physically or not, because one is aware of the effects these behaviours can have however it is appropriated. Ignorance is no excuse. In addition to this, masculinity can be challenged by men, people have been able to distance themselves and happily do so and as such this non-existent choice can be negated, analysed and renounced even by those who were once proponents of them. This is satisfaction enough for me to believe that while it may be individual vulnerabilities that prompt us to conform and follow, conversely we can learn to understand what abuse actually is, to feel remorse, guilt, shame. To understand our conscience and the value of morality because it articulates the very truths that already exist within us that we simply need to learn to put into words. While we may be born with goodness, as Rousseau would say, it is society that creates this evil within.

Women Who Support Bad Men

The hardest thing being me is that I have never really had anyone tell me when I have done something wrong or how I should behave, or even support me to better myself or improve, my parents so consumed with their own affairs that their youngest child was all but neglected and left to the whims of my older siblings who took advantage of my rather profound naivety. I spent my childhood being constantly conditioned, I should perhaps say threatened, that my duty was to serve and indeed from my youth all the way through to early adulthood I looked after their children, cleaned their homes, cooked for them and tolerated their constant mocking. Rather than appreciate the good I have done for them, they’ve shrugged their shoulders and said I have done nothing because even they viewed it as my duty. I was subjugated and ultimately knew nothing of myself, indeed through their constant ridicule I had genuinely come to believe that my worth was only present if I served others and did what I was told.

Gaslighting, for instance, is a tactic used in any kind of relationship to encourage enough doubt that may ensure the complete subordination of the other, an annihilation of their sense of self or ego, by using gentle and even loving reinforcement by complimenting and praising only to subtly confuse with indirect threats and manipulation techniques, things like intentionally portraying themselves as the victim in order to make you think you have the problem. If gas-lighting is a technique educated to children to make them doubt themselves and believe that they must follow and do as they are told, so let us say that if men grow up in a paternalism that educates exclusivity between genders, then their identification with reality will always be subordinated to custom especially if effective economic and social systems reinforce and enable this. What happens to morality? What is that woman who falls in love with a murderer in prison? Is there some vicarious responsibility despite the psychological abuse, given that each of us are endowed with enough reason that prompts emotional responses – such as anxiety or depression – and speaks to us intuitively telling us ‘something is wrong‘?

Driving someone to insanity is the devil’s work.
 

The bible is one of the greatest moral educators of our time, over 100 million published every year and the scriptures have come to be the very source that enables one to mirror ethical and moral agency, whether directly through religious or institutional connections or indirectly through how we have socially come to understand ethics and moral behaviour, even law. However, most of the biblical references are dominated by masculine figures that leaves very little about women for women to explore and admire, that the symbol of what is a good woman appears to be counteracted by figures who are submissive and quiet, obedient and does what she is told, a motherly figure such as Mother Mary of Jesus or mothers Saint Emmelia, Nonna and Anthousa of the three Hierarchs in orthodox Christianity? Why mother and not simply a woman? Jesus is the symbolic representative of what God would desire in man, to be loving and be righteous – he is not the literal son neither is he God, and there is no actual trinity – he is just a man who was mistreated and who remains a friend some of us never had by telling us when we have done something wrong and how to behave right. There are many other male symbols, but female?

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There is a dichotomy in the symbolism of biblical stories between the human and the unreal, that Abraham is both an honest man who is a real father but also the patriarch of monotheistic religions, that Isaac is symbolic of Israel and Ishmael the forefather of Mohammad and therefore of Islam. These narratives between the real and the imagined represent ancient methods of communication that depended largely on imagery to weave an understanding of the external world and there is a truth to both.  It was not a time where reason and science articulated reality as we have today and so when we read the bible, to understand the meaning behind many of the symbols requires more creativity and fluidity in our thinking to interpret the texts. Jung poignantly explained how cultural identity and the practices or customs we come to believe and understand as the very source of language to explain experience can implicitly or explicitly be expressed in our emotional responses and psychological narratives through dreams, that while the dreams themselves are imagined and unreal are nevertheless symbolic of truth or something very real. Interpreting the dream can explain this real problem.

I was recently asked for forgiveness, an apology coming from a woman who had done something terribly wrong to me and it is always in my interest to want to improve my relations with people, to find that forgiveness and move on as friends. Her state of mental health at the time was certainly not well due to her partner being very abusive towards her and she has claimed that was the basis of her decision to do this wrong. At the time, she was very supportive of him and it leads me to this very question of whether there is a moral obligation held against women who support bad men or is there an existing void of moral responsibility where psychological abuse has been inflicted? I can clearly sympathise as I too had once experienced bullying and not been consciously aware of my responses, but I can also state that I developed anxiety and depression as a response to an unconscious awareness that something was wrong. My intuition had reason prompting me – without words – that told me something I already understood but not at conscious level that I could articulate using language. I fought and resisted subjectively. She knew that he was bad as we each understand what bad behaviour is since every culture and society has a universal understanding of good and bad forms of behaviour; something else compelled her to submit.

Violence does not necessarily need to be physical; indeed, in the Serious Crime Act 2015, it is an offence to inflict “controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship,” and further still in § 1(d) that “(person) A knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on (person) B.” Types of coercive behaviour include stalking (including cyber-stalking), intimidation and emotional abuse where the person feels unsafe and afraid due to the threat of abuse. Indirect threats and psychological games are just as violent as physical abuse; so if a woman is aware that her partner has a history of such behaviour and continues to support him, are they morally liable since they ought to know that his behaviour may have a serious effect on someone else?

This is a pretty tricky question.

Returning back to biblical scripture, women in the Bible also represent a dichotomy between the evil ‘adulteress’ and the good ‘woman’ where no woman, save for perhaps Deborah and the Queen of Sheba, are both good but also empowered with righteousness and intelligence. A ‘good’ woman appears to be motherly, submissive and serves while a ‘bad’ woman enjoys compelling and controlling men or as said in Proverbs 5:3 “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil” and a warning, yet again, for men rather than for women. This rather patriarchal language explained different symbols of how a woman should be viewed rather than teaching women how they should behave, giving men the authority to dictate this socially and culturally over generations, and leaving women today without any real understanding of what a ‘good woman’ actually means. Indeed, right from the beginning with Adam and Eve or even when reading ancient texts like Lysistrata, women have a sexual power over men that men ought to be cautious of, that they have the prowess to control men’s behaviour and responses (when Adam points at Eve and blames her for the temptation, it only verifies a lack of moral accountability on his part).

However, to be honest, there are instances where even I myself have witnessed the submissive nature of men toward rather silly women, where men can follow and do what their partners tell them to do, probably best articulated with the power Jezebel had over the King. The warning, to some degree, seems fair. In apocolyptic literature, there exists a ‘bad woman’ or the whore of Babylon who appears to be like the character of Jezebel that paints a picture of a woman interfering in good and moral behaviour. She is drinking ‘the blood of the prophets’ or basically all the effort the prophets have made in the name of God to teach people what is right and appears to be riding this ‘beast’ or this bad man who is aligned with the devil or dragon (as beast tends to refer to “Kings” or governments, although given this is the whore of ‘Babylon’ the dragon and beasts could be symbolic of ancient Mesopotamian mythological creatures such as mušḫuššu).

Conversely,  there exists a ‘good’ woman who appears at the beginning of the coming end, from the Book of Revelations or even other texts such 2Esradas 10, who appears favourable as the bride of good behaviour and epitomises what a righteous woman should be doing, which is calling people to good but doing so with a sense of empowerment or as said in Micah 4, with “horns of iron” and that through her a man is born. A ‘motherly’ figure does not imply a literal mother, but rather, as Jesus is the son of God but not literally, a mother is symbolic and illustrative of the care for and love of God’s children; it describes or is indicative of a covenant, a promise to uphold unconditionally the principles of good behaviour that lead men toward trusting the right way to behave. A submissive and obedient woman is not reasonable neither it is safe for women to believe that being good is being quiet and doing what you are told, on the contrary this is a mindlessness that has perpetuated violence against women.

Unlike Adam and Eve, a woman is not born by the rib of man but rather ‘good men’ are only possible through ‘good women’. For instance, if this whore of Babylon is exercising power over the beast by riding him, is it her fault that he is the beast? Herodias remained loyal to immoral behavior by ordering her husband to kill John the Baptist to the joy of Herod, her uncle and husband at the time. She supported and even used his bad behaviour to play out her own and while she may not be directly involved since Herod wanted John the Baptist dead, she is certainly vicariously liable for his death. She acted in bad faith and she is seen as a bad woman. And she is.

When I think of power and psychological issues like Battered Woman Syndrome, it really depends on the circumstances to confirm moral culpability. If a woman is aware that her partner behaves badly such as lying or stealing, remaining by him and even supporting him is morally reprehensible. I would imagine that while their support may have underlying mental health concerns, if they believe in and agree to remain close to such men, they are no longer within a moral dimension and are themselves devoid of agency. It is not as severe as being directly accountable, but the defense of insanity just wont cut it either. I think that an empowered woman, someone who is independent and convinced of the importance of moral accountability and agency, who fights the good fight no matter the threat, that is what women should aspire to. Generations of women support men because they may have been taught to do so, threatened into subordination, but ultimately there exists reason and it will always stand supreme.

Sexual Exploitation and Tourism

Peak hour traffic. An endless array of coloured helmets litter the streets, smoke coughing out of the exhaust of an old bus filled with tired faces, a frowning man with his forehead pasted against the dirty window stares out aimlessly at the hundreds of scooters honking their way through the busy street. Two young girls play on the footpath mimicking the others’ moves completely oblivious to the chaos surrounding them. It is easy to zone out, to shut the overwhelming unease that the thousands upon thousands can make you feel, like a person rescued by their imagination as they drift off into a day dream. Like me. I look out at the various clothing stores we crawl past on my way to the airport, thinking about what I need in my wardrobe for work to look a little more professional. Maybe a vintage midi-skirt, that pair of black jeans I have at home that would go well with the white shirt worn by the manikin, perhaps add some blue earrings and red shoes? Zone out from the fact that just before I caught this taxi I saw an elderly Australian man at the hotel lobby, his spotted, plump hands tickling the waist of a young Vietnamese girl as he commented about the bad service from staff, reminding me that underneath the millions in this Vietnamese megacity lies a disturbing reality of sex tourism that is causally linked to sexual exploitation. His yellow stained teeth and hardened belly impregnated by the constant consumption of alcohol that protrudes out and over the belt of his pants sends both shivers down my spine and a desire to kick him and protectively whisk her away from his dishonourable nature.

The global sex industry is a multi-billion dollar economy and despite being predominantly illegal and socially objectionable, the incredibly large numbers expose the darker side to this black market crime and to human behaviour. In China alone, $73B dollars was spent on prostitution in one year, in Israel over 10,000 men per month visit a prostitute and 41% of men who visit a prostitute in France are married.[1] There are generalisations that prostitutes are willing and content selling their bodies for financial reward and such ideas enable continuity of this ancient industry, however the reality is quite the reverse where up to 89% or more desire to leave the industry.[2] Studies of women who escaped prostitution show significantly higher tension and stress responses from the psychological trauma that include PTSD, somatization and sleeping problems caused by the high risk of exposure to violence and mistreatment.[3] The horrible reality is that many are unable to leave because of this fear and the fact that 40% of prostitutes were formerly trafficked and exploited into the industry as children[4] that increases the difficulty to identify with anything else. The link between prostitution and sex trafficking is what needs to be remembered.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors

In addition to this, is there a link between pornography and the commercialisation of trafficking? Sex offenders communicate using technologies that now give them access to encounter children online or through tourism hidden under the guise of education (such as international teaching or volunteering in the not-for-profit sectors). This is further perpetuated by stereotypes of Asian women being sexually available and willing that has dehumanised them into a sexual fetish, countries like China and Japan view very young virgins as sexually appealing where young girls in school uniforms giggling has become a widespread stereotype and aligns itself with the fact that such countries are responsible for the majority of sexual exploitation and trafficking of girls and women. According to Licadho president, “many Asian men, especially those over 50, believe sex with virgins gives them magical powers to stay young and ward off illness.”[5] This leaves poor families vulnerable and being uneducated view children as property and answers the reason why there is a strong prevalence of sexual slavery, violence and exploitation within Asia. It doesn’t end there. Women from an Asian background in the Australian sex industry also explains the correlation of the high percentage of trafficked women particularly through ‘Asian-women only brothels’ that function as venues to trick women into the country for exploitation over a short period of time before returning them back to their country, therefore making it difficult for police to report the incident.[6]

The situation becomes even darker where livestreaming of child pornography in Australia has increased despite laws to prevent registered sex offenders from travelling overseas and with the availability of telecommunications technology and the internet exposes the surge of paedophilia particularly in South East Asia. Paying as little as $40 enables these sex predators to livestream children being raped and therefore eliciting the eventual trafficking of poor young girls from the region.[7] South East Asia is one of the poorest regions in the developing world, the GDP per capita in Vietnam and other ASEAN countries confirms that hundreds of millions live far below the poverty line that increases the vulnerability particularly of children, especially since $40 could feed an entire family for a month in most regions. UNICEF reports that almost 385 million children live in extreme poverty and are too poor to go to school[8] that disproportionately increases their risk of exploitation as it is access to proper food and shelter, school and the provision of other stable determinants that protect young children. Sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) and the predatory behaviour of sex offenders is a huge problem in the region where offenders approach young children living on the streets or at the beach. “In many cases, these children are working day and night on the streets, on beaches, and around bar and restaurant areas. These children are highly vulnerable to SECTT.”[9]

My recent visit to the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam gave me first-hand experience of the poverty and vulnerability of these families and children. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has indicated that almost 4.8 million people are exploited for sexual purposes globally.[10] UNODC’ Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 20% of those trafficked are children but in the upper Mekong region the percentage of children trafficked are much higher and the larger majority of those trafficked are for sexual exploitation.[11] The greatest impediment to tackling the problem of trafficking and sexual exploitation is the denial by governments and the lack of data, however international law and the instruments have become a powerful conduit to tackle and eliminate trafficking by creating measures that countries can sign, ratify and enforce for national compliance. Australian sex offenders committing crimes overseas are still liable to tough Australian penalties through Div 272 and 273 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and the Australian Federal Police have provided a report Child Sex Tourism Form for people to report suspicious behaviour, in addition to preventing or monitoring any registered sex offender who wants to travel overseas to prevent any potential offenses overseas and to protect children particularly from the Philippines, China and South East Asia from such predators. This follows the United Nations Protocol to PreventSuppress and Punish Trafficking in Personsespecially Women and Children supplements the Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and while Australia has adopted numerous measure to reduce potential risks by ratifying UNTOC and the protocol including the prohibition of other forms of exploitation through trafficking including slavery, debt bondage and forced marriage, we should also approach the international justice system particularly due to our proximity to Asia through continued monitoring of the Asian region as well as the provision of assistance to these countries that will improve their abysmal investigative and judicial record. While Australia has formed Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project (ARTIP) to combat trafficking in Asia, more pressure and focus on transnational crime and cooperation should be made to effect any real change in the Asian region that starts with our domestic attitude to Asian stereotypes.

I hear it, the idea that it is legal because there is consent and payment – and therefore a transaction – but it is clear that a majority of those in the industry have been exploited and in particular from childhood that cannot in any way, shape or form be justified by remuneration particularly since a human being is not an object. It is heinous to forget their humanity, their story behind the act and all the causal links that chain them to the industry. Ignorance is no excuse and it is our responsibility to protect all children and women who are vulnerable to exploitation due to extreme poverty and a lack of education, but also the widespread view that objectifies women in general and to see their purpose solely for the gratification of men rather than as human beings with decision-making capacity.

I believe that many people turn a blind-eye away from these facts because most men believe they are vulnerable to becoming predators themselves. Indeed, men have urges and may sometimes feel the fear that they are capable of committing gross offenses that it is easier to simply look away – out of sight, out of mind – in order to prevent the potential of committing gross indecency themselves, but all this does is perpetuate the horrible reality that women, children and teenagers are nothing more then commodities. You cannot blind yourself to prevent yourself from going to hell and love your neighbour at the same time, but a truly moral person would use the law and social awareness to educate the public and reduce women being seen as human beings and not as objects. It is also to remember that the market exists because men are paying for it and therefore the problem is within men. Objectifying women is a form of violence and what differentiates between our humanity and what is heinous is our ability to reason, to feel empathy and to humanise rather than dehumanise people into objects or things. To see a living person is to love our neighbour as ourselves, including women.

[1] https://www.havocscope.com/prostitution-statistics/
[2] https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ei/rls/38790.htm
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2615337/
[4] https://sex-crimes.laws.com/prostitution/prostitution-statistics
[5] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/06/virginity-for-sale-cambodia-sex-trade
[6] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/57323/0027%20Collective%20Shout.pdf
[7] https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/surge-in-pedophile-livestreaming-from-southeast-asia/news-story/3b470dd5e945c0abc1175567eee5a642
[8] https://www.unicef.org/media/media_92856.html
[9] file:///C:/Users/saraa/Desktop/Regional-Overview_Southeast-Asia.pdf
[10] https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang–en/index.htm

Is Loyalty A Type Of Private Prejudice?

I believe in human rights, which is to say that I value righteousness and the utmost importance of moral accountability. I believe that we have the moral responsibility to care for universally acknowledged and shared values such as dignity and to be treated fairly and respectfully, to have equal opportunity and access to employment and education no matter one’s age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or culture and to have the freedom to enable independence – particularly the freedom of thought – which returns back to access to education. I remember when I was in secondary school, I was the person protecting “nerds” from the “jocks” because I was popular as well as smart, the one known to fight against authoritarian teachers and was frequently punished with suspensions and detentions. I reflect how Aristotle’s The Golden Mean and Confucianism were both incredibly appealing to me at a very young age because I naturally desired respect and equality as though instinctually aligned with that type of regularity and balance. I understood the relevance of self-cultivation, appreciated concepts of honour and integrity, and held the ideas of goldin (loyalty) in high esteem as they nurture relationships that promote social harmony.

Loyalty plays a significant role in moral agency as it enables cooperation in order to shape and apply ethical values, and we often approach the subject under the common understanding that it is an ethical principle held in esteem as a favourable moral condition. Indeed, loyalty to your wife or husband and commitment to a promise illustrates moral behaviour and accountability especially through difficult times either during a marriage or when experiencing personal affliction, sharing the burden and helping the other now a part of your life to find relief because you desire both you and your partner to be happy. While the inherent nature of our motivations remains problematic, it returns back to that regularity and balance, this pride in upholding morally worthy behaviour and this is only achieved in mutual recognition based on trust. But is that loyalty? Or is that commitment defined by an underlying friendship or a bond enjoined by empathy, this moral consciousness that I refer to as ‘love’ where one identifies the deeper need to see their beloved happy and desirous to share a life with them? That is, an effortless outcome caused by a will mediated by empathy that stands as a mechanism of reason to mediate the relationship between our private motivations and social patterns? There have been instances where women who are conscious of their husbands cheating turn a blind eye, men who tolerate unbearable circumstances because of their obligation to their religion rather than their will leading to all sorts of hidden depravities as visible with the Catholic Church and the crimes against children some priests have committed. Can one not say that a Nazi was loyal, that criminals who have killed and murdered show loyalty, that ethnocentric behaviour or Othering is a type of loyalty: “By the process of Othering, the colonizers treat the colonized as ‘not fully human’ and as a result, it dehumanizes natives. Othering codifies and fixes the self as the true human and the other as other than human. The Colonizers consider themselves as the embodiment of “proper self” while label the colonized as ‘savages.'”[1] Can we call criminals loyal?

At a social and political level, such unity can be empowering as it enables solidarity that functions as a conduit to communicate order, where numerous people identify with the same ideas and form a sense of belonging and comradeship. Foucault speaks of this power being as much a positive network then negative that shapes society into a coherent whole, indeed the very framework that enables emotional feelings of belonging and give one an identity and purpose. Loyalty nurtures cooperation and social harmony, but it additionally shapes distinctions and differences, that while it characterises ideas of social inclusion and connectedness also promotes exclusivity that loses the essential traits of a community. Therein forms a phenomenological reduction where prejudicial preconceptions are mistaken as the truth and where no other cognitive activity or individual volition is left. Injustice and highly immoral behaviour suddenly becomes “fact” because the group or power structure has reinforced the provision and motivation to believe automatically that it is fact and so prejudice becomes the enabler that destroys the ethical purpose of loyalty.

A man who is automaton in his sexist or misogynistic behaviour removes the individual and turns women into an object, unconsciously or immediately assessing her qualities comparative to this archetype shared to him by his environment. He would defend any man, even the most wretched of men, over a woman (rapists are suddenly given compassion over the victim who appears to be ‘asking for it’ and her behaviour is questionable despite the fact that he is the violent rapist) and without reason or logic involuntarily assumes that his faux ‘knowledge’ is a circumstance of reality. It just is, despite logic, despite evidence on the contrary, therein remains a deeply embedded benevolent sexism that is immovable because the power of this ‘knowledge’ has solidified into the unconscious iceberg where it is frozen into ‘fact’ and therefore no longer requires further thought. His loyalty to men is prejudicial, despite assuming that it is positive and even more disturbingly a moral attribute. Do the men of Sudan and other parts of Africa and the Middle East really find genital mutilation attractive?

Kant purports that the Categorical Imperative is that very maxim where the moral agent is tested, confirming whether they are enabled to rationalise and reason the just and appropriate way and motivated to act accordingly. Loyalty seems to me to not be defined as a standalone moral or ethical attribute but rather the product of one’s private motivations, illustrating the difference between someone who has conformed in blind submission leaving their behaviour to chance with someone who can rationalise and distinguish morally appropriate behaviour independently, to understand moral worthiness without religious or social approval and the need to belong as their primary motivator. They have transcended toward independent thinking and have overcome the fear of any potential aggression or isolation it may initiate. Loyalty is indeed a virtue, but it remains relative and regulated by something much more important. Reason.

It is clear that a distinction needs to be made, one such already touched upon by Josiah Royce and while, albeit, there certainly requires more depth that he has offered, has attempted to explain that loyalty is a commitment and the conditions for genuine loyalty is choice, much the same way he establishes a distinction between a crowd and a community. “A crowd, whether it be a dangerous mob, or an amiably joyous gathering at a picnic is not a community. It has a mind, but no institutions, no organizations, no coherent unity, no history, no traditions.”[2] A community is an emotional extension of ourselves and a materialisation of our subjective individuality through something concrete that society enables and loyalty is that commitment to the choice of serving it ethically. Loyalty is the right word to describe the unity and connectedness that forms through freedom of choice just like a ‘mistake’ materialises only when one feels remorse after becoming conscious of making a mistake, otherwise it would not be a ‘mistake’ and in much the same way ‘loyalty’ only materialises when one becomes conscious of and decides to approach her values willingly. Criminals who are committed are not loyal but predatory because it lacks any cognitive ‘scrutiny’ that enables him to question right or wrong behaviour.[3] What makes something truly moral is the authenticity of the motivations; am I saying this and am I agreeing with that only so that other people will accept me or because I want something or I am afraid of being disliked, or am I saying this because I have a gut feeling it is the right thing to do and I am not afraid of trusting that despite potentially aggravating people or being disconnected or dislocated.

This leads me to the following. I have just left staying in the refugee camp for almost a month and the circumstances were rather dire. As I meet new people and hear their personal and sometimes shattering stories, I see how living under occupation in the extremely dense conditions where everyone is in close proximity to one another, rubbish piling on the streets that is sporadically collected by local garbage collectors paid a measly amount by UNRWA, unemployment at almost 50% where youth roam hopelessly despite many with high academic credentials but who are unable to afford the costs of further study, who are exposed to violence and prison that has almost become normalised, it is hard not to feel a sense of righteousness and to desire improvement. I am loyal to human rights and that all people deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity, the military occupation being predatory by imposing such discriminatory restrictions that it led to the very violence it was seeking to control.

However, the atmosphere of hostility that compelled Israel was also initiated by the aggression and opposition it experienced particularly from the Arab world that led to today’s oppressive military occupation and political groups such as Hamas continue to weaken the prospect of peaceful relations through continued hostility. They are justified. They seek to protect their own and the Palestinian social and political landscape has a great deal of improvements that need to be made. While conditions of the occupied territories can be improved as must the political regime of Palestine, the occupation itself must and needs to end in order to enable that domestic transition and further changes, which again returns to the problem of Israel building settlements and provoking further aggression. It is undignified having Palestinians leave the bus on their way to Jerusalem to be checked at gunpoint while the rest of us remained on the bus.

I care for people and unfortunately the majority of Palestinian people are innocent, they are truly suffering but remain hospitable and kind. Removing the intensity of the security and sometimes the bad behaviour of security personnel, so are the Israelis. Yet, when I say that I support the Palestinian people, I am immediately opposed to Israel. When I say I support Israel, I am immediately opposed to Palestine. I am forced to make a choice and I absolutely refuse to. Therein lies the fear that I will lose favour from either side. My political and legal criticisms will remain impartial and I am determined to be vociferousness against any clear legal, humanitarian and human rights breaches from both sides. I will liberally criticise racism present in Zionism without being called an anti-Semite and I will liberally criticise terrorists labelled ‘martyrs’ without feeling threatened. I believe absolutely in the inherent freedom to criticize governments. Silencing the Palestinian voice and having the military commit gross human rights abuses is unacceptable and I will fight that. It does not imply that I am against the existence of Israel.

I feel like I am a mother with two sons who both don’t seem to get along but both of whom I love very much and both as guilty as they are innocent, the cycle of distrust and violence in continuity because they are too stubborn to accept their misdeeds. I listen to both and hear the same narratives being repeated and I worry that heightened in-group/out-group hostility – the whole “I am right and you are wrong” behaviour – may create the conditions to enable underlying prejudices guide discourse that will eventually solidify into “fact” without thought. I am afraid it has but I refuse to implicit favoritism on either side.

I sit in transit on my way out of Israel, a tear rolls down my cheek.

 

[1] S. R. Moosavinia, N. Niazi, Ahmad Ghaforian, Edward Said’s Orientalism and the Study of the Self and the Other in Orwell’s Burmese Days, Studies In Literature and Language, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2011, pp. 103-113
[2] Josiah Royce, John Edwin Smith (1988). “Josiah Royce: Selected Writings”, p.272, Paulist Press
[3] https://www.iep.utm.edu/roycejos/#SH2b

Magnetism and the Lunar Eclipse

Being away from home and in a very difficult environment, I have had the opportunity to be mesmerised by the many loving and genuine young people that I have met, so peaceful and kind with some of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever heard. It is wonderful to see the awe in their eyes when I explained to them some of the upcoming events that our galaxy is offering. On Friday the 27th of July at 8.15pm, we will have the chance to witness the Lunar Eclipse begin, reaching full eclipse by 10.30pm and often known as ‘blood moon’ (it will go a deep burnt red due to refraction of light from our atmosphere much like a sunset) that will be the longest lunar eclipse of the century. In addition, the planet Mars will be at opposition when it will be at its most brightest and nearing its closest to earth in 15 years, accompanied with the International Space Station passing on what will be a clear summer’s evening that I will be spending on the rooftop of this dilapidated building in the heart of the Middle East. While light pollution is a significant issue, everyone will get a chance to witness naked eye these phenomenal galactic events that gives them a glimpse into a series of astronomical narratives that will no doubt provoke questions about our planet, orbits and space. These events arrive at the same time I hear the amazing news that my program working with refugees and asylum seekers back home in Australia will be funded, where I will take disadvantaged girls and young women out on hikes, camping and viewings over my telescope where I will teach them about stargazing. It has given me inspiration on my only afternoon off for the week to write this blog post!

I was asked today, “how does all this happen?” and I attempted – albeit due to language barriers rather awfully! – a brief explanation of the moon crossing the ecliptic where the Earth, Sun and Moon are aligned when the moon orbits through the shadow of Earth. Planets orbit around the sun, the gravity pulling and keeping them in orbit and gravity acts as a powerful force between two objects with a mass. You can read more on the eclipse in a previous blog post that I wrote. Magnetism is an entirely separate force despite similarities and it depends more on particular properties rather than simply mass, such as electrons and can both push and pull. Magnetism is present throughout the universe and we can experience it in many ways; when I am out hiking, my compass explains the pressure of magnetism and direction with the movement of the needle as it is attracted by the force.

There are a number of properties and varieties of magnetic forces that explain invisible fields that applies a force that influence objects or material from the magnetism. There are rules that confirm magnetic fields are dipolar and just like earth has both a north and south magnetic pole and the ‘magnetic flux’ explains how the force and attraction between the poles – usually represented by lines as visible in the image below – that can be averaged by the magnetic field and the perpendicular area the field infiltrates. Measurements of the force is determined by the mathematical formula F= qvB (Lorentz Force Law), which is the magnetic force, the charge, the velocity and the magnetic field and the unit of these field are measured in terms of Standard International (SI) units known as tesla.

Earth’s magnetic field is known as a geomagnetic field and magnetosphere the predominate reason for the magnetic field is the liquid iron core surrounding the solid inner core is the source of this phenomenon, the very ‘magnet’ where the electric currents produced by the flow of iron and other metals including nickel cause convection currents from the inertial force of the Coriolis Effect that ultimately splits the field into a surrounding force that envelops Earth and aligns back into the same direction. The changes in temperature and composition of the liquid core creating the currents that rise or sink matter all play a part in Earths magnetic field, that can be captured visually when solar winds collide with it (usually where the magnetic force is much stronger near the north and south poles) and the charged particles trapped by the magnetic field produce the aurora borealis or the aurora australis.

ple-nord-magntique-carte-populationdatanet-15011841258n4kg

The picture explains the rotational poles but that their alignment geographically differs from our north and south poles on earth, whereby the magnetic south poles resides further north of Antarctic’ South Pole and quite close to the south of Australia while the north magnetic pole is closer to northern Canada and thus south of the North Pole. The magnetic lines explain the streamlined flow of the magnetic field that makes it easier to ascertain the process mathematically. Jupiter has a number of powerful toroidal magnetic fields where the intensity is said to have formed from the dynamic movements of the metallic hydrogen within; the field on the surface of the clouds is almost ten times stronger than earth’s. The Milky Way also has magnetic fields as do galaxies and the universe contains some colossal magnetic fields, where observations of galaxy clusters have found magnetic fields extending millions of light years!

The magnetic force is the attraction or the repulsion (as you experience when attempting to connect two magnets with equal poles) occurs from the magnetic field. The properties of electrical fields (pole) with a positive and negative charge differ with that of magnetic fields (dipole) despite a close correlation, because electromagnetism involves a magnetic dipole producing an electric field as it moves and conversely an electric field can produce a magnetic field meaning the difference is an elementary change in the field. A magnet does not have an electric charge as two separate poles, while a dipole interacts as a charge as visualised in the following image. What this means is that the electrical force itself behaves on a charged particle in the direction of the field and does not need motion while a magnetic force requires this motion and acts perpendicular to the magnetic field.

Gravitational fields also acts as force fields for mass and the gravitational force itself depends on the mass and the mass experiences the gravitational force. The gravitational field has a place in every direction and point in space and known by the formula g = F/m where F is the force of gravity. While this may be a brief example of the difference between magnetism and gravitational fields, it will be a wonderful experience with the full lunar eclipse and Mars showcasing the marvels of the universe over a hot, clear night here in Jerusalem!

Further Reading:

Maurizio Gasperini, Theory of Gravitational Interactions, Springer (2016) 115
Stephen Blundell, Magnetism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford (2012) 106
Anupam Garg, Classical Electromagnetism in a Nutshell, Princeton University Press (2012) 83