“Never being popular as a kid was always an insecurity for me. Even as an adult, I still have recurring flashbacks of sitting at lunch tables alone or hiding in a bathroom stall, or trying to make a new friend and being laughed at. In my twenties I found myself surrounded by girls who wanted to be my friend. So I shouted it from the rooftops, posted pictures, and celebrated my newfound acceptance into a sisterhood, without realizing that other people might still feel the way I did when I felt so alone. It’s important to address our long-standing issues before we turn into the living embodiment of them.”
-Helpful advice from Taylor Swift, in the March 2019 issue of Elle
We humans are silly little creatures, and abstract beliefs rule our lives. On a routine basis, we destroy ourselves over ideas that exist only in our minds. Perhaps no incident illustrates this point better than the case of a 15-year-old Pakistani boy who cut off his own hand due to a misunderstanding.
Anwar Ali, the teenage son of a poor laborer, was attending evening prayers. That’s when Shabbir Ahmad, the Imam leading the prayers, asked for a show of hands as to those who did not love the prophet Muhammad. Anwar, thinking the man had asked who did love the prophet (which would seem to be the more logical statement), raised his hand.
The Imam shouted out “Blasphemer!” in front of the whole congregation, branding him a non believer. So Anwar, fashioning himself a loyal follower of Islam, left and cut off his own hand with a scythe for the crime of having accidentally committed blasphemy. He returned to the imam later that day, presenting the gift of his severed right hand and asking for repentance.
Authorities in Pakistan’s Punjab province have charged the cleric with using hate speech to incite violence. In yet another twist of insanity, the boy’s family says they are actually proud of what he did.
This may seem like an extreme example of beliefs gone wrong, but only because we’re not accustomed to people lopping off their own hand. Yet I could point to just as many instances in this country in which a similarly absurd belief has driven someone to suicide.
How much do you know about your world? Here are 3 things many people claim to know, followed by some important facts on each topic that will instantly make you smarter. Read through each one and make a mental checkmark next to each item you already knew to be true: …Continue reading →
To call someone a barbarian is not a very polite thing to do. Just ask my grandma. She hasn’t sent me a Christmas card since. But in my defense, how else am I supposed to react when someone bakes raisins into a batch of chocolate chip cookies? Raisins! In chocolate …Continue reading →
We regularly speak about the destructive power of beliefs because there is not other force in the world more damaging than a negative idea. Here’s yet another example, involving a dead teenage girl and the twisted notions of her father. So called “honor killings” are nothing new. They’ve been happening …Continue reading →
“Magic is about meaning. If you look at the world as just dead, where everything is a meaningless motion of molocules, nothing has any value. But that’s not true, because every human being sees something important and gives it meaning. Human minds see significance and meaning in things. We make …Continue reading →
“The most creative, most successful people, fail all the time. I’m working with Pixar — Will (McCormack) and I are co-writing the script for Toy Story 4 — and there’s definitely an attitude there of ‘fail fast, fail often.’ Our team does that. We cycle through ideas. Great ones and …Continue reading →
I remember my mom telling me, “there’s always going to be someone who’s a better singer. There’s always going to be someone more fit. There’s always someone who’s going to be, in your mind, better than you — who you’re comparing yourself to. But you can’t do that, because you …Continue reading →