You’re sitting in your room on your bed with clean, white linen sheets that should feel comfortable and homey. But they feel cold and deserted. There’s a pile of paperwork on the bed; your computer is open in front of you, an unfinished Excel sheet blaring at you just like the eyes of your boss. Your heart starts to race. Your brain starts to cloud. Suddenly everything seems impossible to do and you think – no, you know – you’re not going to make it out alive.

Your breath is catching and your mind is fuzzing. You’re not yourself anymore.

That’s when you know you’re having a well-endowed panic attack that’s going to leave you like a barren earth after a hurricane.

Panic attacks are no jokes. The only people who can make jokes about them are the ones who have gone through it, the ones who have stood on that shaky, unpredictable ground where everything is a bundle of doubts and uncertainty.

Panic attacks aren’t something that you can control while you are having them. They come in like a hailstorm and leave whenever they feel fit, not giving a second thought about what you want. But you can certainly control how frequently you get one (or if you get one at all!) by several small changes that you can make in your lifestyle and your thought process.

Women are more prone to panic attacks than men, because let’s face it, we bear more responsibilities than men in most scenarios. Some of these responsibilities are hidden burdens that most outsiders probably don’t even notice. And not to mention, our premenstrual hormones are pretty infamous for making every situation worse still.

Dealing with panic attacks is a feat that you should pat your back for. It’s no easy hurdle to cross, no matter how inconsequential some media outlets may make it out to be. Moreover, everyone’s experience with panic attacks is very different and very hard to compare.

Above all, I think that it’s especially important that people realize that mental health is just as important as physical health and that mental disorders aren’t something that anyone should be ashamed about.

Sustenance of Socially Sensitive Vocabulary

The year 2017 is recovering from the political trauma of Trump’s election, the economic trauma of Brexit, and the social trauma of the Syrian Crises. But what most fail to acknowledge is that 2017 is also recovering from the inadequate and inappropriate usage of the English vocabulary.

As far as we have come in terms of technological and educational progress, this has still not reflected in the way that we communicate with each other. Political correctness is yet but a distant dream of free and unrestricted speech.

Somehow words like “depression,” “OCD,” “anxiety,” and “insomnia,” and phrases like “don’t run or cry like a girl,” have seeped into our vocabulary and have become normalized with daily usage.

But what majority of the public fails to realize is that depression and anxiety, etc. are real mental illnesses and more than a billion people have to deal with them. These words should be eliminated in 2017 because their usage trivializes what patients with actual mental disorders go through.

The phrase “don’t run like a girl” or “you throw a ball like a girl” are extremely derogative to women. These imply that female is a weaker gender and that being a girl means that you are automatically weaker than a boy. By using these phrases, we are instilling in the malleable minds of young children that sexism is okay and that women are less equipped to become leaders than men.

The 21st century prides itself in being a major turning point for the way that women are treated in the society; but the usage of these phrases simply perpetuates sexism.

Let 2017 be the time that we change our vocabulary for the better.

1984 pt 2

The abundant use of contrasting imagery in 1984 also profoundly helps in developing the meaning of the story and the bases of the plot. The conditions in society are described as desolate, empty, barren, and colorless. The infrastructure is made of steel and grey cement. There is an omnipresent odor of sweat and frustration in the air. The food is dry and bland and nothing – not even the “Victory gin” that they drink to make themselves feel temporarily good – tastes even remotely edible. All of this paints a painstakingly terrible picture of a society that has lost any and all form of happiness. The only thing that emanates beauty in this dead society are the few remnants of the past like the coral glass paperweight. The dire depiction of the world in which Winston lives serves to highlight the sorrowful condition of the society and also further accentuates the warning in the tone of Orwell’s writing against an authoritative regime.

The nuances in Winston’s character also reveal the restless nature of the society. With every form of happiness suppressed by the party, the people are forced to exert their unkempt energy in the devotion to their country. Winston is depicted as an intelligent man who constantly questions the motives of the party and yearns for a time past when things were possibly better. But he too, like the rest of the people, is frustrated with the gory and unsatisfactory nature of the society. Mere service to the Party does not fulfill his wants and he directs this frustration in thoughts of violence. This is particularly evident when he conjures up a picture of himself bashing Julia on the head with a brick, not only because he is scared that she is an agent of the Thought Police, but also because she represents something that he can never have: fulfillment of his physical desires. Winston’s character, as a whole, represents the dilapidated nature of the society that he lives in.

Through 1984, George Orwell is able to scrutinize the effects of a non-democratic, totalitarian political system on the functioning of a society and on the minds of the public. No one who dissents the political system is allowed to survive. Orwell captures this extremist nature of the system through his veritable use of literary devices.

A Matter of Opinions

I am unconditionally pro-choice and I am proud to hold this liberal belief. Even though this more often than not means that I have to encounter some nasty situations from people who might think differently than me.

I can remember clearly this one time when I was with a group of my friends. We were laughing over inconsequential things like the latest episode of The Bachelor and eating pizza. And then one of my friend brought that one topic that no one should mention at a casual hangout because it is bound to create a threatening drift amongst the people involved: abortion.

Of course, the group almost immediately split up into those who were pro-choice and those who were pro-life. Unfortunately for me, there was only one person who was pro-choice, and that was me. In the heated and unnerving discussion that followed, I was heavily inclined to compromise what I believed in just so I could avoid the hyperbolic charges from the group of people who were only minutes ago laughing with me.

But thank God, I didn’t. There is only one thing worse than being the only one in a room with a distinctive, controversial opinion, and that is comprising your opinion just to satiate others. (Unless, of course you feel unsafe in voicing your opinion or detect hostility in the environment. Then by all means, pack up your bag and just leave, because nothing is worth putting yourself in a situation you can’t get out of).

We live in a democracy, in a country bound by diversity. And I’m not just talking about the diversity of race, religion, and sexuality; but also about the beautiful foliage of the diversity of opinions. It’s really hard to walk more than a mile and not come across someone who has a different opinion than you on some particular topic. But that shouldn’t stand out as an issue, because after all, a homogenous society is a boring and mundane society.

The heart of every humane value contains that everyone has the right to hold their own opinion. But I guess some of us just have a much harder time grasping that concept.

Never let anyone tell you that what you believe in is not valid. In this time when we have conservative ideas being pushed down our throat, it is so important for liberal women to stand up and agitate against oppression. And how are you going to do that if you let someone tell you to lower your voice?

Rosa Parks didn’t stop her activism against racial discrimination even when she was thrown in jail. Susan B. Anthony didn’t agitate amongst traditionalist men to win women the right to vote. All women throughout history didn’t raise their voice together for you to turn down your right to raise yours.

But I know, from experience, that it can be hard to keep holding onto your belief, especially when you are surrounded by people who think so different from you. So here are some ways that you can always keep your head high and your voice bold.

Never, ever let anything said by someone make you irrationally upset. Whenever you come across someone who is being obnoxiously rude, just imagine all the things Cecile Richards probably has to put up with. And she’s still so strong, and she’s still advocating for women’s (and trans men’s) reproductive rights. Don’t let one or two possibly uneducated opinions stray you away from what you think – no, what you know – is right.

I have had my fair share of encounters with people who feed on trotting over other’s opinions or stuffing their unrequited belief down others’ throat. Remember, that you have just as much right to speak your mind than they do. If we can have a strong political figure say that sexual assault is, “locker room banter,” then we can most definitely make room for your agitation against rape.

It can also be very hard to sustain your beliefs when your own family seems to disagree with you. If your sister or you brother is being sexist or homophobic, you should most definitely call them out on that; and if the relationship gets healthy then you are in your right mind to walk away from it. Living amongst the people you love dearly and knowing that their views contradict yours can be a struggle and can even push you to change your opinion. In this case it’s so important that you realize that just because someone thinks differently than you, it doesn’t mean you have to stop loving them, or that you have to love them any less.

And above all, don’t forget to respect others. Just like you want your voice to be taken seriously, others do to. Listen and try to understand your “opposition’s” perspective and then bring out your own. Mature discussions are the only way that you can build a society anywhere near as close to the utopia that you want.

So here’s to staying strong in the face of negative criticism. Here’s to holding on to what you believe in.

1984 pt 1

George Orwell’s thought-provoking novel, 1984, deals with a political dystopia that results from the establishment of a ruthless and authoritarian regime. 1984 deals with the robot-like nature of a society where human rights have given way to a totalitarian society. It is though this novel that Orwell shines light on the negative aspects of communism and also warns the readers against the stifling effect of an authoritative and non-democratic government.

The story of the dystopia is told through the vigilant eyes of a thirty-nine-year-old Outer Party member, Winston Smith. Being the member of the Outer Party, he is educated, unlike the proles, and possesses certain intellectual capabilities that help him vaguely discern right from wrong amidst the lies enforced by the Party on the society. And unlike the Inner Party members, he is not completely immune to the brutalities of the Party. This makes him the most adequate narrator of the story. As Winston slowly realizes his subdued nature in the society, the readers are also able to see the society for what it truly is: mechanical and impassive. Winston, being an average member of the society, helps in not only imparting more connectivity to the reader with the text, but also helps the reader understand the political system on which the story is based – Ingsoc.

Ingsoc (or English Socialism) is the most aggressive form of socialism that any government can adopt. It is through the depiction of the terrible social conditions under Ingsoc that Orwell warns the readers about the horrible effects of establishing an authoritarian regime.

Furthermore, the connotative meanings of the words that Orwell uses helps him to develop and build the warning in the tone of writing. The motif of evil and death is omnipresent in the story and is complemented by the use of connotative words like “grave” and “ghastly rubbish.” Orwell depicts the people of the society as brain-dead and emotionally empty – they are unable to invoke any feelings in themselves except that of blind patriotism that has been forcefully instilled into them by the Party. During one instance, Winston compares the rebels of the society – those who dare to think astray from the systematic beliefs of the Party and Big Brother – as “corpses waiting to be sent back to the grave.” This dark analogy implies that no one can escape from the clutches of the Party after committing a “thoughtcrime.” This motif of impending death that lurks throughout the story underscores the fatality of human nature under an oppressive government.

Another literary tool employed by Orwell to accentuate his warning against an authoritative political system is connotative diction. Words like “rebellion” and “liberty” that arise in Winston’s mind are a clear contrast to Newspeak, which is the language of Ingsoc. Newspeak was developed through English in such a way that it eliminated any possibility of thoughts about liberty and democracy and thus ensured that no citizen could ever possibly commit a thoughtcrime. The party used Newspeak as a tool to control the minds of the masses and hence, control reality. The brevity of Newspeak contrasts with the conscious and elaborate thinking of Winston, especially after he meets Julia, his lover, and becomes conspicuously rebellious. He constantly dreams of the past and even buys antiquated trivialities like an empty book and a beautiful coral paperweight from Mr. Charrington’s antique shop. Winston’s thoughts are intricate and abundant whereas Newspeak is concise and limited. This contrast illuminates the iridescent human nature in comparison to the rigidity of a totalitarian society. Just like Newspeak can only encompass Winston’s thoughts after he is ruthlessly tortured in the Ministry of Love; an authoritarian regime can only encompass its public though means of violence and inhumane control.

An Open Letter to Pro-Lifers

I can easily point out the day, date and time when I started calling myself a feminist. It was two years ago when I had read a newspaper article about how a fourteen year old girl had been raped and then denied an abortion. This story mortified me, it gave me shivers to know that I live in a world where people so casually deny women the right to their own bodies.

I decided then itself that I was a feminist and that I hated people who wanted to take away my rights and give it to a fetus who was using my body to survive without my consent.

It is so easy to fold your arms across your chest and assign people sides in your mind. The people who do not agree with something you passionately believe in go on the side of people you detest and the ones who do agree with you become your new best friends.

I lived under this canopy of my blindsided belief that people who are anti—choice do not deserve my respect until very recently when I found out that my best friend was against abortions. She was against women (and transgender men and anyone who can get pregnant) having bodily autonomy and having a right to decide what they wish to do with their own bodies. Ironically, this news made me more mortified than the one that made me a feminist.

The person who always stood by me even when I made terrible mistakes and the person who was my very first friend on my first day of elementary school, now stood on the opposite side of one my biggest battlegrounds.

How could I simply drop this person to one of the well divided sides in my mind? I couldn’t.

She called herself ‘pro-life’ for a reason. She was against abortion for a reason. And I hadn’t realized that everyone had a reason, beyond what I could superficially see, for believing what they believed in and the essence of an equal society was to respect each other’s belief. 

I am feverishly against people dictating what I should do with my life. The how can I expect someone else to do what I want them to and to believe in what I think is right?

You learn something priceless from everyone and I learnt from my best friend the power of acceptance and respect. I learnt to respect the people who held beliefs that did a poor job of aligning with mine. It is because of the existence of contrasting people that the world can paint beautiful, abstract images of life. I do not want a world where symmetry in the only way around a good life, I do not want a world like Paris under Napoleon III.

I want a world where we all can have our opinions heard and where we all can paint the pictures of our choice.

So here are a few words to my best friend and all those who call themselves pro-life: I respect your belief and I hope you respect mine too.

Politics and the English Language: What Orwell Meant Pt2

As stated in the essay, politics tend to bend the actual intentions of the speaker, i.e. using political speech to convey messages more often than not confuses the reader or the listener and leads to digressive remarks and actions. Euphemisms are quite popular in political speeches and debates (both written and spoken). As Orwell says, “[Thus] political language has to consist largely of euphemisms, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

Even though euphemisms may seem essential to generate assent within the public and justify the actions that may otherwise seem inhumane and decadent, they wrongly inform the public of the actual intentions of the speaker.

An opponent may say that the use of such words makes an orator, like Mark Antony way from Julius Caesar; but Orwell would firmly disagree. An orator would be a person who can shape the opinions of the public by using simple diction, not someone who depends on ambiguity to gain support.

Orwell dismisses the notion that language grows naturally, and instead says that the growth of language depends largely on its use by the common people. He believes that the decadence that is created by modern English can be eliminated by a few concerned individuals who incorporate his above-mentioned rules in their daily lives.

Orwell appears to be an anarchist of political English; reproaching abstract speeches and the influence of politics in our daily lives. Politics, according to Orwell, has successfully permeated all of our social walls, including our tongues and pens. These nuances have to be changed through personal effort.

Perversion of the English language can be stopped by embracing its Saxon roots and speaking and writing with an everyday ease.

Politics and the English Language: What Orwell Meant Pt1

The English language is a rather volatile subject; constantly and incessantly changing and shifting, as adequately supplied in the essay, ‘Politics and the English Language,’ by George Orwell. In his essay, Orwell comments on the degrading nature of modern English and accuses politics for deteriorating the dialects of English used now-a-days.

The way we act and speak is generally constructed by a consensus in our society, so naturally, our language keeps changing with the change in the general consensus. To emphasize this, Orwell states that the decline of language is ultimately associated with political and economic causes.

Consensus in a society is made by people, and these people are highly swayed by the laws that they abide by, i.e. the politics they follow. Orwell exemplifies his statement on the role of politics in the decline of English language by providing five passages that believes are corrupted by the use of modern English.

In the first passage by Professor Herald Laski, Orwell tells the readers about the counterproductive effect of using, “superfluous” and, “jargon” words. Professor Laski’s passage uses, as said by Orwell, “five negatives in fifty words.” This usage fails to create a clear picture of what Professor Laski was trying to say.

Furthermore, in the second passage Orwell accuses Professor Lancelot Hogben for misusing the word, ‘egregious,’ and says that Professor Hogben simply did not put in the effort of looking that word in the dictionary.

While stating these mistakes, Orwell’s voice is not that of mockery or condescendence, but of an understanding cultivated by making similar mistakes.

George Orwell does not simply state these mistakes but also provides legitimate explanations for why these mistakes were made.  He says that this was due to the excessive use of worn-out idioms, pretentious words, passive voice and unneeded metaphors that accompany modern English.

The author of this essay condemns vagueness in written and spoken prose. He says that in order to convey the genuine image of what is in the writer’s mind, the writers must first paint a picture of the object in his mind and then deliver it to his audience by using everyday English words. Precision, according to Orwell, is an important element that should be regularly incorporated into our writing.

Western Hegemony Over Media

Malcom X once said, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They control the minds of the people. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.”

Now imagine if this power was concentrated in the hands of just a few nations. Nations that are already powerful in almost every other social and economic aspect. I believe it would be safe to say that this power would be immensely prone to misuse.

The gap between how different countries see the world is enormous and this makes it necessary to establish a diverse and representative media that can grasp the fabric of different societies.

Western hegemony over media not only makes the representation of diverse groups restricted, but also fails to provide genuine information that can cater to every individual. A media source based in the United Kingdom will think first and foremost of the impact on its citizens while broadcasting news before it thinks about the impact on its international viewers.

Media is the mirror of society and it is about time that it starts reflecting the true image of the world.

On Media and Reforms

While Legislative, Executive and Judiciary are the three pillars of Democracy, Media has emerged as another more significant pillar of democracy in today’s world.  Historically media has played an important role in governing and developing nations, in today’s world, with the increasing presence and influence of electronic and social media, the role of media has become more and more prominent. Media has the task of keeping the public informed about the happenings around the world. Not only just covering the incidents, but also providing the proper details. The Media professionals act as the watchdogs of society.

Media is that pillar of democracy which is always supposed to favor the public and show them the truth. Whether it is a political activity or a policy decision-making, it is the Media that can influence the public opinion on making valid decisions. Election of electoral representatives or even formation of the government is the results of public opinion influenced by Media.

Media provides transparency in the government. Only the fear of being exposed can restrict the corrupt individuals from unlawful activities. If the media does not uncover them or starts supporting them, they will rule without fear. The media today, has the power to transform the system for the betterment of masses. which is not favorable for masses or democracy.

Media should act like a mirror, which shows or strives to show the bare truth and harsh realities of life to the masses. However in certain cases such as those involving national security, religious sentiments or personal life and dignity of public figures, Media is expected to exercise self-censorship so that the fabric of society is not ruffled.

In the words of Malcom X “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”