Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Tribute to a Tiny Hero

The story began in early spring. A mother of three noticed a bump on her youngest son's back. She saw doctors, made tons of phone calls, begging for help. Everyone, including me, said that it was probably nothing, maybe just an enlarged muscle and his crying could just be colic, nothing to worry about. But she didn't give up, she knew something was wrong. When everyone tried to convince her of not to worry, a feeling inside her developed. A couple of months her own father, my grandfather, had passed away in cancer and she got convinced that her newborn too, had some type of cancer. Us near and dear ones became worried, not for the baby, but for her. Her anxiety paralysed us, while it encouraged her to get the help she needed.

One day, the baby's legs went limp. He was constantly crying, couldn't get any rest. At last a doctor sent us to the hospital, where more doctors examined him. Yes, the bump was still there and his legs did in fact not work as should be normal. They said that it could just be an enlarged muscle, something harmless, but they couldn't rule out other reasons. Off we went to Queen Silvia's Children's Hospital in Göteborg, where an MRI was performed. The waiting for the results was painful, to say the least, but it was nothing compared to when the results finally came. Yes, it's a tumour. The baby has Neuroblastoma, cancer.

The following months consisted of cytostatic drugs that put down the baby's immune system and a lot of the family's strength and happiness. Still, no one gave up, because seeing his smile even when he was at his lowest, gave all of us the courage to continue, to do what needed to be done both for him and for his mother and brothers. As sick as he was, he was the source of our will, the one that lead all of us back and forth to hospitals, to take turns in handling the daily tasks, to keep life going even when it was at its darkest.

One autumn day, we were waiting for an answer from the latest MRI; either there would be more cytostatics or there would be a surgery. Either of the options would mean more hard work, more difficult feelings to handle, more struggeling. Then the doctor finally called. The baby didn't need any more treatment - and non surgery either! My first thought was that "shit, so there's nothing more they can do for him? This is it?". But no, what it meant was that he was done. The tumour was no longer a threat to him and the tiny bit that was still tucked in in his back would do him no harm. Eventually it would turn into harmless nerve tissue.

One more thing needed to be taken care of; the CVC, a tube in his chest where he had gotten his treatments through. It was there as an evil memory of a nasty disease that could have resulted in something unimaginable. Then two days ago, we finally got an appointment for the simple surgery that would remove the CVC. All that remains now is a tiny, healing wound in his chest and a plaster. Maybe he will get a small scar, but who cares? The cancer is gone, it will be no more and he will get to live a completely normal childhood, loved by so so many. This baby, and his mother, gave me hope. They proved to me that even when things seems hopeless, everything can still be alright in the end. Sure, the road there can truly suck, it can make you suffer, be in horrible pain and anxiety, but you can get through it.

Jamie, you are my hero; a tiny tiny hero that have accomplished much more than most adults I know of. You will have no memory of what you've (and all of us) have been through, but I hope you will always know how very special you are!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To Think of Nothing

At times I find myself in a state where I appear to think of nothing. Most of the people I've spoken to say that they've never experienced it, so I decided to do some digging to find out if it's possible or not. Let's start with Rene Descartes' idea of "Cogito ergo sum," which means "I think, therefore I am." If we accept that, then it should also be true that if I don't think, then I don't exist, or at least that thinking is fundamental for the human consience to exist. 

In DaMo Qigong, (here simplified) excercises can teach you how to think of nothing. By first focusing your thought of darkness, a void where nothing exists, you return to the time before your birth. Before birth, you could have no conscious thought since you have seen or heard nothing; your mind had not enough "food" to develop thoughts as we know them. Similar experiences can be achieved through meditations practiced around the globe and what's similar between these experiences are that the people who have gone through them still describe to have been in a state of hightened consciousness. How is consciousness possible withouth though?

If you sit/lay down and decide to focus your mind of nothing, then that's exactily what you're thinking of. Nothing is the opposite of something and in order to undo the thought of something in your head, you first have to be aware of the "somethingness", leading to an impossible task since undoing the something actually is a thought process. There is always a stream of consciousness rushing through your head and if you find yourself unaware of the thoughts, then they've been running on a subconsious level. My question, however, is what's really going on in your head when you find yourself in that empty state, i.e when it's not forced or something that you've consciously tried to achieve. I haven't found an answer to this so far, but my guess is that I do, in fact, think of something. A void for example, even though I'm not aware of it until when I "wake up" from the state. Maybe I even return to that time before birth without being aware of it. It's a mystery yet to be solved!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Swedish Christmas Traditions II

Saint Lucy
Early in the morning on December 13th, a woman dressed in white and with a crown of candles on her head, can be seen in the front of a procession of white dressed female attendants, "star boys" and brownies. The front woman is called Lucia and she represents a Sicilian martyr and saint that died under emperor Diocletianus persecutions. Legends claim that before her death, the virgin ripped her own eyes out and sent them to her betrothed. The mother of God then provided her with a new set of eyes that were even more beautiful.

In English, this feast goes by the name "Saint Lucy's Day" or "Feast of St. Lucy." Kindergardens, schools , churches and choires arrange these processions which parents are attending. Different Lucias are voted for in cities around the country, usually based on their looks and voice, similar to beauty contests.

A recurring problem during Lucia celebrations in Sweden seem to be fainting. Some claim that the cause of fainting is that the candles in the hair "eats up" the oxygen in your brain. This, however, is a myth. The explanation behind the phenomenon is simply low blood pressure from heat, psychological pressure and from standing up for a long time. So if you plan to delight your neighborhood by spreading the light of Lucia, make sure to drink lots of water and sit down with your head between your knees if the dizziness creeps upon you!

The initial song that the Lucia procession sings as they enter the room is "Sankta Lucia", which is also sung as they exit. Here's a translation in English:

Night walks with a heavy step
Round yard and hearth,
As the sun departs from earth,
Shadows are brooding.
There in our dark house,
Walking with lit candles,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Night walks grand, yet silent,
Now hear its gentle wings,
In every room so hushed,
Whispering like wings.
Look, at our threshold stands,
White-clad with light in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Darkness shall take flight soon,
From earth's valleys.
So she speaks
Wonderful words to us:
A new day will rise again
From the rosy sky…
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wake up World!

I have to say it; no matter if your for or against WikiLeaks, it's clear that the witch hunt of  Julian Assange and the organization is far more freightening than the information that is being leaked. The world has participated in elections on false causes. How can a state claim to be democratic when we don't have the correct information to base our votes on? No, thanks to WikiLeaks, leaders around the world are standing with their pants down both in the sense of being ready to be fucked in the ass by USA and for their citizens to see them for what they really are. Except for PayPal's and Amazon's guile, both MasterCard and Visa now refuse to accept payments to WikiLeaks, saying that it's against the companies rules to directly or indirectly promote illegal actions. Now this is strange. WikiLeaks hasn't been prosecuted or condemned with any crime. Is it really a crime to tell the truth? Yes, in dictatorships.

Julian Assange turned himself in to the London police earlier today. It's still unclear if he will be submitted to Sweden, but he's being held in jail and refused bail until December 14th because of a "high risk for escape." Assange write in a public letter:

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

It's sick and highly alarming. The west has never been in such an obvious malfeasance, bent by the mighty USA that rather lets their own people starve and suffer than give up their aggressive foreign policies, anything to let the rest of the world understand who is their true leader and what happens if they would refuse to bend themselves to their will. I want to see more democratic journalism, that serve the readers and not the banks or governments driven by their slimy lust for power and money. People are worth more than that and it's time for us to make use of the power of the masses. 40 years from now I don't want to sit in a constantly monitored old people's home with cracked concrete walls and crappy food, and through my barred windows watch a world that fell apart and know that I could have done something about it. 

This is my way of taking a stand. Spread the information and support WikiLeaks in any way you can. Demonstrate, write letters, boycot the cowardly companies that think they can judge what is legal and what isn't to gain respect from Big Brother. Even though the press are too afraid to give their support, you don't have to be. Make your children and grandchildren proud, give them the opportunity to one day tell their children how brave their grandmother was, to stand up for democracy, free information and freedom of expression.

Edit: The witch hunts for Assange and WikiLeaks are as far as we know two different cases (Assange is being accused for sexual assault, but some believes it to be a setup). I do not claim that Assange is either guilty or not guilty, which I write more about in my previous post Freedom is Slavery. I do claim, however, that WikiLeaks, as an organization, is doing the right thing by spreading the documents given to them. Wether that's legal or not doesn't really matter, I still believe it to be right and a step in the right direction for true democracy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Freedom is Slavery?

Winston Smith lives in a society where the people at all times are subordinated to the state; everyone is under constant governmental surveillance, both physically and mentally. Mind control and a new language, Newspeak, is developed to prevent the people from critical thinking. Through a telescreen, propaganda is streaming in every home and public place and monitors the people. Throughout the society posters of Big Brother warns the people: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. 

This dystopian society is described in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and was written in 1948-1949; a fantastic novel, but it is so much more than that. Orwell's intention was to warn people of the effects of the Eastern states that were forming during the time of writing. But the warning was not solely of Communism and Fascism, but of a future development that would affect all nations, no matter of their political foundation. His visions about oppressing dictatorships are slowly creeping upon the West today; we are being monitored, media is far from impartial, freedom of information and expression are only pretty words that governments use to manage the masses.

As no one can have missed: WikiLeaks' publishing of classified documents have caused governments to sway. Hillary Clinton describes the leaks as "an attack on the world" and WikiLeak have been cut out from Pay Pal for "violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity." The organization have also been dropped from Inc. that acted as a website host for breaching terms of service. In Sweden, the public is expressing it's outrage for PayPal's cowardice. WikiLeaks have not been proved guilty of any crime, on the contrary they have published documents that by all means concern the public. Governments have been revealed to commit crimes against humanity in these documents and any information that directly affect our societies are our concern. We are being monitored by governments and now WikiLeak, in a way, monitors the governments. I salute them.

- Slogan of the Brotherhood, Nineteen Eighty-Four

WikiLeaks' frontman, Julian Assange, is being accused for sex crimes of two Swedish women. Many believes this to be a setup and I'm not qualified to judge what is true and what isn't. But what is  true is that Assange is merely a face of a much larger organization. His actions or personal qualities have little to do with the values and distinctions of WikiLeak. The fight for freedom and democracy will continue with or without him. The world is finally reacting now that the disclosures are on tabloids all around the globe. It is my sincere hope that the leaders will realize that their actions no longer can be done behind our backs, that they will be forced down on their knees and see that governments are meant to serve the people, not the other way around.

Do the world a favor and cancel your accounts on PayPal and Amazon (and tell them why). Ways to donate to WikiLeaks and support their struggle for free information can be found here.