Movember is here!

Movember isn’t just about growing moustaches and being a bit silly. It’s about raising money to support men’s health in a number of ways. Here’s why its important to me, and hopefully why you should help.

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To donate to Movember follow this link and help me to raise $500 this month.
If you need to speak with someone immediately, in Australia call:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14, or
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Movember comes around once every year. For a lot of people its just a bit of fun: guys grow moustaches – or in some cases try to grow them – girls maybe pretend to grow them by wearing or painting on fake moustaches, and everyone has an excuse to add just a little bit of silliness to their lives. There is nothing wrong with any of that. I think most people could do with a healthy dose of silly every now and again, if only to help alleviate the drudgery that can sometimes be life.

But Movember is about more than that. Its actually about men’s health, specifically in the areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. They are all big issues, important issues, and the work done and money raised goes to saving lives. One of the reasons for focusing on men’s health is the idea that men tend to tough things out, not letting others know about issues they might be facing for fear of not being “manly”. And because of that we don’t get the help we need when we need it, only to hurt ourselves in the long run, as well as those around us.

As you can probably guess, I’m participating in Movember this year. It’ll be the fourth time I’ve actively tried to raise money. Last year, thanks to friends and family but also through my initial efforts through social media I was able to raise over $400, more than I had raised in the previous three attempts combined. My initial goal this year is to crack $500, but hopefully you can help me to do much more.

The big reason why I’m doing this is around the mental health aspect. Three quarters of all suicides are men, which on average results in a male suicide every minute around the world. That means that by the time you finish reading this post, a handful of men or more will no longer be with us. There is no way that that is something we should be living with without at least trying to fix it.

I’ve never been diagnosed with or suspect myself of having Depression. I’ve certainly never contemplated taking my own life. But there have been times when I couldn’t see a way out of whatever problems and obstacles I was facing, I couldn’t work out how to get clear, and just wanted it to be over. Even to myself I never clarified what “it” I was thinking about. Not being an expert in psychology, I look back at those times and wonder how close I might’ve come to starting down a path I couldn’t have left without some outside help, and whether I would’ve sought out that help.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there are friends and family members who’ll read this and be surprised about what I’ve just written. Many of them will have known about the events that triggered those thoughts and feelings, but I suspect I managed to hide at least the extent of them. Its a cliche, but how often do you hear about a person who commits suicide and for those who were closest to be completely shocked and surprised by it? Even if they knew about some of the things going on, the depth of the situation is often unknown.

There were periods in high school where I dreaded going, for reasons as minor to having not done the homework for a subject with a teacher I didn’t like, to needing to avoid groups of other students who were going through a bullying phase with me as seemingly the target. There was a period of time at work where I team I was assigned to had very different ideas about the work and how to do it, leaving me feeling isolated and desperately counting down the minutes and seconds before I could get out.

I’ve been able to come out the other side of those situations, but not everyone can and not everyone did. One of the students from my year group at high school took their own life, as did one of my colleagues from a previous job. Obviously I don’t know what went through their heads in the lead up to those events, but I can guess at least part of it and have at least some small understanding of how they might’ve felt.

Please help me to prevent this sort of thing from happening to others. You can donate to the Movember Foundation here, and of course every donation is greatly appreciated. I also understand that not everyone is in a position to contribute financially to the cause, so I ask that having read this article, that if you’re not able to donate then please share this page with everyone you can. With your help, the Movember Foundation is aiming to reduce the rate of male suicides by 25% by 2030.

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Marriage Equality: Random Thoughts #2

Taking a step away (again) form Uber-related things for a moment, to talk about an important topic, particularly in Australia at the moment: Marriage Equality

This week, the forms for the Marriage Equality Postal Survey go out all around Australia. After some to-ing and fro-ing on the subject, I decided that even though its not really related to being an Uber driver, its still important enough that I should get my thoughts out there. Just for the record, I’m a cis-gendered, heterosexual male, raised Catholic but currently agnostic, I’ve got no particular knowledge or experience in politics, the law (except perhaps as it related to the road rules in NSW), theology, philosophy, history, or any other area that might make me even remotely considered an “expert” for the topic, and apart from this blog I have debatable skills when it comes to putting my thoughts into words for other people’s consumption.

With that in mind, I’m going to try and put out several posts relating to the topic and my thoughts on it. I humbly ask that you share them as far and wide as possible, and that if you want to engage in debate with me, I’m happy to as long as its civil; I’ll ignore anything that I deem to be intentionally hostile, insulting, degrading or otherwise inappropriate. At the same time, if I say something that offends you (on either side, as I may unknowingly use incorrect terminology) then I apologise as that is not my intent. Please let me know if I do, so I can make any appropriate corrections as quickly as possible.

Whenever the possibility of same-sex marriage has been brought up, or for that matter any potential changes to laws regarding the rights of the LGBTQI community such as allowing adoption of children, people raise religious-based objections. I absolutely don’t have a problem with someone deciding that they can’t do a certain thing or can’t do it in a certain way or at certain times because of their religion. As it applies to marriage equality, most of the religious objections I’ve been aware of have seemed to come from Christians. Again I’m no expert, but I’ve got some past experience with Catholicism, so…

There are a number of requirements that Catholics are supposed to meet to continue to be “true Catholics”. (Just to be clear that’s my term, not an official term I’ve ever heard used by a priest, bishop or other official of the Church.) Growing up, I was expected to go to church every Sunday, though technically we more often than not went on the Saturday night to the Vigil service, but apparently that counted as being on the Sunday. We weren’t supposed to eat within an hour of taking Holy Communion, which at some point I remember equating to not going swimming after eating. We also had to go to church on the special holidays like Christmas and the three days of Easter.

Speaking of Easter, as a symbol of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, going without food and water and being tempted by Satan, as kids we were supposed to give up something for the 40 days of Lent. As we got older we became aware of the rule against eating meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. (That’s the first day of Lent. The day before Ash Wednesday is called Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, referring to the fattier, richer foods you would eat before the fasting of Lent. Also by the way, Fat Tuesday in French translates to “Mardi Gras”.) Lent used to be stricter, and may still be for some Catholics, with varying levels of self-denial, such as not eating meat at all during Lent, not eating anything on the Fridays.

The point I’m making about all these rules is that they affect the believer, not those around them. If your beliefs require that you wear certain clothing, groom yourself in certain ways, are selective about the foods that you can and cannot eat, then there is absolutely no issue with you choosing to follow those rules and beliefs. But to expect everyone around you, even the non-believers to also follow those rules is problematic. And there is no reason why, even in Western culture where the legal systems are influenced and to a certain extent based on Judeo-Christian morals, that those beliefs must be reflected in law.

The Bible does suggest that homosexuality is sinful. I’ve seen various people attempt to examine the specific verses that refer to it, with some analyses that confirm that homosexuality is a sin, and others that suggest the interpretations of those passages had become too broad from what was intended, conflating homosexuality in general with other concepts such as rape, and it is those other things that are sinful. I’m not going to pretend to know which is the correct intent of the Bible authors, let alone of God. I will however point out that there are a great many things, particularly in the Old Testament, that are considered sinful outside of what might be considered the obvious such as the content of the Ten Commandments. I don’t have the eloquence with words that Aaron Sorkin does, so I’ll just point you to this clip from The West Wing, season 2 episode 3, “The Midterms”…

If we’re going to look to the Christian beliefs for guidance on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry under Australia’s secular legal system, perhaps we should look to something Jesus himself said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” That’s from the Gospel according to John, chapter 13 verse 34. By the way, none of the following verses have any exemptions, let alone ones based on gender or sexuality.

Marriage Equality: Random Thoughts

Taking a step away form Uber-related things for a moment, to talk about an important topic, particularly in Australia at the moment: Marriage Equality

This week, the forms for the Marriage Equality Postal Survey go out all around Australia. After some to-ing and fro-ing on the subject, I decided that even though its not really related to being an Uber driver, its still important enough that I should get my thoughts out there. Just for the record, I’m a cis-gendered, heterosexual male, raised Catholic but currently agnostic, I’ve got no particular knowledge or experience in politics, the law (except perhaps as it related to the road rules in NSW), theology, philosophy, history, or any other area that might make me even remotely considered an “expert” for the topic, and apart from this blog I have debatable skills when it comes to putting my thoughts into words for other people’s consumption.

With that in mind, I’m going to try and put out several posts relating to the topic and my thoughts on it. I humbly ask that you share them as far and wide as possible, and that if you want to engage in debate with me, I’m happy to as long as its civil; I’ll ignore anything that I deem to be intentionally hostile, insulting, degrading or otherwise inappropriate. At the same time, if I say something that offends you (on either side, as I may unknowingly use incorrect terminology) then I apologise as that is not my intent. Please let me know if I do, so I can make any appropriate corrections as quickly as possible.

Apparently there are people out there that believe sexuality is a choice. Being the non-expert I am, I’m guessing that sexuality is influenced by a whole host of factors, with a different mix for every individual. It wouldn’t surprise me if genetics played a part, perhaps even the major part, but I suspect that it can be influenced by how we are raised and various experiences along the way. That’s different to it being a choice though.

For those of you who might think that people only ever choose to be gay, think of it this way. Take a group of straight men and a group of straight women. Tell each group to individually rank the other group from most to least attractive. Then compare the lists. Its just about guaranteed that there will be differences between them. Even if there are some commonalities where some people tend to be higher or lower on everyone’s lists, you won’t get all of the lists matching up exactly.

That’s because being attractive is subjective. There’s no truly objective way to work that out about someone. There are qualities that are more likely to be found attractive by large groups of people, but nothing that is truly universal, at least not to the point of everyone agreeing that a particular person is the most attractive. So if even when you take gender out of consideration, we can’t agree on what makes someone attractive or not, why is surprising to find that gender can be a point of disagreement as well?

To single out anyone based on an arbitrary factor is discrimination. We’ve already worked out that it shouldn’t matter whether a person is a man or woman, they should have the same rights and opportunities as each other. (I know that’s not the case in actuality, but we at least acknowledge that it should be, and that the ways it isn’t at the moment should be fixed.) If the gender of Random Person A doesn’t matter, and they should have all the rights as every other person, then the gender of Random Person B doesn’t matter either. Therefore Random Person A and Random Person B should be able to get married to each other if they so choose, and the genders of those people still don’t matter.