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05.04.2021 – The Baltic Word

Deal with the Devil: Baltics are celebrating the anniversary of joining NATO
(Image by The Baltic Word)

By Jonas Dringelis

17 years ago, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia formally became members of NATO.

According to the NATO leadership, the North Atlantic Alliance is “defensive organization” that is constantly expanding. Some might say it’s a “defence mechanism”.

The “defensive expansion” of NATO does have something of an “Orwellian” ring to it though.

“Orwellian” is an adjective describing a situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. It denotes an attitude and a brutal policy of draconian control by propaganda, surveillance, disinformation, denial of truth (double think), and manipulation of the past.

When our “defence mechanism” keeps on steadily further creeping up, even despite the assurances that would never happen, can it really be called a “defence mechanism”?

Particularly when said “defence mechanism” has a history of “defending” by going on the offensive, like invading Afghanistan over Saudis flying planes into American skyscrapers. It’s obvious that Afghanistan wasn’t invaded on humanitarian grounds. Moreover, a few days ago it was actually the 22 year anniversary of NATO aggression against Yugoslavia.

It should be understood that NATO is a tool of American imperialism. Europeans increasingly despise Americans, and only the “threat of Russia” is keeping Eastern Europeans close to Yanks. Western Europeans honestly want NATO to dissolve so we can create our own military Union without the U.S.

However, to date, you could not think of worse “Trojan horse” example… Today NATO countries have “Trojan horses” in their backyards (rocket launchers for which they don’t have the blueprints or the source code). Who says that the ones who created them cannot press a button one day and launch them “by mistake” towards Russia, whose retaliation will bring the destruction of these countries?

NATO (U.S.) forces us to be a part of its operations and most importantly buy offensive army equipment instead of using that part of county budget for something else that is more useful and definitely much needed.

Do you think countries like Sweden would be happy sacrificing their social safety nets or raising their taxes higher to cover the costs for an effective military?

I wonder when people will understand that there’s no “free sandwich” in this world, let alone rockets that cost millions.

In 1940, Nazi Germany did the same as NATO today, and the fact that the Baltic States are now marching SS veterans, only confirms this.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

04.04.2021 – The Conversation

The story of the Iranian new year, Nowruz, and why its themes of renewal and healing matter
Celebrating Nowruz (the celebration of the Kurd people’s new year) in Handimen village located in Kurdistan, Iran. Source: Wikimedia Commons

ANCESTRAL CULTURE

by Pardis Mahdavi

As the days grow longer and the flowers start to bloom, my 5-year-old gets excited and exclaims, “Nowruz is coming.”

Nowruz – or “new day” in English – is the Iranian new year. Celebrated at the exact moment of the spring equinox, this is a secular festival with roots that go back over 3,000 years. It was shaped by people of the Zoroastrian faith, believed to be the world’s oldest religion.

An Iranian American anthropologist, I have spent much of my life studying my ancestral culture. Festivals like Nowruz have helped me and my children connect with the Earth and our traditions – and much more now than ever before.

The story of Nowruz
The celebration of Nowruz dates back to at least the 11th century A.D. In the Shahnameh – or “Book of Kings” – a text that dates to the first century, the story of King Jamshid is told as part of the Nowruz origin story.

King Jamshid, the fourth king in an imagined dynasty, is introduced as the kindest and most knowledgeable ruler of Persia, the region that stretched from what is modern Turkey to Pakistan. Jamshid is referred to in Zoroastrian texts from the first century as well.

The Shahnameh tells the story of a king who was very sensitive not only to his subjects but also to the rhythms of the Earth. King Jamshid noticed that during the long, dark winter months, his subjects descended into darkness as the Earth worked to heal itself from the harvests of the fall.

When spring finally came and the Earth began to blossom after the healing period of winter, the king wanted to mark that as the start of the new year – a time of new beginnings for people and the Earth.

But King Jamshid also noticed that during those dark winter months, many of his subjects had started to quarrel with one another, and injustice threatened to take over. The king decided to mark the beginning of Nowruz with a festival called Shab-e-Charshanbeh Souri, which translates as “Scarlet Wednesday.”

The festival involves jumping over a series of fires – a tradition brought by the Zoroastrians, who worshiped fire as the sign of everlasting strength and health. The idea behind Charshanbeh-Souri is to jump over the fires to cleanse oneself of the ills – physical, emotional and societal – of the past year. It is a way to prepare for the rebirth that Nowruz brings.

Themes of Nowruz
This festival is still marked by millions of people throughout West and Central Asia as the start of a new year. Today it’s celebrated a few nights before the spring equinox, according to the solar calendar. It is a time of forgiveness and a time to heal.

When individuals and families jump over the fire, they ask the fire to take their sickness and all the unhappiness of the past year. They also ask the fire to give them strength and health.

The tradition also urges individuals to make amends with those they believe have wronged them in the past. They also seek forgiveness for their own wrongs. This is symbolized by celebrators joining their hands as they jump over the fire together.

The day after Charshanbeh-Souri, families begin preparing their homes for Nowruz. They set a table called the haft-seen – translating to “seven S’s.” At the center of the table are seven items that begin with the letter S, each holding a particular significance.

Seeb (apple) is the symbol of beauty, seer (garlic) is the symbol of health and medicine, somagh (sumac) represents sunrise, sabzeh (green grass) represents healing and rebirth of the Earth, serkeh (vinegar) symbolizes patience, senjed (olives) signals love and, finally, samanu (pastry paste) is about the power and strength of forgiveness.

At the center of the table, a mirror is placed for reflection, flowers to symbolize the Earth’s healing, eggs to symbolize life and a live fish to represent one’s connection to the animal world. Some families place a religious book at the table, such as the Quran, Bible or Avista; others place books by favorite Iranian poets such as Hafez or Rumi.

Celebrating Nowruz this year
The themes of health, justice and respect for the Earth seem to be more relevant to the entire world this year than ever before.

As the pandemic spread across the world, it exposed inequalities. Studies found that Black Americans were three times more likely than whites to get COVID-19, as a result of many racial inequalities. Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest about racism.

At the same time, many news reports noted how the Earth was healing as people stayed indoors. Global warming has led to climate change, which in turn has caused catastrophic changes in many parts of the world. While the festivities will definitely be more subdued than usual due to COVID-19, the self-reflection and inner bonding with the Earth will still be part of the celebrations of Nowruz this year.

I believe that this year more than ever before, it is important to reflect on how we can be a part of a rebirth focused on justice that our world so desperately needs.

The original article can be found on our partner’s website: https://theconversation.com/the-story-of-the-iranian-new-year-nowruz-and-why-its-themes-of-renewal-and-healing-matter-156701

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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