Touching the bottom

– Hey how are you? What’s new in France?

– Oh you know… the usual. A beheaded teacher two weeks ago, three people killed in a church in Nice lest week, and a national lockdown has been implemented again for a month starting this Monday to try and slow down the skyrocketing death toll due to the epidemic escalating …

Since I’m here, I might just share with you my “discomfort” and recent permanent feeling of nausea,… The New York Times got my attention with its title “A Teacher, His Killer and the Failure of French Integration”…

The syntax and the choice of words…

Whose failure are we talking about here?

When reading this title, I instantly think of the too famous story of the girl who was wearing a short skirt and got assaulted. And the usual question: whose fault was it? The length of the skirt?

I read on about this 18 year-old Russian of Chechen descent who grew up in France from age 6, who beheaded a teacher because he had been offended by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad shown in a class on free speech – not that he attended the class or anything. He just read some comment about it on social media.

He read a comment on social media…. He read a comment…

The article describes thoroughly what laïcité means, the strict secularism that separates religion from the state in France. “Our democracy was established against the Catholic Church and the monarchy, and laïcité is the way that democracy was organized in France (…)”.

I keep on being surprised that our way of functioning is questioned abroad. Many seem to believe that the concept of laïcité contains a degree of outright hostility towards Muslims. They point to legislation banning headscarves and the burqa in schools for example. France’s democratic model (…) rejects the notion of multiculturalism, in the sense of a template allowing the state to differentiate between citizens according to their religious or cultural backgrounds. (…) The thinking behind the law is that the state must protect schoolchildren from pressures that might hinder their freedom of conscience once they become adults. It is for the same reason that headscarves are still allowed at French universities, where students are generally over 18 years old. 

I keep on being surprised too when I read the world struggles to understand what it is about caricatures the French like so much. And the current debate about whether France’s cartoons should be toned down for the sake of tolerance and in the name of security is frightening.

Have we touched the bottom?

Today, the USA are finally choosing their next president. Strangely enough, a very large number of citizens seem to like the caricature figure they’ve had for the past 4 years. The country appears to be composed by Hollywood stars and well-read intellectuals on one side and complete morons hooked on various conspiracy theories, casually carrying their guns around as if it was a fashion statement on the other.

Have we touched the bottom?

Kylie Jenner, 22, can make more than $1 million per sponsored Instagram post. I mean… Kylie Jenner… the sister of the strangely shaped beige butt??!

The average social media use in Europe is a little less than 2 hours daily and the average U.S. TikTok user opens the app eight times a day and sticks around for 46 minutes. That’s a lot of minutes…

Due to the new lockdown measures “non-essential” shops are closed in France. That means bookshops and libraries. Eat, smoke and drink all you want. But if you want to leaf through something, you’ll have to wait.

Have we touched the bottom?

28 thoughts on “Touching the bottom

  1. “..a very large number of citizens seem to like the caricature figure they’ve had for the past 4 years. The country appears to be composed by Hollywood stars and well-read intellectuals on one side and complete morons hooked on various conspiracy theories, casually carrying their guns around as if it was a fashion statement on the other.”
    You grabbed my attention with this. A succinctly generalised view of America. As much as I try to maintain that some parts of America must not be like that, it is getting harder.
    Why do people get so offended by a drawing on a piece of paper, it is not the paper, nor the length of skirt but the symbolism behind each one.
    They are killing people for a mental constuct. For that is what a symbol is.
    Shameful. I support your laicite!

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    1. I know it’s a succinctly generalised view of America – I do have great friends in this country which are neither morons or scholars. The USA used to be my dream country when I was 20. Now I wouldn’t dream of living there. But you can’t deny the country is filled with an amazing number of people with a limited brain….
      I remembre being asked very surprising questions when visiting Florida for the first time in the 90s: do you have malls in France? Do you have escalators? Do you have weeks with 7 days???!
      Just like with the problems we’re having in France right now, it shows how vital education is. One must read. One must be open-minded. One must be interested by the whole world. One must question the universe. If you can’t see what’s outside of your backyard, you’re not fit for the modern world.

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      1. I worked with some Americans in Italy one summer. I got asked ”If I send a postcard home, do I need to write the country (USA)?” Yes, dear, there are almost 200 other countries in the world. And ”Europe is just like the States, you have all these states, like Italy and Finland and they form a country…” And one girl kept calling everyone on the continent ”euro trash”. When we were right there next to her. In Italy! I know not all Americans are like that but it did make me question education levels. They were the same age as me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahahaha love the anecdote about the post card.
        Mind you it must be a relief to live like that and believe there’s you then there’s the “rest of the world” beyond the ocean. Not concidering you’re a part of a big mechanism. Thinking you are your own individual thing…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m listening to a radio show right now and the guest American author and illustrator Art Spiegelman, (born in Stockholm, Sweden), is explaining his views on the country. He said something which resonates with my own views. He said The U.S. used to be considered by many foreigners as “the big brother”, you know, the tough one, the one you’re proud to point saying you’re connected with.

        And now…? it’s more like the dumb cousin? You still like it even though you feel sorry for it?…

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      4. Yes, just the fact that people queued 10 hours just to cast their vote seems incredible to me. It seems they are quite backward – and I remember a time not long ago when they seemed ahead. But that’s what you get for having a reality TV personality leading the country. Why not take advantage of the knowhow silicone valley has for example, the system is too rigid.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Interesting how your attitude towards America has changed as perspectives changed. I also think American media is extremely insular. I just spoke to a learned friend in USA and they had no knowledge of how well Australia is doing with Corona at the moment. You are right about read, being open minded and interested in the whole world. The internet gives you that opportunity that local media channels do not.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. People need to learn how to fact check and they need to test the media they trust. There are plenty of TV channels, Press newspapers and internet sites which do the job but maybe the biggest problems of many American citizens is they don’t do that. They let any kind of media feed them without doubting. These days you CANNOT trust any old news you read or see here and there.

        My attitude towards the USA has changed because I’m older! I’m still very attached to the country and the people but I wouldn’t(t move there anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. We all change our attitudes towards countries as we get older. I never wanted to travel to England (or Europe) when I was 18 and everyone else was going there. I wanted to experience a very different culture. I planned to visit Asia and travel the Trans Siberian railroad or go to Iguaza Falls. Now I am older I have no interest in that anymore. I have fallen in love with Europe and of course Scandinavia. I guess we have different priorities as we age and our character changes, even if our values don’t. Totally agree on the media. To be informed is to read widely and also viewpoints that are diverse from our own and make appropriate judgements. How will we grow if we are only exposed to the people who say exactly the same thing as us. I hope you understand what I mean, Vero?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Touching bottom” is highly subjective, in my opinion. Yes, there’s a lot of befuddled events going on in this world, but I try to see the sensible side of humanity…at times, at least. I’m sorry about what’s been happening in France, and it kills me that my “second home” isn’t doing too well. Soyez vigilante, mon amie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I understand what you mean. I do feel the World isn’t showing its best side right now whether it’s Europe or the US. At least, we still have sensible people around, but when it gets to 50/50…. A perfect yin and yang situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The book sections being closed in our supermarkets is unbelievable. It is not an essential but 23 hours stuck at home and we are not encouraged to read.. mindblowing.. Thank goodness we have an amazing laundry place.. full of books.. Take a shopping bag of books and walk out with another bag full..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic! I have fond memories of Japanese laundrettes filled with books and magazines.
      our local book shop does click-and-collect so we’re safe. But it’s the library I’m missing the most.

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  4. We are definitely skimming the bottom over here, though the latest election brings some semblance of normalcy. Hope we can dig ourselves out of the mess created over the past four years. Also, the fact we are associated with the beige butt, makes me want to puke, but what are you gonna do?

    Liked by 1 person

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