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An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: January 22, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,579

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: Societies and women’s dress; fear for women Millennials; the Humanist party; policies and platform recommendations of the party; normalization of humanism and ordinary humanists; demonization of the non-believer population in America in general; humanism and politics; non-religious invocations; emotionally potent lies; risk of social suicide; and social ostracism.

Keywords: HAPI, humanism, Marissa Torres Langseth, PATAS, Philippines.

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N.: Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI (Part Four)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you look at the lists of restrictions on women, it’s quite obvious. I mean just read the text by implication if you’re being mild about it. ‘Thy ox, thy ass, thy wife, thy manservant, thy maidservant’ and so on, right there, you have a wife as property in one of the Ten Commandments.

But then also in terms of what is considered appropriate dress for women, as if society at large has a say in how a woman should dress, right?

Langseth: Yes, I couldn’t understand that before. Why are the men allowed to control women’s bodies? It’s because of religion. A woman is supposed to be subservient and submissive to their husbands. That’s what religion taught them.

2. Jacobsen: And my fear, even within my own generation, the Millennial, the women coming out of these traditions with very comprehensive worldviews in practice, in theory, in perspective.

Even if coming now to the label of secular or free thinker and so on, will harbour the same self-doubt and idea, that they are to be of service to the men in their lives, especially in intimate settings such as probably one of the most important decisions a person can make in their life, their partner, their marriage partner or spouse. 

This stuff takes a long time to decode and unwind.

Langseth: Yes, it will take centuries, maybe. But it’s happening now. I don’t think I can see it in my lifetime, but if you promote humanism with me and all of us promoting this, that we are all equal.

There are human rights and all of these humanistic values and ethical values, the next generation, maybe not yours, will be a lot better. But we’ll never know.

3. Jacobsen: Are there any topics that you would like to explore?

Langseth: I’m excited about this Humanist party. If we have humanist constituents in the Philippines, we will be known better. They will see us better even if we lose the first few years. This is where my excitement is coming from right now, to be honest with you.

4. Jacobsen: What are some of its policies and platform recommendations?

Langseth: It’s all about human rights, LGBT rights, and women’s rights. Of course, there is democracy in the Philippines, but now it’s becoming a dictatorship by Duterte. We’re more about the promotion of reason and critical thinking like we are educating our children.

If each person in the Philippines is a critical thinker and will not even mention religion, we are better off. And of course, the Churches will close down because nobody will go there anymore. Everybody will go to the library.

This is why we have libraries. I have a library in my house in the Philippines for HAPI. But I’m excited that if this will push through, there will be more awareness in the Philippines of our humanist constituencies.

Not even popularity, it will open a lot of minds and this platform will become bigger. It will become bigger than what we have now and they will no longer be afraid to come out. This is what I’m hoping for.

5. Jacobsen: So, is it a process of normalization of humanism and ordinary humanists?

Langseth: Yes, something like that. But I hope this will push through; we have a plan already. Because as law if we are always under the radar, if we are hiding all the time, like our HAPI Con, it was small.

Few people knew about it. Even if they knew, they were afraid to attend because they think it’s a sin to be a humanist or to get out of their religion. And if we have a party and it’s open, out in the open, people will become bolder to come out. And I am sure one of these days, this will happen. The first few Years we will lose but that’s fine. We will win eventually.

6. Jacobsen: In America, there is a lot of demonization of the humanist population, the non-believer population in general.

Langseth: Yes, in general, in fact, I have met a candidate somewhere in the South. He became my friend. He is running not as a congressman, but in the municipal elections or something like this.

He said he is an atheist, but he cannot tell them he is an atheist. He said he told everyone he’s a humanist. And when you ask what is a humanist, it’s like a vague explanation.

7. Jacobsen: Yes, it’s like when you’re talking to the kids. It’s like the “human-” and the “-ism,” thinking, “I believe in people.” Another thinking, “Oh, I believe in people too.” That’s exactly what it is.

Langseth: Yes, something like that [Laughing]. Because he’s afraid that he will not win if he comes out as an atheist. This is pervasive.

Jacobsen: Yes, it’s the same in America. Statistically, there has to be a lot of atheists in political office.

Langseth: I’m sure.

8. Jacobsen: I’ve been in contact with one politician. It’s a woman. She’s an atheist. And she did an invocation. It was an irreligious statement of ‘let’s all get together and be together.’

A latter middle age, white, overweight Southern accented man got up and made the statement that the policy says that this is going to be an opening prayer to a God – emphasis on God – and he then began his opening prayer to overturn the invocation by stating that ‘God, we ask your forgiveness for our pride, et cetera.’

It was passive aggressive. I thought he was a prima donna about it. In America, the main activists for women’s reproductive rights in light of the Trump administration like, for instance, the Global Gag order, have been women.

Because it more directly impacts them. Women seem more acutely aware of it. My hope is that at least in the non-belief sector of America that people won’t have to be so closeted. That it will be a dual-gender phenomenon, I hope.

Langseth: Yes, it’s like cats. Herding cats is a daunting task. I said that to myself a long time ago in 2011 when I made PATAS. But if we have loud voices, it will become louder even if we are cats.

That’s what I’m saying. If you’re standing for what is good, even if we are cats and we become more vocal, they can hear us. Maybe, they will hear us. I have some successes because I am vocal.

In 2010, we had a high school reunion in Cebu, Philippines. I told them, “I am an atheist. I do not like prayers. I will not tolerate any prayers in front of me.” True enough, I got my wish. There were no prayers. Only flag raising and singing of our national anthem.

There were no prayers. Ask me why.

Jacobsen: Why?

Langseth: Because I paid, mostly [Laughing]. Which means that you are powerful when having knowledge plus money. If you can afford it, right? Look at that, I spent 2,000 dollars on that reunion in 2010. My husband was even with me.

There were no prayers because I told them there are no prayers, I don’t believe in prayers. And that’s a high school reunion. 80% of my classmates; they’re still religious. But they respected my wishes because I’m the one paying for the thing.

So, that you are powerful when you have the means. I would not be able to do this thing if I didn’t have the means. Look at PATAS, when it was launched, the launch was in an open space. We call it Lunetta Park, which is in Manila.

What they did was they went to Lunetta Park with a banner saying, “Philippines Atheist and Agnostic Society,” PATAS in short. We had books because I sent them a lot of books. Richard Dawkins books and Hitchens’ books and Sagan’s books, a lot of lovely books that are not religious.

Because you cannot find these books in Manila, in the Philippines. I told them I could not sleep when they launched when they had that launching in Lunetta Park because I was afraid they would get killed.

Jacobsen: That is a legitimate fear for many people, so many non-believers.

Langseth: Would you believe nobody got killed?

Jacobsen: I will happily believe that.

Langseth: I sent them a lot of funding for their dinner and for their nice things so they’ll stay there for a while. They said, of course, a lot of people asked them what is atheism? What is that? What is that all about? Because a lot of people in the Philippines are ignorant about atheism and about Humanism.

9. Jacobsen: And why is that? Because some pastors, preachers, and priests are telling emotionally potent lies about the character and inherent nature of people who do not believe in their doctrines.

Langseth: Right, these charlatans are everywhere.

Jacobsen: Yes, a man in a dress getting mad at transgenders or trans people.

Langseth: Yes, and in fact, I always get into debates online because I am vocal. We had one of the earlier debate forums. It was “Is there a God or not?” And I was one of the admins.

This was before I made PATAS. My goodness, Filipinos were killing me online. “You’re a devil woman,” “you’re a bride of Satan,” “you’re a whore,” and so on. It was based on “Why are you doing this?” And some of them are my friends.

At least 1/3rd of my friends unfriended me.

10. Jacobsen: That’s the thing. It’s social suicide to reject the dominant culture, the dominant mythology in a lot of cases.

Langseth: Right, and of course, when someone in our forum says, “I lost my friends because of this. I say that’s not new to me. I lost about 1/3rd of them. And some of them are close to me. Some of them are in New York City.”

Jacobsen: Do you ever run into them?

Langseth: Yes, they blocked me.

11. Jacobsen: It’s not only social ostracism from a secular point of view, but it’s probably from their point of view preventing Satan from entering their lives? Not necessarily you, but the influence of the dark one?

Langseth: [Laughing] My God, I’ll tell you something. I recently reconnected with a co-worker in the Philippines. His name is Bello. You reminded me of this. When I reconnected with him, he read about me in my information.

So, he read that I made this and did that. He said, “You are the anti-Christ.” Because according to his religion, there is an anti-Christ coming from America. And he said that must be me!

Jacobsen: Of course, not only are you the anti-Christ, but the anti-Christ coming from America; of course, Jesus Christ is coming from toast.

Langseth: [Laughing] coming from toast! And this man, I knew him personally because we used to work together! It’s funny; he believed I am the anti-Christ from America. He even blocked me.

He sent me a threatening note before he blocked me. Before that, we were debating too. He was debating me. Of course, he cannot reconvert me. Because he can’t reconvert me, he blocked me. He mentioned that his church knows about me now.

They’re following me already [Laughing]. I was laughing.

Jacobsen: I’m hearing the Jaws terror music when they’re following you.

Langseth: Yes! This man, I knew him from before. It’s so ironic because this man is not even clean as a person. He loves women. He’s married, but he likes women. He flirts with a lot of women. Now, he’s telling me that I am the bad one. That I am the evil one.

References

  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/global-filipino/08/20/12/world-trade-center-cross-causes-religious-dispute-among-fil-ams.
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/04/28/the-pope%E2%80%99s-gonna-have-a-cow-catholic-philippines-gains-its-first-atheist-society/.
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/new-atheists-philippines/518175/.
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from https://thehumanist.com/news/hnn/atheism-in-the-philippines-a-personal-story.
  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 22, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Post-Master’s degree, Certificate for Adult Nurse Practitioner with prescriptive privileges – College of Mount Saint Vincent, NY, USA; M.S.N., Adult Health, CUNY, NYC, USA; B.S.N., University of San Carlos, Cebu, Philippines.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Marissa Torres Langseth.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four) [Online].January 2018; 16(A). Available from:  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, January 22). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, January. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (January 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):January. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four) [Internet]. (2018, January; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: January 15, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,127

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: controversial topics for non-belief in the Philippines and North America; jurisprudence and human nature; religious demographics of prisons; no life after death; justifications for the theistic and atheistic side; “cheap grace”; most violent criminals being men and human rights; and having the curtain pulled, so the afterlife can begin for believers; Marilyn vos Savant of Parade Magazine on Pascal’s Wager and religion; Richard Dawkins and the labelling of children; and the emphasis on women’s reproduction.

Keywords: HAPI, humanism, Marissa Torres Langseth, PATAS, Philippines.

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N.: Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI (Part Three)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, what are the most controversial topics with regards to non-belief in the Philippines and North America?

Marissa Torres Langseth: I would say it’s about the death penalty. For me, it is inhumane. Everyone has the right to prove that they’re innocent. With the death penalty, if these people are killed, that means that’s it. That’s the cessation of life and that is contrary to the quality of life.

With the death penalty, if these people are found guilty, I hope they’re guilty, then they’re killed. So, there is no more chance for rehabilitation. However, 30 to 50 percent of these criminals are recidivists.

That’s the reason why there’s the death penalty. To be honest with you, sometimes I go, I lean on making them stop. But how do we make them stop? For example, that case in Connecticut. It was in 1997.

I was on vacation in Bermuda when there were two thugs. They escaped from prison. They robbed a house. I could not forget because they got into my skin; these people burned the other people alive.

Heinous. How could somebody do that? And of course they were captured, these two criminals. Of course, they were guilty before and now. But how can we do something to make these people stop? In Norway or places in Scandinavia, in some of the places, the prisons are being closed because they don’t have criminals.

So why is it in North America we have too many criminals and in the Philippines, the prisons are outpouring with criminals, with prisoners? That is difficult, to be honest with you. It blows my mind how to stop them.

And now with Duterte, he is trying to kill everyone. My problem with that is with the people who are not guilty. Even if they are guilty, they still have this right. However, in the course of life, it will become exponential because what about the people around them? It’s not going to stop.

Because the family members will say, “Okay let’s avenge the life, avenge the killing of my brother and so on and so forth. That’s why it has got to stop, but I don’t think I have the answer to that. Although, I don’t like the death penalty.

If these people are like monsters like the case in Connecticut, how do we make them stop? Isolate them? Kill them? Even with the death penalty, it’s not even effective. There are still a lot of criminals.

2. Jacobsen: It’s a complex question about jurisprudence and human nature.

Langseth: Exactly, and human rights, but is it their right to take somebody’s life away?

Jacobsen: In some ways, if you violate a law – I’m not saying this is the way it is, but in some way, I can see the general principle apply where if you violate a law – or the right of another human being, then you revoke the equivalent right for yourself.

So if you steal, then you revoke your right to not have your stuff stolen. Recompense for the theft, for instance. Or if you kill, you lose your rights as a citizen, as a legal person, in a lot of ways when you’re in prison.

But then there are other questions that arise from the pipeline about: how much of this is hereditary? The openness and willingness to do harm to others or to only gain for oneself. So murder in the former example, theft in the latter.

Does this come from someone’s genetic endowment or more from the environment? And if it’s more the environment, then it raises questions about society. Or if it means more from hereditary means, then that raises questions about: how much then can we influence someone’s internal moral compass?

And what can we do then to make a society structured in such a way to bring about a statistically more peaceful situation? But then when it comes to jurisprudence, we come from a tacitly bureaucratic country, America in your case and Canada in mine.

And in each, they have the idea of vengeance or it’s a need to punish those that do wrong in a severe way, it shows in America, especially, and it shows in the Philippines. In the Scandinavian countries, which are much less religious, they don’t show that as much.

Langseth: Right. But you can kill in self-defense, for example, I will only kill if that guy is trying to kill me or if he’s trying to rape me; something like that. But otherwise, that’s beyond me. It’s difficult.

I’m not a lawyer, but that most of these people can be rehabilitated. However, on the other hand, when we rehabilitate them, the percentage is low and this is the reason why we have the death penalty, but still, it’s not stopping criminality.

3. Jacobsen: If you look at the statistics of criminals, the demographics of prisons, there might be confounding factors with regards to religious services reaching out to prisoners, but most people in prisons are religious.

Langseth: Yes, exactly, I was about to say that. Because, maybe, they believe that even if they kill, someone up there will say, “That’s okay. You can pray 20, and so on. Then you’ll be cleansed.” That’s the reason why it’s easy. Even in the Bible Belt, most of them have guns.

Because they think they have the right to kill because their God is behind them.

4. Jacobsen: There’s the stereotype of the Southerner going into the local gas station with a gun afraid that Obama will come personally and take it away from them.

Langseth: [Laughing] Yes, why is it that the most religious are the ones who will kill you right away? They also believe, most of them or 90% of them believe, in life after death. Even if they get killed with their guns, anyway, there’s life after death.

I’ll be better there. Or if they kill, they would say, “God will cleanse us anyway.” So, it’s not believed. Whereas an atheist would think that there’s no life after death, so I don’t want to kill and I don’t want to be killed.

5. Jacobsen: There are two justifications there. On the theistic side, there’s the idea of impulsivity being excused by the belief in a hereafter. On the atheistic side, there’s the excuse that life has no inherent meaning, therefore, human beings have no value.

Therefore, any violence or harm to them, except to oneself, has no meaning, so it doesn’t matter. Both of those cases lead to terrible harm. But I’ve never heard an adequate explanation as to why so many prisoners are overwhelmingly religious.

Langseth: Yes, they are. In Mexico, look at the killers, they have tattoos with Jesus Christ on their backs or crosses on their bodies – and they’re killers.

6. Jacobsen: It’s “cheap grace” in their terms: “I am forgiven, no matter what.”

Langseth: They believe they will be forgiven. That’s the issue there. This is why there’s double morality in the Philippines. They think that they can do anything, do something and they’ll be forgiven.

Look at these priests who are pedophiles, we have so many of them. I have heard a lot of horror stories. And this is because we’ll be forgiven and pray, and give Hail Marys, and they’ll be cleansed to start over again.

7. Jacobsen: I mean everyone, whether or not they know the numbers, intuitively understand that most of the violent criminals, sexual or physical or so on, are men. But I don’t see a common knowledge or wisdom that most of the criminals who are locked up are religious.

I don’t know why there is that disjunction. I feel as if religion gets an easy off there.

Langseth: Yes, that’s what they believe in; that’s it, yes.

Jacobsen: And in terms of human rights, to the main theme of most controversial topics in the Philippines and North America, we were talking in the past about how the main issue in the United States appears to be, almost, a tacit despising of human rights because they in some way provide a buffer against religious privilege.

Langseth: Yes, I worked in Saudi Arabia as a registered nurse. For them, life is nothing. It’s like this. There was one nurse who gave a patient the wrong medication. Of course, the patient died and the family said, “Alhamdulillah.” Life is nothing for them.

It’s a culture of death. They are looking forward to their death, in Saudi Arabia, the religious Muslims. I’ve seen it. This is why there are no lawsuits in Saudi Arabia for negligence for nurses or doctors who give the wrong diagnosis.

There is no such thing as that, like nothing. Only in America or of course in Europe, maybe. But in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, if you kill the patient, it’s Alhamdulillah. I’ve seen it all. I was in the ICU and this nurse forgot this patient’s oxygen.

Of course, the patient died. The family came and said, “Alhamdulillah.” Thanks be to God. That’s the answer. If that happened in the USA, there will be litigation; the nurse will be sued as well as the hospital.

Jacobsen: Yes, it’s a litigious culture.

Langseth: This is why it’s so different. In Roman Catholicism, it’s so different. They have this self-entitlement. They want everything done.

They want everything done even if the patient is already dying. You have to put in all the tubes in the world to keep them alive even if the patient is in pain and suffering. That’s fine, as long as they’re alive.

They prolong their agony. This is why I say the most religious suffer the most. But that is only in Christianity. In Islam, when they die, it’s so different. But they both believe in life after death.

This is why we have some of the terrorists they say they go to heaven and get 72 virgins. They are looking forward to that.

Jacobsen: The women less so.

Langseth: Yes, yes. One of my friends infiltrated a Mosque. What’s in the Mosque, they are lectured all about how you have to die because you go to heaven and have sex with 72 virgins. It’s brainwashing. And that’s why they look forward to their death.

8. Jacobsen: That goes to a theme. In one lens, these amount to mythologies. These mythologies are death-oriented. Anything death oriented will incorporate pain and suffering, and not in a Buddhist sense mind you.

This is a way to become more holy. Your body is a sacrament through suffering. So, in a lot of ways, these are almost ways of life and ethics of death worship in some ways.

Langseth: Yup.

Jacobsen: Because this is King Lear or The Taming of the Shrew, it’s a play, before the curtain is pulled and you have action and the real world starts: the afterlife.

Langseth: Right. And until now, I could not understand. I cannot fathom sometimes why people can believe. Even if you explain to them that when the body dies, everything dies and there’s no soul.

Even if there is a soul, the soul cannot touch you, cannot smell, cannot see. It’s nothing; it’s like air. They answer sometimes when I lecture to them about this. That it is fine; it’s better to believe than not to believe.

Jacobsen: That translates into “I’ve stopped thinking.”

Langseth: Yes. But then Pascal’s Wager, they are too afraid to not believe. It’s better to believe than not to believe, to them.

9. Jacobsen: Marilyn vos Savant writes for Parade Magazine, does a column called Ask Marilyn. Some questioner asked her about Pascal’s Wager. She made the point that basically said one then, within context, should automatically devote themselves to the religion that provides the greatest promise in the hereafter. That’s the silly implication.

Langseth: Right, it’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of time praying and going to these churches. It’s a waste of time.

Jacobsen: It can be a waste of life.

Langseth: Yes, waste of life, you’re right because time is life. You cannot get it back.

10. Jacobsen: Unless, of course, it’s an adult who has made the decision to partake in this and get meaning out of it. At the same time, most of it is implicated in kids from a young age.

Richard Dawkins pointed it out that you do not have Catholic children; you have children of Catholic parents. But the assumption is such that you will have the label of Catholic children or Sunni children or Shia children, and so on.

And it gives another familial privilege, in this case, to the religious, to foist their beliefs on children prior to the development of critical faculties. Everyone can pay lip service to the idea that “I will provide a broad-based education to my child about all the religions of the world.”

However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into an objective presentation of world religions as sets of ideas and beliefs or a survey of those beliefs rather than “we have the true, true religion in our family.”

Langseth: This is why in the Philippines is 80% Roman Catholic, because we’re all Catholics. A lot of those Filipinos no. They learn that having religion means you can get money from that.

Catholicism is the number 1 religion. The first person who fought with the Spaniards was Lapu Lapu. He killed Magellan. Why is it that still people believe in Christianity? Why are they still going into the cult?

It’s because they are good at threatening people. Indoctrination of fear.

Jacobsen: It goes to your point earlier about how in many ways: religions are political systems.

Langseth: Yes, exactly. If the family is Catholic, the children are automatically Catholic.

11. Jacobsen: Yes, there’s an argument to be made too. Because if you look at statistics of birth rates, if that is the norm, the global historical norm, a child of X religion parents will be labeled X religion, then the religions with the highest birth rates will have the most adherence in the next generation, statistically.

And so it’s quite deliberate as to the reason for the strong emphasis on bigger families, on control of women’s reproduction and the control of women. If you are a leader and you control the men who control the women, especially women’s reproduction, then you control legacy. 

Langseth: Of course, yes, absolutely, that’s happening in the Philippines. That’s why they don’t like this RH bill. No matter how much the people want it, the priests are against that because it will kill the legacy.

And with Islam, they have 4 wives so they can procreate. 50 children at a time, at one time, with 4 women. It’s marketing and promotion. They are good at that.

References

  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/global-filipino/08/20/12/world-trade-center-cross-causes-religious-dispute-among-fil-ams.
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/04/28/the-pope%E2%80%99s-gonna-have-a-cow-catholic-philippines-gains-its-first-atheist-society/.
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/new-atheists-philippines/518175/.
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from https://thehumanist.com/news/hnn/atheism-in-the-philippines-a-personal-story.
  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 15, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Post-Master’s degree, Certificate for Adult Nurse Practitioner with prescriptive privileges – College of Mount Saint Vincent, NY, USA; M.S.N., Adult Health, CUNY, NYC, USA; B.S.N., University of San Carlos, Cebu, Philippines.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Marissa Torres Langseth.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three) [Online].January 2018; 16(A). Available from:  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, January 15). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three)Retrieved from  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, January. 2018. < www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A.  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (January 2018).  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: < www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A.,  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):January. 2018. Web. < www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three) [Internet]. (2018, January; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

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An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: January 8, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 6,229

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: becoming a nurse practitioner, disallowance of freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of movement for women; religious and secular superstitions in medical decisions; assumptions in medical determinations; the God of the gaps; presumption of a family dynamic in declarations at death; evidence for prayer in the medical literature and in practice; complication in terminology for an atheist and an irreligious individual, and secular superstitions; two streams of atheism; other superstitions brought into the formal medical world; conspiratorial mindsets about the FDA; one of the most egregious examples of complementary medicine inundating proper medicine and causing real damage to people’s lives; fasting and health complications; symptoms of renal failure; other concernswith fasting, as a medical professional; and the ubiquitous belief in prayer.

Keywords: HAPI, humanism, Marissa Torres Langseth, PATAS, Philippines.

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N.: Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI (Part Two)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, why did you become a nurse practitioner, to clarify?

Marissa Torres Langseth: To clarify, I became a nurse practitioner specializing in adult health because I wanted autonomy in my profession. I wanted to direct people in what to do. I’m confident I can do it and I did it. Of course, I retired two years ago as a nurse practitioner. I have never been sued.

No complaints with my diagnoses. So far, I did it all and the money was good. However, I need to rest.

2. Jacobsen: For women coming from cultures or subcultures, this can be North America too, of course, that disallow freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of movement as one would like, would you recommend becoming a nurse practitioner for that independence?

Langseth: Absolutely. In fact, I have recommended that all registered nurses become a nurse practitioner because it is different when you are already at that bracket. You function autonomously. You are like a doctor.

Not only that, but there is some form of respect that you don’t get from being a registered nurse. I was a registered nurse for a long time. It was different. Our training is different. Our pay scale is much higher and we are regarded by a lot of doctors, especially the general practitioners, as equals.

For example, when my patient goes to the emergency room, I call them and talk to them as an equal, not as a second-class citizen or a nurse. I’m a nurse practitioner and these doctors, some of them, are arrogant. I’ve met a lot of them.

I put them in their place. Modesty aside, I can say I was a successful nurse practitioner during my time. Really, I love my job. I have helped a lot of families make decisions for themselves because part of our job was to empower families and patients to make decisions for themselves. when you go to the hospital, the doctor will tell you.

No, it should be that they provide options and the patient should choose what they want, not the doctors. Some doctors are stupid. They’re arrogant, in fact, they don’t want to be corrected and they don’t want you to let them know that medicine.

Personally speaking, when I go to the doctor, I tell them, doctor, I’m a nurse practitioner, right away they treat you differently. They treat you like you’re an equal.

3. Jacobsen: In regards to the nursing profession in the medical world, does religious or even secular superstition ever play a part in medical decisions?

Langseth: It’s always a part of that because some of these religious people say, “I’ll pray for you. I hope you become better. We’ll pray for you.” They always have that phrase about praying. For me, that’s nonsense.

I always say, “How could prayers work? You’re in the hospital.” And again, I’m objective. I’m straightforward. If it were my patent, I don’t tell them, “I’ll pray for you.” I always say, “I hope the drugs, the medications, the medical interventions, surgical interventions will work for you.”

I’ve never said pray. However, I’ve heard a lot of doctors, especially the Muslim doctors, they always say, “Okay, we’ll pray for you. We’ll say good graces to you, to Allah.” I still see some of them.

In fact, recently, there’s a doctor who told a patient. I was right in from of him. He said, “I’m sorry but your mother was taken by God already.” I said, “Doctor can’t you say the patient did not make or died because of this?”

4. Jacobsen: Why assume?

Langseth: Yes, they use God to maybe finish the statement, so that they don’t have to explain further. God took your family.

5. Jacobsen: In philosophy, they have the idea of God of the gaps.

Langseth: Yes.

Jacobsen: When you can’t explain something in an argument with a premise or formalized argumentation structure, you say, “God did it,” in essence. 

Langseth: Exactly.

Jacobsen: I feel as though in that context it’s another form of it, but for grief. So, in place of grief, you say, “God took him or her.”

Langseth: I have no objection to that. In fact, it brings comfort to a lot of people, especially again we cannot explain so many things. Even with how much you like to in medicine and technology, we cannot explain. You’re right. God of the gaps. We cannot explain. That’s why they mention it.

And again, I don’t know. I cannot say God took your mother. I cannot say that.

6. Jacobsen: It seems presumptuous because you don’t know the full family dynamic, where everyone’s at in regards to their faith. In some context, I could see an appropriateness for it, not only as a filler for grief but also based on shared religious doctrine and belief. 

But often, even statistically, you should not expect that or use it as a phrase in that a context.

Langseth: It should not be. It’s a little bit unprofessional when they say that. Like, “We’ll pray for your mother.” We’ll pray for your mother? If you were to ask me, you should go to the hospital when you’re sick; otherwise, don’t go there.

It’s the worst place you can be. We have bacteria resistance. Bacteria that will not respond to medications. It’s the worst place you could be, really.

7. Jacobsen: To clarify even further on the prayer example, what is the evidence for prayer or against it in the medical literature and in practice?

Langseth: There was a study. It was in Columbia Presbyterian, about praying. It was specifically for patients who have had open heart surgery if I’m not mistaken. I read the article a long time ago. According to the article or to the study, it did not help.

In fact, it made the patient’s conditions worse. Especially when they told the patient that they’re praying for them, they became anxious and even got worse instead of getting better. Of course, I have this notion that prayers don’t work.

They don’t work. That study not only confirmed my understanding. And this is true that praying for somebody and you’re being prayed for, it makes them uncomfortable and worse in their condition. Although, there was no other study that I have read.

It was only one. But again, tested and proven, it won’t work. For example, patients in the Philippines. They’re poor. My classmates until now, would you believe that? Until now, my classmates in high school still go to quack doctors.

We call them abulerios. Doctors and them will recommend tea leaves or some drink from somewhere. Maybe, they will put charcoal in their wound. Of course, the wound becomes infected. So, I get upset and bothered by these classmates of mine.

That’s why I always get into fights with them. Because I cannot help it. As a medical practitioner, I say, “Why are you going to people who don’t know what medicine is? You will die or it will become worse.”

In fact, one of my colleagues. He’s one of my friends in the Philippines. He recently died. He posted on Facebook that he is sick. I said, “You are sick. Your blood sugar is high. Your blood level: you’re high risk. You need to go to the hospital right now.”

So, after a few days, I don’t know if he listened to me. He was bed bound for a while. He said he was in an out of a doctor. I said, “You don’t need to go to a doctor. You need to go to a hospital because it looks like you have the following.”

Of course, I mentioned my diagnosis according to his symptoms. True enough he had undergone some form of surgery and he died. Even if he believed, he was also an atheist. But even if he believed in science, if he has all these complications, medicine will not work.

8. Jacobsen: There’s a complication there in terms of terminology for an atheist or someone who is irreligious. So, someone could be labeled as having no religious affiliation. That doesn’t leave them unsusceptible to other forms of irrational belief about the world, especially medicine.

Langseth: Even if some people are atheists, some of them still are stubborn. They don’t want to see a doctor. They don’t want to go to a hospital right away. It doesn’t follow that if they’re atheists, they believe in hardcore science or medicine.

Especially in the Philippines, they could be atheist but still because they don’t have money and the means, they still go to these quack doctors for their fever. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, it’s because of poverty. A lot of atheists, members in HAPI, they’re poor.

They cannot afford medicine, so they still go to these quack doctors and boy do they get worse. They get worse, unfortunately.

9. Jacobsen: Also, there are at least 2 streams of atheism. One is “this is the only life I have so I will do the best I can for others and myself. I’m embedded in a social network, so I best take care of my health.”

For instance, “If I have children, I want to be there for them, and my grandchildren.” Another stream is “this is the only life I have and nothing matters and the world is valueless and,” therefore, they fall into some form of nihilism.

They don’t care. They may not have even expressed this explicit belief. So, they don’t go to the doctor. They don’t care about their health. They don’t care about decent behaviour either.  Those are two streams that follow from some atheism.

Langseth: Yes, I agree because I have met both types. I’m sad for the second type of atheism because they think life is only a delusion. They think life is unreal. This is why they don’t care about others. They say they’re atheist.

They pretend to be nice, but inside them and I’ve seen it also, but they don’t care. Because they think life has no purpose and their values, their ethical values are bad also. And some people like that and I’m sad for them.

10. Jacobsen: What about some of the other less known superstitious beliefs in medicine? Such as crystals, homeopathy, and so on, are these ever brought into the formal medical world as far from your experience?

Langseth: We call them alternative treatment or complementary treatment to make it sound better. Like, for example, aromatherapy, massage, and touch therapy, I saw a lot of ads saying alternative medicine or complementary medicine.

Meaning you go there, you have this therapy. Yet, you still believe in taking medications. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you believe in that, like touch therapy and massage, then there’s a problem. They can go together with a massage. You can relax. It’s also relaxation techniques and aromatherapy makes your body relax.

I practice, not aromatherapy, but I like the smell of these types of plants and the massage technique. I love those because it also makes your body feel better afterward, so you can function better. But of course, if you’re sick you go to a doctor, you go to the hospital.

Like Chinese medicine, acupuncture they say it works. Maybe to others, but I don’t know, I haven’t tried it. Homeopathy, maybe, it works to others, but I don’t know. Of course, it isn’t proven that it doesn’t work.

It’s even more expensive. But in a hospital or a nursing home where I work, we don’t apply them. But we do ask our patients if they have that. For example, the plants and the additional things that they do at home or especially using like r ginger plants or other herbs, we ask them.

We try to request them to stop while they are in the hospital. Although, we educate them because education helps a lot. We say that some of these plants are not good, or herbal capsules are not good because they do not undergo FDA experimentation.

They don’t go through the FDA, so some could be lethal in a few drops because I’ve heard a lot of horror stories especially from the Philippines. They try to use, comfrey. It’s a form of plant.

It’s used and some of them have a lot of liver failure because of that plant. Again, it’s difficult when we don’t have regulations like FDA regulations. So, we try to educate our patients not to use them.

11. Jacobsen: What are some responses that come from complementary medical practitioners, if I can call them that, who might have, for instance, a conspiratorial mindset about the FDA?

Langseth: Would you believe it? We have a few nurse practitioners who believe in that. Who are still promoting alternative medicine and, of course, homeopathy; in fact, it’s good you mentioned that. I have a close friend, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina.

He’s a nurse practitioner, but he’s also promoting homeopathy. So, I said, “My goodness, this guy is a wonderful guy, but he believes it works for his patients.” So, I could not even talk to him about it, to be honest with you. With due respect to him, he’s a nurse practitioner. He’s a graduate of Colombia University. He’s promoting homeopathy.

12. Jacobsen: What do you consider one of the most egregious examples of complementary medicine inundating proper medicine and causing real damage to people’s lives?

Langseth: It’s some form of manipulation in the neck instead of going to a real orthopaedic doctor. They go to these types of doctors. Chiropractor! Some of them they go to the chiropractor and I have heard of some people being paralyzed because of that.

Because some chiropractors, they’re not careful. Some are good. I went to one or two, but there were instances when they missed a part and these people become paralyzed and that is dangerous.

So far with the herbal treatments, there are some that work like Warfarin. So, if these people are taking it, warfarin, or aspirin, they can also bleed to death. That is dangerous when you mix that. But I have not heard of a lot of instances like that case anyway.

13. Jacobsen: What about things such as fasting – which for many of the faithful, of the formal religious – is an important part of their life, it is a part of an ascetic, religious life. You mentioned before that it didn’t make sense to you because you preferred to eat.

What are some health complications that can possibly show up with fasting?

Langseth: That’s ridiculous in a way because fasting, especially fasting for three days, you can have GERD. You can have ulcers. You can have be dehydrated within 72 hours and it can cause kidney failure.

So, fasting is nonsense, stupid and ridiculous. Although, in Saudi Arabia, their fasting is different. They eat when the sun goes down. When the sun comes up, they fast. So, it’s different. In the Roman Catholic faith, at the death of their Jesus Christ, they don’t eat.

Because they think it’s like some form of penitence. They’re like showing respect to their Jesus Christ, which is bad. Imagine not eating for 3 days? Again, during my time, I don’t observe that. I go to my room and eat and do what I want. T

There’s so many health issues after fasting. In the Philippines I cannot understand, this is the 21st century and these people still fast. That is plain stupid. And then they complain when they have ulcers, when they have to go into the hospital for renal failure and dehydration.

14. Jacobsen: What are some symptoms of renal failure?

Langseth: Fasting can cause renal failure, GERD, and ulcers. One symptom is anuria. “A” means without and “nuria” is to pee. If you cannot urinate for 24 hours, that means you could have some renal failure. Of course, that stems from being dehydrated.

If you don’t drink from 72 hours, your kidney cannot produce urine and there’s no urine so you have anuria. You can be dizzy, weak and will collapse. Dizzy spells, you could collapse. Some people could die from that. And of course, there are so many medications that can cause renal failure too.

15. Jacobsen: When you look at religious practices in general, what are some other ones that are of concern to you regarding health as a professional?

Langseth: Number 1, when they don’t follow or when they don’t go to the doctor or hospital when they are sick, they think God or prayers will save them. That is dangerous. Number 2, they go to a quack doctor. Of course, they cannot afford.

That’s also one reason why they don’t go to the doctor, because they cannot afford it. There is a lot of poverty in the Philippines, so they don’t go. Of course, they think that Jesus will help them or their God will help them.

Especially if they have incurable forms of diseases like cancer, they think their God will help them. That’s dangerous. Instead of getting different viewpoints from medical practitioners, they go to their relatives and friends and they would say, “Okay, let us all pray for you, so you’ll get better.”

That is dangerous. Would you believe that it’s still being practiced in the Philippines?

16. Jacobsen: I would because belief in prayer is everywhere. What about these televangelists who appear to be so popular in the United States? These people who go to televangelists are people who throw their diabetes medication up on the stage or their eyeglasses and they say, “Jesus cured my glaucoma and diabetes. Not only that, he took the tumor out of my gut.”

Langseth: These are clowns. They pretend so much; it’s so obvious to me. I could not believe why people would find them useful. I find them nauseating every time I hear that, “Throw away your medication.” Believe me, I’ve seen it.

I’ve seen real people say that. When I was in the Philippines, I saw people from the Church. They go to the pastor and this pastor will pray for them when they’re sick. They’ll think they’re cured. I could not believe why they have spread.

In the USA, we have a lot of educated people. Why do they believe in that? It stems from ignorance about medicine; God of the gaps; people being lazy. They don’t read. They don’t read about new technology and science – being ignorant about so many things.

Then when you talk to them, they think that you are like my God, what are you talking about. But when you show them your credentials, they would believe you. I met a few during my tour in Switzerland. I met a few ignorant teachers.

They’re from the Bible Belt and when they talk about that. I tell them, “No, that’s not true!” And they look at me like I’m crazy and when I tell them my credentials, “Ah!” So, again, I’m straightforward.

In the 21st century, we should not have these televangelists. Why are they allowed to preach when there is hardcore science to prove that science can cure ailments? Or we have palliative measures if it cannot be cured? I could not understand people throwing money at these types of human beings.

That’s why they’re getting rich, rich. Jehovah’s Witness is one of them. I’ve heard of a cult in Texas. There’s the one that came to my mind are Jehovah’s Witness. These are poor people trying to survive in their community.

I feel bad because they come knocking on our door. I would shoo them away. and I tell them, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in your bullshit.” One time they even said, “Good morning, ma’am!” I’m honest, I say, “Good morning.” They say, “We would like to bless you.”

I say, “Excuse me? You cannot bless me. You’re only a human being. I’m an atheist, get out of here” [Laughing].

To be honest with you, since I came out and was vocal about my atheism, a lot of people came out. Some of them said, “You inspired us to come out. Now because of you, we would not be able to come out.”

It’s because somebody has to stand up; somebody has to break that barrier and be called an atheist. There’s nothing wrong with being an atheist. There is nothing wrong. When I created PATAS, I had the bragging rights to make PATAS because I founded that.

But as soon as I came out, I posted the picture of Richard Dawkins. That picture with Richard Dawkins launched PATAS. People were shocked that there’s this Philippina on Facebook with Richard Dawkins.

There’s nothing wrong with coming out! And this is the reason why being vocal and showing how good you are as a human being and an atheist will promote not only PATAS in the Philippines, but it will show to the world that we are good people. That has a lot of comments.

Of course, I got some bashing also, but that’s fine. That’s expected [Laughing]. As expected, the jealous people bashed me, but that’s fine. What I’m saying is it’s because of Facebook that I was able to create something that has not been created in the Philippines.

If not because of Facebook and social media, we will still be in the dark. We won’t have these non-religious societies in the Philippines. I’m still stupid with computers, believe me. I’m not at all a computer guru.

But I taught myself to do Facebook and to help out on the website because I need to, as the founder. You’re right that religion is eroding. We are the silent majority. Why? When I went to the Philippines for 2 months, the people I spoke to said that they went to church.

It’s like for convenience. But as per my conversations with them, they don’t believe in a God that will help them. It’s no longer like that. Although the older population, the 80-years-olds, the 90-years-olds, they still go to church and ask for help.

But the younger generations, they have done better: Millennials. Millennials are the ones who will save us because they know now there is no supernatural being that will help us.

She will help us promote Humanism. Not atheism, but humanism; humanism is a positive word for atheism. This is why if you go to our website, I mention Humanism is the best gift of atheism. I got like 500 likes when that was posted in the Atheist Republic.

That means that a lot of people will agree with me. Humanism is better utilized than atheism. Atheism is an empty shell. It’s a lack of belief. We don’t believe, fine. Humanism is the action word. We do something. That’s Humanism, like educating people and promoting equal rights.

It’s not positive, but it’s like you’re doing something when you’re a humanist. Like how I explained to these youngsters that I met when they had a party in my house, these elementary school or high school students.

I said, “Humanism means human and ism. Human means in you, in me, in humanity.” That’s all I told them. I didn’t tell them there’s no God. I didn’t say that because some of them are still religious. But they are appreciative.

They believe because when they believe in humans, then they will try to help you. That’s all I said. That was positive. We will continue that type of education. In fact, I was chatting recently to that lady in Bacolod, who launched her project about HAPI SHADE (Secular, Humanist, Advocacy, Development, Education).

She is launching that, but hers is different. She’s getting the young. The young people, they’re not in high school. They are 5- to 7-years-old. I met all of them because I was there when she launched that event.

In fact, I cried because I was so happy with what I saw. This is what you call “catch them while they’re young.” When you catch them young, you teach them these things. Yes, so catch them young, there are 70 of them.

She also got 70 volunteers, so it’s like 1-to-1. Then we feed them. Her style is different. We were chatting, so I have this in my brain. Monday to Thursday, they do remedial classes. Remedial meaning “on top of”: these children are poor.

They don’t know how to read. They don’t know how to do much. They are 5- or 7-years-old. So, they do remedial classes and on Friday feed them. So, it’s one form of saying, “Hey, let’s go to that class Monday to Thursday and then they give us goodies on Fridays.”

She said she’s going to do that for years, and do some assessments and evaluate whether it’s working after a couple or a few years. So, I told her we need to find a lot of donors. I donated a hundred dollars. That’s nothing to me.

We need to sustain that. In order to sustain that, we need an article to immortalize that on our website, so we get more donors who can understand what we’re doing. A lot of the donors would like to see children talk science, technology, and philosophy rather than wasting their time praying, going to church.

I have met a lot of humanist types. Real humanism is a denial of any deity or any supernatural being; that’s real Humanism to me. I’m a humanist. I don’t believe in those bullshit deities or supernatural entities.

Some humanists, I’ve met a few of them. One, I was chatting with her. She said she still believes in something. I said that’s fine. She’s a freethinker. She’s a humanist because she does this for human beings, to advance humanity. In fact, I have met a person in AHA when I attended that convention in 2011, when I asked if she believed in God.

Humanism does not mean you don’t believe in God. That’s what he said. So, I learned from him and not only that but from experience that when you’re a humanist, then you’re not an atheist. Some of them still believe in something.

Not necessarily Jesus or Allah, but they still believe in something. It’s because they’re not 100% convinced out of fear. Some of them out of respect for their tradition. Like the Filipinos, some of them they think they’re Catholic humanists.

Okay, that’s fine. The reason being that we have a huge umbrella of humanists in HAPI. Some of them are pure atheists and hardcore militant atheists like me and some of them are quite religious. However, some religious people have become agnostic or freethinkers because of what they’ve read in our forum.

One example is Jamie. Jamie was religious before and now she doesn’t go. She always thinks, at this time, that she’s agnostic. For us, that is a success already. We are successful and some of these people coming to us. They were religious at first.

Now, since they’ve joined us, they realize there’s no use for praying. There’s no use of going to Church, being a good person. And that is already a success for me. I can brag that I have converted a lot of people. Jamie is one of them.

A few people in Bacolod who were religious are freethinkers. So, in HAPI, we welcome all of them. We welcome anyone, as long as they don’t have a bomb in their belt, that’s fine. Some humanists, I don’t know if they can still be called humanists.

Duterte is killing these drug addicts and drug lords. You are aware of that. Some these humanists in HAPI are giving them the go signal. I don’t know. That’s selective Humanism.

Jacobsen: Can you clarify?

Langseth: There are humanists in HAPI who believe that Duterte is doing a good thing and killing those drug addicts is fine. They would give a thumbs up to them. I don’t know if you can still call them humanists.

But in euthanasia also, we have a right to die. For example, one of my specialties is palliative nursing, palliative care nursing. For example, if a patient is having pain every day and is bedbound, cannot move anymore and wasting, they have the right to go comfortably or to choose when and where to die.

For example, I have advised a lot of my patients’ families that “why would we go through a lot of medical interventions when it’s futile?” Why would you go through that? And that’s also good humanism because on the positive note, it will stop the misery of the human being.

I hate to say this, but it will save Medicare dollars. But this is not economics, my job. When I was still working, it was to empower my patients, to empower the families. If their loved one is in constant pain, of course, we treat them with maximum treatments with opioids or other things like that, but some of them would rather die than go forward, than be like that forever.

And of course, the families, most of them, believe me, would agree. That is humane. Remember if you see a horse in the street and they are in pain, you want to kill them right? You want to shoot them, so they will be put out of their misery. Why can’t we do that with human beings?

In a palliative and comfortable and respectful way, of course, if I was sick and in pain every day, I don’t want to live like that: please, kill me. When I had a car accident, I was on leave, on medical leave for 2 months.

I told my husband, “Honey, kill me. I’m in pain every day, bury me in the backyard.” I told him that. How much more with those people in the nursing home who are always in pain and bedridden and suffering? There’s pain and suffering every day for years and years. How much more?

I could not imagine how they feel. People would rather die than be in pain. I read a survey. People would rather die than be in pain. This is why we have high incidents of drug addiction in America. Nobody wants to be in pain!

Yes, nobody wants to be in pain. Look at these doctors, I’ve overheard a lot of doctors mention, “What? We’re like drug pushers over here. We treat patients with opioids right away and they come back and they’re drug addicts.”

Of course! Duh. When my husband had a fracture, I was keen on his medication because I don’t want him to be addicted. The doctors would say, “How come you don’t like this medication?” He said, “My wife is a nurse practitioner. I would rather listen to her than you.”

Because they don’t care, they prescribe Tylenol number 3, Vicodin, Percocet, or opioids generally.  The whole time the patient is in the hospital. When they come out, they want to refill their opioids and then after a month or two they’re drug addicts. I’m not surprised. I wrote an article about that.

Because nobody wants to be in pain. I’m in pain right now, I have some tendonitis from my vacation because I was carrying my bags, heavy bags. I have tendonitis in my right shoulder. It’s little pain, but I cannot take it. How much more with people who are in severe pain?

I have seen my patients who do otherwise. Like they’d rather be in pain because that’s what Jesus Christ wants them to have and be pain free when they die. So, when they’re alive, I had a patient. My God, I could not forget her. She’s a Jehovah’s witness.

She was in severe pain. She had gangrene in both feet. That means, she’s dying. I told her I was going to give her a patch to alleviate her pain. She said, “No, I want to be in pain because I want to experience what Jesus did during his life.”

I said, “My lord, I cannot take this. What I did? I called her family. Her niece was open-minded.” I said, “We need to treat your grandmother. She is in pain.” So, she came and she saw the pain and suffering. I said, “Yes, okay, do whatever is good for her. She cannot decide anyway.”

She’s not only demented. She was in pain. Her religious belief is getting into me and into my practice. I ordered this. After a few days, she died comfortably, having a religious belief will make you suffer.

It will make people suffer. They believe that is part of life; that is part of the penance or their route to go to heaven, to be in pain. That’s bullshit. I’m talking about religious attendance. My husband and I, we still go to Church.

The last time we were there. There were like 12 people. My husband told me when I was in the Philippines that he went to Church. There were only 9 of them and even the pastor was not there [Laughing]. It’s sad. I said, “My goodness, what’s wrong with this?” It’s so sad.

Yes, we have a few of them. But you’re right, it’s changing. The landscape of religiosity is changing and that is a good thing for us.

References

  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/global-filipino/08/20/12/world-trade-center-cross-causes-religious-dispute-among-fil-ams.
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/04/28/the-pope%E2%80%99s-gonna-have-a-cow-catholic-philippines-gains-its-first-atheist-society/.
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/new-atheists-philippines/518175/.
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from https://thehumanist.com/news/hnn/atheism-in-the-philippines-a-personal-story.
  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 8, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Post-Master’s degree, Certificate for Adult Nurse Practitioner with prescriptive privileges – College of Mount Saint Vincent, NY, USA; M.S.N., Adult Health, CUNY, NYC, USA; B.S.N., University of San Carlos, Cebu, Philippines.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Marissa Torres Langseth.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two) [Online].January 2018; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, January 8). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, January. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (January 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):January. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two) [Internet]. (2018, January; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

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Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part One)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: January 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 8,395

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: PATAS; inspiration for its founding and titles’; HAPI; effective strategies for advancement of the humanist movement; books; wedding ceremony as a non-believer; irreligious ceremony; difficulties and problems of community; younger generations’ difficulties; experience for men and women non-believers, the differences; notable education and social initiatives by HAPI; cynical use of political language to demonize non-believers; HAPI demographics; heroes and heroines; last talking to Paul Kurtz; Harris and Dawkins; women’s rights and religion, and women and religion; acknowledgement of an issue; secondary citizenship; fears for younger generations of women and girls; Noam Chomsky’s analysis of the media; denigration sourced in religion for women and girls; Margaret Atwood and the Robber Bride quote; those happy for Marissa’s potential failure; contributing to HAPI; common narrative of lives threatened; and tragic story for someone who came out as a non-believer.

Keywords: HAPI, humanism, Marissa Torres Langseth, PATAS, Philippines.

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N.: Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI (Part One)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So let’s start from the top. What was your family background regarding geography, culture, language, and religion?

Langseth: I was born in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija. It’s part of Luzon.

We are of course Catholics. We were poor. So, I was born poor and then at the age of 5 my father, who was a soldier then, was moved to Cebu.

Cebu is in the middle part of the Philippines; it’s an island. And of course my mother is so religious, she goes to church almost e day. And this is why I see that religion is a poison. It’s dangerous to society because people will go to church instead of working.

They would ask for food and money from the church. I mean from God not from the church.

We speak Tagalog in the Philippines. I speak different languages because I’ve been to so many places. Culturally speaking, religion is a big, huge part because it’s like e Sunday, my mother would kick me to go to church.

She would buy new clothes for me so I could go to church. It’s like she would force us to go to church even if there are no new clothes. She would force us. If you won’t go, you have to be kicked several times and be woke up to go to church.

I didn’t understand then but when I was in grade 5, when I discovered science, I began to ask the questions, “Why are we here? What is our purpose?” Nobody could answer me.

2. Jacobsen: What were some pivotal moments in early life or past grade 5 that you can remember?

Langseth: Pivotal moments, I would say in grade 5, it’s science. When I was looking at the stars, I would imagine who made this. I was asking questions already in grade 5. And then in high school, I could not understand why I could not get gifts from Santa Claus when I was a good girl.

So, I did my experimentation, no my research. Why is it that Santa Claus doesn’t give gifts to poor people? Now, I understand it’s because their parents are poor. So, I applied that to God. Why is it that God does not bless the poor people? So, maybe, there is no God

3. Jacobsen: What were some mystical or supernatural or transcendentalist beliefs that you had while growing up a “good girl”?

Langseth: I didn’t have any superstitious beliefs. I was one of those who was always going against the grain. For example, the number 13 is not bad for me. It’s not bad. People believe that you should not eat because during Ramadan Muslims celebrate and they don’t eat, right?

In the Philippines, we have a holy week. You’re not supposed to eat for 3 days, or eat a little bit. I didn’t follow that. I didn’t get sick or have any issues. Because it was stupid not to eat.

4. Jacobsen: What were some other early moments of moving towards an irreligious orientation or non-belief in God?

Langseth: There was one time when a priest in the military, we lived in a military compound. There was one time when that priest was trying to rape me. Of course, I’m good in running, so I ran away.

Why is it that these supposedly good people would try to touch other women, other girls? The part that made me turn to irreligion was when I was in Saudi Arabia, when I worked in Saudi Arabia, I worked there as a registered nurse.

I saw the different culture in Saudi Arabia. They’re Muslims there, and how they treat women. They’re treated like animals, like secondary citizens. Men were eating in a restaurant and the women were outside waiting for them.

And in fact, it’s just so different. So I said if there were a God, why is it that the people in Saudi Arabia are worshipping another God named Allah? And then the highlight of my irreligiosity is 9/11 in 2001.

I saw the 2nd plane surgically slash into the 2nd building. So I thought if there were a God, why can’t he stop that?

5. Jacobsen: What was the emotion running through you when you saw the plane hit the tower?

Langseth: It was terrorism, of course.  That if there were a God, why can’t he stop these kinds of atrocities? Why can’t he? So I said to myself, “People who would still believe in God at that time. It’s just so unreal to believe at that time really.”

Because it was preventable. That was not an act of nature. It’s not like a typhoon or earthquake. It’s preventable. It is a human invention, a person. I looked at that plane blow up the twin towers. If there were a powerful human being or a God, he could have stopped that, right?

6. Jacobsen: Why move to New York of all places, the United States in general?

Langseth: I was hired as a registered nurse in Cebu and they were hiring for New York City. That’s why I’m here. In fact, it’s the best place in the world. I’ve been to so many places and it’s the best place. I retired here two years ago from my job.

7. Jacobsen: Why did you pursue the post-masters in nursing?

Langseth: I want freedom. I don’t want to be dependent on anyone. When you are a nurse practitioner, when you have that post-master degree leading to being a nurse practitioner, you are free to practice.

You do not need a doctor to be on top of you or screaming at you and telling you what to do; you do it. There is what you call an equivalence. We’re like doctors in a way. We’re independent.

There’s freedom to practice wherever you want, whatever specialty you want. And of course the pay is high compared to just a registered nurse.

8. Jacobsen: Also, it’s not a profession that will necessarily go out of demand too.

Langseth: [Laughing] We are so much in demand, believe me. I still get a lot of calls and invites to apply to them. It’s always in demand, especially since there is a shortage of doctors in the USA.

9. Jacobsen: You founded the Philippine Atheism, Agnosticism and Secularism Inc. (PATAS)? 

Langseth: Yes, I started it in February, 2011, but it used to be the Philippine Atheist and Agnostic Society. They just changed that recently, the name.

10. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for founding it? Why those three labels: Atheism, Agnosticism and Secularism?

Langseth: My inspiration was PATAS. PATAS means equality in Tagalog. That is why the first society I founded was named PATAS. I want people to see us as equals, not secondary citizens because we are atheists. Equality, not only because I stand for equality for all human beings, like LGBTs and people who are poor, they don’t have human rights because they are poor.

That’s the reason why I named it PATAS. Of course, it’s no longer in existence, but it’s still PATAS to them as they changed the S to secularism instead of society.

11. Jacobsen: Also, you founded the Humanist Alliance Philippines International, or HAPI. 

Langseth: Yes, because when I left or when I decided to leave PATAS in November of 2013, I found myself waking up at night and I couldn’t sleep. I said if I leave and don’t do anything, this group will eventually die.

So, I need to do something because I love to be happy and I want to be happy. I’m always happy. I said, “I will name it HAPI because I want it to spread and I want to share my happiness.” I’m a member of American Humanist Association, for a long time. I said, “How come nobody even have made a society called HAPI? It starts with H. It stands for Humanism.”

Then I crowdsourced: what the name should be? But I already had something in my mind like humanist, like it was supposedly the Humanist Association of the Philippines. The P for Philippines, obviously, and the I for international.

They said alliance is better. This is why it became the Humanist Alliance Philippines International. But if you call it HAPI, it’s a positive acronym. And there’s a music, it’s also happy. I purposively launched it in January, 2014, so that people will say HAPI New Years with HAPI. It’s called strategy [Laughing].

12. Jacobsen: What have been some of the more effective strategies for advancing the humanist movement?

Langseth: Number 1, I was always looking out for someone who can manage children. Or who has children, so we can feed them. That is a come on, so that people will see that we are good: we are good without God. We feed children, because the children, are our future.

So, I found Jamie. She has 200 kids. This was effective. We started feeding them in December of 2014 because it took a long time to find them. We have to interview. In fact, I asked around and she came to us.

It’s so funny. She came to us because she saw HAPI members during one of our stints. One of our LGBT stints. She spoke to them and these people at the stint. We were so nice and they gave her food. And that was the reason why she said, “When I go back to Manilla, I am going to look for HAPI.”

At the time it was coincidence and blessing you might say. We were looking for somebody like her. Then we found the children, we started in September 2014 and then it was bi-monthly, every 2 months.

That was for me just a come on because I am visionary. My vision is to attract these kids, to feed them, to make them feel we are not evil people and then finally the highlight of this is when we introduce literacy projects.

Like, for them, how to read, how to do some science work, and introduce some technology, I donated a computer to them so that they can look up our website instead of going to church. And we are successful because Jamie, the person in charge of these children, is now agnostic.

Sometimes, she says she’s atheist, but she’s agnostic, because at this time she still goes back and forth. So, that is the highlight. We are for education. Because when I was a kid, that’s what the pastors do. They call us.

I was in high school. After school, they would invite us to go to one house and feed us, give us food and then they talk about religion, of course, there. Their God, and this and that. So, this is the way, maybe, but ours is better because we don’t impose.

It’s up to them to listen to us or not, but it’s genuine feeding of kids because these kids don’t get enough nutrition because they’re poor. It’s the slum area. We went there last June.

The convention was also my ambition because that would be the culmination of my leadership in the Philippines because I was ready to retire. The second highlight is the book, the HAPI Book: From Superstition to Reason is now in Amazon, EBAY and Barnes and Noble. But we get very little royalties. It is also available in kindle.

13. Jacobsen: Is there a plan to expand not only the number and type of books on associated topics but also to increase outreach through publication of ebook platforms such as Kindle?

Langseth: That is the plan. However, again, I have retired, so that task has been passed on to the next leaders. The ebook and, maybe, Amazon, I don’t know what their plan is, but I heard something like that. But who knows?

It took me 5 years to produce this book to be honest with you. It started in 2011 when I started with PATAS. I asked people to submit stories so they can have something. My inspiration for that was a book. I forgot the title. It’s like ‘50 Stories of Atheism in the USA.’

I want to copy that, so we started collecting. But it’s difficult for Filipinos to submit things, to submit articles. It will take them a month or two. The sense of urgency is not there. I am Westernized already.

I used to be like that, so I understand. That’s our culture. I did an article now; they will give it to you after one month. If I need an article, I will give it to you tomorrow. Because that sense of urgency is already in me. I’m Westernized. I’ve been in the USA since 1990.

Jacobsen: Also, you’re a nurse and live in New York.

Langseth: Yes.

Jacobsen: These are important factors about living in the United States.

Langseth: I used to work 3 jobs, 3.

Jacobsen: I believe it.

Langseth: While taking my masters, I got married on top of that. How lucky could I be? It varies a lot.

14. Jacobsen: What are some differences in the wedding ceremony that you as a woman take into account as a non-believer – with planning and getting ready?

Langseth: When I got married, I was still a closet atheist. So, I went through the motions. If you see in my primary, in my first FB page, I have some wedding pictures there. That’s why I added you. That’s my husband. I went through all the motions because I was closeted then.

15. Jacobsen: And if you were to do it over again in terms of having an irreligious ceremony, how would you do it?

Langseth: I would do it on the beach. In fact, we had our renewal of vows in a cruise ship in 2006. I would do something like that. It was the captain of the ship who renewed our vows. I would do something like that

16. Jacobsen: What are some of the difficulties as atheists and agnostics and secularists and humanists as a community? What are some of the problems of community that we have generally?

Langseth: Generally, they think that us atheists are not good people; we are demons, evil people. We eat children. But to be honest with you, I have not felt that way here in New York City. Maybe, because I am in a different city and my neighbours are all diverse.

My neighbour on the right. She is a non-devout Muslim. She accepted me. I told her, “I don’t believe in God.” She accepted me as a human being. The one in the front, they’re Chinese. Of course, they don’t believe in God, the Chinese.

So in my neighbourhood, I live in an upscale neighbourhood in Queens. You cannot see homeless people running around. We’re not near a train station. Everyone has a job. Maybe, it’s because it’s my neighbourhood is why I did not feel any stigma, but in the Philippines it would be different.

In fact, Jamie told me she has to hide her being irreligious now. Of course, she goes to Church only upon pressure from her husband. But with me, I still go to church. It’s not pressured from my husband.

I go with him because I love my husband and that is one form of showing him how much I love him and how much I respect him. And the pastor is friendly with me.

Jacobsen: That always helps.

Langseth: Yes [Laughing], they’re nice people in the church. This is a Dutch Reform Church in Queens. It’s an older population. They’re nice. In fact, I even told them, “I don’t believe.” They said, “That’s okay. You’re here with us” [Laughing].

17. Jacobsen: What about from the outside, while in the Philippines? For the younger generations, based on self-importance that you’ve been told just in conversations with them – as you’re one of the organizations that have them, what have been their difficulties? What have been their trials and tribulations?

Langseth: I have read in one of the forums that some of them when they put N/A or not applicable, none, or no religion in their application in their job application: they will not get hired. That’s unfair. This is why I made PATAS because I want equality in everything.

If these people put atheist or no religion, they still should be hired based on their credentials, not because of their religion. And it’s so frustrating when I see some job applications they would say religion, “Catholic only.” That’s just so discriminatory.

18. Jacobsen: In some universities, they have covenants or faith pledges.

Langseth: That’s funny. Also, in the Philippines, they look for a certificate of confirmation, or baptism, and for the parents’ certificate of marriage and certificate of how do you call that? Baptism. Would you believe that?

19. Jacobsen: It’s the easiest course to pass. Statistically, the experience of women non-believers will probably be a little different for men non-believers. Is this true and what are some of the differences that you can note?

Langseth: Again, with me, I can’t experience much because I’m in New York City, but, because when you’re a woman in the Philippines; they think if you are irreligious, then you are a woman of ill-repute. That’s how Filipinos think. They equate being religious to having moral values.

I have a nephew in Missouri. I didn’t know that he was like me. But when I spoke to him, I asked him questions. He said, “If there were a God, he is useless. Because I prayed a long time for so many things. They did not come” [Laughing].

He’s a kid. So, what do you expect?  kids like him are open to the fact that instead of praying and asking via going to church. Why not work? So, you get what you want. There’s a lot of irreligious people. My husband is also agnostic because he does not believe in life after death.

20. Jacobsen: So if Christian, a very here-and-now Christian, what are some of the more notable educational and social initiatives that HAPI has done?

Langseth: I have launched something as my retirement project: SHADE. Secular, Humanist, Advocacy, Development, Education, or SHADE, of course, it’s HAPI SHADE. With that, we have two cities that are active.

One is in Cebu. I met them. It’s called HAPI COMPRE in Cebu (Comprehensive Science High school). Would you believe that? I went to their school and presented something to their principal. One of the administrative personnel in their school as well. They accepted me so warmly.

I was like them. This is in the Philippines. This is in Cebu. HAPI COMPRE has 20 students who would help clean up the street. Their recent project was cleaning the street. Afterwards, 20 kids, they clean up the streets and then to show good will to the neighbourhood they would be fed with simple food, nothing fancy.

And then, of course, this is science school, so you expect these children to be intelligent. These people have chosen also during the general assembly. I was not in the general assembly in Cebu. That was in 2016, so that was last years. They said their questions were out of this world and these kids.

They are our future. They are future scientists. So, I was happy to make a special event for them while I was in Cebu. We had lunch. We had unlimited ice cream and chocolate from the USA. Guess what, I took them to my mini library in the 2nd floor.

They read most of the books there, maybe 95 percent. They’re all irreligious books. That was my style. I said, “Who wants to read?” So, they went with me. They went up and the most read book was From Superstition to Reason, from HAPI There were 3 books about me.

One is, of course, our own HAPI book. Number 2 is Godless Grace. I was presented there as one of the contributing authors to Humanist Paths by AHA. I’m a member of AHA. They also got my story, so a lot of these kids. They have read about me.

Now, they realize I am godless. I tell them face-to-face. Their teacher is also a militant atheist and an open atheist. I ask him, “My God, these kids. They’re going to read about you!” He said, “That’s okay. They know all about me.”

So, that was the highlight in Cebu. Then when I was in Bacolod, I cried because they launched a HAPI SHADE event with the school. It’s called Jamie Elementary School. So, there are 2. We are not just in the street; we are in academia.

The first one was in the Lyceum Debate Society of the Philippines. So, we are going to academia, but I would prefer elementary and high schools because these children – I don’t like to say, but they are – malleable.

I hate to use the word brainwash because we were all brainwashed when we were children. But what I’m saying is, we can always direct them or make them realize that there’s an option to religion: it is Humanism.

So, these kids are the HAPI COMPRE. These kids are so bright. When I ask them what Humanism is all about, they know what it is from the word human. Of course, trust in human beings but they are still children, they still say believe in God.

Finally, when I straight face told them, “Humanism, we don’t believe in supernatural beings.” They were not shocked. They were not shocked at all. So, I have an inclination to believe that we are Godless, or mostly Godless, but some are maybe apathetic to religion.

21. Jacobsen: To reflect on the recent, one to two years in the United States, there has been cynical use of political language to demonize non-believers. Do you notice this too?

Langseth: Honestly, I have not felt that. I have not felt being demonized. Although, there was one time only I would say when I was still working. I worked with one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. It’s United Healthcare.

During the meetings, I told them that I was an atheist. I don’t believe in God. They were not as friendly and as welcoming to me. But I didn’t mind it because I’m confident about what I do and I don’t depend on them.

For me, it did not affect me whether they are friendly or not. They didn’t like me because when I told them I don’t believe in God. But who cares? That’s my attitude. In fact, with my patients when I talk to them, they say, “What? I pray for this one.”

I said, “We don’t have to pray. We have to go to surgery. Sorry, I’m straightforward.” I didn’t get any backlash. I never got sued for my atheism. There were no parents, no relatives. No patients have sued me for letting them know this is the best plan, the best option.

Because that’s how I always talked in my practice. I’m objective and don’t take things personally. If they don’t listen to me, that’s fine, but they always take my advice. For example, if a patient needs to go to the hospital or needs surgery, they always follow. They always agree to my medical advice.

22. Jacobsen: What are the demographics of HAPI?

Langseth: It’s mostly concentrated in Manila, Metro Manila. Because some islands, some of them are poor. They would need extra effort. They would need to put food on their table rather than do activism in Humanism.

Lately, we only have one or two active people there. In Cebu, we have many active people. In fact, some of them are not active because they always say, “I’m busy. I’m working.” Metro Manila has a lot.

Also, the distance of the commute is better. So, we have more in Metro Manila. This is why we have HAPI Con in Manila. That is one of the many reasons too. Although, it’s more expensive, but the attendance is more when we do it in Metro Manila than in Cebu or other places.

23. Jacobsen: Were some personal heroes or heroines presenting there for you? People who are giving a message about Humanism or speaking on a topic within a humanistic framework that you admire, or the person has gone through something and have come out stronger and you also admire them for that.

Langseth: My hero is Richard Dawkins. In 2011, I went to a convention because of him in Cambridge, in Massachusetts. In my first FB page, you can see my page. A convention with Richard Dawkins. I have so many pictures.

And that was the reason why PATAS was effective because they saw I was serious in promoting PATAS in the Philippines. I went out of my way to go to this convention. Everything is from my pocket anyway. The seed money from PATAS and HAPI is from my pockets.

Anytime I go and attend conventions, it is from my pockets. I have never utilized any donations from them. In fact, I am the biggest donor when I started PATAS. They cannot move without my donation.

When I started HAPI, they cannot move without my donation. Finally, we got a little bit of wind and windfall, so we were able to have better events. Richard Dawkins inspired me. I would have met Christopher Hitchens, but he died before I met him.

I was going to meet him in Melbourne, Australia. I went there to see him. I was going to see him at the global atheist convention but he died before that convention. I have met Dan Barker. He’s also one of my inspirations. Of course, Paul Kurtz at Columbia University.

Jacobsen: Yes.

Langseth: We were chatting before he died, would you believe that? He said Marissa I’m going to see you and we’re arranging to see each other. He was going to New York City in Colombia for that convention and I said good, I’m going to see you. And the next day he died.

24. Jacobsen: So you were one of the last people to talk to him?

Langseth: Yes, we were chatting a lot. He’s one of my idols. I’ve read a lot of his books about Humanism. I kept a few over here. Of course, I gave some away; I have a lot of these books. About neo-Humanism, this is the reason why I am promoting a lot about educating the kids, the young, because of him.

The true humanist, according to him, has compassion for educating the children. That’s what I got it from him, Paul Kurtz. But Richard Dawkins made me militant. I read The God Delusion.

25. Jacobsen: Was this around the time that you saw, or not long after seeing the towers hit, the books came out a little bit after? Some argue the movement started at that time with Harris and the Dawkins.

Langseth: I don’t remember which came first. I saw 9/11. I was angry. I bought that book, God is Not Great by Hitchens. That book changed me. I met Richard Dawkins in Cambridge on March the 11th.

26. Jacobsen: Do you feel religion is friendly or unfriendly in general towards women and women’s rights?

Langseth: If we take the positive parts, like what my husband said, if we take the positive parts of religion or Bible or whatever it is, it’s a good thing. However, there are too many things that are not right. It creates a lot of confusion, religion.

It has created a lot of confusion with me. When I was small, I would say if we go to Church for money, to ask God for money, what is it? It’s like magic, we think it’s like magic. Religion is poison in so many ways.

There are a lot of families who think that they can do evil things to their children because of religion. One example is my mother. My mother could not accept that my sister is a lesbian. So, she arranged for someone to kill my sister.

And that made me so angry with not only her, but with religion. Because she was too brainwashed. She was told by her priests and friends that it is a sin to be a lesbian. This is the reason why I’m empathetic to LGBT rights.

And I’m straight as can be. Because I don’t want people to think that they’re not human beings. A lot of the religious people in the Philippines dehumanize the LGBTs. You must have heard of a trans being killed and gay people being bashed.

Jacobsen: Of course.

Langseth: Even in New York, I’ve read of that too.

27. Jacobsen: The follow up of that is the denialism of it. It happens. To have a conversation about something, there has to be an acknowledgement of the issue. There are many social mechanisms, sometimes political, to stop the conversation even starting, by stopping any acknowledgment of it: of the killing of trans, of the demonizing of gays, and so on.

Langseth: Because they have not seen it, maybe, and have not felt it. I have felt it. That’s my sister. Even now, there’s still a lot of struggle with reproductive rights, especially in the Philippines. Unfortunately, it’s because they see women as secondary citizens and not equal to them.

28. Jacobsen:  What do you mean by secondary?

Langseth: Secondary citizens meaning there’s no equality. The women are not equal to men. In fact, men have higher salaries in the USA than women. And how, you are just a woman. You stay there, you produce children. You shouldn’t have rights like me. And that is still ongoing, especially in the Philippines. Look at our president.

Jacobsen: Both, the United States and Duterte.

Langseth: Yes, they’re like brothers.

Jacobsen: Two peas in a pod.

Langseth: Yes, two peas in a pod. But Duterte, it’s because of their upbringing. Those men should be higher, it’s like patriarchal society. Men are better than women. They were brainwashed like that. But it’s still a struggle, unfortunately. It is still a struggle.

In fact, the reproductive health bill, it took them 10-15 years to pass that law. Until now, it’s not being implemented. It’s like pulling teeth.

29. Jacobsen: What are your fears for the younger generations of women and girls?

Langseth: My fear would be this culture of rape and women are like playthings and women are treated like sexual objects. I hate that with a passion. When I see ads displaying women, for example, coke ads or cigarette ads. They show women instead, what advertisement is that?

30. Jacobsen: I agree with Noam Chomsky’s analysis of the media. The theory in economics is to have a rational consumer making rational choices with their purchases through the money that they’re using. However, there are funded marketing campaigns and organizations devoted to making irrational consumers making irrational choices.

So, you have these two things coming together, especially with representation and presentation of women’s bodies – taking advantage of what seems like a natural phenomenon of attention to women’s bodies more often than men’s.

As with the ads, the ones that come to mind, or the prominent ones, are car ads. What does this beautiful woman have to do with this car? How does this increase its horsepower or gas efficiency, for instance?

Langseth: [Laughing] There you go. As I’m a feminist, as you can see that, though, why do they use women? Because they know sex sells. The flesh of women sells. This is why they objectify women as just things, not human beings. T

This is my fear. It did not happen to me because I’m this way now. I’m going to be 60 in the next few years. But the next generation, if they do not stand up like real rationalists and real feminists, this will go on forever, especially in the Philippines.

The children are brainwashed like “you’re just a woman, you’re just a girl.” It’s so unfair.

31. Jacobsen: Does this denigration source itself from religion, mainly?

Langseth: That is 100% accurate because in religion the woman is supposed to be humble, should not talk, should not go against the will of the husband, should be submissive, should be subservient. And I’m the exact opposite. So, religion is poison.

That poisoned the whole society in the Philippines. Look at when before religion came to my country, there were pagans; they were worshipping the trees and the sun and the moon, at least they’re not worshipping any God.

They think that it’s nature that is God. That is even better. But when the Spaniards came, it’s all different. They became slaves. They became slaves to religion. So that’s how we got our religion. One hand the sword, the other hand the Bible. So which one will you choose?

32. Jacobsen: There was a good quote from Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author. From the Robber Bride, I pulled it up. May I be indulged to read it?

Langseth: Sure.

Jacobsen: “Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. “

“Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”

This stuff is deeply rooted; it’s hard to extirpate. So, as a women’s rights activist myself, it has to be tackled from many, many angles, having humanist organizations is one. But also working, as you’re doing nobly, with the younger generation, it is also important, and part of that as Paul Kurtz would advocate for it, too.

Langseth: We have to band together. This is why during the HAPI Con we invited Filipino Freethinker or Red Tani. In one of my pictures, there’s a picture I presented our book. He’s also a contributing author to that book.

I specifically, personally gave him one. So, he realizes, he is important to me as an ally to our cause. They are doing great. Education and they have meet ups. A little on the higher echelon, but they don’t have an outreach movement like ours.

Like we go to the outskirts and teach children, they don’t have that. But we are allies. The bigger we are, the stronger, because there is strength in numbers and diversity. We are diversified. That’s why it’s HAPI, its international.

We are not stationed in the Philippines. I am here. We have people in California. We have people in Belgium, in other places of the world, in Germany, so I saw to it that we have diversity. Because a homogenous society sometimes cannot survive like our Filipino culture.

If they’re all Filipinos, they will not know that sense of urgency. Because I was a Filipino before. This is why I have made HAPI International. We have Americans in our group. I am a US citizen already, but I am a Filipino by heart.

We now have other citizens in the group because we can drive them. For example, I need an article for the website. I am retired, but I still run the website. I own the website. I own the domain. I paid for it, for the everything, so I demand two articles a month. That’s all.

But sometimes they still fall short. So, I always light their butts [Laughing]. I need an article! This one is a good one, please do this. That’s the only time they will move. So, Filipinos by heart, they’re like Spaniards. Mañana habit, mañana saying later, I’ll do that later.

I’ll do that tomorrow, next week, next year. And this is why we are successful. And this is the reason why. Because we have different personalities in our group. I want everything done yesterday.

You might not like me, I’m a dictator sometimes, but look what I’ve done. They called me dictator before. They called me Hitler. They called me several names because I want everything done in a timely fashion.

For example, I would say I want this merchandise done, the HAPI T-Shirt next week. After one week, I’ll be on your butt. I’ll be following you up. This is why we are successful. Look at the other groups, they don’t have community. I’m not comparing.

However, you can see the difference in a way. In a short time, HAPI is in the Philippines, we have done a lot. I want to showcase to you what we have done. Not me of course, I’m a facilitator. But we have done a lot more than any society, any irreligious society in the Philippines. In fact, the PATAS Con was the first atheist convention in South East Asia. I paid 80% of that.

Jacobsen: Wow.

Langseth: It’s because I want it done. And they say I’m such a dictator.

33. Jacobsen: And as I know with any organization, there will be many people in the Philippines who would be happy for you to fail.

Langseth: Absolutely! Believe me. That’s why I told you I get bashing from both sides. The theist side is much better bashing than the atheist side believe me. The atheists they put me to shame like who the fuck does she think she is?

Something like that. It’s bad publicity. However, I see that bad publicity is still publicity, right? This is why I’m successful. Now, I need to retire. I wanted to retire since September, 2016. I planned that because I plan everything in my life, including my retirement.

Because I want to pass the torch to the younger generation because I’m getting old. I’m not as healthy as before. I used to run. Now, I cannot run. I’m getting older. A lot of people are praying for my demise while I’m still alive. Until now, they’re still praying for my demise.

Jacobsen: To no effect, apparently.

Langseth: I’m honest, I’m straightforward. I am a bully too.

Jacobsen: That points to a substructure of the interactions you’ve had with the societies you’ve been in with the social privilege of religion.

Langseth: Yes.

Jacobsen: People talk nice about the dominant faiths, but when people talk direct, not aggressively, just direct, then it’s taken as aggressive.

Langseth: That’s me. That’s why they think I’m aggressive. I’m a dictator; I’m a bully. I said, “Yes, I have to be. Otherwise, there would be no PATAS. There would be no HAPI. We would still be the same people praising religion and praising Catholicism.”

This is the reason I’m like this. If I was not tough, there would be no PATAS. There would be no atheistic society in the Philippines. They don’t like it that I had this society, so what? And now I have HAPI, I have two.

However, the first one, again, they lost all their marbles. They even dissolved the website that I put up for them. I gave that to them for free. It was dissolved because there’s no money. There’s no funding. Because they don’t know how to do it, how to raise funds, I am a donor.

I have people who follow me. They like what I do. They give 20 dollars, 50 dollars. It adds up. If you change them to pesos, that’s a big amount. These people don’t know how to do it. That’s why I’ve been teaching them.

I’ve been teaching them fundraising. I am so flabbergasted because nobody has learned. Now, we don’t have funds right now because we all spend it in the HAPI Con, which is fine. So, that means they need to do more fundraising.

They cannot rely on me now because I’m retired. I have retired both ways. I have retired from my job. I have retired from HAPI. But still, I will donate. In fact, when I went home to the Philippines, I donated a lot. I couldn’t count anymore how many donations I have given to HAPI.

34. Jacobsen: If people want to donate to help HAPI, and the humanist, atheist, agnostic, and secularist communities within the Philippines, how can they do so? How should they do so?

Langseth: It’s easy. We have a website. That’s why we have the website. We have PayPal: donate via PayPal in the Philippines. That will go to the Philippines automatically. We have a HAPI bank because most of the Filipinos don’t have PayPal.

They don’t even know what PayPal is. So, they send their donation directly to the bank. We have PayPal for people who are abroad like me, like people in Europe. They go to our website. They read my articles, our articles and donate. We get a little here and there.

We have a few Americans who donate regularly, like 5 dollars, 10 dollars. That’s fine. I met some of them. 99% of them are my friends who donate regularly. Some are overseas Filipino workers. We have a big donor from California.

She saw our article. She’s a closet atheist. She saw our articles on the website and donated. I befriended her. Now, we’re friends. She’s been a great donor. he donated a projector, two projector sets. I gave her a book, our HAPI book. Another one is in Indiana.

I take care of our donors. They don’t know how to take care of our donors. I take good care of them, even if I’m retired. I send them books, our HAPI book, because they want to read it. Because on the dedication page of our book, I mention their names.

That’s how I took care of them because they’ve been with us since last year. That is one way to appreciate them and recognize their huge help to HAPI. I hope that they will continue to donate even if I have retired.

Of course, they are not happy. I have retired, but I have to or I’m going to be dead soon [Laughing]. I had death threats by the way. So, when I went to the Philippines for the HAPI Con, I hired two security guards. I paid them.

35. Jacobsen: That’s a common story. A common narrative of people having their lives threatened for in essence not believing in the mythology. What are you hoping for your legacy?

Langseth: I’m hoping that my legacy will continue. What I’m doing right now, I am working to improve awareness of humanism, making HAPI a better place to join in. Maybe, better than what I have done, having more education, especially science, promotion of science; and in the future if I’m still alive, I want to build a secular school.

There is one guy in Cebu who also wishes that we build a secular school. This is why he’s active with HAPI. He’s looking forward to building a secular school with me. He is promoting my legacy, which is promoting to be good without God and to believe in you and me and humanity.

So, that’s my legacy. Believe in you, to believe in me. We believe in each other, to believe in each other.

36. Jacobsen: What’s the most tragic story you’ve heard of coming from someone who came out as a non-believer?

Langseth: I have experienced at least two people coming to me. They were young kids. They were thrown out. One was thrown out from his household. One disappeared, he reappeared and I asked him, “What happened to you?”

He said he was in rehab for a long time because his parents thought that he was crazy. This guy is in Cebu. He is gay. He used to be pantheist. He became atheist because of that. He was in rehab for a while.

Whenever he had the chance, he would send me an email saying, “Miss M, when I come out, I will be like you.” Something like that. He is still in school. He is promoting the LGBT in Cebu. He promised me he is going to donate the books to the public library because his father is a politician in Cebu.

He has the teeth to do that. So, he promised he’s going to help me. He’s been following me since he was a teenager. Now, he’s like in his 20s. We knew each other when he was in California, but, again, he was told to come home to the Philippines and do rehab because of what was going on.

In fact, I had a debate with his uncle who is a doctor saying that I am brainwashing his nephew not to believe in God.

Jacobsen: It was the opposite.

Langseth: I have another one who wants to commit suicide. He is gone. I told you. I have so many experiences with these young kids coming to me and now taken away because they’re like me. One of them Gaston.

Now, he is forced to play the piano in a church. One time he sent me an email. He said he wanted to commit suicide because he is gay. He told me he is gay. I said, “That’s wonderful. There’s nothing wrong with you.”

He said, “How come my family, they want to kill me because I’m gay?!” He wants to commit suicide. I said, “No, you should not commit suicide, hide your identity and go with the flow for now until you become self-sufficient and get away.”

So, they forced him to go into a school. I forgot which school, some religious school and now he plays the piano for the church. And there’s another one, at 12-years-old, I met him in 2011. His mother was even there when they attended the PATAS convention.

I made a good impression because we are good people. Suddenly, he disappeared. He said his mother did not like that he was going out with people like me. I said, “But I met her. She thought I was nice.”

He said, “Yes, but then again, there was pressure from her mother’s family.” There you go. And that the whole neighbourhood told him that he should not become an atheist. So, he went back to school and he was threatened. He was told if you will not stop that foolishness we will send you to school. So, he has no choice.

References

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  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/04/28/the-pope%E2%80%99s-gonna-have-a-cow-catholic-philippines-gains-its-first-atheist-society/.
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/new-atheists-philippines/518175/.
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from https://thehumanist.com/news/hnn/atheism-in-the-philippines-a-personal-story.
  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 1, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Post-Master’s degree, Certificate for Adult Nurse Practitioner with prescriptive privileges – College of Mount Saint Vincent, NY, USA; M.S.N., Adult Health, CUNY, NYC, USA; B.S.N., University of San Carlos, Cebu, Philippines.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Marissa Torres Langseth.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One) [Online].January 2018; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, January 1). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, January. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (January 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):December. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth (Part One) [Internet]. (2017, December; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eleven)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: December 22, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,786

ISSN 2369-6885

houzan-1.jpg

Abstract

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. She discusses: Kurdish artists and authors; pretexts for war; feminist activism; dictators and religious fundamentalists being mostly men; inspiration from religious belief, or not; religious authorities in line with herself; love and death; middle of life; and Western interventions in the Middle East. 

Keywords: Culture Project, feminism, Houzan Mahmoud, Iraq, Kurdistan, Kurds.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A.: Co-Founder, Culture Project (Part Three)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When it comes to the catastrophes and tragic consequences of war, literature and poetry provide windows through the confusion and misunderstanding around the horrors and miseries, and misinformation and disinformation, around war.

Any Kurdish artists or authors who speak of war?

Houzan Mahmoud: Well, I think wars always existed from the ancient times until today, in different times and under different pretexts: be it tribal, religious, nationalistic, or imperialistic. Different people relate to war in different ways.

Women, men, poets, writers, activists, victims, and soldiers have their own stories to tell us. Literature and poetry also at times play a role in either promoting war, or depicting its causes and consequences in a way that people relate to it, or it shows the suffering and sorrows experienced during the war.

Due to the many ordeals Kurds have suffered and continue to suffer, various poets and novelists, both men and women narrated the war and its aftermath.

2. Jacobsen: Pain and misery are inevitable parts of life, but they can be mitigated. At times, war becomes necessary. What pretexts seem reasonable for war? Obviously, many wars barely meet minimal standards and violate so many things.

Mahmoud: Well, most wars are really useless and baseless with the consequences of the killing of ordinary civilians and sending soldiers to battlefields to destroy lives and lands, which are crimes that do not deserve legitimisation.

Resistance is necessary only when you are invaded. You have no other option apart from resisting and defending your life and land. The latest example is an ISIS attack on Kurdistan, where people women, men, old and young all took up arms to defend their cities and lives.

ISIS could not be stopped through negotiations, as they view Kurds as infidels, and, therefore, their lands, possessions, and women are spoils of war. It’s a jihad in their eyes.  With such an abhorrent collective religious attitude, what else one can do apart from resisting?

It is in such cases when I see resistance as a must and essential to survival.

3. Jacobsen: What do you value more coming out of the trauma of war? How does feminist activism embolden you?

Mahmoud: The fact that I am still alive and can experience life itself is an achievement. I grew up in a war zone, as I explained in other parts of this interview, because I was living in Kurdistan-Iraq. We were under the dictatorship too. One war after another, there was a constant atmosphere of fear, anxiety, and worry.

Not knowing what will happen next, where will we end up? How will we be killed? Even, how soon?

In addition to this, I grew up in a political family, who were involved in armed struggle against Saddam’s dictatorship. I grew up in a house where political activists would always come and discuss politics, Left perspectives on social issues, secularism, Marxism, and so on.

My best time was when summer holidays would come around for us. I would go to visit my brothers and their comrades in the mountains. We had to go to see them, secretly, without the regime knowing; otherwise, we would have been arrested.

Everything was dangerous. I could see all these partisans; wonderful comrades who were so dedicated to a noble cause for ordinary people.  I loved being around them.

I was very little. As years passed by, I experienced all of these wars and the dictatorship. It didn’t feel like anything; it became part of our lives. In other words, it became a way of life.

One thing I remember is, I felt numb. I couldn’t really think or figure out what was going on and why; there was no time to reflect on that or to discuss it, even think about what was happening.

One thing, which probably saved me, was to be surrounded by my revolutionary family, who had hope for a better future, who fought for it, but sadly in this process we lost our beloved brother.

He was assassinated by the regime. I was only fifteen when he was assassinated near our house, I could hear the shooting, when we went out we saw our brother killed. This is when the war, dictatorship, revolution, sacrifices, and politics all became real.

Before this, I felt I was in a cloud, or in a bubble maybe, but the horror was so real at that moment. I feel the shock to this day. I realised that someone whom I loved and learnt so much from is no longer among us.

This is the biggest loss. I always remember him, not a day is passed without thinking about him, his ideals, hopes, and dreams. I long to see him all the time. He had an immense influence on me, my thinking, and upbringing.

The level of oppression and state terror were so visible in our country. If you didn’t have a hope and vision for future, you could not survive. This is why we cannot be passive witnesses of wars, dictatorships, and injustice; we need to act and resist.

Feminism is my saviour. It connected me back with myself as a woman. I can relate to the world as me and as a woman. That’s why keeping women’s rights on top of every agenda is my priority. Feminism makes you strong. There is no doubt about it.

4. Jacobsen: Many of the dictators and religious fundamentalist leaders causing problems are men. It seems like a simple observation, almost a truism of history. Why?

Mahmoud: The problem: if we trace all these movements, politics, religions, and ideology, we realise they were initially only male domains. Women only made their way into them by long struggles for recognition.

This is why these movements are patriarchal, and religions, in essence, are man-made, masculine, and misogynist. This is why they are male dominated and, unfortunately, even if women join such fundamental groups they are treated as inferior or are used for (Jihad al Nikah) i.e. Jihad Marriage.

Let’s not forget dictators and systems of power are all patriarchal in nature.

5. Jacobsen: What strands of religious belief inspire you? By which I mean, even though you hold no formal doctrine, scripture, religious patriarch or matriarch, or leaders in unquestionably high esteem, there must be some that seem ordinary, lovely, and integrated into advanced notions of ethics, such as those found in The Golden Rule and its derivations.

Mahmoud: As you know, I am not religious. I don’t admire any religions. The imaginary gods and religions are all man made. Therefore, they are patriarchal. However, there are many wonderful people who practice religions. They are amazing people. One such person was my own mother.

From an early age, she was taught to pray and follow Islam, so she was a devout Muslim, as you know we are Kurdish, so she didn’t speak a word of Arabic. All her praying was in Arabic, though. She kept on praying and reciting Quranic verses and so on.

Although, I left Islam at an early age. I didn’t really think it was a religion that fits my ideals, but my mother who practiced Islam symbolised a person of high hopes, kindness, and a heart of gold.

She had so many good values. She cared so much about others. She would share anything she had with other people. If there is any religious matriarch, then I would choose my mother to be my Goddess.

Because she was beautiful in nature and always reminded us that we don’t stay in this world forever. It is better to do good, to be remembered for our good doing. Despite the fact that my mother followed religion, and practiced it, she had a set of values and norms that were so humane and universal.

6. Jacobsen: Who is a religious authority that seems in line with your own social, political, and ethical intuitions, convictions, and sentiments?

Mahmoud: There is none. I have organised my life around secular values, I do not aspire to any religions and their sentiments. I think I can do better without it. You don’t need a god or religious figure to tell you what to do; we can think, decide, and act on issues related to our lives, relations, and aspiration in life.

7. Jacobsen: In life, love remains profound. Its loss a revelation to most of their absolute fragility to the world, to others and themselves. Death and love at once become unifiers for everyone. I witnessed a death of a close one, recently.

Someone transitioning from life to death in an instant in front of me. I do not talk about these topics, personal things, in public often, but I wanted to touch on this with you. Someone I loved and cared for, deeply, died.

Love gives meaning, depth, and a seeming long-term narrative to a transitory existence. Any life tips for those undergoing the pain of loss with the privilege to mourn the loss rather than having to run and never properly mourn the death of loved ones in war zones?

Mahmoud: I am so sorry to hear that you have lost a loved one recently. One thing I learnt in life, is when someone close to us dies, it really is very difficult specially if they are killed, or if they die before you see them.

When my mother was ill, I was informed by my family that she was not well. I was arranging to go back to see her for one last time. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, she was dead already. It was really very difficult.

I was very sad and kept telling myself, “Why are we so scattered and uprooted? Why does this have to happen to me? I wish I was beside my mother’s bed when she died.”

People in our countries that are torn by war and conflict. They don’t live and die in peace. I believe that our loved ones even when they depart that they will remain with us. It is important to remember them and keep them in our hearts.

It is important to mourn and grief; it is a humane thing, but it is also important to carry on living and be positive about life. No matter what happens life is beautiful and while we are here we should try to enjoy it.

Death is a very difficult subject to talk about, as individuals we all relate to it differently, and to various extent we are all afraid of it. I think we want to live long, or perhaps we think we are immortal.

8. Jacobsen: You are in the middle of life. What gives you meaning now that did not before? What used to give you meaning that does not now?

Mahmoud: Of course, there are so many things that I did when I was young I thought they were great, but now when I think about it. I laugh. I think it was childish to do that. One thing that gives my life meaning is my struggle for freedom and justice.

This has not changed. Instead, I become more determined with age. Ok let me tell you this, when I was young, I would fall in love, dramatically. Yet on the same speed, I would fall out of it dramatically too.

Again, I laugh at those days now. With age again, you become more strong and stable. Perhaps, more rational in matters to do with life, I think we should take it easy and see everything as a product of its time.

Humans are not fixed categories. We change with time, with age, and with changing our environment. We should let ourselves be, and experience situations as they come. We have to be relaxed and content with ourselves.

9. Jacobsen: What did the US-UK-Canada, and others, do right in their various wars in the Middle East within your lifetime?

Mahmoud: To be honest I have never seen anything good coming out from Western intervention in the Middle East; let’s not forget, every intervention they make under the name of human rights, getting rid of a dictator, or bringing democracy for the common people are simply different excuses to keep military presence in this region of the world.

Their presence has nothing to do with people’s lives, rights, freedoms, or democracy, but it has everything to do with their political and economic interests in addition to asserting their supremacy or hegemony.

All they brought was different weapons. It was all used and tried on ordinary civilians. Casualties of these wars are endless. They damaged these countries forever in every aspect.

References

  1. Fantappie, M. (2011, January 30). Houzan Mahmoud of Owfi Tells Us About Her Role in the Struggle for Equality in Iraq and Kurdistan. Retrieved from https://www.w4.org/en/wowwire/equality-human-rights-social-justice-in-iraq-kurdistan/.
  2. IHEU. (2008, September 31). Volunteer of the month: Houzan Mahmoud. Retrieved from http://iheu.org/volunteer-of-the-month-houzan-mahmoud/.
  3. Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, December 8). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One). Retrieved from https://in-sightjournal.com/2017/12/08/mahmoud-one/.
  4. Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, December 15). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two). Retrieved from https://in-sightjournal.com/2017/12/08/mahmoud-two/.
  5. Jacobsen, S.D (2017, July 4). Interview with Houzan Mahmoud – Co-Founder, The Culture Project. Retrieved from http://conatusnews.com/interview-houzan-mahmoud/.
  6. Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, June 24). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud — Co-Founder, Culture Project. Retrieved from https://medium.com/humanist-voices/an-interview-with-houzan-mahmoud-co-founder-the-culture-project-7c8861d186a1.
  7. Mahmoud, H. (2006, September 27). A dark anniversary. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/sep/27/ontheoccasionof24thseptember.
  8. Mahmoud, H. (2006, June 12). A symptom of Iraq’s tragedy. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/jun/12/theendofzarqawitheusmade.
  9. Mahmoud, H. (2004, March 8). An empty sort of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/mar/08/iraq.gender.
  10. Mahmoud, H. (2005, August 14). Houzan Mahmoud: Iraq must reject a constitution that enslaves women. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/houzan-mahmoud-iraq-must-reject-a-constitution-that-enslaves-women-5347236.html.
  11. Mahmoud, H. (2005, January 28). Houzan Mahmoud: Why I Am Not Taking Part in These Phoney Elections. Retrieved from https://www.vday.org/node/989.html.
  12. Mahmoud, H. (2007, May 2). Human chattel. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/may/02/humanchattel.
  13. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 7). It’s not a matter of choice. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/07/wearingtheveilhasneverbee.
  14. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 10). Kobane Experience Will Live On. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kobane-isis_b_5958150.html.
  15. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 7). Kurdish Female Fighters and Kobanê Style Revolution. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kurdish-female-fighters-_b_5944382.html.
  16. Mahmoud, H. (2016, November 1). Mosul And The Plight Of Women. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/mosul-isis-women_b_12740882.html.
  17. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 17). The price of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/17/655000isnotjustanumber.
  18. Mahmoud, H. (2007, April 13). We say no to a medieval Kurdistan. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/apr/13/thefightforsecularisminku1.
  19. Mahmoud, H. (2007, December 21). What honour in killing?. Retrieved from https://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2007/12/women-rights-iraqi-honour.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Culture Project.

[2] Individual Publication Date: December 22, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] MA, Gender Studies, SOAS-University of London.

[4] Photographs courtesy of Houzan Mahmoud.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three) [Online].December 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, December 22). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, December. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (December 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):December. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three) [Internet]. (2017, December; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eleven)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: December 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,345

ISSN 2369-6885

 

Abstract

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. She discusses: UK, Canada, and complicity in activity around Iraq and Kurdistan; the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars; helping with the Culture Project and what it is; the Culture Project act as a repository and incubator for the arts and culture of the Kurds; helping out with money or expertise; war, trauma, rights, and asking why people act this way; and wondering why people can’t be like other animals, like birds that sing. 

Keywords: Culture Project, feminism, Houzan Mahmoud, Iraq, Kurdistan, Kurds.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A.: Co-Founder, Culture Project (Part Two)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Take an example of a developed country such as the UK, or Canada, are they complicit in any of this activity in Iraq and regarding Kurdistan?

Houzan Mahmoud: The UK certainly was complicit in dividing Kurdistan among four countries, i.e. between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, due to this we have been suffering endlessly. After the fall of Ottoman Empire and the new reshaping of the map of the Middle East, the borders were drawn, genocides were taking place, and Kurds were denied their right to statehood.

For almost one century, in four different parts of Kurdistan, people waged different struggles – both armed and civilian struggles – to fight for their rights, freedoms, and independence. The four countries that we are confined within, their borders have continuously denied Kurds basic rights and inflicted genocide, imprisonment, and even cultural erasure.

These have been part of their policies towards Kurds. This is why most Kurds never felt a belonging to these countries. Rather, they felt oppressed, degraded, and colonised in their own homelands.

The West, of course, has always kept a blind eye to our suffering. Instead of recognising our rights, all they do, for example in the UK, is to emphasize the unity of Iraq. They know that Iraqi regimes have always oppressed people and carried out crimes against people throughout Iraq, especially against Kurds. Canada also was part of the coalition against Iraq in the first Gulf War in 1991.

2. Jacobsen: What are the quantitative details about women and children, and soldiers, who have been affected by the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

Mahmoud: This is beyond knowing. I don’t think even statistics can provide a true account of the loss of lives and casualties of these nasty wars. Although, when we think of war, people mainly think about the number of the dead, but we need to also think about those who are disabled, lost their loved ones, who are traumatised, and have to live with the sorrow of losing their loved one.

The consequences of any war and its damage is not only in the number of the dead, but in the entire destruction of lands, homes, dreams, and turning laughter into a long-lasting sadness. War can turn your life upside down within minutes.

I can think of the recent example of the invasion of Sinjar. The Yezidi town where ISIS killed so many of them. ISIS took the girls as sex slaves and sold so many of them in slave markets. Just imagine, so much crime within an eye blink turned so many lives into hell.

There is more ugliness, more crime, and atrocious outcomes that can never be fully investigated or accounted for, because so many complicit parties in wars don’t want to go into these details. All I really can say is in every war situation that the ordinary civilians have been and will be the main and only victims.

3. Jacobsen: I have helped with the Culture Project. What is it? How is it important to the Kurds and yourself?

Mahmoud: Well, let me tell you something Scott: first of all, thank you so much for your ongoing support, it means a lot to us and our writers and Kurdistan of course. In addition to the fact, that you are probably the first journalist who could make me visit my past as someone who grew up in a war zone, and reflect upon it, otherwise, I wouldn’t usually write or talk about it in such detail.

We have many wonderful writers in the Culture Project and want their work to be proofread and edited to encourage them to write more, and to be sure that their writings are of high calibre and importance.

Secondly, there are other wonderful supporters who were the backbone of Culture Project, one such person is Benjamin David founder of Conatus News, and writer and friend Sarah Mills who have helped tremendously. I want to thank you all for making time to support us, and our writers, essayist, activists and poets.

4. Jacobsen: How does the Culture Project act as a repository and incubator for the arts and culture of the Kurds?

Mahmoud: Culture Project is a unique project that promotes progressive ideals, and critical engagement with art, literature, music, feminism, and gender. We place the question of women in the heart of our project. This is why it is important to make sure our platform is supportive and encouraging to those who want to express their ideas in English.

We are trying to bridge between Kurdistan, its Kurdish diaspora, and the outside world through knowledge production about our society, art, literature, and cultural production, but from a critical point of view.

We are lucky to have a new wave of egalitarian and progressive generation of men and women, who are active against patriarchy, oppressive regimes, and are for rights and freedoms of women.

One highlight of this project is that it’s exposing Kurdish masculinity, violence against women, and advocates for feminism and feminist critique of artistic production that reinforces subordination of women.

5. Jacobsen: How can people help out? Can they donate money or expertise?

Mahmoud: We need all kinds of support. Financial support for our activities in Kurdistan and abroad. As well as expertise from those who know more about art, literature and editing, we need reviewers for artists’ work, music, films, and short stories as well as poetry. We have a wealth of Kurdish literature, art, and poetry that needs exploration and reviewing.

6. Jacobsen: We were talking one time about war and trauma, and women’s rights. You idly asked, “Why are people like this? Why do they go to war? Will they ever learn? Why do they repeat these same mistakes?” I mentioned the several tens of thousands of years of evolutionary history and gave an academic response.

You know Scott, sometimes, I realise that despite the wealth of literature on war, be it history books, poetry, photography, movies etc., some people still don’t ask themselves this simple question; why war?

Why should they support their oppressive governments into war? Hundreds of years of repetitive wars in different contexts and format, still humanity cannot learn from the past. It’s true most ordinary civilians are often opposed to war, but it is governments who decide it and they are the ruling class who do not suffer themselves but it’s the ordinary people who pay the price.

I wish one day comes when people no longer go to war on the order of their government. Another thing makes me feel sick when I think about it, is the use of science in the civilised west and its scientists who continue to produce latest weapons and atomic bombs. Have you realised how many governments possess atomic bombs?

Just imagine if they were used in any wars what will happen to our beautiful planet? To life, to people to animals, trees and flowers, to the birds and even insects? I wish the “clever” scientists of the advanced capitalist machine ask themselves this question why creating all these weapons? Why not try to find cure for disease instead?

Why not spend their lives in a good cause to serve humanity instead of thinking and working day and night of how to invent a new weapon, rocket, bomb or bullet. This is gross, this why sometimes I question the word “human beings” in this case, what kind of humans are they?

7. However, we kept going. You agreed with the explanation, but asked, “Why can’t people be like other animals, like the birds? All they do is sing.” We laughed about that. I reflect on that and think about it.

Mahmoud: Yes, indeed, we did speak about so many things and with some laughter. You know Scott, these issues are so tough, and sad. If I lose sense of humour, I might get trapped in these memories for ever in a very sad and traumatising way.

This not to reduce the importance of these issues. But for us as survivors and activists who fight against the causes of these wars and for rights of people, we have to be hopeful, full of life, and love laughter, songs, and music.

This is why I like birds. They produce these nice sounds, almost as a special song of their own. When I go to the park, especially to Hampstead Heath, I look out for the birds. Those who sing, without any particular reason. They just sing. This makes me happy.

You know Scott, the more we read about war academically or in literature or poetry, even in photos or art about war, it still cannot tell us enough about the reasons of why wars still happen. Why men specifically speaking go to war or make war?

The problem is end of one war is the start of another one. This is what I have seen in my life. No reasoning, justification or excuse can legitimize any war in my opinion.

As much as I am against war, and hate war, and those who start war, I think to myself, “When you are invaded, then you need resistance. When there is resistance, there is glorification. When there is glorification, then there is sacrifice and the story goes on, till we see there is too much destruction and many lives are lost.”

Growing up as a Kurd, we were and still always are a project for invasion and colonisation. This is why resistance is important and often necessary to survival.

I hope there comes one day when the capitalist countries stop making weapons and selling them to our government. I hope that human beings come to a state where they no longer resort to war and invasion of other countries. I just want to live in peace and see peace prevail on our planet.

References

  1. Fantappie, M. (2011, January 30). Houzan Mahmoud of Owfi Tells Us About Her Role in the Struggle for Equality in Iraq and Kurdistan. Retrieved from https://www.w4.org/en/wowwire/equality-human-rights-social-justice-in-iraq-kurdistan/.
  2. IHEU. (2008, September 31). Volunteer of the month: Houzan Mahmoud. Retrieved from http://iheu.org/volunteer-of-the-month-houzan-mahmoud/.
  3. Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, December 8). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One). Retrieved from https://in-sightjournal.com/2017/12/08/mahmoud-one/.
  4. Jacobsen, S.D (2017, July 4). Interview with Houzan Mahmoud – Co-Founder, The Culture Project. Retrieved from http://conatusnews.com/interview-houzan-mahmoud/.
  5. Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, June 24). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud — Co-Founder, Culture Project. Retrieved from https://medium.com/humanist-voices/an-interview-with-houzan-mahmoud-co-founder-the-culture-project-7c8861d186a1.
  6. Mahmoud, H. (2006, September 27). A dark anniversary. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/sep/27/ontheoccasionof24thseptember.
  7. Mahmoud, H. (2006, June 12). A symptom of Iraq’s tragedy. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/jun/12/theendofzarqawitheusmade.
  8. Mahmoud, H. (2004, March 8). An empty sort of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/mar/08/iraq.gender.
  9. Mahmoud, H. (2005, August 14). Houzan Mahmoud: Iraq must reject a constitution that enslaves women. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/houzan-mahmoud-iraq-must-reject-a-constitution-that-enslaves-women-5347236.html.
  10. Mahmoud, H. (2005, January 28). Houzan Mahmoud: Why I Am Not Taking Part in These Phoney Elections. Retrieved from https://www.vday.org/node/989.html.
  11. Mahmoud, H. (2007, May 2). Human chattel. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/may/02/humanchattel.
  12. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 7). It’s not a matter of choice. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/07/wearingtheveilhasneverbee.
  13. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 10). Kobane Experience Will Live On. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kobane-isis_b_5958150.html.
  14. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 7). Kurdish Female Fighters and Kobanê Style Revolution. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kurdish-female-fighters-_b_5944382.html.
  15. Mahmoud, H. (2016, November 1). Mosul And The Plight Of Women. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/mosul-isis-women_b_12740882.html.
  16. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 17). The price of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/17/655000isnotjustanumber.
  17. Mahmoud, H. (2007, April 13). We say no to a medieval Kurdistan. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/apr/13/thefightforsecularisminku1.
  18. Mahmoud, H. (2007, December 21). What honour in killing?. Retrieved from https://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2007/12/women-rights-iraqi-honour.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Culture Project.

[2] Individual Publication Date: December 15, 2017 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] MA, Gender Studies, SOAS-University of London.

[4] Photographs courtesy of Houzan Mahmoud.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two) [Online].December 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, December 15). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, December. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (December 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):December. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One) [Internet]. (2017, December; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eleven)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: December 8, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,682

ISSN 2369-6885

 

Abstract

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. She discusses: impact of war on personal life; injustice and death in home territory; the impulse for war and atrocities; previous and current Iraq governments; respects for Kurds and Kurdish Culture; impact on women and children, as innocents in general; and rebuilding a generation who lost education, nutrition, family members, and reliable governmental support and institutions.

Keywords: Culture Project, feminism, Houzan Mahmoud, Iraq, Kurdistan, Kurds.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A.: Co-Founder, Culture Project (Part One)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1.Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When I reflect on the nature of war and conflict, the statistics tell one story. The personal narratives tell another. You experienced war, so I want to explore the latter with you. We did some work together, whether interviews or editing articles for Culture Project. How did war impact your life?

Houzan Mahmoud: This is a long story. It’s not easy to describe it. I shared the pain and sorrow of horrors of war with my family, friends, neighbours, and thousands of others. Therefore, telling my own story might be a fraction of a very small part of a huge story, the problem is those people who haven’t seen war, and only get statistics about it. They really have no clue how ugly, insane, and inhumane war is.

There is nothing humane about it. It’s only about bullets, air raids, bombardments, and shootings. It is all about sounds, sounds of bombs, and the wounded, really nasty and annoying sounds of different levels. Sometimes, even when the war is over, it stays with you.

Anything that falls, breaks, or explodes, even if it has nothing to do with war. It still connects with the images of war, the sounds and noises, and the destruction comes alive again in your mind. There is another thing I hate most along with war: the military uniform, especially of those that belonged to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

That particular clothing of men and their guns was repulsive, as it will always stay in your mind as a symbol of killing. Men in uniforms who kill. I spent the first twenty years of my life like this. I witnessed the Iraq-Iran war, the sanctions, the first Gulf War, then the Kurdish uprising in 1991 and its aftermath of instability.

2. Jacobsen: How did you cope, if you did, experiencing or witnessing widespread injustice and death in the home territory?

Mahmoud: Interestingly, you do cope. Sometimes, you get used to the situation. You become creative in finding life in small things that might have not mattered to you before. You try your best to protect your life, because it becomes more precious to you. You will do your best to live.

You want to live more. It may be the idea of a better life and future helped us to cope better. The idea that one day the war will be over. That we can start a normal life again. The reality is even when the war ends life is never like before again. By the end of the war, we would have lost many of our loved ones. We would have sorrowed and grieved.

Sometimes, you might even think the dead are the luckiest because they are gone, and we are here to pick up pieces, to mourn and to remember the bombs, the rockets, the air raids, in addition to living under dictator.

To sum up, the love of life, the beauty of this planet, and my ideals for a world without war, without the suffering of human beings keeps me going. I enjoy nature. I love seeing flowers, trees, and parks, but also human creativity such as art, music, cinema, and dance.

There is a lot to be happy about in life. I see all of what happened to me as different chapters of my life. Today, I live a new chapter of my life. I am happy to have survived, but I always remember those who didn’t make it. Their memories will stay with me forever.

3. Jacobsen: What impulse does war serve for us? Why do men commit most of the atrocities, to you?

Mahmoud: It is hard to have this discussion, there has been a lot of writings, talks and research into ‘why war happens?’ From sociological, psychological, political, economic and cultural aspects, at the same time, it’s hard to come up with one concrete answer.

Let’s not forget that after the First World War, there were more than ten million people who died in the battle fields in Europe.  Two leading thinkers (Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein) started to debate as to why, what could be the reason. Is it human’s destructive impulse, the lust for hate and destruction as Einstein wrote to Freud? What could be the reason?

They were shocked and burdened by the war themselves, but, look, even the Second World War broke out, and then many more wars across the world in different times and places.

I find it hard to solely blame this on human nature and assert that humans by nature harbour hate and violence. A lot of this violence and hatred is learnt. It is taught by the state through its apparatuses such as education, military, religion, media, and political ideology in general.

I have been at the receiving end of so many wars. I never wanted to be; I never harboured hate towards the people on the other side.

I saw a state, a bloody nation-state, backed by international forces, where weapons were sold to Iraq and Iran by the “civilised” western government, but we the ordinary people on both sides were the victims. Or those who were forced into military conscription had to go and fight a war that had nothing to do with them. So many soldiers who were ordinary people from the poor background died in these wars for nothing.

In our case, even when I look at it now, a lot of countries in the Middle East are drowning in bloodshed. There is a huge intervention by imperialists. They have an interest – both political and economic.

I, therefore, would find a Marxian approach to war more accurate in terms of its focus on modern wars are results of the competition for resources and markets between great imperialist powers, maintaining that these wars are expected consequences of the capitalist class system and their free market.

You hardly see men from the upper ruling classes die in these wars. You see mostly or only the poor who in the process of war become a burning fuel for the capitalist killing machines. Imperialists vying for the monopoly of power, expansion, and resources using religion, race, nationality, and other excuses to invade, kill, and occupy places.

4. Jacobsen: How does the current leadership of Iraq compare with the prior leadership?

Mahmoud: It is really not a good idea to compare. What do I compare this new Iraqi regime with? With the previous regime of genocide, dictatorship, a government that was responsible for mass graves and mass exactions? It is very sad to be comparing regimes after forty years of oppression and dictatorship.

The current Iraqi regime was a product of US/UK occupation, so they gave birth to it. It is an ethno-sectarian and religious establishment. They are so corrupt and indulged in inner fighting between different sects of Islam. They didn’t have time to fight with Kurds in the beginning.

There was the referendum of Kurdistan, which was even non-binding, where people peacefully voted and expressed their wish to be independent from Iraq. Yet, they brought their worst militias to invade Kurdistan and the language they use in their media and official statements is very similar to the language that was used under Saddam’s regime against Kurds.

I have opposed this Islamist and ethno-sectarian regimes from its establishment and there is no hope in them.

5. Jacobsen: Do they respect the Kurds or Kurdish culture?

Mahmoud: They respect no one, let alone Kurds. These are militia-based political parties, extremely sectarian. They act as mercenaries for regional as well as international powers.

Kurds have always had high aspirations for freedom, social justice, and rights. They don’t accept being treated as second-class citizens in their own lands. We have a history of the struggle for our rights. We will oppose whoever undermines and takes away those rights from us: be it a Kurdish government or Arab, or Islamists, and so on.

It is a basic human dignity. No one accepts being degraded and treated like a half-human or subordinate. Kurdistan has always been the centre of progressive politics, the left and progressive movements always were established there. The current revolution of Rojava is the latest example of an inclusive, egalitarian alternative.

When political parties in the Iraqi government have no ideological bases that recognises basic human rights and dignity, then they haven’t learnt the lesson, they only continue with their nationalistic, almost fascistic, rhetoric of ‘Iraqi unity’, and so on.

They have been dividing Iraq along lines of religious sects, ethnic backgrounds, and persecuting religious people who are not Muslims like Yezidis, Christians, and Shabaks.

Imagine if a government is such a failure and they have been fuelling the division and instead of making human rights and equal citizenship superior to every sectarian agenda then people will not call for break-up of Iraq.

6. Jacobsen: How does war impact women and children who remain innocent?

Mahmoud: Like in every war, women are the target due to their gender. Rape is always used as a weapon of war. For example, in the latest invasion of Kurdistan by Iraqi militias, there are many reports that they have raped Kurdish women and exploded homes of Kurdish civilians.

They are not even shy. They post them on social media, how they torture Kurdish men, how they kill them, and how they abuse the children and the elderly. Such militias are war criminals and mercenaries, who don’t think, but only kill and rape.

This takes the question to women’s armed resistance and how self-defence is as important as defending the cities from invaders. Unfortunately, these women were defenceless ordinary civilians, who never thought they would be victims of rape by the army or criminal gangsters of a government that claims to be our government and wants us to live in a “united” Iraq.

7. Jacobsen: How does a country rebuild a generation who lost education, nutrition, family members, and reliable governmental support and institutions?

Mahmoud: To such governments, people’s welfare is the last thing they would think about. Imagine that Iraq is turned into a mafia land, a bunch of mafia with armed militias, and weapons protecting only their own interest both politically and financially.

They always need a story to maintain a narrative that the “nation” or the “country” is in danger in order to start small wars to send poor people to be killed, then they make people forget about their rights, health, education, housing: everything.

They came to power in 2003. To this day, most people don’t have electricity, clean water, or medicine. Iraq, including Kurdistan, is up for grabs. This is how it has operated since then. Multinational companies and local corrupt rulers have turned people’s lives into a living hell. So, there are no institutions as such, all corrupt, and dysfunctional. They have more alignments to one party or another. The interests of the citizen is the last thing that counts.

Iraq is a name only, empty of content, empty of the most basic human rights and dignity. If you hear the rhetoric of politicians in these regions, what they say under the name of “nation,” “country,” and “our people” is overwhelming, you would say, “Wow, what great politicians, they love their people. They are doing all they can for them…” In reality, it’s only lies and nonsense. The rhetoric that every dictator is saying and using against the best interests of the common person, the citizenry.

I have lived and remember Iraq as this empty shell, where millions were killed and massacred for its sake, but it doesn’t really exist at least for its majority poor, who are workers and women.

It has never offered us, and particularly me, anything apart from suffering and loss.

That’s why I have dedicated all my life to support ordinary civilians, especially women throughout Iraq and Kurdistan who have been silenced and their rights are curtailed. So, I only have my voice to speak up, and a pen to write.

I think this is enough for a feminist to expose these patriarchal, masculinist chauvinist, and dictatorial regimes.

References

  1. Fantappie, M. (2011, January 30). Houzan Mahmoud of Owfi Tells Us About Her Role in the Struggle for Equality in Iraq and Kurdistan. Retrieved from https://www.w4.org/en/wowwire/equality-human-rights-social-justice-in-iraq-kurdistan/.
  2. IHEU. (2008, September 31). Volunteer of the month: Houzan Mahmoud. Retrieved from http://iheu.org/volunteer-of-the-month-houzan-mahmoud/.
  3. Jacobsen, S.D (2017, July 4). Interview with Houzan Mahmoud – Co-Founder, The Culture Project. Retrieved from http://conatusnews.com/interview-houzan-mahmoud/.
  4. Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, June 24). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud — Co-Founder, Culture Project. Retrieved from https://medium.com/humanist-voices/an-interview-with-houzan-mahmoud-co-founder-the-culture-project-7c8861d186a1.
  5. Mahmoud, H. (2006, September 27). A dark anniversary. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/sep/27/ontheoccasionof24thseptember.
  6. Mahmoud, H. (2006, June 12). A symptom of Iraq’s tragedy. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/jun/12/theendofzarqawitheusmade.
  7. Mahmoud, H. (2004, March 8). An empty sort of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/mar/08/iraq.gender.
  8. Mahmoud, H. (2005, August 14). Houzan Mahmoud: Iraq must reject a constitution that enslaves women. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/houzan-mahmoud-iraq-must-reject-a-constitution-that-enslaves-women-5347236.html.
  9. Mahmoud, H. (2005, January 28). Houzan Mahmoud: Why I Am Not Taking Part in These Phoney Elections. Retrieved from https://www.vday.org/node/989.html.
  10. Mahmoud, H. (2007, May 2). Human chattel. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/may/02/humanchattel.
  11. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 7). It’s not a matter of choice. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/07/wearingtheveilhasneverbee.
  12. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 10). Kobane Experience Will Live On. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kobane-isis_b_5958150.html.
  13. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 7). Kurdish Female Fighters and Kobanê Style Revolution. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kurdish-female-fighters-_b_5944382.html.
  14. Mahmoud, H. (2016, November 1). Mosul And The Plight Of Women. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/mosul-isis-women_b_12740882.html.
  15. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 17). The price of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/17/655000isnotjustanumber.
  16. Mahmoud, H. (2007, April 13). We say no to a medieval Kurdistan. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/apr/13/thefightforsecularisminku1.
  17. Mahmoud, H. (2007, December 21). What honour in killing?. Retrieved from https://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2007/12/women-rights-iraqi-honour.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Culture Project.

[2] Individual Publication Date: December 8, 2017 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] MA, Gender Studies, SOAS-University of London.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Houzan Mahmoud.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One) [Online].December 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, December 8). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, December. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (December 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):December. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part One) [Internet]. (2017, December; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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