The Best Defense Is Not To Offend!

Many people travel outside their own country and when some of them do, they might believe that they can speak ill of anybody and that that person (or persons) will not be able to understand them because they are speaking in a language which is not that of the country they happen to be in. For instance, a group of people from Spain might travel to China and believe that because Spanish is not the language of China that they can say what ever they wish in front of the local population with the presumed safety that their perhaps words of malice will not be understand. I however, for my part have seen many examples in my life where this is perhaps one of the worst assumptions one can make along with thinking that a heterosexual can not become infected with the HIV virus.

My first encounter with something of the sort actually occurred in Spain when I was on a train and speaking to a fellow American in English. It was in the middle of the night that two men and a woman got on the train and upon hearing us speaking English started making comments about us in Spanish. These comments ranging from the way we looked to other matters yet definitely in what could be described as a derogatory fashion. I, for my part understood everything they said perfectly as I happen to speak not only Spanish but 5 other languages yet despite understanding them; I neither said or did anything to give away the fact that I was understanding every word which was being said in their conversation. I being one who believes that words and comments do not have any more meaning than the one we choose to give them and if we ignore them; they will be as harmless on to us as the air which passes by. I did however wonder what their reaction would have been had I made it clear to them that I did speak Spanish but I just figured that I would not bother with such people.

Of course, if had been a friend of theirs I would have advised them not to speak in such a way about anybody who is in hearing range because they just might understand and take serious offence. I, for my part did not but then again I am not naïve enough to believe that everybody would have reacted as I did. This being the reason that I avoid making the same kind of presumptions about people's ability to understand a foreign language.

I also experienced something similar once when I was in Poland speaking Spanish to a friend of mine. It happened when a group of men entered the place where we were at speaking German and I said in Spanish that one of them was wearing an ear-ring. Of course, I just mentioned it as a fact and left it at that however one of them turned around and asked me in Spanish if I did not like the ear-ring which did surprise me at the time. It being a case that though they were German, they studied in Barcelona which explained why their Spanish was more than fluent enough to understand what I had said. I however had not said anything insulting apart from pointing out a fact yet if I had been less cautious perhaps I might have offended which is the last thing one should ever look to do. It being like I once heard Chuck Norris say in a deodorant commercial. Chuck Norris claiming the following fragment of definite wisdom "sometimes the best defense is not to offend!".

As additional examples of this I can mention the following. A Polish man, whom I once met told me how on a trip to New York, he encountered a black taxi driver (did not mention if he was American or not) who upon hearing him speak Polish to his friend; made it clear that he too spoke Polish. This taxi driver having learnt the Polish language due to having had a Polish girlfriend. Another case of the same was the one which was presented to me by a woman from Barcelona, who told me that once she and a friend of hers were walking down the streets of Warsaw speaking; not even Spanish but Catalan. This being a language which is rarely if ever spoken outside of Spain yet strangely enough a young Polish girl started following them and eventually approached them and in Catalan told them that she studied this language in the university of Warsaw.

In conclusion, I would say to those who travel outside their own country or see foreigners in their own country that it might be preferable not to make comments which are insulting about those around them; as they just might be capable of understanding. This being a lesson which a woman from Holland learnt the hard way when she found out the meaning of the Polish word "kurwa" from a friend of hers. This particular word not being the kind one should say to a woman which is sort of like the Polish equivalent of "slut" or "bitch". This woman however chose to go around Amsterdam saying this word to other women with the foolish confidence that they would not understand. This woman however got a very rude awaking when she said it to a Polish woman. It being this particular Polish woman who in contrast to myself did not turn the other cheek when insulted but turned her cheek by slapping her across the face as hard as she could.

As an after thought I would suggest to those who feel the need to make such comments of the kind which may insult, that they wait till they are out of hearing distance from those they speak ill of. As not all will be so friendly as I was to ignore what was said about me.

My name is Gianni Truvianni, author of many an article to be found on the internet along with the book "New York's Opera Society". My works also include the books "What Should Not Matter", "Love Your Sister" and several others which still remain unpublished though I am presently looking to change this.
By Gianni Truvianni

CNN's War On Modern Day Slavery, A Noble Failure Or Self Promotion?

For the last month or so CNN has been on a campaign to try to eradicate what it considers to be "modern day slavery" in what they have to come to call a war. This being very similar to what the Bush administration started back in the late 80s when it declared a war on drugs. It being George Bush who was convinced that he could win a war against drug dealers, and above all drugs, in order that they might either be kept out of the United States or at least have their amounts reduced. Of course the United States with its vast resources was able to go after drug dealers and even have several of them arrested as well as stop tons of drugs from entering the United States. This so called war on drugs even capturing among its many trophies the then President of Panama, Manuel Noriega; who was brought back to the United States after an American invasion removed him from power.

The United States being convinced that the arrest of Manuel Noriega along with many other drug lords or what ever they are called; would lead to a reduction in the amount of drugs entering the United States which it did not. It being a case that not only did drugs not stop entering the United States but their amount was not even diminished in the very least. The United States quickly learning that for every kilo of cocaine they managed to confiscate, 50 or so got by them and for drug dealer they arrested and managed to convict; another one or perhaps even more took his or her place. It naturally, being a loosing battle in which the United States was trying to cure the symptoms and not the illness which was not that there was too much cocaine entering the United States but that the demand in the United States was too high. There being an overwhelming number of people who were not only willing but able to spend hundreds of dollars a week or even a day to support their cocaine habits.

All of which making the drug trade most lucrative and worth risking a long prison sentence and that was if one was caught which was not even the case of most. The USA's war on drugs eventually went down as being a complete failure as will CNN's war on modern day slavery. It being a case that CNN is committing the same error as the United States did in not going after the source of the problem they were trying to solve.

In the case of "modern day slavery" which basically involves human trafficking, child pornography, forced child labor and sweat shops; the problem goes way beyond that of law and in to one which humanity is as far as can be from solving. This in spite of all its modern day technology and this being the desperate poverty that causes the above mentioned problems. It being the desperate poverty in some countries such as Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan along with many other countries which forces many to have to resort to desperate measures to try to stay alive. Of course and added to the desperate poverty which not only causes hunger but malnutrition to the point of putting some of the verge of starvation; there is also civil wars and genocide which practically forces some to have to flee their homes to travel to other countries.

All of which creating a situation so dire for some that they will do anything to get out of their own country and travel to any country; where they might find food and the money they need to survive as well as a chance to escape the dangers back home. Naturally, the developed countries will not accept these people nor do these people have the means to get to those countries even if they did permit them to enter with legal visas. It is this precise set of circumstances which I have mentioned which leads to human trafficking. As these people will then willingly sell themselves to human traffickers just so they might at least have food to not only feed themselves but their children. It being these human traffickers, who in fact to a certain extent are helping these people escape the hardships of their own countries.

This naturally, at the cost of loosing their own freedom yet to these people, almost any hardship is preferable to the one which they faced in their own country. Most people in the developed world could not imagine what something of the sort is like to have so few options in life that working as a sex slave or in a factory 7 days a week, almost without pay; is preferable to going back to their own countries yet for many all over the world this is their everyday reality. Some of these so called slaves considering such lives as luxurious compared to the ones they left behind in their countries of origin.

From another point of view the war on modern day slavery will be even more difficult because to a certain extent, it is even harder to determine what exactly qualifies as "modern day slavery". As it was just the other day that I saw on CNN that a boy, ten years old or so and his brothers were being made to work in a factory in Afghanistan in order to pay off a loan their father had taken. It not being clear if the boys were working to pay off just the loan or perhaps added interest on the loan yet it was a case that the boys' father had taken this loan and was using his children's labor to pay back the money he had borrowed which was used for medical expenses. As for the factory, they to a certain extent had taken a risk in lending somebody money without any collateral yet such was apparently the case though I ask how does this qualify as "modern day slavery"? After all, nobody forced this man to take out a loan from this factory, who all things considered; did lend money which saved somebody's life and only wanted to get it back in a legal way which did not require anybody to be sold in to prostitution or anything of the sort. Naturally, one could always mention the age of the children in question yet this is more a product of a nation's desperate poverty than a matter which can simply be solved by pointing the finger of blame at a factory for lending out money and wanting it repaid.

It also not being the case of an indentured servant, who spent his whole life trying to pay off not only a debt but interest on a debt which accumulated at a rate which was much higher than the amount of money he or she earned. This basically meaning that the debt would never be paid off and that even his or her children would have to work to pay off the loan. Of course, in all this we can also mention how in America some people are so desperate to go to college that they will take out loans which will take them several years to pay back. These loans being made at very high interest rates which means that a person just out of college will spend his or her first years after completing his or her studies; basically working just to pay off his or her education.

In all this, I do not wish it to be understood that I am in favor of modern day slavery anymore than I am in favor of old day slavery yet if one thinks about it carefully; one will in my opinion come to the conclusion that this is just the byproduct of the desperate poverty which is to be found in some countries. It being this poverty along with the civil wars, famine and violence which are the real culprits for the above mentioned ills of society. All of which meaning that some form of modern day slavery such as the selling of children, women and men, sex slaves, sweat shops, etc will always exist as long as there are conditions such as the ones listed above. It being these conditions which are the ones which must be addressed first but then again; they are the ones which are the most difficult of all to eliminate.

In all this CNN might be able to close down a sweat shop here or there or have a group of human traffickers arrested here or there but at the end of the day; this will not make a bit of difference as long as the cause of the problem is not taken care off. This however being where CNN is powerless to stop modern day slavery which makes me think that they are either very naïve to think they can or perhaps just looking for a noble failure which will allow them to be seen as those who at least tried. As was the case when the United States declared the war on drugs which it undoubtedly lost as will CNN loose theirs on modern day slavery.

In conclusion, I would say that though I am against modern day slavery, the facts are that while conditions of extreme poverty along with civil wars prevail in some countries; there will always be people who are willing to do anything to leave those countries. Thus creating a market for those who are to a certain are helping these people even if it is by offering them a life which most of us would never want but to those who are truly desperate; it is even a step up and way to find something better.

My name is Gianni Truvianni, author of many an article to be found on the internet along with the book "New York's Opera Society". My works also include the books "What Should Not Matter", "Love Your Sister" and several others which still remain unpublished though I am presently looking to change this.

Great Moments In Opera, "Via, Resti Servita, Madama Brillante" From Mozart's "Figaro"

The aria "Via, Resti Servita, Madama Brillante" is basically two good women in love with the same man yet one older (Marcellina) and one younger (Susana); arguing over which one of them should go through the door first. Both trying to convince the other with what could be labeled as polite insults which could also be taken as compliments that it is their place to yield the right of way to the other.

Susana (the younger of the two and Figaro's fiancé) saying things like "madame of honor", "the love of Spain", "your habit" and "your age". It being this last comment which really seems to annoy Marcellina, (the older of the two) the lady of nobility; who responds in kind or perhaps in unkind by saying "the new wife, the belle of the count, your merits and your place. This as all the while they both repeat that they know their place in society and what is required of them. As they exchange offers for the other to go first by claiming "non primo le toca, (you first) non toca lei (no it should be you to go first).

As for the music during this witty exchange between these two ladies, who latter on would be friends though have clearly not arrived at that point; it is typical of Mozart's style in this opera. It being light and airy in a way that seems to be floating and constantly moving back and forth as if going from right to left and back again. This while Susana and Marcellina sing in perfect harmony with Marcellina starting the line to be continued by Susana as they create a lovely melody. It in a way being strange how Susana and Marcellina manage to sing in such a fashion that shows complete co-operation with each other. This in spite of the fact that they are trying to tear each other down with elegant verbal abuse.

In conclusion, I would say that it is a shame that "Via, Resti Servita, Madama Brillante" is often ignored when the best arias from Figaro are mentioned. I, being of the opinion that it really captures the brilliance of Mozart along with the wit and humor in this; one of the most popular operas ever written. I for my part, would also say that though many mezzo-sopranos have sung the role of Susana; it is Alison Hagley's interpretation which is definitely among the best I have ever heard. Alison Hagley's voice not only capturing the role of Susana to perfection but it even seeming that her joyful personality and looks had been created by nature to play the part of the scheming maid. This being how Mozart, himself describes the character of Susana or at least; the way he does in the film "Amadeus".

My name is Gianni Truvianni, author of many an article to be found on the internet along with the book "New York's Opera Society". My works also include the books "What Should Not Matter", "Love Your Sister" and several others which still remain unpublished though I am presently looking to change this.

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