Social Anxiety and Shyness

It is clear that many Cambodian young people experience high levels of stress. Many are fearful and will not speak in public. It is at least possible that respect for authority has been so strongly internalized by them that it has become a paralysis, preventing the young people from acting creatively and freely in society.

A friend of mine recommended a book by Gillian Butler entitled “Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness”.  I finished it this morning.  It was a good read.

It seems that there are many people who suffer silently from a paralyzing fear of certain type of social events (yours truly included) and the book accurately describes the thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns of those caught in the cycle of these types of fear.  In a simple but clear manner the author lays out a few simple clear self-help strategies to encourage people first to face and then to overcome these paralyzing fears.

The first strategy is to reduce self-consciousness by steering one’s attention away from the inner emotional turmoil to the actual context in which one is actually experiencing paralysis.  The second strategy is to alter the “automatic” thinking processes triggered by the event, especially the negative ones.  The third strategy is to try to do things a little differently by not engaging in “avoidance” behaviours.  These strategies will eventually encourage a growth in confidence in one’s ability to “weather the storms”.    The book develops each of these strategies in considerable detail.   Each strategy is accompanied by a work-sheet so that one can work through the steps in a methodical manner. Continue reading “Social Anxiety and Shyness”

Normal People and The Essex Serpent

Both novels are exquisite works of art, even if annoying. Normal People provides an almost forensic insight into the emotional lives of educated Irish young people interacting with each other as if social media is a stage on which our performances are measured. The novel rings true in this way. The Essex Serpent attempts to immerse us in Victorian world but despite the best efforts of the author, the novel seems to deal with the clash between faith and reason with a contemporary mindset.

Last month, I read two novels at the same time.  The first one – Normal People, by Irish author Sally Rooney annoyed me so much that I had to put it away for a while in favour of the second one, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry from England.  In the end, it was interesting to read both of these novels from the perspective of Cambodia just at the time when the Brexit negotiations have stalled on the question of the Irish backstop.

 

Both novels are exquisite works of art, even if annoying.  Normal People provides an almost forensic insight into the emotional lives of educated Irish young people interacting with each other as if social media is a stage on which our performances are measured. The novel rings true in this way.  The Essex Serpent attempts to immerse us in Victorian world but despite the best efforts of the author, the novel seems to deal with the clash between faith and reason with a contemporary mindset.

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However, it seems to me that the characters in Sarah Perry’s novel are well drawn and more interesting in their differences than are the two main characters in Sally Rooney’s novel.  The love affair between Connell and Marianne provides the fil conducteur, or connecting thread, of this novel. The other characters in the book are only interesting to the extent that they contribute to the main storyline.  The love affair between Cora and William provides the fil conducteur for the Essex Serpent but most of the other characters are actually interesting people with subplots of their own that provide further insights into the society of the place and time.

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Nevertheless, after reading Normal People, I came away with the impression that social media is making Irish young people narcissistic in the sense that their whole lives seem to play out on a stage where those outside the realm of social media simply do not figure.  It is as if half the world no longer exists.  The young people could be living in a cocoon where their well-educated souls are dying of suffocation. The question of the displacement of religious faith from the centre of their lives is only addressed tangentially by references to funerals and Christmas.

 

 

In relation to the Essex Serpent, I also felt that the fascination with the past hides a desire for a lost stability and consensus that the polite conflict between faith and reason used to provide.  However, there is no sense of a benevolent Providence guiding events as is found in the novels of Dickens, the Brontés and George Eliot or indeed of a malevolent destiny guiding them as in the novels of Hardy.

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In fact, it is precisely the loss of this wider worldview that seems common to both novels and marks them out as products of the post-modern age.  A friend of mine from home recently sent me a link to a TED talk by Johann Hari on how we may be misunderstanding addiction.   His central point is that those suffering from addictions feel trapped inside a cage where the only relief is their drug.  The cage is some kind of affective isolation or abandonment where “normal” social interaction with loving others is no longer possible.  The drug is the coping mechanism that produces the artificial “high”. So to love our friends out of their addiction, we need to focus our attention on the cage itself, not the drug.

Social media is becoming perhaps an intoxicating narcotic that we ingest daily without realising the harm that we are doing to ourselves.  We do not recognise the cage in which, slowly and imperceptibly, we are choosing to live.

Kung Raiya, Hong Kong, the Church and Hannah Arendt

The coastal town of Sihanoukville has become a beach and gambling resort for Chinese tourists from the mainland. Many newly constructed buildings are already falling down, uncollected rubbish is piled high in the streets and the town floods because of blocked drains. Chinese workers are everywhere. The Government is allowing massive unsupervised Chinese investment in Cambodia. There is talk of a Chinese naval base at Ream.

The works of Hannah Arendt, the political theorist and philosopher, have furnished insights into  the political situation in Cambodia,  the Catholic Church and  Hong Kong which I will attempt to explain in this blog.   A recent court case in Phnom Penh reveals the truth about the political situation here.  The insights of Hannah Arendt could help to illuminate the issues around this case.  Perhaps her work can also be applied to the political situation of the Catholic Church, of Hong Kong and of Cambodia.

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Kem Ley Commemoration

Here in Cambodia on the 13th of August last, the Court of Appeal refused the bail applications of Mr. Kung Raiya and Mr. Suong Neakpaon.  The two were arrested in July for commemorating the anniversary of the political assassination of Mr. Kem Ley, a peaceful social analyst, on the 10th of July 2016.   Apparently, the former distributed tee-shirts with an image of Kem Ley on them and the latter distributed leaflets at the site of the murder.  Mr. Kem Ley had been shot in broad daylight at a Caltex garage shortly after penning an article outlining the amount of wealth and property amassed by the Prime Minister and his family over the last few years. Continue reading “Kung Raiya, Hong Kong, the Church and Hannah Arendt”

Philosophy of Education in Khmer Literature ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរ ផ្នែកទី៣

នៅក្នុងអក្សសិលខ្មែររឿងដែលសំដែងទស្សនអប់រំផ្នែកសិលធម៌ទាំងនេះឲច្បាស់ជាងគេគឺ រឿងទុំទាវ។ ទុំជាអ្នកបួសមួយអង្គដែលច្រៀងងពិរោះហើយទាវជានារីស្អាតម្នាក់។​ នៅពេលទុំទៅភូមិ ជួបទាវ អក្នទាំងពីរស្រលាញគ្នា។​

នៅក្នុងអក្សរសិល្ប៍ខ្មែររឿងដែលសម្តែងទស្សនៈអប់រំផ្នែកសីលធម៌ទាំងនេះឲ្យច្បាស់ជាងគេគឺ រឿងទុំទាវ។ ទុំជាអ្នកបួសមួយអង្គដែលច្រៀងពិរោះហើយទាវជានារីស្អាតម្នាក់។​ នៅពេលទុំទៅភូមិជួបទាវ អ្នកទាំងពីរស្រលាញ់គ្នា។​ ទុំសឹកហើយទៅជួបទាវដែលស្រលាញ់គាត់ដូចជាប្តីរួចជាស្រេច។

Continue reading “Philosophy of Education in Khmer Literature ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរ ផ្នែកទី៣”

ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែនាសម័យបុរាណ ផ្នែកទី២ Traditional Khmer Philosophy of Education

ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរត្រូវបានបង្កប់ក្នុងស្នាដៃអក្សរសិល្ប៍ កំណាព្យ រឿងព្រេង អាយ៉ៃ រឿងនិទាន ប្រលោមលោក និងស្នាដៃអក្សារសាស្ត្រជាច្រើនទៀត។

ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរនាសម័យបុរាណ

ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរត្រូវបានបង្កប់ក្នុងស្នាដៃអក្សរសិល្ប៍ កំណាព្យ រឿងព្រេង អាយ៉ៃ រឿងនិទាន ប្រលោមលោក និងស្នាដៃអក្សរសាស្ត្រជាច្រើនទៀត។ ជាបឋម ខ្ញុំសូមតែងសម្មតិកម្មបណ្តោះអាសន្នមួយ ពោលគឺអត្ថន័យនៃទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំនេះ ត្រូវបានមើលឃើញច្បាស់ជាងគេនៅក្នុងរបៀបដោះស្រាយទំនាស់សីលធម៌ដែលផុសឡើងពីដំណើរ ជីវិតយុវជនយុវនារី។

Continue reading “ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែនាសម័យបុរាណ ផ្នែកទី២ Traditional Khmer Philosophy of Education”

Khmer Philosophy of Education? Introduction ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរ ផ្នែកទី១

ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរ
សេចក្តីផ្តើម

តាំង​ពីចាប់ផ្តើមបង្រៀនគណិតវិទ្យានៅសាកលវិទ្យាល័យភូមិន្ទភ្នំពេញនាឆ្នាំ១៩៩៣មក (ក្រោមការព្រមព្រៀងរវាងក្រសួងអប់រំយុវជន និងកីឡា និងអង្កការ Jesuit Service របស់ខ្ញុំ) ខ្ញុំតែងតែចាប់អារម្មណ៍ចំពោះរបៀបដែលនិស្សិតទាក់ទងជាមួយខ្ញុំក្នុងនាមជាគ្រូរបស់គេ។
Continue reading “Khmer Philosophy of Education? Introduction ទស្សនវិជ្ជាអប់រំខ្មែរ ផ្នែកទី១”