November 14, 2017

Why Atheism and Religion Are Both Cut From the Same Cloth

This post has been contributed.

Religion is something that you either love or hate. You either follow religion deeply and spiritually by surrendering yourself to a god, or you follow atheism and reject the presence of any god. Both have their arguments and both are locked in an eternal struggle for dominance. It’s become such a problem that it feels like both atheism and religion have been taken to such extremes that people have forgotten the true purpose of both beliefs. There are plenty of articles on the internet such as this one from BigThink.com that try to compare the two, but very rarely do we see articles like this one that attempts to bridge the gap between both systems.

In order to shed some light on this opinion, let’s dive into a couple of similarities between atheism and religion.

Are bibles and textbooks really all that different? Image Source

Both religion and atheism build foundations on life

Religion believes that a god created their world and its inhabitants. Most atheists believe that the Big Bang is what started life in our universe. Both sides argue their points, but something is clear: they are both theories and there is no solid proof. However, that’s not what we should be focusing on when comparing the two.

Religion and atheism are both beliefs. One is a belief that inspired texts should be studied and followed, and the other believes that factual texts are what we should be following. The creation of the universe is just the starting point on which both are created. There has to be a start to something, which is why they both have different ways of explaining how we as a human race came to be. In a sense, both atheism and religion have ways of explaining the beginning of our world, but neither can truly be tested so we must rely on faith.

Both religion and atheism are manuals for living

Atheism follows a simple concept: deities do not exist and there is a proper scientific explanation for how everything happens. Religion follows a concept that is, while the direct opposite, actually incredibly similar; deities exist and everything can be explained through faith and god.

The similarity here is that both religion and atheism teach you how to approach life. They are both made to guide you throughout life and to help make decisions easier. Whether you study religion at retreat such as CenacleSisters.org or through our local church, the teachings give you a solid foundation on how you should approach life and how you should make difficult decisions. On the side of atheism, you’re taught to always question everything and to use solid science in order to explain something.

In short, both religion and atheism are disciplines that help you throughout life. They both give you guidance but they do it in their own way. They help you deal with tough situations, they help you learn about life and the world and they have their own set of guidelines that you’re expected to follow.

Some final words

Atheism and religion are often pitted against each other. However, they are fundamentally the same in that they both provide people with guidance in life. No matter which you follow, life becomes easier to explain and live in thanks to the methods used to describe how things come about. Regardless of which system you follow, just remember that both beliefs are created equally.

November 13, 2017

Beyond The Diagnosis - When You're Facing Tough News

This post has been contributed.

No matter what age you are, hearing that your health is failing is tough news to take. You might not even feel that unwell. Perhaps you were expecting the worst? It doesn’t matter because it will always come as a shock that feels like a punch to the gut. Whatever your diagnosis, it’s the prognosis you need to focus on now. You need to know what you’ve got to do to make things better.

Cry, Scream, Shout
The first thing you need to do is digest the news. That’s not going to happen on the day. It might not even happen that month! But along the journey toward acceptance, you’re going to feel every other emotion that exists. Yes, you should cry. Yes, you should scream. And you should definitely shout and yell about how unfair this is. Bottling it up, ignoring it, or refusing to believe it does your emotional and mental health no good at all. Get it out so you can get on with taking action.


Research
Doctors don’t tend to be great communicators. They’re not good at explaining things, and they don’t have time to detail everything that might happen. Your treatment options will be delivered like a menu. What you want is the full ingredients list including the issues of digestion after you’ve eaten it! Research is key right now. Learn everything you can. And make sure you’re getting the latest information like this cancer study that Poseida Therapeutics detailed in an article. Know what you’re up against and what the options are.

Address How You Got Here
Of course, we all start wondering ‘why me’ at some point in the process. You might be asking yourself what you’ve done wrong. Often, it’s just a case of genetics. But there are certain lifestyle choices you might have made that increased your risks of health problems. Simple things that are hard to avoid like stress can be one of the factors. Maybe you smoked, or perhaps your diet is poor? Fix these issues now and give yourself the best chance of living a healthy life going forward.


Gather Your Network Of Support
We all need people in our lives, especially when we’re feeling frail and frightened. Start to mend those relationships that broke down. Engage with friends and family regularly. Surround yourself with the people you trust the most. You can’t do this on your own, and you shouldn’t even try. But there will be times when you want to be alone. And there will be times when you lash out. Just make sure the people around you can handle it.

Do What You Need To Do

Whatever your prognosis, you will have a list of things you want to do. Some of these things will be actions to take to get well again. Others will be actions to take if you don’t. It’s important you give yourself the freedom to do what you need to do. We’re all different, so we’ll approach bad news in different ways. What gives you strength and courage?

November 12, 2017

Knowing Where You Stand With the Law

This post has been contributed.

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The law is in place to protect the general public and its best interests. Many of us know what to do if we witness something that seems contrary to the law: we report it to the relevant authorities. However, if you believe that you may be the individual who has come to loggerheads with the legal system, you may not be quite as aware of what is expected of you. The key to avoiding further trouble is to know exactly where you stand with the law at all times: both in terms of being a victim or a perpetrator of a crime. Here are a few key pieces of information that could help you if you ever find that you are a wanted person.


Understanding Arrest Warrants


If you believe that you may have broken a law, there may be a warrant out for your arrest. An arrest warrant essentially means that you are suspected of carrying out an offence, and a police officer is rightfully within their grounds to arrest you should they come into contact with you. They are generally issued if you are suspected of taking part in criminal activity, you have failed to appear in court when expected, or have failed to comply with pre-existing bail conditions. While arrest warrants may mean that you can be arrested, they do not necessarily mean that you will undertake jail time. If you are unsure as to whether there’s a warrant out for your arrest or not, there’s no need to worry. You can find out How to check if you have a warrant relatively easily with the use of simple, specialist online search engines. If you find that you do have a warrant, it’s time to contact your defence solicitor. It is generally best to then hand yourself over to the police rather than avoiding your inevitable arrest.


Being Familiar with the Arrest Process


Your legal rights are liable to vary depending on your location. However, if you are arrested, there’s certain procedure that will take place and a protocol that you should follow to prevent further charges being made against you. Firstly, it is important to remain calm and not panic. Lashing out, using abusive language, or resisting arrest is likely to make the series of events much more difficult and unpleasant for you. Then we have the usual statement that will be used by the officer while you are being placed under arrest: you do not have to say anything to the police, but if you are later charged with a crime, and you have not mentioned, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court, then this may be taken into account when deciding if you are guilty. It is generally best to remain quiet until you have consulted your solicitor, who you will be able to contact once you have arrived at the police station.


Knowing Your Rights


In the Street


If you are stopped by a police officer in any situation, you have the right to request to see their identification documents and their warrant card if they do attempt to arrest you. You can ask why you have been stopped and, if searched, you can request a record of the search after the process has been completed. You also always have the right to be treated humanely and with respect at all times.


In a Police Station


If you are detained in a police station, you can request to see the written codes governing your rights and how you are treated, to ensure that everything is being carried out lawfully. You can also ask to speak to the custody officer at any time. This is the individual who is endowed with the responsibility of ensuring your welfare at any given time. Again, you can request to know exactly why you have been arrested at any given time. Finally, you have the right to notify someone of your arrest and to contact a private solicitor. Do not panic, you cannot be kept in custody for an indefinite period of time.


In Your Home


Sometimes police will be given the authority to search your home. If they do not have a warrant, they will require your consent. If they do have a warrant, they can search your property with or without your consent. There are also certain situations when police can enter your property without your consent or a warrant, though these are less common. This could be to capture an escaped prisoner, searching your property following your arrest, to protect a life, or to prevent serious damage to the given property.

Remember that it is always essential that you know and understand your rights in relation to the law. So keep up to date and conduct further research if you are in any doubt when it comes to any legal situation.

November 09, 2017

The Weigh Up: Risk Vs. Reward

This post has been contributed.


In the modern world, most people have plenty of things in their lives to keep them entertained. From your work which occupies most of your time to the personal relationships you value so much, you always have loads on your plate. Of course, this isn’t negative and is very healthy at any stage in life. There’s one thing you might be lacking, though; risk. This is truly one of the most exciting elements in most people’s lives and will be a real chance for you to explore what makes you tick. To help you out with this, this post will be going through some of the ways you can balance the risks you take with the potential rewards you will get from them.

Probability: One of the most important parts of this whole thing is probability, as this will be the largest deciding factor in the risks you take. Follow a career path, for example, can be seen as a risk. Opting to try and become a doctor is an achievable goal, and most people will be able to do it with the right dedication and willpower. But, gunning to become an astronaut would be too risky, as you would have to put too much time into it, and you would be extremely unlikely to actually do it.

The Effort Getting There: Along with considering the likelihood of your risks being fruitful, it can also be wise to think about the effort you’re going to have to put in to get there. In the case of becoming an astronaut, you would have to dedicate a huge portion of your life to this sort of goal. If your risk is unsuccessful, you will have wasted this time, and won’t be able to get it back. This element of the process covers any money you might be putting at risk, as well.

The Payout: When you take a risk, there will almost certainly be a payout of some sort. Otherwise, there would be no point in taking it at all. Whether this is a job, money, or something else, the risk you take has to be worth it. A lot of people will ignore this part of their risk-taking. But, if you’re not careful, you could end up investing a huge amount for very little, even if things pan out well. This can be very hard when taking risks which are close to your heart. But, in reality, there’s never a good ready to cast aside logic in this sort of field.

Balancing It All: Once you’ve got an idea of each of these elements, it’s time to start balancing it all. Ideally, the risks you take should have a high probability of succeeding, like going for a promotion when you have been doing well. Along with this, though, the should also be easy to achieve, while also offering a very high payout. Of course, this sort of process can be twisted to meet your needs. American lotto online has a low probability of giving you some money, for example. But, it is also cheap to join, and you could gain a huge amount from it. This can make it worth your time and money.

Even if it may seem scary, it is often well worth taking risks in your normal life. Whether this is asking your boss for a day off or talking to that crush you’ve had for ages, you won’t be able to succeed in life without putting things on the line. Of course, though, this doesn’t have to be scary. Instead, if you simply take the right measures to balance the risks you take with the potential reward, you will find it much easier to feel secure in the decisions you make.

The risks you take never have to be too scary. This is an essential part of life, but this doesn’t mean that you have to let it ruin what you’ve built. People in the highest positions in the world have all had to take a risk at some point in their life. Big or small, this sort of decision will always shape your future, so it’s worth making sure you make the right one. One of the biggest regrets people will carry with them is being too cautious to take a risk.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on the security you give yourself when you’re avoiding risks in your day to day life. Most people don’t consider the importance of this area. But, without the right work, you won't be able to take any positive risks at all.

November 03, 2017

Dealing With Finances In An Unstable World

This post has been contributed.

With countries leaving major institutions, reckless leaders being put into power, and turmoil around the globe, nothing is impacted more than the economy. Now, more than ever, people are worried about the state of not only their own money but also the money in the hands of their government. In a world of instability, no one feels safe. Of course, though, it doesn’t have to be this way. This post is here to be your cheat sheet when it comes to overcoming the perils of modern money. So, now, it’s just a matter of making some rules and sticking to them.

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  • Your General Banking

The very first area to consider is the money you make and how you could work to improve it. Nothing makes you secure like a greater income, though a lot of people don’t know how to go about doing it. One of the best ways is through study, as this will give you the chance to get a better job, but simply working hard will also help you. Your regular salary should always go into a bank account, instead of being cash.

Once you’ve figured out your path to more money, it's time to consider how you’re going to look after what you have along the way. Budgeting is essential for a lot of people in the current climate. But, even if you don’t have to, this can still be a very worthwhile exercise. By simply limiting how much you’re allowed to spend, you will drastically improve your ability to save, while also making it easier to keep track of what you’re spending and earning.

If you manage to keep your spending under control, it should be nice and easy to avoid having to get credit all the time. But, of course, there will always be times in life when you need to have a good credit score. Buying a house, applying for a phone contract, and trying to hire a car can all be impacted by this part of your life. So, it’s a good idea to find a tool which can give you advice when it comes to improving the score you have.

A lot of the time, when it comes to your normal finances, the bank will be the very best people to help you. This sort of organization makes money from your financial success and will want to push you in the bright direction. Their advice is often free, as they already get enough from you. It’s a good idea to either call or book an appointment if you want to do this. Most professionals will be very busy and will like to have some warning before they have to help you.

Numbers on metal deposit boxes in a bank

  • Investments & Savings

When you look for financial advice around the web, a lot of people will advise you to save as much as you can, putting your money away so that it can’t be touched. Of course, though, this isn’t very helpful, as it doesn’t tell you where the money should go. Below, you can find some examples of the places you can put your money. Along with this, you will also find some information to help you to understand how much needs to be saved.

  • Savings Accounts: It’s never a good idea to keep your savings in the account you use on a daily basis. Not only will this lower your security, but it will also make it a lot easier for you to overspend. A basic savings account can be set up over the internet. With this sort of resource behind you, it will be a lot easier to start working towards improving your money. You can use a comparison tool to help you find the very best account for your cash.

  • Bonds/Other Specials: When you’re saving money for a long time, or you want to make it very hard to access, there are several other options you have to put your money away. Bonds will make a lot more money than a normal savings account. But, as a result, you have to leave the money sitting there for many years. There are a lot of different options like this. So, it could be worth talking to the bank to find the best one for you.

  • How Much To Save: One of the hardest parts of saving up is knowing how much you should save. In reality, you should never stop saving, and be always on the path to a greater hoard. As a starting target, most experts will recommend that you try to save at least three months worth of cash before you spend any money on yourself. Along with this, though, you should also consider the large purchases you may have to make in the future.

Once you’ve considered your savings, it’s time to start thinking about the real money; investment. In the modern age, there are loads of options out there to help you make some extra cash, and it is easy to tell which is good and bad. Of course, though, there are usually some ways to make your investments better. Below, you can find some examples of the different areas a lot of new investors will fail to consider.

  • Location: Where you choose to invest your money will always impact its future. In property, for example, it might be a bad time to buy at home, but looking at HDB resale price lists in Singapore, it might be a good idea to start looking East. Different parts of the world will always have different economies. So, it can be worth making sure that you choose the right place for your cash.

  • Industry: Along with location, the industry you choose can also make a huge difference to your money. At the moment, the camera industry has taken a huge hit thanks to the power found in smartphones. Investing in Samsung could be much better than Canon. To find this information, it could be worth getting the help of some investment websites and apps.

  • Risk: When it comes to investment, there is always a certain amount of risk you have to take on before you start. In most cases, though, this risk can be lowered with some simple changes to your tactics. It will be very hard for you to identify the methods you need to change. So, to help you with this, it could be worth looking for the support of a professional investor.

  • Taxation & Law

In most places throughout the world, residents have to declare their own taxes to the government to make sure that they pay enough. To do this, you will need comprehensive records of your earnings and spendings throughout the year, along with what you expect to make in the next. You should always try and stay ahead with this sort of work, completing your self-assessment long before it is due.

Two people discussing business over a table with documents

  • Getting Some Protection

Finally, it’s time to consider the protection you get for your money. When times are rough and unstable, it can often be best to aim for security rather than a quick fix. Below, you can find some examples of the different ways you can protect your finances. But, along with this, you should also be doing some research of your own to make sure you have the full scoop.

Before you can start looking for protection, it’s a good idea to consider exactly why you might need it. At the moment, a lot of people are desperate for money and will go to extreme lengths to try to get it. If this means hurting someone in the process, it doesn’t always matter. Unfortunately, this means that you have to take preemptive action, even if the odds of facing financial trauma are very unlikely.

  • Insurance: When you get into a car accident, find yourself in court, or in pretty much any other financially troubling situation, insurance is usually there to help you out. Legal insurance will make sure that you can always afford a lawyer, and home coverage will protect you from bad weather and natural disasters. A lot of people will ignore this important part of their finances. But, in reality, it can be the very best line of defence you have.

  • Some Support: Even when times are tough, it’s important to remember that you’re never alone with your money. Whether you need help from a charity or a government organization, there is usually the support you need within reaching distance, and you just have to look for it. Using forums and blogs, you can get loads of information to lead you in the right direction. It’s much better to take a financial problem head-on than it is to leave it for the future. To do this, though, you might need some support.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on securing your money in unstable times. A lot of people feel worried and insecure, at the moment. But, in reality, you don’t have to do very much work to make sure that you’re safe, and most people already have the tools they need to do it.

November 02, 2017

4 Factors Currently Influencing The Global Economy

This post has been contributed.

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The economy is inescapable. Even if you have zero interest in how money works or moves between nations, the economy still influences almost every area of your life. It influences the houses we buy, the jobs we do, and the future we are trying to develop for ourselves.

As a result, keeping an eye on the state of the global economy is generally a good idea. The world economy is more integrated that it has ever been before. No longer do countries exist as an island, with their economies reflecting the state of the nation and not much more. Countries are now dependant on one another and, to paraphrase an old saying, if a butterfly flaps its wings on one stock market then it can send a country halfway around the world into recession. The global financial crisis of 2007/8 is the perfect example of how the economy is now a worldwide issue rather than limited to each nation and its own finances.

At the time of writing, the global economy is not as healthy as one might hope it could be. There are numerous reasons for this, so let’s delve deeper and see which matters from across the globe are holding back the oh-so-treasured economic growth.

Changing Political Fortunes

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Since the 1970s, the majority of global economies have worked on neoliberal policies. Neoliberalism is generally summed up as free trade between nations and little regulation on that trade. For decades, neoliberal economics were generally accepted as the norm, the standard, and the best way for the global economy to proceed.

However, after years of recessions, turmoil, and the biggest financial crisis in living memory, it’s fair to say that many people are souring on neoliberal economics. The beliefs that are rising in its place vary wildly, which makes predicting the economic outlook all the more problematic.

There has been a resurgence of socialism in a number of countries, most intriguingly in the uber-neoliberal countries of the USA and the UK. While socialism may be thriving on the ground, however, at this point there are few governments with true socialist principles; Iceland and Costa Rica are the most notable examples, but they are not major players in the global economy.

It’s not just socialism that is experiencing a resurgence; many countries have right-wing movements that are winning power and influencing economic policy. Politics has changed, and the global economy really doesn’t like change.

Of the major G7 countries, all still adhere to neoliberal, capitalist principles-- but this seems likely to change. How it will change, and what it will change to, is very much up for debate-- creating an atmosphere of uncertainty around an economic system that has held power for nearly 50 years.

Brexit
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When the UK voted to leave the European Union, the established global consensus slipped on its axis. As a G7 member, the UK has been a part of the European project for 50 years, but a right-wing surge pulled the country out its major trading partner. Many worried what this would mean for the global economy.

The UK is currently in the midst of negotiating its withdrawal from the EU, a process which has to be completed by 2019. Talks, however, are not progressing well. This leaves a huge black mark in the economic picture; as the world’s sixth largest economy, no country is able to ignore the UK’s fortunes-- but no one can predict what those fortunes will be. Some economists predict the UK will slam into a huge recession the moment they officially leave the EU; others believe that the UK will do just fine.

What we do know is that the Eurozone is coping well with the turmoil, while the UK economy… isn’t. The UK hoped that countries would be queuing to agree trade deals with them following Brexit, but this has yet to materialize. When one of the biggest players in global economics faces such an uncertain future, the entire global system may spend the next 18 months waiting with baited breath to see what’s going to happen.

Every Major Country Has A Housing Crisis

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The housing market has always been a major influencer on economies. In fact, it was the collapse of the subprime housing market that brought on the Great Recession of a decade ago. It is therefore worrying to the economic outlook that almost every major country is suffering a housing crisis.

There are many reasons for this. Immigration is a factor; major countries’ populations are continually rising. Another factor is that the super-rich are still buying properties as investments in developed countries; houses which then go unused by the owner, denying housing stock to local residents.

There are still opportunities outside of the more developed countries. Foreign investors may be tempted by the booming housing markets in countries like India and Malaysia, countries where the search for a new property is far easier than it is in the overcrowded developed nations. There are still opportunities in emerging markets, but elsewhere, the housing market is suffering-- which has a rebound effect on the economy as a whole.

Climate Change

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We have long been warned that climate change is a problem for the future; an issue that our grandchildren will have to deal with. However, we are already living in a time when the climate is changing-- which has a huge impact on the way the global economy can function.

There is evidence of a disturbed climate throughout the globe. We know that permafrost is beginning to melt at the poles; we know that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been one of the most damaging on record; we know that the recent monsoons in Asia have been some of the worst ever recorded.

Of course, all of the above are dangers to life, and this should be the primary concern. However, there is no doubting that the changing environment is influencing the economy. As Donald Trump crudely put it, the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria has damaged the US budget. The cost of repairing the damage, helping people, providing relief centers and all the other work involved in clearing the mess left by environmental disasters is taking a huge toll on the budgets of almost every nation on earth.

The obvious solution to this problem is for future investments in slowing or outright halting the horrors that climate change can unleash on the world. At this point in time, however, there seems to be little global appetite to do this. There may be a point when the environmental costs are so severe the issue has to be examined, but we have yet to reach that point, and some of the biggest countries on the earth have outright climate change deniers is their administrations. The change in attitudes may come, but there’s no sign that will be any time soon-- and so the global economy will continue to struggle to cope with natural disasters.

So What Does The Future Hold For The Global Economy?

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Frankly, no one knows!

The one thing that economies hate more than anything is uncertainty, but we live in incredibly uncertain times. The world is changing, and the economic model as we currently recognize it may be on borrowed time. There might be a huge change in global finances on the horizon… or the current blip will be righted, and all will return to normal. The problem is that no one knows what is going to happen.

There’s also little sign of this changing; certainty is a long way off in the future, as the issues outlined above are decades in the making. So hold tight; the global economy might have to endure a few more tidal waves before it returns to calm waters.