Most people have no idea of who is pictured above, but you should. The sight of this man should cause a similar revulsion to that of seeing Mussolini, Mao, Stalin or Hitler, as he committed an African genocide that resulted in the killing of over 10 million people in the Congo.

His name is King Leopold II of Belgium.
Most of people never learned about him in school, and have also most likely never heard about him in the media either. This is because he’s not included in the popular narrative of oppression (which includes things like U.S. slavery and the Holocaust).
King Leopold II is part of an ongoing history of colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and genocide in Africa that would clash with the popular social narratives taught in our school system today. It doesn’t fit neatly into school curriculums where, paradoxically, it is looked down upon to make overtly racist statements. However, it’s quite fine not to talk about a genocide perpetrated by European capitalist monarchs that killed over 10 million Congolese.

Belgium’s King Leopold II ran a personal empire so vast and cruel, it rivaled – and even exceeded – the crimes of even some of the worst dictators of the 20th century.
When Leopold II ascended to the throne in 1865, he ruled with the kind of gentle hand that Belgians wanted from their king after the democratization of the country in the wake of the multiple revolutions and reforms. He had great ambitions of building an overseas empire, and was convinced, like most statesmen of his time, that a nation’s greatness was directly proportional to the resources it could extract from those colonies.

He disguised his business transactions as “philanthropic” and “scientific” efforts under the banner of the International African Society and used slave labor to extract Congolese resources and services. His reign was enforced through work camps, body mutilations, torture, executions, and his own private army.

The empire was known as the Congo Free State, and Leopold II stood as its undisputed slave master. For almost 30 years, rather than being a regular colony of a European government, Congo was administered as the property of Leopold II for his personal enrichment.

The world’s largest plantation, registering at 76 times the size of Belgium, possessed rich mineral and agricultural resources and lost nearly half of its population by the time the first census counted only 10 million people living there in 1924.

Interestingly, when we learn about Africa in the U.S., we learn about a caricatured Egypt, the HIV epidemic, the surface level effects of the slave trade, and if you went to a good school perhaps something about South African Apartheid. We also see lots of pictures of starving children on commercials, safaris on animal shows and we see pictures of vast savannahs and deserts in films and movies.

What we don’t learn about is the Great African War or Leopold’s Reign of Terror during the Congolese Genocide. Leopold II essentially turned Congo into his own personal part-plantation, part-concentration camp, part-Christian ministry, and yet history fails to retell the lessons of his tyrannical endeavor.

It seems that when you kill ten million Africans — you aren’t called ‘Hitler’, your name never comes to symbolize the living incarnation of evil, and your picture doesn’t produce fear, hatred, and sorrow — rather your crimes are simply swept under the historical rug and the victims of colonialism/imperialism remain forever voiceless.

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Imagine you’re working at a school and one of the kids is starting to act up. What do you do?

Traditionally, the answer would be to give the unruly kid detention or suspension.

But in my memory, detention tended to involve staring at walls, bored out of my mind, trying to either surreptitiously talk to the kids around me without getting caught or trying to read a book. If it was designed to make me think about my actions, it didn’t really work. It just made everything feel stupid and unfair.

But Robert W. Coleman Elementary School has been doing something different when students act out: offering meditation.
Instead of punishing disruptive kids or sending them to the principal’s office, the Baltimore school has something called the Mindful Moment Room instead. The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room. Instead, it’s filled with lamps, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them calm down and re-center. They are also asked to talk through what happened.

Meditation and mindfulness are pretty interesting, scientifically.

Mindful meditation has been around in some form or another for thousands of years. Recently, though, science has started looking at its effects on our minds and bodies, and it’s finding some interesting effects.

One study, for example, suggested that mindful meditation could give practicing soldiers a kind of mental armor against disruptive emotions, and it can improve memory too. Another suggested mindful meditation could improve a person’s attention span and focus.

Individual studies should be taken with a grain of salt (results don’t always carry in every single situation), but overall, science is starting to build up a really interesting picture of how awesome meditation can be.  Mindfulness in particular has even become part of certain fairly successful psychotherapies.

Love is a tricky thing. It varies in intensity and in the specificity of emotions. It is sometimes the most beautiful thing in the world and, at other times, it’s the most horrid thing we’ve ever come face-to-face with.

It’s odd how one thing could be the cause of so many contrary feelings. But that’s what makes love so beautiful – it’s the closest thing to perfection that exists in the world, the only thing that can easily and comfortably encompass both good and evil, beautiful and ugly.
It’s the closest thing to a flawless whole that man has ever claimed to have been part of.

When we think of love, we think of the happy kind of love, the kind that is the beginning of something beautiful – something that breathes life.
There is, however, another kind of love, a much darker and sadder kind of love. It’s the love one feels when one loves someone he or she can never and will never have.

It’s the kind of love that doesn’t signal the beginning of something beautiful, but rather the end of something that might have been beautiful, but will never amount to anything more than what it is.
Contrary to popular belief or popular wishful thinking, love doesn’t always end happily. It doesn’t always result in the joining of two people, the fusing of two lives into one.

Sometimes, on rare occasions, it results in the wedging apart of the two who love each other the most. You can love someone with all your soul and never get a chance to be with that person. Even worse, you can know that you love him or her, understanding there is no possibility that the two of you will ever be together.
Some people cannot and will not ever end up together, even if they do love each other. It’s a sad truth, but a truth, nonetheless.

The fact is, love is not enough. All those fairytales, all those stories and movies you’ve heard and watched growing up, lied to you. Love is never enough because love is not rational.

You hear that love is irrational all the time, yet you still hear the same people saying that love is enough to keep two people together.
Unfortunately, we live in a world governed by rationality, and while love may be irrational, and we may manage to make it work for some time, the real world always catches up with us and our irrational illusions dissipate into thin air.
Then we are left with reality and reality doesn’t always reason the way lovers do.
Some people don’t work out together. They have habits or beliefs that make it impossible to co-habitate with the person they love. There isn’t a couple out there that loves every little thing about one another.

Sure, they may find certain quirks cute or unique, but they don’t love them; they simply accept them. There are some people who have such habits, tendencies, or thinking patterns that really do make them incompatible with the other person.
The two may love each other fully, because remember, love isn’t rational, yet not be able to live and deal with each other forever. This is why relationships require compromise.

You’re not going to love everything about the person you are with, but you love enough about him or her to live with the things you don’t love. Not all people are willing to, or even able to, compromise. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, regardless of what our emotions tell us.

Compromising, of course, is a choice. You either choose to make it work or you choose not to. I believe this fully. As long as something doesn’t go against your nature, over time you can make it work. But there are still some cases when compromising isn’t enough.

Sometimes there are other reasons two people cannot and will not ever be together. In fact, this is usually the deciding factor of whether or not two lovers will be capable of spending their lives together: if they are able to forgive and forget.
Because love is as intense an emotion as one gets, it occasionally leads us to make poor choices – choices that are hurtful to the ones we love.
They may be poor calls of judgment, lies we told or things we said. When it comes to love, our pasts haunt us. We move from relationship to relationship, hauling all that luggage we managed to accumulate in our previous relationship.
Because lovers who can’t work together don’t like to accept this fact, they have a tendency of breaking up and getting back together repeatedly.
Each time they take a break from each other, they come back and try to start fresh. But the problem is, they’re still carrying all that luggage. And sooner or later, they start to unpack. All the demons come out.
When love scars, it cuts deep. The pain isn’t easily forgotten and usually cannot be willfully forgotten. When you hurt the woman you love enough, she won’t come back to you. And because you still love her, you wouldn’t take her back even if she asked you to.

You don’t trust yourself not to hurt her again and even if you did, she wouldn’t trust you not to hurt her again. Relationships are built on trust and you shattered her trust.

Chances are, you both have bruises that have never fully healed and likely will never fully heal. And that’s just something you decided that you’ll have to live with. Why?

Because you really don’t have any other options. You just hope that the two of you find others to love so you can think about each other less and so you don’t have to worry about her happiness anymore.
You wait in hopes that new love can take the place of the old — which it can. But that doesn’t mean you will ever stop loving each other. Some people will love each other until the day they die, spending the majority of their lives apart.

And so is the darker side of love.

The machines, the programs, the matrix and in between all of that chaos, humans enslaved unknowingly used as batteries for the system.
It turns out that the machines created the matrix to keep humans ‘safely’ asleep, never waking up. Like this, the machines can use the energy of humans to power themselves. They created various programs to keep the matrix in check.

2 of the strongest programs are “The Architect” and “The Oracle”. They are like the mother and the father of the matrix, the logical and the creative side.
The Architect is responsible for the precise mathematics of the matrix while The Oracle perceives all the possible outcomes.
However, there is always 1 anomaly they are never able to fix, they call it the one. But the real anomaly is not the one. It’s what lies at the core of all the enslaved humans, something not even the most precise mathematical equation, nor the all seeing oracle can control. The CHOICE!
That’s why THIS is the one most POWERFUL scene from The Matrix:

Maybe there is no purpose in life, but we CHOOSE to find one! That’s why neither math nor an oracle can predict our actions.
The more awakened you are the more able you are to free yourself from ‘the matrix’ and make a choice, change the future, write your own destiny! The REAL anomaly is the possibility that at any moment, anyone can choose to awaken!

That’s why there is always an anomaly in the matrix, because it’s powered by humans and at the core of all people there is ‘the one’, the freedom of choice!
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