FRIDAY FLYER-Issue 118

Headmaster's Review

Welcome to another edition of the Friday Flyer – Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

As we come to the end of the holy month of Ramadan, I feel humbled by the dedication, kindness and generosity of spirit of our Epsom community. For example, on the evening of Thursday 28 April a large group of our students shared ‘iftar’ – breaking fast meal – with their fasting friends. This was followed by the playing of Malaysian games and then watching a spectacular lightning storm together. 

This was a lovely evening with a real sense of respect for each other’s cultures, friendship and great fun.

I sincerely hope that each and every one of you reading this edition of our Flyer has enjoyed some precious time with those you love over Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I hope your celebrations went well, in whatever form they may have taken.

At Epsom there has been much to celebrate since our last edition – most notably that Epsom has been crowned the champions of the Malaysia International School Mandarin Debate Tournament 2022 beating a team from Garden International school to take the winning prize. Warmest congratulations to Yuxuan, Everest, Yilai, Linda and Cebelle and of course Mr Goh our team coach!! It is worth noting that not only were the team crowned champions but Yilai won the Best Debater title for two matches, Linda won the Best Debater title for one match and Epsom was also awarded Best Coach – Go Mr Goh! We are immensely proud of this achievement.

Similarly, congratulations to Nicholas in Year 12 who competed in the English Speaking Union of Malaysia public speaking contest. He won 2nd place and a prize of RM1000 on Saturday 23 April. His topic was ‘We expect too much from our heroes’. Well done Nicholas!

Cadence and her team have produced another outstanding edition of Epsom Monthly and the Humanities Society have done likewise –  I do not doubt that you will enjoy their articles.

Last week ECiMES (Epsom College in Malaysia Environment Soc) presented their Environment Week and delivered a range of student-led activities from Climate Anxiety with Molly and the Comfort Society, Climate Reality 101 with Carolyn Lau from Free Tree Society, why we should not waste aluminium foil with Jeng Xin and Diana  (Scienz and Environment Society). 

We enjoyed a series of student-led Raya Talks – ‘All about Hari Raya’ with Maya & Keeshan and ‘How does the language “rojak” attract attention to the use of Malay?’ with Umair & Melvern. It is most encouraging to see younger members of our school starting to lead presentations. Mr Arafath presented to us the Holy month of Ramadan in assembly. He invited members of our community to try fasting for a day to focus the mind on how blessed we are to have access to food and water. 

In addition to all this our Year 12 students enjoyed 1-2-1 sessions with a university counsellor to support them with their personal statement and university application and had the opportunity to speak to representatives to universities from the UK that came in to visit.

So … you can see how dynamic, vibrant and full our school life is and can perhaps understand why, as Headmaster, I feel such immense pride in our unique community. As you read on you will find out about so many other activities that have taken place such as the Crawfurd KL tour and Hiro’s (Year 13) Team Building CCA.

Happy reading and stay safe!

 

Best wishes,

Mr Matthew Brown
Headmaster


Team Building Carr

Practical Leadership Tasks
 

From Term 2 at Epsom, I have been running PLTs CCA. PLTs stands for Practical Leadership Tasks, there are a series of physical challenges to solve which require creative thinking outside the box! As well as the intelligence, all the activities will need at least one person to take the lead. I set up this CCA to let students develop their skills such as leadership, communication, organisation, etc. Believe it or not, this is what the Royal Navy do as part of the training for the Officer Cadets! 

It was amazing to see KS3 and 4 working together to beat the other team’s time. What they learned from these activities will definitely be useful in the future for them because, at Epsom, we have a number of opportunities for students to take part in leadership roles such as prefect, student-led academic societies and many more! I am planning to create more exciting challenges so stay tuned to Epsom Instagram to see the pictures.


Crawfurd - KL Trip

Written by Aisha 

On the 23rd and 24th of March, Epsomians embarked on a trip to the heart of Malaysia — Kuala Lumpur — via the Bon Voyage Programme. Organised by Crawfurd House in conjunction with their on-going Charity Fundraiser, the objectives of this trip were to give students a chance to discover the diverse city of Kuala Lumpur alongside their peers whilst cultivating an intersectional outlook, learning about East-centric histories. The funds raised will be donated to the civilians of Myanmar who are currently battling a devastating war against the Military Junta. This cause is held very close to the students of Crawfurd who have many friends and families caught in the crossfire.

Organised by the Year 10s of Crawfurd, the trip was a huge success!  

The touring team consisted of five students from Year 10: Maya, Elie, and Nadirah (on the 23rd) alongside Aisha and Yi En (on the 24th). The quintet brought Epsomians to iconic landmarks for a more up-close and personal experience, such as the Petronas Twin Towers, Thean Hou Temple, the National Monument, and finally the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. 

The Thean Hou Temple was especially exciting as even those who are local to Kuala Lumpur may have never visited this picturesque temple. It was a great place to take pictures with your Chinese Zodiac and compare each other’s traits written on the plaque.

The trip was not all smooth sailing however. As fellow Kuala Lumpur residents may know, despite the city having many noteworthy places to visit, the traffic is also infamous for being very congested. The potential congestion had been taken into account, yet the traffic on Saturday was unpredictable and required swift alterations. Some of the landmarks, namely the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Independence Square, had to unfortunately be left out of our itinerary. However, this allowed for a more cohesive trip in the end. 

For the following trip on the 24th, the Bon Voyage Team revised their plan to ensure a more smooth-flowing experience based on recounts from the 23rd. All went well, and the participants even managed to arrive just on time to watch the coveted Bird Show hosted daily at the Bird Park at 12.30 P.M! There, they witnessed birds racing each other, going down slides, and even throwing trash in the dustbin.

The participants were very understanding and enthusiastic throughout the trip –  we thank you, dear participants! The bus ride in itself was amusing and filled with joy, although the buzzing of a kazoo lingered for a little too long. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves greatly.

I hope those who came — whether on the 23rd or 24th — enjoyed their trip and learned something new and interesting about the city they reside in, which would otherwise only be known for its shopping.


Aisha 

Tour Guide on the 24th


Epsom Magazine

Happy Thursday! We hope all the exams are going well. 

Despite almost everyone on the committee board being busy preparing and sitting for the IGCSE & A-Level exams, we still managed to produce the Epsom Monthly Issue 06! 

Since there were quite a few international days happening in March, we have included some related information in this issue to raise awareness among the Epsomians. Besides, other school events were also featured such as the volleyball competition, a visit to the animal shelter by the Rosberians, Crawfurd Fun Run, Eco Committee litter picking, Y11 transition social, the school carnival and the new prefects appointments. 

There were so many events happening in March that the Epsom Magazine Society has decided that we are going to make the March issue into two volumes! Most of the events will be mentioned in Volume 1 (this Issue 06) while Volume 2 (Issue 07) will be all about House Drama – in short, this time, there will be a special edition for House Drama! 

Please look forward to the upcoming issue and kindly drop us an email if you would like your masterpiece (writing, artwork, etc.) to be featured in the school magazine.

Happy Reading !


Environment Week

Eco Week

Epsomians thought more about the Earth last week. Instead of just celebrating Earth Day on 22nd April, the Environmental Society organised Eco Week from 25th to 29th of April. The main goal of this week was to spread awareness of ecological issues and to appreciate our precious planet.

We kicked off the week with a school assembly and every single day we hosted at least one activity: lunchtime sessions, Epsom Live Talks, evening socials, and eco products selling. For our Epsom Live Talk, we invited Carolyn Lau from Free Tree Society. She described problems caused by climate change and what we can do to solve them. It was marvellous.

On Thursday, we enjoyed a Ramadan and Stargazing Social. The first plan was to turn off the lights and enjoy an outdoor social event while looking at the beautiful stars. Unfortunately, because of very bad weather, we couldn’t accomplish our plan. However, we enjoyed fun activities in the drama corridor together.

During morning break time on Friday, people bought eco-friendly products sold by the Business and Economics Society. Metal straws were very popular.

Thank you to the prefects and teachers for supporting and encouraging us and thank you to Epsomians for attending the events during our Eco Week.

One small step for us, working towards giant relief for the Earth!

 

Sora
(President of the Environmental Society)

Epsom Live Talk – Economics growth and the Environment

As part of our Epsom Live Talks series, students who enjoy a particular academic interest are encouraged to share their interest and to present on particular aspects of it to staff and their peers.

This week, we enjoyed a talk from Shin in Year 12 who undertook research into Economic Growth and the Environment.

Shin studies Maths, Further Maths and Physics but enjoys an interest in Economics. Shin had presumed that economic growth is inevitably detrimental to the environment but having researched this he discovered that his presumption was indeed wrong.

Here is a summary of his findings:

  • The Relationship between Economic growth and the Environment
    • My hypothesis before the research
      • As economic growth increases, so does pollution, therefore, more environmental damage occurs.
    • However, actually…
      • According to the Environmental Kuznets Curve that I found, beyond a certain point, the gradient of the curve starts to decrease, meaning that there will be less environmental damage even though higher economic growth has been achieved.
      • Why? This is due to:
        1. Technical progress (as there is more production, new eco-friendly products are more likely to be produced).
        2. Behaviour change (people feel satisfied with the production and the growth so they start to save the environment more than keeping to make profit).
        3. The Lewis growth model (the idea that developed countries have more tertiary sectors, in other words, more service industries than manufacturing industries. Tertiary sectors usually produce less pollution.

  • What happened in Japan ~negative legacy resulting from economic growth~
    • There was a period of time when Japan enjoyed more than a 10% annual average growth rate.
    • People worked really hard for economic growth, however, pollution was worsening.
    • That resulted in the loss of lives from diseases (known as the Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan)
      • Itai itai diseases (cadmium).
      • Yokkaichi asthma (sulphur oxide).
      • Minamata disease (inorganic mercury).
      • Minamata 2.
    • Why did this happen?
      • It happened because the Japanese/local government:
        1. Missed signs from nature (even though there were cases of death among fish and trees before people suffered, the government did not act on those signs)
        2. Failed to undertake appropriate research / hid the research (since they wanted to keep making profit, they did not do proper research and publish their findings.)
        3. Ignored protests from local people (people were already protesting against the firms that were generating pollution at the time.)
      • There was a lack of environmental policy making (as there was transition of the main source of energy from coal to oil during this period of high economic growth, appropriate policies to regulate both had not yet been introduced.)
 
  • Environmental policies
    • These policies are used to make sure that natural assets are used efficiently and at a sustainable rate.
    • As I progressed through my research, I began to reflect on:
      • The impact of environmental policy making on the economy.
      • There are inevitable negative effects to policies if you consider the fact that some policies include increased taxation, which obviously reduces a company’s financial potential.
      • However, there are ways to mitigate the effects. These include:
        1. Early signalling and clear regulatory frameworks (publishing the idea of any new policies early and making them clear so that the firms/companies can have more time to prepare themselves).
        2. Policies that stimulate Research & Development (R&D) (for example, subsidies from the government can encourage firms to produce more eco-friendly products).
        3. International agreements (if policies are global scale instead of a domestic, one country can no longer be isolated).
 
  • Conclusion
    • My initial hypothesis was wrong.
    • Bad government policies and regulations can lead to huge destruction just like what happened in Japan.
    • Environmental policies are not meant to be implemented to reduce the use of natural assets but to make sure that these natural assets are used efficiently.
    • When policies are used correctly, they can help increase prosperity and wellbeing – not just greater income but improved health, education and quality of life for future generations.

Reference: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69195/pb13390-economic-growth-100305.pdf


Humanities Society

The Humanities Society aimed to propagate information and arguments outside of the textbooks and classrooms. We found magazine articles a good medium for us to share interesting knowledge and discussions with the students as hard copies are easier to access. This first issue includes a broad range of studies: 

  1. Has the English Language Lost its Meaning? – Ryan
  2. Should Trial by Jury be Abolished – Lynn and Husen
  3. The Social and Health benefits of fasting during Ramadan – Linda and Aliff
  4. Animal Rights VS Medical Research – Dhivya

It was a valuable experience for us to write on the topics we are interested in as a reflection on our research. It was even more exciting to share these experiences with the students in Epsom College, as we are always fascinated by consistent academic explorations by interacting and exchanging opinions. We look forward to future involvement in humanities discussions.

Has the English Language lost its meaning?

Posted on April 21, 2022 by epsomhumanitiessoc 

Abstract 

This article is based primarily on the works of Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (1946). Orwell wrote this essay following World War Two, where he translates his discontent on the stilted language used by Stalin’s Soviet Union as a weapon for propaganda and deceit. Clarity of language, Orwell proclaimed, is a necessary precondition for the clarity of thought. 

70,000 years ago, Sapiens ran history’s largest manslaughter when we began to run over other human species to extinction. During this ever-intervening age, other archaic humans shared almost similar characteristics to us, with faces just like us and brains almost identical to ours. However, they lacked a single element that would make them the victims of our success; language. A powerful tool that has stumbled by pure chance in our genetic mutations and has given us the ability to connect a finite number of sounds to be constructed into an infinite number of sentences. Ideas, and our ability to communicate them, are our trump cards as a species. Yet, as we progress over the 21st century, our civilisation and the language that forms its foundations are in risk of decline as meaning itself is beginning to lose meaning. Take a look at this example from Orwell’s Politics and the English Language

I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelly had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate. (Prof. Harold Laski, Essay in Freedom of Expression) 

Did you get that? Of course not. What does this sentence even mean? 

Modern English today, especially in its written form, is filled with inaccuracies and vagueness. This is otherwise as a result of a mixture of two elements: Firstly being the staleness of imagery; the other is a lack of precision. These two harmatias are the most marked characteristics of modern English prose, as writers turn their attention to fabricate the surface level of their language through self-glorified vocabulary rather than providing meaning to what lies beneath the iceberg. Others, seemingly more wise, have seeked to use foreign phrases in attempts to provide meaning as they are haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek phrases are more sophisticated than plain old English. With these insecurities in mind, writers have developed various “literary techniques” that have allowed them to habitually dodge the construction of authentic literature. 

Firstly, Dying Metaphors. Take for example the metaphor “Brand New”. Originally, it referred to a brand that deconstructed an object, implying the originality of something that has just happened to be forged in a fire. Today, its perpetual employment in both fictionary and literary texts has but molded it into common language; simply a metaphor that has itself already become extinct of evoking any means of mental imagery. Orwell’s argument however, is inviting us to refrain from dying metaphors, consequently metaphors that are in between the verge of life and death, no longer fresh to enlighten our minds but also no near defunct to be used as common language. The phrase “standing shoulder to shoulder with” has inevitably lost its evocative utility and has thus created a “section of a prefabricated henhouse” in which we are directly led to roll our eyes everytime this overused, unoriginal and perhaps cliche phrase is employed. The question lies: Why are we doing so? Why are we intending to make language evermore meaningless? I come to echo Orwell’s views on how individuals merely use these phrases to save themselves the trouble of inventing new one’s without knowledge of the meaning. It can also be argued that the writer may simply not be interested in what is being said, or is simply outcasted from the very message that is trying to be rendered. The consequence? Fitting pieces to a puzzle that has already been solved. 

Secondly, using Pretentious Diction. This is simply the process of dressing up simple statements using words inappropriately to provide it with an air of rationality. Consider, for example, when someone asks us to “act objectively”, when the truth of the matter is that the person is advocating for a biased personal judgment based on their respective interpretation of data. This is also applicable in the field of international politics, where war is often glorified in archaic color. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an example of such, where he proclaims the Russian attack as a “special military operation”. Phrases of this kind are constantly used in a consciously dishonest way, in which private definitions are integrated whilst allowing the subject to think of something quite different. Democracy, Freedom, Justice. Words such as these are losing their meaning simply because an agreed definition is resisted from all sides, fearing that the word may no longer be in use if tied down to one meaning. Ultimately, this furthers the intent to deceive, as the ambiguity in language has turned into political ammunition used to wage wars against entire nations. 

This is a global issue. We are all guilty of fixing together the strips of pre-made words set by others in a template of “presentable format”. We have developed a habit that makes hunting for new words no longer necessary as ready-made phrases are already fitted to sound more euphonious, saving the mental effort to bother composing a word that fits one’s intended meaning. Yet, are you obliged to go through all this trouble? Not necessarily. You can simply allow the pre-made phrases to construct the sentences for you to an extent that it may even think for your thoughts. At this point, your ability to generate meaning may be even concealed from yourself, as debased language will corrupt your thought process. It will become a constant temptation, like a packet of aspirin always at one’s elbow. 

At an individual level, this may be acceptable. But eventually the effects will become causes, and catastrophically multiply itself into an intensified form. It should be recognized that chaos is directly proportional to a decay in language, as is true especially with political language where lies are made to sound truthful and war to be justified. As this issue persists overtime, our only measure may be to surrender to the fashionable “standard English”. We may no longer possess the free will to make our own choices, as the existing dialect would come rushing in and changing our meaning, not to mention providing it to us in the first place. 

Looking back, I realize I am also guilty of the very problems I hope to solve. The upshot of this article intends to fix the way language should be used as an apparatus for expressing thought, rather than concealing it. I would come to conclude that the state of the English Language is currently in decline, yet there is still hope in revival. However, change cannot happen overnight; it is a gradual revolution in our current habits for clarity and connection in search of meaning. With this, I present to you Orwell’s Six Rules to change your attitude of fashionable writing today: 

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Author: Ryan

Should Trial by Jury be Abolished?

Posted on April 21, 2022 by epsomhumanitiessoc 

Trial by jury is one of the notable features of the English judicial system, which is adapted by countries whose legal systems are descended from English and later British legal traditions. However, this is not the case in most other cases, especially not in countries that practice civil law. In those countries that trial by jury is not abolished, limits are added to restrict the power of it. There are numerous ways of trial as alternatives of trial by jury if it is abolished. For example, bench trial has been put into practice in the Georgia State due to COVID restrictions. This article will put trial by judges as the alternative regardless of subtle terms on operation. 

Jury is a group of jurors (usually 12) selected at random to decide the facts of a case and give a verdict. (Oxford Dictionary of Law Eighth edition 2015) 

The first reason for approving the view of abolishing trial by jury is that jurors are not trained, biassed, and therefore incapable of serving in the professional judicial process. Having people with no legal background seems to make years of education and training meaningless for those who are proven qualified and have served in the field as judges. There is no doubt that legal expertise is esoteric. Therefore, it is sensible to state that having people with little knowledge of jurisprudence serve on the jury that fully require advanced knowledge. 

On the contrary, sufficient evidence shows that the jury receives potent aid from the court to ensure that the verdict The American Bar Association published in 2005 outlines clearly 19 principles for juries and jury trials. Principle 6, 13, 14, 15, 15, 16,17, and 18 lists the instructions the court has to afford the jury. Principle 6 states that courts should educate jurors regarding the essential aspects of a jury trial. This ensures that each juror is fully-informed in order to make a decision for one particular trial. They receive enough instructions to assist and serve in understanding the facts and law of the trial. The process of giving instructions is often referred to as direction to jury. Failure of this procedure may be grounds for an appeal. The other reason why law is perceived as too complicated and arcane for everyone to understand is the language used with expatiatory terminology. Principle 14 states that the court should instruct the jury in plain and understandable language regarding the applicable law and the conduct of deliberations. This term actively prevents jurors from getting confused and misunderstanding the law and facts for the trial. Therefore, the decision of each juror is sured not to be made from incorrect information or deliberation.

Another reason for attacking trial by jury is that it may provide convenience for large crime groups to manipulate the trial. Not only crime groups may bribe or control the jury but also it could be a manipulation of hatred between races. Recent reviews have discovered that it was common for jurors making decisions against unfavoured races in the US around the Reconstruction era. The impartiality of jury is questionable. Principle 10 states that courts should use open, fair and flexible procedures to select a representative pool of prospective jurors. This proclamation aims to eliminate prejudice and ill verdict caused by self-interests of classes or other social identities. The selection of jurors is strictly conducted under restrictions of legal documents. Clause A of Principle 10 ensures the representativeness and eligibility of jurors by requesting at least annual review and update to filter out unqualified jurors. For the assembly of each jury, potential jurors are randomly selected by computer to form a pool, and within the pool they are randomly selected once again. By ensuring a second level of randomness, the possibility of all the jurors being manipulated by one criminal organisation is substantially decreased if the size of the group of jurors is relatively small. Furthermore, Principle 19 pledges that appropriate inquiries into allegations of juror misconduct should be promptly undertaken by the trial court. This opens the avenues for reporting misconduct to the public. 

Advocates for replacing trial by jury with trial by judges on their own mostly focus on questioning the capability of the jury. However, is it more important to convey the message of justice than having a professional lead? Linking to the society described by Plato, he argued that a just city is where rulings depend on knowledge. He established the idea of philosopher kings as he believed that they are best able to understand justice and rule the city to harmonise conflicting interests of different classes of society. Plato’s argument is not the same as the proposal of abolishing trial by judges on the ground of incapability. However, in virtue of this analogy the question could be answered. The objection to Plato’s view points out the absence of public involvement in a process that concerns the public as it should be. The lack of supervision results in over-centralisation of power. Plato has to ensure the philosopher kings are all impartial, dedicated to public service, and always have the best interests of the public in their hearts. The weakness applies similarly to the judges, by involving the masses in judicial decisions with appropriate professional guidance the principles of justice that everyone has a chance to say is embodied. Therefore, trial by jury should not be abolished. Those who believe that trial by jury should not be abolished further argue that letting the judges dominate the process of making decisions lead to partiality of political preference. In Britain, Judges are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister who receives recommendations from a selection commission. Does that mean the standpoint of the party that the PM belongs to has an influence on the interests of the judges? It can be argued that only the involvement of the public could counterbalance the potential of this. The defect of this sceptical point of view is that citizens’ rights to appeal are ensured by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office. It could be argued that keeping avenues to challenge the judge’s decision is enough to show justice and fairness.

In conclusion, the trial by jury system is a flawed one, with too much room for emotion based decisions due to a lack of knowledge in terms of the law, thus the results of the trial are far too subjective to be considered factual. By replacing this system with a more objective one, such as trial by judge, the decision making is based on the knowledge of a judge with a full understanding of the law, is unbiased and able to make rational decisions without the influence of emotion. This system provides the results of a trial with a more concrete foundation. The issue with trial by judge is that the fate of a defendant is in the hands of the judge, and only the judge. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, therefore, in order to counter the issues such as lack of knowledge of the law and the concentration of power in a single individual posed by each system respectively, the most effective method to produce optimal outcomes would be a mixture between the two systems which essentially merges the heart and the mind, emotion and knowledge. By selecting the best elements from each system, this new system would by far be the most just and fair as it should be in the court. 

Authors: Lynn, Husen

The Social and Health benefits of fasting during Ramadan

Posted on April 21, 2022 by epsomhumanitiessoc 

Ramadan, what a beautiful word for a beautiful month. It is the holy month where more than 2 billion muslims around the world abstain from drinking, or eating from dawn to sunset for 29 to 30 days. When I was a kid, I thought of Ramadan negatively. I hated the idea of not eating for a day, it all seems so odd to me. It was only when I matured and realized that it is far more special and deeper than that, there is more purpose of Ramadan than just fasting from dawn to sunset. It is a way to be closer to God spiritually and mentally. It is about embracing patience, compassion and tolerance towards all people. To be good to others and always respect one another, and most importantly to be good with oneself. All that is negative is thrown out the window during this month. Even bad words aren’t allowed to come out of our mouths during fasting! Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is regarded as the holiest month of the year as it was the month in which the Quran (the religious script of Islam) was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) on the night of Laylat Al Qadr, more on this night later. 

During the month of Ramadan, it is a tradition for Muslims to collect and donate to charities, this action is called zakat. Zakat, as one of the five pillars of Islam (five pillars that represents fundemental practices in Islam considered to be neccesary), is a religious duty for all muslims who meet the neccesary criteria of wealth to help the needy. The money that is donated then will be distributed to those who are in need such as orphans, single mothers, and poverty stricken people. Giving to charity is just as important as fasting and is ranked after prayer (salat) in importance according to the Quran. Muslims are obliged to give 2.5% of their assets to charity once every year during the month of ramadan. 

In terms of mental benefits, Ramadan develops spiritual, social and moral values.

Spiritual values of Ramadan

Spirituality is the fundamentals of Ramadan. Muslims strive to improve their spirituality after a year of burden, stress and peak mindedness. This time of month is a time of increased worship and spiritual cleansing and God has gifted muslims by multiplying every good deed in Ramadan by 70 times. for every good deed that is made by an individual, that deed is multiplied by 70 compared to normal days throughout the year. The last 10 nights of Ramadan are more exciting whereby they hold even more significance as they are full of even greater reward and blessings. These 10 days are a chance for muslims to maximize the benefits of Ramadan and seek salvation before the month comes to an end. This period of 10 days is where Laylatul Qadr comes in; the Night of Decree or the Night of Power. Laylatul Qadr is one of the most sacred night in the muslim calendar (the islamic lunar calendar). It was the night which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, and falls within these 10 nights. Allah (God) says in the Quran (the religious script of islam), “the Night of Decree is better than a thousand months,” (Qur’an 97:3). This means when a good deed is performed on Laylatul Qadr, it is as if it has been performed countlessly for a thousand months, making that deed equal to it being performed for a thousand months. Therefore, a muslim is recomended to increase his/her prayer and reciting the qur’an. Sincerely praying for forgiveness and always sending salawat (blessings upon the prophet) are examples of beneficial acts of worship during these nights. What’s interesting is the exact date of Laylatul Qadr is unknown to any muslim, however it is thought to be on the odd days of the last 10 days of Ramadan, for example, the 23rd, 27th, or 29th day of ramadan. Signs of Laylatul Qadr include where the night is peaceful and calm. 

Social values of Ramadan 

Muslims all around the world gather with their families or friends during iftar (breaking of fast). It brings people closer together, connecting family and friend’s relationships. Family members that have not seen each other for awhile would seek with excitement for iftar during the month of Ramadan. Dinner or iftar is seen as a communal communication area where updates, stories, and etc are shared upon. Not only that, in addition to iftar dinner, family members would also perform the salah together and would do taraweeh and recitation of Quran in the same night as well. These activities are considered good and blessful activities thus performing this would increase relationships between family members and friends. Events such as bazaar ramadan connect the whole community whether it is in the city, town, or rural areas. 

Moral values of Ramadan

This time is a period of reflection for many. Many find new awareness in their lives, look at life in a wider perspective and to be grateful for everything God has given to them. Fasting aims to establish equality between the rich and poor, as the rich experience hunger and learn to show respect and appreciate the less fortunate. Another moral value that muslims practice is to limit food wastage, food wastage is considered a sin and during the month of Ramadan. Neighborhoods practice hospitality by giving others food and deserts, it is advisable to distribute extra food either to family members, neighbors and stray animals. For the earth is not inhabited by humans but is also inhabited by other living creatures such as animals. Thus, muslims show empathy and care towards animals and plants especially during the month of ramadan. Examples can be seen in Istanbul, Turkey where households will provide stray cats their leftover foods and shelter during ramadan. 

Fasting is actually good for human health,fasting can increase energy, confidence, and willpower and reduce desire, resulting in greater inner peace. It makes people flush out toxins while strengthening resolve and developing endurance. Many diseases of modern people are related to overeating and drinking. Most people have gastrointestinal disorders caused mainly by excessive diet by the spleen and stomach are in a state of long-term load fatigue. Without proper rest, the function of the spleen and stomach will naturally gradually subside. Over time, it will become unhealthy, resulting in many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, paralysis, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. In daily life, the human body will enter different food additives, heavy metals,which accumulate over time and cannot be removed. 

During fasting, the body’s immune system becomes very active, and the brain begins to instruct various body organs to consume excess fat and toxins. Not only that, but fasting can also improve memory and delay aging because when people are hungry, the gastric mucosa will produce a hunger hormone “Ghrelin”, which will enter the brain through blood circulation, promoting the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain and protecting the brain nerves. The discovery could help with brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s by repairing some accidental brain damage that was irreversible in the past. Fasting is also helpful for people to strengthen their resistance, prolong life, and delay ageing.

Food restrictions can keep the body’s immunity strong in old age if you feel hungry. The timing disorder of the central immune organ, the thymus, can be delayed, delaying ageing. And people can also take advantage of the two-way adjustment of the body during Ramadan to lose weight 

and gain weight. Because Ramadan has restrictions on food intake, it can keep people’s body weight within a normal range, not only can consume excess body fat and allow overweight people to lose weight naturally, but also by cleaning up the digestive tract and enhancing the absorption function of the stomach and intestines Thin people can fully absorb the nutrients in food after fasting. Super thin people can also increase to average weight. When a person stays hungry, that is, let the energy in the body absorb the “garbage” in the body, or scientifically It means keeping phagocytes in the body hungry; only by keeping them hungry can they clean up “garbage” in the body. Fasting every day, more than ten hours without a drop of water, while physical exercise and work are, as usual, this is a test of strong will. However, when breaking the fast in the evening, when the body is very short of water, a large amount of water is suddenly taken in, which is conducive to digestion and helps to dilute the blood and secrete mould. It accelerates the repeated flushing, dilution, purification and detoxification of the blood and stomach, promotes blood circulation and metabolism, and improves the working efficiency of all organs. Fasting is a time for you to give your body a whole body, self-adjustment, the function of each part of the body is strengthened, and fasting restores your whole body to the best state of strain and movement. 

In conclusion, Ramadan is more than just about not eating and drinking for the whole day, but Ramadan is about cleansing and uplifting a person’s life and the local community. The act of fasting uplifts a person’s health by eliminating unwanted food consumption. This in return also helps to increase psychological health, reducing stress and heightened a person’s mood. People are more caring and more empathetic towards one another during the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims all around the world pledge on becoming the beacon of love during this month by providing shelter to animals and donating food to the needy. Not only that, the love is spread even more at night during the night prayer tarawih where we can see the younger and older generations are under on roof doing the same activity harmoniously together. Thus the month of Ramadan is the month of caring and loving between each other. This is further emphasized with an example from Qatar where non muslims and people from different backgrounds are also doing Ramadan practices of iftar, suhoor, and spreading joy and love with one another. 

Authors: Linda, Aliff

Animal Rights Vs Medical Research

Posted on April 21, 2022 by epsomhumanitiessoc 

What are Animal Rights? 

Animal rights is the philosophy according to which many or all sentient animals have moral worth that is independent of their utility for humans, and that their most basic interests, such as in avoiding suffering, should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings. Broadly speaking, and particularly in popular discourse, the term “animal rights” is often used synonymously with “animal protection” or “animal liberation”. More narrowly, “animal rights” refers to the idea that many animals have fundamental rights to be treated with respect as individuals—rights to life, liberty, and freedom from torture that may not be overridden by considerations of aggregate welfare. 

Arguments for Animal rights include: 

  • Experimentation.
  • Clothing Industry.

Animal Research 

While proponents of animal testing assert that the use of animals in research has led to the development of countless life-saving treatments, for humans and animals alike, animal rights activists highlight the cruelty and inhumanity of testing on animals. They argue that the outcome does not outweigh the suffering of the subjects. While some feel that there is no other suitable substitute for these experiments and that animal welfare laws protect the animal subjects from unnecessary pain, others feel that alternatives can be found and that the laws in place to not do enough. 

The use of live animals in research has been practiced since at least 500 BC and the argument against it is just as old. 

Arguments for animal testing

One of the benefits of animal testing is that it can, and already has, contribute to live-saving medical developments. According to the California Biomedical Research Association, every medical breakthrough of the past century has been the direct result of research using animals. For example, the polio vaccine was tested on animals and reduced the number of occurrences to less than one tenth of a percent in less than a quarter-century. The discovery of insulin occurred during experiments in which dogs had their pancreases removed.. 

Through animal testing, we have gained further understanding and development in treatment of, but certainly not limited to, breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, and tuberculosis. It also greatly attributed to the development of anaesthetics, cardiac valve substitutes, and pacemakers. Animal testing has given us vaccines for hepatitis B and looks promising in the advancement of a vaccine for hepatitis C. These conditions have the potential to kill countless people across the world, and animal testing offers a way to change that. 

While many agree that the ethical issues of animal testing are indeed a drawback, there is presently no adequate alternative to testing the living, whole-body system of animals. The anatomy of animals, including humans, is incredibly complex, so while the study of cell cultures in a dish can provide some insights, it does not allow for the testing of a nervous system, immune system, or endocrine system. 

To properly evaluate a drug for side effects, you need a circulatory system that can carry the drug to other organs. In addition, animals make appropriate research subjects because they are very similar in many important ways to humans. Chimpanzees share 99% of their DNA with humans while mice and humans are 98% genetically similar. All mammals share common ancestors and possess the same sets of organs as humans and they function in essentially the same way through similar bloodstreams and nervous systems. Because humans and animals are biologically similar, they are susceptible to many of the same conditions as we are, making them adequate test subjects. 

If we don’t use animals, wouldn’t we have to test new drugs on people? 

The choice isn’t between animals and people. There’s no guarantee that drugs are safe just because they’ve been tested on animals. Because of the physiological differences between humans and other animals, results from animal tests cannot be accurately extrapolated to humans, leaving us vulnerable to exposure to drugs that can cause serious side effects. Drugs that sicken or kill animals don’t always prevent a drug from being marketed. So much evidence has

accumulated about differences in the effects that chemicals have on animals and humans that government officials often do not act on findings from animal studies. In the last two decades, many drugs, including phenacetin, Eferol, Oraflex, Suprol, and Selacryn, were taken off the market after causing hundreds of deaths and/or injuries. In fact, more than half the drugs that the Food and Drug Administration approved between 1976 and 1985 were either removed from the market or relabeled because of serious side effects. If the pharmaceutical industry switched from animal experiments to sophisticated non-animal tests, we would have greater protection, not less. 

In addition to saving the lives of countless animals, alternatives to animal tests are efficient and reliable. Non-animal methods usually take less time to complete, can be conducted at a fraction of the cost of the animal experiments that they replace, and are not plagued with species differences that make extrapolation difficult or impossible. Effective, affordable, and humane research methods include studies of human populations, volunteers, and patients as well as sophisticated in vitro, genomic, and computer-modeling techniques. 

Author: Dhivya

Should animals be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Humanities Society – Eco Week – April 2022 

The Covid-19 pandemic has come to shift our lives into the ideals of the “new norm” as we are forced to face the challenges of adversity directly, with nationwide restrictions encapsulating our daily lives into the compounds of our households. As we progress through our third year of the pandemic, we are left to question when our lives eventually return to that of the pre-pandemic era, as well as being put at the edge of our seats, anxiously waiting for a cure to put an end to our misery. Yet, with infection rates still remaining volatile internationally, the question of animal transmission eventually comes to mind as scientists all overcome to discover that it is possible for animals to transmit the Covid-19 virus to humans. With this in mind, the question arises: Would it be plausible for animals to be vaccinated against Covid-19? And if so, how effective would it be in curbing the spread of the virus once and for all? 

With the development of the pandemic over the years, the worries of whether animals could be infected by COVID and whether they could spread the virus to humans have concerned scientists. There have been numerous documented records of animals being infected with Covid-19 from their infected owners or people who have been in close contact. The research of ECCMID (European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases) showed that 6 of 154 cats (3.9%) and 7 of 156 dogs (4.5%) have tested positive for COVID-19, for those cats’ and dogs’ owners had tested positive from 2 to 200 days before. The researchers also suggested that the virus did not spread among animals by tracking their movement areas. However, no pet-to-human transmission has been reported on a large scale. So it seems that pets, or animals in general, play a very limited role in the pandemic. Despite the research, the exact pathway and intensity of transmission between animals and humans stay rather unclear to the scientists. The result displayed above might be as well due to the limitation of the range of research. The conclusion that animals would not pass the virus to humans drawn from the finding of COVID-19 being more common in pets of infected owners than in pets with no such contact point to human-to-pet transmission rather than pet-to-human spread may be faulted since this may be a result of the imparity between the report rates between animals that have and do not have regular contact with humans. More sophisticated and wide-range research on zoonosis, that is the transmission from animals to humans, which is conducted by the National Public Health Emergency Collection, has shown different results as well. Animals such as cats, ferrets, snakes and bats that are not common pets being investigated in the above study may also have the undiscovered impact of infection for COVID variants that is more severe than imagined. It could be argued that bats are the natural hosts of the COVID variant by reviewing similar viruses that have caused traumas in human and animal history, as it was found that 79.6% of the COVID variant share 79.6% of its genome sequences with such as SARS-CoV-1 that shares 96.2% of its sequence with a bat coronavirus. Various studies in 2020 also challenged the point of animal-to-human transmission being rare by unfolding the finding that infected cats, ferrets and hamsters are highly risky for passing the COVID virus to other animals within scientific controls. At the end of the day, splitting the arguments on assessing the possibility of animals getting humans infected into the extreme poles of the spectrum where each end expresses opposite views does no good but forces the decision-makers into the dilemma of time sensitivity. For a government to act firmly on protecting human life, alleviating any foreseeable risks that have shown signs of hazard should be prioritized.

Although typical house pets like cats and dogs play an important role in the transmission of the virus to humans, it could also be argued that there’s no need for a vaccine from a public health standpoint. The vaccination of animals could also be viewed as an ethical issue, as they should be granted the same rights to that of human beings. The view that only humans are morally considered is often referred to as “speciesism”. The term was coined in order to denote a ubiquitous type of human-centred prejudice which can be compared to racism. Discrimination solely based on race, like discrimination based on species, is deemed prejudicial, as these are not characteristics that matter when making moral claims. Animals can suffer just as much as humans. Thus the empathy for them ought to be identical to the sympathy we feel for other fellow humans. Peter Singer’s theory of animal liberation requires that we reject speciesism, for example, preventing the utilization of animals in experiments and the testing of products. The philosopher John Locke once argued that everything on the earth is God’s property. As part of his Law of Nature, we should protect God’s property from having reason to make its advantages to our best use. In addition, he also believed that a world without God is both rationally unintelligible and morally vacuous, which translates to a society of disorder if it were not for the presence of God. Thus, building upon Locke’s argument, we would have good reason when taking into consideration the idea of “animal rights” in the context of the implementation of mandatory COVID vaccinations. The flaw in this argument is that in the eyes of an atheist, this argument would be considered untenable due to the rejection of the idea of god. However there is common ground between those who acknowledge God and those who do not. A substantial portion of the global population holds the view of vaccinating animals. In particular, they argue to protect their pets due to the emotional sustenance that they develop leading to many people viewing their pets as members of their family. On the opposite side, a number of arguments have been put forward against the idea of animal rights with the main reasoning being that animals act purely on instinct while human beings are able to engage in rational thought. The vast differences in the manner in which human beings and animals experience the world are morally relevant. Therefore the concept of “rights” is a uniquely human one and as such only applies to humans. This distinction provided the frontier between human beings and animals, and is widely regarded as a suitable criterion for assessing a being’s moral status. 

Despite the fact that there are ethical and moral differences when it comes to the vaccination of animals, there is good reason to do so. As Covid-19 infections are not unique to humans, but to animals as well. A study by David-Grimm has proven that domestic animals can be infected with Covid-19 and eventually spread the virus to humans. As the symptoms wouldn’t be as noticeable, the probability of being exposed to the virus would be significantly higher, thus contributing to soaring rates of infection. This may well eventually lead to a negative multiplier effect with the livelihood of public health eventually being put into serious threat as the ability to mitigate the roots of infection would be made significantly more difficult following the increasing austerity arising in contact tracing measures. Coming from a utilitarian perspective, it could be argued that the need for animal vaccinations is essential as we conform towards the application of “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness for all” as to reduce the burden that Covid-19 has brought upon the current healthcare system, which has led healthcare resources being prioritized towards covid patients and causing backlogs on other cases categorized as “non-covid”. Taking into account the idea of “citizen security” in this context, the relevance of such utilitarian measures are paramount in exploring the burden that animal infections have placed through clandestine transmission of the virus. With this argument in hand, it could be argued that animal vaccinations against Covid-19 should be made mandatory as to disregard such means would only connotate as depriving citizens of their right to live a daily life with as little threat as possible as the presence of such resources are within our reach to come and reduce the probability of infections and thus possibly mitigating the spread of Covid-19 once and for all.

In 2020, Russia announced that clinical trials of a novel coronavirus vaccine for animals like minks and cats are nearing completion. However, details have not been made public, but the vaccine will be widely available. Veterinary drug companies in the United States are also developing vaccines for animals. Some countries have begun vaccinating wildlife and livestock to prevent people from coming into contact with wild animals and spreading the virus to mutate further. Nevertheless, no government has officially opened vaccination services for pets. In practical studies, diarrhea and various other complications have been found in some animals after vaccination. The unpredictability in side effects of animal vaccines are different for each animal and thus may require further exploration. However, we can be hopeful that vaccines for these animals will be readily available in the near future, possibly mirroring the timeframe to that of the development of human vaccines that have come within a span of 2 years. 

There is no true answer to the question of “Should animals be vaccinated against COVID?” as we as individuals possess varying beliefs and ideals given the knowledge and information that we have access to therefore a question as ambiguous and open ended as the one mentioned prior is nigh impossible to provide an adequately definitive answer. The main issue in regards to this question is that the transmission of COVID is higher in animals than it is in humans, so by vaccinating animals, heavy losses incurred by animals contracting covid can be reduced. However, undertaking this task is extremely costly and difficult to execute, and has thus caused most governments to decide to save on costs by culling these many innocent animals. The need for cost-effective vaccines and large scale vaccination campaigns are necessary when coming to an end our continued misery spanning over the course of the past 2 years. The lessons we have learnt through the development of our own human vaccines should be put into practise amidst animal vaccinations as to confront the virus today before it is too late.

Russia and Ukraine: the Dispute 

Posted on April 7, 2022 by epsomhumanitiessoc

The Humanities Society has been conscious of ongoing events. Over the past half-year, the dispute between Russia and Ukraine has caused wide social attention, including endless debates. Our members spotted the value and importance of raising awareness among our fellow students about international events that should concern us all. 

Firstly, they focused on the change of relationship between Russia and Ukraine historically, along with the significant diplomatic events with major powers such as the US and the UK. By helping the students understand the origin of the development of the counterbalancing relationship since the Cold War, we explained to the students the reasons for the Russian invasion. This entangled relationship caused intense complexity due to the length of time and the width of the range of countries involved. 

Secondly, the hosts presented the damage the war has caused to Ukraine’s land. We aimed to lead the students into realising how horrific and inhumane war can be. We considered the impact of war, of hurting people yet justifying such immoral conduct through diplomatic and political games. We believe that empathy ties all humans together as equals. 

The third section evaluates the role other countries play in this dispute. The majority agreed that the current sanctions are too weak to prevent such invasion, and most people feel that these world superpowers are not performing their duties of maintaining peace. However, ideas were proposed arguing that Russia only invaded Ukraine for self-preservation as NATO kept expanding its control eastwards. 

As a society, we respect all students’ ideas and ensure that no one gets judged. Especially when the situation changes too rapidly minute by minute, our target is not to disseminate a fixed answer but to encourage students to keep following up with disputes and to widen their horizons. We will keep aiming toward this for all our future events. Feedback is always more than welcome. One of our members commented: 

“It was a great session that elaborates on the current world order. Provided insight towards underlying decisions as to why Russia is acting the way it is and, therefore would explain the recent disputes between ideologies that stem from the cold war era. “ 

This acts as the best motivation, and we look forward to seeing more students getting involved in our sessions.


Comfort Society

Climate Anxiety – Molly and The Comfort Society.

Many of us feel anxious while watching the news where we are constantly told about how rapidly the climate is changing. We feel worried for our future and the future of generations to come. It is completely normal that we feel this way, considering the disastrous information with which we are bombarded and as we read about the results of the “ignorant” actions that a lot of people take. So what should we do to make things better?

On the 25th of April, the first day of Epsom’s Eco-week, the Comfort Society collaborated with the Environment society to spread awareness and inform Epsomians about “Climate Anxiety”. 

“Climate Anxiety” is anxiety experienced in response to the fear of environmental doom.

Our climate is constantly changing due to many factors, including the emission of greenhouse gases from different forms of transportation or from factories for example. This has made the ozone layer too thin and causes the average global temperature to increase which has many devastating consequences. Another reason is due to deforestation. Without the strong roots of trees to hold the soil together, the rain can easily wash away the land and this can cause serious landslides causing extreme damage. These are just a few examples of the myriad consequences of climate change.

With the media highlighting these events, we can begin to feel extremely concerned and anxious about the threats that climate change poses to us and our planet. So what should we do? A great way to start is to educate ourselves. We should seek to understand the origin of the problem and what the headlines actually mean in the news. This will dissipate our confusion and make us feel a bit better knowing that we understand the reasons why this is happening to our planet and what we can do to reduce the effects. 

Talk about it. There are so many other people who are feeling the same way as you are. Discuss your concerns. This will make you feel better because you will know that you are not alone. There are many educational forums and websites that organise campaigns for you to take part in helping to change the world. 

Most importantly, take action. Small changes such as reducing food waste, recycling and composting can help reduce our own carbon footprint and represent a great start to practising sustainability.

Small changes can lead to bigger ones because aspiration is infectious. Small changes as mentioned above can help make a big difference for the world when accumulated and, once you begin to realise this, it can improve your mental health to a great extent. 

So, take action, make a difference, be the change! If you ever need to talk about any of your worries regarding our Earth, or anything at all, we are here for you. We will be here to help you become more informed, more comfortable and to feel better! You are always welcome to email either the Environment Society or The Comfort Society!

The Comfort Society


Monday Madness with Mr Dean Jones - Head of Granville.

Mr Jones loves to start the week by sharing some of the quirks of the English Language with us – we hope you enjoy the quirks below:

Humour is often the most difficult part of a language to understand and is common amongst and very important to many people.  Let’s start with some jokes:

“What is the best thing about Switzerland?”

“I don’t know but the flag is a big plus.”

or how about…

“Today at the bank, an elderly lady asked me to help her check her balance…

so, I pushed her over.”

or how about…

“Why did the bicycle collapse?”

“Because it was two tired.”

Often jokes need a knowledge of synonyms (different words with the same meaning), homonyms (same words with different meanings) and homophones (different words with the same sound).  They might also rely on cultural or linguistic knowledge – looking at the joke above, did you know the Swiss flag looks like this or that the white cross could be described as a plus?

Many English jokes start with “Something or someone walks into a bar…”.

For example, grammar walks into a bar…

– The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

– A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

– A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

– An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

– A question mark walks into a bar?

– A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

– A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

– A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

– Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

– A synonym strolls into a tavern.

– At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar — fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

– A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

– An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

– The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

– A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

– A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

– A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

Epsom