What’s with All the Beards? Is it a Political Statement?

Beards as a fashion, comes and goes. Abe Lincoln had a beard. These days, thousands of young men are growing beards. No complaint here. That’s me some years back, posing on the back of a motorcycle with my husband. I think beards look handsome. But I can’t help but wonder if today, the popularity of beards has anything to do with our involvement in Afghanistan and the Middle East where multitudes of men sport beards? Today’s young, bearded men look an awful lot like the Middle-Easterners that our military forces have been rubbing shoulders with.

When I was a teenager, during the Vietnam War, army surplus stores were all the rage. Surplus army jackets and pants were popular. It was a way of making a statement. Why the anti-war crowd liked wearing clothes commissioned for the U.S. Army, I’m not sure. Those were confusing times. These are confusing times.

When the British first explored Asia, they returned with riches that the upper classes took into their homes for display. Sharing cultures and ideas with others is reflected in our architecture (Mohammedan arches and mosaics); our clothing (Indian print fabric, Mexican ponchos); our home decor (Danish furniture, Persian rugs); and our taste in art (French paintings, Bollywood movies). Curiosity in other religions brought us Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.

History shows us that people liked (and needed) new things. Spices for food, quinine for medicine, silk for garments. Whatever it is, if it’s new and nice, we like it. And when we really like it, it becomes a favorite in our homes for generations. Perhaps forever.

Twenty-five years ago, a fad was a long, long braid down a man’s back with very short hair or a shaved head. Remember that? Today it’s beards. Let’s hope that tomorrow it will be peace and understanding that the more we share ideas and culture, the richer our lives.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78



The Arabs Granted Religious Freedom but the Christians Fought On

When the Moors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and entered Spain in 711 A.D., they became the rulers of Andalusia and much of what we know today as modern Spain. At the time of this invasion, there were Christians and Jews who had built great wealth. The conquering Arabs (rulers of the Moors), were not interested in converting their subjects, they had come for wealth and prosperity so let the Jews and Christians go about their lives speaking their languages and observing their religions. The era of Moorish rule, though it had its infighting, was a time of great cultural growth. The arts and sciences flourished, Arabs and Jews developed friendships and had intellectual debates about math, poetry and religion. Leather working, blacksmithing and the building of spectacular mosques are remnants of this enlightened era.

But not all of Spain was conquered. The defeated Visigoths (Teutonic/Germanic tribes) were able to hold a tiny portion of territory in the far north of Spain. This region became the Christian fighting north and they did not give up. Eventually, through several centuries, the Christians regained all of Spain. And a few hundred years after that, Spain was in full blown religious oppressive mode and with Ferdinand and Isabella in charge, wrought great havoc on the Moors and Jews who lived in the Spanish provinces.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the historic novel The Celtic Prince Available here:


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