Friday, March 30, 2007

Upbringing & Brainwashing

Upbringing, and brainwashing, are they but sides to the same coin?

There's a quotation by Prophet Mohammad that says: "No babe is born but upon Fitra* (nuetral). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist." (Sahih Muslim,
Book 033, Number 6426)

Also: "Each child is born in a state of "Fitrah*", then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian, the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any that were born mutilated?" (Collected by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

* "Fitra", meaning neutrality, naturality, had been interpreted within Muslim schools as the Islamic faith. So, each child is born a Muslim, untill the parents "brain wash him."

Growing under the roof of those interpretations, it is easy not to question the term. Same goes for a country's weather conditions. If it is excissivly hot and dry, people simply avoid the sun, stay in, and turn up the air conditioner. Yet, the minute people step outside their religious and cultural context, the issue of brainwashing surfaces.

For example, when conservative Muslim parents take their children abroad, they are constantly in fear of the other culture altering their children. They grow extra concious of who their children hang out with, what language they are using, where do they go, what do they watch/read, and how keen are they in practicing the religion (prayers, Quraan, etc.) To them, any change in their children's pattern (even if it were due to progression of age, and entry to teenage-hood) is a stage of danger innwhich they are being brainwashed. But by who?

It is one of two things, really.

Either that we are in a time of war, and brainwashing is a weapon used by one party to over power the other. So, the issue is not finding the truth, or following the faith, but simply a struggle of political powers. (objectively speaking: no party is good when it comes to politics.)

Or that the truth exclusively belongs the the Muslims, and they are the ones who are still neutral and unaltered. Meaning, the entire non-muslim world is a bunch of brainwashed, mesmerized people, who are living a big lie, and are going to hell because of their bad parents who also had bad parents who had a truly bad figure in history which caused a chain reaction of disturbed upbringing...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Breakage of Glass

Breakage of glass!
What makes it so depressing?

While applying some make up today, I dropped the fondation bottle. The glass shattered at once over the entire bathroom. It happened in slow motion. The bottle slipping from my hand, the bottom corner hitting the sink, the tiny particals reflecting different shades of the yellow lights.

At first, I thought I felt sad because of the cleaning that I'll have to do; an unwelcomed delay. But then I realized that I had nothing scheduled for the day. I had leasurely time in which I decided to do some make up practice! The brand was of a moderate price, twenty dollars the most. So, the loss has not caused it either. And as I cleaned up the sink, the shelve, and the bathroom floor, cloudiness settled lower into my mood.

For a flicker of a moment I remembered my child's horrified looks two days ago. He had opened the dining set cupboard and broke a plate in half. I got angry with him, and had to vaccuum a large part of the dining area. His eyes fearful, his lips on the verge of crying, and his chest heaving at a rapid speed.

Had my first encounter with glass breakage been he moment when mercy broke in mama's eyes? Was it the event with th emost exaggerated sound effects? Screetching. Multiplying pieces. Pounding footsteps. Thundering voices. Severe lifting. Roaring of the vaccum as it wildly attacked the ground?

Had it been a childhood moment in which I felt the least safe; Eve falling off of heaven?

Or are glass breakage emotions related to something further? Something more timely, like hopes and dreams that shatter without a notice. Something recurring, like dreams and plans that might disappoint us once again?

Or..are they simply a finger pointing in the direction of our inner premitive instinct ? That which is inhabited by superstitions, cautions, signs, omens and jinxing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What is Logical?

When I need to clear up my mind, I take a shower!

It smoothes down the frizzy thoughts, and breaks down the "class system." No longer do the ideas present themselves in order of priority "important, less important," but rather, they come through the stream of thought in whatever order they like. Sometimes a seemingly unimportant idea takes the lead, and the rest follows.

Today, I thought about "logic." What is considered logical, and what is not?

My father used to argue that the "virtual" reality is creating a generation that is very surreal and illogical. And so, much discipline is necessary to open the young up to what is real and logical. But has that ever stopped an assumingly "illogical" person from being what they are.

Some friends of the family had a son who loved music. A day did not pass without him playing the guitar. His parents did not allow him to destroy his life and career by such an illogical passion. They insisted that since his grades are high, he must study medicine. And he did.

In the day of graduation, his family got together in a fancy restaurant. He sat down all smiles. And as his mom told us later, this is what he said. "This degree is for you, and I hope you are all happy. As for me, my friends and I have managed a little band, and we're going to take off when the wind is right."

I don't know what happened to him, or where he is in life. But I can very much relate to his situation. Sometimes, being diagnosed by others as an "illogical" person is not a cure. First, because they belong to a certain career, age group, generation status, and a set of beliefs that makes them subjective. In other words, they are not objectively examining you, they are becoming judgmental. To make it clearer, it is like having a doctor saying that you are sick because your eyes don't have the same color as his, or because your voice is harsher! Second, because if you were truly sick, not all sicknesses are curable. Some simply require that a person adjusts their life style in order to accommodate them.

When illogic is one's destiny, then it must be fulfilled at the end.

Many destinies go through detours, or turbulences, but they arrive to their primary goal. Some don't make it. And people who do not make it to their destiny often enough become murderers in the form of gods. They become the blocking wall that subconsciously attempt to turn other people's lives into an inescapable structure. And even though all of us need some structure at the end of the day, whether it is a house, or an apartment, or a small bedroom, in the morning, as we proceed to the next structure, we all need to breathe in a place that is open and free.

A friend has once told me that I was making an illogical choice in my career. She said that saying the truth is sometimes what friends are for. I realized that day, how out dated that statement is.

In the midst of all those destiny detours, turbulances, and murderers, the best a friend can be is make us stronger.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Seperate Species

"Men are easy, they just wanna see something naked!*"

In Saudi Arabia, I thought that the conflict between men and women arises from the miscommunication that their seperation causes. Seperate offices, seperate parites, seperate friends, seperate lexicon, seperate "fatwas**"!

Yet, being in America, I have come accross an interesting observation. Cross-gender involvement only brought the gender conflict to its climax. Sit in any fully-female conversation and listen to all the synonyms they use to explain how "weird" men are. Flip through T.V channels, sitcoms, reality shows, magazines, and see what the guys are saying. Search through websites and read about how "the girls don't know the first thing about penises," and how "the guys don't know the first thing about a girl's complex cycle." The multiplying number of harsh words. Pussies, bastards, bitches, etc. The media's awkward attempts to normalize their uses...

Has years of fighting for rights, and struggling to reach the end of the tunnel come down to this. Men and women are not suffering from their history. Their problem is not years of mistreatment and abuse. It is not communication. Not even generations of sexist literature, dominant culture, or biased religious interpretations.

And is the world, the whole entire world (some countries faster, others at a slower pace,) simply headed for this realization:
Men and women are seperate species, like cats and fish. Their problem is incompatibility in a world that insists that the norm equals: man + woman?

* A (male) stand up comedian who's name I cannot recall.
** a legal pronouncement in Islam made by a mufti, a scholar capable of issuing judgments on Sharia (Islamic law) - wikipedia

Sunday, March 18, 2007

See but can't Touch

I am wishing for the first time that I had a U.S. citizenship, or at least a Green Card!

Falling for Craig's List lately has opened up my eyes to many tempting work opportunities out there. Acting, modeling, commercials, blogging, etc. Being curious about all that is creative and unique, these temptations piled up in my "see but can't touch" list. Why? Because I am an international student, with an F1 visa. I cannot work until a year of full time enrollment in university is over. After that, my advisor must approve of the job being relative to my program of study, then the International Office has to filter it and process it. Processing time can take up to a week.

There's a limit to how much a curious person can keep away from!

In Saudi Arabia, gender was "the limitation," yet it was so wonderful being a female that I never wished to become anything else. The game of politics in Saudi Arabia is this:
"When God closes a door, someway He opens a window!"
And accordingly, I had always found compensation for what I could not get, which helped me continue to be tolerant. But now, as the the nationality became the limitation, the F1 visa that I once held to the sky as I exited the US embassy, the visa that was my gateway to studying in the States, is culminating around me in the form of prison bars.

And I cannot help but wonder, does the United States of America derive its fame from promoting THE DREAM to the people, or merely the INACESSIBILITY of it?


It is unbelievable that the modern man can still say things like "fight for the nation," "fight for the cause," or even, "fight for God."
The last one is by far the most obscene, because if nation and cause were the making of a man, God is supposedly not! So, how could He be thought to have the same expectations or need: like fighting for him? And fighting who? Others of His creation?

A few days ago, I received a forward from several family members. It goes like this:

[A man went to a barber shop to cut his hair. He began to have a good conversation with the barber .They talked about many things and various subjects. Suddenly, they touched on the subject of God. The barber said: " I don't believe that God exists."
"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.
"Well, it's so easy, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. Oh, tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? If God exists, there would be no suffering nor pain. I can't think of loving a God who permits all of these things."
The customer didn't respond because he did not want to start an argument with him .
The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barber shop, he saw a man in the street with long hair and a beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.
The customer entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."
"How can you say they don't exist?" asked the barber. " I am here and I am a barber."
"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist, because if they did there would be no people with long hair and beard like that man who is outside."
"No, barbers do exist, what can I do if people do not come to me."
"Exactly !"- affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God does exist. What it is those people who don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."]

It is understood why in the midst of many dry, spooky and straight forward religious teachings, people would celebrate the creativity in tackling the "God" issue. However, it is quite disturbing how the illogic of it could become so dismissable.

Are the sick sinners? Are they people who have not come close to God, and therefore deserved to suffer without His help? Is God Almighty humanly? Humanly as a barbur who does not see what is beyond his premises and doors? Does he have the same shortcomings of huamn? Pride? Prejudice? Revenge?

Is God THE higher power? Or merely our interpretation of it...?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Feminine Trait of Joy

When was the last time you felt absolute joy?
Many a times an answer to such a question is a pause, a reflection, a debate between a couple of things, then a few more others, then the feeling that since the choices are debatable, that one peculiar, superb moment of joy is far too back for us to recall.
We begin to go farther back in time, farther back, way too far for us to know where we started and whic location we have gotten ourselves into...
Lost in a pool of footsteps, the realization strikes us: Did it ever...?
And that doubt in itself is the very game of the creature: joy.
It is a fully sufficient creature. It arrives, entertains, plays us right up to the point of climax. That single, unique, vague moment, and leaves. When it leaves, it erases the entire folio, the leads and tracks. This is how generations of joy creatures have managed to become tyrants. This is how they have convinced humanity of their uniquness. Of their oneness. This is how they have caused much nostalgia for thousand of years, and millions of art work, stories, poetry, paintings, etc.
When joy leaves, it has to make sure that it deletes itself totally from the memory of a human. The memory of its ever having have existed in their lives. It simply sets the stage for the next visitor. For the next possible arrival of joy. The joy that seems like it never happened before, and never will...
Just like a female, stepping into the land of poetry!

Arabic Shawarma!

More than anything else, language is identity.
This is not how I've always felt about language (eventhough I have lived in non-Arabic countries before,) but today I came upon quite unexpectedly.
I was hungry, and I'm always more spontanious when hungry!
In PSU's campus there's a little "shawarma" hut, and I planned on trying it for the first time. As I approached it, a man looked out the window and called "Hi!" I knew he was Lebanese from his accent and the whole setting, so I casually said "marhaba!" The minute I said it, something clicked in the man's face and he asked how I was doing in Arabic.
A line of familiarity glowed between us. Invisible rays between a sender and receiver, two that are working within the same system. He was not overly friendly, and I was not jumping up and down. We were simply exchanging a hungry girl and a"shawarma" cook conversation, but as Arabic threaded the distance between our mouths, the external space grew lose and began to tear off. It became a gray area. An area that is clueless and alien. Looking over my shoulder at two girls who are waiting for their turn to order, I felt seperated and different in a positive way. I felt elect. The hut was now more than a small badly painted place selling "shawarma" and "falafel," it became MY hut. My place.

The man who comes from a country that is hundred of miles away from Saudi Arabia, handed me my plate. He knew and I knew many things about one another. The type of knowledge that old friends have, and need not recite everytime they meet. So we waved our "thanx" and "welcomes" and backed into seperate worlds that were regaining their ordinary color.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A sip of water...

It took me an entire year to shift to US mode. "HOW WILL I DO IT." Not, "CAN I?"
By which I mean, North America is so rich with possiblities that achievement is merely a matter of determination and self will. A matter of what the "I" can do. While in SA, the possibilities are not always present, and if they were, at often times struggling with blanket folds is required.
What are blanket folds?
They are any external powers that eventually suck the energy out of you, and put you back to sleep. Sometimes they are conspicious and clear, you know who/what you are struggling with, at others they are invisible and obsecure, which is the worst of all.
In the dark, you are tied down with tension and worries. You really don't know what's coming at you, and are endlessly haunted by the fear of a personal catastrophe.
I am glad to be here. Happy for the open space in which I am allowed to reflect on matters that truly concern me, such as:existence, art, religions, societies, and genders; for the clarity which is brought on by speaking out loud, and sharing the thought with tolerance; for the truly gruesome things that are happening in the world and making me bald enough to choose not to follow the journey of others, but to begin my own.
Humans are no better than animals. Animals are not better than objects. We are all beings that are here to full fill their truth. But what is truth? Can it ever be frozen in time? Does it have an original draft that only needs be photocopied onto others.
It is much easier to answer than it is to question, but much too dangerous as well.
And I choose to present the least of danger to existence. That is why I am here. To begin my own questioning. My journey as a human "in the making."