Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dying is Easy...

Dying is easy, because it is a self sufficient attempt. What is most difficult is living, because it involves eggs, sperms, an agreement involving two or more, a midwife, a caregiver, then complicated circles of already existing lives.

There are many things that can go wrong when a human is born, and then as she tries to live. But truly, not much can go wrong if a human attempts to die.

Interestingly though, as humans we are geared towards making life easy. As if our “cruise” program is set on death, and so we trot in that direction - some faster than others. We are geared, nonetheless, towards making other peoples’ lives harder. Meaning, while we attempt to simplify our life – rival and excel in a job to secure a high income, dominate a belief system so it is easier not to hear anything else, go to war because it is easier to identify people as friends or foes, etc – while doing that, we are making other peoples’ lives much more difficult. Creating complexities that would lead other people, as a result, to trot along in the direction of an easy death!

Yet, trotting in the direction of death is something, and attempting death is something else. Religions and moral systems are very much aware of that distinction. That is why they contribute a dual message: “All humans will die eventually and must accept that fate, but they should not attempt to kill themselves because they are not in the saddle to make that choice.”

What those religions and moral systems say as well is this, “under certain circumstances it is acceptable for a human to kill another.” Which means, people cannot kill themselves because they are ignorant do decide their own fate, but they can kill others because they are knowledgeable enough to protect the higher law; sacrificing the herd and the mortal for the sake of the higher and the immortal.

So, you see: L
ife is complicated!

And while choosing to live, the challenge is this:

How can we live without presenting a threat to the lives of others, nor become the sacrifice for theirs?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Social Reform

While political reform is considered a heroic act, social reform is almost (always) defied.

The major difference between the two is: who is threatened.

In political reform, the public is struggling with a higher power. That is almost like stepping up the ladder and attempting to reach the sky. As the (heros) attempt an act of reform, they are not presenting a threat to the public. They are facing a direction that is foreign and safe: numerous people who exist on a level that the public is not emotionally involved with, but awes and fears nonetheless.

However, when the issue of social reform comes up everybody in the society is threatened. The multiple hierarchies of beliefs and ideologies grow doubtful, each fearing that they might be broken down and forced to abide under the lead of a bad enemy.

What hierarchies fear should not be taken lightly. It must be realized that in order to survive in a very (structuraly) diverse society, people spend most of their life striving to earn a category. Their life almost becomes a serie of working for and within a hierarchy.

From a young age, a person must swallow the hierarchy's food, what he/she likes as well as what he/she is disgusted with. The act of swallowing is the basic proof of loyalty and belonging. It is a person's ticket to love, growth, protection and safety. Basically, it is gaining a future guarantee. In such societies there are no hallways. There are only cubicals.

Actually, there are hallways! But people criss X crossing from a cubical to the other lose their status. They lose their earnt category. They become the crow that managed not the walk of the pigeon, and lost its own. A shameful history is attached to them forever after. The hierarchy they have left will always identify them as: the indecisive people, the easily manipulated and changed ones. As for the hierarchy that has received them, they are: the ones who were won over.

To sustain an identity in such a society, people must be born to a cubical and die in it.

Those who walk the hallways for a long time, refusing to choose a cubical over the other, are the threat. They are the hazardous social reform and are defied by all.

Fear of hall-wayers is a public (schizophrenia). It is a nonrealistic concern that exists in the collective mind alone, keeping cubicals on guard, causing some to lock up tight almost to the point of self-destruction.

Hall-wayers, on the other hand, cannot destroy. They might like to, but they cannot change already existing hierarchies. All they can do, is gather and accumilate untill a cubical of new ideas and social beliefs contains them.

Simply put, they are nature's attempt at sustainability.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Guilt Cliche

In the Islamic faith, Muslims have to pray five times a day. The prayers involve reciting some verses from the Quran. Some of the verses vary from prayer to prayer, however, most of the verses, words, and physical movements are repetitive. Not only are they repeated five times a day, they are even repeated several times within the same prayer.

A lot of people complain that they cannot focus in their prayers. “Our bodies do what they should, and the words come out absentmindedly,” they say. “But our mind is almost always elsewhere.”

Some bitterly admit that if they lost their keys or are looking for an inspiration, all is solved during prayers! “Satan is resourceful; he will do anything to keep people away from Allah.”

It is a common regret amongst Muslims that they are growing weaker by the years. Due to much sinning, Satan’s job has gotten a lot easier. It doesn’t take much for him to weaken an already weak relationship between people and God.

Nostalgically, people would go back to what they have read about the time of the Prophet, PBU; the time of the “ideal Islam and Muslims.” A time in which a Prophet companion who had to have his leg cut off, insisted that he must begin to pray first. “How close to Allah was he!” admiringly they would say. “When he prays, he rises above all that is earthly.”

Well, today I thought about that while...praying!

I thought particularly about the reason why most of the prayers are repetitive and reoccurring. Why the physical movements occur in the same sequence. I thought whether it is not intended that people know them by heart and begin repeating them manually. If they are not a momentarily relief from conscious, and physique, allowing people to venture deeper into the subconscious and higher revelations.

I thought if people now a day are really praying any differently from the Prophet and his companions? Are prayers a challenge that we are too down of a generation to conquer? And had a Great God intended for them to be merely a daily reminder for people of how guilty they have become?

I also thought about the true reason why the "crazy" and "young" are not required to pray. Maybe they already have their "relief" and are open to many revelations. I also thought why children beginning with seven years of age are "encouraged" to experience prayers, forced into it at ten, and fully responsible after puberty. Why it is stressed that they grow "used to it." And if that is not a step towards making prayers a true absent-minded practice?

Have we simply been mimicking the “guilt cliché,” not realizing at the end of our prayer as we look to the right, and look to the left, with a sudden awakening from our sweet absence, that VUALA! This is IT! We have done it right. We have given ourselves a Godly designed practice of loss, absence, and physical lightness. Of higher venturing. Of a relief that we would not have allowed ourselves unless forced to!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Beneath the Gorgeous Poster

Overly preaching about something often infers the absence of it. For example, the more a religious leader emphasizes “women rights,” the definite it is that respecting women is an absent quality amongst his followers. The more the press emphasizes that “women” are being allowed room to participate in a culture “jobs, events, etc,” the clearer it is that women are actually “not” part of that culture, but rather an imported entity.

The same goes for countries where human rights are the daily anthem. One can easily be fooled into thinking that a country is very just and fair by watching those values preached over and over again on the media. But stripping a gorgeous poster from the wall is a necessary step towards understanding “fully” why it is there.

All those thoughts occurred to me as I observed one day, while riding the bus, how my feelings towards Mexicans have changed dramatically after living in the States. A few years back, while living in Canada, I used to admire them to the point that I bought books to read about their culture and celebrations. What influenced my opinion during a year’s span?

Being the couch potato that I am, I have three sources of input: school, public transportation, and TV. In grad school professors are usually idealists, and truth is, all they have discussed so far is class material, or class related material. Public transportation includes some Mexican workers, some Mexican mothers, some really cute Mexican children. TV, on the other hand, has a LOT of preaching on the matter!

This great influence that TV had on my views of a certain ethnic group is scary. For one thing, if it was able to change my respect for an “alien” while I am a “foreigner” myself, how would it influence the average American’s views of “the other”? The issue is cruicial to me, because I belong to a controversial culture/religion myself.

So, the next time the media attempts to launch programs that do the Middle East or Muslim societies more “justice”, assessing their more "moderate" views, and "nice" individuals, is the average viewer to infer: how bloody and savage their vast majority is?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

School in Saudi

Quarter system schooling is great; I wish my entire life was run by quarters. The constant deadlines, clear step ups, and wonderful sense of accomplishment. In two quarters, one as slow going as I am got a year’s worth of work done!

Writing scripts, watching sitcoms, one hour drama and movies, reading gorgeous novels, sitting in a leisurely rooms with reading/writing addicts, and acting,…this is the type of stuff my graduate school requires. It is too fun that it feels like cheating behind school’s back. Found out, I would strictly be punished or even banned.

17 years of studying: primary, middle, high, and college, there were rarely moments of enjoyment without their consequences. Extra curriculum activities were “usually” down graded by my professors’ back home. Fun is not “serious” enough. Once, my classmates and I put a play together which turned out to be too sarcastic for their taste. Thanks to flower shops, and head kissing, we managed to save our selves from being kicked but remained cursed forever after.

But to be honest, university back home was not that bad. I remember the time I almost burst into tears in an exam. It was my second semester, and the final of “17th Century Novel” asked what MY OPINION WAS about a character! It was an emotional experience, because for the first time in school, somebody asked what my opinion was, and in a FINAL. Other girls did burst into more serious tears, however. They thought that the professor was mean. “She did not show us the answer to that question in class!” They suspected that she was intentionally scaring them away from the English department as was the attempt by most Professors who kept saying “This is not an ESL school you people, it is an English Literature Department!”

Well, before university level, life was not bad either; if you take out the fact that we did not have electives, or P.E classes. That is a story on its own!

Up until Middle School, I did have P.E classes. Then, it seems that God spoke His word to some Scholars in the Capital City, Riyadh. It makes sense that God would communicate with the Capital, right? Since then, P.E was forbidden for girls in Central Saudi: Riyadh, Quaseem, and other infected cities. Girls wearing tight pants that would show the shape of their legs and asses amongst other girls, God forbids! Pants are for guys only, and so are those harsh sprots. What if a girl falls down in P.E and looses her virginity! Oh, boy!

Of course, not all schools had to abide by the word of God (I mean, the capital city scholars' version of it.) Some schools simply had strong backbones, which is another word for being backed up by a prince. Oh, girls in those schools were snobs, but they could do horse back riding, swimming, sports, fashion shows, music classes, singing, and can even get out of the school door without having their entire body covered in black! Damn it, those girls SHOULD feel special.

Yeah, school was not that bad. It was always possible to pass under the table notes to classmates, sketch on the laboratory tubes, substitute salt for sugar in baking classes, and all that. The greatest thing you could do in school is join stage activities 24/7 but even then, you are sure to get a grudge from the teacher and her grades.

Anyways, thats that, and here is here. Alive from Portland: spring quarter had just started at PSU, and I am madly in love!