Friday, January 15, 2010

Seriously though, what are sisters for???

Okay, before I write my post, I'd just like to leave a link on the earthquake in haiti.


Anyway, I've noticed, after moving to Michigan, that not many siblings hangout together. I mean, maybe they do at home. But out publicly, with friends, it's like sisters don't know each other. I don't understand this dynamic. But similarly, people don't understand the dynamic between me and my sister (or even my brother have, here in Michigan).

I grew up in a society or a culture, where siblings hung out together with their friends. So, my friends and my sister and her friends would hangout, some of which would bring their siblings (or cousins) along with them. So, you have a group of people hanging out, anywhere between the ages of 12 and 30.

I noticed that in the metro Detroit area, no siblings (or very few) actually know each others friends, let alone hang out with them. And I'll be honest, I have nooooo idea who my brother's friends are after moving here... They'll come over, go straight into his room (which is like 2 feet from mine) and never even tell me their names. I DON'T KNOW THERE NAMES!!! and I find this phenomenon very SCARY!

I mean, think of it from my perspective, my brother's friends were close enough to be my friends, same with my sister's friends, same with my friends to their friends and so on. We were essentially one big "happy" family. Okay, not quite, of course every group of friends has their drama, but we actually hung out.

Now, people keep remarking on how weird/interesting (great how those are interchangeable, huh?) my sister and I are. That we have an interesting sibling dynamic. I'll be honest, I love my sister. I love her as a best friend, as a sibling, as a role model, and as an artist. I am not embarrassed to hang out with her, or my (really embarrassing) brother.

Anyway, it just bugs me how people don't treat their family as worthy to have fun, outside of those 'family activities'. So, the following is a list of why siblings and friends should mix:

1- The mix of ages. This will cause a natural peer mentoring system, where youngsters will be influenced by the elders. This may have negative effects, but in my experience, it's been more positive. So, my friend's cousins who are like 12 have been really influenced by us. Similarly, it taught us (college-aged folk) to truly respect and value the younger ones.

2- The mix of genders. Honestly, not many muslims know how to interact with the 'opposite' gender because they come from a cultural norm where we should be 'separate' but 'equitable'. I feel like, when you have that mix of friends, with your siblings involved, you learn how to interact comfortably, without any stigma (or "God forbid" reputation lashing from the community).

3- Group dynamic skills. Okay, don't laugh at me, but seriously, all you 'single sibling-ed' people, will learn how to be around more people. But, most importantly, you develop a group that you feel you may belong to, that hopefully, isn't discriminatory against age, race, or gender. As well as, you learn to interact with people beyond the mere 'tit-for-tat' experience.

4- Memories. I'm sorry Michiganders who have not yet adopted this pro-sibling lifestyle, but you will have the greatest memories with your friends. Because, your relationship cannot be superficial due to so many familial connections. And due to that, you have so much fun doing absolutely nothing, except pulling out like 2 decks of cards and playing SPOONS with 15 people.

5- Family becomes fun. So, if you're stuck with those boring parents, or boring siblings, you have a model of what kind of fun you can have with your families. You also, learn how to interact better with your own family. Watching my friends interact with their families, made me understand my own familial relationships so much better. Anyway, if you wanna get away at 2 o'clock in the morning, all you need to tell your parents is "ROUBA IS COMING WITH ME" and "WE'RE GOING TO FATIMA'S HOUSE TILL FAJR, ALL HER COUSINS ARE THERE"... so, you have an easy get away, with a family member in tow.

Well, those were only 5, but this post is now getting lengthy.
So, my recommendation is... Stop hating on me and my buddy buddy family, and start hanging out with yours (publicly, with friends). So, if you're going bowling with your friends, invite your mom's (or if you're still reserved about that, your sisters) along. At first, it maybe awkward, but later on, you really look back and think, wow, I did things right.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

a new year?

so it's a new year. One filled with so much potential. So much energy. just SO MUCH.

And it scares me. That the end of our last year in the first 2000 decade, we had to witness acts of extremism.
It fills me with such regret, not because I had anything to do with it, but that our society could let something so scary slip under its radar. Granted, the plane hadn't taken off in America, that it wasn't the rigid American security system that this man went through, but that's not what I mean. How can our youth, both muslim and non-muslim, develop these extremist tendencies? Now, I know this man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23 years old, was not born and raised in the United States, but he did go through a european education system, he did come to the unites states for some time. Why are our youth being corrupted into extremist action and dialogue?
Really, just think about it?
We are facing two REAL issues:
The first is, there are extremists out there, both in the physical world, as well as the world of the internet.
The second is, there are fake extremists being planted by the government into our communities, to incite our youth into extremism.

We really need to address these issues.
My advice is this, and given that I am a young adult with no real experience in parenting, it's up to our parents.
Our parents REALLY need to be involved in the lives of their youth. They truly need to become their influence. If the parents are not involved with their kids, then the kids are just gonna find some other outlet of attention, respect, and love. Frequently in the last decade or so, the internet, video games, movies and the entertainment industry has filled this void. Parents can't connect to their children. Please, YOUTH can no longer connect to one another! But, essentially, what I am saying is: Parents, be involved with the youth. That doesn't mean start spying on them. Or being super micro-managers. It means, truly be there for them, and understand that their time is different than yours.

Young adults, and I mean between the ages of 30-45, you really need to connect to the younger folk as well. You are now well on your way to being professionals. Your personal life may not be at stake, but our society is at large. Do take the time to connect with the younger generation. You need to bridge that gap between them and their parents. You need to be INVOLVED. Think about your tiny baby and 2 decades from now.... do you really think it'll be you raising that child alone? Or does society have a play on things.

The second issue... well it's clear, we need to be vocal about these extremist plants that the government is using. Talk to your local civil rights organization. They will no what to tell you. Call MAS Freedom, or CAIR, or the ACLU, or the NAACP. They all know what I am talking about. This is an issue that has been around, before the immigrant muslim community got here (i.e. the United States).

Finally, I'd like to say, that we voted for change in 2008. But we need to understand that change comes from each individual actively changing. The Quran says “Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11). Regardless of whether you're a muslim, atheist, hindu, sik, christian, diest, jew, or any other religion/lack there of, you need to understand that the aforementioned statement is true. Change cannot come, until change is done from within. We really need to change.

So, now, we are beginning a new year and a new decade. Think about what small changes you can do within this year. And really, TRULY, think about what changes you think you can make in the next decade. What will 2020 look like?

I'll stop here, and I hope that we can combat extremism through advocating for moderation. Oh artists of the world, professionals, teachers, parents, stay-at-home moms/homemakers, secretaries, soldiers, freedom fighters, feminists, advocates, and everything between the youngest of young and the oldest of old, regardless of profession, PLEASE make CHANGE for the better your motto.

I pray for peace, forgiveness, tranquility, sincerity, and success for the human community.