Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moms rock

So, I'm gonna keep this post short but I thought it was worth blogging about.

I'm sitting on my laptop, reading journal articles... Mind you, they're articles that are irrelevant to my direct research, but extremely relevant to my field of study (especially with the comprehensive exams looming). Now, I know my mom didn't read the titles or authors, and even if she did, she wouldn't have recognized which others were relevant. I mean, she doesn't really know what my research is really about.

But she said:

"Reem... Do your research!"

in the same tone she may have used about 10-12 years ago when telling me "Reem... Do your homework!" ...

So, my mom rocks. Because she still 'gots it'. I mean, seriously. Other people might have heard their parent say that and go "mom! I'm an adult now.... stop reminding me like I'm 12" but me, I love it!!! My mom, she is awesome.

Now, let me get back to my research... my real 'Hi! my deadline is today' research...


Monday, June 13, 2011

Maybe I'm too cliche

My friend C.R. recently said something: that when God wants you to learn something, then God constantly bombards you with the same message over and over again. (completely paraphrased).

I don't want to say recently, but almost my whole life, I've had this love of differences. And as time progresses, I am bombarded with situations and people who are just soooo different and you can do nothing but embrace it. Humans were never completely the same. Even if our biological make up is 99% the same, we still have that 1% of difference that breaks the cycle. I've had this appreciation of non-conformity. I am enthralled by learning from people who have different outlooks, experiences, backgrounds and so forth. I don't care what the difference is, I just love to learn from it. However, we live in a society of herd mentality, conformity, and you know, being part of the in-crowd. So, in essence, I was often the odd man out. I learned, over time, to quietly appreciate from afar but never vocalize it. In college, I realized that I could speak up again... However, people started to assume that my curiosity in the 'otherness' of things was a way to affirm 'myself-ness' but really it's not. People get on the defensive and start arguing, where I would be totally content just listening. But, I am genuinely curious and interested and willing to try and experience what you experience to the best of my ability. I fear for those who go on the defensive, because that means that their experiences in the past have pushed them to that point.

Anyway, I love difference. I love it with a passion. I love it so much that when I was a kid, us girls would be like "I wanna marry so and so with such and such qualities" and I would always think "I want someone completely different than me" (whatever you may take that to mean). The thing that I cannot tolerate, or more accurately that thing that I dislike, is when people attempt to force you to take an opinion or to submit to their perspective as though it is better or worse than your own. Often people tell me, "Reem you assert your opinions all the time" and I would like to say:

No, no I do not. I express my opinions all the time. I do not assert them. You can take my opinion, reject my opinion, listen and dissect it, I don't mind. But I will never force it upon anyone. However, sometimes I "over explain my opinions" because I have a fear of being misunderstood. So, if I am saying something for a LOOONNNGGG time, trust me, it is because I feel like you may be misunderstanding me and not me forcing my opinion on you. And if you got what I was trying to say, just sincerely tell me - "Oh Reem, I got it, don't worry" and I'll probably stop, without any negative feelings or anything.

Went off on a tangent again... but anyway, the one thing I cannot handle is someone forcing their opinion upon me. Or indicating that my opinion was "wrong". Opinions were not made to be right or wrong.... that's what makes them opinions rather than facts of life. And even then, these opinions may be a fact of life for a person, but not necessarily for all. I mean, non of us can deny gravity, right? But not all people believe that twizzlers are AWESOME.

Maybe I have "post-modernist" tendencies., although I cannot stand being put into a neatly packaged box and commodified. I think we need to look at our perspectives and really explore how willing we are to accept people. I know that I need to learn to accept people who force their opinions as just peoples will a different take on life (not as pluralistic per se) but it will take time in general. I, myself, am a very opinionated person, in fact WE ALL ARE, even when we think we don't have an opinion about something. However, there are some of us who have no shame in expressing their opinions (or asking people about theirs) and their are some who think it's rude...

So, what's the point of this???

Please, please, please please please!!! Take humans for what they are, humans with opinions, rather than neatly packed ideologies. Experience what makes them human and what shapes their opinions. If people started to see humans as humans and not objects, trust me, the world would just be so much more peaceful and you'll be a million times more likely to experience all that is beautiful within it.

Maybe I'm idealistic. Maybe my opinion doesn't resonate with someone who is reading this. Well if that is the case, feel free to express why my opinion doesn't quite ring with you in the comment's section, in a loving and sisterly/brotherly way. I <3 constructive criticism.. Anyway, maybe I'm too cliche but --- appreciate (and experience!) differences.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Words slap hard

If you do not know this about me, I am a person who typically chooses their words with caution. There is this lingering fear that overwhelms me; in which I will hurt someone deeply and never be able to truly apologize, because I will not recognize the offense. Coupled with this fear is my fascination with language; how one need only to look at language and see the power dynamics thrive as Wittgenstein and Lyotard described. But I realized, that although I am a careful person, I am human and subject to the socialization process of stupidity.

Quick question: Have you ever heard someone say one of the following, or an off-shoot:
I want to die.
Kill me now.
I'd rather die.
I'd rather commit suicide.
Hang me.
Shoot me.


Well, I have. Repeatedly. In fact, I've heard it so much, it became part of my daily lexicon. Me, who can never tolerate racial jokes, gay jokes or statements like "that's so retarded"; I use these "kill me" statements all the time. Despite the fact that I know people who have committed suicide, I know people who have attempted it, and I have even talked people out of it.

Now, some people might say something like: What's the big deal? It's just a saying....

No, it's not. A couple of months ago, a friend of mine who I knew was depressed was talking to me about the most random things. I said something like one of those aforementioned phrases. I saw the shock on his face, but at the time I didn't comprehend the shock. Maybe I ignored it. Maybe I told myself I was misreading him. I don't know, it was back in january or february... some month when it was snowing like whoa.

Tonight, I said something to the effect of 'hang me now'.... and the minute the words and body language slipped past my control, I regretted it immensely. I kept thing "oh crap, I am so insensitive". Maybe I'm selfish and want to redeem myself....? Maybe, I want to come to terms with myself... Maybe, I want this to be a teachable moment.... But I realized, sometimes we can do something for so long and not realize how much it may hurt someone. While at other times, it just clicks into place and you realize the mistakes.

To my friends who have sought my advice and help through their times of depression and sadness: I apologize.
To all others, I hope I learn to be more cautious about my words.

I continued to think and think..... and think about those statements. Have you realized that these statements are a form of self-degredation? You enslave your soul to a sense of worthlessness and send it into a limbo of hopelessness. An inferiority complex develops, and one starts to think that they really don't matter.

Think about who you have ever heard make these statements... Most of the time, I hear it from people of subaltern backgrounds. People of "otherness" (myself included). Is this a mental slavery? Is this a way to condition the minority masses into feeling like life is not worth it. Wittgenstein believes that language is the embodiment of power; that you see the dynamics of human beings through language. Is this a manifestation of it? Are these statements a way to keep people down. To question their self-worth? Honestly, I don't know.

Recently, a person close to me told me they wanted to die. They said "Reem, life is not worth living... I'd rather die" (somewhat paraphrased, but essentially that). And on the spot I said: "Don't say that! Don't ever say that!".... You only put yourself down into a rut that you sink deeper and deeper into, like quicksand. Depression is a scary thing. Suicide and death, even more so.

So, today, I am breaking free from my past linguistic servitude. Whenever I am tired, exhausted, frustrated, going nuts and even depressed.... I will say "I'm going to bring life" or something to that effect. When someone around me says something like "I want to die" I will respond with "but I want you to live"; it doesn't matter whether they were joking or serious. Life is precious. And words, despite the saying "sticks and stones....", can destroy the world.... or help build a beautiful one.

Therefore, to anyone who reads this: LIVE.
and this poem emerges:

Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me
is an inaccurate fallacy
people do get hurt,
in fact , they die...
A word, can trigger wars
or broker peace deals
It is the tight rope walk between
One person can joke
and another will choke
till the words drive them crazy
push them into a frenzy
of anger, laughter, hate, love
life is anything but fair,
and we need to bear the burden
of our rashly, vomited words...
I never understood how a negative statement
could become so common
We twitch at racism
but shrug at sexism
bat an eyelash at political incorrectness
but don't give a crap about those who are affected
It's a show and we're all jugglers
of pins... no words... no pins
that poke us in the gut...
because we had a gut feeling that something went wrong
with that last statement....
So, think deep, ponder wide
sink into a cloud nine
of hope...
life is no joke....
the phrase
"I want to die"
may be said non-committedly
can steal someones soul
throw it overboard
while we go on alive
without realizing
we became a murder...
just by uttering a few words...


Keep on living y'all. I know, that without a doubt, you have so much to contribute. Let no one stop you.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Reactive Fools

Recently, I saved all my poetry that I could find in PDF format.... I've accumulated, over the last 5 years, about 200 pages worth of poetry. Some of it is okay, some of it is crap, and others are just post worthy. I've never considered my poetry to be great; actually, I've held a very critical view towards it for a long time. But despite that, I always feel my poetry. Reason being is that I tend to write in one rush of thought with no edits (unless the grammar and spelling are incoherent) and filled with the emotions I felt at the moment. If I start a poem and don't finish it, it'll never finish; it doesn't matter how great the beginning was. But the last poem I wrote was... I think in April.... Well, my blog posts are much the same...

Anyway, someone recently told me that I am too reactive to people. Not reactive as in the moment per se, but constantly conscious about other people's opinions of me. Which I find to weird, telling, incorrect, but somehow accurate. Why? Well, everyone, at some point in their lives has done something in response to perceptions. I am a very proactive person, so it was odd hearing this. But, I guess, what most people don't realize is that being proactive is actually a reactive sentiment from potential/future threats that one may bypass by being proactive.... whattT?????

So... I was told that I will exhaust myself if I constantly react to people, rather than find motivation and inspiration within myself. At this point, I felt being pushed on the defensive, maybe my hackles started to rise, and my eyes started to water--- but I was getting frustrated. However, I said nothing. I let the conversation continue. They continued to articulate that I was confused and unsure about who I am, i.e. that my identity was one that was forged out of reactive tendencies rather than a self will. When they were done, I told them that their perception was interesting, someone correct, but misunderstood, misguided, and well frankly colored in lenses of a world view that was strikingly different than my own.

Well then, who am I? Well, I was someone who grew up under the microscope, as are most young people. I am one who believes that in society, there will always be a referent, a point of comparison when people interact, as Rousseau talks about in the early transformations of society. But, I know exactly who I am. I see my double-consciousness, my otherness, my departure from the norm/mainstream and accept it. I never do things to appease people or defy people per se, but accept the forces of society that exist. I accept my context and define myself accordingly and in spite of. Therefore, if I react to something, it is because I choose to react and will it (yes the Nietzschean in me) then so be it. I am a person who loves to hear other perspectives, ideas, understandings of the world, and learn from them. I am a patch-quilt maker... I learn from the world, I react to the world, I take from the world, and hopefully I give back to the world. If we think that self-will can be completely stripped from society/social bonds, language games, collectivity, all of these ideals then life is reduced to socratic logic of 'If A is B, and B is C then A is C', but even Socrates/Plato recognizes that life adjusts, shifts, and reacts as time progresses; as articulated in the Republic and the transformation of people and governments.

So, what does this mean for me... Life, definitions, language games/rules, paradigms, wills ---- all these things change. Whether in minute details or is huge transformations. But back to the point, this person who told me I was going to burn out constantly reacting to people... No I won't, because you react to the world and people around you, but you just pretend that you don't. Call it what you want, accuse me as you may, but simply put... I react, but it is out of acceptance that life is constantly in flux. According to Lyotard (in my own paraphrasing take), language games are subject to rules, life is a series of language games, and if there are no rules, there are no games. However, the worst possible ending is entropy, which in that case, even if actions/words seem to be 'worse' they are in avoidance of completely dying/disappearing - entropy.

Maybe I went off on a tangent.... But what I am trying to say is this: just because people are reactive, doesn't mean that they don't know who they are. Some people accept it, and use it to change the direction of thought, action, life, the world. You think all the great philosophers were suddenly inspired (well other than St. Augustine in the Confessions) out of nowhere? They were reacting to the status quo of their society, whether they were incorporated within it or not. Contemplation, the idea of thinking about something, is a reaction. Your body is a series of reactions. If every cell reacts, how can you not as a whole being? Nietzsche called these reactions will to power.... maybe they are. Who knows really.

This post is a reaction...