Monthly Archives: January 2012

Palestenians are invented people and there will be no Palestine

Sometimes one has too many things to say he doesn’t know where to start. This is exactly what is happening to me right now. After watching Newt Gingrich’s answer to Abraham Hassan’s question on TV I decided to find the video and post it on my blog. If what he said didn’t shock you I am not sure what will. Luckily, I found his video and Mitt Romney’s as well. In both these videos, both answered a question by a Palestinian American about peace in the Middle East.

HASSAN: Abraham Hassan from Jacksonville, Florida. How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people? As a Palestinian American Republican I’m here to tell you we do exist.

Few facts I learned about those two Republican candidates:

Fact #1: Hassan’s reference was to Newt Gingrich’s claim last month that the Palestinians are an “invented people.”

Fact #2: Both didn’t mention the noun “Palestine.”

Fact #3: Both mentioned rocket attacks by Palestinians only and no mention to Israel’s continues killing of civilians for the past 60 years.

Fact #4: Both agreed that president Obama is not working for the sake of Israel.

Fact #5: When speaking about Palestenians the tone is authorative and commanding. When Speaking about Israel the tone changes to using words such as ‘friend’ and ‘ally.’

Now, I will leave you to watch and learn some more facts about how peace in the Middle East is not something to look for to happen in the near future.

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Promoting smoking in Arabia via a song

Recently, a new Arabic video clip appeared in which the male singer declares his passion for smoking. He sings:

My passion is for smoking
It is difficult to quit this habit
And in my blood runs nicotine
And with every moment I even love it more
قلبي مولع بالتدخين
صعبه بطل هالعاده
وبدمي بيجري النيكوتين
وبكل لحظه بحبها زيادة

Outraged? Wait, you heard nothing yet. The song continues:

My heart is fond of cigarettes
One cigarette worth ten women, two children, four chaps and maybe few more
انا قلبي مولع بالدخان
السيجاره بعشر نسوان
وطفلين واربع شبان ويمكن اكثر بزياده

Of course the song never stops here it goes on and on about how the singer finds a woman with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of alcohol in another to be sexy and attractive and how much he is fond of the three of them. Yes, this song is in Arabic. Written, and directed by Arabs as well.

Singing about smoking is one thing but saying a cigarette is worth ten women is something else. I don’t live in Arabia so I am not sure if any radio station or TV channel decided to play this song. I hope someone can let us know via a comment. Also, what was the reaction about this song, especially from the women’s side?

To my astonishment I found that the director of the video clip is a woman. How about that? Talk about self respect. When she read the song first time and came across the line “One cigarette worth ten women” did she say this is the song that will put me in the hall of fame or the hall of shame? Of course she is not the only female in this shameful production. The production manager, the assistant director, the makeup artists and few more are females. See mark 3:17 and forward for the list of hall of shame. Everyone, males and females, participated in this production should feel ashamed and apologizes to the public.

The question is why in the world there is a song about how good smoking is? I would understand if the song was made in the 60s but this is 2012. Was this song  even sponsored by any cigarette company? I am not even talking about the consumption of alcohol and sexy women in swim suits in a video clip. Especially that in Arabia we don’t have parental guide for what is screened on TVs.

What do people on deathbed think about?

Out of my ignorance I never though what people on their deathbed think about. Why should I? But after reading this interesting article, top 5 regrets of the dying, I knew I was wrong. I am posting the entire article because it is worth reading word by word.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bronnie-ware/top-5-regrets-of-the-dyin_b_1220965.html

How do Americans ask and How do Arabs answer II

How many times you have watched a movie trailer that was just perfect to be disappointed later, after watching it, that it actually sucks (e.g. Vantage Point). Or how many times you read a book that you have been avoiding simply because the title was lame or because of its poor design cover to find out later, after reading it, that it becomes one of your favorite books. I am sure we can say the same about people. How many times we found that a certain person is not that bad after we actually got to talk and know him very well.

The fact is before judging a book or a fruit or even a couch we have to read, taste, touch, feel, use or even sit, if it is a couch, to build our thoughts and be able to judge. Unfortunately, not many individuals do the same when it comes to judging people. My friend’s friend is not necessarily my friend and my friend’s foe is not necessarily my foe. Adults should take their own decisions and make their own judgments. They need neither Fox News nor Aljazeera to tell them who is good and who is bad, who is their friend and who is their enemy. With the rocket speed spread of information era everyone by now knows that media outlets, like newspapers and news TV channels, are siding with whoever pays more. They are no longer venues to convey latest events and news. We no longer read news that is not already analyzed and opinionated.

The Arabs

Learning about Arabs’ culture from Fox News is like learning about American’s Capitalism from Cuba’s or North Korea’s government controlled TV. For Americans to think that Arabs are alike is like saying conservative Missourians think like liberal Californians or that Hawaiians’ culture is like Mississippi’s. And that Mormons, Amish, Jehovah’s Witness, Catholic and Protestants are all the same. They all are Americans, aren’t they?

There is no land on this planet that had been exposed to more cultures than the Arab land. Babylonians, Canaanites, Byzantines, Romans, Greeks, Crusaders, English, French, Italians, Moguls you name it all dropped by. You can watch here a well done animated map of the Middle East entitled “Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history?” This long brutal history taught Arabs to never trust people coming to their land with guns claiming they will liberate them, simply because all previous liberators said the same thing. If Americans knew this fact they should have not felt shocked when Iraqis didn’t welcome them the way they expected to be welcomed, as liberators.

Because Arabs have been in contact with a huge diversion of civilizations throughout history their skin tones vary from African to Scandinavian. They have black, brown, blue and green eyes (see my brother’s and sister’s daughters below). Our dialects range from a very close to old Arabic language (Saudi Arabia) to Egyptian or Shamy Arabic to ‘is that Arabic?’ (Morocco). Even our culture is very diverse.

My two beautiful nieces. The Jordanian on the left has blue eyes and the Syrian on the right has olivish eyes

In general, Arabs have three main distinctive cultures; the Arabic Gulf, the Levant (or the countries of Al-Sham) and the North African, except for Egypt which is closer culturally to the Levant than to North African countries. Some Arab countries are more liberal or conservative than others. Lebanon and Tunisia are considered the most liberal among the Arab countries. Religion is not the main factor here since Tunisia has only 2% non-Muslims compared to 10% in Egypt and Syria. The majority of Christian Arabs live in the Levant and Egypt. Generally, the Arabic gulf people are more conservative than Al-Sham and North African countries.

That was a brief introduction to who the Arabs are, why they are not homogeneous and maybe to give you an idea how different they are.

The Americans

During a conversation with an American student on campus the issue of polygamy was brought up. When I pointed out that some Christians like the Mormons practice it, I was interrupted and corrected at once that the “MORMONS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS”. I didn’t like his tone but then, later, I remembered how I would answer someone when he refers to the Nation of Islam’s followers as Muslims. Many times, we take things for granted just because we read about it somewhere.

Mormon Church/temple in St Louis
Mormon Church in St Louis (click on the picture to notice the absent of the cross)

In the first episode of Stephen Fry in America, Fry visits New England and meets with a Harvard university professor:

Fry: America … is entire land of contradiction almost anything you can say is true about it, the opposite is true as well. …

Professor: What I think makes it an interesting country and a country that has a fascinating present largely because it had to make up its past it doesn’t have this long unbroken romantic stretch to some primeval moment so you make things happen. …

Well the many things what you can say about this country is that we dislike complexity. So, we will make simple solutions to everything that we possibly can even when the complex answer is obviously the correct answer although or more intriguing answer we want a simple yes or no, flat out this or absolutely certain that.

That is why American schools exams are mostly multiple choice answers. They require no explanations or how the students derived his answer just as the professor above explained, yes or no answer. This way of testing is not necessarily the best (watch Fixing Education) but I am just referring to how Americans think.

The Question

Arabs usually don’t answer with yes or no or they don’t think either is an enough answer. Americans say “No is a complete sentence.” Because of this difference there is confusion among many Americans, who want to know and learn about this [mysterious] religion called Islam, when it comes to controversial issues. I have witnessed many conversations in which a non-Muslim asks a Muslim if it is true that polygamy is practiced by Muslims. Unfortunately, the Muslim’s answer is never ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Although, the question only requires a yes/no answer, unfortunately, many Muslims I have meet will say something like “yes, but….” or “there should be a valid reason [like this or that] to have a second wife”, etc. This way of answering is not the way Americans are used to. The answer is not “a simple yes or no, flat out this or absolutely certain that.”

In my opinion, I believe such answers give impression to the person who asked that this Muslim is trying to hide something in his religion that he is not proud of. I, my father, both my late grandfathers, my father’s five brothers, my mother’s four brothers, my too many male cousins to count, my friends and the husbands of all my aunts and also the too many female cousins’ husbands non married more than once. All those men I know combined can easily be counted in three digits. Polygamy is lawful under Allah’s command but it is not the norm practice among Muslims. Now, if you want to know why Allah made polygamy halal, lawful, or why He made it halal to men only and not women you have to find the answer somewhere else because I don’t know.  I don’t have to know the answer for everything. I don’t know why Allah, for example, made eating pork unlawful but I just believe in Him and that His commands are obligatory. True believers should not care what others think of their religion. I know that Allah made polygamy lawful. Why? I don’t know. Although, I don’t think I will ever marry more than one wife at the same time I don’t look down on Muslim men who have more than one wife. Because if so, it means I look down on my prophet and his companions. Worse it means I disrespect my religion.

The beauty of living is that we all are different. Can you imagine a life were we all think and do everything the same way? Many individuals in non-Muslims societies who find polygamy upsetting for example find the practice of multiple sexual partners and fornication to be normal. And in some of these societies infidelity exist more than in Muslim societies. Muslims on the other hand find these practices to be sinful.

Our world is not homogeneous and neither should be our treatment of others. We should build our relationship with individuals based on how they treat us not based on what group they belong to. Always answer any question sincerely when it comes to something you truly believe in. Remember that ‘no’ and ‘yes’ are complete sentences and when in doubt no perfect answer better than ‘I don’t know.’

Now, the next question is does Americans almost radical fond of ‘political correctness’ make it hard for them to understand other cultures?

Related:

Living in the United States

The ideology of suicide bombing I

Do you know how to write a manual? Do you know how to describe the functionality of a machine? Or how to chronologically list the tasks of some kind of an operation?

I found this video which teaches 2nd graders functional writing to be very interesting. It is not easy for teachers to make a hard subject both useful and entertaining at the same time. Don’t you wish all our children’s teachers are as intelligent, caring and funny as the one in this video. The teacher in the video has recently became a Google Certified Teacher and was also a member of the first inaugural YouTube Teacher Studio and became one of the very first “YouTube Star Teachers”. In 2011 she was named AAGT’s Gifted Teacher of the Year. I don’t know what any of these awards are but it seems she deserves such recognition.

Bad parenting and a case of an extreme racism in Arizona

You will not believe what you will hear in this video. The girls’ future if not in the US at least in Arizona is over thanks to bad parenting. When parents will learn that their children will execute what they have been hearing from them. If you teach your child to love or hate others  then he will, as simple as that. Children’s behaviors are blue print of parenting  ready to be executed year after year. Don’t build a monster.

Warning: The video contains all kind of profanity against Mexicans and Jesus.

And I was planing to visit Grand Canyon again this spring break. No, thank you I will not carry my passport and I-20 with me while in Grand Canyon in case some officer stops me and ask me where are my papers.

Another example of bad parenting: UCLA Chancellor uses YouTube to Respond to a student’s video

Mental Health First Aid Training

On January 3rd and 4th I was busy attending mental health first aid training. The training is the first of its kind in the US. Started in Australia and now is being adopted in the US. So far only 8 people are qualified to teach this course in the US or maybe worldwide.

Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that  helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by three national authorities — the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

Mental Health First Aid is offered in the form of an interactive 12-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Those who take the 12-hour course to certify as Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care. [MHFA-USA]

101_1124

This training was offered to faculty and staff in my university. The objective is for faculty and staff to first learn about some of the behaviors of students with mental health problems and how to talk and interact with them. For example, not every student with multiple absents is necessary a lazy student and students suffering from trauma need some special attention.

Unfortunately, people in the US and in Jordan, but of course more in Jordan, consider a person with mental health issues to be mentally challenged. In Jordan for example any person who goes to counseling or sees a physiatrist is considered crazy, insane or retarded.

I am very fortunate that I got the chance to attend this training. I myself went through some tough depression period that required me to take some medication. Three years ago I went through some very difficult period. Not knowing what is going on with me I didn’t do anything about it. Only after I went to the university’s counseling center and with the help of the mental health center I was able to learn more about myself and return to be the normal me again. I will talk about this in detail later in a different post because I want to talk about it in relation to religion and self-help books. And also, in a more important matter, how mistakenly Muslims deal with suicide and suicidal thoughts.

The big two questions now are:

  1. When we are going to have such training for faculty and staff in Jordanian universities?
  2. Would such training put an end to the INSANE and UNEXPLAINED behaviors of our students’ continuous act of campus violence? (According to a Jordanian newspaper in 2011 there were 50 such incidents)

Crazy man talking!

In the news: The Republic

Did anyone say owning a gun is a bad idea?

As good and exciting the ending of this story is one can’t stop thinking of how this 18-year-old mom felt while fearfully hugging her infant and hearing two men trying to knock her mobile home door down.

The hero mom shoot dead one man and the other ran away. Good for her and her son. He should be very proud of her.  Sarah McKinley’s  husband died of cancer on Christmas Day, only a week before the incident.