A Day in Histroy

On 31-5-2010 at 4 am in the morning, Israeli military forces attacked a fleet of aid-carrying ships heading to Gaza, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, aiming to break the siege that Israel has been imposing on the Strip since June 2007. The attack resulted in killing at least 20 people, injuring dozens of others and the mass arrest of the passengers. The Flotialla was attacked in international waters, 150 kilometers from Israels’ territorial waters.

Despite the unproportional response, the international community was in shock; for attacking a convoy of civil ships whose passengers consisted of unarmed peace and humanitarian activists was out of the question, for no matter how low Israel has been known to sink, few seemed to expect it to stoop that low. It was undoubtedly a slap in the face of freedom and justice which both seem to be the least of Israel’s concern.

Naturally, Israelis tried to rationalize their way out of it, even daring to claim that their forces were attacked by Flotilla passengers which they called a “bunch of terrorists”. Well, it’s hard to buy such a pretext considering the world hasn’t known too many unarmed, humanitarian supplies carrying terrorists, not to mention Israel’s notorious history of lying and their well-earned reputation for victimizing themselves. Of course Israel’s warplanes and live ammunition could only further validate the argument.

Piracy, state terrorism, war crime, massacre, you name it. There’s almost no criminal description that wouldn’t fit this atrocity. Israel has always been known to be a country that’s above the law. Whenever you think there are no lines left for them to cross they’ll surprise you by crossing lines you didn’t even think can be crossed, and by attacking Flotilla Israel did just that. For years Israel has terrorized and massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent people in cold blood, and somehow they managed to get away with it by some lame pretext and a few buzzwords, and even get international support. Yet, what Israel did this time was unprecedented, because they were blatantly criss-crossing international laws and throwing them to the wind, openly challenging all that is humane and morally acceptable. Israel’s arrogance and slef-righteousness have exceeded all limits.

The day went on to be known as Freedom Day as a tribute to the brave men and women who came from all over the world to challenge the siege and bring justice to the people of Gaza and those of them who lost their lives in the action, and as I write this now I can’t help but feel that this is a day that will be a milestone in history. It’s the kind of day that changes the course of history, and if not, at least we can hope it changes something inside each one of us who were witnesses to this injustice that left a scar in the face of humanity, and a hole in our hearts.

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The Greatest Machine on Earth

50 years ago, studies showed that humans use 50% of their mind’s ability. 10 years later, they said it was only 40%, then the number kept spiraling down until it reached 10%, which was huge compared to what latest studies show, which is that we only use 0,01% of our mind’s ability.

But here’s the good news, it’s not because we’re getting stupid by the hour, but rather because scientists keep discovering year after year that the mind’s ability is bigger than we know or have known before. And really, it’s not very hard to believe, I mean look around you! How could someone invent something as complicated as a micro-chip through which you can talk to anyone anywhere in the world? It’s all about exploring your mind and pushing yourself to the limit.

I think we all can relate to a situation where we had to push our limits because of fear or competition. Actually it happened to me the other day. As some of you may know, I work as a subtitler, and among the shows we translate is Martha Stewart’s show. For some reason, that show takes us ages to finish and nobody seems to know why. So the other day my friend and I decided to compete, whoever finishes 5 minutes first gets to carry out a certain stipulation which was to go to the other office and beg for money. I started working as if my life depended on it! Suddenly I was no longer focused on the show itself but on not begging for money. Long story short, I lost and I did go beg for money, but the thing is: we worked so fast just like we’d work if it was any other easy program. So, we could do it, we just didn’t want to.

I believe you can set your mind to do whatever you want. For example, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that writer’s block is a huge myth. There’s no such a thing. You either want to write or you don’t. I used to think that I have a writer’s block (Although I still can’t officially call myself a writer) but when I forced myself to write and tried to squeeze my mind the thoughts flowed in.

Here’s another interesting piece of info: From age 0 to 2, a child’s has 100% of his creativity, between 2 & 7 however, that percentage plummets down to a mere 2%. Why? Well, just try watching a mother or a father walking around with their child. “Don’t touch this” “leave that alone” “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”. Tip: stoop to the child’s level, engage them in whatever you’re doing, try to understand why they do whatever they do.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand by hand. Skipping breakfast, smoking, consuming too much sugar and processed food, lack of sleep, etc. All that could be damaging to your body and mind. Another important thing is exercising your brain. There’s a great brain exercise which is to count from 100 to 0 backwards in multiples of 2, 4, 6, etc. Doing crosswords, Sudoku or any kind of games that require picking your mind is a great exercise too.

It’s truly the greatest, most ingenious machine in the world, one of God’s greatest gifts.  The human mind is probably the one thing whose value increases with usage, so go ahead! Consume it, don’t just keep it for the worms…

**Inspired by a lecture by Dr. Ibrahim Al-Feqi

Behind the 140 Characters

I had a lovely encounter today, not just lovely but also inspiring. In fact I came to believe that everything we come across can be inspiring if we took some time to think about it!

At first, I summed it up into a tweet, which goes like this:

“2day while walking 3 little girls I dnt know came 2 me &gave me flowers! I think it was the Pooh shirt that got’em. Gotta love little girls!”

You see, this is the fast, easy way to express it. Direct and straight to the point. Now, before I was introduced to micro-blogging through Twitter and Facebook, I used to express this through my blog. Like this:

So, as usual I went for a walk today. This has become such an essential part of my life that I might avoid making plans because I can’t bear to spend two days in a row without any kind of workout. Very refreshing if you ask me, and occasionally something interesting may happened that would make it more interesting, like my run-in with Taj before.

So, as I was walking, listening to Maccadi Nahhas and completely consumed in some pipe-dreams I’m willing to take with me to the grave, I saw 3 little girls standing at the door of some house, fidgeting and buzzing amongst themselves. I thought they were waiting for someone they know to pass by but as I passed by them, they followed me with their eyes, I looked at them and smiled back, and as I was studying the face of the semi-toothless cutie that looked like a girl I know, I was surprised by her other 2 friends approaching me, giving me some pink flowers before the three of them ran back into the house.

Well, my first reaction was that I was touched and it really put me in a different mood that I had to make a conscious effort to get back into my daydreaming. Yet, since  such acts of kindness aren’t necessarily common, I was a bit suspicious, especially as a blast from the past flashed before me, that was when I was a kid like those girls and I gave my sister a bunch of flowers, but they were tarnished with oil and stuff, they smelled horrible! So I checked the flowers out and felt guilty and a little bit silly to assume bad intention by such little adorable creatures. I might not be a fan of flowers but a flower by a kid means the world to me, because you never know what goes through their minds as they give it to you but you can be sure that it’s something pure and innocent just like them. Well, for what it’s worth I was wearing a pink shirt with a big picture of Pooh on it, perhaps that’s it! You know this shirt always scores with children, although adults might react differently to it!

I lost most of the flowers on the way as they were so fragile, but just before I got home I ran into my mother’s friend, she had her 3 year-old daughter with her, so I gave her the flower I had left, so as you see, it goes around.

You know it’s funny how little girls on the street give you flowers or shout “Good morning” at you (that happened too, although it was shortly before sunset), while little boys run wild on the streets, chasing dogs and whatnot. But that’s cute too! Scary when there’s a German Shepherd involved but cute. Surely we can’t generalize; my niece has been terrorizing the poor dogs and cats of the world since before she turned two. Not the lovey-dovey flower type, like niece like aunt!

So, as you can see, there was more to that incident than what 140 characters could take. And this is exactly what this post is about! I know this is the age of high speed and everything, I’m all for that! But does it mean that we stop taking the time to write and elaborate on what we want to express? Do we have to abide by a certain number of characters?

I posed the question before whether Twitter and Facebook restrict creativity, and they do! Micro-blogging is great, but it’s like a quick fix. It’s great for spreading news, sharing thoughts on the spot and picking the mind of the masses, but my fear is we find it too accessible and too comfortable that we stop writing and reading tings that could be way longer than those 140 characters, because that would be a shame. A real shame!

 

Why Women Accept Abuse

Why a woman could accept abuse as a part of her life could be beyond some people. It’s understandable that anyone who enjoys the independence and free will to pose that question wouldn’t be able to wrap their mind around this, because probably most if not all of us reading this hadn’t been there, yet I’m sure each and everyone of us has a bizarre story to tell about some abuse victim(s).

You see, unless a hard core masochist, nobody likes to be beaten to a pulp and called all sorts of demeaning names. So why would a woman -whose very basic instinct is to crave love- be willing to put up with unthinkable kinds of abuse? Like it or not, sometimes a woman might find herself in a situation where she thinks she has to learn to live with abuse, and you can’t understand that unless you try to put yourself in their shoes, if you don’t already know someone who’s actually suffering this.

The list could include reasons we can’t even begin to imagine, but these are some of the ones I could think of:

Children: Mothers are selfless creatures, and a mother who has 8 children, all the more so. She has no one to go to, no means to provide for all of her children, so she think that she could stomach it for the sake of her children. Of course reporting her husband to the police is out of the question, and maybe she thinks the abuse isn’t severe enough to warrant legal action. So for a girl in her mid-twenties who has never had an encounter with abuse to come and say the woman should leave her husband is a bit unrealistic. Yet, there’s still something to be done. The woman can go to someone in her family to try and talk sense into her husband and even force him to treat his wife right if needed. Also remember that the Family Protection Services aren’t there to break up families, they are there to find what’s wrong and fix it, to make families a healthy environment for children to grow in. So, don’t be afraid to report abuse to the Family Support Line by dialing 110, and you don’t even have to give them your personal information.

Social issues: “We are girls from decent families, we don’t get divorced or break up engagements” Believe it or not, the previous quote was told by a young educated girl, advising her friend who was having problems with her fiancé.

By some twisted reasoning, a woman might sometime find it better to take abuse than to be labeled as a divorcee. It could be pride that prevents her from speaking up, it could be family issues, whatever it is it’s is NOT AN EXCUSE.

Because they think it’s the normal thing. You see, her father used to beat the crap out of her mother and she did nothing. It’s par for the course, the circle of life. That’s why the mother and the father should consider that one day their daughter could be taking the same kind of abuse silently, because she thinks it’s only natural. This reminds me of a scene in a movie where a girl who’s been abused both by her mother and father says that she doesn’t want love in her life because love only caused bad things to happen to her. She thought the maltreatment and abuse she got from her parents were “love”.

Because she loves him, and he loves her. the lamest excuse of all. If someone beats you he either has serious psychological problems or he just does not love you, at least not the way you think he does. Either way, you should not stay with him. And keep in mind that physical abuse could be a threat to your life, I don’t think I need to mention any of the many stories we all heard of about women who were killed  or seriously injured by abusive husbands.

The V word. well, let’s face it, everyone makes mistakes, but for a girl to lose her virginity before marriage in the Arab society, that could be a deadly one. Not only because it could lead to an honor crime, many people wouldn’t go there, but because the girl might find herself in a situation where she has to take the abuse of a boyfriend or any other person in order to spare herself the scandal, and she might be forced to continue making that mistake no matter how much she regrets it. The thing is, you don’t correct a mistake by another mistake, there’s always a way to make things right. The problem is the mentality, no surprise here. Case in point, a “doctor” who once mentioned to a friend of mine that “If a girl loses her virginity she’d better commit suicide instead of waiting for her family to kill her”. Mind you, that’s coming from someone whose job is supposed to be saving lives. Of course it’s better safe than sorry, so don’t be stupid and condemn yourself to a life of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. If it wasn’t the boyfriend who will be the abuser, it could be a third party or even a future husband.

Well, those are the reasons I could think of for now, but I’m sure the list goes on, perhaps farther and more ridiculously than we could think. But the point is: whatever the reason, abuse is not okay and there’s always a solution, and those women need to know that.

I agree that empowerment of women is key, but let’s be realistic, no matter how much you empower women, there still will be women who are helpless and over-powered by circumstances, or at least think so. That’s why I think it’s equally important to raise awareness among men themselves. Not only impose punishments on abusers but also take preventive measures to prevent abuse in the first place.

Another thing we can’t deny is the way people raise their boys who grow up to be men and then abuse their wives, daughters and sisters. A boy must learn since childhood that he’s no better than his sister or his female peers, he must be taught to respect women and that when he grows up he will have a responsibility to protect the women in his life, not to make them need protection from himself. And of course another curse is the double standards in our society. They would go crazy if they caught their daughter talking on the phone to a guy and at the same time they brag about the 50 girlfriends their sons have. Teach your children that women aren’t their only for their amusement, and that it’s not okay to manipulate girls just because they make themselves vulnerable.

If anything, abuse is a habit and a life-style. Change the way the people think, fuel th public opinion against it, instill in people’s mind, both young and old, that a man who abuses his wife or treats her badly defies hi natural role and therefore can’t be considered a man. Teach women their real value, make them understand what they truly deserve, and most importantly make them realize that abuse is not, never was, and will never be okay.

100 Days of Solitude: Day 2

She closed her eyes in an attempt to pull herself together. She took a deep breath, detaching herself from her surroundings, and with one sudden movement she stood tall in the center of the room. The walls retracted, the cascade of mental flashes subsided and the salty taste of unthinkable fear was all but gone as she parted her lips to let out a cry for help.

Nothing came out.

She felt a grip tightening around her throat. She wanted to shout, but the more she tried the more desperate she grew, not because she lost her voice, but because she didn’t have a name to shout. She tried and tried, but nothing came out except a dry cough, and just as she was about to lose her mind in the process, she fell down again.

She leaned back on the wall, and in a much needed attempt to pull herself together again, she closed her eyes. “No more shouting” she decided. She just took a deep breath, left her head upwards, and prayed.

مين أختك؟

عم بقرأ حالياً رواية بتدور أحداثها في فلسطين في بدايات وأواسط القرن الماضي، واللي لفت انتباهي في القصة هو إنها بتظهر جانب قليل ما بسمع عنه عن العادات الفلسطينية، وخاصة إنه الأحداث مستوحاة من الواقع يعني مش مجرد نسج خيال. يعني بصراحة دايماً بنسمع قصص كيف كانت المرأة دائماً مقموعة في كل شي وكيف كان في تمييز ضدها ومن هالحكي، بس في هاي الرواية ببين الكاتب جانب مختلف، وببين قديش كانوا يكرموا الكرأة ويسموها “الأصيلة” وكيف كانوا يتفاءلوا بالمواليد البنات حتى إنه كان عندهم مثل بقول “سنة البنات نبات” ومن هالحكي

امبارح وصلت فصل في الرواية بصير ي مواجهة بين رجلين، فواحد منهم بقول: ما بكون أخو خضرة إلا إضا كذا وكذا، بقوم التاني برد عليه: وأنا ما بكون أخو العزيزة إذا ما عملت كذا وكذا. بصراحة الموضوع لفت نظري وعجبني كيف كانوا يتفاخروا بأخواتهم وبأسماءهم يعني الرجل كان شرف بالنسبة إلو يكون أخو خضرة أو العزيزة أو أو أو… لأنه كان المرأة إلها قدرها ومكانتها. ي

بينما لو قارنا زمان بالوقت الحالي، هلأ صار أكبر عيب الواحد يحكي اسم أخته أو أمه! مصيبة المصايب… ومش بس هيك، حتى مجرد كلمة “أختك” صارت بحد ذاتها عيب ومسبة، حتى إنه يمكن بعض الناس يلاقوا عنوان البوست هاد “مش مريح” نوعاً ما ويمكن في ناس تستحي ترد عليه حتى. طيب ليش؟ وقال منزعل من كلمة “حريم” في المسلسلات السورية طيب ما إنت لما تستحي تحكي اسم أختك أو حتى الكلمة نفسها كإنك بتحكي إنه أختي عبارة عن عيب كبير وإشي محظور

قبل فترة كان خالي بيعطي دورة تدريبية في بلد عربي شقيق من دون ذكر أسماء البلاد، وكانوا المشاركين بعبوا نماذج لشيء معين وكان اسم الأم مطلوب، فلاحظ خالي إنه واحد منهم ما كتب اسم أمه، قام قاله: لو سمحت اكتب اسم والدتك، قام هداك اطلع عليه وضحك باستهزاء وراح. لما بدت الدورة وقف قدام المتدربين وحكالهم: مين أعظم شخصية في العالم؟ حكوله: الرسول محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم، قام حكالهم: في واحد فيكم ما بيعرف اسم أمه؟   لا

الخلاصة هي إنه تاريخنا مش كله تخلف وعنصرية، وحاضرنا مش كله تقدم وانفتاح، وللأسف شكلنا عم نتقدم في أمور وبنتخلف في أمور تانية، زي اللي بمشي خطوة لقدام وخطوتين لورا

آخر شي ولتغيير المود تذكرت قصة بتضحك عن هاد الموضوع حكالي إياها أخوي، كانوا هو وصحابو طالعين وقفهم شرطي وطلب هوية واحد فيهم، قام الشب أعطاه هوية الجامعة، الشرطي قاله بدي هوية الأحوال المدنية، قام الشب تطلع على صحابو وقال: ب

 “فش فايدة، بدو يعرف اسم إمي”

100 Days of Solitude

Day 1

“I don’t want to talk to anyone” She said with an anger of a lioness defending her cubs.

“Well, no one wants to talk to you” He fired back, not even half jokingly.

“Fine”

“Fine”

The line died.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she smashed the phone, fell unconsciously on the ground with her back still pressed to the wall.  She felt an unfamiliar sickening feeling in her stomach, thoughts rushed through her head like arrows in a Medieval war, walls started to close in as she felt the taste of salt and fear on her lips. Then, everything stood still. No voice. No light. Nothing. The only thing she could hear was the sound of her muscles trembling and the unusually fast beating of her heart, not out of fear, but because it was the first time in her life she realizes what it means to be alone.

To be continued, or not…

62

Her name? We don’t know for sure. It could be Aicha or Sameera or any other given name. Her age? We don’t know that either, but we know that on that particular day her life as she knew it was ended, and she started on a new tougher journey. Actually we don’t know much about her, but we do know this: 62 years ago, he world was shattered to pieces.

She lost her home for someone who claimed his ancestors lived there a few thousands years ago. She lost her husband as he was killed because he refused to give in for that claim. She lost her family as each one of them ended up in a different camp, in a different country, and she lost her child as he couldn’t stand the thirst on the way to that very camp.

She lost about everything, yet she always had a dream of returning, reuniting with her family in that same house again.

Yes, she lost it all, but there were two things she never lost: A rusty key, and the hope to return.

Mish Pointless Ep. 8

There are times where I wish life had a like button, like when that cop stopped the traffic to let a woman and her baby cross the street

Whatever opera-like commercials you make, instant noodles aren’t healthy!

مصطلح “العرس الكروي” لازم ينشطب من قاموس التلفزيون الأردني

Cleaning out your desks could make you discover more than you think. It can also make you discover that you haven’t done that in years! (cinema tickets stubs say it all)