Take the opportunity to travel

cairo_egypt_citadel_267698_l.jpegOne thing I can say since I was a child I had the wonderful opportunity to travel.  My exposure began at the tender age of two and still today I suffer from this on-going wanderlust.

You don’t have to cross the seas to get to an exotic destination…think about what would be exotic for you.

Case in point…when I was traveling to Las Vegas for a wedding I drove through some of the most gorgeous scenery I could have ever laid eyes upon and these were the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and then traveling through the barren lands of Utah. I was amazed at all the rock formations, the colors, the height of these majestic beasts.

I was enthralled, hypnotized…in love.

Being able to move outside of your own comfort zone can be seen as a plus. At least for me…I grew up in the Midwest and well here we are cushioned in many ways against a lot of different issues and one of them being we are primarily homogeneous here.  Because of that I needed to explore my world to taste what else was outside of the cornfields and farms of Indiana.

I have been blessed with the pioneer spirit…being able to wander these lands and foreign countries at will.  I enjoyed my trip to the Middle East, visiting Dubai, Oman and hopefully one day I can visit Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.  I was like a child in a candy store…soaking in the culture around me…the veiled women, the men dressed in white wearing their disdashas.  The souk, mosques, camels, sand…I was in total Heaven.

Though there was some apprehension (not on my part) in regards to visiting the Middle East a couple of years ago all I thought about was the awesome adventure I was about to begin.

Taking yourself out of your comfort zone can also mean exposing your senses to a wonderment of colors, sounds, smells, tastes…enjoy revelling in all your senses, make new friends along the way, widen your horizon, broaden your mind and really live life the way it was meant to well…be lived.

Advertisements

Western Individualism verses Arabian Group Idenity

sphinx_egypt_giza_229710_l.jpegegypt_sinai_portraits_271309_l.jpegbedouin_east_middle_269496_l1.jpegI have been fascinated with the Middle East since I was five years old.  Childlike wonder and fantasy filled my heart and my mind regarding what this section of the world was like. 

In High School we learned about the instability of the region due to the Israeli and Palestinian conflicts.  The only other information I really had about this ancient part of the world was through the bible & a fascination with Egyptology…my mind was like a sponge and from there I had to soak in everything I could about a region filled with history and turmoil.

I have associated with Arabs and with Muslims from different parts of the world for almost a decade and learned so much.

One of the cultural norms I managed to pick up is in regards to group identity with the Arabs.  I was raised in a culture where individualism is highly prized.  I was proud to be my own person and I valued my identity beyond anything else (except of course the family due to being raised in a Hispanic household) but still my identity was very individualistic compared to how some of my cousins were raised on the island.

everystockphoto_179963_m.jpeg  The American Identity

indians_berkeley_1516471_l.jpegAmerican individualism reminds me of the pioneering spirit…the American quest for knowledge, the unknown and conquering unseen lands…experiences…

Though Americans are proud to be individualistic, there is still a sense of unity among us that supersedes our own identities at times making us “American” having that oneness with other Americans no matter our creed, color, race, religion, social standing…we are all united as Americans to give ourselves that group identity of being an American.

From what I personally understand about anthropology/sociology people develop these cultural norms due to their environment.  Take a look at Americans who first came to this country…they had to have the individual strength and fortitude to make it out in the prairie and with Western Expansion having the “pioneer spirit” gave them an edge over others and that type of individualism survived.

The Arabian Identity

What I have learned about the Arabian identity is that the tribe, the family is paramount to everything else.  Your actions will reflect on the group as a whole…similar to saving face I believe with the Asians such as in Japan, China and Korea.  According to a website I visited:  Middle East Tribalism:

“Tribal identity, like other bases of social cohesion, including kinship, citizenship, and nationalism, is something that people (and sometimes ethnographers and state officials) create, and it changes with historical and political context. The first form that the notion of tribe can take is the elaboration and use of explicit ethnopolitical ideologies by people themselves to explain their social and political organization. These locally held ideologies of tribal belonging in the Middle East are generally based on a concept of political identity formed through common patrilineal descent. A major exception is the Tuareg of the Sahara, where tribal identity is based on matrilineal descent—descent traced through the mother.”

The Arab group identity seems to stem from the harsh climate Arabs come from and working together as a group enable the tribe to survive.”

“…tribal names and chains of patrilineal genealogies provide a range of potential identities rather than a basis for sustained collective action in itself.”

So much could be devoted to this topic.  I am barelyscratching the service regarding these two cultural differences. 

All in all, it is wise for both Arabs and Americans when dealing with each other—-whether it be politics, religion, or business are to be reminded of the cultural uniquenessof each and respect one another for these differences and still find a way to have open dialgoue and work together.

Websites:

http://www.traderscity.com/abcg/culture8.htm

http://www.communicaid.com/cross-cultural-training/culture-for-business-and-management/doing-business-in/Saudi-arabian-business-and-social-culture.php

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6325

http://science.jrank.org/pages/11514/Tribalism-Middle-East-Multiple-Meanings-Tribe.html

http://www.lclark.edu/~ria/individualism.html

http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth–338-Community_American_Individualism.aspx

I admire this man……..

Abdul Rahman al-Lahem has really impressed me.  This Saudi lawyer represented the Qatif ganged raped victim and currently faces a disciplinary hearing today for “insulting the Supreme Judicial Council and disobeying the rules and regulations” of the judiciary.

art.lawyer.jpg

Still his client faces 200 lashes and six months in prison for being with an unrelated man.  What is also appalling besides further victimizing this young woman (who btw husband STILL supports her), those animals who raped her and her companion are getting off ever so lightly between two to nine years in prison.  Now how a$$ backwards is that???????????  Educated men in the Judiciary should know this is wrong and that this man was representing a true victim here!!!!!!!!!

This poor lawyer is now facing death threats for his head.  According to the CNN article: 

“These opinions don’t scare me, but they make me feel a disappointment that there are people who think this way.”

“I wish that those who oppose me could engage in a direct dialogue instead of calling for violence. Unfortunately, they are still stuck in a culture of closed-mindedness.”

His license is to be reinstated (we hope) today.  He also implied that he will definitly represent the Saudi woman again. Considering how closed off this society can be in certain regards about women and about their laws I find the actions of this man to be one of courage and immense strength……………….However today’s hearing can also disbar him.

Al-Lahem also stated:  “I believe in the system and the law, and I believe I didn’t do anything wrong,”  My God….my heart goes out to him & his family….to step up like this in a society that is very group think oriented (unlike the USA where the culture emphasizes individualism–of course each has its own positive and negative connotations–will discuss at further length in another post)…this is just amazing to me.  I applaud him and he deserves so much more.  His steadfast beliefs in the Saudi system of justice is perhaps naive—I think with the Saudi history of their judicial system, especially towards women….it might take a true miracle to save him and his client.

Websites:

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/12/05/saudi.lawyer/index.html