01 April 2018

The Said Family: an American Treasure

First, I want to make it clear that I do not know the Said family, personally, although it would be an honor to know them.  I also need to state that I am not suggesting the Said's should be limited to belonging only to America. And for that matter, clearly, they have not limited themselves to also belonging, in addition, to only Lebanon and Palestine - the nations of origin of Miriam and Edward Said.  Even so, we can consider the Said family to be an American treasure.

Many Arab folks emigrated from the region and have done so throughout the decades. Immigration to America from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean started occurring well over a century ago, actually. At first it was primarily from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. Later, refugees arrived from Palestine.  Emigrating was often for self preservation, either by choice, or because as young adults their families sent them away for an education, safety sake, and perhaps also so they would be able to create opportunities from a distance to contribute to resolving the damaging political issues that had developed and were developing. 

Wherever these folks established themselves they recognized and became part of the American communities in which they felt most comfortable, were accepted, appreciated and welcomed, assimilating, but not losing pride in the cultural identities of the nations from which they haled.  As they established themselves they became part of families, sometimes through marriage and raising children.  Many were first welcomed into American families as honorary members by mutual choosing. So it has always been with immigrants whether in exile or not. It is not easy to be an immigrant, even though so many make it appear as if it is an effortless process.

Many will know of the Said family because of Edward Said. Some will know of them also because of his wife Mariam Said. Some may know of them primarily because of their children, Wadie and Najla. Below is a little something about each. I will leave it to the article and videos to provide more detailed introductions to each.

There are undoubtedly many more online sources which would bring this family to the attention of folks who do not know them, and those who do, as well. I offer a few, below. I happened upon these today when I was looking for an Edward Said lecture from whence came an excerpt a friend had shared online that I also shared. 

Meet Najla Said

I mentioned the dimension of exile, above.  Najla Said mentions it in an excerpt from her work. In another excerpt she delves much deeper into the emotionally raw chaos of experiencing those feelings as a teenagers when visiting Gaza for the first time. It is a feeling some first generation children of immigrants experience to varying degrees - each in his or her own way. In Najla's case her teenage experience was unique to being of Palestinian and Lebanese heritage. It was not easy. She also shares her joyful experiences in becoming directly familiar with the culture when visiting Lebanon at a later date.

Najla Said reads of her teenage visit to Gaza

Najla Said Acts Out a Scene From "Palestine"
  "The monologue from her one-woman show reflects a point in her life when the playwright began feeling more connected with Middle Eastern culture."

An Actress Reflects Upon Playing Herself (Najla Said) "It's emotionally intense for Najla Said to relive her childhood of cultural confusion and her eating disorder on stage."

Meet Wadie Said
“I really absorbed from my father the idea of standing up for people who were persecuted or otherwise down-and-out, and wanted to apply that lesson in a different way, hence my initial decision to become a public defender”

How the Son of Edward Said Is Trying to Change Terrorism Prosecutions

Meet the Lovely Miriam Said
"This Interview was filmed for the 2013 Edward Memorial Conference organised and held during the 2013 Treaty of Utrecht programme at the Centre for the Humanities of Utrecht University"

A World I Loved - An Interview with Mariam Said

Meet Edward Said

This short 2-minute comment about religious claims to the land of Palestine is a brief introduction to a foundational issue which keeps our world of nations in seemingly endless conflict.  Said succinctly and eloquently explains why conflicting religious claims cannot be the basis for dispossession in modern times. He reminds us that Israelite kingdoms existed in the region of Palestine for approximately a total of 200 years, some 3000 years ago.

Edward Said: Claims to the Holy Land (Israel and the Occupation of Palestine)
from Q and A at the end of a lecture

This next link is the source of the lecture from which the above excerpt originates.  "Edward Said, acclaimed for his literary and cultural criticism, is a sought-after commentator on Middle Eastern politics and America's foremost spokesman for the Palestinian cause. His influential book, "Orientalism," (1978), is an examination of Western perceptions of the Islamic world. His criticism extends to the United States, which he calls a dishonest broker in the peace process due to its long-standing support for apartheid Israel."

Another video of the excerpt states it is from the lecture "Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and 'God-given land' claims" which is "a lecture given by Dr. Edward W. Said at Columbia University, 2003”, where he was a Professor of English and Comparative Literature. It well may be that he responded to the same question with the same answer at that lecture, as well.

Edward Said: Imperial Continuity - Palestine, Iraq, and U.S. Policy.
University of Washington, The Walker-Ames Lecture Series, recorded 8 May 2003

I can not finish without mentioning that in addition to Edward Said who most know was a prolific author, his wife and children are also published authors.

Our immigrants make our nation better. The Said family is one of many who have become American treasures.  As we all know, a diversity of immigrants have taken a variety of paths in making America their home and adding to our nation in the best ways possible.

Americans are responsible for knowing the facts

Assisting American's in this endeavor is something the Saids and many other immigrants  have been doing, most often by sharing the reality of their own personal experiences.  This is not always easy to do.  So too, increasingly, many more everyday Americans are contributing to educating others after having started to question the status-quo, themselves.  They have learned from people like the Saids, in combination with experiencing
glaringly obvious double standards surrounding the issues which motivates questioners to do their own research and learn for themselves. 

Most understand this is a process that occurs in response to all political issues whenever they become so rife with double standards it is painfully obvious to the point of  people no longer being able to ignore the flawed presentation of issues or the damage they do.  It is a process we have collectively been involved in quite a lot in the very recent past as we experience a plethora of double standards and political polarity surrounding most issues.  This has been the reality of the Israel/Palestine issues for a few weeks short of 70 years.  It used to be a few decades ago that having family and friends from the region and/or who lived in the region, was enough "reason" to pay attention to these issues.  By now it has become vital for all to do so -for many more reasons. 

So, I want to provide one more link.  It is one of many excellent resources for understanding a region which has long been and remains an "elephant in the living room".  In large part the "elephant" is present because of the United States taking sides. In doing so it promotes victimization, all the while claiming it is objectively supporting and advising the one-sided sham policies being dictated which continue to be described as a "peace process" by those doing the dictating.  Although this is far from being only a pocketbook issue, the fact is that approaching it from a depletion-of- the-pocketbook perspective is the only way it will eventually convince some to learn about the issues and how our nation's involvement exacerbates and complicates the issues.

Additionally, until a critical mass of our citizens educate themselves about the actual facts of these issues and make it clear to our elected and appointed government officials that they represent us rather than foreign interests, our nation's policies will continue to be corrupted by the manipulations of foreign interests. Thus, the good that we have the potential to do as a nation will be undermined at increasingly exorbitant cost to all. As we have been experiencing, this shows up, increasingly, as bitter political polarity,  also in many other quality of life issues.  It will continue to do so as long our nation's budget is top-heavy with "defense" costs - in recent years over 50%.

For those who need an example of our own collective needs, think maintaining of infrastructure as an issue that effects everyone. There are countless more, like the availability of equitable health care and equitable education for all.  Instead, wellness and education have become primarily for-profit industries which profit much more extensively than those who need doctoring benefit, and than those who need and want higher education and/or training in the trades benefit. The for-profit priority of both heath and education will continue to negatively effect the welfare of all Americans as both education and health care continue to function as for-profit industries.  By doing so they continue to run rampant at increasingly higher cost to families and less benefit to American's and our nation because neither wellness nor higher education and trade schools are equitably and affordably available to

Thus, I offer the last link: 
Palestine Diary - an excellent resource for not only "the other side of the story" but a variety of associated perspectives which are not presented in the news or to our citizens by our government, about an unnecessarily complex issue which has become that way because we have been mislead about the facts, thus the reality of it.

Not enough of us collectively know the facts to the point of having reached critcal mass in a way that stops our elected and appointed government officials from continuing to ignore our well documented requests and advice.  Until then they will continue to receive perks and/or be threatened with extortion for not cooperating which will result in their reelections being opposed.  That effort is primarily the work of lobbiests illegally representing foreign interests who manipulate our elected and appointed government officials directly, but also make a concentrated effort to not only influence but also control our political parties.  

It is not an exaggeration to state that issues worldwide and our own nation's problems, as well as destruction of people and infrastructure in areas of active combat, are primarily due to our nation's active participation in armed conflict being associated with improperly understood thus unresolved Middle East/Near East/SouthWest Asia issues. Choose the name you prefer. We all know the region.  But to the detriment of the world of nations and our own nation not all of us know the facts.

13 February 2018

Have We All Suffered Too Much From an Over-Dose of Vitriol and B.S. Yet?

 Is anyone else exhausted from being profiled based on folks whose primary form of exercise appears to be jumping to conclusions; conclusions that lead to labeling people in ways that are in accordance with negative prejudices?  Is anyone else even more tired of the low-level harassment that occurs because of that exercise, and the retributive form it takes based on group prejudices from folks who are in positions which enable them to call on others to harass intended targets instead of doing it themselves?

There is a word for the problem (several in fact but I'll stay with one, for now):  "corruption".
Are there justified reasons for the corruption?  I say no, that corruption along with the attitudes and behaviors it spawns, altogether, are always malicious and unwarranted. 

Given the numerous decades in which I have been observing and experiencing these attitudes and behaviors plus their negatively intended destructive consequences, I have found there are a few favorites supposed as "reasons" by unethical people with control issues.  Their negative profiling of others is based on their own willingness to jump to unfounded conclusions, as well as the willingness of those exposed to their censuring efforts that target third-parties.  A primary favorite "reason" is dissatisfaction with anyone who is not willing to submit to pressure to convert politically,  religiously, or these days socially (whatever might be the nebulous meaning attached to socially, although it ordinarily seems to be associated with the desire to dictate belief in an ideology which encompasses all the components of an entire belief system).

The retributive intent of those trying to define unwilling converts as having polar opposite perspectives, results in categorizing people as problems, thus threats who they believe deserve to be harassed into compliance.  However, the folks embracing such violent attitudes who are creating the problems, would never be physically violent themselves.  A large part of the work they actually do is in finding ways to manipulate others into doing their dirty work of all types - either as dupes, or through cooperation.

Most who have done the work of knowing themselves so they can continue successfully working to make themselves into who they want to be and to become throughout their lives, of course for the value they can be to others because of doing so, are unwilling to consent to anyone else defining the obvious about them, or defining what is assumed though unknown (e.g. beliefs, opinions, perspectives).  However, unethical people are simply not happy that others are unwilling to buy hook, line, and sinker into whatever political ideology or religion they are trying to peddle, so engage in frenzies of malicious "defining" of those who they consider to be resistant to buying.  Many problems would not develop if folks would not be so quick to buy into what might sound good without first doing their own research.  When we do not do this we can easily become dupes for the malicious among us who link their own success to the amount of success they have in convincing others to buy into the beliefs they are pushing on us, whether they are beliefs about groups of people or individuals.

Fact is I feel no obligation whatsoever, myself, to be forced by anyone else to formulate an opinion about something for which I have not acquired enough knowledge to formulate an opinion through my own efforts. I doubt and question, repeatedly, until I have found enough factual trustworthy documented facts to alleviated doubt, then formulate an opinion.  And even when I do take a stand, I remain flexible enough to adjust it based on whatever new factual information may become pertinent. In fact it is a process of applying the scientific method to daily life choices - comparable, sometimes, to sitting on the fence.

Winslow Homer 1874
Sitting on the fence is an art which some have not mastered.  It includes choosing one's fences wisely.  I learned, long ago, to be comfortable sitting on the fence alone, and with others, as long as needed.  And I have chosen to become intolerant of those trying to push me off the fence to satisfy some perverse competitive self-interest need by which they are motivated to try to compete with and control others. I can not count the times I have been an intended victim of someone’s competitive ambitious attitude, never knowing there was a competition, or why.  It is like an undeclared war of which one is unaware. Can it be attributed to gaslighting narcissism?  Perhaps.  But when it can be defined as a situation that is pervasive throughout the political landscape, or within organizations, groups, or families . . .  it becomes systemic dysfunction and failure.

Who would foolishly imagine other people do not have enough survival issues of their own around which it is necessary to be able to schedule their undivided attention (along with the survival issues of those in their lives they are able to willingly assist, when needed)?  What type of person imagines we are able or willing to accommodate and give priority to the competitive personal-interest issues of their demands?  But when we do not do so we are then defined as threats by the corrupt among us whose demands we do not meet.  The ongoing low-level retributive harassment which targets those who do not cooperate with such demands, is intended to redirect a "threat's" time, effort, and energy to the self-interest needs of those making demands - those whose control issues motivate their own successes which they want to believe are dependent on requiring others to pay for those successes with unwarranted  blood, sweat, and tears demanded of them.

I have put in more than my own share of time being swindled by the destructive attitudes of other people, both as a child and as an adult, attitudes which I have never chosen to also accommodate as part of who I am.  That is partly because a number of people have unknowingly served in the position of being cautionary tales in my life.  No doubt I have been in the same service to other folks, though I ordinarily know when that is the case.  Fact is a majority of  my time, effort, and energy has too often been abused because of it having been redirected to meet self-serving  whims of others.  Without doubt too many have been and/or continue to be plagued by such problems in over abundance.  But, throughout my entire adult life I have not been willing to remain silent about them, particularly systemic problems. No one should be silent, in my opinion.  But why some are is understandable.  Speaking up instead of remaining silent is often  perceived by the unethical and corrupt as a threat, thus an invitation for ongoing retributive harassment.  And that is exactly why some choose to remain silent.  It is not easy to be a front-line boat-rocker because of the possibility of falling into the deep.  When that happens it can be difficult to extricate oneself when unexpectedly sinking . . . or swimming . . . alone.

When I speak of not remaining silent I am not speaking merely of belly-aching, grousing, and complaining about annoying inconveniences and irritations, though we find ourselves doing that from time to time. I am referring to speaking up about ongoing prevaricating, cheating, truth-twisting, the all around bamboozling that is intended to be maliciously misleading and happens to be at the foundation of most systemic problems which have developed and will continue to exist and further develop unless addressed, not only in the personal lives of people, but throughout nations. That unaddressed problems create turmoil and chaos too often leading to violence, death, and destruction, including self-destruction, is abundantly clear.  I am suggesting that speaking up means making efforts to effectively handle problems based on requests all are entitled to make and expect to have honored, for compliance with enforcement of standards, rules, laws, ordinances; requests which are not necessarily accomplished through the creating of public drama unless it is well-timed, supplementally, to draw attention to issues in need of more public attention and understanding.

My own attitudes and experiences are not, and never have been in accordance with what is statistically projected on all of us, based on being categorized by those who have nothing better to do with their lives than put limits on other people in that way.  Few individuals can be easily fit into such ready-made statistical and psychological profiles.

I have become weary of coming across as a problem every time I choose to speak up about unnecessary, ill-intended low-level harassment by folks who create chaos through pulling the strings of the puppets at their beck and call to do their harassing; puppets who rarely completely know how they are being used, beyond being lead to believe targeted individuals are creating problems for which they themselves are unjustly being blamed.  However, long ago I observed that the majority of created problems are due to intentional failure to communicate precisely, which allows excessive space for assuming, and jumping to unwarranted conclusions by those inclined to do so.  Refusing to communicate, and refusing to make an effort to communicate precisely, are favorite weapons in the arsenal of those who choose to be corrupt and unethical at cost to everyone else.

Is there a solution?  I think there are many, actually.  Whether in doubt of others, or not, it is never wrong to have enough respect for others to kindly ask folks, directly, who they are, what they believe and why, then take the time required to allow oneself to be informed by the ways in which they respond.  Most people are capable of being articulate enough to comment objectively about themselves and are willing to do so, including, when necessary, defending themselves against whatever objections others may express about differing viewpoints, and/or what does not seem to them to be clearly communicated.  Having the courage to speak with people, directly, instead of making assumptions about them based on what others have said, is an effective way to solve most problems caused by others, given that we are not always aware of the foundational roots of many problems which have intentionally been caused by third-parties (or fourth, fifth, sixth . . . ).  The opportunity for objective self definition is ordinarily welcomed by most because it is certainly better than the alternative of others imagining they have the right to define us; and better than the alternative of some who believe others are more entitled to define us than we are to define ourselves.

Succinctly? Well, folksy, down-home traditional wisdom has always taught us that unless it comes from the horse's mouth, it is not advisable to eagerly buy into it.  Ask.  Asking is always the best policy.  It is one reason we were blessed with entire languages full of words and the ability to communicate clearly with them.