Some days I wake up and feel very exhausted about defending the labels I define myself with in life: being a woman, being Muslim, and being Arab among other things. Everyday can seem like a struggle in defending my thoughts and my ideal of how I interpret and wish to live with each label. In light of extremist behavior that attacks any of these terms I find myself very fired up and angry with mixed views – angry at the culprits, anguished for the victims, angry at the ‘Other’ for not understanding the true roots of the problem, and very angry at the majority representing that specific label (be it a gender, a religion or a region) for their silenced views.
We continuously blame extremist minorities for taking away the liberties and freedoms and shaking up the status quo of the middle. But I often ask where is this middle? Why does this middle seldom have a voice? Why does this middle feel strongly for events but shy away from voicing it? Where does that fear stem from even though that middle is usually the best protectorate and ambassador for such definitions? It is always so easy to blame the ‘Other’, to fall on that sexy concept of ‘conspiracy theories’ that we’ll live and die trying to unravel. It is always easy to blame societal constructs around the history and behavior of minority groups anywhere in the world, but that in no means should validate or silence us from speaking up against outrageous events like those that happened in Paris, or previously in Australia, Canada, Pakistan and the list goes on and on. Nor should we take away from the suffering and pain of any one event by putting it on a relative scale with an even more atrocious event. So for those people saying there are people dying in Palestinians and Syrians dying every day. Yes I fully agree. But nothing stops me from feeling for that too. Death will always be death – hard and painful and scary for all those close to the individual and for all those who give themselves a moment to internalize someone else’s story. In my opinion, there is no ‘relativity’ when it comes to human loss – especially intentional and deliberated human loss.
It is time we start internalizing our problems and stop shifting the blame. It takes two parties to perpetuate a problem, and if we are really aspire to do anything differently (in our personal spheres or on a larger scale) in our societies maybe we should try to give all the tools necessary for the voices of the middle to be heard and debated. In this world we live in that seems to be an aspirational hope that may be difficult to achieve, but I hope to always strive for it. I am tired of polarized views. I am tired of extremism in ideologies – be it on gender, race, political views, religious views. People’s struggles are one and the same. We are human before we put on whatever external cloth of ideology we choose to abide by in our lives. That is the only truth I think we can all agree upon.
Societies are mental constructs that have no physical existence. We keep blaming ‘different societies’ but societies in my opinion are nothing but a sum of voices, views, and actions that all add up to this elusive term that we try and grapple with. In that equation each individual voice can add or subtract from it. I hope the people in the middle can add to it, one by one instead of leaving a few with loud voices take away everything we have.