I really miss moments of moderation and simplicity of thought in everyday life.
I miss the days where people can just simply eat and drink without having to preface their food or drinking options with several descriptive words of what diet they are following, what foods they’re cutting out, what latest dietary trends are out there and feeling a need to convert everyone on the table to said food choices. I miss the days where people can just workout without having to sound excessive and without having to feel like if you’re not part of the crossfit community (or similar other communities) then whatever you’re doing doesn’t count & can be easily discarded. Same would hold for fashion statements, and travel options among many other ‘life choices’.
I wonder if our parents when they first had us spent so much time analyzing every move and every bite and every choice a toddler makes like I observe many young parents doing nowadays. I don’t have kids of my own so it would be difficult to judge this one – but I believe there is an evident rise in what has come to be termed as “helicopter parents”, parents who are continuously (& many times subconsciously) attempting to over-engineer their kids’ life to ensure them some ‘ideal’ form of success that they themselves may never achieve.
I wonder if a group of people can sit now and discuss a topic without being tempted to pull out a phone and Google the topic of discussion, or their set viewpoint to pull out an article from somewhere that can instantly support their argument (been guilty of such behavior myself). I find that it is very rare to come across ‘free’ or raw thoughts that have been generated by the individuals themselves (even if said thought/opinion may have wrong elements that can be corrected later). The pressure feels so high now in discussions to instantly try to prove a point of view wrong or right through pulling any data, article or random research here or there without cultivating independent critical thinking.
This nostalgia for moderation would be 10x amplified if I start thinking of the political and religious spheres. Discussions in these areas have lost the simple decorum of exchanging viewpoints, listening, taking sometime to consider the opposite viewpoint and then debate it back and forth. Such traits have been diminished to the minimal and replaced by a great desire for each person and each side to prove themselves correct.
It makes me wonder – in many discussions we sit and talk about religious and political extremism and wonder how people can be so extreme in their beliefs and little do we notice that many of us have already become extreme in our daily habits, hobbies and discussions – we just gloss over this form of extremism since it clearly doesn’t have the same level of ramifications as political or religious extremism. But what disturbs me is that with this extreme mindset develops a strongly judgmental nature to anything that is different – anything that doesn’t conform to what each one has deemed to be their way or choice of living.
What’s ironic is that the reason I believe people nowadays have become so vocal about their interests, hobbies, food and travel choices is precisely as a reaction to a previously homogeneously marketed world that stifled variety and differences. Yet somehow in picking for our own choices we don’t realize that we are already in the process of drowning out the differences.
Granted the above reflections pertain to more privileged socioeconomic circles of any given society.
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.
I have had a few interesting conversations with several accomplished men lately regarding their thoughts on marriage and choosing a partner. And some commonalities in the conversation have propelled another one of my #randomramblings. This is by no means a criticism as I highly value the opinions of these men.
Many of these men have expressed that they are very much attracted to smart, accomplished women however they are hesitant getting married to such a woman – not for the typical stereotype of that they’re intimidated or whatever because in many of these cases they actually enjoy the mental stimulation- but rather because the men highly value family, family life and child- rearing. They think to themselves if am a driven accomplished man the likelihood is that I’ll be part of a demanding work environment entailing longer work hours, frequent travels, so if I get married to a woman leading a similar lifestyle – how will our family be properly established and how will it continue to fare?
And my response or thoughts on that are its not wrong to set your priorities and say you highly value family life, but I don’t understand why the men project their binary bias on the women they describe – that if she is accomplished and giving over-the-top attention to her career now, it will always be like that and she’ll always prioritize work over family? Does the woman actually openly express that her career will be above everything else? Does the woman say she doesn’t believe in more time dedicated to child-rearing?
I wonder if the men have asked what maybe really driving these accomplished woman? Is it the relentless pursuit of prestigious jobs and titles ? Is it a path towards serving a bigger goal? Is it to prove something or break stereotypes? Is it an emotional fulfillment for a sense of meaning? Or something else?
Maybe a single accomplished woman is allocating her time a certain way now but wouldn’t it make sense that a smart woman will also be aware that in the presence of a partner many things would require some form of recalibration and compromise from both sides?
I just feel like there are so many questions for the man to ask the woman directly if he is really interested without ruling out potential partners on such quick assumptions.
In general, and this is probably both ways I am baffled by the number and quickness of assumptions we (the fast shrinking list of single friends I have:)) make about somebody who may interest us as a potential life partner. We seem to run ahead with our biases and set assumptions without even asking the person. It is ironic because for many of these people they are very educated, well exposed and even well versed in human psychology to recognize that for a person to succeed and maximize potential one should train themselves to control their sub-conscious bias and learn from their surrounding as opposed to quickly projecting their ideas.
We seem to forget that everyone, including ourselves, is continuously growing and evolving with the life experiences presented to us and with that growth, it is inevitable that views on certain life matters will change and so will priorities.
Because there is so much change I believe more of the focus should be shifted to evaluating a person’s core values, but such is only my humble opinion.