Saturday, October 28, 2006

Abu Shreek: Trainspotting

Who needs Heroin when you are an Arab?

Abu Shreek was waiting for the next teacher to walk in when a strange buzz appeared in the classroom. During those times many people carried portable radios around. The minute a substitute teacher confirmed the news, Abu Shreek took off running. He stormed out of the school gate and into the street. Flashes of the typical 12-year-old dreams were the only thing on his mind: The triumph, the Arab unity, the end of the oil sheikhdoms, and the liberation of Palestine. He stormed by the girl school gatekeepers and into the blue corridors. He wiped off the watery eyes, walked into the classroom and announced with a mournful tone: “Saddam has withdrawn from Kuwait”. His mother, who did not appreciate the interruption of her class, calmly scolded him for leaving his school and ordered an instant return to class.

Abu Shreek was later told that his role at this stage is to stick to his role: A student. “Education is very important”. “Education is the weapon that will let us win the bigger battles”. “We were defeated because of ignorance”. And all the other clichés often used to motivate a 7th-grader to memorize a 30-verse poem.

It would be years later until he experienced a similar feeling. While he was still fulfilling his duties and concentrating on his (seemingly-endless) education, the anger, helplessness and despair feelings were triggered again by the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa: The Secretary General of the PFLP. Abu Shreek could not believe that the leader of the pioneer revolutionary movement that used to instill fear in the hearts of the enemies could be taken out so quietly and effortlessly. Ten years later and the answers were exactly the same: “Avenge him with education”. “Take care of your school and you will be in a better situation to help”. “Did you see how accurate that rocket was? It is the product of the educated minds”.

And finally, at a yet another transition period, he looks into re-organizing the priorities. He examines the “practical” near-future options and finds them limited: Hopes of a steady income, a house and a car. A piece of furniture and a vacation. A career and a contribution to the field. Maybe even a disgruntled beautiful wife and three special disobedient kids!!

Once you start obtaining any of these things it is a different ballgame at much higher stakes. It will be implied that it is the time to “cash in” on the investment and to protect the “gains”. You become “attached to things that you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
It become a chase of an “adapted” dream (that is not and should not be yours), neglecting how insignificant it is compared to the real challenge. An endless search for the acceptance of other miserably pretentious and equally detached peers. An endless search for a socially-imposed “success” standards. Education ends up being a tool that enables you to better fit in the skewed system, not a tool to trample it!

But what is the substitute for an eternal daily grind that produces minimal results beyond individual recognition and status symbols?

The solution: A collective change to the “accomplishment” standards, understanding that our population issues extend much farther beyond one self’s recognition and fulfillment. Whether it is the fortune accumulators (the lowlifes at the bottom of the social pyramid), the blue/white collar dedicated workers (with their endless complaining) or the distinguished scholars (who usually settle for a less challenging lifestyle abroad), it is obvious that the Westernized version of the materialistic success (not necessarily money-oriented) is not contributing much to the resurgence of the Arab societies. On the contrary, it is becoming an integral part of the status quo. A collective attitude that brags: “I am lucky to be an Arab. At least I know I have a set goal and a meanigful purpose in life” to replace: “I worked too hard for this and I deserve a “normal” life”.

Without engaging in fruitless philosophical interpretations of life, happiness and satisfaction, there must be something more worthy to subscribe to. There must be something more compatible with the childhood dreams. There must be something outside of mindless observation of the train of civilization passing by. Something at a communal level higher than a published book, a graduate degree or even a non-profit organization. (Not to mention the simple minds fascination with trivial consumer products).

Abu Shreek ideally prioritized the bigger cause. But Abu Shreek is also a realist, a pragmatist and an “apathist”. Since it is obvious that the those alternatives are farfetched, and since maintaining a drug habit appears to be unfeasible and carry a few “hazards” (not as hazardous as challenging the system though), he just hopes he does not end up looking forward to: “the job, the family, the fucking big television, the washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electrical tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisurewear, luggage, three-piece suite, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing the gutters, getting by, looking ahead, to the day you die.”

“I wish I knew what I signed up for but This is definitely not it”.

15 comments:

Hasan said...

Abu shreek,

I don't want to give you a cliche answer, but it seems you are looking for God. Or any God in that sense. This state of mind that you speak of (and long for) can never be achieved if you think in a mortal manner. If your mind is worried about this mortal life more, then of course you will work hard and appreciate the fruits of this life, similar to the ones you stated in your last paragraph. (palestine, arab unity, comfortable lifestyle ect..)

The "higher" or empirical cause you are looking for thus has to be higher than all of these fruits, higher than the demands of this life that you also have listed and discussed. A cause, that's success is not measured by a degree, job, car, TV, wife ect...

God says that he measures people by their faith and morals. Now if you consider God's laws as perfect and just and moral, then this human can look up fulfilling and following these laws to reach and achieve this empirical cause.

Naturally this cause has to be something far greater, and more lasting.

I read this in an Arabic book, so I am translating it. (from my memory) By Oswald Spengler:- "As nations rise, they will take one of two paths. The path of morality, and the strength of heart that leads to modest appearance and great conscious. Or the path of material magnificence and numeral excess, where greatness is measured by length and height, and valued by gold and coins. Where before it was measured by morals and conviction."

If we arabs measured men by their "akhlaaq" then you will see people competing for higher morals.
How can you make men judge other men by their akhlaaq?? You have to offer them something that's not found on this earth or in this universe. Cause they all can be achieved by money in one form or another.

But if you have a man who doesn;t believe in an after life, then you can't expect anything from him, cause he will do his best to satisfy his urges and goals before he dies, and since the concept of hell after life doesn;t exist, you cannot expect him to worry much about harming others.

I'm not a writer, so I hope you got my point. This is how I have realised these issues as I have thought of them as well, and continue to do so.

jameed said...

God/Allah/Jehovah or Ba'al are the easy answer, passed on to us by grandparents, parents, godfathers, society and lucky enough in the Arab world, our textbooks.

I believe the state of mind Hasan described is more like one Argentian revolutionary's, who, when faced with a similar situation, left all behind and set to "free" Latin America and when faced with the same questions again years later, set off to "free" Africa. This is the “bigger” cause, at least as I understand it.

As for Hasan's paragraph “But if you have a man...harming others”: Hasan can kiss my baptized, wiped-with-the-right-hand ass.

Anonymous said...

abu shreek, hassan, Where did you guys learn to write so well? nice posts, but the language is not for the masses.

Abu Shreek said...

Hasan,
I appreciate the elaborate analysis, but I am afraid that no, religion is not the answer. I have to agree with the brother-comrade Jameed that religion is the passive approach and a justification for the self-centered attitude: After all this lifetime does not matter anyway, and as long as I am in “good shape”, god will take care of all what is wrong in this soon-to-end world, if not now then later. Also, I am convinced that there has to be bigger and higher causes that exist outside those (I won’t say fictitious) “metaphysical” ones.

I completely agree with you on the quote: “As nations rise, they will take one of two paths: The path of morality, and the strength of heart that leads to modest appearance and great conscious. Or the path of material magnificence and numeral excess. However I do not see it related to religion AT ALL. Actually it could be better interpreted within the lines of “socialism or barbarism” but that’s a whole different story.

Again I find myself agreeing with you that a true and valuable measure of an individual (that could be a step in the right direction) is morals, but I completely disagree that morals are closely related to or only possible through god, religion or the after life, and that could be the part that offended Jameed.

Jameed,
I understand that you would be slightly offended by Hasan’s approach, but it is obvious that he only wanted to present an option outside of your “Quixotian” and “reckless” views of the “bigger causes”. Notice that as the mission becomes harder and sacrifice-demanding, the reliance on the superpower (not to be confused with the U.S.) and even fate gains more popularity, and Hasan is actually the voice of the majority. (At least give him credit for emphasizing morals over empty religious practice).

Anonymous,
What masses are you talking about? One would think the stupid thing was written by Vincent van Gogh in biblical Aramaic! Any 9th grader (who paid attention in class), has a longer attention span than that of a goldfish and has the skills that allowed him to reach this page should be able to engage in such a conversation.

Wa ahlann bika sadeeqann lil bornamejj.

Hasan said...

Jameed,

If every human was as selfless as you, and has the heart and pure intentions to do good and serve others, and refrain from harming anyone for the sole purpose of "do not wish unto your brother that you do not wish unto your self," then the world would be a perfect place. Really.

But not everyone thinks the way you do Jameed. Not everyone feels the need to be a "good" person by all standards. You ask some people about what this life is about, some well tell you it’s about having fun. Well you don't see them living in Vegas or LA partying every night. Or some say this life is about serving others.. well what about him self. Some say this life is about having kids and enjoying family. Well animals have out done any human in that respect, they have both more kids and are more loyal than most humans. So what IS this life about ??

If I didn’t believe in an after life, where I will be judged for my actions, then I could care less for my neighbour. Yes it's a beautiful sight to see people help each other. But when it comes to pain and suffering, let's see which person will sacrifice him self for a stranger, the one who believes that this life is just it and it ends there? Or the one who believe in a reward for his sacrifice in the after life?

Yeah yeah life is not about sacrifices. But before you were born, many men and women have "sacrificed" their lives in order for you to grow up in a relatively stable environment.

I don't know why you got offended. Perhaps you got sick of hearing the same broken record all the time. As I said, it's a cliche answer.

Like I said, this is how I see it, with all things considered, the reward in an after life is what drives me to do good, serve others and work harder and to always self-check my progress and standing. I'm the kind of person who works best under pressure. This formula works great for me.

You might work in a different way and you go find what works for you. But with the way history has unfolded, men have proven to be selfish and self centered. You need to find them a system in which it encourages and rewards them to be "moral."

Give them a product they are willing to pay for.

The fact that you have to mention your babtizim and wiping your ass with your right hand tells me you are offended because I am Muslim.(Having Muslims friends doesn't mean anything, man has done far worse to his friends over sillier issues.) Didn't Jesus teach about man's selfish nature?

Hasan said...

Jameed, try not to plaster the word "religion" on everything I say because I mentioned "God". You don't want to be the fool who thinks that religion and spirituality is slashing your back with barb wires.

I tried to explain it in a practical way that at the end of the day, will allow me to: Judge people by their morals. Be moral my self. Measure success not by money or quantity, but by quality and value and benefit to everyone around me. Work harder, try to be good to others to try to rack as many "good points" as I can.

There are a thousand other things that are resulted by adopting the simple principle of a check system after this life. You may call it religion and spirituality, I call it reward. After all, people go to great lengths to make money to afford the pleasures of this life. Many work too much on the expense of their family, some steal, some save up and not share a dime. So religion is not what causes some humans to go overboard.

If you can find me a system that will motivate me personally at the end of the day to strive for good for myself and others, then I'm all ears.

jameed said...

Your interpretation of "baptized wiped-with-the-right-hand ass" is wrong. I do not see how it relates you being a Muslim and not for example a Christian.

In your first comment, you presented a narrow view of life. You argued that people who do not conform to your beliefs of the afterlife were incapable of doing good. You also appeared to do good only because you are afraid of some judgment.

Truly good people do good because it is the right thing to do, and because social evolution dictated that killing, stealing, lying and adultery are "bad" not because Jehovah listed them on plates, but because interpersonal relationships as well as social structures were harmed when they happened.

I apologize for my offense above. I should give you credit for following up twice on my comment as well as for thinking that if the world followed my "selfless" way of life, it would be "perfect"; I hope you meant that as a general comment rather than a personal one because you and many others (including my wife) will be disappointed if 10 people actually adopted my ways.

jameed said...

On a different note: I remember the day Saddam withdrew his forces from Kuwait as the day one student in my class hit another new "Gulf returnees" classmate yelling "It is all your fault"

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate, me humbly thinks that at this defeated part of the world, we (in Luther king's words) fail to recognize the urgency of NOW and opt for the tranquillizing drug of gradualism in its broad meaning.

This inherent deficiency render all initiatives (be it personal or populous) void, whether it was religiously motivated or otherwise ideological/worldly.

I humbly believe that resistance movements, revolutions and just causes are not necessarily exclusive to religious righteousness or conforming to a specific set of accepted ideologies, to the contrary, the commutative human history manifest a wide spectrum of examples of how theists and atheists alike, great leaders and infamous dictators have changed history's course onto what they saw as their people's best interest at the time.

On a personal note (despite its subjectiveness), i fail to comprehend how Moslems turned Islam to yet another passive sedating belief-system despite its uncompromising, just & revolutionary aspects, though i strive to live up to the latter understanding of it, God's willing.

Abu Shreek said...

Hasan,
The thing I appreciated the most about your comments is that despite you taking the religious (spiritual) approach of reward and punishment to achieve human virtue, you did not defend it in a preaching manner or from the point of view of a specific religion, There is no reason to think that anyone was offended that you follow a particular religion and no one would have guessed it if you have not mentioned it.
I (and probably Jameed too) will agree with you that the majority of the people are not able to achieve self-accountability within the social guidelines (like those that Jameed mentioned), without the fear (or even the potential reward) of a supervising ever-observing power. But again, you could not ignore that there do exist such people who could lead a “perfect” lifestyle outside of the afterlife concept.

Jameed,
I completely agree with your wife that if there were SIX more people who shared your views the world would be a miserable place.
On a separate note,
I am pretty sure that the classmate who got his ass kicked was Mazen Sam3an (bistahall).

Basem,
Good points and a great follow-up on the original post.
Part of the mission becomes how to get rid of the “inherited deficiency”, and how to rally around the common ideals of justice and progress.

jameed said...

Actually I was referring to FH jumping on AAG but you may have missed that since you were out of the class. MS suffered much more over the years, but that had little to do with him being one returnee.

Mazen kasarhaaaaaaaa...Maaaaaazen Kasarhaaaaa

Killer_Bee_Bop said...

Behold my emergence out of nowhere!

Walkom ya kharyaat 6le3tu wlaad saff? Ma kaanesh mbayyen ...

Bye.

Anonymous said...

[url=http://firgonbares.net/][img]http://firgonbares.net/img-add/euro2.jpg[/img][/url]
[b]buy software uk, [url=http://firgonbares.net/]bootleg software filemaker pro[/url]
[url=http://firgonbares.net/][/url] kaspersky website windows vista download sites
windows vista screen savers [url=http://firgonbares.net/]shop software canada[/url] coreldraw graphics suite x4 with painter x
[url=http://firgonbares.net/]can i purchase software[/url] you buy adobe photoshop
[url=http://firgonbares.net/]software support price[/url] cheap oem software
buy it now software [url=http://firgonbares.net/]how to buy dreamweaver[/b]

Anonymous said...

[url=http://sunkomutors.net/][img]http://sunkomutors.net/img-add/euro2.jpg[/img][/url]
[b]and selling software, [url=http://sunkomutors.net/]buy erp software[/url]
[url=http://sunkomutors.net/][/url] & software stores nik software discounts
software cd shop in [url=http://sunkomutors.net/]purchase of computer software[/url] commerce store offers software
[url=http://sunkomutors.net/]cheap childrens software[/url] software market discount
[url=http://sunkomutors.net/]acdsee v3.1 free[/url] sell oem software
education discounts on software [url=http://sunkomutors.net/]education discounted software[/b]

Ahmed Ashraf said...

رئيسية الموقع :
مصر اليوم
اخر مواضيع منتديات مصر اليوم :
ترددات قنوات النايل سات الجديدة
اسعار السيارات فى مصر 2012 بالصور

اسعار السيارات فى مصر 2012

مشاركة ارباح ادسنس

اهلا بكم , اضع لكم موقعى لتتطلعوا عليه

منتديات مصر اليوم هى منتديات عامة تهتم بالكثير من الاشياء المصرية . منتديات مصر اليوم هى منتديات عربية عموما مصرية خصوصا و هى منتديات عامة تهتم بكل ما يهتم به الشباب المصرى من الحوار او النقاش او اخر الاخبار او جديد الصور و الاغانى و الالبومات و الكليبات و الافلام و النكت و الفيديوهات و الموبايلات و تحتوى على اقسام مميزة مثل قسم اللغة الانجليزية و قسم اصحاب المواقع و المنتديات و قسم البرامج و القسم الاسلامى و قسم المرأة و قسم الرومانسية و الرياضة المصرية و الكثير ....
شاهد اقسام المنتدى :
اخبار مصر صور نكت مصرية اغانى قنوات و ترددات اخبار الرياضة المصرية مشاهدة مباريات بث مباشر اسعار السيارات