Monthly Archives: October 2007

Our Older Generations

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How much do we appreciate Our older generation?

How do we embrace, appreciate, and treat our older generation? How much time do we spend in listening to their experiences, stories, and advice about how life should be as they have passed through the many patterns of “cold” and “warm” tastes of life? How do we acknowledge their anguish, their sacrifices, and their hard work while they are still living? How do we keep the awareness around of the gifts of learning from our older generation’s accumulated knowledge?

Yes our older generation does have a gift to pass on to us, to let us know how they lived their lives and what the secret behind their successes and failures is. It is to be recognized that sometimes the older generation too often puts their noses in what their adult children do. This is something to be kept separate from the notion of a live testimony from an older culture, as our Iranian one, which is passing by our eyes, sometimes unnoticed.

The type of life we Iranians live, both inside and outside or our home country is such that we rarely appreciate our older generation’s lives in a proper way. Our parents’ and grandparents’ lives have seldom been studied within a historical, socio-political, psychological, or financial context, and also within the context of the everyday life of a people who have been witness to many historical shifts.

Anthropologists gather information about how people live their lives from day to day and how they make sense of their own “being-in-the-world.” There is a huge doubt that we Iranians have such research, as the whole notion of our individual, community, collective, ethnic, and even national identity is under constant turmoil and under the greyness of migration as a phenomenon. In that sense we are often confused and lost in which aspect of our Iranian life should receive priority in terms of research and discussion.

As Iranians, we struggle enough to make sense of the hard reality back home, a reason for not paying enough attention to our older generation, their lives, their hopes and wishes for us and themselves. Do we know if our grandparents lived a happy, sad, quiet, busy, employed, respected, loved, hated, or intellectual life? Do we know if our parents (deceased or alive) were interested in art, music, poetry, religion, philosophy, history, or life in general? How did they do? How did they live their lives and how did they pass it on to us? What culture, because of our parents and our upbringing, have we been accustomed to?

Sometimes we as the younger generation, feel tired of the advice, of the top-down orders, and of our perceived lack of respect for who we are, as our parents sometimes treat us like children who still need discipline. This might be a reason for ignoring the wisdom of our seniors. If we have them around we still have a chance to learn from them. If we do not, we can still do some research and find out how life was like in their time.

Let us talk about one area in which we all have biased opinions, the area of death! Once we lose a loved one we consider the level of affection we had towards that person, or idealize the person to the level of exaggeration, or we cry for the lost relationship with that person. All the “should have” and “could have” discourse takes us to the ocean of anxiety and grief. Already our Iranian culture is traumatized enough and already many of us have mountains of untold stories. We have to learn to live with those around us as long as they are alive. We have to live with the live ones before we can cry for the dead ones.

Sometimes we mix love and hate in the form of either exaggerating or minimizing all the hard work our older generation has done to provide us with better resources. We hate our past because, sometimes, we feel betrayed in the history, yet we love to hide our fear of vulnerability in the shadows of a past that has gotten us confused.

In appreciation of how our grandparents and past generations lived their lives and passed on their ideas to us, I will start writing about people who have never before been acknowledged by anyone. These people are regular people who lived their simple lives by offering their families the best they could.

October 22, 2007

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Racism and It’s kind

Community workshop about Racism and It’s kind
How much do we know about the silent racism among ourselves?

This workshop was initiated by Rooyesh Cultural Group, a community group who invite people to attend bi-weekly meeting to share and to discuss community issues. This workshop was presented in form of Power Point which can be viewed on: http://rooyeshgroup.blogspot.com/

After the presentation we had a group discussion and questions about how we can help our children to stay away from racial comments and racial conflicts.  Below is a brief summary of our presentation.

  • Racism and Culture of Race: Race is a social construct, Racial and ethnic differences should add to our human life instead of creating conflicts.
  • Definition of Culture:Culture is a sum of knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and other capability needed by man as a member of a society.  We define our race based culture as we have been accustomed to. How do we define culture in our “Iranian way of understanding the world?”
  • What is our race? (something to challenge ourselves with)
  • Formation of a Culture:  Anthropologies do not believe culture is an innate biological equipment of humans,  we get born into a culture, not necessary we do acquire those cultural traits.  Our culture is the knowledge about how race, age, gender, sex, ethnicity, and color define our being in the world.  Culture is rather an external, acquired, and transmissible to others
  • Our Iranian Culture: What does it mean that we have 2500 years of history/ culture?, How understanding of race has impacted that history?, How have we taken responsibility to transmit that sum of knowledge, morals, believes, arts, and customs?
  • Definition of Racism: Racism means attitudes, practices and other factors that disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. Racism can be directed against any race, color or ethnicity.
  • Examples of racism: Graffiti, intimidation or physical violence, Racial and ethnic slurs, comments, & jokes, Discrimination in hiring and apartment rentals, policies that disadvantage members of certain races whether intentionally or not, discrimination of women, etnical groups, people belonging to various religions,
  • Racism: three main levels: individual, institutional and cultural

Social Psychology: Study of how our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are impacted by others.  How we get along with other races or ethnical groups?  Human being is born to create culture and to acquire knowledge about what is expected of him /her

  • Transmitting of cultures: Mother/ Father to child, Family to family, Family to group /community, Family to the world, Groups to groups.   How: By story telling, books, objective history, shared knowledge….
  • Ethnicity and culture: No connection to the human biological variations or race

Ethnicity = clusters of people with similar cultural traits that make them a group different than other groups.  Similar language, accent, common geographic place of origin, religion, sense of history, values, and beliefs about how life should be like for that specific group

Ethnicity not a fixed notion, We move into other countries. We Learn language, We Learn ethnical traditions.  We become participants in that ethnicity

  • Ethnocentrism = belief in the superiority of one culture and inferiority of other cultures, leading to conflicts

Various type of Racism: Individual racism based on individual attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors. Racial prejudice: belittling and jealousy are examples of racist attitudes.

Examples of racist beliefs are racial stereotypes, the belief that some races are better than others and even the belief that people can be classified according to race in the first place. Violence, name-calling and discrimination in hiring are examples of racist behavior.

  • Institutional or systemic racism takes the form of the practices, customs, rules and standards of organizations, including governments that unnecessarily disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. They do not always involve differences in treatment. Educational requirements that are not related to actual job duties are an example.
  • Cultural racism is the cultural values and standards that disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. Examples are cultural expectations as to the race of a company president and the cultural standard for what a beautiful, trustworthy or competent person looks like.
  • Stereotyping:  What does a Stereotype mean.  It is about packing everyone under one identity! Forming a fixed picture of a group of people usually based on false or incomplete information. Making comments, generalizing, making other “less than.”
  • Prejudice & Discrimination: Prejudice literally means “prejudgment.” A prejudice is a preconceived negative opinion or attitude about a group of people.
  • Discrimination is anything that has the effect, intentional or not, of limiting the opportunities of certain individuals or groups because of personal characteristics such as race or color.

How about discriminating women because of their gender?

  • Diversity: Individual level; uniqueness, genes, non-shared experiences
  • Group level; similarities & differences; race, gender, social class….
  • Universal level; common life experiences as human beings, birth, death, biological and physical similarities, self-awareness

Respect for Diversity: Human being has differences in terms of: race & ethnicity, nationality, religion, social class, sexual orientation, age, physical-mental-cognitive ability and difference, sex, language, beliefs-values-customs.
How much do we respect those different than us?
What racism does?
1- Naming; a rejection of other’s ability to impose an identity.
2-aggregating; lumping together under one name or label; Latino or Hispanic; Asian;
3-dichotomization; only two categories; everyone fits into one; they are in position to one another; race; white and non-whites, the one drop rule in the us, male or female
4-stigmatization; the “other” becomes stigmatized. One group seen as “normal”, and other people as the “other”
5-oppression; systematic subjugation of a dis empowered social group by a group with access to social power

Social power + prejudice= oppression.
Racial Jokes: Our jokes are racialized, We tend to harm other ethnical groups, Being funny has limitation, Racial jokes dehumanize women, children, ethnical groups, certain occupation, disabled, weaker, and people with dialect.
Most painful jokes: Jokes about child molestation acts, Jokes about women, elders, handicaps, all those we assume as “less than”
What can we do? We need to decide, Stop saying all the Racial slurs, racial & sexist “jokes”, Discriminatory comments…

  • Raise awareness
  • Educate children
  • Talk to your family & other people
  • Create a language & culture of peace!

Reference:
Say no to racism website: http://www.gnb.ca/hrc-cdp/e/sayno.htm
Smedley, A., & Smedley, B.D. (2005). Race as Biology is Fiction, Racism as a Social Problem is Read. American Psychologists. Vol 60.

By: Poran Poregbal
October 20, 2007
www.middlepeace.com

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Peace Within Us

Why do we need Peace within us? What is it?

This was our second presentation about peace keeping that based on the  invitation of Rooyesh Cultural Group. This is part of a 4 week community gathering and discussion about how to keep and maintain peace, with great emphasize on mental health, change, and growth within ourselves as well as among our families and communities. Below is a brief summary of  the content of our presentaiton  using PowerPoint and group discussion after the actual presentation.

  • We start with our self: Self Understanding,  Self definition, Self concept, Self criticism,  Self acknowledgment, Ask how am I?, What is the purpose of my life?,  What is the meaning of my life?, How can I know myself better?
  • Life Wants: What do I want from this life and the life ahead of me?, What do I wish to happen?, How much can I contribute to this wish-list?, How much do I feel being unable?
  • Life challenges: What do I wish to be instead of the person I am now?, How does my family look at me?, What role do I have in my family?

Am I acomplainer, challenger, leader, follower, administrator, lover, loser, mom, dad, grand parent, a good listener, a nice person…..?

  • Our emotional life: Are we too emotional?, Are we too cold?, Do we talk a lot?, Do we act too fast?, Do we listen to the other?, Do we love ourselves and others?
  • Emotional bank: Debit card for love, How much do we have left?,  How much do we save?, How much do we spend?, Did we have any account from beginning?, How much do we deposit everyday?, How much do we withdraw from that bank?, Is there any balance?, Are we aware of that?, How do we know?
  • Gender roles: Boys are being taught to be strong, uncommunicative, competitive, and in control, Girls are being raised to be compliant, other oriented, confirmative, and under control

Peace keeping and gender roles: Men in war positions, Women in care positions, How much peace do we care to have?

  • Beliefs: What is our belief about children, women, men, society, a just society, and a peaceful society?, How much do we care to think about ways in which we may not follow our own beliefs?, Do we know ourselves?, What do we know about ourselves that others do know?, What do we know about ourselves that others do not know?, What might be the things that we do not know about ourselves, but others would know?, What are the things that we do not know about ourselves and no one else does that either?
  • Ways of knowing ourselves: Writing about our life story, Painting or drawing our life story, Reading poetry, Talking to someone who is objective and not advising, Being honest about ourselves and see what we can do to improve our life styles?
  • Getting in peace with children: Ask them what they want….,Tell them you love them, Tell them you need time to think, Tell them you can together find a solution for a problem, Know your weakness!
  • Healthy self esteem: Identity, Security, Belonging, Purpose, competence
  • Intimacy and love: Trust, Independence, commitment, communication, Mutual assistance, respect
  • Peaceful divorce: In case of divorce do not try to ruin the rest of life for the other, Think about children who hurts a lot, Tell children that it is not their fault, Children internalize divorce, Keep children out of this context
  • Open up your hearth: It is important to realize that once we are in pain (emotionally mostly) we need help,  Our family members can only listen, however, giving advice about what to do and not to do is the most horrible thing that we can do! Do not give advice, Ask Questions gently.
  • Good questions to ask ourselves: What is a partner (wife/husband) relationship?, How our relationship working / not working does and what does it mean to us?, How much do we love/praise/encourage/ like/dislike/hate/resent/tolerate our partners?, How much respect do we really have for our partners?, How much choice do I have in this relationship?, How my behaviors, thoughts, expression, and emotions impact this relationship?, How much do I enjoy this relationship?, How do I wish to be seen by my partner?, How do I see my partner?, What kind of daily life do we have together?,  How much efforts do each one of us put into this relationship?, How much our bigger families (parents, siblings, relatives) impact the quality/shape of our relationships?, How much do we let others (parents, siblings, relatives) intervene in our relationships?, How much migration issues, adjustment problems, and separation from our home land have impacted our relationship with our partner?, What kind of culture our partners have?, What is our self-understanding of our own culture and how it shaped us?, How much do we fight/argue/disagree/or agree?, How much do we respect the individual needs of the other?, What is that bothering us when we argue or fight?, Do we use any violence in dealing with our partner? How?,  How do we keep the peace inside our homes?, How do we deal with the relationship problems that happen in every home?, How much do we care about the needs of our partners?, Are we self-interest or relationship oriented?,  What do we need of this relationship?

October 5, 2007
Poran Poregbal
www.middlepeace.com

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Growth

Conceptualizing Growth is healthy. How?

That day came again

My heart was laughing

That day came again

The familiar early morning breeze

Whispering love poem in my ear

I lived again

And I developed

And I learned to walk again

Do not ask me how

As we do it differently

We do it individually

Me, you, and they

We do it differently

We choose

And we develop

Do not ask me how

I lived again

My heart was laughing again

It happened when I let go

It came

When I considered life

When my soul required lift

And I did it.

September 1996

Stockholm

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