Critical Thinking is a decisive skill that has to be taught from the early ages. While critical thinking is pertinent to our daily life, it is not accepted or encouraged in dictatorships or oppressive systems. Still today in 2011, people are being told what to think and how to think.
Years ago, once searching for graduate school I realized that most universities offered a course called: Critical Thinking. This blew my mind. Along that line, in one of the courses for my graduate studies, we had a professor who at the end of each session would suggest readings while wishing us a “happy creative thinking.” To me, this was incredible, I kept telling myself, how could my thinking become happy or be creative at all while I was dealing with internal and external forces of oppression?
I came to think that no one had ever encouraged me or us for a happy thinking. While I was suffering from the fact that my countrymen and women were being killed at the same time in my home country because they were critical thinkers, here I was challenged to become overly critical of our compound planet.
I would look around and check for the critical thinkers in my surroundings. While people had that skill, yet their voices were low, they had almost no energy of thinking deeper, or they were hiding in the corners of each justified avenues for silently talking about the injustice in their home country. I could see that oppression had taken over critical thinking.
I had to gasp for breath when I recalled how our people have always been discouraged and punished for being critical thinkers.
Obviously, critical thinking for us Iranian is intertwined with fear, intimidation, harassment, and punishments. Now with the western movements such as Occupy Wall Street followed by a whole range of Occupy places, we would think that our younger generations are showing their potential for critical thinking by demanding for reforms. Perhaps our younger, multicultural, social media generations have learned to be critical thinkers in the school of hardships and in the aftermath of poverty and injustice.
However, still it is significant that universities and academic institutions around the world offer critical thinking courses and keep encouraging people to actually thinking critically.
Surely, our current situation in the world requires critical thinking for finding new creative ways in dealing with the most challenging issues in our human history. Human being is without a doubt thirsty for widespread humanity, peace, freedom, respect for everyone’s rights, and justice more than ever before. We need to question the status quo while offering a platform for the new ideas.
Thinking critically could become a habit, a source of gathering strength, a way for expressing the self, a method for organizing one’ thoughts, an avenue to download what is bothering, search for answers and new ideas a plan for next actions and a structured way of hoping for change.
Therefore, critical thinking is entangled with the freedom of speech and human rights.
Democracy is like a good meal, a satisfying meal that makes you burp. If you feel happy with your meal it is most certainly that you want more of it. This good food makes you sit straight and get excited. A good meal is made of all the organic and quality raw ingredients. The taste of your food would be the most appetizing one, still this food should culturally be digestible.
It is not only preparing this meal, it is about serving it and it is about how people see this food being adequate to their cravings of that day. One of the major points of going to a restaurant is that you are being served properly. Having your food in a nice plate makes the food look tastier, a silver plate, well; it gives the food more of a cultural value.
In contrast to how food on a silver plate can increase the value of the moment, democracy can not be served on such a plate. The all-you-can-eat version of this meal, if it is called Democracy has to be cooked accordingly to each nation taste and aptitudes. A real buffet gives you the option of choosing your own favorite meal. You can eat all you want if you desire. Still, you enjoy that food when the look and the taste are more congruent to your culturally based values.
A real problem is that when we have aptitude for food, but we do not have the good components or we do not know the art of mixing ingredients together. Another challenge is that when we tell people to cook the same food as we did. With all the best cook books and the instructions for how-to-cook your-own-food, sometimes our recipe is not accordingly to the social context of the individuals.
We have to consider the right tools for our cooking instructions. What is significant is that a meal and the details around preparing that food, has to be established and rooted in a culture.
Democracy can neither be served on a silver plate, nor will it taste good when it is not an internalized, familiar, and known taste.
We can not burp on an unfamiliar taste because we are not really digesting that food. We digest a food and we enjoy it, when we have been part of providing for all aspects of preparation and completion of that food. We value things that we are part of creating it. This is our human nature, we are born to create our own food and destiny.
In every culture we use various spices and flavors. No one would enjoy a food that is not having the culturally appropriate texture, consistency, and nutritional properties. Once you are a good gardener and you raise your own vegetable, cooking your own food with your own ingredients is the most enjoyable activity.
In our new world and the new trend, we talk about healthy and nutritious food. It is perhaps healthy to first learn to create your own unique recipe that can result in a good food based on your reality and expectations. This is the only way we can have appetite for Democracy as food.
Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles July 29, 2008 by this author.
It is in our human nature that we carry our early memories of people, places, and events. Some of these early recollections stay with us forever. Remarkable people impact you in ways that can be sensed more than it can be verbalized. This story goes back to late 1960. The earliest memory influencing my life was me being in age 6 or 7. I was in grade one to be exact.
I remember there was news about government wanting to increase the basic costs for raw paper. This increase with a few cents would lead to some more costs of school books, note books, and other paper work that was being used in Iran. I recall this news because my father took it as something horrible was happening. He was against this increase of costs for paper, although this would not ruin his financial situation drastically. I remember him saying; “a country like Iran who lies on oil, should have schools with free books and material for children.” My father did articulate his thoughts at that time, something that stayed with me forever. He meant that with expensive school material education system would not be affordable for everyone.
“Illiteracy was an enemy that could kill us as it would lead us to the edge of bad choices”, my father would always say. At some point I recall him telling me that even if the cost of paper would go rocket high, he would work day and night to send us to school. This statement of him did impact me hugely. I still today have hard time to waste any paper at all. I guess somehow i have cared for paper as something significant in my life. In school years I used to care much for my books, note books, and school material. I learned that valuing paper was to value books , was to value knowledge, and was to value life. Now looking back I see the importance of that lessen, something that our younger generations should learn. Our children being spoiled with all the technology devises in the world, while still many children around the world wish to have a piece of paper to write. How could this be true for the 21st century?
Now I have to come to a conclusion, that; if we save paper, we save trees, we save life. How is that equation possible? We can guess.
Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles February 13th, 2009 by this author.
Have you ever heard of a government or an agency suffering from a mental health issue? How about any type of personality disorders? No. I have not heard of that either. However, I believe there is a possibility to diagnose a government or an organization with personality disorders such as borderline or antisocial, and why not obsessive-compulsive disorder. We just play this game to see where we get.
It is my understanding that one of the works that psychologists do is to assess and to diagnose.
Clinical assessment and clinical opinion is the basis for making a case, basically checking all the evidence and formulating a report about the kind of mental health person is suffering from. One of the many fundamentals that psychologists study in order to do their assessment is to look at personality, traits, values, and aptitudes. In addition to that a psychological resume, meaning a list of how the person view the world and interact with the world, is also helpful. The personality characteristics show who the person is and what the person does, in terms of behavior, thoughts, and affects.
Mental health illnesses and personality disorders are one of problems that any person, any agency, any government can get stuck in, if they do not have healthy outlooks. If we look at the borderline disorder in which the person moves between neurotics and psychotics, we certainly could find many unhealthy and dysfunctional behaviors.
Now within this framework and introduction we can continue the game and see if we only can assess a person with psychological disorders. How about a borderline government? How about an organization with narcissistic personality traits? How about an agency with anxiety disorders? The list could be long. Still we can continue this game, how about an ailing system where personality of that construct shows through the ill attitudes, harmful policy making decisions, corrupted law enforcement, and biased social services they provide? I believe we could assess and diagnose a government or an organization as a whole embodied concept. In evaluating our personified government or organization we could conceptualize the structure and analyze the personality traits of that whole body.
Let say that this imagined (still we know many of them out there) borderline government shifts rapidly between neurotics and psychosis, never giving their citizens and the world a chance to realize what is really going on. Or, let say that a government with panic disorder or phobia illness acts at panicky and neurotic. What happen to its citizens or those life this government has impact on? What if this embodied construct act this way all the time? What about if the existence of this organization depending on the victim role and I-have-all-the rights-type of perspective? The authorities of such government will soon pick up the sick traits and they will come across all the bizarre regulations and ideologies to feed people while misery and disappointments are the real outcomes.
Some governments could both be cancer stricken and suffering from psychotic personality disorders, while they use all sorts of defense mechanisms to proof they are right and everyone else is wrong. In the neurotic mood, this government or structure, makes people suffer and sets them up for failure. In those delusional and psychotic moods, these bodies of structure behaves acts, contemplate, communicates, and shows affect in a real unhealthy, self-destructive, and most confusing manner.
In the psychotic mood this government might get stuck in its delusional nature and hunt those who are marked as spies, intimidating, and different. What many psychotic murderers might say about their crimes is that they were threatened by someone or found the threat immense, or they do not recall what happened once the crime occurred.
Anti-Social governments may even call their people many different horrible names, dehumanize them, and do everything that life becomes the most miserable one for their nation. Do they choose this behavior? I do not know. It may be due to their nature and characteristic constructs.
The constant movements between psychosis, neurosis, dysfunctional mood, and panic- attaches, these governments give the outsiders and all those involved less and less opportunity to predict what is happening next. If you ask people who live within those borderline or mentally challenged structures, you will hear that they would rather have this government on the neurotic mood and not on the psychotic side. Why? Because once the government is neurotic at least healthy minded citizens will have a chance to escape the attacks by hiding somewhere or not showing up in the places these unhealthy authorizes might be. Some lucky people find ways to bounce many hideous impacts this ill system have on their lives. However, not everyone in such a system has same chances as an ill system or government manages to manufacture lies after lies to cover up the incurable illness.
Psychologists may find much intervention with such government; still, this structure is on its guard and in attack-mood. Borderline personality disorder is known for the love and hate relationship, for the black and white thinking, and for the constant shifts between bad and worse. People who are living within the four black walls of these mentally ill governments are truly victimized, they have no choice but living with the nasty circumstances that these ill-minded authorities create. What is the cure? I am not sure.
Behavior being a habit, the habits of such government can not be broken, can not be challenged, and can not be replaced with new ones because this government is truly sick, irrational, emotional, and on guards. Whoever tries to challenge this government falls in the black side of their list and is condemned.
Another factor that psychologists analyze is the level of intelligence of a person. Intelligence means the level of reasoning, the level of judgment, the level of memory, and the ability for abstraction. The level of irrationality of the mentally challenged or personality challenged people is high. The government at this stage of illness creates danger for itself and everyone else by this high level of irrationality. What is the cure again? I am not sure.
What I am sure is that we know at least a couple of these governments with the most incurable personality disorders. We all have suffered in the hands of these systems that are sick to their stomach, still they will not let go of the power. How we can help this illness, the illness of black and white thinking, and the illness of seeing the world being one-dimensional? I am not sure again.
This dysfunctional government has personality traits, values, interests, attitudes, world view, conditions, and desires that are totally inline with their in congruent behavior and inconsistencies.
The cure might be to ask them to step down and find another group of healthy, functioning, and stable structure who is willing to repair and to construct. Negotiation and reasoning does not work with ill-minded governments. Although we will not deal with mentally ill people in an inhumane way, still we can not let them be in decision making forces that make others life a torture. If these people are in power, they have to step down and be hospitalized, placed in safe containers while no one can let them out again, at least some of them. No more we give them the power to decide over others life. No more.
Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles July 21, 2008 by this author.
Congratulations Canada for the wonderful and unforgettable Olympic 2010
Winter Olympic 2010 was a real source of joy and pleasure for all of us.
Many of us feel transformed and changed forever. It is hard to describe this gigantic phenomenon, still we know in our hearts that being Canadian has found a new definition and meaning.
Our children and youth had the chance to feel a sense of pride and contentment about who they are because the spirit of Olympic was all inclusive. Identity building and culture creation found a way in our children’s heart. They will benefit from knowing who they are and what country they represent.
Millions of youth gathered everywhere to shout “Canada – Canada” as if they had never knew this word before. A new, fresh, positive air was shared with all those who were caught in between two or more cultures. Feeling as being one nation and being part of this larger truth of Canadian identity developed and shifted towards a new era which was blurred before.
Millions of Canadians experienced something extraordinary. In every community people were part of what was going on here in Vancouver. For many of us new comers here in Vancouver and for those of us who are native in this country, we could witness this huge, cheerful, and proud crowd on the streets.
For those of us who had the chance to walk on the streets of Vancouver, we could sense partnership, sharing, and ownership of the games. Here in Vancouver and here in Canada, we did see and observe a greater reality, the truth of community building.
For all of us media users such as TV , we could orient us in the moments of the athleets hard work and challenges. Being Canadian and becoming Canadian were the outcomes of a nation competing for a new search for identity.
Patriotism and championship for Canada turned out to become as an embodied part of every one of us, the essence of who we like to be and who we like to remain.
All kind of people from all backgrounds became one big proud nation called Canada. Even though as an observer, we would feel to be part of this historic event.
Being witness to this wonderful historic phenomenon made many of us to be willing to contribute to this country whose humbled athletes changed our being in the world. When it comes to ice hockey, it is now definitely a game that many of us who were raised to be fan of soccer, we can can cheer for this interesting game. For many of us Iranians, integration to the North American culture is a reality here as we will enjoy watching the winter games that did not matter to many of us before.
Finally, it is clear that the notion of change in Canada and Canadian heart occurred because of a holistic approach to the Olympic 2010.
Thank you Canada and Thank you Vancouver for this true life changing experience.
Feb 28 ,2010
Canada hosts Winter Olympic 2010. It is here in Vancouver. It is happening in front of our eyes. The opening ceremony was eye catching and breath taking. The torch has been in every single community, what a sense of pride to watch this great event.
Seeing the torch the other night made me believe in hope for humanity, hope for light, and hope for community building. I heard the inspiring speech that the torch and the Olympic is about a vision, about a nation, and about a hope. The torch is all about sense of peace in a world when we need peace more than ever. Being close to this historic event which is happening in our home town, it is an experience that each one of us feel it individually and uniquely.
Wish Canada and it’s great athletes all the best. Certainly wish the most golds for this great nation and the best joy for all Canadians. We are proud to be part of this history making event. And certainly, we may wish for our next generations to internalize this promise of connectedness which is all around us here in Canada. The world is here and Canada is hosting the world. What a inspiring sense of generosity and hospitality.
GO CANADA GO. We are watching and celebrating with you.
Feb 12, 2010
The Iranian culture has changed, life has changed for all of us and things are never the same. All the good will and wishes for Iran seem to be written on ice. However, we keep the hope. The Iranian culture has experienced many shattered lives and shattered dreams; still, the positive things that are happening are numerous.
We have got a couple of millions of us: on the run Iranians around the world. Why on the run? I call us on the run because we are running from a style of life that is not ours.
We are running away from injustice and sadness that have been brought to our national agenda. We are running away from a situation that is insane. We are in pain and we can not understand how to rescue ourselves from drowning in the ocean of lies and deceptions.
Why in the world we Iranian should have been the candidate for such a huge cultural attack? Why we can never live our own life? How long we have to run more? We are tired of this run and we want our life back.
What have we done to deserve the forces that have no rationale, no conscious, no reasoning, no national identity and no care for our home country?
Despite all the odds we keep in touch. Despite all the odds we share our knowledge and experiences with those who are in the run in our own home country. Despite all the misconception we never agree with what is not right. Despite the entire misjudgement we do know what is right and what is wrong.
We are in the process of learning more about our Self, the true self of us, the self that has been kept in the darkness of lies, the self that is in pain, the self that has to be freed, and the self that will be freed.
As much as life is changing, our culture is changing, and modification in our traditions is to be analyzed more closely.
We may need to let go of a disposable culture that was passed down by suppression, instead keep the spiritual Persian culture. We may need to get real with ourselves and see who we are. There is a justifiable concern that irrational believes have been injected to our brains by the anti-happiness group of people. Still we know the difference between right and wrong. We may be on the run, yet, we learn from places we go to. We learn from people we meet during our long run. We compare and contrast. We change.
Aug 2, 2008
Some of us have moved around the globe, yet, we are missing something. Some of us are always in move, from continent to continent, country to country, and city to city. We have not found our global identity yet. We Iranian live around the world now. Our lives are influenced by this Diaspora life style we have all been accustomed to.
This new style of life has changed our world views forever. In the good old years, mothers and families made a big deal when their daughter or son would attend university in another city than the home town! It was considered to be too far! If a girl was going to marry a man from another town, it was also a big deal. Mothers use to say; we do not give our daughters to strangers.
Life in “gorbat”or “a strange / unknown place was considered to be damaging and dangerous. Mothers use to say “gorbat” is hard!
We called it going to a stranger city or which was the unknown type of life for us. The Iranian literature uses this concept in many places, creates a structure for the concept of “gorbat” in relation to the pain and suffering it causes.
Rumi, Hafez, Saadi and our contemporary poets use this topic of “gorbat” which is an embodied experience and a hard reality for many families and individuals today. Migration causes that “gorbat” to become an internal reality of many people’s life while having an external function and social structure.
It is interesting that everywhere we live in; we always refer to the host countries citizen as “strangers” or “foreigners.” These are the terms we kept from the time going to strange / foreign countries was very unknown and European or American people coming to our home country were coming from outside so they were “foreigners and unknown to us.” Now we are the one who are foreigners in these countries we have chosen to live or we have been given chance to live in!
May be this is the reason for our ability to adjust very quickly in the societies we enter in. We call ourselves as insiders and the others as the outsider/ foreigner/ strangers, referring to people from outside of our geographical space and also psychological borders.
We have a Diaspora life and culture. The positive aspects of this Diaspora are how we have learned about various cultures all over the world.
Diaspora is refereed to any group of people or ethnic groups who are forced to leave their home countries. Middle East people are a good example here. People from those areas all have been forced to try the bitter taste of migration when no choices have been offered. Yet, many families choose to migrate because of the unstable socio-political situations in the home countries.
In every family (with the Midwestern definition) you will find members living in at least 4-5 different countries. A mother here in Canada, son in Denmark, parents here and children in the state, an aunt in Germany and an uncle in England, one cousin in Sweden, and another cousin in France.
It is interesting to see the family interactions when they live in different parts of the world, yet try to get together. Some people prefer a not teaching their children the mother language. Some other parents work hard that children attend some Persian language courses. Children may have hard times to interact with cousins who live in other cultures, other countries, and speak other languages. That is a show sometimes to see two cousins with Iranian parents, when children speak only the spoken language in the host country.
It is time to write and document the multifaceted experiences of this Diaspora. Our next generations would have hard time to understand why this happened and how to resolve identity crisis!
What is your experience like?
May 31, 2007