Monday, December 27, 2010

The Power of Jon Stewart????

Does Jon Stewart really have the influence necessary to shame Republican senators into ending a filibuster and voting in favor of the 9/11 Bill to provide a financial support package for the 9/11 first responders. I watched the latest "Daily Show" a couple of days ago and was quite impressed that Jon Stewart not only insulted the Republican party(and Fox News)- as can be expected, but he made a valid argument as to why the 9/11 bill should be passed. I thought it was quite ironic that the first responders of 9/11 are the epitome of "American" and the event that revitalized American pride, yet the Republicans in the Senate not only refused to vote for it, but they also instituted a filibuster in attempts to kill the bill.

When Jon Stewart had Mike Huckabee from Fox News on the show, Stewart asked Huckabee why Republicans were dragging their feet on the bill, Huckabee couldn't think of a excuse. Stewart accused Fox News of making 9/11 a trite expression that is used liberally by the station to mobilize its viewers for many issues, most recently, the "terror mosque." Unfortunately, when legislation that was intended to benefit those that defended Americans on that dreadful day, Fox News as well as CBS and NBC failed to cover the issue. How is that possible? It is eerie to know that the media is so heavily intertwined with politics to the point that most watched news stations omit significant government actions because the parties have an agenda to maintain. Although I watched the episode after the show AND after the senate had passed the bill, I wonder if his voice really tipped the bucket.

Earlier in the year, there have been other pieces of legislation that have passed now that we are in the lame-duck period that previously were shot down time and time again. I find it quite interesting that the President and congress are making so much progress and actually have their noses to the grind. The Majority Whip, Senator Reid is making the senate work up until the end of the year and I am eagerly watching to see what else will transpire before the conclusion of the democratic domination.

Who knew that some late night comedy could have such an impact?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Waking Up in Frankfurt

I finally broke down and emptied my memory disk after holding out for three months. On my way home from Jordan, I took a stop in Frankfurt and went on a day trip. Although my sister and I had explored the city together, I hadn't gotten my fill and was determined to explore the city through my lens. It was much colder than the heat of Jordan, but it was worth the jacket and goosebumps! The Frankfurters were sensational, classy and well dressed. It was a lovely change in pace and provided me with a much needed stroll. Here is a quick peek into my day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Land Called Paradise

I was going along and minding my business when yet another friend sent me an inspiring youtube video that I LOVED! This little clip combines clever ways of presenting the beauties of Islamic culture and contextualizing it for an American audience. In addition to providing exposure to an often misunderstood culture within the United States, this film rehumanizes a religious group that is often inaccurately portrayed by the media and politics.

I think my favorite clip is "Broccoli is my personal jihad," or maybe it's "My son thinks I named him after a Quranic word---I named him after my first crush!"

Adhan that takes me back to Jordan

I was just purusing through some adhans looking for one that sounded incredible when I cam across this one... Obviously there is come echoing and the sound quality is slightly muffled, but what it communicates to me is far more than the actual quality of this piece. When I heard it, this adhan immediately took me back to our small balcony connected to the kitchen at Teta Mahasen's house. I thought of the hot air enveloping my face as the sun went down and at last, we were able to break the fast. I thought of how delicious the food smelled and how peaceful the world seemed. That was one of those moments when everything seemed right. I miss that time, but I know things will feel right again someday soon.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eco-tourism in Jordan

How does one define responsible development? Maintaining cultural identity and protecting the environment are two key aspects that play critical roles within a society and form the heart of a people. By neglecting these elements, you trade in a piece of a community's individuality, their humanity, in exchange for something worth so much less- money or technology. Here is a USAID project that has become self-sustainable and is positively contributing to the rural development of Jordan in addition to boosting tourism. I have been to the Wild Jordan restaurant off of Rainbow street in Al-Weibdeh and it is fantastic! If you get a chance, try the cocktails and the pasta.

The Link Between the Arab World and the West

Although politics are usually viewed as a divisive yet necessary evil, similar political interests are acting as a link between the West and the Arab world. Take a look at what the Gallup has to say about this topic.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Arabic Literature Revealed Deeper Disconnects Between Members of the Arab World

Another issue on my mind is the lack of collaboration and cooperation between the Arab states. Roger Allen came and provided a lecture on Arabic literature and revealed a very interesting frustration that is blatant to any individual that observes the separatism and violence between interest groups, parties and tribes in throughout the Middle East. The most disastrous and prominent example that comes to mind is Iraq. Instead of employing democracy as a means by which all members of the community can seek protection under the law, progress, development and hope for a brighter future, the Arab mentality is to dwell on the differences. What sets us apart. How are we better than you? How can I undercut you so that my interests overpower yours instead of working in accordance with yours? Why must there be political, social and religious dissonance in all things?

As Roger Allen laid out the scene of a literary conference hosted by the German government, he noted that none of the Arab dignitaries or writers interacted and exchanged ideas with the others. Instead, they stayed at their booths, focused on themselves and left without gaining much of anything from the experience. Politics is messier, yet similar phenomena occur because the mindset of the people must change. The culture of separatism, division and degrading nationalism need to be reassessed, and harnessed in so that the Arab world can come together as a united voice for peace, progress and identify the beauty of their shared humanity and develop thriving societies. National pride and respect for others are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary and essential to the international community. Individuality and success can define each state and person, but it does not have to be a dividing and alienating factor.

Allen frankly stated that the Arab League is a waste of time and resources because it does not produce anything. That is an unfortunate case! I believe this inefficiency is largely due to the great barriers that fellow Arabs place upon others. Come on, guys! Pull it together and look beyond the superficial differences. Pan-Arabism doesn't have to be a dead and outdated movement.

Generations of the United States from a Sociological Perspective

Today this incredible man gave a lecture at Brigham Young University. His argument was that the different eras throughout American history have largely defined each generation. Although some of his titles were a bit more inventive and revolutionary than they needed to be... Senior citizens are still called seniors, because that is precisely the stage of life that they are in. His lecture was an interesting analysis of how the generations of the United States interact and work together to better our communities. Something that really surprised me was his statement regarding the millennial generation. We are philanthropic to some degree, care about our communities, want to maintain relatively conservative values, value children and families and are optimistic. According to his study, the per capita violence has decreased within the past twenty years. Really? I had always imagined that our society was losing the fundamental values and principles that made us strong and successful. Obviously Mr. Howe doesn't have all of the answers, but I was intrigued by his thoughtful analysis of our society.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Danger of the Single Story

I stole this from Mike Monroe and was very compelled by the words of Chimamanda Adichie. Too often we discredit ourselves by seeing the world through a single perspective. I have been blessed with a father and mother who have urged me to see the world through their eyes. This has provided me with two very distinct and unique perspectives that have shaped the way that I view the world. How much broader could I be if I expanded that perspective to three or four points of view? I hope that Adichie's words will compel you to consider your perspective of the world and encourage you to broader your horizons and relate to others. While discussing a similar topic with a friend the other night, he told me that we must see others through the eyes of God - as individuals with equal worth. Not only must we see them as equal counterparts, we employ this mindset as we establish laws, elect representatives, provide international assistance, and interact with our fellow men.

Each of our circumstances were by chance. I am not sure how, but John Rawls is at the forefront of my mind. I'll dwell upon those thoughts next time.

Women's Rights and Islam.

Some have wondered why I have not changed my answering machine or changed my blog for quite some time. It is because my heart and my mind have not left Jordan or my sweet grandmother. When my thoughts dwell on the present more than the past and my heart is at peace, I will move on. I will press forward, but I refuse to forget the past and deny that is has left a deep imprint on my heart that cannot be overwhelmed by new experiences.

Also, I would like to remind my friends that although this article reminds me of my time working with women at a battered women's shelter in Jordan, the picture that is painted in this article may be a reality in Afghanistan, but it does not hold true for the majority of the Jordanian women. Islam is a beautiful religion that when interpreted by honest and inspired men and women can show the divine equality, love and unity between Muslim men and women. However, when a society is overwhelmed by poverty, illiteracy, war and traditions that contradict the fundamental truths of Islam, tradition and culture prevail and women are faced with a desperate situation. This desperation is suffered by a minority in Jordan, but that does not discredit their plight and does not mean that we should not acknowledge and ameliorate this social issue. It means that we must work even harder to eradicate injustice and ensure that all citizens receive the justice and hope through the divinely inspired precepts of Islam. I love Islam and know that if Shariah law is implemented in the way that God intended, it can empower men and women to establish a strong and unified community.

Please keep my words and thoughts in mind as you read this interesting and compelling article about Afghani women.

Last night while beginning personal research on Islamic law regarding women's rights and family law, I came across an interesting Islamic scholar, Souad Saleh. She teaches at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which is the center of Islamic thought. I can't wait to read her works!

Friday, August 27, 2010

تيتى هسوني

"إذا أعيش راح أروح."

My Teta

نهر الاردن

Mt. Nebo and Madaba


جبل القلاء

I'm not sure why, but life is so much more interesting when viewed through a fish-eye lens!

A Mess of Pottage

Here are some loose ends from several different adventures.