You're blog is great , why aren't you active anymore ?!

Anonymous

Sorry, just got around to answering this! I really appreciate it. I’ve been preoccupied by some other things. I will try to post more often. :)

Eight things I have learned over the years

While on the bus the other evening, I pulled out my notepad and wrote the question, “What kind of person do I want to be by the end of 2014?”

As we merged onto a highway, I made the first bullet point. I started to list some things while old school Maroon 5 crackled from the radio (She Will Be Loved) and the woman next to me nodded off to sleep. As I wrote, it dawned on me how much I had learned over the last four years or so. My aspirations for the New Year looked nothing like this only a few months ago. It was a bittersweet realisation, because many of the lessons I learned did not necessarily come easy. But it felt great. I had grown. And I am growing. I feel enthusiastic about learning much more. This is in no way the end.

image

Me self-reflecting, 2011

While I cannot share the long list I had written, I still want to share a handful, and only a handful, of realisations I have had so far. I don’t normally share many personal things on this blog, but I was once told the best things we write about are the things we most know about. So here goes.

1. Jealous people actually exist

It sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? Of course jealousy is a real thing. Also, what an odd point to make first. But this one is hard for me to reconcile with. It is one of the hardest lessons I have learned, because it has shattered my naive faith in the inherent goodness in people. I have always tried my best to give people excuses and the benefit of the doubt. If they make negative comments constantly, are patronising, passive aggressive, dismissive, or undermine my efforts, or never seem supportive, I have always brushed it off and excused them as having a bad day time and time again.

But it was never something I properly considered or dwelled upon because it meant accepting the idea that someone could be mean without a valid reason, and this was almost inconceivable to me. And really disappointing. You are supposed to be happy for your friends, and for the people around you, and for strangers, too. How can you not be? Was there really some other alternative?

It was only until recently – and with reluctance – that I realised that people will hurt people, almost wantonly, because they are jealous. I hate that word, but I realised that all along I had moulded a perfectly sincere world around me, full of perfectly sincere people. Ever since I could remember, I casually accepted things like bitter statements (a lot of this is much clearer in hindsight), or the non-constructive type of criticism, as indicative of something more.

But the unsettling reality is – and I am pretty sure I am 20 years too late to the Epiphany Party – is that there are people who are not happy for you. There are people who secretly rejoice at your failures and wince at your successes. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is not your fault. It is, by no means, a reflection of you.

There are only so many ‘bad days’ you can afford a person. There are only so many times that you can shoulder the blame for someone’s words or actions. Be courteous with people like this, but limit your interactions with them.

2. Be around people who bring out the best in you

This somewhat ties into the first point. There is one little saying that has stuck with me since the first time I read it: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. Replace ‘smartest’ with sincerest, or any other good quality.

The premise of it is important: do not be around people and do not stick around in environments that do not promote growth. Do not stagnate and do not be held back by others. There is always room for improvement. Always seek out enlightenment and growth, and seek it in people who may know more than you, otherwise you will stunt yourself.

I also read it as highlighting the importance of being humble and not prideful. If you believe you are the smartest person in the room, it means that you do not appreciate and admire the good qualities and the insightfulness of the people around you. Someone will always have a better quality than you or hold more insight than you, and you can learn from him or her. See the best in others, too.

And if you deeply care about something, do not waste time with people who are apathetic or dismissive about it. This can happen in all kinds of toxic relationships. Be around people who celebrate you and support you, not just tolerate you or even try to control you. And if you cannot escape it, be strategic in how you deal with them, until you do have an escape plan.

You can only make so many compromises and sacrifices. If someone leaves you feeling exhausted or is encouraging or triggering bad habits, it is clear that they are not bringing out the best in you. Move on.

3. Whoever said, “Patience is a virtue,” was goddamn right

Having patience is hard. It is really, really hard. It is easy to feign, but most difficult to achieve. This is something I need to work on. Putting on a straight face and having a somewhat calm demeanour is not enough to drain the impatience that fills your heart at some moments. I am impatient in a lot of little ways – I need things to be happening, I need people to walk faster, I need people to think faster, I want life to be fast forwarded if it lulls for a moment. Unsurprisingly, I also love(d) big city living and flashing lights and the hustle and bustle of life. I used to hate it when things were slow and silent. It seemed wasteful. Now, things are different. I highly value silence and time away from urban chaos and the hectic life, that I can’t seem to say that I love it all that much anymore. Slow down your environment so that you can catch up with your mind. We fear slowness and silence because we are afraid of being left alone with our thoughts.

Stretch yourself out. Being patient with people is hard too, but be resilient.

4. You are alone in the Universe

There is an old Arabic proverb that goes: “The Universe is like a ring in the desert.”

No one is listening to you. You are not someone’s other half and your purpose is not confined to being a fraction of some kind of sisterhood or brotherhood or family or group or circle or ideology. You are whole, and you are alone. Ultimately, you act alone, and you think alone. Yes, you interact and love and hate and feel for and live with others. You move with others. You share with others. You cannot ever escape others – you share this planet with billions of others. You hold others in your heart and your mind and your thoughts. But you are alone. You are one mind. And you are tiny, which is both a terrifying and liberating thing to think about. You are an individual. Zoom out. Put things into perspective. You are a speck. Take control. Groupthink is denial. Learn to depend on yourself and to love yourself. Be comfortable and at peace with yourself, because essentially, you are your only possession.

Own it. Own yourself.

5. Be nice to everyone you come across

This sounds cliched, but it is really simple. Though it seems like a common thing that is said, it bears repeating. Be sincerely nice to people. If that sounds like too much effort, then just don’t be a dick. Be nice to the mean ones too. Yes, even to that wanky transport officer who thinks they’re guarding the Tsar’s palace just because they’re checking Student ID cards. And be nice to the person who has a different opinion to you about something. But don’t be a pushover. Know when to stop being nice. Do not ever lose your assertiveness. And be sincere. Don’t smother people. Don’t laugh when you don’t mean it. Never compliment someone unless it is sincere.

Most importantly, do not be nice to people out of assumed pity and the whole “everyone has a struggle” type of thing. No, be nice because being nice is the good thing to do. You will not lose anything from it, I promise. You might make someone else’s day, and it just might make yours.

6. Adventure is…

 “Adventure is just hardship with an inflated sense of self.”

Polly Harper said this in an episode of Orange is the New Black and I laughed way too hard. Damn, that’s a little true, I thought. But it goes to show how important perspective and attitude is. What is better – seeing a problem as a problem or a challenge? You can turn the slightest hardship into an adventure. Choose to look at all hindrances and bad things as missions. Have a good attitude, and instead of being that sad person who complains “why me?” all the time, you can be a strategist and a problem solver with a lot of great stories, life experiences, and wisdom under your belt.

7. It’s better to be passionate than to be apathetic

A high school maths teacher dropped this one on me: “I used to be apathetic, but now I just don’t care.” His deadpan delivery had a friend and I in stitches.

I am passionate about a lot of things, freshly squeezed lemonade included (I legitimately don’t understand how lemon-flavoured soda can be considered lemonade?), but I have had moments where I have thought, “What if I care too much?”

To be specific, I have some strong opinions about a number of rights issues. Interestingly, the main thing people want to argue about with me is not my stance on these social justice and civil rights issues, but why I have a stance at all in the first place. And no matter how I tried to explain myself (I am not obliged to explain myself, either way), I realised, for some, it was because they were afraid and insecure about their own apathy. Often, they feel threatened that you value something they have not properly considered, and are projecting their own priorities, whatever they may be, upon you.

Never allow people to make you feel doubtful about what you care about and what you love, and do not let them dull your enthusiasm for life or lemonade. See point two.

Passion fuels life. Indifference erodes life.

8. Question everything

Question and challenge the values and opinions and beliefs you hold close to your heart, and ask yourself why you think the way you do, and choose to act the way you do. Don’t be faux-inquisitive by being the kind of person who questions everything except what is core to their being. Sure, it is hard, and you may still hold the same or similar beliefs and opinions as you did before, but it means that you are making those conclusions through introspection and questioning, and not just because it is what you have been told. Question regularly. It takes a moment to check the expiry date of milk before deciding whether it needs throwing out or not, and it also takes me a moment to occasionally ask myself why I believe what I believe, why I’m about to do what I do, or say what I’m about to say.

Article originally posted at http://thelowercasearab.net/2013/12/29/eight-things-i-have-learned-over-the-years/

Update

Hello to those who follow this blog on Tumblr!

Just a quick update.

I used to blog with Blogspot/my own domain for a while, and then made the recent move to Tumblr. I like Tumblr lots, and I’ll be keeping it, but I’ll be writing over at the new domain www.thelowercasearab.net (and I’ll be staying there!) instead of here, because I find it easier to write and share lengthier content using a more traditional blogging format. 

I’ll still post links and share things here of course, so I hope you’ll stick around, contribute, suggest, challenge, and engage. I have a Facebook page here and I tweet using the handle @jennineak. 

If you’ve got any questions and suggestions, please feel free to ask me and let me know.

I also spend time as the co-editor of the Arab-Australian website Sajjeling, which you might like to check out too!

Salamat

Jennine

When I can, I shoot experimental short films with my iPhone for fun. I’ve called it A Day Project and I challenge myself to film, edit and upload a clip online within a day. In this clip, scenes of Sydney’s west are backgrounded by a hip hop interlude sampling Fairouz’s song Adesh Kan Fe Nas by CunninLynguists. 


قديش كان في ناس عالمفرق تنطر ناس و تشتي الدنيي و يحملو شمسية
و أنا بأيام الصحو ما حدا نطرني

"Oh there would be so many people
On the corner waiting for others
And it would rain
And they would hold umbrellas
But even on the clearest days, no one would wait for me.”


Sydney and Fairouz.

Hey wow, I remember you had a blogspot. Then I kind of lost track of you... Funny to see you on tumblr. again! :D

Yeah! I’ve been using Blogger for a really long time but thought I’d give Tumblr a go. It’s cool and a bit abstract. Not sure if it’ll be temporary or permanent. 

I fucking love that you love Palestine so much. I'm gonna go ahead and cutt to the chase, I love you, keep up the good damn work!

Anonymous

This cracked me up! Cheers. I appreciate it!

Do you ever feel that your zeal for palestine is somewhat overcompensating for being so far away? Do you feel that you must justify your remote activism to yourself? Do you feel that you've abandoned home & principle? Do you feel that the average palestinian in qalandia would not trade in her green ID card for your passport? I mean no offense, just curious to learn about the different types of homesickness. Much love sister.

I suppose this wasn’t your intention, but your questions are quite condescending. Despite this, I will try my best to answer.

Firstly, no, I don’t ever feel that I’m overcompensating for anything - while I may be far away from Palestine physically, I’m not so ‘far away’ culturally and politically (and morally/ethically, in regards to my stance towards occupation and apartheid). I’m interested in the Arab region and Palestine. I’m fascinated by the histories and politics. Being near/far is irrelevant.

I have no idea what you mean by remote activism. What is the premise of your question and what is meant by remote? Is it because I’m Australian? Do you consider my personal blog ‘activism’?

Do I feel like I’ve abandoned home and principle? Again, I’m not sure what you mean by this. I think these questions assume a lot about me, including where I think home is and what my principles are.

I do not want to generalise what the average Palestinian in Qalandia might do, but if given the opportunity to trade ID that marks them as third-class citizens for any passport, I know some would feel obliged to stay (perhaps reluctantly), and that many, unsurprisingly, would want to leave.

I do not romanticise apartheid.

Meaningful/less-ness

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I don’t really believe that life has some kind of inherent meaning or purpose. We give life meaning - we create it - because it keeps us sane. Symbols and coincidences and metaphors and innovations and words and oil paintings and guitars keep us sane because they allow us to go beyond the mundanity of human functions. We love things and loathe things because loving and loathing fuels purpose - we use it to define who we are - what do I like? what do I dislike? - to feel meaningful.

It’s wonderful when you can create purpose and derive meaning from something - when your life has an undercurrent of definition and significance. The satisfaction and contentment and security that comes with the map you’ve sketched, the borders you’ve defined, which protect your purposefulness, your personal sovereignty, is liberating.

What isn’t so wonderful is when you are aware that you are making meaning, and quite possibly fooling yourself. Yet you still try to seek it out, or invent it, in vain. It is this awareness, this constant pursuit of purpose, that holds you captive. Like Tantalus, you have a thirst and hunger that is impossible to satiate. Even though it’s all there. All the meaning and reason and purpose is there, right in front of you. It’s attainable. It’s doable. It’s easy. Just make it. But you don’t want to accept that it is in your hands. That feels superficial. Hard to keep. Almost like you’re trying to fix a leak with your fingers.

You can be (and are) an idiot for your political opinion

I planned to keep away from the election buzz. I’ve tweeted some things, talked about some things, Facebooked some things, but I didn’t want to become consumed by Australian politics because it is draining. It is circular. It is depressing. I’ve fought the urge to write things here. What more could I possibly say? It’s all been said. But I felt the need to write something up in response to a piece published earlier today. Someone wrote up a rant headlined “Why I’m not an idiot for having a different political opinion” in response to the humorously vulgar online campaign, "Don’t be a fucking idiot this Saturday", which encourages people to preference the Labor government over the Liberals.

Look, I hate to be a killjoy, but I’m about to break some heavy news to the author: not all opinions are equal. There are many political opinions that are idiotic. I mean, isn’t everything? Everything’s idiotic. Politics is aggressive. It’s passionate. Idiocy abounds. There are different shades of idiocy, but we have to be not-so-idiotic and stick to the least idiotic way of things if we can help it.

The author writes:

The arrogant, sanctimonious voter who believes anyone who disagrees with their political opinions must be a complete idiot.

Having a different political opinion is not always fine. Sure, you can have it - it’s not a crime to think things and say things (to an extent, since there is no right to free speech in Australia), but if it is a bigoted opinion (and there are many floating about these boundless plains), why is it unreasonable to be called out on it? And isn’t it a bit sanctimonious to believe that you could be absolved of being an idiot simply because you have a “right” to that opinion? 

For example, if you believe apartheid in South Africa was a good thing, your opinion is shit. You are advocating racism. Surely most of us can agree on a few things regarding general human decency? Wait, hold up, here comes the Moral Relativity Brigade attempting to justify their bigotry because “everything is subjective”.

"Hurr, but how do you define human decency?" ask all the neckbeards and grubby, wanky conservative types who wear awkward suits with shoulder-pads too big to SRC meetings and other non-formal settings. 

You want to me to explain why racial hierarchies are terrible? Get the fuck out of my face. Anyway.

Last night the internet was clogged with praise for a supercilious new website called “Don’t be a f**king idiot this Saturday”.

The author is uncomfortable with this tongue-in-cheek website that criticises LNP policies and compares them to the ALP.

This garbage has been “liked” by 274,000 people on Facebook so far. Every last one of them needs to learn some humility.

In other words, “stop hurting my feelings” and “stop criticising and pointing out the glaring flaws in X party’s policies and proposals” and “omg 274,000 is a lot of people, I need to do something about this, let me give them a scolding in the style of Aunt Ruth”.

I mean, really, who is this person lecturing others about humility? Let’s take a quick look at the man who champions this author’s “different political opinion”.

The humble Tony Abbott. The Abbott who stood by “ditching the witch” (literally). The Abbott who views his colleagues as sex objects. The Abbott who wondered aloud if Kevin Rudd ever “shuts up”. The Abbott who practically pimps out his daughters on a second-rate reality TV show for votes. The Abbott who once remarked that “shit happens” when told about the events surrounding the death of an Australian soldier. The humble Abbott who is not interested in prioritising Australians who live within humble means, because ewwworkingclasslol.

Not a fan of government debt? Well, clearly you don’t care about health or education, they say. Want to “stop the boats”? You’re a racist. Didn’t like Julia Gillard? You’re a sexist. Opposed to gay marriage? You’re a homophobe.

 I’m already burnt out reading this oversimplified piece. Bro, no one is a “fan” of debt. And the people who are criticising Liberal’s stance on health and education are doing so because people like Campbell Newman made massive cuts to health, education, and jobs in the public sector. Also, in my experience, people are just as critical of the ALP for its proposed cuts to federal funding for tertiary education.

If you want to stop the boats - if that’s a thought that actually crosses your mind  (“what’s for dinner…stop the boats…”) - you have way too much fucking time on your hands and/or you are an obsessed, and usually racist (and in denial), maniac. However you vote, whoever you support, if you can’t see that this entire “boats” conundrum is a convenient non-issue (how else can you appeal to people’s patriotism without having an “other”) to rally some kind of twisted jingoistic brotherhood/sisterhood among Strayan non-boatlings, then, yeah, you are an idiot. I know that’s just like, your opinion man, but it’s an idiotic one. Khalas. A decent portion of people who want to stop the boats are afraid of the Muslambs and they think Muslambs are arriving in warships to spread Sharia and halal Vegemite. 

Am I arrogant for calling these opinions idiotic without properly elaborating on why I think so? Perhaps. I’ve said it all too many times before, and I’d rather drink gross orange Berocca than repeat myself. A few quick searches, a skim through some credible sources, and you’re well on your way to having a more informed opinion.

Further, the politicians (and radio personalities) called out for being sexist towards Julia Gillard weren’t called out without reason. The sexist charge has weight. It was because they used sexist slurs against Gillard and insulted and ridiculed her womanhood, and all that falls in it, including her body, relationship, and lifestyle choices.

If you are opposed to gay marriage because you believe a union should remain between a man and a woman, well, yeah, you are a homophobe. 

Abusing Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd is one thing. Politicians volunteered for public life and made themselves fair targets.

Your fellow voters didn’t. They have a right to form their own political opinions, and to vote for whoever they damn well please, without automatically being condemned as idiots.

The irony just soars over his head.

Reflections on the Syria hypocrisy

These hypocrites re Syria want US/NATO’s “hands off Syria”, but don’t have anything to say about Assad’s grimy iron grip. I guess slaughter is okay under his rule because he’s not colonial and “Other”.

Let’s puff our chests and stamp our feet when Important White Suits get involved, but remain largely nonchalant when Longneck and his crew stir shit because he’s Levantinian. Puh-fucken-lease. Your mate has bumped fists with those imperialists on many occasions.

The Nakba. May 15, 1948.

Today marks the 65th year of Palestine’s Nakba. Palestine’s catastrophe. It’s been 65 years since the ongoing dispossession and theft of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the expulsion of most of the Palestinian population - including many of our families for those reading this, and the destruction of towns, homes and villages, all carried out to make way for the creation of the colonialist project and apartheid state we know as Israel today. They celebrate “independence”, and we tell them to fuck off with their glorification of bloodshed and dispossession. Don’t you dare rewrite and spread another history.


Nakba is not just the commemoration of one day in 1948. There was Nakba in the lead up to 15.05.1948. And it stuck around. It is a current day reality. Nakba is now. It is found in the millions of refugees who cannot return home to Palestine. During the past six decades, Palestinians have experienced massacres and displacement. They are controlled and occupied. They have little rights, freedoms, choices and self-determination. The one thing Palestinians have been afforded is the burden of apartheid. Because of their ethnicity. Their ancestry. Something they, we, have no control over. I grimace to think of year 66, year 67, year 68…

Today, and everyday - always - I commemorate the Palestinian Nakba, and Nakbas everywhere. All fights for justice and equality and human dignity are connected. All Nakbas are tied together. And we stand together.

boat person

i don’t know what’s it like

to face the sea.

to really face the sea.

 

 

i’ve stood at many shorelines

feet sinking into the sand

usually between the flags

evoking disney-istic imagery

thinking

jokingly

ariel’s somewhere out there.

 

 

i’ve been on boats

and cruises

arms hanging off the railings

wind whipping through my hair

thirty-three knots knotting my curls

smiling to myself

thinking

yeah, sebastian’s out there

or nemo

or poseidon, even,

and I’ve pretended to be rose

arms stretched out

facing the sea

giggling

"okay, I’ll be jack now"

swapping over with a friend

giggling more.

 

 

i sort of faced the sea

when i was stung by a jellyfish

at one of the port-somethings

when I was eight

and it took years for the rash to fade

but it faded.

i only just remembered it ever happened.

 

 

but i don’t know what it’s like

to really face the sea.

to leave my neighbours and relatives

my friends

familiar streets

and smells 

and myself

to cross the sea

to face the sea

to really face the sea.