Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Cost of Flying


Far-off lands can seem so appealing. The elusive scent of possibility, the world where everything seems possible… one simply can’t resist it. In Ambiguous Adventure, Samba leaves his home for the world of French enlightenment: Paris. The book captures the inherent danger in cross-cultural change to one’s identity. Samba grows up in the world of French imperialism, so the culture is not as foreign as others to him. And yet, he faces the same tradeoff that many others leaving home struggle with: either to leave home and his identity behind in search of new horizons and philosophies, or to preserve his culture by remaining in one’s native country. By the end of the story, Samba suffers the consequence of ignoring this tradeoff, losing both his identity and his opportunity to grow. His failure begs the tantalizing yet pessimistic question, is it possible for people to leave their homes with any sort of baggage, or will the weight of their culture-packed suitcases weigh them down into oblivion? A modernizing America presents the possibility for successful cross-cultural exchange; as more and more groups have become represented, people have banded together through communities and demonstrations to express their cultures within the context of the American society. As we move forward in history, we must keep the integration and inclusion of social groups at the front of our minds. Each individual voice can contribute to the growth and diversification of our society. So rather than providing the opportunity for foreigners to come and “learn our ways,” we should be equally if not more focused on learning from them. Let’s stop talking, at least for a moment, and start listening.

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You find yourself at the interim.

Finally free of the chains of your home, you pursue your dreams.

You catapult yourself into the skies for hopes of reaching the stars.

Faith, enlightenment, wealth…

Everything seems just a stone’s throw away.

Find the world, and bring it back to us.


And yet, heritage was your lever.


You no longer are the devoted, cultural harbinger that you hoped to be.

Leaving home, you had hoped to return one day, a better man with more to offer.

But you quickly learn that to get something, you have to give something up.

So you soar into the air, devoid of purpose.

Devoid of all the messages you had hoped to carry.

You see the edge of glory, and reach out for it.


But you are no longer what you were.

What you thought were your hands are now your feet.

All senses have been jumbled, shaken by the disruption of departure.

You reach out, but you no longer can catch hold of what seems so close.

And so, you fall back to the interim.

No longer in the skies,

No longer on the ground,

You float, empty, wishing, lost.





Trust in a Wave

Faith is a beautiful thing. It gives people the strength to define themselves in whichever light they choose and a model towards which to shoot. Faith provides the image of something bigger than ourselves: something that we can look to in awe for inspiration and consolation in times of need.

But what happens to faith when it is forced upon you? In the Islamic Revolution, Iranians stood in mass solidarity against a sultanistic regime that had begun to fail economically, had cut back on subsidies to mosques, and had threatened the destruction of all the bazaars. From these actions, it is clear that it was in the mass interest to rebel. However, combined with the installation of Sharia Law after the collapse of the state, the revolution begs the question, at what point does communal belief shift from strengthening one’s faith to imposing on it? This fine line is one with which theocracy plays constantly. The inherent problem with a theocracy, therefore, is its imposition of a particular interpretation. One of the many beauties of faith and religion is that the believer can read the words and hear the stories, and walk away with his or her own interpretation to guide them through life. With a theocracy, they read the same words and hear the same stories. But it is someone else’s interpretation, so it becomes forced rather than liberating.

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Once I was a fish, free to roam the sea.

The Lord gave me light, so I went where I wished.

The world was my playground.
I explored, I smiled, I loved.
And every day I would look up to the surface and thank Him.


Those were the days of calmer waters.


Now, I ride the waves of revolution.

They tell me that God created the waves, so I embrace them.

I ride to unknown destinations but with a steadfast roadmap.

Faith is my rock, my direction, my hope.

Or so they tell me.

God will protect me, as he always has.

God will forgive me, but not the other.

I will do all I do for Him.

Or so they tell me.


The Lord is not the same as before.

His tongue I no longer can understand, but I convince myself that he speaks the same words.

The direction is shaded, but I convince myself that he leads me to paradise.


Because the current will swallow me if I abandon.

And so, I fade back into the crowd and chant the revolutionary verses.

Hoping, praying, needing Him to be what I thought him to be.


The Lord is no longer my shepherd. He is ours.



Splatters of Wisdom

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Our scholastic culture around the globe is often one from which you leave with a plethora of dates and facts that you can rattle off in any conversation. This creates a considerably well-informed society with individuals able to carry out most of the standard roles required by their communities. However, do people that have grown up in these systems understand the implications of their learning? Have their lessons left them with a new mindset, or just a few more numbers floating around in the mind?

In An Egyptian Childhood, Hussein recalls his younger days during which he had to constantly memorize the Qu’ran. He eventually started finding ways out of recitation, which prompted him to forget many of the verses. The curious and ironic part of all this comes when both his father and his teacher lie and manipulate the truth in order to protect their pride as holy scholars. A book that so many hold to be the pinnacle of human welfare and integrity brings these two to act in completely immoral ways.

Therefore, what was the purpose of reading all that they read as children? Did the Qu’ran actually give them a moral base, or did it just foster a pride in their own holiness? We all face this challenge in some respects. Whether the teaching is on religion, history, or pretty much anything, we have the choice to either take what we learn at face value or to dig deeper and explore the moral and future implications of the lessons. If we choose the latter, our world will not settle into a stagnant cycle of pride and repetition. Instead, we will continue to grow through new interpretation and through the recognition of the past’s mistakes.

In this particular piece, I used the symbol of the question mark constructed by various Arabic words an overarching “Why” to capture these thoughts.