Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 2nd, 2011

Monica-Lynn is wed to Samer:  How Chevy Chase met Beit-Chabab?

July 2, 2011

I attended the wedding of a relative of mine three weeks ago.  I also intended to write a piece on the wedding and I saved the title for later posting.  I was sidetracked by other articles to getting it  out.  I am reminded constantly that I have a draft to finish, and I am delivering.

Asaad and Nadia, the father and mother of Samer the groom, visited my parents to deliver the invitation.  I was not home.  Asaad and Nadia are from Beit-Chabab, the hometown of my parents: My dad is the uncle of Asaad from the mother side.  My parents were born in Beit-Chabab, though I was born in Bamako, the Capital of the African State Mali.

Actually, Samer met Monica in Bamako:  They both were working in Mali.

Samer works with his brother Shaker in Segou, a town that I visited for a couple of months in the early 80’s, and where my parents got wed, so long ago.

It was a harsh and dangerous travel for my parents from Lebanon to Mali after the end of WWII:  It took almost two months to reach destinations on rickety boats, rickety trains, rickety cars, rickety planes…

Just to reach the seaport of Marseilles (France) from Beirut the boat needed 3 weeks, and then waiting for a month for an available rickety plane to land in Senegal, and resuming the never ending trip to Segou by land. The captain of the boat predicted that mother would not make it: She was constantly seasick…

The beautiful and alert brunette bride Monica-Lynn was born in Chevy Chase (Maryland), just on the northern border with Washington DC. It also happened that I lived there for three years in the late 90’s and know Montgomery County street by street.

Monica-Lynn parents, Linda and Julian have been divorced for many years.  Julian lives in Dallas and Linda in New York City?

They attended the wedding of their unique daughter; the unique brother was here too, along with his fiancee.  Six other girl friends of Monica made the trip.  Masha, the air hostess, was the best girl, the one who signs as a witness to the marriage, performed in the Maronite Church of “The Great lady” of Beit Chabab.

My parents could not join the ceremony for health reasons, and I represented the family since I am still single.

Actually, my parents and I attended the wedding of Shaker, three years ago.  Shaker has a blonde boy by the name of Asaad (as custom goes to naming the first boy by the granddad name).

The wedding was to be held at 7 pm, an excellent timing for the hot season.  I arranged to be at the groom house at 6 pm to have my photo taken, with Monica and Samer, separately and at different location within the building.  The invitees flocked an hour before the official ceremony for the official photos at homes.

I chatted with the “American” guests who have been touring Lebanon for the last three days. It is Saturday, and all of them are to return to the US on Tuesday to “work”.

I forget names. There is a Theresa who is a civil engineer working in Detroit. There is the fiancee of Monica’s brother who is a administrator at Columbia University. (a university I visited twice). There is this lady who said she is known as Kaika (I guess) and who claimed that Monica considers her as her second mother.  There is another beautiful blonde who read the English version of St. Paul epistle (You know the lousy epistle on Jesus marrying the Church and that no power can divorce the bondage of a marriage done with Jesus or God…)

A band dressed in Lebanese ancient traditional attires played their instruments as the bride descended the stairs to go to church.

The groom had advanced the bride to receive her at the door of the church, 100 yards away.  Thus, we accompanied the bride in fanfare on foot.  In the yard of the church, the traditional band danced “dabket” and someone blew fire.

We attended mass and the priest read both versions in Arabic and English from the New Testament, and we had a choral (without the customary US organ setting…).

After the swapping of rings and vows, the closest relatives took photos with the newly wed in front of the altar.

Outside, we had extravagant fireworks.  The family lined up outside to receive congratulation, especially for those who might not attend the dinner party at the Delb Restaurant, five miles away, up by Bikfaya.

I had ride with Jihad and Nada, and was seated with the Bouhatab clan, on a long table, loaded with a variety of food “mezza”.  Fifteen minutes later, the newly wed arrived and were met by another dancing and singing band.

I encouraged the adolescent girls on my table to join the dancing floor.  We danced like crazy: The girls barely left the dancing floor:  I didn’t either, though I took time eating well of every dish and drinking whiskey.

The uncle of dad Jean from the mother side, and younger than dad of a few years, had a long glass of whiskey and was ready to go home after the glass was over.

It was pretty common in previous generation to still have children at older age, mother and daughter giving birth at the same time...and giving birth to dozen children, half of them dying in childbirth or shortly after.

It is still the custom to carry the groom and the bride on shoulders and dance with them. The tired newlywed are to be at the center of the floor most of the time, and we danced around them.

By the by, it gets confusing and order is relaxed.  The “american” girls got over their shyness and got crazy on the dancing floor: they even got wild on “Night Fever” too.

I think we left the party around 12:30 am.  Happy marriage to Monica-Lynn and Samer.  More of these multicultural weddings are needed in Lebanon.

Criminal Conditions: What Quality of network of friends?

Do you have a close listening ear?

Someone read an old article of mine on Criminal Conditions published in Feb. 16, 2009. I felt the need for a fresh perspective on the Quality of network of friends.

In critical situations of death (suicide or killing others) two main conditions have to exist.  The first basic condition is a physical material one (health problems, safety problems, or financial miseries, or all of them).  The second complementary condition is an idealistic spiritual motivator (revenge, dignity, freedom, and so forth).

As the bad material condition persists or worsen,  the spiritual factor develop into focus, in target, and in planning.  Committing a crime is not easy at all:  You need a network of supporting elements; you need the arm, the close friends’ network, the social and cultural environments, and you need the conscious target to be frequently available.  Even those we always label as “crazies” need a support system to carry out their crime.

The spiritual motivator always comes in second in the chronology of a crime, but it quickly takes a life of its own and over shadow the fundamental source of the germinating idea.  There is this special case where the criminal is dirty rich and yet commit crimes; but we always forget to dig a little in his past, before he became rich and how he started his trip to riches, and how he built his support system.

There are ways to deflect the soaring spiritual emotion.  First, the material condition is altered temporarily, and then the intensity of the spiritual factor is slowed down on its track, because it failed to gel in focus and target.  Second, the material base is not changed but the spiritual motivator is redirected to financial crimes.  Third, the supporting environment and elements are altered in recognition of the danger and a heightened climate of vigilance may deter a criminal plan.

It really takes a little to change the material condition to deflect the whole process.  The potential criminal can be encouraged to ask or “knock on doors” and is shown the techniques for demanding the basic necessities for physical survival, mainly finding a decent and feasible job. The potential criminal can be treated for his recurring health problems that are not fictitious; though many of these health problems could be a fiction of the imagination for lack of a yearly thorough general examination, caused by a deficient preventive health system to all the citizens.

It really takes a little to change the supporting environmental/social conditions to deflect a crime in the planning stage.  Removing one of the numerous elements or tools in the supporting network can deviate a criminal act.  Benevolent or charitable support groups can play the catalyst for behavioral change.  A community in a town or district can shoulder many responsibilities when decently funded for social activities.

It really takes a lot to “unfocus” a planned criminal act, once it gelled in specific targets and means.  They say human is forgetful and that is why he manages to survive all kinds of traumas. The fact is, even when the far advanced “spiritual factor” has been tamed, it only takes a simple cue in this tumultuous life to re-activate a plan that has matured in previous situations.

Police inspectors and investigators in criminal acts have mapped a coherent taxonomy for “individual crimes”. Social and human sciences lack coherent taxonomies for social crimes that reporters and media businesses need to know and learn in their coverage of their “bad news”.

It is up to the audio-visual reporters in the front line to taking seriously their jobs in order for society to be exposed to the fundamentals of criminal behaviors and the many facets and conditions of criminal activities.

There is this “Theory of crime epidemic and the dispositional” explanation for events”

Question:  Of the two explanations that  predict having a predisposition to criminal behavior, and actually committing a crime, which alternative is the most plausible?

First explanation: The group of adolescents living in a clean and stable neighborhood, in an active and sensible community, but whose family environment is violent and crude.  Do you think this group is more predictive that it will eventually commit a higher rate of criminal activities than other situations and conditions?

Second alternative: The group of adolescents is living in family environment that practice standard moral values and exhibit strong moral support, but surrounded with violent and crude neighborhood. Do you think this group would actually exhibit a higher rate of criminal acts than the first alternative?

It is of no use following the conventional argument that family is the cornerstone of real behavioral actions: A family provides a strong defensive nature against criminal behavior in the first few years of upbringing, but it is the daily environment and peer pressures that offer the catalytic situations for committing an actual criminal act.

Countless experiments with adoptive children versus regular families have shown that, besides genetic inheritance, it is the peer influence in the immediate surroundings that form the adolescent characters for actions, as is the case for smoking or addictive behavior…

Note 1: I might have been describing individual cases, but it easily extends to genocide of whole peoples like the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the Lebanese, the Iraqis, the Afghanistanis, and all the people who have been subjugated to miseries and apartheid policies.  This is a reminder that the West should not be surprised for revenge activities for a long time, activities that would be labeled “terrorists”.

Note 2: We process information in a global manner by reaching for a “dispositional” explanation for event (which means interpreting other people’s behavior by overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits) as opposed to a contextual explanation.  If we are told that the gym is dimly lighted and the basketball player is not expected to shoot well, we still favor the player in the well lighted gym who did slightly better, even if he is actually far less talented than the other player.  This general tendency is called the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE).

The human brain has to rely on a “reducing valve” to creating and maintaining the perception of continuity, because if we have to evaluate every event according to its specific situation, we are overwhelmed and become too confused to attend to our myriad of activities and train of thoughts.

For example, a person is in many instances hostile, fiercely independent, passive, dependent, aggressive, warm or gentle depending on who he is with, when, and how, but we tend to reduce his character by stating that the person is either hostile with a façade of passivity or he is warm and passive with a surface defense of aggressiveness.

Thus, we tend to underestimate the minor criminal acts in the specific situations within the environment we are surrounded with, such as overcrowding graffiti views, fare-breaking, window cleaning harassments on intersections, or panhandling in our tendency to believing that lawlessness is the rule.  The frequency of minor criminal acts is predictive to potential serious crimes.  You resolve the minor crimes and you are saved of the calamitous crimes.




July 2011

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