Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Gandhi

Einstein speaks on “How I see the world”; (Nov. 30, 2009)

Note: The translated book in French does not provide context to what Einstein’s wrote, published or delivered. Thus, I have no sources for the dates or events or purpose for these documents except what I may conjecture.

Einstein wrote “pure religion or cosmic religiosity consists at feeling astonished and ecstatic before the harmony of nature’s laws and beauty that uncovers a superior intelligence that defies our comprehension.  I know that my existence is limited and I ignore why I am on earth.

“I do know that I have this premonition that I am alive to the others: their smiles and happy nature condition my life. What I know is that who is questioning the meaning of life is going through a miserable period: he is not finding reason to live.  More importantly is “Is there any sense for asking such a question on the meaning of life?

“I feel a thousand times a day that I am dependent to the work of the living and the dead.  My home, my food, and my cloth are contributed by man of the community. What I know and what I feel I owe it to the other man.

“I cannot imagine of a man isolated from a community since his birth: I can only conceive that he would emulate the surrounding animals and environment.  Only languages to communicate among people distinguish us from the animal kingdom.

“I am not that free and I appreciate Schopenhauer maximMan can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wishes”.

“I learned to look at the world with a sense of humor: I cannot be preoccupied with the sense or purpose of my existence because it is objectively absurd.  I have ideals such as the good, the beautiful, and the truth and I get obstinate pursuing ideals not even accessible to art or sciences.  I loath human passions for wealth, glory, luxury, and power.  Only justice is worth social engagement.”

“Creating and inventing require a unity in concept, direction, and sense of responsibility.  I devoted my entire life with un-interrupted efforts to what I achieved and here you have people thinking that they can comprehend all my work by just listening to my expositions. My only criterion for judging a man is “To what degree and to what purpose has man liberated from his I?””

Gandhi incarnates the highest political genius of our civilization.  I hate the military institution.  Any person feeling this pleasure of marching in rank is utterly content with his limbic brain.  There are no excuses for obeying orders that are contrary to our moral values, especially killing fellow man.

“I cannot imagine a God punishing and rewarding the object of his creation or regulating his will on my own experience.

“I do not want to conceive that we may survive after death: that is the ultimate in egoism.

The mechanical organization of institutions, even in the scientific world, has substituted the individual innovators; thus, men of genius are becoming rare: citizens are neglecting the intellectual intelligence and the necessity of moral rights.

“I often have mixed feeling about individuals who have improved human life: I keep wondering of their moral objectives and if they really intended to do the goo

“The discovery of the atomic bomb does not constitute a higher danger to humanity than match boxes: we have to suppress its usage.   The fabrication of the H Bomb is a feasible objective: each progress generates consequences from prior progresses.

Generalized annihilation of human kind is the most likely outcome.

“We are creating the means for our premature death.  In the actual state of technology only a supra-national institution, an organization equipped with a world legal tribunal to decide on States’ differences and with executive power can eliminate fear and the need to arm for reciprocal defense.”

After the rise of Hitler to power Einstein reverted to pragmatism:

1. first, he resigned his professorship at the University of Prussia,

2. he incited France and Belgium to arm against Nazi programs, and

3. he warned Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany might acquire the atomic bomb if the US does not get on fabricating the atomic bomb as a deterrence tool.

Einstein was also a staunch Zionist before the formal recognition of the State of Israel by the UN in 1948. https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/einstein-speaks-on-zionism/

C’est quoi “human dignity”? (October 25, 2009)

Two blasts in Baghdad in front of the Justice Palace: 160 dead and over 50 injured.  Three weks ago, two blasts in front of the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad: 100 dead and over 200 injured.  Every day, two dozens are killed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, Iran, and Guinee in Africa.  More military pre-emptive interventions around the world to “stem the scourge” of terrorism: only the western dead soldiers have faces and receive formal funerals with flags. Every day hundreds die of famine, curable diseases, and family violence but they are common news that are relegated, maybe, to statistics.  Everyday, thousands of girls less than 10 years of age are sold as prostitutes in India; statistics estimate there are 1.5 million of these kinds of children in the market place. What about the many articles in the UN Charter concerning human dignity?

Someone give you birth, you live a miserable life and then you die.  You live obeying orders, following opinions, reacting to impressions, fearing the future, shrieking when you see a large old black spider, hating mosquitoes, relatives, and family, and then you die. Excellent, that would be a fitting ending to life.  No, they won’t let you die in peace. First, you have to experience purgatory and then wait, and wait until someone decides for you to go to hell or transcend to a boring heaven. 

The concepts of dignity and liberty come in one package deal; the relative implant of these concepts in the organizational culture guides the trend in any one culture.  Human dignity and liberty of choices are the main ingredients in a “civilized” individual’s belief system; that’s what the UN wants you to comprehend but never applied equitably as the UN stated in its declaration with no discrimination to race, color, religion, or gender.  How long mankind has to wait for the UN to become a credible institution to all?

The mainly unconscious belief system is mostly hard wired in the nervous network that tips the balance on the thousands of daily decisions and only our actions reveal our real values.  If you tend to accept the above paragraph as making a lot of sense then most probably you have been strongly influenced by the Western colonial culture and tend not to dwell on any definition that discriminate how dignity and liberty are assimilated and interpreted by other cultures. 

            In fact, colonialism is fundamentally the imposition of a specific supra-mythical culture on other communities.  Outside the natural sciences, the colonial powers have no interest or need to fine tune the general concepts related to human sciences and much less of dignity and liberty.  The ancient colonial powers are still exercising their influence on other communities and have generally substituted military force by technocracy in banking, monetary reforms, and globalization of trade and finance, and technology standardization. 

The pragmatic western culture is resuming its well known strategy that says “the best route to transforming other cultures is to install the basic material standards and then, gradually and inevitably, the other cultures will adopt the philosophies of legal capitalism, democracy, modernism, progress and open borders for one world material exchange culture”

Liberty is not just the freedom for a community of selecting and adopting a religion, which is necessary but never sufficient.  A community that values liberty should be ready to genuinely accepts the contributions and values of other religions, traditions and customs. Liberty has for pre-requisite constant dialogue and inter-communication among the various communities and religions. Thus, any belief system is fundamentally wrong: it basically means to exclude the other beliefs; any reshuffling or modification to a belief system remains wrong no matter what and liberty means accepting variations on sets of values.

            A human is a whole microcosm in such a way that the destiny of humanity unfold through one individual and this concept is the foundation for human dignity, otherwise we are to accept that we are merely a tiny part in the chain of the other billions of individuals and we are ready to follow monolithic and totalitarian systems that want a unique universal conceptual system of values.

            If very few distributions of genes biologically differentiate an individual from his neighbor then we might conjecture that what differentiate the value system and moral behavior of an individual from his neighbor are a tiny number of qualitative attributes. It is not the numerous common elements that we share but the values we attach on rare qualitative values that set us apart.  There are special individuals like Gandhi and Martin Luther King who are the ultimate political men striving for sainthood through fair non-violent and active struggles for the dignity of the disinherited, the humble, and the common folks.

            What dignity is there watching swarms of skeletal humans roaming arid and desert lands among calcified carcasses, not a patch of green or a tiny tree on the horizon to taking shelter under, heading toward a camping ground hundreds of miles away for international relief succor?  What dignity is there to experiencing haggard humans fleeing civil war-torn villages to cramp up tent compounds? What dignity when these occurrences are frequent and happening all over the under-developed States?

Respecting human dignity means that we are ready to offer the individual with the tools and opportunities to resume fighting against imminent death, against famine, sickness, and oppressions: Life is a struggle against the chaos in death.  Respecting human dignity means alleviating the material struggle and thus shortening the necessary resting pauses when people feel the need to believe that destiny is traced at inception: they do at times feel exhausted; they have to surmounting artificial obstacles that are not in the nature of things; they do lose confidence in the organizations that constantly defy the processes of living organisms. 

Respecting human dignity is providing the resources to overcome the unnecessary frequent pauses when people are forced to believe in pre-destiny because they are not allowed to experience the little daily pleasures of loneliness, privacy, quality leisure time, and self paced working habits.

There is dignity in erecting a school for children so that they might grow with dreams of better opportunities than their present lot.  There is dignity in building a dispensary so that children and the sick grow hope of having their pains alleviated.  There is dignity sharing in the digging of a well and the construction of an irrigation canal, a few necessary infrastructures so that a sense of control over destiny is palpable.  It does not take much investment to increase the level of dignity for changing the mind set to an alternative course for the future.

As long as the disparity between the rich and the poor in a society is increasing then the culture of the society tends to obliterate the notion of dignity to all; it sends the strong message that the notion of liberty for seeking a happy and satisfying life is essentially selective among classes. 

Man is yet to be formed; it is a sickly creature but is nonetheless constantly inspired by dreams of what he can do and desire to transcend his inadequacies.  Man has proven to stand tall against injustices and fight a non-violent struggle at the expense of his own suffering, pains and even death for the dignity of his fellow man.

Women: Urban and rural (Cairo, Egypt). Part 2. June 23, 2009

Egyptian Urban Women

In the previous article I focused on women in rural Said of Egypt.  This post is on Urban Cairo, the Capital of Egypt, as reported by Laurence Deonna in ” Women: Struggle of the land and of sand” in 1968 for a project “Searching for the woman“.

Cairo keeps assimilating increasing numbers of rural citizens.  Cairo is a metropolis of over 20 millions and increasing at a high rate.

About one third of every new born will end up in Cairo Birth control policies, education, and facilities are not making any appreciable dent in Egypt.

President Nasser called the large birth rate as “politics of rabbits“.  A young woman says “as long as I am pregnant then my husband will take care of me”.

When Deonna tell her that her baby might die if not taken to the hospital, the girl replies “I will have another one, Inch Allah

Rural women have added superstitions to their heavy rural baggage; many ceremonies, traditions, and practices are pre-Islamic and of African origins.

Reading current novels and social accounts you realize that society in Cairo has not changed appreciably in customs and traditions since 1968 as of the accounts of Laurence Deonna.

The heavy international investments are not directly concerned with social improvement.  State institutions are not able to sustain the flow of immigration from rural Egypt and the high rate of birth that no laws or pressures could slow down.

The customs and traditions of rural Egypt are basically setting the tone for any kinds of reforms from the center to the periphery.  Unless reforms are focused on the peripheries then the major urban centers in Egypt will continue to drain any surplus of economic development.

Women demonstrated along side men in 1919 for self-autonomy of Egypt from colonial Britain. Women snatched the right to walk unveiled on streets in 1923.

Panels carried by demonstrating women in 1924 read “Educate your girls, respect your wife; a civilization is judged by the wife“.

Ceza Nabarawi was the right hand assistant of the first leader of women movement Hoda Chaarawi.  Ceza lived in Europe in her youth and refused to wear the veil when she had to be back to Egypt. Thus, she locked herself up for a month.

One windy day, Ceza had her veil and hat blown away; a kid returned them to Ceza saying “I bring your head back“.  Ceza said young girls were locked up in harem at the age of 12 (in rich urban families since peasants had to work).  Women drove out in closed carriages with heavy drapes drawn. In theaters, wood netting separated women from the public.

Hoda Chaarawi was the daughter of a pasha and was married at age 13 to her mentor. She separated of her husband for 7 years.

Hoda founded the magazine “L’Egyptienne” of her own money (father’s money) and Ceza was the editor-in-chief for 15 years; this magazine did not contain kitchen recipes or questionnaires such as “Are you sexually jealous of your girl” or “Do not forget your feet, the main seductive part of your body”.

“The Egyptian women” magazine exposed their rights, political analysis, art critics, and reports on women congress that the women association attended around the world. The “Women association” attended international forums and conventions on women rights and the Palestinian problems in the thirties and forties.

The magazine told stories of women conditions in Northern Africa, Iraq, Sudan, and even China.  Ceza met Gandhi in 1931 in Alexandria because the British authorities refused Gandhi to disembarque.  Gandhi handed Ceza a letter that she published praising the Egyptian women movement as the first messengers for peace and progress; the irreducible disciples for non-violence.

Ceza and Hoda struggled for closing down the privileges of the foreigners in Egypt.  The foreigners houses could not be violated by Egyptian police forces and there were two courts of laws; one for the Egyptians and another for foreigners.

In 1938, the movement held a gathering of the Middle East women in Cairo and discussed the Palestinian problem because Jews were dispatched to inhabit Palestine and form a majority.  The Palestinian problem was also discussed at length during the Copenhagen congress in 1939.

The “Arab Women League” was established in 1944. The Palestinian problem was also exposed at the “International Women Alliance” in 1946.

Hoda Chaarawi died in 1947, a few days after Palestine was partitioned.  Ceza founded in 1951 “Women Popular Resistance Committee” and worked for the Egyptian population to vacate the Suez Canal.

Deonna is visiting the Zoo of Cairo; there are hippopotamus, Indian Elephants, and monkeys among other animals. There is a seat sculpted in stone that fitted the behind of King Farouk who had a “pleasure grotto” in the park when he was King of Egypt.

A woman decked in a long white robe is praying in the zoo. Women are more superstitious than men here; is it because women have learned to be in intimate contact with invisible forces?

Women invoke the Imam or the Sheikh most of the time. Imam Shafeyi, dead 13 centuries ago is their favorite Imam: women line up in front of shrines asking favors; stamped letters are also sent to shrines in the present tense with the name of the sender and the name of her mother, as is the case in Pharaonic custom.  The complaints in the written messages concern mostly the treatments of mother-in-laws; retributions demanded go as far as gouging eyes of the nemesis. Many statutes of famous people are wrongly considered as representing saint “sheikhs”.

Among the superstitions is for families to keep secret engagement transactions for fear of the “spirits” meddling in the affair.  A young girl is readying to get wed; she dips her feet in water containing all kinds of green vegetables, a loaf of bread under her armpit, in her mouth a piece of sugar and a piece of money, and the Koran on her head with a lighted candle on top of the Koran; these things symbolize successively expectancy, food, a soft tongue, prosperity, protection and light that the wife will bring to her new home.

Exorcism and bewitching ceremonies are common. The “sheikh tariks“, including women, are specialized in mystic and magic ceremonies; they distribute hundred of magical recipes for any kinds of condition and situation.  The “sheikh tariks” have huge influence among the superstitious citizens.

The “zaar” is an African ceremony practiced by women as therapeutic outlets and for exorcism purposes. In a corner incense is burned to attract “djinns”.  A dervish turns, dances, and orchestrates the ceremony.  Women pick up the dancing tempo until they lose conscious.  There are the flutist, the tambourine, and the singing specialists. Sitting on straw mats, other women are waiting for their turn.

It was the fashion among the high classes, but now is practiced by the lower classes.  By the mosque Al Hussein blind women assemble. Frightful women mumble unintelligent words accompanied by gesticulations; they are the “megazibs” or fools who pretend to be possessed by the spirit of Allah but do not respect religious holidays.  They are usually simple minded who have been patients in asylums. Many women avoid prosecution by joining this “sanctified” crowd.  The “zikr” is a ceremony practiced by men, close to mosques, and has mystic and religious meaning.

Note: Read part 1 on Egyptian rural women https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/women-urban-and-rural/


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