Listen..

Author's Note:
Social exchange theory posits that human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives. Humans uses the concepts of individualism to explain exchange processes.

Listen to each drop of rain
Whispering secrets in vain
Shattering silence yet subdued
Narrating some stories of pain

Of a mother walking barefoot
Happy that she stole something to cook
To feed her young ones tonight
Wondering if the good days will stay put

Of a father coming out of brothel
Not caring if he smells awful
Since the leak of his affair ceased to shake his wife
Even the kids knowing about it wouldn’t cause an apostle

Of a young brat wiping his mouth after a kitchen detour
Started with one scoop ended with four more
Revenge of telling mom about school bunk
Sister’s favorite ice cream settles the score

Listen to the each drop of rain
Whispering secrets in vain
If ever anyone lends its ear to listen
They’ll know every secret is an immortal tale

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Arab World | Society and its intricasies

Author's Note:
Understanding Arab society, their views, relations and basis of kinship

The term Arab generally refers to those persons who speak Arabic as their native tongue. A semitic people, there are estimated to be over 300 million people living in the Arab world.

An Arab world view is based on 6 concepts :

  • Atomism

Arabs tend to see the world and events as isolated incidents, snapshots, and particular moments in time. This is a key psychological feature of Arab culture. Westerners look for unifying concepts whereas Arabs focus on parts, rather than on the whole. It also means the Western concept of cause and effect is rarely accepted by Arabs who may not necessarily see a unifying link between events. They do, however, maintain a long-term memory over actions and events. It is important to point out that it is memory, not necessarily history that is important.

  • Deep Belief in God

Arabs usually believe that many, if not all, things in life are controlled by the will of God (fate) rather than by human beings. What might appear as fatalism initially is more deeply a belief in God’s power, sovereignty, active participation in the life of the believer, and authority over all things (business transactions, relationships, world events, etc.).

  • Wish v/s reality

Arabs, express emotion in a forceful, animated and exaggerated fashion. Their desire for modernity is contradicted by a desire for tradition (especially Islamic tradition, since Islam is the one area free of Western identification and influence). Desiring democracy and modernization immediately is a good example of what a Westerner might view as an Arabs “wish vs. reality.”

  • Justice and Equality

Arabs value justice and equality more than anything else.

  • Paranoia

Arabs may seem to be paranoid by Western standards. Suspicion of US intent in their land and a cautious approach to American forces are a primary example. Some Arabs view all Westerners as agents of the government that may be “spies.” Especially in the ethnically diverse areas, mistrust runs deep amongst these various groups.

  • Family over self

Arabic communities are tight-knit groups made up of even tighter family groups and most often, apart of tribes.


Arabs are a proud and sensitive people whose culture is mainly derived from three key factors: family, language, and religion. No adequate understanding of Arab culture is possible without first examining these three major elements and the pervading impact they have had on their culture. To begin to understand the Arabs, one must first understand the Arabic family since it has been regarded as the basis of the Arab social structure. Thus the first major factor overshadowing all other societal demands of an Arab is that of family and kin. The kin characteristic includes a set of group dynamics that are built around the family. Any discussion of Arab culture must also include their dominant cultural concerns, such as continuation of the close knit family.

Traditionally Arab Sociologists and religious legislators have stressed on the importance of the family unit as the basic social institution of society. The structure of the Arabic family is much more rigid and highly emphasized in comparison to the West. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members.

Parents are greatly respected in the Islamic tradition. In Arab culture, parents are responsible for children well into those children’s adult lives, and children reciprocate by taking responsibility for the care of their aging parents—responsibilities that Arabs generally take on with great pride.

In the traditional Arab family, the father represents the authority figure (patriarchal tradition), and in return he shoulders the major responsibilities towards his family members. The wife joins the kin group of her husband (patrilocal kin), while the children take up the father’s family name (patrilineal descent). In that capacity, the father is assigned the role of the bread-winner or provider for his family. This role puts him at the top of the pyramidal structure of his family. Also this role carries with it unquestioning compliance with his instructions as well as respect from all family members. The mother is assigned the role of the housewife, and in that capacity, she is closer to the children and actually exercises power over them, though sometimes she may use the father to threaten them. Some scholars may interpret that as a matriarchal system alongside the patriarchal system in the Arab family. However, it is believed that this matriarchal system supports the existing patriarchy, as it solidifies the pyramidal structure of the family.

In Arabic families, younger fathers expected to provide for and support the other family members, while mother are to care for the children and the household. Then, once the children are grown, and the parents are aged, it is the children’s responsibility to care for their parents – even if it’s at the children’s own expense.

The structure of the Arabic family is composed of four types of family units. The first and most simple structure is the nuclear unit, which consists of the father, mother, and offspring. This type of family unit is the least significant in the culture of the Arab world and is used to specify the actual residence of a family or the group of people who live under the same roof most of the time. The second familial unit is the the extended family or the joint family. It consists of father, mother, unwed children, as well as wedded sons and their wives and children, unwed paternal aunts, and, sometimes, unwed paternal uncles. In short, this unit is composed of blood relatives plus women who were brought into the kin through marriage. This unit is an economic as well as a social unit and is governed by the grandfather or eldest male. The third type of blood kin unit is the or clan. It consists of all individuals, male or female, who claim descent from the same paternal ancestor. The Arab village community is normally composed of three or four such clans, and each of these units of clans are composed of several joint families.

The Arab family is the center of all loyalty, obligation, and status of its members. The individual’s loyalty and duty to his or her family are greater than any other social obligation. From birth until death, the Arab individual is always identified with other members of the joint family in name and social status. Once a child is born to a young couple, the people stop referring to the parents by their first names and begin calling them after the name of their child. Arabs used to call each others by using their euphemistic name ‘surname’ rather than the first name because such a euphemistic name will maximize and increase the honorific and respectable character of the person. Unlike the western culture, Women are related in the same fashion through the patrilineal line, and they maintain such identification even after marriage; though women do not add their husband’s name to their own after marriage.

Arab families are patrilineal, which designates descent from the father’s side, as well as patriarchal, meaning conferring male power, responsibility and privilege. Patrilineality defines social relations, inheritance, joint economic operations, occasionally one’s defense group, and control over female sexuality. Women continue to belong to their father’s family after marriage. Their fathers and brothers can be a defense against their husbands – significantly more so than is the English norm.

A Muslim marriage is both a sacred act and a legal agreement, in which either partner is free to include legitimate conditions. From an Islamic perspective, marriage legalizes sexual relations and provides the framework for procreation. From a social perspective, it brings together not only the bride and groom but also their nuclear families.

The main factors considered in the selection of a mate are the character, reputation, and economic and social status of the prospective in-laws, followed by the character and reputation of the spouses-to-be. Preference is usually given to relatives(cousins) in which such a marriage among relatives is not acceptable in western society. Unlike the western culture, Islam does not accept the relations of boyfriend or girlfriend or adultery before marriage since such relations are not allowed according to the Islamic rules and they will break the system of the society by giving birth to illegal children whom they have not any kin relations.

 

Ever Seen?

Author's Note: 
Most people have an implicit theory about how relationships work. Some people are more aware of or at least talk more about their viewpoint on relationships than others. Regardless of an individual's awareness or one's own theory of relationships, most people tend to treat their view of relationships as reality. Because of this egocentric view of reality, how one views Self and Others in relational contexts is of fundamental importance.

Ever seen horizon
Before the sun rise?
The dew on the lilies
Before a butterfly hops by?
The stir in dry leaves
Before wind lifts them high?
The screams of parched soil
Before rainy clouds cover the sky?
The sleep of a new mother
Before the infant begins to cry!
The cries of hungry demons
Before sleep hits the eyes?
It’s called wait..
Which I hide through my sighs..

Ethiopian Culture

Author's Note: 
This is to understand how Ethipian culture has evolved over time, how the natives live in their society, celebrate their culture and aspire towards a better knit family

The name “Ethiopia” is derived from the Greek ethio which means “burned” and pia: meaning “face”: the land of burned-faced peoples.

Ethiopia was home to some of the earliest hominid populations and possibly the region where Homo erectus evolved and expanded out of Africa to populate Eurasia 1.8 million years ago. The traditional theory states that immigrants from the Arabian peninsula settled in northern Ethiopia, bringing with them their language, proto-Ethiopian (or Sabean), which has also been discovered on the eastern side of the Red Sea.

Society and its Stratification

There are four major social groups.

At the top are high-ranking lineages, followed by low-ranking lineages. Caste groups constitute the third social stratum. Slaves and the descendants of slaves are the lowest social group. This four-tier system is traditional; the contemporary social organization is dynamic, especially in urban areas.

Symbols of social stratification in rural areas include the amount of grain and cattle a person possesses. Apart from health, the amount of education, the neighborhood in which one lives, number of automobiles and the job one holds are also symbols status.

Marriage

Arranged marriages are the norm, although it is becoming much less common now in urban areas. The presentation of a dowry from the male’s family to the female’s family is commonly observed which may include livestock, money, or other socially valued items.

The proposal usually involves elders, who travel from the groom’s house to the parents of the bride to ask for the marriage, who then decide when and where the ceremony takes place. For the wedding, both the families prepare food and drink brewing wine and beer and cooking food.

Family

Family structure is much larger than the typical nuclear unit. The oldest male is usually the head of the household and is in charge of decision making. Men, usually having the primary income, control the family economically and distribute money. Women are in charge of domestic life and have significantly more contact with the children. The father is seen as an authority figure. Children are socially required to care for their parents, and so there are often three to four generations in a household.

However, with the advent of urban living this pattern is changing and children often choose to live far from their families and thus have a much harder time supporting them.

Kinship

Descent is traced through both the mother’s and father’s families, but the male line is more valued than the female. It is customary for a child to take the father’s first name as his or her last name.

In rural areas, villages are often composed of kin groups that offer support during difficult times. The kin group in which one participates tends to be in the male line. Elders are respected, especially men, and are regarded as the source of a lineage. In general, an elder or groups of elders are responsible for settling disputes within a kin group or clan.

What Next?

Author's Note: 
Functionalism theory examines how the institution of family contributes to the stability of society, whereas conflict theory examines how the family reflects the inequalities and problems in society. Interactionism is different from both as it examines the internal workings of the family, while they are concerned with the family’s interaction with society.  Asking questions is an important way to resolve conflict, understand problems and resolve concerns.

Day dream delusions
Seeking conclusions
When life throws answers
We seek the questions
And I stand I ask…what now?

Should I wake up from dreams
Throw tantrums at those conclusions
Accept the simple answers
Or hunt the deeper questions
And I keep wondering..what now?

Dreams start to fade
Conclusions seem vague
Answers waver their standing
While questions are pounding
And my mind asks my heart..what now?

Listen to a soulful song
Weave those dreams again
Don’t hurry into conclusions
Look at the big game plan
Everything can’t be answered
Some questions are open ended
When the questions seem overwhelming
Imagine the power of their answer yet unfounded..

And the mind stops questioning..what now?

China: Understanding society and culture

Author's Note: This is to understand the essential pillars of Chinese culure, their relations- how they marry, how they get out of marriage and why?

The early sages in China believed that the family was the basic element of society since a family is bonded through blood. The relationship between father and son is the core of the relationship and is extended further to encompass relationships between husband and wife, monarch and the subject, senior and junior and between friends.

These are called the Five Cardinal Relationships, and they include most of the relationships between people in a Chinese society even today.

Benevolence is considered the highest standard of social ethics and the nation’s moral benchmark when its welfare is at stake. The notion of righteousness is often regarded as the core value and the supreme standard of ethics.

Some say benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, intelligence and faith are the five fundamental moral principles and righteousness the core value of the Chinese society.

Defining Kin

In Chinese culture, “nine grades of relations” is an important concept when it comes to application of laws and observing rituals. Since the Han Dynasty, there have been two separate interpretations of what is defined by the nine grades. Each interpretation is based on societal and political needs as the ruler of the day see fit.

The older interpretationdefined the nine grades of relations strictly in the paternal line. That is, nine generations from great-great-grandfather down to great-great-grandchildren. This interpretation was officially recognised after Tang and Song dynasties. While, the contemporary interpretation defines these nine grades of relations to be four generations from the paternal line, three from the maternal line, and two from the wife’s.

Institution of Marriage

There are essentially six rituals in a Chinese wedding, despite China’s long history and many different geographical areas, which are as follows:

  1. Proposal: When an unmarried boy’s parents find a potential daughter-in-law. Then they locate a matchmaker who discusses marriage on the part of two families yet unknown to each other.
  2. Birthdates: If the selected girl and her parents accept the proposal, the matchmaker would match the birthdates which is used to predict the future of that couple-to-be. If the result of is good, they then would go to the next step.
  3. Bride price : At this point the bridegroom’s family arranges for the matchmaker to present a bride price to the bride’s family.
  4. Wedding gifts: The groom’s family would then send an elaborate array of food, cakes, and religious items to the bride’s family.
  5. Arranging the wedding: Before wedding ceremony, two families would arrange an auspicious day for wedding.
  6. Wedding Ceremony: The final ritual would be the actual wedding ceremony where bride and groom become a married couple, which consists of many elaborate parts:
    1. Wedding Procession: from the bride’s home to the groom’s home
    2. Welcoming the Bride: the bride’s family stops at the door of the groom’s home followed by ceremonies to welcome the bride
    3. Actual Wedding Ceremonies: the couple would pay respect to the Jade Emperor, the patron family deities (or patron buddhas and bodhisattvas), paying respect to deceased ancestors, the bride and groom’s parents and other elders, and paying respect to each other

In traditional Chinese society, there are three major ways to dissolve a marriage.

  1. no-fault divorce:  due to personal incompatibility, provided that the husband writes a divorce note.
  2. state-mandated annulment: when one spouse commits a serious crime against the other or his/her clan.
  3. husband may unilaterally declare a divorce: based on one of the following seven reasons
    1. The wife lacks filial piety towards her parents-in-law
    2. She fails to bear a son
    3. She is vulgar or lewd/adulterous
    4. She is jealous
    5. She has a vile disease
    6. She is gossipy
    7. She commits theft

Pillars, Walls, Doors and Windows

Author's Note: 
There are four pillars that hold society together: government, business, family, religion. Parents are the pillars of family who raise the young ones and teach them how to fight their own battles, but once they learn that- the young ones move away from their homes and into kinship and other relations. Thus society keeps growing and evolving.

With dreams in their eyes,
They came with great expectations..
To be part of a change,
To give wings to their imaginations..

Challenged,inspired, even pushed against the wall,
Week after week they were tested..
But keeping their spirits high,
Not for a minute they rested..

Soon they started reaching their destinations,
Some hopeful, some in despair,
Now they move away in separate directions,
And at blank walls I blankly stare..