One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Conversations With An Afghan Teacher; Part 4

I brain-stormed to come up with my own definitions and when no more spot left on the page for another circle and a line to go around all those closely spaced circles, and their connecting lines to the main circle, I looked at my mind-map to find the most relevant ideas and organize them in a meaningful order. The mind-map appeared like the pile of second-hand clothes at landa-bazaar and finding the relevant ideas were like finding decent clothes of your size from those piles. 

The year was 2004, and I was obsessed with Geology, checked out a lot of geology books and spent most of my time reading them and looked at everything through lenses of the geological concepts. What I liked most about Geology was that it explained every land feature through the mechanism of plate tectonics. It was a surreal experience and had changed my taste permanently. The other neat thing about Geology that had won over me was, though its subjects were mostly Earth’s history but the processes that shaped Earth’s history were still alive and observable, and in that sense, I was in love with the idea of “Present is key to the past.” 

I looked at my landa-bazaar type mind-map and tried to find “features” that I could link them in “plate tectonic” style. It was like trying to cook a popular hotel recipe at home but not knowing the proper ingredients and measures and still expecting the same good look and taste. 

The biggest circle in the center of the page hosted the phrase, “Forces that cause appearances and disappearances of cultural features”, and it was connected to other circles hosted those “forces” and each circle had little notes with tiny fonts sizes to include some features. War, Famine, Conversion, Invention and Major Constructions were the main forces and most of the notes, explained nearly the same thing, like, those forces resulted in migration, resettlement, new rivalries, economic competitions and transfer of ideas and material wealth, changes in gene pools...blah blah blah.

As I look through some of my old notes that somehow survived and are associated with those days, it occurs to me that my biggest struggle was to be clear about the “transition”. In those days, I used to hear the expressions from different people, “we are in transitional stage”, but no one explained what they meant by transitional stage and that worried me. Like many, I believed, change was the only constant. Paradoxical that it had sound, it made perfect sense to me. I made a list of cultural features that were rapidly disappearing and a parallel list of cultural features that were becoming mainstream and the “forces” behind those appearances and disappearances. It was two column list and with tiny notes all around it that explained and compared those features. The result were a set of questions, or concerns, to be more precise. 

Usually, I come across the conversations about “progress” and I was aware of points made in favor and against of the notion. My biggest concern was, what a real progress meant? I compared my list, and almost all of the changes appeared to me as results of “improved purchasing power”, access to “modern products” and changes in perspectives as results of “political developments in the region.” All those changes were introduced by people other than people of my community. We were just the end consumers. That was a very shallow and superficial concept of “progress”. They were like teeny-tiny form of the “progress in the Gulf states” as result of their purchasing power from oil exports. That made me to question a number of other major concepts that we held so dear. Were our concepts of morality, justice, generosity (big heart), success in this world and world after, living the lives of freemen (just, brave, bowing to no one but God), brotherhood (equality)....blah blah were as shallow and superficial as our concepts of “progress”? If we had “longer measuring stick” for those ideals than the rest, did they translate in deeper, more meaningful and content lives? Did our culture really base on those ideals? Were the changes indicative of moving up or down on the yardstick? 

Those were the really messy questions. What made me really uncomfortable was that in practice, we, as a community had mistaken the improved purchasing power of few with progress, and that blinded us of our century long uprooting that were hollowing us from inside. I did try to think of clear messages, so I could went out and stirred debates but everything I thought weren’t convincing enough to me. I thought about the Afghan teacher and decided to meet him to see, if he had something to offer? 


No comments:

Post a Comment