Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Question of “Poison” – Western-Liberal Values

I apologize to my viewers for not posting lately. I have been writing extensively, but my thoughts, like my life, are complex, confusing and dynamic.

I find myself becoming more cynical towards Western-Liberal ideology, and all of its implications. In a nutshell, I can sum up Western-Liberal ideology as: money accumulation, perpetual growth, competition, individual gain and a discourse of ‘freedom.’ These are all values that I, unknowingly, adopted and internalized. Western-Liberal ideology is what I attribute to my self-destruction. I am starting to view Western-Liberal indoctrination as ‘poison.’ And people who practice such traits, I refer to them as ‘poisoned.’ I am ‘poisoned’ myself, yet I am aware of it’s negativity. Michel Foucault’s concept of biopower and how state power works indirectly to control our lifestyles, making us ‘self-regulators,’ also revolutionized my thoughts.

So why so cynic? The more I study about the history of cultures and make comparisons, I realize that the modern world has failed to fulfil the basic human need: belonging.  Individualism, by way of Western-Liberal ideology, had turn most of us into self-indulgent, narcissists. The implications of ‘greed’ is that we neglect others for self-gain — thus, the human need to belong is jeopardized. The inequalities between the favored and unfavored are growing.

Yet so many people are unaware of this. We ‘self-regulate’ ourselves in ways that do not benefit others, but rather maintain the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism. Many notions of Western-Liberal ideology are unchallenged by the majority, because they are so embedded into our minds (most of us do not think about the origin of these values). How often do people challenge the concept of ‘growth’ and realize that accumulation of things is not sustainable? Others may be aware, but they have no need to worry, because they are ‘normative’ people who get along well with like-minded individuals. But what about marginalized individuals? What about people who do not fit the ‘norm’ of society? They suffer. They are isolated. Nobody pays attention to them. And even worst, various institutions, such as the mass-media, feed us propaganda to dismiss these ‘misfit’s’ and blame them for social ills.  My heart cries for fellow marginalized individuals. Suicide crosses their minds, because the worst punishment for anyone is social isolation. As Emile Durkheim notes, those who belong are less likely to commit suicide. Happiness is linked to social cohesion, yet the current dynamics of conformity are based on maintaining social asymmetry rather than an egalitarian goal.

I strongly admire those who are not affected by this ‘poison.’ I cannot admire those who possess all of the negative traits that I possess. I outcaste myself. I don’t like doing things that most people my age do. I am still ‘poisoned’,  yes. I still carry poisonous items, such as designer items,….but slowly, I hope to getaway from all these things that are meaningless in life. What has meaning? Love, family, traditions, spirituality, nature.

Sometimes I have this dream…to run away. I love that novel by James Hilton, “Lost Horizon,” where a traveler accidentally arrives at a blissful haven on earth, away from the ills of civilization. Yet I have traveled the world. I have travel to several parts of the world, both wealthy and poor, trying to find meaning. Like James Hilton’s novel, I too have realized that the most kind and loving people are those who are content with less materialism. The unfortunate reality is that the entire world is being incorporated into this ‘poison’ — adopting Western ideology (capitalism). The old traditions will, tragically, die out.

On a recent venture to the Middle East, my expectations of a culture-rich society was met with disappointment — it is very evident that adopting the notion of wealth accumulation is destroying the beauty of the old traditions. Most cultures were manipulated, via colonialism and coersion, into this new modern ideology. In the rich Gulf States, most women and men are no longer concerned with tradition, but rather men are focused on comparing Ferrari and Maseratis in the Majles, and women are concerned with the latest Chanel or Birkin handbag and beautifying themselves on a  ‘plastic surgery’ trip to Lebanon. What is more disheartening is that it’s very ‘uncool’ to be traditional (in the premodern sense). It’s common to hear unintellectual youngsters being proud of not being beduoin or not having beduoin mannerisms.

Often, I like to imagine if I had a child one day. Where is the best place to live with good communal values? How would I protect my son or daughter from these individualistic ideals and practices that plague the majority? How do I prevent my child from living a meaningless life of going to nightclubs, drinking, drugs and using material things to determine their self-worth?

I was once the epitome of everything that I currently detest. Yet often I wonder why didn’t I end up like the majority? I feel very grateful for my experiences, otherwise I would have continued with empty, shallow habits. Everything happens for a reason

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