Saturday, April 30, 2005

Open Your Heart-Part 2

One night P1 waited for P2 to get home late at night and decided to give him a piece of his mind. He yelled at him and told him about everything he was feeling: about P2 not visiting him in the hospital, about not taking care of his mother, and his endless trips out of the country like he didn’t care about anything or anyone in the world but himself. He told P2 that he was selfish. Then, P1 topped it off and told P2 to get out of his house and go find his own way, because he was fed up with his irresponsibility.

Two months after that, P1’s mother asked him why he doesn’t call P2 and ask about him…he got in a hot argument with his mother asking why he should do such a thing after all he had seen from P2. Then his mother told him two shocking truths: 1. P2 was the “good Samaritan”!!! And 2. P2’s many trips out of the country were in search of the best places for cancer treatment because P2’s mother had cancer!!!

You can imagine how P1 felt at this point…he could not believe what he did to his beloved cousin who had done so much for him and the family without his knowledge. After that, P1 tried various ways to talk to his cousin who was hurt so deeply from P1 that he didn’t agree to talk to him despite P1’s many efforts and interventions by family members. So P1 was only left with the choice of bringing his cousin to the show and apologizing to him publicly and letting him know that he had no idea about any of the information that his mother told him.

When the cousin (P2) heard P1’s apology he was so sweet, and his eyes got teary…he kept telling P1 and the show’s host that the love he has for his cousin was so great and at one point he said that donating a kidney was easy because he had the other one to function with and that he is ready to donate his heart for his cousin if he needed it! P2 said how much he appreciated all that his cousin did for him, and that he was the man he was only because of his cousin. He also said that despite the fact that now he had everything and was successful in his business, but he still felt that his life was not complete, and that was because P1 was missing from his life.

Of course as you’ve probably guessed by now, P2 ordered the curtain open and the two hugged each other and started crying. P2 was so happy and kept saying that he doesn’t believe that they’re talking to each other again and that he missed him so much. It was just so incredibly moving, and when the two left the stage after thanking the show’s host, you could really see that P2 had really forgiven his older cousin P1 from the bottom of his heart. He was hugging him, and chatting and laughing happily like the most expensive treasure in the world was just presented to him. And maybe it was the biggest treasure for him! These two cousins reminded me how true selfless love and sacrifice for the people dear to our heart is supposed to be.

We all love certain people around us so much whether family or friends and cannot imagine life without them, but I wonder how many of us would donate a kidney to a loved one?

The world still has a lot of goodness left in it, and a lot of decent and forgiving people with big hearts are out there…I believe this is reason enough to remain hopeful, optimistic, and happy knowing that we are safe as long as such kind of people are out there!!! So, smile it is not all that bad:))

Friday, April 29, 2005

Open Your Heart-Part 1

There is a show on the Arabic satellite channel LBC called افتح قلبك or “open your heart” which I watch regularly. It is a show that teaches one of the greatest virtues of life, and that is forgiveness. The way the show works is that a person gets invited to the show by a mystery person, and the “mystery” person is usually either a friend or a relative who had done or said something against the invited person that caused a fight or tension between the two that ended in the two people not talking to each other…so the person invites his relative/friend to the show to apologize publicly in front of everyone and express how sorry he/she is for what they did. The two people with the conflict are seated at two different sides of the studio with a big white curtain separating the two sides. So, after the person hears the apology of the person who invited him/her via the television screens, he/she decides whether they want to forgive this person and thus ask for the curtain to be opened, or they can choose to keep their grudge and embarrass that person in front of millions of viewers and leave the show without the opening of the curtain. Now, I’ve only seen one or two people who choose the second option; most of the people choose to open the curtain and supposedly forgive their relative/friend.
However, when the two people leave the studio together I can tell the people who really forgave the person who invited them, and those who were just pretending in front of the cameras and wearing the “I am a forgiving person” mask. Some leave the studio with the two people walking one behind the other!!! Now if you have just forgiven someone you love so much and supposedly cleared everything up wouldn’t you at least walk NEXT to them if not be hugging them and holding on to them or something?
Anyways, the other day I was so touched by a story of two people and I was crying the whole time until they left the stage, and then I cried some more as I was recalling the story with my mom…yes it was that touching!!! Believe me you would have cried too if you had watched it, or your eyes would have gotten teary at least. I really wanted to share the story with everyone. These days, with all the destruction, violence, deaths, and other horrendous stories that we hear on a daily basis whether through the media or through stories by people, it makes us feel that there are no good, humane, kind, and compassionate people left in the world who love others (even relatives) without getting something out of the relationship. But that is not true; rest assured that these people still exist, and they are probably many in numbers too; it’s just that we seem to be intrigued more by bad and gloomy stories than ones that show human kindness. Now after you hear this story you tell me which is better, hearing such an inspiring story or hearing about death and destruction?
So without further ado here is the story:
*person 1 (P1): the person who invited his cousin to apologize
*person 2 (P2): the invited younger cousin
P1 started telling the story of how he was the oldest son of his family, and when his father died he became responsible for providing for all of his family while he was still at a fairly young age. After a few years, his uncle died too (P2’s father), and since his cousin was the oldest of his family too but was still very young, P1 took him to his house and raised him as if he was his younger brother. He taught him everything about life and most of all taught him about the business world. P2 grew up and started working and providing for his family. Then P1 found out that he was sick…one of his kidneys had completely stopped working while the other one was in a really bad shape but still functioning to a limited extent. He needed a kidney donor and fast…all of his immediate family tested but they found no matche. He didn’t tell his cousin, because he loved him so much that he didn’t want him to donate one of his kidneys even if they were a match.
One day the hospital called and told P1 that a “good Samaritan” had donated a kidney for him…when P1 inquired about whom it was, they didn’t tell him. He had his surgery and he said that he had expected his cousin P2 to be the first person he sees when he opened his eyes in the hospital because that is how close they were to each other. However, he stayed a whole month in the hospital with no sign of P2; he didn’t visit him or call him. P1 asked family members about P2’s whereabouts and every time they would tell him something like he is on a trip out of the country etc. P1 left the hospital and returned home but did not see his cousin for a whole week after that even though they were living in the same house…again, family members kept providing excuses for P2. At this time P2’s mother was sick and her health deteriorating, which further infuriated P1, and he could not figure out how the sweet boy that he knew (P2) could ignore his own mother in such a way, and change so suddenly.

Hmmm…you think you’re getting it yet?

Part 2-Coming Soon…

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Prejudice is in All of Us...But What are You Doing About It?

I am willing to bet my life on it that there is not a single person in this world who has not said a racist comment at least once no matter how small the comment might have been. Even those people who are leaders in the fight against discrimination and prejudice have probably whispered some kind of a racist remark against a specific group of people at some point in their lives…perhaps, when they were in their homes behind closed doors when they are sure no one will hear them except for the people closest to them; or even if they did not say it out loud in front of anyone, they have probably thought it out loud when they were alone.
Of course, there are varying degrees to racism. No one dares say the above mentioned leaders or people who are like them are racists, because obviously their actions show otherwise. However, one must come to the understanding that it is human nature to see the differences in others…oh that person is black, Muslim, American, Arab, Mexican, Catholic etc. the list goes on and on and we’re constantly passing judgments on others…so many racist and discriminatory comments play in our heads whether we admit it or not, and whether we actually express these thoughts or not, they are still there….but we have to draw the line somewhere, and we have to do something about it….
First, we must realize after saying such a comment that it was a bad remark and probably not true of the person we said it of; admitting a fault is the first step towards a solution.
Second, after admitting the wrong comment a person must work on him/herself so that such comments never slip out anymore out of no where…and I don’t mean working on hiding what one is thinking, but rather working on cleansing oneself from such negative perceptions about other people.
Finally, and most important, people must judge each person according to his/her actions, attitudes, and character, and avoid making generalizations about a whole group of people…don’t lump all the people of a certain ethnicity, religion, nationality etc. into a big pile and attribute to them certain negative characteristics or actions because that is just wrong….if you want proof that it is wrong, then do a study on a group of people from a particular nationality, religion, or ethnicity, but on the condition that you must study EVERY SINGLE PERSON that belongs to that group (scientifically impossible of course) and see if all the characteristics you thought were present in that group were actually present in EVERY individual in the group…of course, you will definitely find that is not the case! Certainly there are groups of people where the majority of individuals exhibit certain characteristics that you perceive as negative, but then how do you know the person that is in front of you who belongs to that group is not among the minority in that group in terms of his/her actions….the answer is that you do NOT know until you learn more about that INDIVIDUAL and only then can you go ahead and judge him or her.
Also, what we may perceive as a “negative” characteristic may be seen by others as something good or part of their culture and traditions which they value more than anything else! Plus, who are we to judge others? What makes us better than the seemingly “different other” whom we are judging? I personally believe we can judge someone based on his/her actions in life rather than what group they belong to…when we do that, we find that we are closer to some people in our thinking and views than we might have imagined!
Thus, let’s first realize that some racist feelings/comments are part of our nature as humans, but let’s also work against this “negative” aspect of our nature…In the end, it will only make us better humans!!!
Don’t delay, start today…think about a racist remark you’ve made or thought of about any specific group of people…then work on yourself first to delete such kind of thinking from your personality, and try to help those around you change their thinking and attitudes of others and get over their prejudices…I chose to start with my family first, we’ll see how that goes…hehe:))

Thursday, April 21, 2005

My Favorite Song

While I keep watching the news and working my brain for something good and unique to write about other than the common viewpoints of mine that you already know by now, I thought I could keep some of you busy by giving you a task….my favorite Arabic song at the moment is that by Marwan Khoury titled "كل القصايد" which loosely translated means “all the poems”…I love its lyrics as much as I love its music…so I want to share the lyrics with everyone.
Unfortunately, they are in Arabic, and I thought about translating them into English myself but in the end decided against that. I want someone who can really translate to do the job, because I do not want to destroy the beautiful lyrics with a sloppy translation and considering there are so many complicated Arabic words in the song (especially the beginning) then I really wouldn’t have done the song justice…plus it would have taken me forever!!!

Anyone want to give it a shot? I would love to have the English translation of the lyrics so I can post them here, then everyone will understand why I like this song: D

Click here for the lyrics in Arabic
click here to listen to the song

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

News Update: New Pope Elected

the white chimney smoke signifying the election of the new pope by the college of cardinals was not expected to be seen in such a short period of time, but I guess the cardinals were in agreement on who they wanted to be the next pope after Pope John Paul II...after the ringing church bells confirmed the pope's election the new pope came out of the balcony, spoke and prayed to the masses gathered at St. Peter's square.

The new pope is a 78 year old German, cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whose new adopted papal name is Pope Benedict XVI.

may God help him be an example to people worldwide through his actions!!!

Monday, April 18, 2005

I'm baaaaaaaaaack

Ok I know I promised a new post by Sunday, so this is why I’m writing a short update despite the fact that I felt like slacking off today after my big test and doing just absolutely nothing. I had such a relaxing day today, which I believe everyone deserves after taking a test like the MCAT. I even broke my diet today and ate cheesecake (my absolute favorite desert of all time!!!) when I went to a small reception party at my college for a program I am participating in next year. Everything was going great, the weather was beautiful and sunny, and I was just in a good mood for some reason (the reason being the feeling of relieve of course).
If you are wondering how I did on my test, well I have a good feeling about it overall. I was able to finish the questions before time was up, which is really something for a test like this since we barely have enough time to finish all the questions. But I cannot tell you for sure how I did until I receive my score, which won’t be for another two months!!! Yes, guess they are a little slow in grading the nationwide test (even though its scantron except for the essay part). For those who don’t know what scantron is: it is a sheet that is numbered and next to each number there are four bubbles with the letters A through E, it is used for multiple choice questions and it is graded by a machine…in other words, they don’t grade the test manually and for the life of me I can’t figure out why it takes them such a long time to grade it.

Enough about me….on a completely different topic, I saw an interview with Jalal Al-Talabani the other day on LBC. I really liked most of his answers until the part where the interviewer asked him right after he said that he was for a secular government that respects Islamic parties at the same time, whether the law in Iraq will then not be based on the Islamic Share’a, and he answered “of course it will be based on the Share’a”…hmmm, I am sorry where is the secularism in that? Did I miss something? And how is that same “law” going to ensure the rights of people of different religions?

I think I am about to join the many pessimists about the Iraq situation…I have tried to stay optimistic and see the positive in everything…I have already seen so many optimists fall into pessimism after they lost their hope, and I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of them and that I will remain hopeful about the future of ALL Iraqis….sadly, I must say that I am at the edge now and just a little wind blow in the wrong direction will definitely push me to the pessimists’ side.

I will try to make my next post more cheerful…need to think of a more cheerful topic…any ideas? There doesn’t seem to be much cheerfulness in the world these days :(

Friday, April 08, 2005

No to Blogging :-(

O.K. I am ready to scream at the top of my lungs!!! This is the second time I am writing this post b/c I was so stupid to type it yesterday using and by the time I finished writing, it wouldn’t post it because it had logged me off, and wouldn’t log me on again until today….from now on I will make sure I type my posts using Word and then copy/paste…. now let’s see if I remember everything:

Next Saturday (April 16) I have the biggest most important test of my entire academic years-the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), and as you can tell from the name I have to take it before I apply to medical school. I will apply to medical school sometime in June/July but it will be for the following year not this coming year (i.e. if I get accepted it will be for the year 2006-2007). Next year ’05-’06 will be my last year before medical school and I will receive my bachelor’s degree (4 years) in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology.

I have been studying for this test for the past 4 months, but I still don’t feel very ready :( If you are wondering why the hell was I studying for 4 months for just one test, well that is because they test us on Biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, AND physics- my favorite 4 subjects :D (Actually, biology does happen to be one of my favorite subjects) along with a verbal and a writing section. I really need to do well on this test because it is one of the two major factors which will determine if I get accepted into medical school or not (the other factor being my GPA “grade point average” which is really high and I’m not worried about it).

So now that you know how important this test is for me, you will understand why I decided to say “NO” to blogging for all of next week. I really need to spend the whole week reviewing as much as I can before I take the test, and so I won’t be blogging anything. I will also keep my visits to other blogs to a minimum or not-at-all, because as you all know blogs are quite addictive and once I start reading one I move on to the next then the one after and so on. Before I know it I find that I spent 3 or more hours of my time just staring at the computer screen and reading people’s posts.

In the meantime, I would like to ask all of you two favors:
1. Pray for me a lot this week so that I may do well on this all-important test (or if you’re a non- believer then please wish me loooooots of luck because I sure will need it).
2. Don’t lose interest in my blog or abandon it…I will be back to blogging Saturday April 16 (or Sunday since the test on Saturday is from 8am to 5:30pm so I will probably be beat by the time I finish and won’t feel like writing anything).

I will miss all of you next week, but “No blogging” was a decision I really had to make until I pass this hurdle in my academic journey.

Now all of you take care of yourselves, stay safe, and write some good posts for me to read when I’m back!!!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

We have a President...and no it is NOT Saddam!!!

So Jalal Al-Talabani was elected president of the new Iraq today (or yesterday since it is 12:12AM eastern time now)…I, personally, don’t have any strong feelings towards this choice as of now. I mean I think it is great that a president was chosen from one of Iraq’s minority groups-the Kurds. Also, I don’t know much about Al-Talabani, but I like that he is a supporter of secular Iraq, and that put my mind at ease a little about the possibility of an Islamic government in Iraq. I guess I will have to read more about the man before I make judgments about him, but I feel like there might have been more qualified people for this position. Nonetheless, let’s wait and see what he can do in his few months before the next elections in December.

Now on to the BEST part of all of this for me….I heard in the news that they made Saddam watch the elections of Jalal Al-Talabani by placing a TV in his jail cell….how awesome is that!!! I absolutely would have loved to see him during that time sitting in his cell all alone in front of the TV mourning himself and the condition he got himself into….I am pretty sure other Iraqis feel the same way, and just being reminded where this awful monster resides now brings joy to most Iraqis. I know sometimes we might forget where the criminal Saddam is now since they don’t show or mention him in the news anymore (at least not in American news channels or LBC news which is all I watch), but we should always remember something as important as this because it helps us to keep our morale up! I don’t watch Al-Jazeera and I am sure I do not have to explain to my fellow Iraqis why that is, since you all understand very well the damage that this defective news channel brought to the Iraqis through its deceitful stories that supposedly showed the Iraqis’ point of view to the world. But let me not get carried away in talking about Al-Jazeera because that is not my topic for today, and to talk justly of this channel would require me to write a lengthy report, so let’s leave that for another time shall we?

Thus, Iraqis still have a reason for optimism…In fact, the choosing of the president today should provide us with more hope knowing that we are moving towards that long awaited democracy….sure we are still taking baby-steps, but that is just natural: we start with baby-steps, then its on to walking, then jogging, and finally running full-speed until we reach the finish line: our goal of true Democracy!!! Let’s be careful, however, that we do not allow anyone to cripple our movement or God-forbid injure us permanently. We must stick together, all of us, in order to achieve our dream….and electing the Kurdish leader today as the leader of all Iraqis is one step towards realizing that dream.

God Bless the new Iraq and all of the Iraqi people!!! (Oh no! looks like I’m watching too many of George W. Bush’s speeches…oh well, what can I say? I love the man).

Saturday, April 02, 2005

May God rest his soul

Pope John Paul II just passed away....May his soul in heaven float in peace and watch over all of us humans here on earth.

The Pope was 84 years old, and I had the most respect for him as our church leader. Even though I disagreed with his stand in regards to the Iraq situation, yet no one can deny that he was a man who touched many lives and inspired many in the 25 years he was Pope (since 1978).

May all Christians worldwide find comfort in the fact that his body might have left us but his soul will be watching over us forever.

For those of you who find this a painful time, you might find it comforting to read the book by Mitchel Albom "the Five People You Meet in Heaven"...It is a book that I recommend for everyone whose religion mentions "heaven" not just Christians; it is a very inspiring book and it made me look at life and death differently after reading it!!!

This pure and peacful man....

who loved the children and youth....

had a powerful impact on many lives, and was able to unite people of all religions as evident from these pictures

a muslim couple attending a catholic mass for the Pope with their catholic friends!!!