Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Revolution will be tragic: Reclaim your feelings

It’s the end of April in the year 2014, I’m still in the United States of America and I ended up somehow in Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia is the last stop here that I’m trying to make feel like yet another home in the collection I have so far for “Cities I could call home”. 
This was an unplanned move that luckily helped me in the process of thoughts re-arrangement, healing, and self reflection that I’ve been experiencing as I’m preparing for my departure towards what used to be the only home I have known for a while. 

I know for sure that in the very near future -due to circumstances outside of my control- I won’t have the same amount of clarity and positivism I do have right now regarding the world and life. And so, as I’m still not so overwhelmed, I wanted to talk a little bit about healing and maintaining an inner well-being in a world that pushes you towards denial as the only coping mechanism with disaster and turmoil. 


Frankly speaking, I haven’t been feeling very well for quite a while regardless of my outside environment. Both the disorienting constant mobility and the sharp contrast between my outside and my inside made healing a very difficult process.


I wake up at days not wanting to wake up. I wake up at others feeling an immense amount of anger and frustration towards the whole world and everything in it without an apparent immediate reason sometimes. I still struggle quite often with the intense sleeping experiences that I should have gotten used to over than 3 years ago. I think about the friends and the stories I witnessed from Egypt and Syria obsessively, I remember the old and the fresh, I miss a lot of details but I see it reflected in everything around me even the unrelated.  





The journalists and academics don't and will never get it, political careerists in general lack basic human compassion to even try with it and they expect you to not expect anything from them, family chose to be in complete denial to cope, and whomever is left of the friends are mostly scared to death because it’s too much for what they can handle. 


It’s not what anybody signed up for when they chose to be revolutionaries. It’s surely not what the western journalists and their assimilated POC counterparts signed up for when they decided to save brown people in the Middle East with their 'work'. 


I see hundreds of empty spirited Rudyard Kiplings walking with so much pride, so much white man burden, and next to them are colonized wanna be westerners, your own people stabbing at the back when they could be of help to their own people.

Nobody wants to deal with it but it's all very fresh still, it doesn't go away, and it won't because it needs to be dealt with wisely and patiently. I chose the awareness of the sickness that comes with the pain over the denial that comforts you for a little bit and then eventually backfires.


In the past I used to hide when I could when that would happen to spare myself from the questions. I also used to put the positive/inspirational/everything is okay mask on for occasions. 

Eventually I got tired, it wasn't working, and I learned the hard way that I shouldn't do this to myself to comfort people over my personal suffering and struggle. I learned that we shouldn't censor these feelings, we should let them be out there fully and wholly even if it scared people away and even if it resulted in limiting your social circle and your professional career aspirations.

I learned that nothing else matters if you’re not feeling okay because of what you've encountered. You shouldn't be expected to act all normal when everything around you is not, when your whole world is falling apart and when your own self is breaking into pieces.


I’m talking about losing a handful of your classmates in army attacks one after the other and seeing their killers freed and laughing. 


I’m talking about your recently graduated best friend getting a life sentence over a series of false accusation and not getting a single one journalist interested in writing about them.


I’m talking about the fact your son's dead body will never come back home.


I’m talking about the flashbacks and the memory loss from your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the scenes coming back to you at night in the daily nightmares for the first three years of your early twenties or adolescence. 


I’m talking about waking up everyday with the idea of possibly experiencing incarceration for life for your mere existence, for being Black, Latino, Asian, Muslim, poor, or having the wrong nationality this year and wondering about the days you have left to walk the streets freely and see the sun and the grass.


Revolution, political unrest, and systemic oppression are not a fun experience, it is not a career choice or a life profession, it is a bloody, traumatizing, and heart wrenching event that nobody wishes to have to go through, it’s not something you wake up one morning and choose to sign up for or do for living. 


Assata Shakur brilliantly says: “People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”


Trauma, suffering, pain, and sadness are natural results of oppression, and as people get used to oppression they can also internalize all the suffering that comes with it eventually too. 


Some people resort to denial when encountered by such “negativity”. Denial was meant to be a temporary defense mechanism your system resorts to sometimes to help you deal with tough events you might encounter in your life, it wasn't meant to be a long term coping mechanism or a lifestyle. This is something a lot of people fail to see, forgetting that these negative feelings are what makes our existence real. These very feelings are the proof to the injustice you've encountered. It is actually what makes your human experience complete because life wasn't meant to be a dance party or a series of positive accomplishments alone. 


Don't shy from expressing these unpleasant feelings regardless of how much your outside circumstances will make them seem irrelevant.


Don't censor yourself in the name of professionalism and political correctness or fearing the stigma because none of these people you're trying to please will be there for you when things get out of control. 


Don’t remain silent and die a little by little inside in order to fit into the pretentious positive bubbles they are trying to create left and right in workplaces, educational institutions, and social gatherings.


If you need to heal, and you surely will need to heal at some point, don't try so hard to blend in with all the insincere people who are not strong willed enough to face real life experiences like the ones you're going through.  


Don't try and appropriate yourself to the falsehood because you will feel the real deal when you see it, it is there, you just need to be patient while looking for it.


A lot of people will freak out, a lot of people will be shocked when they ask you how are you doing and you don’t answer with the casual expected cheesy fake answers, when you say: “I’m not doing very well actually, do you want to know what’s up?” and when they hear stuff they wish they didn't hear.  


There will be some people who will appreciate your realness however, in this ocean of madness and denial there will be people who will listen in and possibly try and help out. And even if all the people in the world let you down -which might be a very possible scenario for those who choose to be too real- you should know for sure that the Lord of the people will not abandon you.


You will be comforted by God, the all knowing who feels your pain and spoke to the prophets and the believers in his book about it.

"And don't be weak-hearted in pursuit of the enemy, if you are in pain they surely are in pain like you, and you hope from God what they do not hope, and God is all Knowing Wise". Quran 4:104
It’s like when Jacob peace be upon him cried his eyes out over Joseph for years and when he was blamed by his sons affirmed that: 
"I only complain of my suffering and my grief to God, and I know from God that which you do not know". Quran 12: 86 
He was patiently persevering for God’s promise until it was fulfilled and they were reunited again.

And it’s like Moses feeling this fear in his heart from the sight of the magicians possibly winning over him, and from all the might and power the Pharaoh and his retinue seemed to have gathered against him. 
“And Moses conceived a fear in his mind. God said: Don't be afraid, for indeed it is you who are the superior". Quran 20:Verses 67-68.
You're the highest and you're the triumphant by holding to your faith in the Almighty and in the noble message you're carrying along, for standing up for justice against injustice and tyranny, even if you're not equal in the material worldly sense.

At times of adversity and loss, whether people liked it or not, whether they understood it or not,  you have all the right to be angry, fearful, sad, and depressed. You have all the right to feel and express these very legitimate normal human feelings, channel them in their natural course as needed, and use them as a force for good. Stigmatizing and repressing traumas is neither revolutionary nor spiritual. If you think otherwise, show me your book. 

"Say: O my servants who believe, observe your duty to your Lord, for those who do good in this world there is good, and God's earth is spacious, those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure". Quran 39:10
Readings that inspired this post and further readings:

1- Moses story in the Quran, in different chapters.

2- Joseph and Jacob’s story in the Quran in Surah Yusuf.
3- “Every time you ask me: How are you doing?” By Ziyad Al Rahbani.

1 comment:

Ibn Hanif said...

May Allah be with you wherever you go and wherever you live.amen.