My Collection and Myelf
The other day, I went to a friend’s house. It was my first time there and, as an explorer in a new setting, I was gathering information about my friend. One of the things i noticed about her living room is the wide collection of cookbooks she had. So my first question was:
- ‘Do you like to cook?’
- ‘No, these are for my roommate.’ she answered
- ‘Does she like to cook then?’
- ‘No, she collects them. This is what she would like to read, you know? The person she thinks she is as opposed to who she is. One day she wants to read them.’
This got me thinking about who we are and what we think we are. How many of us collect things that we don’t really use because we think this is who we are? These items represent a part of us, whether it is books, camping equipment, lotions and creams, athletic wear, shoes, jewelry, etc. And the more important question for me is how often have I sat and compared who I am to what I think I am? It would take much courage because if I found some areas where I am not what I think I am, then I would need to work on changing these areas. It takes commitment and dedication to change.
So, is there a difference between who I am and who I think I am? Well, yes in my confidence, and no in my insecurities. Confidence is when I am sure of myself and my abilities. So, to me, who I am and what I think I am are compatible. I speak English and I think I am an excellent speaker of English. This results in me being confident in myself. It doesn’t matter what others think because I am confident in my English language skills.
However, when I am insecure about something, there is no compatibility between who I am and what I think I am. Let’s take, for example, speaking Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish and so I don’t think I can speak Spanish because I am insecure about my Spanish language acquisition.
I wish we could do this exercise not only on the personal level but on the collective one. Since I am a Palestinian, I can only ask this for my people. Ok, fair enough. It gets tricky when it comes to values and beliefs. Who decides what a people are or not? Can we create a moral standard and ask if nations are ethical or think they are? Wouldn’t that be a subjective test that many would fail in? There would always be room for improvements. And how about how we treat each other then? How do Palestinians treat their own? Are they merciful or do they think they are? Who decides what merciful is?
Regardless of defining the ethical terms, it doesn’t stop me from asking about us. And it seems I have more questions than answers.
- Are we treating each other fairly or do we think we are?
- Are we promoting gender equality or do we think we are?
- Are we righteous or do we think we are?
- Are our actions justified or do we think they are?
- Are we fulfilling our potential or do we think we are?
- Are we v ictims or do we think we are?
When I think about it, I think this is a part of being human. We have areas in our lives in which we are being ourselves, and then there are other areas in which we are misled by a mask that makes us something else than what we are.
Look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for example. Although the Israelis are the stronger party in the power equation, they think they are the weaker ones. Their actions reflect that. So all of their actions are justified because they think they are the victims. Palestinians, on the other hand, really are the weaker part in the power equation and they think they are the weaker ones. Their actions reflect that too. They believe they are victims of the conflict, and therefore their actions are justified. How then can we reach a solution if both of us think we are victims and feed on such mentality? We have more in common with the Israelis than we think. Both of us think we are victims for one.
When we look at ourselves as victims, we are letting it hinder our actions today and tomorrow. This is the biggest struggle we face among ourselves. Israelis may take our land and our home, but they should not take our future. We become victims, not only by being external factor, but by allow it to control our actions. I hope we can stop collecting reasons why we should be victims of the Israelis, and work on what we really want: to live in peace with our neighbors.