Saturday, April 18, 2015

When is lying cultural?

Photo credit:  Photodune

This week, I am thinking about a certain type of lie, that I do not understand because I didn’t grow up with. In the Anglo-Saxon-American culture, yes means yes, no means no and it’s ok to say, “I don’t know yet.” If I personally were to tell a lie, it would only be a deliberate attempt to get away with something that I don’t want the other to know about. But I would never say, “I’ll meet you at 3:00 inshallah” and not show up!
What purpose does this type of lying serve, and what is going through the mind of the person doing it? Avoiding conflict? Is it really so important to be agreeable that you would then inconvenience the person? Your word is your honor! If you habitually lie about things that don’t even matter much, where is the person inside you that another person can connect with? Or is there just a persona?
Some people lie habitually. I have noticed certain cultures don’t like to say no, or they don’t want to disappoint you, or they don’t want to get in a deep discussion about what they can and cannot offer versus what they want. To me, honest back and forth is the basis of relationship!
For example, someone has been doing this to me repeatedly. It could be anything from “What are you doing today?” to “Do you want to buy a house together?” But it’s usually a friendly attempt on my part to coordinate plans, goals and dreams. The person will respond agreeably, then after a while, will stop responding. Then when confronted, will make up a story, and the previous conversation dead ends. Or, when asked a simple yes or no question, would not answer, and then again make up a story about not getting the text or some other excuse.
It’s clearly meant to avoid a certain type of discussion. There might be a miscommunication or misunderstanding about coordination of plans vs. having time (two separate issues in my mind).
The other thing some do is becoming silent to send a message of displeasure rather than just stating what the problem is, putting the other person in the position of having to read your mind.
This irritating behavior can be frustrating. Are they arrogantly neglecting our need to communicate? …or maybe they haven’t said the simple truth throughout their entire life?
“Many cultures don’t have the same black and white standard of Americans,” advised Ashley Jones, who has been in a cross cultural marriage for the last eight years and enjoys hosting foreign exchange students in her home.
“You want to have a yes/no black/white conversation which is very American style. I know I have come to a place where I get more direct when I need a definite answer from my students. I guess those cultures have much looser definition of lying. I don’t think it is a lie specifically to deceive with malice but more of saving face or not wanting to disappoint. I think when dealing cross culturally, we have to give grace and adjust our expectations.”
Not only is there an East-West conflict about communication styles, but in both cultures men often engage in attempts at female appeasement to avoid upsetting her rather than just discussing the situation as they would do with a male friend. Maybe some of this weird communication style has to do with sexism. Some men don’t view women as someone you coordinate together with; it can be more about mutually pleasing each other rather than working together as a team. Women can be loved deeply but are not always part of decisions.
Some cultures, due to political oppression, may also have an exaggerated fear of being accused, resulting in overreaction. If you are sensitive to being interrogated by the police, you might overreact to your wife asking for attention. Even a normal question like “Are you home?” might make a man feel obligated to do whatever she wants or she will be upset.
“To a large degree, I have noticed this phenomenon in East Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. This is a desire, both for the sake of courtesy and avoidance of conflict. To put it mildly, it can be frustrating when one is engaged in negotiation or evenly simply trying to plan social events. Obviously, cultural programming, of ANY variety, is a tricky issue to deal with, particularly when it has been absorbed into spiritual and religious practice,” Christian Zedd told TMO. His parents worked in Iran from 1974-1978 when he was aged 12-16. 
“Truth be told, we ALL carry our upbringing’s cultural inheritance with us. About the best we can do, corny as it sounds, is call them as we see them and play the cards as they’re dealt, recognizing that we don’t all have the same cards.
Basically, the closer the relationship, the more important it is to clarify the terms and values. One can work or chat with just about anyone on the planet. For something like marriage or a business partnership, there had better be virtual identity of values and focus. That would boil down to one’s faith and the role of faith in one’s life.”
“Why do Lovers Lie?” on states: “When interdependence is high, telling the truth is important. Telling the truth allows people to coordinate their actions, create intimacy and closeness. But, interdependence also makes deception more likely. Because partners expect and demand a lot from us, telling the truth carries more risk.
“Telling the truth in a close relationship can lead to increased conflict, negativity and it can restrain one’s goals (i.e., “you can’t do that”). As it stands, both telling the truth and deception are needed to make a relationship work. Intimacy requires honesty, but complete honesty tears couples apart. Finding the right balance, can be difficult for many couples to do.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Was the Boston Bombing case a Show Trial?:

Eyewitness Account: Questions that were not asked.

On the morning of the verdict, April 8, 2015 in front of the courthouse, there were old ladies passing out anti-death penalty literature based on Roman Catholicism; Veterans for Peace were there with their white flag holding signs about "blowback," and later on an Islamophobe with his face covered with an American flag held a sign saying,""Dzokhar Tsarnaev was not a follower. He is just another Islamic terrorist declaring war against (kafirs mean infidels) Non-Muslims people. He is just trying to please his god (Satan)" and something about "Islamofascism."

There were many many intimidating looking police and Homeland Security vehicles preventing any traffic in front of the courthouse, guards, police dogs and many cameramen.

As expected, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty. He did not react with any emotion. He seemed to be "not there," leading many to speculate that he had been heavily drugged. Throughout the trial, his eyes looked kind of strange.

It was still astonishing that he was found guilty of all 30 charges, including the bomb that his brother is said to have placed down, and the death of the police officer that was already determined to be shot by "friendly fire" during the chaos at Watertown. He was also found guilty of killing the MIT police officer even though investigators only claim to have found his brother's fingerprints on the gun. The entire trial was carefully controlled, with defense lawyers looking to the judge for permission to speak, witnesses looking to the CIA and FBI officers for cues.

The big elephant in the room was all the questions that were not allowed to be asked. The defense was not allowed to ask whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was even armed when officers pumped more than 100 bullets into the boat where he was hiding.There is definitely some huge cover-up going on, something that the government does not want coming out! It was a show trial.

"The prosecution and the defense have been doing a startling job. They are amazing. I've covered a lot of trials and it's absolutely the best tried trial I've ever seen in my life. The choice of witnesses ... the timing of the prosecution's case, was unbelievably good," commented Russian author Masha Gesser. "But structurally it's not the role of the American justice system to find the truth. The American justice system administers punishment. It does not conduct inquests and it does not find facts."

The FBI's failure to protect the public "is either grounds for indicting the Bureau for incompetence, or it is an indication that these brothers were, like thousands of others, caught up in some web of provocation, either as plot infiltrators or informants," writes Russ Baker.

Those who have been paying attention are still scratching their heads at all the things that made no sense, like why Tsarnaev would calmly spend several minutes in the store deciding which snacks to buy, while his brother held a man at gunpoint in a hijacked vehicle. Or why they thought it would be better to hijack a car when they already had a car. Or why they would kill a cop in order to get his gun, when they already had a gun.

A skeptic I talked to at the courthouse speculated that the Mossad, whose Israeli agents had immediately swooped into Boston to capitalize on the post-bombing situation, had created the diversion by killing the officer in order to steal classified information from MIT.

"What also doesn't make sense is for the prosecution to omit a chunk of time from that video, which can clearly be observed in the video linked above (as evidence by the timestamp and the cars passing on the upper left corner of the video). There is really no need to edit out any part of the video if everything happened exactly as the prosecution has described it," writes Klaus Marre of

The prosecutors had justified this video editing as saving the jury's time, but they had not cared about wasting hours and hours of the jury's time listening to irrelevant testimony. Most Americans are not asking these questions. They are debating what the best punishment for the little terrorist should be, based on what would hurt him more. There is a vicious lynch mob mentality that is seething with hate and anti-Muslim prejudice.

If it were really true that Jahar bombed the marathon in retaliation for US war victims, which we know nothing about except from a note that mysteriously appeared three weeks later in the boat where he was captured, then the American people are the ones who should feel the most remorse! Because the American people would thus be morally responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. Their eyes should be wet with tears of shame for the suffering that they have caused to innocent people, and thanksgiving to God that only four people were killed this time.

Instead, the event has served to create a fascist public mentality, to create support for ongoing killing of Muslims around the world and strip away civil freedoms at home.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Did Jesus Die?

The most religiously significant Christian holiday, Good Friday is upon us; celebrated as the day that Jesus was tortured and then crucified by the Roman regime. Many old churches in Europe are decorated with very gory pictures of his suffering, generally called “The Passion of Christ.” While some might view him as one of many prophets who were killed by the government for the political content of his sermons, Christians take a mythical view, that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind, and that understanding his story of sacrifice absolves mankind of their own sins.
The Quranic take on individual responsibility is a bit different.
“Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.” (Quran, 99:7-8)
The amazing historical legends surrounding the man’s death – or non-death – are incredibly varied. While Catholics believe that Jesus literally died around 3pm and was buried that night, in early Christianity there were many disputes among sects as to whether or not Jesus died and then his soul ascended, or whether he was actually raised up to heaven a moment before death, or whether the entire scenario was staged, and a false person executed in his place, after which Jesus went on roaming the world teaching! Islam is also filled with similar disputes. Many Muslims literally believe that the wrong person got executed and some sects even teach that the real Jesus wandered all the way to India and died a natural death there, though locals claim that grave to be that of a Muslim saint. Regardless of the truth, Jesus is not here to defend himself.
“Behold! Allah said: ‘O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow you superior to those who reject faith, until the Day of Resurrection: Then you will all return unto Me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.’” (Quran 3:55)
The Quran, without describing the event in any detail, confirms that God raised Jesus to Himself. The belief that Jesus is alive with God, then, is common to Muslims and Christians. In response to the enemies of God, the Quran says:
That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (Quran 4:157-8)
On face value this would appear to be a legal argument or perhaps an emotional reaction, but according to Ibn Kathir, whose work is considered authentic by traditional Sunni scholars:
Ibn Abbas said, said, “Just before Allah raised Jesus to the Heavens, Jesus went to his disciples, who were twelve inside the house. When he arrived, his hair was dripping with water (as if he had just had a bath) and he said, ‘There are those among you who will disbelieve in me twelve times after you had believed in me.’ He then asked, ‘Who among you will volunteer for his appearance to be transformed into mine, and be killed in my place. Whoever volunteers for that, he will be with me (in Paradise).’ One of the youngest ones among them volunteered, but Jesus asked him to sit down. Jesus asked again for a volunteer, and the same young man volunteered and Jesus asked him to sit down again. Then the young man volunteered a third time and Jesus said, ‘You will be that man,’ and the resemblance of Jesus was cast over that man while Jesus ascended to Heaven from a hole in the roof of the house. When the Jews came looking for Jesus, they found that young man and crucified him.” Al-Nasa’i, Al-Kubra, 6:489
While this an interesting scenario, it is not clearly described that way in the Quran. When it is said that he appeared to die but he did not die, one could take a philosophical approach, taking into account another verse from the Quran:
“Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord. They rejoice in the Bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve. They glory in the Grace and Bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the faithful to be lost (in the least).” (Quran 3:169-171)
In a very real sense, every person who is tortured to death or killed by or because of any government died for all of our sins and because of our sins, because we failed to make a decent world.  
Nevertheless, every man is responsible for his own actions and the consequences. Nobody else can die in order to absolve our sins. We are not responsible for the sins of others. What we are responsible for, in this life, is how sincerely we tried to understand and implement Christ’s teachings.
What did he tell us to do? That is key.
“O you who believe! Be helpers of Allah: as said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, “Who will be my helpers for (the work of) Allah?” Said the Disciples, “We are Allah’s helpers!” then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: But We gave power to those who believed against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed.” (Quran 61:14)