The Time to Scream

By Chiman Salih. Chiman, from Erbil in Iraq, is a writer and activist. She has written six books and does so in both Kurdish and English. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

In a conversation between two men of two different religions, one of them said that the human-being is made of clay, the other said that the structure of a human-being is from wood and algae. I read a shocking comment below their skirmish “I don’t care whether I am made from wood or clay or anything else, why you don’t understand that I am a human-being, I am aching, I am hungry.” Relationships between the different generations, are not like seamless communication and transformation – they’re more like raking over ashes by struggling to make the new generation be quite the same as the previous. Many people, in their effort to be different, get alienated, unwanted, tortured, imprisoned, expelled, deprived.

Seeking and fighting for authority by any means is the main shaper of life and communities, this has reflected on the extent of the freedom that human-beings enjoy. Sometimes man is not free and doesn’t realise, because they are living a life directed by the authoritarian (political or social). The authority craver isn’t necessarily only those who struggle for the throne – they could be a father in a family, a manager, a husband, a wife, the religious man in a district, a professor, etc.

Imagine if everyone had the same mind of their grandparents? Human life would have become just like a train taking its path without veering off course, which in life doesn’t make sense; for sure we would be deprived of all creative-thinking and progress. It hasn’t been a long time since I decided to be a writer. It was difficult; I am living in a conservative society where it is bizarre for a woman to be a writer. When there is anything stagnant, someone should take courage and rage against it; this process may be later recognized as a turning-point which caused a change of identity from the stereotypes of the era. This might in its time be a kind of breaching of invisible rules; sometimes it may stigmatize the doer.

If a person changes based on an independent, thoughtful mind, there is a healthy change occurring in them, this results in a positive effective on the society or entire community when the person is influential.

Foucault’s quote “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning,” matters.

I have experienced this quote throughout my life, whether in relation to myself or witnessing it in others. My writer sense always let me feel it strongly. The conversation in the lead part of this article is one of the strong examples of that; someone reaches a place to scream when seeing others like a stone, they don’t let in anything to their mind, they are stuck in the past or stuck inside their own minds.

Do you know why we are always in tussle with “Who I am?”  “What’s my real identity?” “I am right or wrong?”

Because, in most of the cases we are ready versions of ourselves made up by the social and cultural elements exerting their super-powers on human-beings, for example: Religion, tradition, old principles, values, customs, rules laid down by those who died a long time ago; while there are many valuable parts in those examples, if the human-being stays as prisoners of all of them they will be like the relics of the past; humanity lives as though  the dead ones rule the living ones.

Upon birth, everything about “Who you are?” is ready, one only needs to wear the ideas as a dress. There are some people when they delve into life, instantly want to change the dress or at least some part of it. I think this process is looking forward towards being your real self which the human-being naturally has to reach someday, lest why have we minds and feelings? It’s healthier even if the individual considers the social and cultural influences, then takes them back or rules them out after reviewing them by their own minds.

The world is currently like a carriage drawn by two horses towards two different directions. The first is technology and mass communication growth, which has a strong hold on identities. The second, is the state of identity clash or clash of civilizations, which has materialized again in a way to vanish the myriads reasons of hope which humanity has been building for decades.

Both of these changes are derived and directed by those who crave authority. They do everything to control the individual’s free-will.

Rumi, the leader of Sufism, who lived in 13th century once said, “life is the balance between holding on and letting go.” This occurs in the human’s personality when getting older and more mature; this is a natural and bold way of life If one’s identity is the memory of history, and this history has taken shape from the individual’s free decision on what’s to be forgotten and what’s to be remembered, the process will be natural and progress will happen in the world.

Someone when they start to think will scream and say “I am a human being.”

Man, in history always tried to hold previous values to keep its human identity safe. As a matter of fact, during the past four centuries and in the beginning of this millennia the thinkers and worldly institutions were busy with building more humanitarian new values and humanity has been hopefully waiting for these values to be materialized in application. There was a healthy path for a short period. Noticeably, currently the worldwide technology reversed the course.

Today, most of the people in their behaviour follow the material displayed on social media, most of the time those behaviours are created by naïve people or those who want to disorient individuals. Oscar Wilde said “life imitates art.” Now, life imitates social media and social media celebrities who don’t portray their real identities, only seeking fame and fortune by any means necessary. Most people’s behaviours are now shaped through the third road – they neither hold traits of the identity that they were supposed to hold from birth, nor the one that took the Foucault’s quote as a path for them to decide who they are, but they are odd and strongly disoriented individuals, mostly pointless.

Human-beings based on their identity formation process mostly belong to two groups: one of the groups is composed of those who are waiting their environment which they were born into to give them their identity and are reconciled with it. The other group, composing the changeable part of the society, includes those who make their identity by themselves. As this era can be called the era of freedom, this freedom made the scope of the second group wider than before. But this freedom is chaotic, as there are plenty of disorienting means working actively on human-beings. Here, the human-being’s attitude on self-identity matters, because the enthusiasm, active blood, and will to change in the society are depending on how the second group leave the past behind and build a new present. They do this through becoming new personalities and how they affect and persuade the members of the first group to join them.

I, always looking back to the history of my nation, conclude that unfortunately all the giant thinkers, innovators, poets, educated, religious reformers, etc. during their life span, are always faced with banishment, defamation reached to expel them out of society. They have left their birthplace to live in exile and they had died on foreign lands, only later recognized as important icons of the history of the nation and national resources.

Is identity a matter of choice or self-realization? The philosopher and economist Amartya Sen says “In the twentieth of the last century a conversation happened in Italy between two members of socialist and fascist party the fascist demanded the socialist to join them, he responded ‘I am a socialist, my father was a socialist, my grandfather was a socialist,’ he said ‘Suppose that your father, grandfather were murderers, what do you do?’ the Socialist said ‘In this case, I will join the fascist party.’” We can build our identities on improving life and working together, rather than division and intolerance.

We should not fear being different and taking different paths. “The right is right even if everyone is against it, the wrong is wrong even if all the people are for it,” William Penn said.

29 comments on “The Time to Scream

  1. Snyman Rijkloff on

    I could not agree more. There are those who want to control everything, but from a sense of fear, rather than faith. Then there are those who promote (or present us with) freedom, (social media as an example,) but it can oftentimes lead to a sort of bondage, hard to define and even harder to deal with. And within this, from out of the totalitarian or the overly-obsessive liberalism, identities are shaped. One identifies with a person, or idea or one does not, there is not really an in-between. But to choose that identity, from out of a position of love and peace, there is the real freedom I think. Where in contrast identities are forced upon people, it would seem to be the opposite of freedom, and we see it all over the world today. Through laws, media, physical barriers, perhaps it’s been like that for a long time, I don’t know, but what I do know is, if we choose to identify with those ideas that lead to true freedom, this world will be a whole different place.
    Well written, thanks for that.

    Reply
  2. Farhang on

    There different aspects of such approaches you are taking of defining men. Social aspect could be one, scientific aspect is another one, religion aspect is also consider another way, philosophical aspect Could be one, environmental aspect where men are grew up could be another aspect..
    The classification approach you had was logic but you have to mention them from the above aspects, so then you will be fair to men ..
    Excellent work and Good luck for your future writings …
    Cheers

    Reply
  3. ZMW on

    Thank you Chiman for a very thoughtful article. What does it mean to be human? Do we exam our baseline values as a foundation and seek to improve ourselves over life’s journey?Your article is timely, as I am exploring the topic of “values” as a topic for a talk later this week. Do our values change over time? Yes, I believe in many cases, they do, based on life experiences. While some people value money, success and power as priorities, people who value health, integrity, compassion and kindness certainly have the same opportunity to achieve “success” but may be happier, more creative and peaceful souls. Below is my review with research of values, “morals” and ethics. Related, but different. Again dear Chiman, excellent article! Thank you, zor supas.
    —“Values — an individual’s accepted standards of right or wrong . Values is defined as the principles and ideals, that helps them in making judgement of what is more important.
    —Morals — Society or local cultural standards of right and wrong, very similar to ethics
    —Ethics — a structured system of principles that govern appropriate conduct for a group, including activities such as professional ethics, compassion, commitment, cooperation.”

    Reply
  4. Dara M Jamil on

    I found reading the article with interest, to me it holds a potential message which is: No Matter Who You Are, BUT It Does Matter What You Are!.
    No matter which religion, skin, gender, nationality or shape you are, since all these characteristics are out of your choice on your birth … However, once you are an adult and get the sense of realization, it does matter what you are?. Will you be screaming or would like to keep it as it was abd be ruled by the dead ones?.
    Well done Cheman, please carry on writing as you inspire me to pour out my thoughts and feelings too.

    Reply

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