2016

Two Weeks

I have mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again: reading an article or a book, watching a movie, in fact, any encounter that we experience as we go about our lives is bound to leave some sort of an impression on us. It could be a fleeting impression, a profound one, or anything in between. And it all depends on our age at the time of the experience, our mood, our circumstances, our memories, our past, our present. We bring all those with us to the event we are experiencing.

This is what happened as I was watching a year 2007 movie titled: Two Weeks, written and directed by the brilliant Steve Stockman who based the script on an emotional personal experience. In brief, the movie is about a woman’s (Sally Field) last two weeks of life with her four children flying in to be around her. I would recommend this film to everyone. It touched me, amused me, made me cry and brought back the emotional and personal experiences that I went through when my mother, my husband, my brother, my favorite aunt and my brother-in-law passed away all within a five-year period. I was still grieving one, when the second passed on! To say that I was walking in a stupor for those five years, emotional, saddened, feeling abandoned and unhinged would be putting it mildly. Looking back, I feel as if those years do not belong to me; as if it must have been some other woman inhabiting my body at that time, living, coping, functioning in my place. For how otherwise to explain it when my emotions were running amok and I thought that I was being perfectly normal? And how to explain people in the Middle East who are surviving the daily traumas of having all one’s family members killed by a bomb, or a drone, the weddings and funerals annihilated, the thousands of children kidnapped, burnt and buried alive under rubble? Nothing could! How do those that ordered these crimes live with themselves knowing that the extreme pain they have – and are – causing is for profit and power? Are the poor GIs in the war arena the only ones to suffer the maiming, the PTSDs, while those that gave the orders go unscathed? There are no pills to ameliorate this! Talking about my dwarfed grief with all this in mind seems to be, in a way, self-indulgent! I am one of those privileged in this world whose loved ones died at hospitals and in homes where they were cared for and spared any pain throughout the last period of their existence with us. Not so for many of the bereaved victims of wars and the many kinds of aggression. Ach!!

The most poignant part of the film for me was when the daughter goes to the airport to pick up one of her brothers who notices a stack of books in her car about what happens at the end of life. Throughout the movie, she seems to be referring to one book or the other about death and dying. This reliance on books to walk her through what her dying mother was experiencing, as well as the emotions and questions that she herself was encountering, caused me to think how utterly desolate our lives have become, and what tremendous losses we are suffering in this modern world of ours where books have replaced our wise and experienced elders; words on a page have supplanted the sense of continuity and communal living that precluded books; the printed material that has displaced another human’s understanding touch and comforting words; dealing with a dying family member by referring to a manuscript has replaced being surrounded by those who had gone through these events before us and who could gently walk us, with their compassionate words and experienced actions, through every step of that event. Quite perplexing!

Not only are the four siblings sharing an emotional and sad experience, but they are also asking, at this late hour of their mother’s life, what their grandparents did and who, in essence, were they. Here again, with the nuclear family having replaced the extended kin and kinship, most modern-age people, especially in the United States, seem to have lost touch with their origins and roots; with that vital cementing sense of continuity; with the close presence of their elders and their history. It is a huge loss! It invites a certain callousness to one’s existence; an individualistic approach to a life that is devoid of a sense of knowledge, responsibility and respect for those without whom we wouldn’t have existed; a loneliness of spirit and spirituality that no church, mosque, synagogue or organization can replace; a raison d’etre that fulfills a deep longing within every human being to connect with those that paved their way. It is, indeed, a sad place to find oneself in.

Throughout the movie we are exposed to what death and dying entail these days, for it is not only the sadness and impending sense of loss but, also, all the procedures and arrangements that are required. Stockman elegantly manages to bring many of those to our attention: dying at home, in hospital or hospice; medications, prescriptions, morphine and how to dispose of those; closing up bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts; checking of wills, medical directives, and funeral arrangements (if any had been done, or need to be); organizing paperwork, photos and albums; sorting through memories, belongings and closing up residences; contacting funeral homes: burial or cremation? For those involved in this emotional process the sheer enormity of the task at hand is daunting.

On that unhappy note, and being that it is close to the end of another year, one that brings me closer to the inevitable end of life, I will now go and check – as I do every end of year – that all my files and paperwork are in order so that I will cause my children the least amount of distress and dilemmas. This makes me wonder whether any of the war-mongering and corrupt politicians also realize the inevitability of their dying, and whether they question themselves on the bloody legacies and unethical policies that they have imposed upon the millions of innocent souls? No wonder there are so many senseless murders going on in the world; so many people on drugs; those that are abusing prescription medications and the corrupt doctors who prescribe them; so much insecurity, anxiety, angst; so many of us withdrawing into the cocooned safety of our homes and enclaves while feigning helpless indifference to the rest of our chaotic, war-infused and unjust world.

The end of another year is drawing closer . . . perhaps we could all pretend, even for a brief and passing moment, that all we have left are two weeks, and then, bring out that Swiffer again and start cleaning up our closets and drawers; organizing our paperwork; checking our wills. I wish I could clean out the corrupt politicians and all the depraved humans and corporations as well!! I wish!

2016

Facebook & Twitter

Logging onto Facebook every day for the past almost-four years felt like I was entering a warm room where my friends were gathered. We chatted, exchanged ideas and opinions, caught up on some event or article that we had not come across on our own, argued in a civilized manner, read an inspiring saying, heard a lovely song, laughed at a funny joke, celebrated events in our lives, and despite weeping at all the misery staring us daily in the face, we all in all had a great fun time.

Four years ago when I first signed up on the FB site, I had tried to enter: Jerusalem, Palestine as my place of birth. The site did not allow me that option. Where FB is concerned, Jerusalem, Palestine is not a valid entry. Frankly, I could not understand how someone born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1943 should be stating that they were born in Jerusalem, Israel. There was NO Israel in 1943. Israel came into existence in 1948. Mark Zuckerberg needs a lesson in history! Nevertheless, I signed on anyway and decided to ignore this blatant and prejudiced ignorance.

Between then and these past few months, I was really enjoying the site and looking forward to logging on every day. Moreover, I was posting a notice every 15th. and 30th. of each month regarding the new blogs on my website (www.myseventyyearoldeyes.com).

Naturally, I have friended and unfriended people during all this time. Overall, I have enjoyed most of the Friends I made, as well as their posts. There are many truly wonderful people in this world. I will miss chatting with them.

Some of the posts I really didn’t appreciate were those that addressed health issues: eat of this, don’t eat of that, this cures that disease, the other reduces those symptoms. Frankly, almost all of these posts are simply nonsense! Then there are the religious posts: pray for this, ask for that, share your devotedness etcetera. Ho-Hum! Really, some things are pleasant to Share and Like, others are a complete waste of time! And then there are the the photo-shopped images with quotes – which they had never uttered – attributed to famous personalities! I did fall for some of those. Who are these wicked people who do things like that? And who are the many people with Agendas (political, social or otherwise) who occasionally spread rumors (and we have all fallen for them) that are totally unfounded? I know this ploy very well. It is mainly used by governments, surveillance instruments, nasty (usually paid) individuals and the corrupt media as a “trial balloon,” or to set the stage for some reprehensible event or the other. The Bush Administration used it, as an example, to set the stage for the war on the Middle East, beginning with Afghanistan and Iraq, and to design that plot in order to obtain the support of the American people. They did that very well, and we are all still suffering the consequences of our buying into their scheme. Facebook is a perfect venue for spreading such rumors and choreographing events. The people who knowingly participate in this are despicable! This is certainly not something we can hold Facebook responsible for. Evilness, in all forms and shapes, has simply moved from the alleys and dark backrooms to cyberspace.

Now, of course, social media in general, and Facebook and Twitter in particular, are the biggest ego boosters since the mirror was invented and we all fell in love with our own image just like Narcissus! Since then, we haven’t stopped that love-fest, or our infatuation with our person! Social media became yet another powerful tool to boost our image and to support our self-love and ego trips! And, don’t we All Just Lap It Up! Personally, I have a healthy ego, one that I have cultivated over 73 years, one that was, on countless occasions beaten and hurled this way and that. Nevertheless, despite all the adversity, I withstood it all, learned and experienced and continue to do so on a daily basis. Therefore, in this sense, I did not need to boost my ego with Facebook postings. However, I am an opinionated woman who loves to air her views (rant and rave occasionally!) and share them with the world. So, in that regard, Facebook worked very nicely for me.

As for Twitter, it has that beautiful logo of the blue bird and such a delightful name that evokes singing and cute whisperings while providing yet another forum for twittering and sharing one’s views and sentiments. But it really gets very, very tiring and annoying when people – especially famous people, journalists, actors, organizations, even some friends etc. – tweet nonsense in broken and ungrammatical language every two seconds. Do these people have a life outside of social media? Pretty sad, really! So, yes, lately I have opted out of that forum. It is, truly, for the twit-birds!

Going back to Facebook, now that we have learned that they use all those pesky algorithms to decide things on our behalf, to target their advertising, to prioritize our posts and to do all sorts of other – sometimes very nefarious – stuff, it has turned me quite off. Mark Zuckerberg originally designed this program in his dorm room as a way of connecting his friends. It seemed to all of us (for I do not know of any other intentions) to be innocent, clean, a progressive idea, a lofty tool in the democratization process of humanity, a site on which the voiceless could express themselves and be heard by the world. Such incredible and admirable values! Furthermore, it took off like wildfire, but, with time, it seems to me that Mark Zuckerberg began feeling more and more like a god who has immense power to exert on humanity. That’s when the first step on the way to corruption occurred, one that many people before him had experienced and wielded! A tragic phenomenon whereby power and greed come to replace idealism.

Lately, and as Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept wrote on September 12: “The Israeli Government and Facebook have agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network.” At first glance, this might seem like a sound idea. Whom of us enjoys reading about any form of incitement whether it is against any religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, political persuasion or otherwise? However, “incitement” where the Israeli Government is concerned has proven to be only what poses such a threat against their criminal policies. It does not apply if such “incitement” is against any other entity, such as Palestinians, or Muslims, or Arabs or . . . or . . . Therefore, yes, this poses a huge problem for me. In fact, it is the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. It makes me wonder whether Mark Zuckerberg is declaring his support for a criminal Israeli Government agenda and for surreptitious surveillance in general? I have no way of knowing. I only go by what it seems to me, and it does not bode well at all. And, whether it is true or not, or to what degree, or whether it is only meant to intimidate and chill, I have no way of knowing. It certainly does not chill me, but the mere idea leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

There comes a moment in all of our lives when we have to take a stand for, or against, something. I did so, as one current example, when I supported and voted for Jill Stein knowing that she would lose. Facebook’s recent policy compels me to take another stand. Of course, I know that Mark Zuckerberg probably wouldn’t give a rat’s ass as to how I think. And, Facebook will not suffer in any way by however I choose, or not choose, to use their site. After all, one little me is not going to change United States policy, Israeli Government policy, social media values, Facebook’s agenda, Zuckerberg’s megalomania, mainstream media beliefs or anything else. However, I can live better with myself when I take a principled stand. That’s all that matters to me at the end of the day.

So for all of you who are reading this, and who enjoy my essays, please sign up on my blog’s main page to receive an email notice when I post anything new – usually every 15th. and 30th. of the month – since Facebook and those pesky algorithms might bury my posts where you won’t see them anymore. And, if you like my posts, please repost them to your friends.

Meanwhile . . . I, like millions, will wait for the day when social media decides to become an instrument for Peace, Justice, Democracy, and all those lofty ideals that could elevate and contribute to civilizing us as human beings and as we initially thought they would . . . otherwise, one day, a tyrant will be using this powerful tool, and us, to create a whole lot of dangerous evil in our world. Perhaps that is already happening? There are some indications that it is. How wicked!