Sunday, May 30, 2010

Given those hurt, Israel clearly wants on-going strife

For those who may not have heard, Israel fired on and boarded the six ship aid flotilla attempting to reach Gaza strip today. While the US sleeps, Israel continues its inhumane and inhuman behavior. I read an article this morning here about the situation. In reading the article and the statements by Israeli officials, one thing has become clear. The people that Israel wants to hurt are the ones who want peace. The moderate voices are the ones who are being marginalized and harmed by the continued blockade on humanitarian and building supplies.

Many of you likely remember the shelling early last year that left homes, schools, and hospitals destroyed. And, who was it that was shelling again? Oh, right... it was the Israeli military. The same people who refuse to let concrete come in caused the dire need in the first place. And, who is hurt by such a ban? Is Hamas the primary injured party here?

The article talks about the supply tunnels that were such a key issue for the Israelis. It reminds us that food and other smuggled items are reaching Gaza through them. So, Now I ask you to ponder a question. Who benefits from the smuggling? Stay with me, here, Hamas has control over Gaza. Hamas controls the tunnels and the smuggled goods. So, how many Christian families (and yes, there are some) do you think receive that aid? How many Fatah supporters are getting food and supplies? Hamas will definitely take care of its own, when it comes to food, medicine, and supplies.

So, as you see, the people being devastated by the continuing blockade and inhumane treatment are those voices that aren't with Hamas. The potential peacemakers are thrown into ever greater poverty. The pressure will continue, and many will likely bow to the tide and join the ranks of Hamas supporters. And, who does that hurt? Apparently no one, since clearly Israel wants continued strife and fighting. Unfortunately, those marginalized people demonstrate once again that Israel has no interest in peace.

And, how sad is it that one of those on the flotilla is a holocaust survivor? I would hope, when confronted someone like this, you would be able to see the plank in your eye. When you feel like this is the only way to draw attention to the wrong actions of your own people, how devastating when violence is their response? As for me, my prayers are with those who have died, those who are injured, and those who continue to wait and hope for someone outside to hear their cries, their pleas, their need. Oh, and I pray for the Israeli people. I pray that God will open their eyes to the evil that they are perpetrating - each with their silence - and their hearts to the harm that they are doing. I pray that God will be merciful and just and move them to become human once again...

Sad confrontations...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Got Milk? And a Non Apology from MommaBean, Teehee

Alright, so if I had been at ALL consistent about blogging I'd be apologizing for not blogging while I've been away. But, those hearty followers who still know I exist know that I've been lackluster (and that's being nice to myself) with my blog posting lately. But today I saw an interesting article that got my fingers itching to blog... And thus begins Got Milk?

There's an article in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine (yeah I'd never heard of it either) talking about women pumping milk at work for their babies. As a time-tested veteran of the practice, I had to see what the fuss was all about. The article, titled Lactation: the mother of all office dramas was interesting. Many of you may not be aware that in March, President Obama passed an act requiring employers to provide "breastfeeding employees with "reasonable break time" and a private place — not the ladies' room — to express breast milk during the workday until a child's first birthday." Now, I was lucky. I worked in an office and had my own office. As a manager, I had a veritable cube field outside my office, but I had a door that closed. Since the walls were odd and a window was shared with the office next door, I can't be sure I didn't drive my neighbors crazy with the pump sound, but... The article recounts stories of women having their hours cut and being outright fired for taking breaks that are too long or bringing in nurse's notes stating that they need to pump.

And, therein lies the rub. We want the health benefits that come from breastfeeding, for both Mom and baby. But, few employers want to make much effort. The article also recounts the stories of women who were pumping and had someone walk in on them. It sounds like an urban myth, doesn't it. But, I had it happen to me once. I borrowed the office of a salesman that was out for the day on sales calls, put a note on the door asking people to stay out as I was pumping, and still got walked in on. By the salesman. Who hadn't read the note. He was by far more embarrassed than I was because I was fully covered. I found it rather funny. He had a hard time meeting my eye for a month or more after.

Something I guess people who have never expressed milk for the baby likely don't realize (and certainly the men who tend to make the rules don't) is that it isn't an easy path to take. It requires dedication, willingness, and persistence. I suspect a dash of sheer, downright, orneriness is probably well placed as well (teehee). Getting the milk to come out well requires quiet, calm, restful relaxation. Now, can you imagine a woman perched on the toilet in a public restroom finding those things? Neither can I. Now, imagine them in that same awful position for months on end. As I said, I was lucky. I had a nice, quiet place to pump. I bought clothes that made discreet pumping possible so I wouldn't feel exposed and tools to make it hands-free. I was actually able to go right on working while I pumped the milk every 2-3 hours. And, I was able to continue doing it for the first year after the twins were born. And, it's a gift that I am thankful for every single day. By the end of that year, I couldn't wait to be done. I felt like mooing constantly. But, my kids got the best food they possibly could have.

So, I give my applause to Obama for requiring employers to provide similar conditions. In the US, we take little enough care of our working women. The company I worked for during my year of pumping did not offer paid maternity leave. As a result, 4 weeks after giving birth, I was back in the office. At least this is one protection that is now offered all working women. And, it helps the employer with healthier kids, less time off work for mom, and other benefits.

I do wish that more people in Jordan would catch on to how important breastfeeding is. I'd love to see scores of women with the briefcase-like pump on their way to work. The state of breastfeeding and the misinformation available at even the best hospitals saddens me. It denies those who really can't afford formula another, healthier, better, cheaper option. And, it denies those moms the chance to at least try to reap the personal health and baby-bonding benefits. Wake up, Jordan. Get on the nursing bandwagon. It will do the country good.

Happy Dairy!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Back off before I take your hand off: why respect must be universal, not limited to those like us

I'm reposting this because JordanBlogs did something funny and gave it the same name as another totally unrelated post... :)

So, for the first time in the four years we've been here, I had what I would consider a fairly serious problem last week. SwedeBean and I went out to lunch in a very touristy, historic part of Amman. While on our way walking from the main street to the restaurant, we passed a pack of wild school boys. They were in the 12-14 year old age range. They were on the other side of the narrow street and I ignored them. Suddenly I realize that SwedeBean is very upset. it seems one of these young hoodlums decided to touch her hair. Yes, he actually laid his hands on her.

Haram, 3ayb - no, you know what - 3aar (this is the highest form of shame in the Arabic language). At this point, I begin shouting at them like a London fish wife. I scream that they better get out of my sight quickly and that they are clearly a pack of wild animals. They seem to find my Arabic at once funny and "move-along-ish" enough to get moving. At lunch, I went over the don't be polite, make a scene speech with SwedeBean. While we had spoken about this before, I took it as a learning opportunity here again. I explained that this young man placing his hands on her was a violation. Should something like it ever happen again, she should hit him... as hard as she can. And scream, frankly. We Westerners, our politeness can contribute rather than teaching the necessary lesson.

I related the incident the next day to El 3atal. About the time I finished telling him, we came upon another (or maybe the same pack) of fellows. El 3atal saw that they were ogling me obviously. At this point, he went and shouted at them and basically told them to keep their eyes (and nasty minds I'm sure) to themselves. A few minutes later, we chanced to see the exact same group of boys passing a gaggle of fully veiled, jilbab wearing ladies. They were not only ogling, but also cat-calling these ladies. And herein lies the fallacy of thought that I've observed since living here...

If men are not taught that EVERY woman, no matter how little she may resemble her in thought, word, and deed is your mother and your sister and deserves your respect, they fail to learn to respect any of them. Every time that a man fails to reprimand his son for failing to observe HIS call to modesty and lowering HIS eyes when seeing a woman, he sets his son up to ogle. Each time a mother fails to point out to her son that his poor treatment of strange women is what he should expect for her, she loses an opportunity to instill the proper values in him. As long as people think, oh she's just a foreigner, or a kafir, or a niqabi, we will fail to raise our children to treat all with respect equally.

When the Beans ask me about women who wear a head scarf (or a niqab), I take this as a learning opportunity. The values I want them to learn are openness, respect for people of all faiths, and a knowledge that how I treat others is how I should expect to be treated. I explain to to them that wearing the head scarf is an expression of her faith and is something to be respected. It is not something we EVER make fun of. Just as we don't make fun of people who are different from us in other ways, be it skin color, physical deformity, or whatever. I understand that the human mind tends to understand very simple concepts and the treatment we allow for one group will find its way into others. Sadly, showing signs of godliness doesn't mean having a heart for God. So, one of my jobs is to help remind the Beans that it is about action, not just words. After all, our actions ARE our words to the world, now aren't they?

Happy Harassment... (sigh)

Monday, May 03, 2010

You Know Parking is Bad When...

you pass by an 3azza and they're doing valet parking... For those who don't know, when someone here dies, in addition to the funeral the family has 3 days of visitation where people can come to pay condolences. This is often done in a hall outside of the home. However, some folks will set up a bit of a tent city and hold their 3azza there. They often feed the people who come and what not.

So, last week, for three days, we had an 3azza set of on a corner lot near our house. I was struck by the sheer funniness of the fact that this 3azza had valet parking. Now, valet parking at a grocery store is unexpected, but valet parking while paying condolences seems to be a bit on the actually bizarre side. But maybe that's just me.

Happy valet parking!